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Type 95 Ha-Gō
Japanese type 95 1
Type 95 Ha-Gō on display at the United States Army Ordnance Museum.
Place of origin Flag of Japan (1870-1999).svg Empire of Japan
Specifications
Weight 7,400 kilograms [1]
Length 4.38 m [1]
Width 2.06 meters [1]
Height 2.18 meters [1]
Crew 3 [1]

Primary
armament
Type 94 37 mm gun
Secondary
armament
Type 91 6.5 mm machine gun
or 2 x Type 97 7.7 mm machine gun
Engine Mitsubishi NVD 6120 air-cooled diesel
120 hp (89 kW) [1]
Suspension Bell crank
Operational
range
250 kilometers
Speed 45 km/h (road)

The Type 95 light tank Ha-Gō (九五式軽戦車 ハ号 Kyugoshiki keisensha Ha-Gō?) (also known as the Type 97 Ke-Go) was a light tank used by the Imperial Japanese Army in combat operations of the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Second World War. It's speed was about 18 mph cross country, which was comparable to the Stuart's 20 mph nearly 6 years later in 1941.[2][3] It proved sufficient against opposing infantry in campaigns in Manchuria and China, as the Chinese National Revolutionary Army had only three tank battalions consisting of Vickers export tanks, German PzKpfw I light tanks, and Italian CV33 tankettes[4] to oppose them. However, the Type 95, like the M3 Stuarts of the US Army, were not designed to fight other tanks, they were designed to support the infantry.,[5] and due to the IJN's priority in receiving technology and steel for warship construction, tanks for the IJA were relegated to receiving what was left.[6] By 1942, Japanese armor remained largely the same as they did in the 1930s, and were regarded as obsolete after 1941.[7] More than 2,000 units were produced.[8] The Type 95 was also used by Imperial Japanese Navy SNLF detachments in Pacific areas during the conflict.

History and developmentEdit

From early 1930s, the Japanese army began experimenting on a mechanized warfare unit combining infantry with tanks. However, the Type 89 Medium tank could not keep pace with the motorized infantry, which could move at 40 km/h by truck. To solve this problem, the Army Technical Bureau proposed a new light tank at 40 km/h speed and started development in 1933. The prototype of the new tank was finished in 1934 at the Army's Sagami Arsenal. It was a high-speed and lightly-armored tank similar to the British cruiser tank or Soviet BT tank.[9]

In 1935, at a meeting in the Army Technical Bureau, the Type 95 was presented as a potential main battle tank for mechanized infantry units. The infantry had concerns that the armor was not thick enough for sufficient infantry support; however, the cavalry indicated that the improved speed and armament compensated for this thin armor. In the end, the infantry agreed, as the Type 95 was still superior to the only available alternative, which was the armored car.

Production was started in 1935 by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. By 1939, 100 units had been built. Mitsubishi would go on to build a total of 853 in their own factories, with another 1250 units built by the Sagami Arsenal, Hitachi Industries, Niigata Tekkoshō, Kobe Seikoshō, and Kokura Arsenal.[8]

Ha-Go first prototype

Japanese Type 95 Ha-Go first prototype, 1934

Type 95 (AWM 097336)

Type 95 Ha-Go tanks in New Britain following the Japanese surrender

Japanese type 95 2

Type 95 on display at the United States Army Ordnance Museum, front view

Japanese type 95 3

Right side view.

Tank at Tarawa crop

Type 95 at Tarawa

95式軽戦車パラオ

Type 95 at Tarawa

The Type 95 was a major improvement over the Japanese Army's previous light tanks and tankettes, but was soon involved in an intensive program to produce improved variants such as the Manshū model (Type M), the Ha-Gō's direct descendant. Type M was technically identical, but developed for use in the Kwantung Army's tank schools in Manchukuo and it was planned to be provided in far greater numbers to future Manchukuo Imperial Army armored units and was projected to be manufactured in that country.

Another development was the Type 98 Ke-Ni light tank that entered production in 1942 of which 200 vehicles were built. This derivitative was better armored and carried an armament comprising one Type 100 37 mm gun and two 7.7 mm machine guns.[8]

The Type 95 also served as the basis of the Type 2 Ka-Mi amphibious tank which gave good service in Japan's early campaigns of World War II.

