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Thread: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Ruhr Area, Germany

    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles


    5) Foreign Armour part 1:

    In World War 1 IJA participated in several campaigns against german colonies and settlements in China and in the Pacific. In addition many IJA observers were attached to french and british troops in France. So Japan was aware of the possibilities of early armour. So in 1918 and 1919 IJA bought few british and french tanks. They were delivered to Japan until late 1920. During the following years these vehicles were tested intensively at infantry and cavalry school. With these tests IJA developed specifications for future tank designs.

    From 1925 on IJA began to form tank units. Besides the old Renault FT17 tanks some Renault NC 27 tanks were issued to these unit and tested during operations in Manchuria 1931 and during the 1932 Shanghai Incident. In addition some new tank designs were bought from the mid-1920th to 1930 to get samples of contemporary state-of-the-art technologies.

    During the battles of 1937 - 1942 IJA and IJN captured many chinese and allied tanks and armoured vehicles. Most of these were used by the unit which captured it until they broke down or until fuel or ammunition ran out. Only the US Light M3s captured in the Philippines and in Burma were taken over officially and supplied from captured stocks and local productions.

    a) British Mk IV Tank:

    In mid-1918 IJA bought a Mk IV female Tank and transported it to Japan with a british crew and some military advisors. This was done to show the japanese people and industry the european superiority regarding military technology and to get the necessary political support to start a massive military modernisation campaign. After arrival IJA presented it to the people on the 1918 Tokyo Tank Week.

    The vehicle made several shows and test trials in 1919. After finishing the tests it used as exhibit for a travelling exibition through Japan and Manchuria. Later it was displayed at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo until it was scrapped between 1940 and 1944.

    vehicles bought: 1
    battle weight: 27 (metric) t
    crew: 8 men
    armor strength: 6 - 12 mm
    length: 8060 mm
    width: 3200 mm
    height: 2460 mm
    engine: Daimler, 6-cylinder in-line
    power: 105 HP at 1000 rpm
    maximum speed: 6 km/h /3,7 mph
    range: 56 km
    fuel capacity: 318 l
    transmission primary: 2 Forward, 1 Reverse
    Power/weight ratio: 3,88 HP/t
    armament: originally 6 X 7,7 mm Vickers MG, no armament installed in Japan

    b) British Medium Mark A Whippet:

    In mid-1919 IJA bought 6 british Medium Mk A tanks. After arrival these tanks were tested intensively by IJA infantry and cavalry school.

    The cavalry disliked the tanks as they were found too clumsy and too heavy. But the infantry officers were very impressed by this tank as it was quite fast for a vehicle with a weight of 14 t and it could turn on the spot. Several basic tank tactics were tested,too, and the decision was made to develop or buy a number of tanks within 10 years. This was the beginning of the IJA tank doctrine to use tanks as infantry support which was not dropped before 1942. And it was also the birth of the IJA tank force as part of the infantry.

    After the trials the tanks were used to establish a tank school from 1920 on. The Whippets were replaced by Renault FT 17 tanks after 1922 and scrapped.

    vehicles bought: 6
    battle weight: 14 (metric) t
    crew: 3 men
    armor strength: up to 14 mm
    length: 6100 mm
    width: 2620 mm
    height: 2740 mm
    engine: 2 × Tylor Twin 4 cylinder side-valve JB4 petrol engine
    power: 2 X 45 HP
    maximum speed: 13 km/h
    range: 129 km
    transmission: 4 Forward, 1 Reverse
    Power/weight ratio: 6,4 HP/t
    armament: 4 X 8 mm Hotchkiss MG

    c) French Renault FT17:

    In late 1919 IJA bought 13 MG or gun (exact number of each version is unknown) eqipped Renault FT 17 tanks from the french army as cavalry tanks. They received the designation "Renault Kou(A) Gata Sensha" = "First Tank (Model)". IJA cavalry school was very impressed by these tanks due to the thick armourand good mobility even in rough terrain. Only the low maximum speed was critisised. Until 1922 several tests and exercises were done leading to the decision to equip at least cavalry recon units with armoured vehicles within 10 years.
    In 1922 IJA decided to refuse this demand and also that only infantry units should be allowed to have tanks, mainly because they realised that the japanese industry would not be able to built the necessary numbers of tanks within 10 - 15 years. Therefore the Kou Gata were removed from cavalry school and handed over to infantry school where they were issued to the small tank school unit.

    Around 1925 the Renault tanks were rearmed with Type Taisho 3 MGs or "Sogekiho" 37 mm infantry guns but the gun made problems as the turret was too small to operate it properly. Until 1929 all tanks were rearmed with the MG. During the 1929 Mukden Incident a small tank unit (around 10 FT-17 and NC1/NC27 tanks) were sent to Manchuria. While the NC1/NC27 tanks had massive suspension problems the FT 17 operated with good success. In 1931 a provisional tank unit was formed which used FT 17 tanks, NC1/NC 27 tanks with modified suspension and the first domestic Type 89 Medium Tanks. During several incidents in northern China and Manchuria and during the 1932 Shanghai Incident the Kou Gatas again showed their value but it became also clear that they were outdated. So they were withdrawn from active service in late 1932 and issued to the enstrengthened IJA tank school where they were used for drivers training until they were worn out. Until 1937 all FT17 had been scrapped.

    vehicles bought: 13
    battle weight: 6,8 (metric) t
    crew: 2 men
    armor strength: up to 22 mm
    length: 4880 mm
    width: 1740 mm
    height: 2140 mm
    engine: Renault 4-cyl petrol engine
    power: 39 HP
    maximum speed: 8 km/h
    range: 65 km
    Power/weight ratio: 5,7 HP/t
    armament: 1 X 8 mm Hotchkiss MG, later 1 X Type Taisho 3 6,5 mm MG or
    1 X 37 mm Puteaux SA18 Tank Gun, later 1 X Sogekiho 37 mm low-trajectory Infantry Gun, later 1 X Type Taisho 3 6,5 mm MG

    d) French St Chamond M21 Wheelcumtrack:

    In 1923 IJA lent the prototype of the St Chamond Modellé 1921 Wheelcumtrack Tank from France to test the new wheelcumtrack technology. The results wer not satisfying. The change from wheels to tracks was quite simple and could be done within 10 minutes by raising the wheels. But he change from tracks to wheels was complicated. As the wheel suspension was not able to raise the tanks during lowering the tank had to move on a ramp first. Then the wheels were lowered in traveling position without ground contact. Now the tanks drove back until the wheels touched ground. As the ramp had to be as small as the track gauge it took a lot of time to built a suitabel ramp with the necessary enstrengthened side walls. In addition the raised wheels limited the drivers view to the sides. So the design idea was rated poorly conceived and the vehicle returned to France.

    vehicles bought: 1
    battle weight: 3,5 (metric) t
    crew: 2 men
    armor strength: up to 6 mm
    length: 3610 mm on wheels
    width: 2080 mm
    height: 1930 mm
    engine: 6-cyl petrol engine
    power: 15 HP
    maximum speed: 28 km/h on wheels, 6 km/h on tracks
    armament: 1 X 8 mm Hotchkiss MG

    e) Italian Fiat 3000 Model 1921:

    In the mid-1920th IJA bought one Fiat 3000 tank for test purposes. The tank was an improved version of the Renault FT 17 tank with a stronger engine and a larger turret. The test results are unknown. But at the same time IJA was cooperating directly with Renault which designed a new suspension and so the italian model seemed to be rated outdated.

    Several Fiat 3000 were taken over from the armed forces of the local warlord Chang Tso-lin, ruler of the northeast regions of China. He was killed by a terrorist bomb attack on his train (most likely done by the japanese military intelligence). The vehicles were used by the japanese Kwantung Army to built up a temporary Armoured Car Company during the Mukden Incident 1929. After the birth of Manchukuo 1931 the tanks were handed over to the manchurian army.

    vehicles bought: 1
    battle weight: 5,5 (metric) t
    crew: 2 men
    armor strength: 6 - 16 mm
    length: 4330 mm with ditching tail
    width: 1660 mm
    height: 2200 mm
    engine: Fiat 4-cylinder gasoline engine
    power: 50 hp
    maximum speed: 21 km/h
    Power/weight ratio: 9,1 HP/t
    armament: originally 2 X 8 mm Breda MG, armament was not installed in Japan; 2 X 7,7 mm Lewis MG on the captured tanks

    to be continued in part 2...

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Ruhr Area, Germany

    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles


    5)Foreign Armour part 2:

    f) British Vickers Medium Mark C:

    In 1926 IJA bought 3 Vickers Medium Mk. C tanks as samples of contemporary modern armour technology to gather design ideas for their domestic development program. The tanks arrived in March 1927 together with engineers and crews from Vickers. During the tests in one vehicle gasoline vapours infiltrated the fighting compartment and exploded when the tank climbs up a hill, wounding two Vickers engineers. This incident led to the decision to develop Diesel engines for domestic tanks to minimise the risk of such explosions.

    IJA wanted to develop a domestic tank and Vickers didn´t want to built up a production line for spare parts for only 3 vehicles So the tanks became exibits after finishing the tests and were finally scrapped. Several details of the Mk. C were taken over for the Experimental Tank No. 2 which was introduced in 1929 as Type 89 Medium Tank.

    vehicles bought: 3
    battle weight: 12 (metric) t
    crew: 6 men
    armor strength: up to 6,5 mm
    length: 5330 mm
    width: 2540 mm
    height: 2400 mm
    engine: Vickers gasoline engine
    power: 110 hp
    maximum speed: 30 km/h
    fuel capacity: 320 l
    range: 220 km
    transmisson: 4 forward, 1 reverse
    Power/weight ratio: 9,2 HP/t
    armament: 1 X 6 pdr QF gun, 4 X 7,7 mm Vickers MG

    h) Renault NC1/NC27:


    During the mid-1920th Renault tested several new types of suspensions for the FT17/18 tank. IJA was very interested in these developoments and even supported Renault by buying 10 vehicles (5 armed with MG, 5 armed with a gun) tanks from the pre-series production of the NC1 Modellé 1927 and allowing Renault engineers to lead the trials at Kurume in late 1929/early 1930. The results were rather unsatisfying as the suspension made several problems during duration tests.

    Nevertheless IJA used a provisional tank unit during the early 1932 Manchurian Incident when chinese warlord troops entered the japanese controlled area around Harbin/Manchuria from northern China but retreated after recognising the tanks. During these operations several NC1 tanks, which were now armed with "Sogekiho" 37 mm infantry guns, broke down due to suspension failures. Renault immediately modified several suspension parts after tests with this new configuration in France 1931 were successful. In Europe these vehicles are known as "Renault NC1Modellé 1931" or "NC31". IJA designated both versions "Renault Otsu Gata" = "second (tank) model". During the 1932 Shanghai Incident IJA used some of the modified vehicles. But the suspension still had many problems reducing the operational time. So IJA finally decided to retire the NC1 tanks in late 1932.

    vehicles bought: 10
    battle weight: 8,5 (metric) t
    crew: 2 men
    armor strength: 18 - 34 mm
    length: 4410mm
    width: 1710 mm
    height: 2140 mm
    engine: watercooled Renault 4 cylinder gasoline
    power: 60 hp
    maximum speed: 35 km/h
    fuel capacity: 240 l
    range: 120 km
    transmisson: 6 forward, 1 reverse
    Power/weight ratio: 7,6 HP/t
    armament: 1 X Sogekiho 37 mm Gun or 1 X Type Taisho 3 6,5 mm MG

    h) Carden-Loyd Tankette

    In mid 1930 IJA bought 2 britsh Carden-Loyd Tankettes Mk VI to test them as support vehicles for cavalry units. The vehicle was found generaly useful but the cross-country abilities of the suspension were found too weak, a revolving turret was found necessary and the open fighting compartment with armoured caps for driver and gunner was found inacceptable. So the decision was made to develop a domestic lightly armoured, tracked vehicle with a turret as armoured support vehicle.

    In 1931 the two tankettes were tested at IJA infantry school. There the vehicle concept was found useful for armoured transport, especially due to the tracked trailer with its loading capacity of 400 kg. This allowed protected transport of men, mail, supply and ammuniton. The vehicles themselfs were rated underpowered, weakly armoured and with low self defence capacities due to the missing turret. So the decision was made to develop a similar vehicle with a larger transport compartment, a turret and a 0,75 t trailer.

