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Thread: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles

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  1. #1
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    Default IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles

    Hi.

    As promised I add my Japanese Armoured Fighting Vehicles manual. As the original post seems to be lost I will rebuild it during the next weeks, maybe months. So I have to ask for your patience.

    Content: (may be subject to changes though):

    1. Introduction
    2. Japanese Designations and a short Dictionary
    3. Armament: Machine Guns
    4. Armament: Guns
    5. Foreign AFV
    6. Armored Vehicles
    7. Light Tanks
    8. Medium Tanks
    9. Heavy Tanks
    10. Gun Tanks
    11. Gun Carriers
    12. Army Amphibious Tanks
    13. Engineer AFV
    14. Railroad AFV
    15. Remote Operated AFV
    16. Other Special Purpose AFV
    17. Experimental Engineer AFV
    18. Other Experimental AFV
    19. Infantry AFV
    20. Navy Amphibious AFV

    I´m quite shure you´ll find a some vehicles unknown to you. I did during the search.

    Due to the forum restriction of 10000 characters per post I´ll have to split most of the Posts into two or more parts.

    Yours

    tom!
    Last edited by tom!; 2 Weeks Ago at 02:26 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles

    Hi.

    1. Introduction part 1:

    The japanese Army (IJA) had a lot of military observers on the European battlefields during WW1 which gathered many informations about modern war material and its use in a battle. This included chemical agents, light machine guns, aircraft, submarines, armored cars, tractors and also tanks. With the upcoming end of the war IJA decided in late 1918 to purchase examples of british and french tanks. As France and Great Britain had built several thousand tanks which weren´t needed any more it was no problem to receive them. A british Mark IV was delivered in late 1918 as technology transfer and propaganda vehicle. In 1919 a few FT 17s and Medium Mark A Whippets were also transferred to Japan. These were used to build up a tank company for test and training purposes at the IJA Infantry School.

    During the Siberian Intervention 1918 - 1922 Japan sent several domestically made armored cars to support their troops. During the disarmament operation several white russian Austin armored cars were taken over. These vehicles were more modern and showed their value very soon.


    Mark IV unloaded in Japan

    In 1921 IJA decided to build up a domestic tank production. After the examinations and tests it became clear that the japanese industry was too weak to support a production at this time. So the tanks were sent on exhibitions throughout Japan to advertise for the necessary expenses in modern technology until 1928. The Kanto earthquake in 1923 delayed several projects. Nevertheless in 1925 the Japanese Army Technical Bureau was sure to be able to develop a domestic tank within 2 years. IJA high command was not convinced but nevertheless technical specifications for a heavy multi-turret tank were given. The design was quite difficult as most details had to be developed from zero. Most surprising the resulting tank, built in 1927, met almost all requirements and showed good characteristics and speed. Only the armor strength was rated too low. So after 1928 the tank was redesigned.

    In addition requirements for a fast medium tank were given in 1927. This development was supported by trials to order new tank models for tests. This was quite problematic as most countries had stopped military development after 1918 to recover from the expenses of the war. So the few new designs were all rated top secret making it almost impossible to receive samples. Only rejected designs like the Vickers Medium Mark C were available. These were most useful for the development of the medium tank. Nevertheless there were some design failures making a complete restart in 1928 necessary. The new design used many features from the Vickers Mark C pre-series vehicles including the bow armor. Most important was an accident with the Mark C with the gasoline engine catching fire during an uphill drive. As a result IJA decided to use Diesel engines which used a less valuable fuel and were less vulnerable to fire. The resulting vehicle was fast enough to follow contemporary trucks, well-armed and sufficiently armored. But there were still problems to start a mass production in 1930. Especially the development of a Diesel engine took time and wasn´t finished until 1933. So some 50% of the built vehicles were equipped with gasoline engines.

    In addition several foreign tractors and armored vehicles were tested during the 1920th leading to a large mechanisation wave in the early 1930th. This included the development of armored vehicles, special railway vehicles, amphibious AFV, tankettes and special purpose tanks. But due to the restricted available budgets only few projects were finally introduced and built in numbers larger than 10. This problem was solved with the start of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War or “China Incident” as it was called in Japan. Nevertheless tanks and AFV were still rated low priority compared to weapons, trucks, aircraft and ships.