DesignEdit

The Type 95 was a 7.4-ton vehicle with a complement of 3 crewmen (normally a commander/gunner/loader, mechanic/bow machine gunner, and a driver).

The main armament was one 37mm Type 94 L36.7 tank gun. It elevated between -15 to +20 degrees and had an azimut range of 20 degrees left and right. Muzzle velocity was 600 m/s (early model) or 700 m/s (late model), penetration: 45 mm/300 m (early model) 25 mm/500 m (late model). The commander was responsible for loading, aiming, and firing the main gun. The Type 95 tank carried two types of ammunition, Type 94 high-explosive and Type 94 armor-piercing.

Secondary armament consisted of two Type 91 6.5mm machine guns, one mounted in the hull and the other in the turret facing to the rear. Trial use in Manchukuo and China confirmed that better armament was desirable and the 6.5mm machine guns were exchanged for more powerful 7.7mm Type 97 light machine guns on the right hand side, for use by the already overworked commander/gunner in 1941. The original Type 94 main gun was also replaced with a Type 98 weapon of the same caliber but with a higher muzzle velocity.

The hand-operated turret was small and extremely cramped for even the one crewman normally located there (the commander), and was only being able to rotate in a 45 degree forward arc, leaving the back to be covered by the rear-facing machine gun which failed to compensate for this significant disadvantage.

The most characteristic feature of the Type 95 tank was its simple suspension system. The tracks were driven through the front sprocket. Two bogie wheels were suspended on a single bell crank with two bell cranks per side. There were two return wheels. The suspension had troubles early on, with a tendency to pitch so badly on rough ground that the crew sometimes found it impossible to drive at any speed, and so it was modified with a brace to connect the pairs of bogies. Despite this, the tank continued to give its users a rough ride across any uneven ground, and was provided with an interior layer of asbestos, useful in reducing interior heat and protecting the crew from injury when the tank moved at high speed across rough terrain.[9]

This first production models used one 110 hp (82 kW) Mitsubishi air cooled diesel engine with a top speed of 25 mph (40 km/h). This was the same engine that equipped the Type 89 I-Go medium tank. Later the more powerful 120 hp (89.5 kW) Mitsubishi NVD 6120 was installed.[9] Some Type 95 were fitted with two reflectors in the front of the vehicle for night operations.

VariantsEdit

File:HaGoTankBovington.jpg
Type 95 top rear 3-4 view

Type 95 on display at the Battery Randolf US Army Museum, Honolulu, top rear view

Type 95 Ha-Go tank Malaya AWM 011298

Type 95 Ha-Go tanks destroyed by an Australian 2 pounder gun in the Battle of Muar

Type 95 Ha-Go

One of six Ha-Go tanks destroyed by an Australian 2 pounder gun in the Battle of Muar. The escaping crew were killed by allied infantry covering the artillery