    The two Carden-Loyd tankettes were handed over to IJN in late 1931. At this time the tensions in China raised and the decision was made to sent armoured vehicles to Shanghai to support the naval troops stationed in the japanese settlement. Therefore four more Carden Loyd tankettes were bought in late 1931/early 1932. These vehicles were modified by replacing the small straight armour plates on the sides by higher trapeziod armour plates which were arranged sloped. In addition the two armoured caps were replaced by a single cap which closed the fighting compartment completely. During the 1932 Shanghai incidents the vehicles were used during the fightings as transport vehicles and for infantry support designated "Type Ka (for Carden-Loyd) MG vehicle" .The further fate of these vehicles is unknown.

    Sometimes these tankettes are also designated "Type 88 Tankette" in literature but this is not correct.

    vehicles bought: 2 + 4
    battle weight: 1,5 (metric) t
    crew: 2 men
    armor strength: 6 - 9 mm
    length: 2460 mm
    width: 1700 mm
    height: 1220 mm without armored caps
    engine: Ford Model T 4-cylinder gasoline
    power: 22,5 hp
    maximum speed: 45 km/h
    fuel capacity: 38 l
    range: 140 km
    transmisson: Ford planetary transmission
    Power/weight ratio: 15 HP/t
    armament: 1 X 7,7 mm Vickers MG

    i) Vickers Mark E 6-ton Tank:

    In 1930 IJA also bought two Vickers Mark E Version A tanks and tested them. During competitive tests with the new Type 89 Medium Tank the british susupension was rated slightly superiour and the stronger engine made the british tank more agile. On the other hand the use of two MG-turrets with traverse angles of only 265 ° was found a waste of ressources on such a heavy vehicle. So IJA refused to introduce this tanks.

    From 1937 on IJA was able to capture several Vickers Mark E Versions B and F Tanks tanks with its single turrets armed with a 47 mm gun in China. Competitive tests with the Type 95 Light Tank Ha-Go showed a superiority of the japanese model regarding suspension and engine but also a slight inferiourity regarding armament.

    Data (Version A)
    vehicles bought: 2
    battle weight: 7 (metric) t
    crew: 3 men
    armor strength: up to 13 mm
    length: 4880 mm
    width: 2410 mm
    height: 2080 mm
    engine: Armstrong-Siddeley 4-cylinder gasoline
    power: 80 hp
    maximum speed: 35 km/h
    fuel capacity: 182 l
    range: 160 km
    transmisson: 4 X forward, 1 X reverse
    Power/weight ratio: 12 HP/t
    armament: 2 X 7,7 mm Vickers MG

    j) US Light M3:

    During the 1941/42 Philippines campaign IJA first met the US Light M3 tanks of the US-Army 192nd and 194th Tank Battlions. The M5 37 mm Tank Gun was able to defeat any japanese tank even on long ranges while the japanese Type 95 Light Tanks could only penetrate the frontal armour of the M3 on short ranges, the Type 89 and 97 Medium tanks even had to attack from the sides on very short ranges. Due to the IJA infantry tactics and the terrain plus a bad tactical use the M3s were not the threat they could be during this campaign. As result IJA speeded up the production of the Type 97 Medium Tank KAI and the training of crews for this tanks in January 1942. But before the first tank company equipped with this tanks reached Luzon the fightings were over. Only corregidor remained as US strongpoint. IJA tankers took over several operational Light M3 tanks after surrender of the US tank battalions. During the amphibious attack of Corregidor in May 1942 a Type 97 Medium Tank KAI and two US Light M3 landed on the island. Shortly after that the US defenders surrendered.
    The captured Light M3 were taken over officially by IJA as medium tanks due to their weight of 12,7 t. All tanks and all captured stocks of supply for these vehicles were handed over to IJA 7th Tank Regiment which formed at least one tank company with these vehicles. One platoon from this unit was shipped to Java to support the attack on the vital cities of this island.

    During the 1942/43 Burma campaigns IJA captured some british Light M3 Stuart tanks and formed at least one company for the 14th Tank Regiment. These tanks fought quite hard during the 1944 Imphal campaign where a Light M3 became the first japanese tank who destroyed a Medium M3 Grant. The 14th tank regiment was almost annihilated during this campaign and only few Light M3s remained operational. Due to the low stocks of replacement parts the remaining tanks were finally used as pillboxes during the 1945 retreats.

    The 7th Tank Regiments Light M3s fought hard during the 1944/45 Phillipines campaign but were finally destroyed due to the massive superiority of the attacking US troops.

    vehicles captured: between 50 and 80
    battle weight: 12,7 (metric) t
    crew: 4 men
    armor strength: up to 44 mm
    length: 4531 mm
    width: 2240 mm
    height: 2500 mm
    engine: Continental W-670-9A 7-cylinder radial gasoline
    power: 262 hp
    maximum speed: 58 km/h
    fuel capacity: 204 l
    range: 110 km
    transmisson: 5 X forward, 1 X reverse
    Power/weight ratio: 21 HP/t
    armament: 1 X 37 mm M5 Tank Gun, 2 - 4 X .30 cal Browning M1919A4 MG



  3. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Ruhr Area, Germany

    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles


    6) Early japanese Projects part 1:

    After World War I IJA was quite impressed by the new tank technolgy. But the low speed and the short duration of these vehicles were also seen. So IJA decided only to buy several contemporary tank models for basic tactics development and to get modern technology samples.

    With the Vickers Mark I light tank and Mark I medium tank developed from 1922 on the first tanks with quite high speed (more than 20 km/h) and a good duration became avaliable. IJA sent several observers to watch test trials at Vickers. After the reports were evaluated in 1923 IJA decided to equip their forces with such modern vehicles. At this time the japanese heavy industry wasn´t able to develop or to produce such tanks within the next years. So several military missions were sent to USA, Great Britain and France to negotiate about buying tanks. Great Britain refused to give the necessary permmissions as their own troops were not fully equipped with the planned vehicles. The armies of France and USA hadn´t ordered new tank models and so IJA talked directly with Christie and Renault but both developers did only have few designs of new tanks without plans to built prototypes.

    So IJA had to realise that a quick success was impossible. So in early 1925 the decision was made to delay the purchase for several years as they saw no chance for the japanese industry to develop a domestic tank within 5 to 10 years. At this point the Army Technical Headquaters contradicted and offered to develop a domestic tank in cooperation with the industry within 2 years. IJA headquaters was sceptic but decided to give it a try.

    a) Experimental Tank No. 1:

    In early 1925 IJA decided to give design orders for a lightweight tank for tank school training (similar to the Renault FT 17) and for a medium tank with a weight of not more than 20 (metric) t (similar to the Medium Mark A Whippet) with a tinme frame of 2 years. At best the whole project should boost the dometic heavy industry to a level that it could be able to develop own tanks within 5 years. Army Technical Bureau was not satisfied with these limitations but they took the chance. The official orders were used as cover to design a full-scale battle tank able to compete with european tanks. The Operational Chief of Staff knew this but he gave the engineers a carte blanche to do as they wanted.

    Until mid 1925 the Army Technical Bureau developed the specifications for a 15 t tank:
    - weight around 15 t
    - suited for attacking heavy field fortifications while having good road mobility
    - maximum concentration of firepower around the tank to enhance independent combat capabilities within enemy field fortifications
    - therefore a 57 mm main gun in a central rotating turret
    - and two separate MG turrets with one mounted in the front and one in the rear behind the engine as armament
    - armour strength to defeat contemporary 37 mm at-guns even on short ranges
    - road speed of 25 km/h
    - suspension for maximum off-road capabilities with an easy and precise one-man steering
    - trench crossing capability 2,5 m, maximum climbing gradient 43°
    - crew of 5 men
    - width and height fitted for railway transport even on the mountain railroads
    - operational time at least 10 h

    IJA expected that the development and testing of the multiple components would have been done separately before fitting to the prototype. This would have led to a massive time delay and so the developers decided to test the components on the prototype. Several components were designed and built from the domestic industries, especially Mitsubishi and Kawasaki, and delivered to Osaka Army Arsenal where the prototype was built in secrecy. A parallelogram-type suspension with 8 pairs of roadwheels on the ground and three single roadwheels (two at the front and one on the rear) for additional climbing capabilities was chosen which delivered the necessary stability. In addition five return rollers with the first raised, a forward idle wheel and a rear driving sprocket were used. This gave the tracks a distinctive buckling after roughly 1/4 of the return travel. A 6 mm armour plate protected the central suspension components.
    A new 8 cylinder gasoline engine was placed behind the main turret. The engine compartment could be reached through an access hatch from the main fighting compartment. The necessary gasoline and oil tanks were placed in separate compartments on the left and right of the main fighting compartment which made them quite vulnerable for enemy fire. The exhaust gases were discharged by an exhaust pipe on the right and lead to a muffler on the rear of the vehicle.

    The MG-turrets were built cylindrical with sloped upper side parts. A Type Tasho 3 6,5 mm MG was mounted in each turret. In and around the turrets ammunition boxes for a total of 500 10-shot ammuniton frames were placed. Both turrets were placed offset to the left (in driving direction) of the central axis. The driver sat in the right front next to the bow gunner.

    The main turret was conical with a high rotating cylindrical comanders cupola on the rear right. A 57 mm tank gun of unknown origin was mounted in the 2-men turret. The commander was also used as loader. The gun shield was placed inside the turret which lead to a small hole in the armour below the gun at high elevation. The ammunition stowages inside and around the turret allowed a maximum load of 110 grenades.

    The armour plates should be riveted on a massive frame. Due to the lack of experience several components had to be modified several times and the production of the face-hardened armour plates was problematic as the japanese industry had only experience in making thicker plates for the naval projects. The prototype was finished in February 1927 but it only had mild steel plates. Fortunately the initial trials showed only limited problems which were quickly solved.

    In June 1927 the Army Technical Bureau presented the vehicle designated "Experimental Tank No. 1& officially to IJA High command during several field trials at Mount Fuji Training Ground. The army officialy were very impressed by the vehicle which was able to drive with high speed even through rough terrain. All specifications were at least met with one exception: the weight. The resulting vehicle had a battle weight of 20 t which was found too high for most railroad and road bridges. Nevertheless the results exceeded the expectations of IJA High Command by far and so in fall 1927 the decision was made to allow the development of a 10 t light tank. This was the birth of the domesic japanese tanks.

    vehicles built: 1
    battle weight: around 18 (metric) t empty, 20 t fully loaded
    crew: 5 men
    armou strength: up to 17 mm
    length: 6030 mm
    width: 2400 mm
    height: 2430 mm without commanders cupola, 2780 mm with cupola
    ground clearance: 400 mm
    track width: 350 mm
    trench crossing capability: 2500 mm
    climbing capability: 43°
    maximum vertical obstacle: 1000 mm
    engine: 8-cylinder V-type gasoline
    power: 140 hp
    maximum speed: 20 km/h on roads
    fuel capacity: for an operational time of 10 h cross-country
    range: n. a.
    transmisson: 6 forward, 1 reverse
    Power/weight ratio: 7,78 HP/t
    armament: 1 X 57 mm tank gun, 2 X Type Taisho 3 6,5 mm MG

    b)Experimental Tank No. 2:

    no pic, sorry

    In mid 1927 IJA developed specifications for the 10 t tank:
    - maximum speed 25 km/h (which was the maximum speed of the contemporary trucks used by mechanised infantry units)
    - trench crossing capability 2000 mm
    - maximum gradient: 43°
    - maximum length 4300 mm
    - width and height fitted for railway transport even on the mountain railroads
    - main armament one 37 mm tank gun
    - one or two MGs
    - armor strength to defeat contemporary 37 mm at-guns on medium ranges
    - steering components similar to the Experimental Tanks No. 1

    Design started in fall 1927 based on the Experimental Tank No. 1. Several design features of the Vickers Mark C tank were also copied and/or modified. But in early 1928 it became obvious that the design would result in a weight higher than 12 t. In addition the french 37 mm tank gun and the japanese "Sogekiho" 37 mm Gun were rated unsatisfying regarding HE-power. Therefore the development was stoped to modify the design.

    to be continued in part 2....

  4. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Ruhr Area, Germany

    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles

    6) Early japanese Projects part 2:

    c) Type 89 Medium Tank:

    Type 89 Medium Tank prototype during early trials

    In mid 1928 the design of the Experimental tank No. 2 continued. Now more design features of the Vickers Mark C were used to reduce further weight and the development of a domestic 57 mm tank gun based on the Vickers 6cwt tank gun was started.

    Especially the suspension was remodelled and simplified. It now consisted of four pairs of slightly larger road wheels connected by bogies and semi-elliptical springs and a ninth road wheel mounted vertically in front of the forward horizontal road wheel for better climbing and trench crossing. Five return rollers, a forward idle wheel and a rear driving sprocket completed the suspension. Bogies and springs were protected by a 6 mm armour plate.

