Categories
WW2 Japanese prototypes

Mitsu-104

Empire of Japan (Mid 1930’s)
Heavy Tank – Prototype/Paper design

After the First World War, most nations started looking at their armed forces, specifically to how advances in weapons technology affected the way they would and could fight. The Japanese were no exception, especially in armored vehicle development. In many respects, the Japanese Army avoided many of the dead ends that other nations experienced and arguably came closer to getting armored warfare right than any other nation. This was quite likely an accident forced upon the Japanese by circumstances.
One of the few dead ends that the Japanese did encounter, however, was the multi-turreted tank, the Mitsu-104, which was most likely a development of the Type 97 Heavy tank, which was the one heavy tank the Japanese had that went into service.
Schematics of the Mitsu 104 Heavy Medium Tank found in the UK National Archives.

Background

All the information on the Mitsu-104 comes from a British military intelligence dossier on enemy tanks, which was compiled between January 1939 and March 1943. This information was then later passed on to the rest of the Commonwealth and the United States, who included it in their own enemy equipment handbooks that were issued to the armed forces.
The British information came from original Japanese documents, obtained before the Second World War, although no details of where or how these documents were obtained is included in the files. The paper type and size are all identical to the Japanese standards used at the time, both of which were different from the conventions used by the British, all of which implies that the documents are original, and thus credible.
There does appear to have been some confusion within the documents about the exact location of weaponry on the tanks though. This is likely because of some inaccuracies in the Japanese text, which again raises the mystery about where the documents came from. Despite this, the translations includes original, archaic Japanese measurements (which are re-created in the specifications table).
The British documents describe the Mitsu-104 as a ‘Heavy Cruiser’, despite the fact that Japanese documents clearly referred to it as a Heavy.

Drawing of the Mitsu 104 from a Swedish intelligence document. Source

Description

Japan spent a large part of the 1920’s obtaining examples of foreign armored vehicles and concepts. One such example is the A1E1 Independent, which the Japanese obtained plans for. This resulted in the Ishi-108. One of the few failures of tank design the Japanese picked up was the idea of multi-turreted tanks. This likely came from their interest in the British A1E1 Independent and the Soviet T-28 tanks.
Multi-turreted tanks are almost universally considered to be a bad idea because they add weight to the tank from items such as gearing and the structure required to mount a turret as well as making the vehicle much harder to command. On a single turret tank, this weight could be used for more armor or bigger guns and engines. Multiple turrets also comprise the armor integrity by having a series of holes in the armor to mount the turrets.

The Mitsu 104 from a 1944 British-issued recognition handbook on Japanese equipment.
This unfortunate trend in design existed in all the Japanese heavy tank projects, apart from the AI-96 from 1936.
One such multi-turreted design was the Mitsubishi 104, which is shortened in the documentation to “Mitsu-104”.
There seems to be no evidence the Mitsu-104 was ever built, unlike the Type 97 Heavy Tank. Design wise, it seems to have been a logical development of the Type 97, looking far more refined and capable, although the exact date of the tank’s design is unknown.
The Mitsu-104 had three slightly conical turrets. The main turret mounted a 75mm low velocity gun possibly based off one of the Japanese field artillery guns of the same calibre. Two sub-turrets were mounted on the front hull, each with a machine gun.

Original Japanese drawings of the Mitsu 104 found in the British National Archives.
There was some confusion about the armament for the tank. A pair of 37mm guns were listed, however, the British were confused as to their location. The Type 97 Heavy tank from 1937 had the option of two 37mm guns or a single 75mm guns mounted in the turret. This is likely because the Japanese considered the heavy tanks for the support of the infantry, and in the Japanese military 37mm guns were called ‘rapid fire infantry guns’. The British documents suggest the Mitsu-104 could have had 37mm guns in the sub-turrets, which certainly look big enough to mount such a weapon. This could, of course, be a translation mistake for the twin guns in the main turret.
The rest of the hull was conventional in its layout with the engine at the rear of the tank. Although the tank is rather wide for its size.
The suspension was the same style of Bell Crank suspension used on most Japanese tanks of the period and indeed lived on until the failed O-I Super Heavy Tank design.