  • Type 3 Ke-Ri
This was a proposed model with a Type 97 57 mm gun as the main armament. This design never got past testing in 1943.
The Type 4 Ke-Nu was intended to address one of the most common complaints about the Type 95 from its users – the cramped turret. The existing Type 95 turret was replaced by the turret of a Type 97 Medium tank for more space. Approximately 100 units were produced.
  • Type 95 Manshū
The Type 95 Manshū was an operational and training tank derived from and very similar to the Type 95 Ha-Gō. These tanks were detached to Manchukuo and belonged to the instruction unit of the Kwantung Army tank school.
  • Type 95 "Ta-Se" Anti-Aircraft Tank
An experimental vehicle called "Ta-Se" was built in November 1941, utilizing the chassis of Type 95 Ha-Gō with a 20 mm anti-aircraft gun taken from the Type 98 20 mm anti-aircraft gun. Another version used a Type 2 20 mm anti-aircraft gun. Neither model went into production.
This was the first amphibious tank produced in Japan, and was intended for use by the Navy's SNLF. The pontoons could be detached after landing by a fourth crewman from inside the tank. The chassis was based on the Type 95 Light Tank. The Type 2 Ka-Mi was encountered by the United States Marine Corps in the Marshall Islands and Mariana Islands, particularly on Guam, where it was used in static defense positions.
  • Type 95 "Ri-Ki" Crane Vehicle
The Type 95 Ri-Ki was an engineering vehicle for field works. It had a 3-ton 4.5 meter boomed crane.
  • 120 mm self-propelled gun "Ho-To"
The Type 95 Ho-To was a Type 38 120 mm howitzer mounted on the Type 95 Ha-Go chassis. The gun was low-velocity but the HEAT shell enabled it to destroy the American M4 Sherman tank. This self-propelled gun was developed along with the Ho-Ru self-propelled gun.
The Ho-Ru was a light tank destroyer similar to the German Hetzer. The development of the Type 5 Ho-Ru started in February 1945. The Type 5 Ho-Ru utilized the chassis of the Type 95 Light Tank, but its suspension was enlarged to 350 mm track link width. The wheel guide pins were set in two rows to hold a road wheel between them. The sprocket of the driving wheel was the grating type to gear with the wheel guide pins like on the Soviet T-34. It was armed with one 47 mm main gun.
This final modification was somewhat lighter than the original Type 95, even with its heavier (.62 inch) armor. It entered production in 1942, but only about 200 were manufactured.

Combat historyEdit

When the Type 95 entered service in 1935 it was a capable machine, comparable, and in some cases superior to many contemporary light tanks in the world. It was one of the best light tanks in 1935, being armed with a 37mm cannon, and powered by a diesel engine.[7] By comparison the US Army's light tanks were armed with machineguns until the M2A4 light tank was built in 1940 and powered by gasoline.[10] As with most armies in the 1930s, including the US Army, the tank, and the light tank in particular, were used primarily to support infantry[11] or serve as cavalry reconnaissance and to a lesser extent, as raiding vehicles. The five year old Type 95 could compete against the new American M3 Stuart light tanks, which began rolling off the assembly lines in October 1941.[12] While poor planning on the part of the British[13] resulted in few to none of any type of armor in Malaya or Burma in December 1941.[14]

The Type 95 Ha-Gō proved moderately successful during the early campaigns of late 1941 and early 1942, when Japanese forces overran British Malaya and seized the fortress city of Singapore. One key to the Japanese success in Malaya was the unexpected presence of their tanks in areas where the British did not believe tanks could be used. The wet jungle terrain did not turn out to be an obstacle for twelve Type 95s, taking part in an attack which broke the Jitra line on 11 December 1941.

America's first clash of armor in WWIIEdit

America's first tank-vs-tank battle of World War II occurred when Type 95 light tanks of the IJA 4th Tank Regiment engaged a US Army tank platoon, consisting of five brand new M3 Stuart light tanks from "B" company, 192nd Tank Battalion, on 22 December 1941; north of Damortis during the retreat to the Bataan Peninsula in 1941.[15] Both the M3 and Type 95 light tanks were armed with a 37 mm gun, but the M3 was better armored, with 32mm (1 1/4 inches) thick turret sides,[16] vs the Type 95's 12mm thick armor; however, based upon the Army's Ballistics Research Lab (BRL) which conducted the first large study of tank vs tank warfare in 1945, the conclusion was that the single most important factor in a tank duel was which side saw first, shot first, and hit first.[17] On 22 December 1941, the Type 95's of the 4th Tank Regiment had done just that.

Two Type 95 tanks were deployed to support the Japanese landing at Milne Bay, in late August 1942. Initially, the tanks proved successful against the lightly armed Australian infantry, whose 'sticky bombs' failed to stick due to the humidity. Although the tanks had proved reliable in the tropical conditions of Malaya, they could not handle the volume of mud caused by intense, almost daily rainfall at Milne Bay. Both tanks were bogged down and abandoned a few days after the landing.