    In the bow a driver sat in the left (in driving direction) behind a simple hinged visor port. A MG gunner/technician sat in the right operating a Type Taisho 3 6,5 mm MG mounted in a fork behind an elevateable and traversable armour shield. Several ammunition boxes were placed on the right of the bow gunner.

    The frontal armour was split with the upper 1/4 mounted vertical and the lower 3/4 sloped. In the lower part a large access door was implemented on the right. Due to problems producing the necessary armour plates the first prototype was built with parts of the frontal armour disassembled from one of the Vickers Mark C´s.

    The main turret was slightly conical wit an extension for the main gun. A MG-port was placed in the turret rear at 180° to the gun. A small hatch for the commander was placed in the rear right of the turret. The main gun was operated by a gunner and the commander as loader, the MG by the gunner. Several grenades could be stored left and right of the gun upright with the fuse facing down. MG ammunition was also stored next to the turret MG. Additional diagonal stowages were placed on the left and right of the turret in the hull. Several further stowages were placed below the floor plates left and right of the central shaft for the steering and clutch cables allowing a total payload of 110 57 mm grenades and 2745 MG shots.

    A licence-built 6 cylinder Daimler gasoline aircraft engine limited to 100 hp was placed offset to the right in the rear. A small hatch allowed limited access to the engine from the fighting compartment. Large access cover plates in the upper rear armour easily allowed the exchange of the engine. A 180 Ah battery placed in the rear of the engine delivered the necessary electrical power to start the tank. Gasoline tanks were mounted in the sides of the tank above the tracks. The upper side armour over the gasoline tanks was mounted sloped. An oil tank was placed on the left of the engine. For ventilation most of the necessary combustion air was sucked off the fighting compartment.

    All armor plates were face-hardened and riveted to a frame. Besides the 17 mm frontal bow armour all other armour plates were available in early 1929 and so the prototype was finished in April 1929 at Osaka Army Arsenal armed with a Vickers 6cwt tank gun. Mechanical and performance tests were finished fast and almost all specifications were met but the weight limit could only be reached without ammunition and sparse fuel in the tanks (empty weight 9,8 metric t). The battle weight was 11,5 t. At this time IJA badly needed a successor for the outdated Ko Gata tanks, especially as the Otsu Gata tanks were disappointing. And so the vehicle was officially adopted as "Type 89 Medium Tank" in late 1929. Nevertheless several modifications were demanded:
    - use of a Diesel engine as gasoline engines were rated dangerous after an accident during the tests with the Vickers Mark C tanks
    - use of a domestic tank gun
    - a commanders cupola should be added

    Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (which was largely involved in the development of the tank) was ordered to built up a production line within one year and they built a complete new tank factory until late 1930. And they also started the development of a light, compact Diesel engine.

    The tank gun was finished at Osaka Army Arsenal in late 1930 and implemented in the tank with only few necessary changes, but the production was delayed. So some of the first tanks were equipped with 37 mm "Sogekiho" infantry guns. A small, high cupola with horizontal slits was added on the hatch on the turret roof. Serial production could start in mid 1931 but only 10 vehicles were delivered in that year due to much handwork. The vehicles were issued to IJA Tank School where the crews were trained. In spring 1932 the 2nd Independent Tank Company was formed and equipped with 5 Type 89 Medium and 10 modified Otsu Gata (Renault NC27 modified) Tanks. During the 1932 Shanghai Incident the vehicles were used under naval command during the street fightings with different success. While the Otsu Gata often broke down with suspension failures the Type 89 Medium Tanks were very successful.

    A Type 89 in Shanghai 1932 with 37 mm "Sogekiho" gun

    After the end of the fightings the crews were interviewed. The general performance was found good but they also demanded several changes. Main problem was the internal gun shield which opened a gap in the armour at high elevation. So the shape of the frontal turret armour was changed to close this gap. Another problem was the vertical upper bow armour which was often hit by bullets bouncing off the sloped lower bow armour. So a new fully sloped bow armour was developed which made an extension for the drivers visor port and a different shape of the MG mount necessary. A ditching tail was also added. The changes were implemented in the ongoing production leading to several intermediate versions but also slowing down the production. Until 1933 the 2nd Independent Tank Company was completely equipped with this tank and another company, the 1st Special Tank Company changed from Kou Gata to Type 89 Tanks which were rearmed to Type 90 57 mm guns. This unit participated in the early 1933 Jehol operation in northern China where it was able to move 320 km in just three days against enemy opposition. This was remarkable at this time especially as they suffered no losses by mechanical failures.

    The crews participating in this operation demanded further changes. This includes modification of the suspension to increase self-cleaning from mud, a change of the rear turret MG position and a lager commanders cupola. The necessary changes were made until 1934. The upper part of the suspension was remodelled by removing one return roller to increase the space between the remaining rollers where the mud could fell off. The suspension armour plates received a sloped upper part to let the mud slide off easier. The turret was remodelled, too. A large cylindrical commanders cupola was installed and the turret MG was moved from 180° position to 210°position in an armour extension. Several minor changes were also done.

    The changes were also implemented in the serial production leading to more intermediate versions. In late 1933 Mitsubishi was able to finish the development of a 120 hp 6 cylinder Diesel engine. This engine was implemented in the Type 89 Medium Tank until 1934 which made several changes regarding cooling air intakes and transmission necessary. In addition IJA decided to standardise the crew positions in their tanks. So the drivers and bow gunners position in the Type 89 Tanks had to be exchanged which was also done in 1934.

    With the beginning of the production of the Diesel-equipped tanks the gasoline version received the additional designation "Kou(A)", the Diesel-engined "Otsu" But the Diesel engine production never reached the same numbers as the tank production, gasoline engines still had to be used until the end of the production in 1936. A total of 278 Type 89 Medium Tanks Kou and 126 Type 89 Medium Tanks Otsu were built.

    Type 89 Medium Tanks were involved in almost all IJA and IJN tank unit operations until 1940. They did a good job in their intended task, infantry support. From 1939 on they were replaced by the successor, the Type 97 Medium Tank Chi-Ha. The Nomonhan Incident in 1939 showed that the Type 89 Medium Tanks were outdated regarding armour and armament but they were used until 1945, finally as mobile pillboxes in the Philippines and Burma.

    to be continued in part 3...

  5. #20
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    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles

    6) Early japanese Projects part 3:

    Type 89 Medium Tank part 2:

    After the war the Type 89 Tanks were still used by local chinese forces, the indonesian liberation forces and french forces in Indochina.

    french Type 89 Medium Tank in Indochina

    Data (version Ko / version Otsu)
    vehicles built: 278 / 126
    battle weight: 12 (metric) t early version, 14 (metric) t late version
    crew: 4 men
    length: 4300mm, 5750 mm with ditching tail
    width: 2180 mm
    height: 2560 mm
    ground clearance: 480 mm
    track width: 305 mm
    trench crossing capability: 2000 mm, 2500 mm with ditching tail
    climbing capability: 34°
    maximum vertical obstacle: 840 mm
    engine: 6-cylinder Daimler gasoline / 6-cylinder Mitsubishi Diesel
    power: 118 hp at 1400 rpm / 120 hp at 1800 rpm
    maximum speed: 25 km/h on roads
    fuel capacity: for an operational time of 10 h cross-country
    range: n. a.
    transmisson: 6 forward, 1 reverse
    Power/weight ratio: 10 HP/t / 8,57 hp/t
    armament: 1 X Type 90 57 mm Tank Gun , 2 X Type Taisho 3 6,5 mm MG, later Type 91 6,5 mm Tank MG

    armor strength
    turret front 15 mm @ 80 °
    sides 15 mm @ 80 °
    rear 15 mm @ 90 °
    roof 10 mm @ 0 °
    superstructure front 17 mm @ 75 °
    sides 11 mm @ 90 °, upper part @ 35 °
    rear 8 mm @50 °
    roof 6 mm @15 °

    The only remaining operational Type 89 Medium Tank Otsu at JSDF Tank School Tsuchiura, Japan

    d) Experimental Amphibious Halftrack AMP:

    Prototype during trials

    In 1929 IJA decided to develop a fast amphibious armoured car similar to the french AMC Citroën-Kégresse P 16 for cavalry reconnaissance units. The halfrack system was chosen as it has a better cross-coutry ability than wheels.The Sumida factory of Ishikawajima Automotive Works (later became Isuzu Motors) was ordered to develop such a vehicle. The company was chosen as they also had experiences in shipbuilding. The specifications were:
    - amphibious, able to cross rivers with medium current
    - maximum weight 2,5 t
    - maximum armour able to defeat contemporary infantry rifle AP ammunition
    - 2 men crew
    - length 4000 mm, width 1600 mm, height 1900 mm
    - armament one MG in a revolving turret
    - maximum speed 45 km/h, 9 km/h swimming

    The design was done quickly using a boat-shaped hull and a french Kégresse suspension. The prototype was finished in summer 1930. It had two drivers positions, one on the track side for driving on land and one on the wheel side for driving in the water. A 40 hp Ford gasoline engine was used. The turret was conical with an extension for the MG. During trials the hull showed very good swimming abilities allowing the projected speed of 9 km/h. The road speed also reached the 45 km/h but the cross country abilities were rated disappointing. In addition the armament of a Type Taisho 3 6,5 mm MG was found too weak. So in late 1930 the decision was made to drop the design in favor of a full-tracked vehicle. The fate of the prototype is unknown but there are photos of the vehicle used without the turret during a 1934 test of an amphibious tank prototype.

    vehicles built: 1
    battle weight: 2,5 t
    crew: 2 men
    armor strength: up to 5 mm
    length: 4000 mm
    width: 1600 mm
    height: 1900 mm
    ground clearance: 400 mm
    engine: 4-cylinder Ford Type A gasoline
    power: 40 hp
    maximum speed: 45 km/h on roads, 9 km/h on water
    Power/weight ratio: 16 HP/t
    armament: 1 X Type Taisho 3 6,5 mm MG

    e) Type 92 Heavy Armoured Vehicle:

    early prototype with a Type 92 13,2 mm MG in the bow

    After ending the trials of the Carden Loyd Tankettes and the AMP prototype IJA ordered the development of an armoured reconnaissance vehicle for cavalry units. The specifications were developed until early 1932:
    - fully tracked
    - maximum possible speed
    - maximum possible mobility
    - all-welded armour, able to defeat infantry ball ammunition
    - 3 men crew
    - 2 MGs or one MG, one Machine Cannon
    - bow weapon with maximum possible elevation and traverse for indirect and even aa-fire
    - a tow-bar in the rear for trailers up to 750 kg

    Ishikawajima Automotive Works received the development order in March 1932 as they had experiences in welding thin steel plates for non-warship hulls. The hull was completely electrically welded, only the frames of the access hatches on the bow and on the engine compartment were riveted on the 6 mm thick face-hardened armour. Both rolled and casted steel was used. In the bow the driver sat on the left (in driving direction) , the gunner in the quadrangular armour extension in the right. The bow armament should consist of a Vickers 12,7 mm MG or a Type 92 13,2 mm MG but a Type 91 6,5 mm Tank MG could also be mounted. An enlarged standard MG mount was used for a maximun elevation of around 45° and a traverse of +- 60 °. A special optics allowed firing at high angles while sitting. A revolving conical turret with an MG-port for a Type 91 6,5 mm Tank MG in an extension was placed in the center of the fighting compartment.

    The side armour was vertical with sloped upper parts. A 6-cylinder gasoline engine for 40 km/h was placed in the centerline in the rear. It was covered by sloped armour plates. For the suspension two pairs of road wheels were spring-mounted by leaf springs and a forward driving sprocket, a rear idle wheel and three return rollers were used.

    Prototype tests of the 3,2 t heavy vehicle started in late 1932 and lead to several changes. The large space between the road wheels led to problems with shed tracks in rough terrain. So a third pair of road wheels was added on each side. The close defence was rated problematic due to blind spots on the forward left and right. So hatches were added in the forward right and left hull armor. The vertical armour of the bow armament extension was identified as a shot trap and so the upper part was arranged sloped. The changes were implemented fast and so the vehicle could be introduced in early 1933. It was designated "Heavy Armoured Vehicle" as IJA had decided that only infantry units should receive "tanks" but it was in fact a light tank.

    early production vehicle

    Serial production started immediately. First operational use was in March 1933 when 2 pre-series vehicles were used during the Operation Jehol in northern China. During the following years several cavalry reconnaissance units in China were equipped with the Type 92 Heavy Armoured Vehicle. Especially the high speed and good mobility even in rough terrain were badly needed. One of the few things which were criticised were the poor weld seams on some vehicles which lead to cracks between casted and rolled armour parts. This could not be solved until production end.

