Type 3 Ho-Ni III

Imperial Japanese Army IJA (1944) Self-propelled gun - 31 built

The last operational Japanese tank hunter

The Type 3 Ho-Ni III program started in 1942, as the Imperial Japanese Army experimented with early models of tank hunters, like the Ho-Ni I and II. These did not provide sufficient protection to their crews, with their partially open casemates. In early 1944, an order from the Army to Hitachi Ltd requested a new series, able to address theses issues. It was known, after being accepted for production, as the Ho-Ni III.

Design

Hitachi's tank hunter was indeed the best of the series, based on the late Type 97 Chi-Ha Kai chassis. It fielded the 75 mm (2.95 in) Type 3 tank gun, derived from a rechambered Schneider M1927 85 mm (3.35 in) field gun. It had a very good muzzle velocity of 683 m/s (2,241 ft/s). This gun was later fitted on the Type 3 Chi-Nu medium tank. Around the Type 3 gun, the designers fitted a wide armored casemate, protruding from the sides, with a roof and two hatches, able to completely protect the gun crew, both from ground and aerial fire. The rear was closed with two armored doors. There was no provision for a secondary weapon, and no hull machine-gun. As the casemate was cramped, most rounds were stored below, in the hull, but it was a real improvement over past designs.

Active service

Due to a growing shortage of materials, a consequence of the ongoing bombing campaign and depredation caused by the US submarine fleet, very few of these tank hunters were built, and Hitachi records are not known with precision. Total production figures range between 31 and 41. These vehicles were a match for US tanks, like the M3 Grant, and even the M4 Shermans, but too few (if any) were allocated to units stationed in active sectors, like the Philippines or Okinawa. Most were kept on the Japanese Home Islands, waiting for the Allied invasion. Therefore, there is no record or clue of any tank-to-tank engagement of the Ho-Ni III.

Type 3 Ho-Ni III specifications

Dimensions 5.52 x 2.29 x 2.39 m (18x7.6x7.10 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 17 short tons
Crew 4 (driver, commander, gunner, loader)
Propulsion Mitsubishi air-cooled V12 diesel, 170 hp
Speed 38 km/h (24 mph)
Armor 12 to 25 mm (0.47-0.98 in)
Armament 75 mm (2.95 in) Type 90 gun
Range 200 km (160 miles)
Total production 31

Links

The Ho-Ni series on WWII Vehicles
4 view drawing on The Blueprints Ho-Ni III
Type 3 Ho-Ni III, Japanese Home Islands, Honshu, late 1944.


Type 3 Ho-Ni III, Home Islands, Kyushu, 1945.

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