The Mitsu-104 with 37mm main armament.


The Mitsu-104 with 75mm main armament.

Both illustrations are by William ‘Richtor’ Byrd, funded by DeadlyDilemma through our Patreon campaign


United States tank recognition chart showing the Mitsu 104 in the lower left corner.

Conclusion

The design, from the particulars written down, does seem to be over-optimistic in regards to its mobility and speed. This was a common fault with Japanese heavy tank plans, with tanks such as the Ishi-108 and O-I having suspiciously overinflated claims of speed from engines that seem to produce far too little power to propel such masses at such speeds. For example, a 30 ton Sherman tank with a 350hp engine could obtain about 22mph. The Japanese predicted that the same power output would move the 29 ton Mitsu-104 at 30mph. To achieve similar figures, a Sherman needed over 400hp.

3D reconstruction of how the Mitsu 104 might have looked like. Source: Forgotten Tanks and Guns of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s  by David Lister

The Mitsu 104 being mentioned in the Japanese military forces. Report No. 12-b(11), USSBS Index Section 6.

Mitsu-104 specifications

Designer Mitsubishi
Dimensions (L-W-H) 8.30 x 3.20 x 2.80 m (27.2 x 10.6 x 9.3 ft)
Weight 29 tons (58000 lbs)
Crew 8
Propulsion Water cooled, Mitsubishi 12 Cylinder Petrol engine, delivering 350hp at 2200rpm. Fitted with a 12 volt electrical starter.
Armament A combination of 75mm and 37mm guns, and several machine guns.
Armor 25-30mm (0.98-1.18 in)
Speed 12 Ri (25mph, 40kph)
Gradient 40 degrees
Step 1.20 m (3.11 ft)
Trench Crossing 3.90 meters (12.10 ft)
Fording 1.20 meters (3.11 ft)

Sources

Sensha-manual.blogspot.com
WO 208/1320, UK National Archives in Kew, London
Forgotten Tanks and Guns of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s  by David Lister
World War II United States recognizition chart
British 1944 Japanese-equipment recognition handbook
Japanese military forces. Report No. 12-b(11), USSBS Index Section 6, https://dl.ndl.go.jp/info:ndljp/pid/4009934/9
https://germandocsinrussia.org
 

Forgotten Tanks and Guns of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940sForgotten Tanks and Guns of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s

By David Lister

History forgets. Files are lost and mislaid. But this book seeks to shine a light, offering a collection of cutting edge pieces of historical research detailing some of the most fascinating arms and armament projects from the 1920s to the end of the 1940’s, nearly all of which had previously been lost to history.Included here are records from the UK’s MI10 (the forerunner of GCHQ) which tell the story of the mighty Japanese heavy tanks and their service during the Second World War.

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Categories
WW2 Japanese prototypes

Type 97 Chi-Ni

Japan (1938)
Experimental Medium Tank – 1 built

Chi-Ha’s Competition

In 1938, the Japanese military began looking for a replacement for the ageing Type 95 Ha-Go light tank. High ranking members of the military had a preference for more lightly armored infantry support vehicles. As such, two medium tank projects were put forward, with specific guidelines set.

These were: a maximum weight 10 tonne, 20mm maximum armour thickness, 3 man crew, maximum speed 27 km/h (17 mph), trench crossing capability of 2200 mm upgraded to 2400mm with a ditching tail and armament consisting of a 57 mm gun and one machine gun.