    The standard IJA tank tactic was infantry support based on the british and french tactics in WW1. Therefore tanks mainly had to fight field fortifications and bunkers. Enemy tanks should be fought by infantry anti-tank weapons and artillery. So IJA tanks had to be armored against infantry AP ammunition and to be armed with short, larger caliber guns. Speed was not that necessary.

    In the mid-1930th IJA introduced a light tank rated as “cavalry tank”. It should be used for fast breakthroughs and had to fight enemy AFV, too. Therefore the tank had to be light. This was reached by using angled armor and finally even reducing armor to a minimum. Armament was a long barreled gun, 37 mm caliber. In 1935 a new medium tank was developed with higher speed and more armor. After this a complete development stop happened as the army high command thought they had all they need and refused any warnings that Japan would be unable to keep pace with the international tank development especially forced by Germany and the Soviet Union. There were several proposals of the Army Technical Bureau but all were rejected. These tanks had modern design features like coaxial MGs, protected suspension, more angled armor, welded armor and a 47 mm gun.

    During the 1939 Nomonhan Incident against the Soviet Union a japanese tank regiment participated in the fightings. When they met T-26 and BT-5 tanks they were easily knocked out by the 45 mm long tank guns even on longer ranges. The japanese tanks had to get in closer ranges to penetrate the armor with the short 57 mm tank guns. So they were easy targets. This disaster was deemphasized by IJA High Command by focusing the war reports on the “strength and courage of the fighting forces”. Results were the development of a longer 47 mm tank gun and the necessary turret for the medium tank plus development of a long 57 mm tank and anti-tank gun. Most problematic was the decision to develop a superheavy multi-turret tank with an estimated weight of 120 t. But new, more modern designs were still rejected.

    1941 the IJA tank doctrine was finally slowly redeveloped based on the experiences of the german tanks in France and during the early stages of the Operation Barbarossa. This lead to the organization of tank divisions in 1942 and development of tactics different from pure infantry support.
    In addition the 1941 US embargo made a war against the allies more likely, if not necessary. First step was to speed up the development of the 47 mm, turret and 57 mm tank guns which only had low priority before. In addition proposals for an uparmored version of the medium tank and a new light tank for the airborne regiments were accepted. In early 1942 the first medium tanks with long barreled 47 mm tank gun were ready for action. They were sent to the Philippines immediately but came too late to participate in the main fightings. Test firings against a US Light M3 showed that the gun easily penetrated even the thickest armor of this tank on 500 m.


    Light M3 nach Beschusstests

    Part 2 below.

    Yours

    tom!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles

    Thanks, tom! for this interesting material.

    I wonder whether the IJA gave sufficient consideration to the terrain in which their tanks would be used as part of national military strategy and local tactics, as distinct from just building tank forces based on the use and terrain of other armies?

    Quote Originally Posted by tom! View Post
    1941 the IJA tank doctrine was finally slowly redeveloped based on the experiences of the german tanks in France and during the early stages of the Operation Barbarossa. This lead to the organization of tank divisions in 1942 and development of tactics different from pure infantry support.
    While terrain in China might have been better suited to tanks, as far as the southward thrust into Malaya, NEI, Burma, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands etc was concerned, much of the terrain wasn't suited to IJA tanks in any seriously useful capacity apart from, occasionally, clearing lightly fortified Allied positions. The terrain certainly didn't support the sort of tank warfare which occurred in Western and Eastern Europe, whether tank to tank or tank as infantry support in advance.

    Apart from the Philippines where IIRC there were about equal numbers of US and IJA tanks, the IJA tanks tended to outnumber the Allied tanks if any Allied tanks were actually present but it wasn't the relatively few IJA tanks but the superiority of IJA infantry training, battle hardening, tactics, aggression and determination which generally carried the battles in the IJA's (and IJN land forces in places) favour over Allied forces.

    In particular, IJA tanks weren't suited to or even able to participate in the very effective IJA infantry tactics in close country and jungle of envelopment and infiltration of Allied positions, which were purely infantry operations, and which in Malaya in particular were primarily responsible for Japan's victory and, separately, Japan's successful advance in Papua New Guinea in 1942.

    Conversely, in close country IJA tanks were largely forced to stay on the roads where they were vulnerable to British Commonwealth artillery, as at Bakri where the Australian anti-tank artillery destroyed most of the advancing IJA tanks. https://www.awm.gov.au/index.php/collection/C31281 Nonetheless, as the IJA had tanks in Malaya and the British Commonwealth didn't, this gave the IJA a significant advantage.