    In 1934/35 after introducing the new standard suspension on the Type 94 Special Tractor IJA ordered to change the suspension to standardise the parts. Therefore two pairs of larger road wheels were attached and a larger return roller in the middle and a smaller directly behind the driving sprocket replaced the old rollers. The changes were taken over into production in 1935.

    late production vehicle

    In 1937 several vehicles were rebuilt as communication tanks with a Type 94 wireless set replacing the bow armament and a rod antenna in the rear of the fighting compartment. To increase the at-abilities trials were made to install a modified Type 98 AA Machine Cannon and even a Type 94 37 mm Tank Gun in the bow but the available space was not enough at least for the tank gun. The vehicle was replaced in the cavalry units by the Type 95 Light Tank Ha-Go but continued its service in the reconnaissance units of the IJA tank regiments from 1937 on. After introduction of the Type 97 Tankette Te-Ke as successor the production of the Type 92 Heavy Armoured Vehicle was stopped in 1939 after delivering 167 of these vehicles.

    There was also a trial prototype of an amphibious version without bow armament.

    vehicles built: 167
    battle weight: 3,5 (metric) t early version, 14 (metric) t late version
    crew: 3 men
    armor: up to 6 mm
    length: 3940 mm,
    width: 1620 mm
    height: 1830 mm
    ground clearance: 280 mm
    track width: 210 mm
    trench crossing capability: 1600 mm
    climbing capability: 30°
    engine: 6-cylinder Mitsubishi gasoline
    power: 45 hp at 1600 rpm
    maximum speed: 40 km/h on roads
    range: 100 km
    Power/weight ratio: 12,8 hp/t
    armament: 1 X Type 91 6,5 mm, later 1 X Type 97 7,7 mm Tank MG in the turret, 1 x Type 91 6,5 mm, later 1 X Type 97 7,7 mm Tank MG or 1 X Type 92 13,2 mm MG in the bow



  6. #21
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    Sep 2006
    Ruhr Area, Germany

    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles


    7) Armored Cars part 1

    IJA and IJN used different types of domestic and foreign armored cars from 1920 on. They were used for armored support of the infantry during long-range operations and street fights even if the armor wasn´t satisfying and the mobility on non-paved roads and off-road was quite poor. Most armored cars were removed from active service after the first domestic tanks became avaliable from 1933 on. Informations on these vehicles are quite rare.

    Only railway units used armored cars for railroad security and protected transport until 1945. These will be covered in a later post.

    a)Austin and Austin-Putilov Armored Car:

    In 1919 IJA bought two second series Austin Armored Cars in Great Britain to equip the units operating with the international force during the Siberian Intervention. This operation was started in 1917 to support the White Russian forces against the Bolsheviks and the german army and to protect the massive stockpiles of supply and ammunition sent by the Entente to Vladivostok. IJA joined in mid 1918, mainly to expand their territory north of Korea.

    The Austin Armored Car was desiged in 1914 by the Austin Motor Company based on a serial production truck chassis after the british army requested an armored vehicle with closed fighting comparment, two seperate MG turrets and a good mobility even on non-paved roads. In 1915 the second series was started with a stronger 50 hp engine. The drivers cabin was remodelled to allow the parallel mounted turrets to fire staight ahead and the basic armor was increased from 3,5 - 4 mm to 4 - 7 mm.

    The japanese vehicles were delivered until late 1919. After the crews were trained the vehicles were shipped to Vladivostok. At this time the main purpose of the allied troops changed towards fighting off the advancing Bolshevik troops to allow an organised disarming of the beaten White Russian forces to save their equipment from falling into the enemies hands.

    Among tons of rifles, ammunition and other equipment several russian Austin-Putilov Armored Cars were handed over to the Entende troops. Some of these vehicles were taken over by IJA.

    This vehicles are remodelled second series Austin ACs. Russia ordered 60 of the truck chassis which were delivered in 1916. At the Putilovski Works in St. Petersburg the vehicles received stronger 60 hp engines and a rear drivers position was added. The (in driving direction) left turret was moved to the rear to allow both turrets to fire at the same side at the same time. Two armor plates were added to both sides of the MGs to protect the cooling water tanks around the barrels.

    After the end of the Siberian Intervention IJA used the vehicles during various operations which results in the occupation of Manchuria in 1929. The further fate of the vehicles is unknown.

    In the mid-1920th the armor from one Austin AC was removed an mounted on a domestic 6 X 4 truck chassis, but there was no serial production.

    Data (Austin AC / Austin-Putilov AC)
    vehicles bought/captured: 2 / unknown, but less than 10
    battle weight: 4,5 (metric) t early version, 4,7 (metric) t late version
    crew: 4 men / 5 men
    armor 4 - 7 mm
    length: 4800mm
    width: 2030 mm
    height: 2450 mm
    engine: Austin 4-cylinder inline gasoline / russian 4-cylinder inline gasoline
    power: 50 hp/ 60 hp
    maximum speed: 50 km/h on roads / 60 km/h on roads
    range: 200 km
    Power/weight ratio: 11,1 HP/t / 12,75 hp/t
    armament: 2 X 7,7 mm Hotchkiss MG / 2 X 7,62 mm Maxim M1910 MG

    b) early Domestic Armored Cars:

    experimental light armoured car, based on a 1,5 t commercial light truck chassis, only one known prototype

    Besides the Austin Armoured Cars IJA used several experimental domestic armoured cars during the Siberian Intervention based on several light, medium and heavy truck chassis. They were only lightly armoured with the face-hardened armour plates riveted on a frame. All had a rotating turret on the fighting compartment armed with a Type Taisho 3 6,5 mm MG. The heavier vehicle also had several gun ports in the vehicle sides and rear.

    experimental medium armoured car, based on a 3 t commercial truck chassis, at least 2 prototypes were built

    The armor was only able to defeat ball ammunition but was penetrated by AP ammunition. In addition the off-road mobility was poor. Nevertheless the vehicles were used with some success during the operations and so the decision was made to continue development. Further data are unknown.

    experimental heavy armoured vehicle, based on a 4 t commercial truck chassis, at least 2 prototypes were built

    No further data, sorry.

    c) Renault Armoured Car:

    experimental Renault AC with prototype fighting compartment armour

    In 1928 IJA bought a Renault 6-wheel 2,5 t truck and developed a modern armour around the vehicle. The vehicle had a drivers position in the bow and in the rear. Armament consited of a Type Taisho 3 6,5 mm MG in a conical turret. In 1929 several trials and tests were made at IJA Cavalry School. In 1929 IJA also bought a Renault prototype of an armoured car based on the same chassis. Both vehicles were used in Manchuria at least in 1929.

    No further data avaliable.

    d) Type Crossley Armoured Car (Vickers Crossley Model 1925 Armoured Car):

    From 1925 on IJA and IJN bought some 12 Vickers Crossley Model 1925 Armoured Cars and used them for infantry and cavalry training. During the late 1920th incidents in Manchuria and northern China the vehicles were used with good success for patrol duties and infantry support.

    The vehicles were of standard serial production. The Crew consisted of forward and reverse driver, gunner and commander. The armor strength was 4 - 5,5 mm. Armament consisted of two Vickers 7,7 mm MGs which could be mounted in four gun ports inside the hermispherical turret.

    Official designation was "Type Crossley Armoured Car" but western sources also use "Dowa Armoured Car" which is (afaik) caused by a misinterpretation of japanese newspaper reports. The IJN vehicles were stationed in Shanghai for protection of the japanese settlement. The vehicles were used extensively during the 1932 Shanghai Incident. Until 1937 they were replaced by domestic light tanks or tankettes. The final fate is unknown

    vehicles bought: 12
    battle weight: 4,85 t
    crew: 4 men
    armor 4 - 5,5 mm
    length: 5020mm
    width: 1870 mm
    height: 2580 mm
    engine: Crossley 4-cylinder inline gasoline
    power: 50 hp
    maximum speed: 64 km/h forward, 8 km/h reverse
    range: 200 km
    Power/weight ratio: 11,1 hp/t
    armament: 2 X 7,7 mm Vickers MG

    e) Wolseley Armored Car / Simple Armored Car:

    In 1928 IJA ordered Isuzu to develop an armored car based on their licence-built Wolseley CP 1,5 t truck chassis. The Vickers-made armour of the Type Crossley AC was taken as basis for the armour scheme. The side extensions of the fighting compartment were removed as they were unnecessary due to the smaller turret. Armament consisted of a Type Taisho 3 6,5 mm MG. The vehicles were operated by a forward and a reverse driver, a gunner and a commander. First reported use of this vehicles was during a 1930 cavalry exercise at Mount Fuji Training Ground. At least two vehicles were built.

    The official designation is unknown, some IJA source refere to it as "Simple Armored Car" while most western sources use "Wolseley Armored Car" or even "Vickers Wolseley Armoured Car" due to the copied armour scheme. No further details known.

    The vehicles weight of 4,2 t was quite large for a 1,5 t truck chassis so it can be assumed that it had serious problems with the weight of the armour. In addition the engine power of 30 hp was quite weak for such a vehicle making it clumsy.

    vehicles built: at least 2
    battle weight: 4,2 t
    crew: 4 men
    armor 6 mm
    length: 5562mm
    width: 1892 mm
    height: 2615 mm
    power: 30 hp
    maximum speed: 40 km/h forward, 8 km/h reverse
    range: 200 km
    Power/weight ratio: 7,1 hp/t
    armament: 1 X Type Taisho 3 6,5 mm MG

    to be continued in part 2....

  7. #22
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    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles

    7) Armored Cars part 2

    f) Osaka Armored Car:

    This vehicle was seen during the 1932 Shanghai Incident operated by naval troops. But it was designed by Osaka Army Arsenal from a domestic 2,5 t truck chassis. The armor sheme was similar to the Wolseley Armored Car but built with thicker armor plates. The turret was slightly larger. Armament consisted of one Type Taisho 3 6,5 mm MG in the bow and a second in the turret.

    It seems that only one prototype was built as technology test vehicle. The official designation is not known but european sources from 1935 used "Osaka Armored Car" which would fit to the earlier designation system. Today the vehicle is mostly designated "Hokoku-Go Armored Car" but this is a misinterpretation of the writings on the vehicle during the 1932 Shanghai Incident. "Hokoku-Go" or "Hokoku" was a donation organisation which supported IJN with money and military goods. So it seems that the vehicle was bought by Hokoku after the test trials were finished by IJA and then donated to IJN.

    vehicles built: 1
    battle weight: 5,85 t
    crew: 4 - 5 men
    armor 8 - 11 mm
    length: 5000 mm
    width: 1850 mm
    height: 2650 mm
    ground clearance: 280mm
    engine: 4 cylinder gasoline
    power: 35 hp
    maximum speed: 60 km/h forward, 7 km/h reverse
    Power/weight ratio: 6 hp/t
    armament: 2 X Type Taisho 3 6,5 mm MG

    g) Chiyoda Armored Car:

    This is the first domestic armored car which was officially introduced by IJA and used in larger numbers. Design started in 1930 at the Chiyoda Motor Car Factory of Tokyo Gasu Denki K. K. (Tokyo Gas and Electric Industries, today Hino Motors Ltd.) based on their Type Q 6-wheeled truck under the development designation "Type QSW. The basic armor scheme was similar to the Wolseley Armored Car. The spoked wheels with pneumatic tired were replaced by disk wheels with fixed rubber bands. The turret had a cylindrical base with a sloped (in driving direction) right upper part. A standard MG mount was placed in this sloped part for air defence. Another MG mount was placed in the turret front and a third in the left bow. In addition three gun / visor ports were placed along each side of the fighting compartment. The standard crew consisted of driver, three gunners and a commander. Armament was three Type Taisho 11 6,5 mm MGs, later three Type 91 6,5 Tank MGs.

    The development was finished in 1931 and the vehicle was officially adopted as "Chiyoda Armored Car. In western literature the vehicle is often designated "Aikoku Armored Car" which is a misinterpretation of the writings on a vehicle used during the 1932 Shanghai Incident. This writing referes to "Aikoku-Koto" = "Public Party of Patriots", a nationalistic and militaristic political party which donated money and military material to IJA (as Hokoku did for IJN).