Development

Under the working name of Medium Tank Project Plan 2, The Type 97 Chi-Ni (試製中戦車 チニ Shisei-chū-sensha chini) was submitted by Osaka Army Arsenal. It was a low cost alternative to its competition, the Type 97 Chi-Ha, made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

The Chi-Ni was envisioned as a smaller, lighter alternative to the Chi-Ha, and was easier and cheaper to produce. The prototype was completed early 1937, taking part in trials against the Chi-Ha soon after.

It featured a number of cost-cutting features. It was of mostly welded construction, Its drive wheels, idler wheels and tracks were the same as those used on the Type 95 Ha-Go. For a time it was tested with the Ha-Go’s suspension, but it was soon apparent that it did not support the longer chassis well enough.

A mock-up of the Chi-Ni hull alongside the Ha-Go. Source: The Koku-Fan, Oct. 1968

Design

Hull

The hull was designed with a streamlined silhouette to protect from shell damage, and was of a monocoque design. Also known as structural skin, monocoque is a French word meaning “single hull” and is a structural system where loads are supported through an object’s outer layers.

A side shot of the Chi-Ni prototype. Source: live.warthunder.com

This method is also used on some early aircraft and in boat building. Because of this, the tank was mainly of a welded construction, an unusual design choice for Japanese tanks of the era, which were mostly riveted onto a skeletal framework. The rear of the hull also featured the somewhat archaic feature of a ditching or “tadpole tail” to help it cross trenches. This was a removable feature.

Though the armor was only 20mm thick, it was extremely well-angled. The driver’s position was encased in a semi-hexagonal box; in front of this was the flat bow, leading to a negatively angled lower glacis.

A rear view of the Chi-Ni, showing the removable ditching tail..

Armament

The main armament consisted of the Type 97 57mm. Its primary ammunition was HE (High-Explosive) shells and HEAT (High-Explosive Anti-Tank) rounds. This was the same gun as found on the initial models of the Chi-Ha. The gun kept the Japanese tradition of excellent depression. In the Chi-Ni’s case, this was negative 15 degrees over the front and left side. Depression over the right and engine deck would have have been slightly limited by at least 5 degrees.

The depression suited the tank’s infantry support role because it was able to fire High Explosive shells at close range on advancing enemy infantry, or down into occupied trenches. Furthermore, like the Chi-Ha, the Chi-Ni’s turret ring was made as large as possible, to allow for any future turret upgrades.

Mobility

The tank shared a similar bell crank suspension to the Ha-Go – this being a near constant of Japanese tank designs of the epoch. The difference was that in the case of the Chi-Ni, at the end of each bogie were 2 small road wheels, making 8 per side.

The forward-mounted drive wheels were powered by a Mitsubishi 135 hp diesel engine that would propel the vehicle to a blistering 27 km/h (17 mph). It was also tested with the 120 hp Mitsubishi A6120VDe air-cooled diesel engine from a Type 95 Ha-Go.

A top-down view of the Chi-Ni showing the engine deck.

Crew

The Chi-Ni was a 3 man vehicle, compared to the 4 of the Chi-Ha. The commander of the vehicle was positioned in the turret, which was offset to the left of the tank. The turret was so small that he also had to act as loader and gunner to the 57mm gun. Directly below and slightly in front of the commander sat the driver. With no room in the turret for a coaxial machine gun, the third crew member sat on the driver’s right who would operate the ball mounted 7.7 × 5.8mm Arisaka Type 97 machine gun. These two crew members would have been relatively well protected from enemy fire.

This image shows just how off-centre the turret is. Source: www.weaponsofwwii.com.

Losing to the Chi-Ha

At the time of its conception, the Chi-Ni was considered the superior tank as it was so much lighter and cheaper to build. However, whilst the Chi-Ni and Chi-Ha trials were in progress, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident occurred on July 7th 1937, marking the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The Chi-Ha undergoing mobility trials. Source: The Koku-Fan, Oct. 1968

Peacetime budgetary limitations evaporated with the outbreak of these hostilities with China. With this, the somewhat more powerful and expensive Type 97 Chi-Ha was accepted for development and service as the Imperial Japanese Army’s new medium tank. It would go on to become one of Japan’s most highly produced tanks.