10 Year Old WarhorseEdit

The Type 95 first began to show its vulnerability during later battles against British/Commonwealth forces, where the tank's 37mm gun could not penetrate the armor of the British Matilda tanks which were deployed against them. The thin armor of the Type 95 made it increasingly vulnerable, as Allied forces realized that standard infantry weapons were capable of penetrating the minimal armor around the engine block, and even its thickest armor could not withstand anything above rifle caliber. By 1944, it was already known that the 10 year old Type 95 light tank's firepower was insufficient to take on "brand new" US medium tanks, such as the medium M4 Sherman, or the M5 Stuart light tank, although the Type 95 could still give the M3 Stuart light tank a run for it's money.[14]

In August 1942, the US launched it's first counter offensive against Japan, when it landed US Marines on Guadalcanal. The US Marine Corps deployed it's 1st Tank Battalion, which was equipped with the only M2A4 light tanks to see combat with US forces during WWII.[18] The M2A4 was the foundation for the M3 Stuart, and both vehicles were nearly identical when viewed side by side; with the primary difference being the rear idler wheel lowered to the ground on the M3. Although the M2A4 was newer by five years, being built in 1940, than the Type 95, it was the closest US tank in armament and armor to the Type 95 light tank; with 25mm (1")[19] thick turret sides vs the 95's 12mm turret sides; and both tanks were equipped with 37mm main guns. Several Type 95s were destoyed or captured by the United States Army during the Battle of Biak in 1943. As the tide of the war turned against Japan, the Type 95s were increasingly expended in banzai charges or were dug-in as pillboxes in static defense positions in the Japanese-occupied islands. During the Battle of Tarawa, seven entrenched Type 95th opposed American landings. More were destroyed on Parry Island and on Eniwetok. On Saipan, Type 95s attacked the American Marine beachhead on 16 June 1944, and more were used in the largest tank battle in the Pacific the following day.

In the Battle of Guam on 21 July, ten Type 95 were lost to bazooka fire or M4 tanks. Seven more were destroyed on Tinian on 24 July, and 15 more on Battle of Peleliu on 15 September. Likewise, in the Philippines, at least ten Type 95s were destroyed in various engagements on Leyte, and another 19 on Luzon. At the Battle of Okinawa, 13 Type 95s and 14 Type 97 Shihoto medium tanks of the 27th Tank Regiment faced 800 American tanks.

China-Burma-India theater of OperationsEdit

In 1942 the IJA pushed through Southeast Asia, through Thailand and into Burma, and headed for India. Type 95 light tanks of the IJA 14th Tank Regiment led the way. They engaged the M3 Stuarts of the British 7th Hussars and 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, and as the British retreated towards India, the IJA ultimately resupplied their destroyed Type 95's with "some" captured M3's*. By 1944, the 14th Tank Regiment was starving to death due to British (deep battle) tactics of cutting the IJA's logistical lines; and a final push by the IJA was stopped at Imphal, India.[20][21]

When the war ended, hundreds of Type 95s were left in China. They were used during the Chinese Civil War and by the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China during the Korean War, where they again encountered (and were outmatched by) the US M4 Sherman.

  • Hunnicutt states that the British M3s were destroyed (to prevent enemy use) during the British retreat, however the photo on page 397 shows them intact. Likewise, Zaloga states that some were ultimately "re-used" by the enemy (as they had NOT, apparently, been destroyed by the British).

SurvivorsEdit

Although no surviving examples of the Type 95 light tank remain in Japan, a number have been preserved at museums around the world:

IJA WWII units equipped with Type 95 Ha-GōEdit

  • 1st Independent Mixed Brigade
  • 4th Tank Regiment
  • 1st Tank Regiment
  • 6th Tank Regiment
  • 7th Tank Regiment
  • 2nd Tank Regiment
  • 1st Company of 2nd Tank Regiment
  • 14th Tank Regiment
  • 1st Independent Tank Company
  • 2nd Battalion of 1st Army Sea-mobile Brigade
  • Tank Company of 1st Army Sea-mobile Brigade
  • Tank Company of 222nd Infantry Regiment
  • 9th Tank Regiment
  • Tank Unit of 18th Infantry Regiment
  • 1st Company of 9th Tank Regiment
  • 2nd Company of 9th Tank Regiment
  • Tank Unit of 29th Division
  • Tank Unit of 36th Division
  • Tank Unit of 14th Division
  • 3rd Tank Division
  • 7th Independent Tank Company
  • 1st Independent Tank Company
  • 2nd Independent Tank Company
  • 1st Company of 4th Tank Regiment
  • 3rd Company of 4th Tank Regiment
  • 2nd Tank Division
  • 26th Tank Regiment
  • 27th Tank Regiment
  • 11th Tank Regiment
  • Training Group of Kungchuling Army Tank School of Kwantung Army.
  • Kamiyoshi Detachment
  • Shoji Detachment
  • Itoh Detachment (Army Gr.)
  • Itoh SNLF Detachment (Navy Gr.)
  • Tank Platoon unit of Kure 5th SNLF
  • Tank Unit of Sasebo 7th SNLF
  • Makin Detachment of 3rd Naval Special Base Force
  • 55th Armor Guard Unit of Yokosuka 1st SNLF
  • Kwajalein Armor Detachment of Sasebo 7th SNLF

OperatorsEdit

Flag of Japan.svg Japan
  • Primary Operators.
Flag of South Korea.svg Republic of Korea
  • South Korean Army operated remaining tanks in Korean War.
Flag of the Soviet Union.svg Soviet Union
  • Soviet Army operated some captured tanks after the war.
Thailand Thailand
  • In 1940 the Thai army acquired approximately 50 Type 95s. A number of them spearheaded the Thai invasion of Burma's Shan States during the Second World War. In 1952 the tanks were decommissioned.
China People's Republic of China
  • The Chinese Red Army captured examples from the National Revolutionary Army (in turn captured from the Japanese) and received others captured by the Soviet Union. They were used in the Chinese Civil War and the Korean War alongside the Type 97 Chi-Ha.

ReferencesEdit

  • Foss, Christopher (2003). Great Book of Tanks: The World's Most Important Tanks from World War I to the Present Day. Zenith Press. ISBN 0760314756. 
  • Foss, Christopher (2003). Tanks: The 500. Crestline. ISBN 0760315000. 
  • Hunnicutt, Richard (1992). Stuart, A history of the American Light Tank Volume 1. Novato, California: Presidio Press. ISBN 0-89141-462-2. 
  • Zaloga, Steven J. (1999). M3 & M5 Stuart Light Tank 1940-45. Osprey. ISBN 978-1-85532-911-9. 
  • Zaloga, Steven J. (2007). Japanese Tanks 1939-45. Osprey. ISBN 978-1-84603-091-8. 
  • Zaloga, Steven J. (2008). Armored Thunderbolt, the US Army Sherman in World War II. Mechanicsville, PA (USA): Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-0424-3. 

External linksEdit

NotesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Type 95 Ha-Go5, Type 95 Ke-Go5, Type 3 Ke-Ri, Type 4 Ke-Nu, Type 5 Ke-Ho". WWII Vehicles.com. http://www.wwiivehicles.com/japan/tanks-light/type-95.asp. 
  2. Zaloga (Japanese Tanks) p. D "Chart"
  3. Zaloga (M3/M5 Stuart) p. D "Chart"
  4. Zaloga (Japanese Tanks) p. 12
  5. Zaloga (Armored Thunderbolt) p. 16 & 18
  6. Zaloga (Japanese Tanks) p. 15
  7. 7.0 7.1 Zaloga (Japanese Tanks) p. 3
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Zaloga, Japanese Tanks 1939-45
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 How Things Work
  10. Zaloga (M3/M5 Stuart) p. 40
  11. Zaloga (Armored Thunderbolt) p. 15, 16, and 18
  12. Zaloga (M3/M5 Stuart) p. 14 & 41
  13. Zaloga (Japanese Tanks) p. 15 & 16
  14. 14.0 14.1 Foss, The Great Book of Tanks
  15. Hunnicutt (Stuart) p. 395
  16. Hunnicutt (Stuart) p. 478
  17. Zaloga (Armored Thunderbolt) p. 229 & 230
  18. Zaloga (M3/M5 Stuart) p. 15
  19. Hunnicutt (Stuart) p. 475
  20. Hunnicutt (Stuart) p. 396
  21. Zaloga (Japanese Tanks) p. 40


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