    Around 200 Chiyoda Armored Cars were produced and used during several early and mid 1930th IJA operations in northern China for infantry support and security duties in captured regions. They were replaced after 1937 by the Type 97 Tankette Te-Ke.

    vehicles built: ca. 200
    battle weight: 5,6 t
    crew: 5 men
    armor: unknown, most likely up to 6 mmm
    length: 5000 mm
    width: 1900 mm
    height: 2600 mm
    engine: 4 cylinder gasoline
    power: 75 hp
    maximum speed: 60 km/h
    Power/weight ratio: 13,4 hp/t
    armament: 3 X Type Taisho 11 6,5 mm MG, later 3 X Type 91 6,5 mm Tank MG

    h) Sumida Model P Armored Car:

    This armored car was built in 1930 or 1931 by Ishikawajima Heavy Industries at their Sumida Motor Car Factory based on an own 2,5 t 6-wheeled chassis. It was most likely developed as competitor of the Chiyoda Armored Car. The vehicle had a similar basic armor scheme. The turret was cylindrical with only one MG port in the front. The crew consisted of driver, two gunners and commander. Only one or two of these vehicles were built designated "Sumida Model P Armored Car" .

    During the 1932 Shanghai Incident one vehicle was donated by the Hokoku organisation to IJN with the writing "Hokoku" on it. Therefore the vehicle is often wrongly designated "Hokoku Armored Car" in western literature.

    In Shanghai few additional soldiers were loaded depending on the orders. At this time the basic armament consisted of one Type Taisho 3 6,5 mm MG in the turret and one Type Taisho 11 6,5 mm MG in the bow. The further fate is unknown.

    vehicles built: 1 or 2
    crew: 4 men
    armor: up to 6 mmm
    engine: 4 cylinder gasoline
    armament: 1 X Type Taisho 3 6,5 mm MG, 1 X Type Taisho 11 6,5 mm MG

    i) Type 93 Armored Car:

    This vehicle was developed by Ishikawajima Heavy industries at the Sumida Motor Car Factory in 1932 for IJN. It was based on an european 6-wheeled truck chassis as the drivers position was on the left. In addition the engine compartment was very long which was untypical for contemporary japanese truck designs. The crew consisted of driver, two gunners and commander. A small fighting compartment was placed on the rear axles. The turret was cylindrical with an extension with sloped front for the turret MG. Additionaly one MG-Port was placed on each side of the fighting compartment and on the right in the bow. Armament consisted of a Vickers 7,7 mm MG in the turret and four Type Taisho 11 6,5 mm MGs.

    It seems that this vehicles were specially built for street fightings following the lessons learned during the Shanghai-Incident in 1932. The 5 vehivcles built were all used by the Shanghai Special Naval Landing Force from 1933 on for security duties inside the european and the japanese settlements in Shanghai.

    Official designation was "Type 93 Armored Car" but in western literature it is often wrongly designated "Type 92 Armored Car" for the development year. In addition it is often mixed up with the Sumida Model P Armored Car.

    vehicles built: 5
    battle weight: 4,5 t
    crew: 4 men
    armor: unknown
    length: 4800 mm
    width: 1800 mm
    height: 2300 mm
    maximum speed: 40 km/h
    armament: 1 X Vickers 7,7 mm MG, 4 X Type Taisho 11 6,5 mm MG



  8. #23
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    Sep 2006
    Ruhr Area, Germany

    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles


    8) Tankettes part 1

    a) Type 94 tk Special Tractor:

    first prototype

    The 1930/31 trials with the Carden-Loyd Tankette showed the value of small armored tracked transport vehicles for battlefield supply, reconnaissance and liaison duties. So the decision was made to develop a domestic tankette.

    In 1933 requirements were given:
    - maximum weight 2,65 t
    - maximum speed 45 km/h
    - trench crossing abilities 1,5 m
    - size up to 3400 mm (l) / 1620 mm (w) / 1540 mm (h)
    - 2 men crew
    - engine placed in the bow to gain maximum storage room in the rear
    - driver placed next to the engine
    - welded face-hardened armor with a maximum strength of 12 mm, able to defeat infantry AP ammunition
    - small revolving turret with machine gun
    - good cross-country abilities
    - center-guide type tracks
    - use of an air-cooled 4-cylinder gasoline engine
    - steering system fixed radius with controlled differential
    - large rear access door
    - towing bar on the rear with a towing capacitiy of up to 1000 kg

    In addition requirements for a trailer to be towed by the tankette were given:
    - 750 kg payload
    - tracked
    - minimised height

    Tokyo Gas and Electric K.K. (a. k. a. Gasuden, today Hino Motors) was chosen for development in early 1933. They developed a seesaw-type suspension system with two pairs of roadwheels connected by a large horizontally mounted coil spring on each side. The roadwheels were connected by a bell crank. A forward driving wheel, a rear idle wheel and two return rollers completed the suspension. The basic system became standard for all further japanese tanks until 1945.

    late prototype with transport trailer

    To maximise armor protection the upper frontal armor was arranged sloped. This made an extension necessary for the gearbox, placed in front of the engine. The engine itself was placed on the left, surrounded by a layer of asbestos fiber mats. The driver sat on the right. A quadangular cupola with with visor ports on the sides and the front allowed a good sight. A hatch opening to the front allowed an easy access. A small conical turret with an extension for the Type 91 6,5 mm tank MG´s mount was placed centered on the rear. It also had a hatch opening forward on top. The turret was turned manually by the gunner/commander with the MG stock. The vehicle had a good balance and could easily pushed by few men. but the low weight also led to an instability as weapons platform making aimed MG fire problematic.

    The armored trailer had two roadwheels connected with a bell crank between two idle wheels on each side. It had an open top which could be covered by a waterproof canvas. The empty trailer could easily be manhandled.

    Test trials started in late 1933 and showed a good manoevrability even in bad terrain. The maximum speed of 45 km/h did also impress IJA officials as they had thought this requirement was too ambitious. Therefore the larger weight of 3400 kg was accepted. But the turret was found too high. So it was remodelled.

    After finishing different duration tests the prototype was shipped to Manchuria in spring 1934 and tested under field conditions. It worked fine but the long exhaust pipe to the muffler placed outside the vehicle was critisised as too vulnerable. So the forward part was relocated inside the vehicle. In addition the roadwheels were slightly enlarged for less problems with rocks stuck between them. The instability during firing the MG was found acceptable.

    The resulting vehicle was officially adopted as "Type 94 tk" the trailer as "Type 94 3/4 t Trailer". "tk" stands for "Tokusyu Keninsha" = "Special Tractor". Serial production was prepared from fall 1934 and started in early 1935. In spring 1935 the first production vehicles were used to built up the first armored transport companies. Some became organic units of infantry divisions, others became independent units which were attached temporarily to infantry units for special operations . A company consisted of 4 platoons with 4 Type 94 tk each, a company headquater with a Type 94 tk, 2 passenger cars and a motorcycle and a company train with 7 trucks. Other vehicles were used to enstrength cavalry and tank recon units, which received 7 vehicles each. The low weight of the Type 94 tk allowed tranport on heavy trucks during longer relocation cruises.

    In mid 1935 the first Type 94 tk were send to China were they were used with good success as transport vehicles. But as they often were the only armored vehicles under direct command of the infantry unit they were also often used as armored spearhead, a task they were not built for. But due to the lack of at-weapons in the attacked chinese units losses were only marginal. For this use the instability as weapons platfform became problematic. Therefore the infantry required several changes to increase stability, cross-country abilities and fire power.

    The modification works started in late 1936. The rear idle wheel was enlarged and relocated on the ground to enlength track ground contact by 780 mm to 2300 mm. Additionally it was spring mounted with a coil spring for better stability. This also made the use of a Type 94 37 mm tank gun possible. The turret gun mount was modified to make an easy and quick exchange of the MG with the gun and vice versa. This increased the weight from 3400 kg to 3900 kg. The use as transport and towing vehicle was not affected by the changes, even if the transport space was needed for ammunition when using the gun. All changes could also be easily implemented in the already avaliable tankettes. The vehicle was now rerated from armored transport to light armoured vehicle. From 1937 on the Type 91 MG was replaced by the Typpe 97 7,7 mm Tank MG. There were also trials to use a Diesel engine but due to the introduction of the successor not finished.

    late version with tank gun. Note the spring system of the idle wheels.

    Production numbers were 300 vehicles in 1935, 246 in 1936, 200 in 1937, 95 in 1938 and 1939 an 2 in 1940.

    From 1937 chinese forces were more and more equipped with at-weapons and heavy MGs which penetrated the armor easily (the AP-ammunition of the US .50 HMG penetrated the frontal armor on up to 600 m). So losses increased rapidly. Therefore the Type 94 tks were more and more withdrawn from attack duties and used for the intended tasks as transport and recon vehicles.

    With the introduction of the Type 97 Te-Ke tankettes the Type 94 tk were withdrawn from the recon units. Transport units used them until surrender.

    Special chemical and biological warfare trailers based on the transport version were also developed for spraying and decontamination. The spraying trailer had a conical front. It contained a biological or chemical agent tank and a spraying vent on the upper rear. The decontamination trailer contained a decontamination agent container and a release vent on the lower rear.

    spraying trailer

    decontamination trailer

    In western literature and on the web the early Type 94 tk is sometimes falsely designated "Type 92 Tankette" .

    Several special purpose vehicles and some experimental prototypes were made using the chassis of the Type 94 tk, too.

    Data (early / late version)
    vehicles built: 843
    battle weight: 3,4 (metric) t / 3,9 (metric) t
    crew: 2 men
    length: 3080mm / 3400mm
    width: 1700 mm
    height: 1620 mm
    ground clearance: 290 mm
    track ground contact: 1520 mm/ 2300 mm mm
    trench crossing capability: 1300 mm / 1600 mm
    climbing capability: 35°
    maximum vertical obstacle: 500 mm
    engine: Type 94 4-cylinder gasoline
    power: 32 hp at 1800 rpm
    maximum speed: 45 km/h / 40 km/h on roads
    fuel capacity: 106 l
    range: 500 km on road, 400 km in easy terrain, 200 km in rough terrain
    transmisson: 4 forward, 1 reverse
    Power/weight ratio: 9,4 HP/t / 8,2 hp/t
    armament: 1 X Type 91 6,5 mm Tank MG, later 1 X Type 94 37 mm Tank Gun or 1 X Type 97 7,7 mm Tank MG

    armor strength
    turret front 12 mm @ 90 °
    sides 10 mm @ 80 °
    rear 10 mm @ 80 °
    roof 6 mm @ 0 °
    superstructure front 12 mm @ 40 °
    sides 10 mm @ 90 °
    rear 8 mm @ 70 °
    top 6 mm @0 °

    to be continued in part 2...

  9. #24
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Ruhr Area, Germany

    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles

    8) Tankettes part 2

    b) Type 97 Light Armoured Vehicle Te-Ke:


    Until late 1936 Ikegai Automobile was able to develop a small light Diesel engine for the Type 94 tk but the size was slightly larger than the size of the gasoline engine. Therefore the length of the vehicle had to be increased which complicated the internal crew communitation. A touch code was used for this as the engine noise made voice commands impossible and the use of contemporary earphones was problematic due to the vibrations. . A trial prototype was tested from early 1937 on. It had a much larger ventilation and engine access hatch than the gasoline version.

    The larger engine constricted the driver, too. In addition the frontline troops demanded further changes for reconnaissance duties. So the decision was made to develop a new vehicle. Requirements were:
    - use of the same suspension, transmission and steering type
    - use of as many suspension part of the new Type 95 Light Tank Ha-Go to simplify maintainance
    - relocation of the Diesel engine
    - increase of frontal armor to 16 mm
    - use of welding wherever possible

    The prototype was finished in September 1937. Engine and driver changed the side and the engine was shifted slightly to the rear but the stroke was still limited due to the avaliable height which limited the engine power. Due to this relocation the gearbox could be relocated, too, making an extension in the frontal armor unnecessary. In addition the vertical lower frontal armor cold be replaced by a curved casted armor plate. The flat turret hatch was replaced by a curved hatch making low angle fire easier for the gunner. In addition the roadwheels from the Type 95 Light Tank and a similar driving wheel were used. Innitial tests showed that the noise and heat emission of the engine was larger than from the gasoline engine which was found inacceptable. So the design was changed again from November 1937 on.

    The engine was now placed lengthwise in the rear inside a separated compartment. The turret was shiftet to front and the rear access hatch was removed. Therefore the vehicle was no longer able to transport supply inside. But the towing bar was still attached. Additionally the armor above the drivers seat was remodelled and streamlined. The drivers hatch was removed. So access to the fighting compartment was now only possible through the turret hatch.
    The turret was now partly welded and an acccess hatch was added to the rear mainly to simplify ammunition supply. The gun could still easily be exchanged with the MG.

    The innitial factory tests were finished in early 1938 and the vehicle was handed over to IJA Infantry School for field test. In mid 1938 the vehicle was officially adopted as Type 97 Light Armored Vehicle Te-Ke. Production started in early 1939 with 271 produced in 1939, 284 in 1940 amd 41 and 38 in 1942. Production was stopped in 1942 to shift the raw materials to the production of the Type 97 Medium Tanks and aircraft.

    serial production vehicle

    The Type 97 Te-Ke replaced the Type 92 Heavy Armored Vehicles and the Type 94 tk in the infantry and cavalry recon units and was used with good sucess as armored recon vehicle. In the later stages of the war the vehicles were als used for infantry support and against tanks with less success due to the small gun with its bad penetration and poor HE-power.