Only one Chi-Ni prototype was ever built and its fate is unknown. It is likely that it was broken down and recycled with its parts put back into circulation.

Originally Published November 27th 2016


Illustration of the Type 97 Chi-Ni by Andrei ‘Octo10’ Kirushkin, funded by our Patreon Campaign.

Type 97 Chi-Ni

Dimensions 17 ft 3 in x 7 ft 4 in x 7 ft 8 in (5.26 m x 2.33 m x 2.35 m)
Crew 3 (driver, commander, machine-gunner)
Propulsion 135hp Mitsubishi diesel engine
Speed 17 mph (27 km/h)
Armament Type 97 57mm Tank Gun
7.7×58mm Arisaka Type 97 machine gun
Armor 8-25 mm (0.3 – 0.9 in)
Total production 1 Prototype

Sources

Chi-Ni on www.weaponsofwwii.com
Japanese Tank Development
AJ Press, Japanese Armor Vol. 2, Andrzej Tomczyk
Osprey Publishing, New Vanguard #137: Japanese Tanks 1939-45.
Profile Publications Ltd. AFV/Weapons #49: Japanese Medium Tanks, Lt.Gen Tomio Hara.
Bunrin-Do Co. Ltd, The Koku-Fan, October 1968


Categories
WW2 Japanese prototypes

Type 91 & Type 95 Heavy

Japan (1935)
Prototype Heavy Tanks – 4 built

During 1930s, fears were strong among the most powerful military nations that a coming war would develop along the same lines as WWI. No one wanted another war rife with stalemates, no one moving for months on end due to swamp like terrain, and constant machine gun bombardment. As such, tank designs of the period were heavily set on infantry support, being large, slow moving and bristling with anti-personal weaponry. The era became awash with the fad of multi-turret tank designs, with all of the most powerful countries adopting them in one form or the other.
The A1E1 Independent for the British Empire, the Großtraktor or Neubaufahrzeug for Nazi Germany, and the T-35 of the Soviet Union are prime examples of this design fashion. One might even consider the mobile machine-gun nest that was the United States’ M2 Medium to be part of the group.
Imperial Japan was no exception to the rule, coming up with their own design in 1934. This was the Type 95 Heavy Tank (タイプ95重タンク, Taipu 95-jū tanku).

The Experimental Tank No. 1, Type 87 Chi-I.
The roots of the Type 95 Heavy begin with the first tank the Japanese Military produced independently, the Experimental Tank No.1 (実験タンク番号壱, Jikken tanku bangō wən), also known as the Type 87 Chi-I. This ancestor to all Japanese tanks was built in 1927, and was classed by the Military as a Medium Tank. It didn’t progress further than the prototype phase, however.

The Type 91

The first prototype of this heavy tank was built in 1931 and was designated the Type 91. This was an 18-ton vehicle, powered by a 6-cylinder BMW IV inline engine that ran on gasoline. The engine was likely purchased from Germany. The tank had 3 turrets, a main one in the center armed with a 57 mm (2.24 in) cannon, and 2 secondary forward and rear turrets armed with 6.5 mm (0.26 in) machine guns. It also had an armor 8 – 17 mm thick.
The Prototype vehicle Type 91, undergoing crossing trials
The Prototype vehicle Type 91, undergoing crossing trials. The complicated suspension can be seen here.
A feature carried over from the Type 87 Chi-I was the rather complicated parallelogram suspension system with two pairs of road wheels per leaf-sprung bogie. There were 17 road wheels per side, giving it a total of 34 road wheels. The parallelogram type of suspension is more commonly known as Swing arm suspension, which is mostly used on motorcycles.
The Type 91 proved to be an unsuccessful endeavor, and the project was soon canceled. The lessons learned were passed on to the Type 95.