    Separate issue, but the wheel bottom left in the linked picture looks like it has the bearing and stub axle attached (which doesn't augur well for re-attaching the wheel) and the item to the right rear of the wheel to the right of the gun looks a bit like a gun spade or perhaps the towing attachment, which in the latter case also doesn't augur well for getting the gun out of there. Anyone know what these parts are and how they worked on reassembling the gun?
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 2 Weeks Ago at 10:22 AM.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

  4. #4
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    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles

    Hi.

    Introduction part 2

    In addition the development of two new tank models able to fight KV-1 tanks were ordered in mid-1942, a medium with the planned 57 mm gun and a heavy with a long 75 mm gun. Before design reached the prototype stage intensive examinations of the contemporary german tanks were started. In early 1943 even the new Tiger and Panther tanks were examined and a sample of each bought. At this time the low stocks of raw materials became problematic and as result all developments were slowed down. Another major drawback was the decision to terminate the development of the long 57 mm tank gun due to a too low firepower.


    japanese military personel examining a Tiger tank in Germany

    In late 1943 the new tanks were still on the drawing boards. The US Medium M3 and Light M3 and the british Mathilda tanks were superior to anything Japan could field. So the production of the uparmored version of the medium tank was speed up as much as possible. In addition a 75 mm field gun should be converted into a tank gun able to defeat the contemporary enemy tanks as stopgap solution. This made also a new turret necessary which was finished in 1944. During all this time the completely outdated 1935 light tank and 1937 medium tank were still mass produced. All upgraded tanks were held in Japan to counter the expected invasion. In addition most transport routes were under siege by allied submarines and carrier task forces making sea transport very dangerous.

    The new medium tank model was not finished before summer 1945 due to problems with the newly developed long 75 mm tank gun based on an aa-gun. The new heavy tank was still in development in August 1945. Both were not serial produced. With them an allied invasion would have been very costly. All developments could be held secret so US intelligence officers were quite surprised after surrender to find such large and quite modern tanks in Japan.

    With the development of the long barreled 47 mm gun the tanks lost significant HE-power. So from 1939 on several gun tanks armed with 75 mm, 105 mm and even 150 mm artillery guns were developed and produced. These AFV should be used in special gun tank companies in the tank regiments and used for close support. These vehicles were self-propelled artillery.

    The infantry received gun carriers (tanks were only allowed for tank units…..) which used long barreled AT-guns. These vehicles were tank hunters.


    Type 5 7 cm Gun Carrier Na-To

    A lot of special purpose vehicles based on tankette and medium tank chassis were developed and produced, most of them only in smaller numbers. There were a number of special vehicles for railway units, engineers and communication units, also several armored transport vehicles.

    IJA tried to develop amphibious tanks during the mid-1930th but only prototypes were produced. Only the japanese navy used amphibious tank and vehicles operational. They also had several IJA tank models and even special close-support tanks for the Special Naval Landing Forces.

    Yours

    tom!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles

    Nice read Tom!, I look forward to the rest!

    RS*, I presume you're talking about the Na-To. I don't know what you mean about the first part with the stub axle, but as for the gun parts, I'm not inclined to believe that the gun was meant to be removed from the vehicle during or after fire. The WarThunder model of the vehicle does not have any provisions for removing the gun from the vehicle, as it is mounted to the chassis directly after the cab with what appears to be a purpose-built mount. While I'm sure they used the best possible sources they could, they may have certain inconsistencies.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles

    Quote Originally Posted by Churchill View Post
    RS*, I presume you're talking about the Na-To. I don't know what you mean about the first part with the stub axle, but as for the gun parts, I'm not inclined to believe that the gun was meant to be removed from the vehicle during or after fire. The WarThunder model of the vehicle does not have any provisions for removing the gun from the vehicle, as it is mounted to the chassis directly after the cab with what appears to be a purpose-built mount. While I'm sure they used the best possible sources they could, they may have certain inconsistencies.
    Sorry for any confusion. I was referring to the linked picture of the Australian anti-tank gun n my last post, shown below.



    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

  7. #7
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    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles

    Thanks for posting!
    "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same." - Ronald Reagan

  8. #8
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    Default Re: IJA Armoured Vighting Vehicles

    This makes a lot more sense, though I misread the beginning of your last paragraph.

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