    Data (MG / gun version)
    vehicles built: 593
    battle weight: 4,5 (metric) t / 4,75 (metric) t
    crew: 2 men
    length: 3700 mm
    width: 1990 mm
    height: 1790 mm
    trench crossing capability: 1600 mm
    maximum vertical obstacle: 810 mm
    engine: Ikegai OHV Series 4-cylinder Diesel
    power: 65 hp at 2300 rpm
    maximum speed: 40 km/h on roads
    fuel capacity: 240 l
    range: 250 km in easy terrain
    transmisson: 4 forward, 1 reverse
    Power/weight ratio: 14,8 HP/t / 13,6 HP/t
    armament: 1 X Type 97 7,7 mm Tank MG / 1 X Type 94 37 mm Tank Gun
    ammunition: 2800 shots for MG or 102 grenades for gun

    armor strength
    turret front 16 mm @ 80 °
    sides 16 mm @ 80 °
    rear 10 mm @ 75 °
    roof 6 mm @ 0 °
    superstructure front 12 mm @ 40 °
    sides 10 mm @ 90 °, upper part @ 45 °
    rear 8 mm @ 70 °
    top 6 mm @0 °



  10. #25
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    Sep 2006
    Ruhr Area, Germany

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    9) Light Tank part 1:

    a) Type 95 Light Tank Ha-Go part 1 :

    early prototype

    After introduction of the next generation trucks in the early 1930th with their maximum speed of 60 km/h IJA deployed a mechanised brigade at Kungchuling/Manchuria in early 1933. This unit consisted of mechanised infantry, artillery and support units plus a company-sized tank unit. Main task was to develop tactics for mechanised units. During the first exercises the avaliable Type 89 tanks with their maximum speed of 25 km/h were not able to follow the fast moving infantry. This was found unacceptable. But several members of IJA High Command weren´t convinced that the japanese heavy industry was able to develop a tracked vehicle with the planned maximum speed of 40 km/h

    So IJA Technical Headquaters started a mobile tank development program. First choice seemed to be a wheelcumtrack-vehicle. But first studies indicated that this technology was still very complex and expensive and with the avaliable financial budget a successful introduction was not too sure. The new advanced Christie-suspension was also taken into account but the expected costs for licence and development seemed too high, too. With the success of the new Type 92 Heavy Armored Vehicle for the cavalry the decision was made to built a conventional tracked vehicle instead.

    In July 1933 the requirements were given to Army Technical Bureau:

    - maximum speed 40 km/h
    - maximum weight 7 t
    - 3 men crew of driver, commander-gunner and machine gunner-technician
    - armament: long 37 mm gun in a revolving turret and bow MG
    - face-hardened armor, available to defeat infantry AP-ammunition, maximum strength 12 mm
    - use of welding as much as possible
    - access through a hatch on the turret
    - size up to 4300 mm (l) X 2000 mm (w) X 2280 mm (h)
    - use of an air-cooled Diesel engine, placed in the rear right
    - engine compartment separated from the fighting compartment but accessible
    - clutch-brake-type transmission with forward driving wheel
    - development in cooperation with and serial production by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

    Until June 1934 a prototype was finished. Welding techniques weren´t too advanced so many parts still had to be riveted. The vehicle had two pairs of bogie wheels suspended on a single bell crank with two bell cranks connecting them to a large horizontal spring plus one centered return roller on each side. The spring was covered by a hemispherical armor plate. The bow and partly the rear armor were arranged angled, the side armor was vertical. The driver sat on the right (in driving direction). He operated the tank using levers for the track breaks and reduction gears. The bow gunner/technician sat on the left of the driver operating a Type 91 6,5 mm Tank MG in a standard mount. The turret was slightly conical with an extension for the gun. A small two door access hatch in the rear allowed easier ammunition supply. All crew members entered the tank through a large hatch on top of the turret. The commander had to observe the battlefield, to operate the gun, and to turn the turret. Turret traverse was done by turning a small handwheel operating gear wheels in a gear ring. Internal communitation was wire-based with simple headsets.

    A small hatch on the upper rear armor allowed service access for the rear engine parts. A large hatch with cooling air intakes on the upper armor allowed engine exchange.

    Basic tests including a 700 km endurance trial were finished until October 1934 with good success. The requirements were met including a maximum road speed of 43 km/h and an operational range of 250 km. Only the weigth of 7,5 t was slightly too high. Therefore the armor was modified by slightly decreasing its strength in less vulnerable areas. The armour in front of the driver was now curved and could now be opened to the top for a better view and ventilation. The result was a vehicle with a weight of 6,5 t and a maximum speed of 45 km/h archieved during a second 370 km endurance trial.

    The tank was sent to Cavalry School in October 1934 and tested intensely. The results were very good and an immediate introduction as replacement for the quite weakly armed Type 92 Heavy Armored Car was suggested. The prototype was then handed over to Infantry School for further tests. There the power of the Type 94 Tank Gun and the 12 mm maximum armor were rated weak making the tank not really suitable for the contemporary IJA tank doctrine to use tanks for infantry support. Nevertheless the tank was sent to Manchuria in late 1934 for climatic and practical tests. These included maneuvers with a mixed mobile brigade for fast assaults. There the tank showed a very good performance especially in very cold climate and the speed was rated useful for fast assaults. Therefore the infantry branch also requested an immediate introduction.

    Second prototype

    From June until November 1935 a second prototype was built implementing several small changes suggested after the tests. Stronger sprockets and span wheels were mounted and a second return roller was added to the suspension for more stability. The bow gunner received an armor extension for better handling and engine access was designed easier. In addition special bogies with two small wheel placed between the road wheels were designed to prevent Kaoliang plants which were quite common in northern China and Manchuria pitching them when they get between them. This modification was called "Manchurian Suspension". These were replaced by the standard bogies when tank units left Manchuria for other operational areas.

    The vehicle was officially introduced in late November 1935 after few very successful tests as "Type 95 Light Tank" and the internal Mitsubishi development designation "Ha-Go" was adopted officially as short designation. Before start of mass production in mid-1936 more changes were made to increase the combat abilities. The vertical side armor was improved by adding conical hemispheric armor extensions above the tracks to the fighting compartment for a better armor protection and to increase ammo capacity. In addition the upper side armor above the engine was arranged angled and large cooling hatches with vertical slats were added there. The bow gunners armor extension was remodeled and enlarged. An observation cupola with a two-piece hatch replaced the original hatch on the turret. A Type 91 Tank MG facing in 5 o´clock direction was placed in an armor extension on the rear turret to still have firepower in case of a damaged gun (not for close defense). The suspension received standardised road wheels and easier to produce driving sprockets and idle wheels. The weight was now 7,4 t which was accepted.

    Production vehicle with manchurian suspension captured by soviet troops during the Nomonhan Incident

    Due to budgetary problems and the low priority for raw materials for tank production serial production started with low numbers at Mitsubishi:
    1936: 31
    1937: 80
    1938: 53
    1939: 115
    After the Nomonhan Incident and because of the ongoing China-Incident (as the 2nd Sino-Japanese War was called in Japan) with the intensified support of the chinese government by USA, GB and France military budget and priority of tanks were increased boosting the tank production numbers:
    1940: 422
    1941: 685
    1942: 755
    1943: some 234
    Due to too low capacities at Mitsubishi Niigata Tekkosho, Kobe Seikosho and Kokura Army Arsenal also started to produce this tank during this periode. In mid 1943 production was stopped mainly to increase the production numbers of the Type 97, Type 1 and Type 3 Medium Tanks. With a total production of ca. 2375 vehicles the Ha-Go was the most numerous japanese armored vehicle.

    to be continued in part 2...

  11. #26
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    Sep 2006
    Ruhr Area, Germany

    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles

    9) Light Tanks part 2

    a) Type 95 Light Tank part 2:

    Few vehicles were equipped with a thin handrail-type antenna on the turret and wireless communcations equipment (Type 94 Radio) to be used as command tanks.

    Type 95 Ha-Go with antenna

    The first operational unit equipped with the Type 95 Light Tank was the tank unit of the Independent Mixed Brigade which received their vehicles in late 1936. First operational use was during the innitial stage of the China Incident at Shansi Province against a retreating enemy. There the tank showed its value as scout tank pursuing the enemy.
    It was planned to equip each tank battalion with a light tank company consisting of 13 Type 95 Ha-Go (Command section with one tank and 4 platoons with 4 tanks each). In addition each medium tank company should receive 2 light tanks for the command section and the cavalry recon units should replace their Type 92 Heavy Armored Vehicles with this tank, too. However production numbers were too low to archive this goal especially with the increasing losses after 1939.

    After 1937 the Type 91 Tank MGs were replaced by Type 97 7,7 mm Tank MGs and the Type 98 37 mm Tank Gun replaced the Type 94 37 mm Tank Guns.

    The tank units of the IJN Special Naval Landing Forces received several Type 95 Light Tanks and used them for garrison duties on several pacific islands. The siamese army also bought some of these tanks.

    siamese Type 95 Ha-Go

    The Type 95 Light tank was very successful as scout tank especially during the innitial stages of the war against the western allies. During the 1941/42 Malaya campaign these tanks put a high preasure on the retreating Commonwealth units making it almost impossible for them to regroup and build up a successful defence line. They also made the fast success against the ABDA-forces in Duch East-India possible. During the 1941/42 Philippine and Burma campaigns they also did a good job but suffered losses from the US M3 Light Tanks which penetrated them easily on longer ranges while they had to get close to penetrate them. This and the 1939 Nomonhan campaign showed that they were not suitable against modern contemporary light tanks. But they were never intended to fight enemy tanks.

    All successes after 1940 were against an inferiour or badly leaded enemy which concealed that the tank was in fact outdated. Many commanders were very pleased with the tank and saw no need for a new design. This lead to the wrong decision to refuse an already production-ready modern successor and even to prohibit further developments to spare ressources until 1944. So in 1944/45 the Type 95 Light Tanks had to withstand tanks and anti-tank weapons which were designed 5 to 8 years later and were easily slaughtered.

    After the war few Type 95 Ha-Go with additional armour plates around the turret front and side (ordered by the commanding officer of the japanese unit they belong to) were taken over and used by french colonial forces in Indochina and used until 1948. The additional armor plates had a thickness of 10 mm and were mounted spaced on the turret front and on the bow extension for the MG-gunner/radioman.

    Type 95 Ha-Go used by french troops

    vehicles built: ca. 2375
    battle weight: 7,4 (metric) t
    crew: 3 men
    length: 4830 mm
    width: 2070 mm
    height: 2280 mm
    ground clearance: 390 mm
    track width: 251 mm
    ground pressure: 0,63 kg/cm²
    trench crossing capability: 2000 mm
    climbing capability: 40°
    maximum vertical obstacle: 600 mm
    engine: Mitsubishi A6120VD 6-cylinder Diesel engine
    power: 120 hp at 1800 rpm
    maximum speed: 40 km/h on roads, 28 km/h cross-country
    fuel capacity: 164 l
    range: 248 km on roads
    transmission: 4 forward, 1 reverse
    Power/weight ratio: 15,6 hp/t
    armament: 1 X Type 94 37 mm Tank Gun , 2 X Type 91 6,5 mm MG, later 1 X Type 98 37 mm Tank Gun and 2 Type 97 7,7 mm Tank MG
    Ammunition capacity: 119 37 mm grenades, 2940 MG shots

    armour strength
    turret front 12 mm @ 80 °
    sides 12 mm @ 80 °
    rear 12 mm @ 90 °
    roof 6 mm @ 0 °
    structure front 12 mm @ 70 °, upper part @ 78 °
    sides 12 mm @90 °, upper part 10 mm @ 45 °
    rear 8 mm @ 90 °, upper part 8 mm @ 30 °
    top 10 mm @ 0 °

    to be continued in part 3...

  12. #27
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    Sep 2006
    Ruhr Area, Germany

    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles

    9) Light Tanks part 3

    b) Type 98 Light Tank Ke-Ni:

    Despite the IJA High Command´s policy that no new light tank design was necessary Army Technical Bureau started a new development in 1938 as technology test program. Since the beginning of the Ha-Go design in 1933 tank technology and metalurgy had made large progress. Welding techniques were improved and sloped armour was about to become standard. Therefore a completely new tank was designed. As it was a test program no official requirements were given. The decision was made to develop two different types of suspension for comparison tests. Both prototypes should use the same armor body. In addition a new armament consisting of a new 37 mm tank gun and a coaxial MG should be developed. Development orders were given to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Hino Motors. Mitsubishi should develop a Christie-type suspension, Hino a suspension based on the Type 97 Medium Tank.