Type 95 Heavy, Design and Development

Imperial Japan felt that the increasingly powerful Soviet Union could be a potential future enemy. As such, work once more resumed on a heavy tank for the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) to match the Red Army’s T-35 heavy tank.
The development of the Type 95 Heavy began in 1932, with a prototype not being complete until 1934. The overall structure of the chassis and module layout was much the same as the previous Type 91 prototype. However, it was given significantly thicker armor, thicker than all of Japan’s other tanks of the era. The turret face was 30 mm, with 25 mm on the sides and the rear. The upper plate bore the thickest armor at 35 mm. The sides weren’t lacking either as they were 30mm thick with a further 25mm on the rear of the vehicle.
This amount of armor increased the weight of the vehicle to 26 tons, the heaviest tank Japan had yet built.
The suspension was also altered, with a much simpler form of leaf-spring suspension. The amount of road wheels was drastically reduced, down to 9 a side, giving it a total of 18. This was found to give the same performance, while being much less complicated.

The Type 95 during trials, showing how the suspension operates.


A 3D model of the Type 91 Heavy by Giganaut


Tanks Encyclopedia’s rendition of the Type 91 Heavy by David Bocquelet.
Tanks Encyclopedia’s rendition of the Type 95 Heavy by Jarosław Janas.

Weaponry

Like the legendary samurai of ancient Japan, the Type 95 Heavy would carry 3 weapons into battle. For a Katana, its main weapon mounted in the primary turret, a unique Type 94 7cm tank gun. It’s Wakizashi, a secondary weapon, a Type 94 37mm (3.7cm) cannon mounted in the forward turret. And finally, its Tantō, the third weapon, a 6.5mm machine gun mounted in the rear turret.

The 7cm gun was a short-barreled type, able to fire both Type 92 HE (High-Explosive) shells and Type 95 AP (Armor-Piercing) shells. Further ballistic data is unknown. The Type 94 37mm cannon is the same as equipped on the Type 95 Ha-Go light tank, with average armor penetration 36 mm (1.4 in) at a distance of 275 m.

Fate

The vehicle did go through trials in 1935, and performed well. Production was limited to only 4 vehicles, however, due to logistical and practical reasons. High-speed lighter tanks, more suited to Japanese tank doctrine were starting to come along, such as the Type 95 Ha-Go.
With only 4 Type 95 heavies built by 1934, the project was canceled. It was considered too slow and much too big. Also, it was soon apparent that a multi-turret tank design was a less than practical concept. It is rumored that at least one of the vehicles took part in a parade in Tokyo in 1935. This was part of the Yasukuni Military Expo during which Japan showed many of their newest armored vehicles.

A disarmed Type 95 at the Yasukuni Shrine.
This wouldn’t be the end of the Japanese work on heavy tanks, however. The next generation of such vehicles in Japan would be “Super Heavies”. This would include vehicles such as the O-I Super Heavy Tank.
None of the Type 95s survive today, though one was kept at the Chiba as a training vehicle up to 1945.

Variants

As limited as the production of this vehicle was, Self-Propelled Gun (SPG) variants were conceptualized, with 2 chassis handed over to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for testing.

These chassis became the bases of the Ji-Ro/Ji-Ro Sha (Left) and the Hi-Ro-Sha (Right). These Tank Destroyer variants were mounted the powerful Type 14 105mm Gun, also known as the “10-cm cannon”. The Hi-Ro Sha was an open top vehicle, with the 105mm gun munted at the front behind a small gun shield. The Ji-Ro/Ji-Ro Sha was a bit more of an extensive modification. A large case-mate was placed on the rear of the tank, with the 105mm mounted inside. While the Hi-Ro did reach the Prototype phase, it is unclear wether the Ji-Ro did as well. No photos of it are known.

