WW2 Japanese Self Propelled Guns

Type 1 Ho-Ni I

IJA (1942)
Self-propelled gun – 124 built

The first Japanese SPG

The Ho-Ni was the first Japanese SPG and tank destroyer of the war. Work on such a vehicle started under the influence of German experience, after the IJA’s main battle tank, the Type 97 Chi-Ha, first encountered the M4 Sherman. The Head of Staff devised a two-pronged response. Firstly, the Type 97 itself was overhauled and a new, more powerful 45 mm (1.77 in) AT gun was fitted. Secondly, an SPG with a more powerful gun was ordered, based on the Type 97 chassis, because the Type 97 turret was too cramped. The gun was the Type 90 field gun, a powerful piece of field artillery, which had a good muzzle velocity.

Hello, dear reader! This article is in need of some care and attention and may contain errors or inaccuracies. If you spot anything out of place, please let us know!


The Type 1 Ho-Ni I was basically a turretless Type 97 chassis with some modifications to the hull and a Type 90 gun mounted on the former turret ring. The turret ring was left partially open, to allow access to the ammunition stored just below. The gun was protected by a three-panel shield, which left the crew unprotected from the rear. However, this was compensated by the strength of the 50 mm (1.97 in) armored plates. An additional set of 16 mm (0.63 in) plates were bolted on the hull. The vehicle was stripped of the hull machine-gun, to make room for ammo storage. It could carry 54 rounds. The gun, inside its new mounting, had 10 degrees of traverse and -5 to +25 degrees of elevation. Maximum range in indirect fire was about 12,000 m (7.5 mi).

Active service

Production started in late 1942 and lasted until November 1943, with 124 units delivered. By then, it was superseded by the more powerful Ho-Ni II, featuring a 105 mm (4.13 in) field howitzer. The Ho-Ni I saw service in Luzon, and took part in the battles following the invasion of the Philippines in 1944. However, the US Army and Marine’s Shermans were far too numerous for the Ho-Ni to have a real impact during the campaign. The remainder stayed in Honshu and Kyushu, the Japanese home islands, in the prospect of facing the invasion planned by the Allies, Operation Olympic. These were later captured, and never saw combat.
The Ho-Ni I on Wikipedia

Type 1 Ho-Ni I specifications

Dimensions 5.9 x 2.29 x 2.39 m (19.36×7.51×7.84 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 15.4 short tons
Crew 5 (commander, driver, three gun servants)
Propulsion Mitsubishi Type 97 diesel, SA 12200VD V12, 170 hp (127 kW)@2000 rpm
Speed 38 km/h (25 mph)
Armor 25-51 mm (0.98-2 in)
Armament 76 mm (3 in) Type 90 gun
Range 200 km (160 miles)
Total production 124

Luzon island, fall 1944
Luzon Island, Philippine campaign, fall 1944.

Kyushu island home defense AT platoon, 1945.


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By David.B

Tank Encyclopedia's Creator, webmaster and illustrator since 2010.

6 replies on “Type 1 Ho-Ni I”

I don’t actually think this was the first Japanese SPG. In 1941, the Type 4 was built with an old mountain howitzer as its main armament. If I’m wrong, sorry.

Hello Tyler!
Thank you for your observation, we did some digging around. Indeed, the dates for the Ho-Nis and Ho-Ro are a bit cloudy, but the solution is in the names
The number next to the Type designation is not random or a simple countdown, it is related to the Japanese calendar.
For example, Type 1=Japanese year 2601=1941 or Type 4=Japanese year 2604=1944
And so you can see that Wikipedia is wrong, and the Ho-Ro actually dates from 1944, not 1942.
All the best!

Hi, just noticed the top picture of the Ho-Ni I on the snowey fields, its actually a Ho-Ni II, you can tell by the thickness and size of its 105mm gun compared to the 75mm gun from the other one, and more easily to notice is the support placed underneath the gun, which covers most of the gun, while with the Ho-Ni I the support on reaches halfway as seen in the bottom photo and on the two diagrams on top.
By searching aroud the internet there seems to be many photos of the Ho-Ni II around, however many of these seem to be wrongly catalouged as Ho-Ni I, although sometimes it gets kinda hard to tell.

I’d like to comment regarding your last statement in the above information.
You stated that “None survived to this day”.
There is one example I’m aware of at the U.S. Army Ordnance Training and Heritage Center, at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21005, USA
There are a couple of excellent walk arounds of the single example of the type 1 on the net.
Regards Chris

I was just going through the specifications on this vehicle, and some things don’t really run true according to the text. For starters the speed is listed as 38 kph and then in parenthesis the figure of 25 mph is given. Doing the math it does not compute. I show the speed at just over 23.5 miles per hour. Rounding it up makes 24. Unless of course it is being rounded up on the fives. Or does this vehicle actually travel at 39-40 kph. In all other literature and books that I have read on the subject. The Type 90 tank gun was listed as 75mm in caliber not the 76mm listed here. Range is listed at 200 km with 160 miles in parenthesis. Once again the math doesn’t compute. 200 km equates to around 124 miles or 125 miles rounded up. Or did this vehicle have a range of approximately 258 km. Not nit picking here, just curious as if I need to update my database.

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