    The armour body consisted of a 40° sloped lower bow armor with a casted bow. The superstructure was designed pentagonal with a slope of 80° The forward armor consisted of a small center part which could be opened downward with the driver´s optics. The forward side armor ended above the tracks. Visor ports for the driver increased the view angles to the sides. A pistol port on each side allowed close defence. All driver´s visor ports had bullet-proof glass for protection. The rear side armor had just one opening on the rear right side (in driving direction) for the exhaust pipe. The rear armor had two large ventilation air intakes. On the lower rear armor a large access hatch allowed engine maintainance. A second maintainance hatch was placed on the top armor behind the turret. It was not possible to replace the engine through these hatches. So the complete superstructure could be removed. All armor plates where welded together. Rivets were only used to mount the frames of hatches and visor ports.

    lifted superstructure

    The engine was placed sidewise in the rear allowing a shorter length of the vehicle. The propeller shaft was placed offset to the left. Maintainance was also possible from the fighting compartment. The driver sat in the center of the tank. He operated the tank with a driving wheel instead of levers. The communication equipment was operated by the commander and consisted of a Type 94 wireless set and a wire-based onboard communication set.

    The turret was conical with a large semicircular hatch on top. On each side of the gun mount holes for optics were placed with pistol ports below them. Additional visor ports with gun ports below them were placed on each side and the rear access hatch. Turret crew consisted of the commander/loader on the right side and the gunner on the left side. The turret was turned manually by the commander using a handwheel. This tank was the first japanese tank with a coaxial MG instead of a rear turret MG. The gun mount allowed an elevation of -15° - 25° and a traverse from 5° left - 10° right.

    Mitsubishi prototype

    Mitsubishi developed a suspension using a licence from Christie. It consisted of four large roadwheels with rubber bands, a rear driving sprocket and a forward idle wheel. The vehicle was designated "Experimental Light Tank Prototype Kou(A)".

    The Hino suspension consisted of 3 pairs of small roadwheels connected by bogies, 3 return rollers, a forward driving sprocket and a rear idle wheel. The two forward roadwheel pairs were connected by a large horizontal spring, the rear pair was attached to the mid pair by a smaller horizontal coil spring. All springs where placed inside the tank. This vehicle was designated "Experimental Light Tank Prototype Otsu".

    In mid 1939 the test trials started. During testing both prototypes reached a maximum speed of above 50 km/h and very good cross-country abilities. Finally the Hino suspension was rated slightly superiour and the Christie system was dropped. Several minor changes were demanded and introduced including a less sloped conical turret for additional turret space and smaller holes for the turret optics. All changes were finished until late 1939. Later the vehicle received the official designation "Type 98 Light Tank Ke-Ni".

    Even if the tank was far superiour to the Type 95 Ha-Go IJA High Command saw no need for a new light tank which would increase the number of vehicles to be supplied. Additionally there were not enough raw materials avaliable for a parallel production of a second light tank model and a change of production would have ment a periode with no tank production which was not acceptable. So the plans and the prototype were stored.

    In 1942 after facing the superiour contemporary allied tanks and recognising the reports of the japanese observers about T-34 and KV tanks on the german eastern front the general tank policy was changed from "everything is fine" to "we need better tanks". So the already about to be outdated Type 98 Light Tank was finally put into production in mid 1942 but with a Type 1 37 mm Tank Gun instead of the Type 100 gun. 87 vehicles were produced in 1942 and 26 more in 1943. Then production was ceased in favour of the more powerful medium tanks.

    It was clear that the 37 mm tank gun was generally outdated and not suitable for anti-tank fights. So the production vehicles were rated as scout tanks and issued to homeland defence tank units. An unknown number of vehicles were send to army airborne units to be tested as airborne tanks carried by KU-7 gliders. The project was cancelled in 1944 and the tanks were handed back to tank units.

    None was used operationally.

    vehicles built: 113
    battle weight: 7,2 (metric) t
    crew: 3 men
    length: 4110 mm
    width: 2110 mm
    height: 2820 mm
    ground clearance: 350 mm
    trench crossing capability: 2100 mm
    climbing capability: 30°
    maximum vertical obstacle: 700 mm
    engine: Mitsubishi Type 100 6-cylinder Diesel engine
    power: 130 hp at 2100 rpm
    maximum speed: 50 km/h on roads
    range: 300 km on roads
    transmisson: 5 forward, 1 reverse
    Power/weight ratio: 18,1 hp/t
    armament: 1 X Type 100 37 mm Tank Gun, later 1 X Type 1 37 mm Tank Gun and 1 Type 97 7,7 mm Tank MG coaxial
    Ammunition capacitiy: 106 37 mm grenades, 3160 MG shots

    armour strength
    turret front 16 mm @ 80 °
    sides 16 mm @ 80 °
    rear 16 mm @ 90 °
    roof 6 mm @ 0 °
    structure front 16 mm @ 40 °, upper part @ 60 °
    sides 12 mm @90 °, upper part @ 60 °
    rear 8 mm @ 65 °, upper part @ 35 °
    top 10 mm @ 0 °

    c) Type 2 Light Tank Ke-To:

    In late 1941 IJA airborne units demanded a tank able to be carried by gliders. So they received several Type 98 Light Tanks in late 1942. After innitial tests an enlargement of the turret was demanded for easier gun handling. So Hino developed an almost cylindrical turret until early 1943.

    Due to raw material shortages production of the resulting vehicle could not be started before early 1944. At this time IJA High Command demanded a standardisation of the tracks of light tanks, prime movers and tracked transport vehicles and so the new tracks were added to the design. Shortly after serial production started the glider development program was cancelled and so production was ceased after only 29 vehicles built. All were issued to army airborne units and stored for the expected homeland invasion. None was ever used operational.

    as Type 98 Light Tank Ke-Ni except
    Height: 2120 mm
    Ammunition capacitiy: 93 37 mm grenades

    armour strength
    turret front 16 mm @ 90 °
    sides 16 mm @ 90 °
    rear 16 mm @ 90 °
    roof 6 mm @ 0 °
    structure front 16 mm @ 40 °, upper part @ 60 °
    sides 12 mm @90 °, upper part @ 60 °
    rear 8 mm @ 65 °, upper part @ 35 °
    top 10 mm @ 0 °

    to be continued in part 4...

  13. #28
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    Sep 2006
    Ruhr Area, Germany

    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles

    9) Light Tanks part 4

    d) Type 3 Light Tank Ke-Ri:

    no pic, sorry

    In 1942 IJA started a large program to increase the firepower of its tank force regarding at-power. This included trials to upgun the Type 95 Light Tank. One try was to mount a Type 97 57 mm Tank Gun inside the standard turret of the Ha-Go. 3 vehicles were modified that way and tested in early 1943. Results were unsatisfying as the armour penetration even with HEAT ammunition wasn´t larger than with the Type 98 37 mm Tank Gun. In addition the larger recoil forces damaged the turret ring and gun handling was very problematic inside the narrow turret. Therefore the project was ceased and the tanks rearmed with the standard gun.

    as Type 95 Light Tank Ha-Go except
    armament: 1 X Type 97 57 mm Tank Gun

    e) Type 4 Light Tank Ke-Nu:

    Another try to increase the firepower of the Type 95 Light Tank was to replace the turret with surplus Type 97 Medium Tank Chi-Ha turrets. This was done after the Type 3 Light Tank project was cancelled. For this the turret ring diameter had to be increased from 1000 mm to 1350 mm. The handrail antenna was later removed from the turret as the tank did not have a wireless set.

    Tests started in 1944. The modification increased the vehicle weight by 1000 kg making the tank top-heavy and increasing the stress on the suspension. As result the accuracy was decreased and the tanks broke down more often. An additionall armour plate between the bow gunner extension and the driver´s hatch closed a shot trap. With this modification the driver´s hatch couldn´t be opened any more. After several tests the project was cancelled, too. As it was impossible to rearm the 10 converted tanks the decision was made to use them as mobile pillboxes only.

    An unknown number of Type 95 Ha-Go were modified the same way by the Kwantung Army in Manchuria at Mukden Army Arsenal. It seems that this conversions were done without official permission. These vehicles can be easily identified by several minor changes compared to the officially converted tanks. Most significant is a slight turret overhang to the left and the missing additional armour plate. One of these vehicles is on display at Kubinka Museum.

    as Type 95 Light Tank Ha-Go except
    vehicles built: 10 plus an unknown number of modifications at Mukden Army Arsenal
    battle weight: 8,4 (metric) t
    height: 2480 mm
    ground preasure: unknown
    trench crossing capability: 2000 mm
    climbing capability: unknown
    maximum vertical obstacle: unknown
    maximum speed: unknown
    range: unknown
    Power/weight ratio: 14,3 hp/t
    armament: 1 X Type 97 57 mm Tank Gun and 2 Type 97 7,7 mm Tank MG
    Ammunition capacitiy: unknown

    armour strength
    turret front 25 mm @ 80 °
    sides 25 mm @ 75 °
    rear 25 mm @ 78 °
    roof 10 mm @ 0 °
    structure front 12 mm @ 70 °, upper part @ 78 °
    sides 12 mm @90 °, upper part 10 mm @ 45 °
    rear 8 mm @ 90 °, upper part 8 mm @ 30 °
    top 10 mm @ 0 °

    f) Experimental Type 5 Light Tank Ke-Ho:

    No picture, sorry

    first proposal but with a Chi-He turret

    With the change in tank doctrine in mid 1942 IJA also ordered the development of a new light tank for reconnaissance and liason duties but with limited priority. Most data of this project were destroyed before surrender but the following is known:

    Reqirements were among others:
    - maximum armor strength 20 mm
    - main armament consisting of a shortened version of the Type 1 47 mm Tank Gun to spare weight and one MG
    - crew consisting of driver, gunner, loader and commander/wireless operator
    - use of standardised suspension parts

    Development started in late 1942 in cooperation with Hino Motors. The decision was made to use the Type 98 Light Tank as basis to speed up development. Two proposals were made. The first was to use a lightened version of the standard suspension of the Type 97 Chi-Ha and an armoured body with the basic scheme of the Type 98 Ke-Ni. The second proposal used the suspension of the Ke-Ni with external springs. The superstructure was also based on the predecessor but positioned further to the rear. Both proposals had a maximum superstructure armour strength of 20 mm and used the standard turret of the Chi-Ha KAI.

    second proposal with a Chi-Ha KAI turret and coaxial MG

    The development of the main armament started in September 1942 and it was planned to finish the prototype until June 1943. Due to raw material shortages and the low priority it wasn´t done until March 1945. The gun had a slightly shortened barrel and a modified recoil mechanism. Elevation was -15° to 20°, no traverse. With the standard Type 1 47 mm HEAP grenade a muzzle velocity of around 740 m/sec was planned. The project seemed to be ceased. For the secondary armament there were proposals to mount it coaxial, in the right turret side or the turret rear.

    Tokyo Gas and Electric (TGE) developed a small, supercharged 6-cylinder in-line Diesel engine with 150 hp and 9300 cm³. It was based on a truck engine introduced in 1937.

    A prototype of the tank was finished in mid 1945 armed with a standard Type 1 47 mm Tank Gun. There are no survivng pictures or drawings showing the outer apperance. But the drawing avaliable on the internet showing a vehicle similar to the Type 1 Medium Tank is definitely far from reality.

    (without guarantee)

    vehicles built: 1
    battle weight: 9 (metric) t empty, 10 t battle weight
    crew: 4 men
    length: 4110 mm
    width: 2230 mm
    height: 2270 mm
    track width: 305 mm
    ground contact length: 3000 mm
    ground preasure: 0,555 kg/cm²
    trench crossing capability: 2100 mm
    climbing capability: 34°
    fordability: 1000 mm
    engine: TGE 6-cylinder in-line Diesel engine
    power: 150 hp at 2000 rpm
    maximum speed: 50 km/h on roads
    fuel capacity: 163 l
    Power/weight ratio: 14,8 hp/t
    armament: 1 X Type 1 47 mm Tank Gun, 1 X Type 97 7,7 mm Tank MG
    Ammunition capacitiy: 90 47 mm grenades, unnknown number of MG shots

    armour strength
    turret front 19 mm
    sides 16 mm
    rear 16 mm
    roof 10 mm @ 0 °
    structure front 20 mm
    sides 16 mm
    rear 12 mm



  14. #29
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Ruhr Area, Germany

    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles


    10) Medium Tanks part 1:

    a) Type 97 Medium Tank Chi-Ni:

    During the development of the Type 95 Light Tank Army Technical Bureau kept an eye on new european tank designs. The development of the british A6 and A7 Medium Tank series showed that the next generation of tanks would be heavier with thicker armor and new tasks will be covered. In addition the low maximum speed of the Type 89 Medium Tank became more and more unsuitable for fast operations which were expected on future battlefields even if the frontline commanders were very satisfied with the vehicle. So in 1936 IJA High Command decided to start the development of a fast medium tank to replace the Type 89 tanks.