The Prototype Hi-Ro/Hi-Ro Sha. While there are a few photos of this vehicle, none seem to remain of the Ji-Ro. Photo: – Radikal.ru

An article by Mark Nash

Type 95 Heavy Specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 6.47m x 2.7m x 2.9m (21ft 2in x 8ft 8in x 9ft 5in).
Total weight, battle ready 26 tons
Crew 5 (commander, gunner, loader, driver, forward gunner, rear gunner)
Propulsion BMW IV water-cooled inline six-cylinder gasoline engine
Speed 22 km/h (14 mph)
Armor 12 – 35 mm (0.47 – 1.37 in)
Armament Type 94 7cm Tank Gun, Type 94 37mm Tank gun, x2 6mm machine guns. (1 on the rear of the primary turret, 1 in the rear turret)
Total production 4

Links & Resources

Type 91 & 95 Heavy on IKAZUCHI
The Type 95 Heavy on the Japanese Wikipedia
Osprey Publishing, New Vanguard #137: Japanese Tanks 1939-1945
Delta Publishing, Ground Power #41, Japanese military vehicles of the Second World War

Categories
WW2 Japanese prototypes

Type 5 Ke-Ho

Japan (1944-45)
Light tank – 1 Built

Although it had performed well before the outbreak of the Second World War, and during it’s early stages, the Type 95 Ha-Go was showing it’s age by 1942. It simply didn’t stand a chance against the increasingly powerful tanks being fielded by the Americans in the Pacific, and later, the Soviets in Northern Manchuria.

Between 1942 and 1943, attempts had been made to replace it with a new light tank. This resulted in the Type 98 Ke-Ni and Type 2 Ke-To, respectively. However, these projects failed to fully materialize with only 104 Ke-Ni and 34 Ke-Tos built by the end of the war.

Following this, the IJA decided to try again and work started on the Type 5 Ke-Ho (五式軽戦車 ケホ Go-Shiki Keisensha Keho). It was the last light tank designed by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA).

A scale drawing of the Ke-Ho. Source: ftr.wot-news.com)

Development

The Ke-To experimented with a slightly better main armament in the form of Type 1 37 mm (1.46 in) gun. This offered a much-needed improvement over the Type 94 37 mm (1.46 in) used on the Ha-Go. Though a step in the right direction, this weapon still was not enough to combat the M4 at any angle. The quest to mount the new Type 1 47mm tank gun on a fast, mobile chassis began in 1942. Up till then, the Ha-Go had performed well against American M3 Light tanks, but began to suffer as more heavily armored tanks began to appear such as the M5 Stuart and the larger M4 medium tank. The Ha-Go’s last successful engagement was against Ameican forces on the Bataan Peninsula in December 1941. A force equipped with M3 Stuart Light tanks.

It was projected that this new light tank would have a 4-man crew. This consisted of the Driver (front right hull), bow gunner (front left hull), the Commander who also acted as loader (right turret) and the gunner (left turret).

Design

Hull

The Hull of the Ke-Ho was based on an enlarged Ke-Ni/Ke-To chassis. It utilized a miniaturized bell-crank suspension, based on that of the Chi-Ha/Chi-He with 6 road-wheels per-side, 3 return rollers and a rear mounted idler wheel. The bell-crank suspension consists of bogies mounted on arms, which in turn are connected to a long spring on the side of the hull. The bogies push against each other when passing over terrain, allowing the bogies to actuate. The Ke-Ho was powered by a 150hp Type 100 air-cooled diesel engine. Despite its heavier weight, the Ke-Ho would still be able to travel at a top speed of 50-55 km/h (31 – 34 mph). Like the majority of Second World War Japanese armor, the engine was placed in the rear with the transmission and drive sprockets at the front.