    At this time the available budget was quite low as IJA had to support many garrison troops in Manchuria and northern China. In addition the parliament was still angry about being by-passed by IJA regarding the foreign politics how to deal with China in the early 1930th and saw no need to increase the military budget. So the decision was made to develop two different vehicle. One should be lightweight, cheap and easy to be built, the other should be heavier and built using modern techniques without having a too harsh look on the costs.

    The development order for the cheap tank was given to Osaka Army Arsenal under the designation "Medium Tank Project Plan 2". The requirements were:

    - maximum weight 10 (metric) t
    - maximum armor strength 20 mm
    - 3 men crew consisting of driver, bow gunner/technician and commander/gunner/loader
    - maximum speed 27 km/h
    - trench crossing capability 2200 mm, 2400 mm with a ditching tail
    - armament consisting of a 57 mm gun and one MG

    The prototype was finished in June 1937. The first design used the suspension from the Type 95 Light Tank but is was soon clear that this configuration wouldn't be able to cope with the weight. In addition the bigger vehicle length made this concept prone to mechanical breakdowns. So another suspension was designed based on the Type 94 Special Tractor. It used four pairs of small roadwheels connected with bogies. Bell cranks connected each two pairs with a large horizontal spring which was covered by a hemispherical armor plate. Three return rollers, a forward driving sprocket and a rear idle wheel completed the suspension. Idle wheel and driving sprocket were the same as used on the Type 95 Ha-Go.

    front view

    The lower bow armor was negative angled while the upper bow armor was very flat. Two large access hatches in the upper bow armor allowed maintainance of the reduction gears. The superstructure was similar to the Ha-Go but bow gunner and driver changed place. This was necessary due to the limited space inside the vehicle and the position of the driving shaft. The driver sat below a semi-hexagonal conical armor extension with a big viewport in the center plate and a pistol port in each side. The trapezoid viewport had bullet-proof glass for protection and could be opened upward. The tank was operated with levers for track brakes and reduction gears.

    The bow gunner operated a Type 91 65 mm MG mounted in a standard mount riveted to a sloped armor plate. Welded semi-hexagonal conical armor extensions were mount over each track to the fighting compartment to enlarge the available space. Each had a pistol port facing to the rear and a third port was placed next to the bow gunner The engine was placed lengthwise in the center behind the fighting compartment. Sloped armor plates covered it from the sides and the rear. On the (in driving direction) right side a large ventilator and access hatch with vertical slats was mounted which could be opened upward. The exhaust pipe left the vehicle below the hatch and let to a muffler on the rear right. A large two-door access hatch on the upper armor allowed engine exchange. A large cooling air intake and access hatch was mounted in the left engine compartment door. The lower rear armor was curved. A short ditching tail was mounted in the center of the rear armor.

    rear view

    A small conical turret was placed offset to the left behind the driver. It was turned manually by turning a handwheel. One pistol port was on the left of the gun and a second in the rear turret in the access door for ammunition supply. A two-door rectangular hatch and a ventilator were placed on top of the turret. The crew could only enter the tank through this hatch. The space inside the turret was very limited and made gun handling problematic.

    During the competitive tests with the "Medium Tank Project Plan 1 prototype" the vehicle showed good maneuverability and handling characteristics. All requirements were not only met but exceeded. The weight limit was undershot so much that vulnerable parts could receive 25 mm armor instead of the required 20 mm and the weight still did not exceed 9,8 t. The maximum speed was 30 km/h with a 135 hp Diesel engine and the trench crossing capability was 2500 mm with tail. The limited internal space was found acceptable. The competitor also met all requirements easily but there were still the budget problems. So in early July 1937 IJA High Command inclined to order the plan 2 vehicle now designated "Type 97 Medium Tank Chi-Ni". But before the final decision the China Incident broke out. Suddenly budgetary problems were wiped off and the decision was made to order the more advanced plan 1 prototype instead.

    The Chi-Ni prototype was scrapped even if it was superior to the Type 95 Light Tank and Army Technical Bureau made the suggestion to replace the Ha-Go with this tank.

    only few data survived the war
    vehicles built: 1
    battle weight: 9,8 (metric) t
    crew: 3 men
    armor: up to 20 mm
    length: 5260 mm
    width: unknown
    height: unknown
    trench crossing capability: 2200 mm, 2500 mm with tail
    engine: Ikegai 8-cylinder Diesel engine
    power: 135 hp at 1800 rpm
    maximum speed: 30 km/h on roads, 12 km/h cross-country
    Power/weight ratio: 13,8 hp/t
    armament: 1 X Type 97 57 mm Tank Gun, 1 X Type 91 6,5 mm MG
    Ammunition capacity: 60 57 mm grenades, 3000 MG shots

    to be continued in part 2...

  15. #30
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Ruhr Area, Germany

    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles


    10) Medium Tanks part 2

    b) Type 97 Medium Tank Chi-Ha part 1:

    The prototype development order for the "Medium Tank Project Plan 1" was given to Mitsubishi. Requirements were:

    - Maximum weight 13,5 t
    - Maximum armor strength 25 mm
    - 4 men crew consisting of driver, bow gunner/wireless operator, commander/loader and gunner
    - Maximum speed 35 km/h
    - Trench crossing capability 2500 mm
    - Armament consisting of a 57 mm gun and 2 MG

    Until June 1937 the prototype was finished. The first suspension version was also derivated from the one of the Ha-Go. It had 3 pairs of roadwheel with rubber bands. The rear 2 pairs were connected with a large horizontal coil spring by bell cranks. The forward pair was connected the same way with the center pair but a smaller coil spring was used. A forward driving sprocket , a rear idle wheel and three return rollers completed the suspension. idle wheels and roadwheels were not massive to spare weight. The rear return roller was thinner and supported only the inner half of the track.

    All armor plates made of face-hardened rolled steel. They were welded together but also riveted to enstrengh the connections. Hatch frames, visor slits and MG ports were riveted on the armor, too. The lower bow armor was angled negative, the upper bow was very flat. The superstructure was arranged angled with a slanting rear part. The driver sat below a semicircular extension in the (in driving direction) left side. A large rectangular visor port protected with bullet-proof glass allowed good sight. The bow gunner operated a Type 91 6,5 mm Tank MG in a standard mount on the right side. The wireless equipment, a Type 94 Radio Set, was mounted in a frame below the MG. An ammunition rack for 30 X 20 shot MG magazines was placed on the right side. Additional ammunition was stored to the rear right of the gunner seat and below the floor plates.

    The engine was placed lengthwise in the center behind the fighting compartment. An access hatch allowed maintenance from inside the vehicle. Additional maintenance access hatches with ventilation grilles were placed in the rear superstucture armor. A large access hatch with a large grille for engine exchange and cooling air intake was mounted in the upper rear armor. The fuel rank was placed in the rear of the engine, a 180 Ah battery and a lubricant tank were mouted above it. Exhaust pipes lead to mufflers on the rear mudguards on both sides. The rear armor was arranged curved.

    prototype of the command tank version showing the innitial armor sheme

    The turret was conical with a large cylindrical commanders cupola in the rear right. He was placed offset to the left behind the driver. A large access hatch with an integrated periscope on the cupola allowed the crew to enter the tank. A short rod antenna was on the front right of the cupola. The tank gun was mounted in the turret front and a standard MG mount was placed in a rear extension in 7 o´clock direction.

    During the trials the prototype met the requirements. Maximum speed was 38 km/h with a 170 hp Diesel engine. Even if it was the more potent tank design budgetary problems made it unlikely to introduce it. Then China Incident started in July 1937 leading to a massive increase of the military budget from 500.000.000 Yen to 1.700.000.000 Yen in 1937 alone. So finally the decision was made to introduce this tank, now designated "Type 97 Medium Tank Chi-Ha". Several changes were demanded regarding suspension, armor and turret.

    Driver and bow gunner changed the sides to meet the now standardised IJA layout. The driver´s visor port was remodelled to make production easier and a second hatch to enter the fighting compartment was added above the bow gunner. Therefore the turret changed the side, too. The comander´s cupola was redesigned to lower the height. An unusual two-door hatch was installed. It consisted of a long center rectangular door with one semicircular end and a second door around it with the shape of an open lobster shear. The periscope was placed in the center door. The turret ring diameter was increased to allow the use of larger turrets if upgunning would become necessary. A handrail type antenna around the forward hemispere of the turret replaced the rod antenna for a better communication quality. The wireless equipment was changed to a Type 96 Mark 4 Version Bo Radio Set. Armament now consisted of Type 97 MGs instead of the Type 91 MGs. The exhaust pipes were now protected against bullets and splinters by vertical armor plates.

    The suspension should be remodelled to increase stability during firing. Therefore the forward pair of roadwheels was removed. The remaining roadwheels were placed centered and two single roadwheels were mounted forward and in the rear. These were connected with a bell crank and a small diagonal coil spring to each roadwheel pair mounting. A second design used a totally different suspension using a modified Horstmann system similar to the one used on the british Vickers Light Mk VI with partly overlapping roadwheels. Finally the first modification was chosen.

    These changes were finished until March 1938 and the second prototype was tested in spring. In summer 1938 Mitsubishi was ordered to built up a production line which was finished until late that year. Production numbers were 25 in 1938, 202 in 1939, 507 in 1940 and 315 in 1941. Several other factories were also ordered to produce this tank in 1939 as Mitsubishi was not able to provide the necessary capacities for a production increase. With the introduction of the Type 1 47 mm Tank Gun it was planned to stop the production of the 57 mm version but Osaka Army Arsenal was not able to build enough weapons to equip all production tanks. So between 1942 and production end in 1944 approximately 400 more Type 97 tanks with short 57 mm gun were produced. In 1944 production was stopped in favour of the superiour Type 1 and Type 3 Medium Tanks and due to increasing raw material shortages. Total production was around 1450 vehicles.

    second production version with armour plates above the ventilation and access hatches on the rear sides

    The first serial production vehicles were delivered in early 1939. One of the first units equipped with this tank was the 3rd Tank Regiment which used 4 Type 97 Chi-Ha as command tanks during the Nomonhan Incident, one was lost. Each tank regiment should receive 31 vehicles for 3 medium tank companies and a command tank in the command section (each regiment only had battalion size following western standards). The production numbers were high enough to equip each regiment planned but it was nearly impossible to reequip units fast after heavy losses.

    From mid 1939 Type 97 Medium Tanks were used on most battlefields including the Pacific Islands. They were main attack force during the Malaya Campaign smashing through several allied defence lines with a total loss of 11 (6 destroyed, 5 damaged beyond possible repair) vehicles during the whole campaign, 14 more were damaged and repaired. During several campaigns in China and Burma these tanks also showed their value as mobile platform and infantry support vehicle. Therefore the tank became basis for a large number of vehicles and the workhorse of IJA armored forces.

    During production the tank received a hinged additional armor plate on the ventilation and access hatches on the rear side to increase protection against splinters. This armour plate was later replaced by a hinged spaced armour with sloped upper part. An AA-mount for the (removable) turret MG was added on the rear or the left of the commander´s cupola for at least symbolical fire against attacking aircraft during resting.

    On the other hand several confrontations with allied contemporary medium tanks in 1942 and 1943 also showed that armor and armament was insufficient for battles against other tanks. But they were never really intended for this task. Trials to develop 57 mm HEAT projectiles weren´t succesful and so the tank was outdated from 1942. Nevertheless it did a good work against infantry, soft targets and field fortifications.

    Type 97 with a special rifle mounted instead of the gun to simulate shooting during exercises

    After the japanese surrender several Type 97 Chi-Ha were handed over by US Army to Kuomintang-Forces while the soviet Red Army handed over several vehicles captured in Manchuria to the Chinese People´s Army. Both sides used them with success against each other. Other vehicles left behind in Duch East India were used by the indonesian liberation forces during liberation war.

    The Type 97 Medium Tank also participated in the last engagement of IJA against invading soviet units landing hostile on Shimushu Jima (northern Kuriles) 3 days after surrender almost pushing the landing forces into the sea again.

    to be continued in part 3.....

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