Armament

The turret planned for use on the Ke-Ho was based on the original Chi-He design, which in turn was based on the Chi-Ha Shinhoto’s. It had a long, square rear with a rounded turret face. There was a cupola on the right side of the roof with a two-part hatch and vision periscopes for the commander. The tank would be armed with the Type 1 47mm tank gun, as used on the Chi-Ha Shinhoto and initial models of the Chi-He. This gun had a muzzle velocity of 840 m/s (2,723 ft/s) and could penetrate a maximum of 55 mm (2.2 in) at 100 meters (328 feet). It was equipped with both Armor-Piercing High-Explosive (APHE) rounds and High-Explosive (HE) rounds. Although this gun was a huge improvement over the 37mm of the Ha-Go, it was still not enough to combat the front of an M4. It is likely that if the Ke-Ho made it to combat, it would have to exploit the same flanking, close quarters ambushes utilized by Shinhoto Chi-Has. Although the maneuverabiity of the Ke-Ho would of made that task much easier.

The Type 1 47mm Tank Gun. Photo: The Koku-Fan, Oct. ’68

Secondary armament consisted of two Type 97 7.7mm machine guns. One of these was located in a ball mount on the front left of the hull, operated by the bow-gunner. The other was located in the right-rear corner of the turret bustle, operated by the loader. Either of these guns could be dismounted and placed atop a mount next to the commander’s cupola.

Armor

One of the major shortcomings of the Ha-Go which designers sought to address was the fact that with a maximum of just 12mm (.47 in) thick armor, a .50 cal (12.7 mm) machine gun could effectively knock one out. The Type 98 Ke-Ni and Type 2 Ke-To had somewhat of an armor upgrade, with a maximum of 16mm (.62 in). However, this was still not enough to reliably counter .50 cal rounds. As such the, Ke-Ho would have an even greater increase to armor thickness, being at least 20 to 50 mm (.78 in – 1.9 in) thick, more than enough to stop a .50 caliber round.

Variants

Ku-Se SPG

A planned variant of the Ke-Ho was the Ku-Se (自走砲 Jisōhō クーセ) self-propelled gun/tank destroyer. It was to be armed with a Short Type 99 75 mm mountain gun, in a similar open case mate to the planned Ho-Ni and Ho-Ro SPGs.

Drawing of the Ku-Se variant. Source: ftr.wot-news.com

Fate

In 1942, a prototype vehicle was built, and the project was canceled soon after. As with most new tank designs the Japanese came up with, it was low on the list of importance. Resources and construction efforts were instead being focused on warships and warplanes. Mass production was approved in 1945 however, but this was of course too late and the one prototype remained the only one built. This also meant that the Ku-Se variant never left the drawing board.

A post-war drawing of the Ke-Ho. Source: – N/A

What happened to the prototype is unknown. It was likely taken back to the USA for analysis and later broken down.



Illustration of the Type 5 Ke-Ho based on available drawings. Note the miniature bell-crank suspension and the early Chi-He turret armed with the Type 1 47mm gun. The placement of a jack and pioneer tools on the left rear fender is speculative. However, it is also based on the known placement of such items on other Japanese tanks of the era. This Illustration was produced by Brian Gaydos, funded by our Patreon Campaign.

Known Specifications

Dimensions 4.38 meters long
Weight 9 tonnes
Crew 4 (driver, gunner, commander, bow gunner)
Propulsion 150hp Type 100 Air-Cooled Diesel
Speed (road) 50 km/h (31 mph)
Armament Type 1 47mm Tank Gun
2x Type 97 7.7 mm machine guns
Armor 20 mm – 50 mm (0.78 – 1.9 in)
Total production 1 Prototype

Sources

Osprey Publishing, New Vanguard #137: Japanese Tanks 1939-1945
Profile Publications Ltd. AFV/Weapons #49: Japanese Medium Tanks, Lt.Gen Tomio Hara.
Profile Publications Ltd. AFV/Weapons #54: Japanese Combat Cars, Light Tanks and Tankettes, Lt.Gen Tomio Hara
Bunrin-Do Co. Ltd, The Koku-Fan, October 1968