Type 2 Ka-Mi

The Special Type 2 Launch Ka-Mi was the Imperial Japanese Navy's first amphibious tank. The Type 2 Ka-Mi was based on the Imperial Japanese Army's Type 95 Ha-Go light tank with major modifications, and was a capable armoured fighting vehicle on both land and at sea.

Country Name Origin Year
Japan 1941
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Japan View

The Type 2 Ka-Mi was based on the Army's Type 95 Ha-Go light tank, but with an all-welded hull with rubber seals in place of the riveted armor. It was intended to be water-tight. Large, hollow pontoons made from steel plates were attached to the front glacis plate and rear decking to give the necessary buoyancy. The front pontoon was internally divided into eight separate compartments to minimize the effects of damage from flooding and shellfire. These flotation devices could be jettisoned from inside the tank once the tank landed and commenced ground combat operations.

The Type 2 Ka-Mi's gun turret with a high-velocity Type 1 37 mm gun and a coaxial Type 97 light machine gun was able to rotate 360°. A second Type 97 light machine gun was located in the tank's bow. Occasionally Type 2 Ka-Mi's were armed with a pair of naval torpedoes; one on either side of the hull. The Type 2 Ka-Mi could also be launched from the deck of a submarine.

The Type 2 Ka-Mi was capable of attaining speeds of 10 km/h in the water with a range of 150 km through two propellers situated at the rear of the hull, powered by the tank's engine. Steering was in the control of the tank commander, who operated a pair of rudders from the turret through cables.

That the crew included an onboard mechanic is an indication of the complexity of the design.

As early as 1928, the Japanese Army had been developing and testing amphibious tanks and created several experimental models such as the SR-II, the Type 1 Mi-Sha and the Type 92 A-I-Go which either never made it off the drawing board or were produced only as one-off prototypes for concept testing. In 1940, The Navy took over development of amphibious vehicles and two years later came up with the Type 2 Ka-Mi. The Type 2 Ka-Mi was designed for the Navy's Special Naval Landing Forces for the amphibious invasion of Pacific Islands without adequate port facilities, and for various special operations missions.

Only 184 units of the Type 2 Ka-Mi were built, beginning in 1942, due to the number of complex components and due to the fact that it had to be nearly completely hand-built.

The Type 2 Ka-Mi came into active service after the initial campaigns of World War II, and was thus too late to be used in its original design mission of amphibious landings. Many units were assigned to naval garrison detachments in the South Pacific Mandate and in the Netherlands East Indies.

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 dug into the ground and used in static defense positions. It was also encountered in combat by U.S. Army forces at Aitape and Biak during the New Guinea campaign and during the fighting on the Philippine island of Leyte in late 1944. According to Ralph Zumbro in his book 'Tank Aces',several Ka-Mi were destroyed by Army LVT-1s off the coast of Leyte during history's only Amphibious tank vs. Amphibious tank action; this is doubtful however, as most Ka Mi tanks were destroyed after they landed. A handful more were captured by Army troops on Luzon in 1945,but had not entered combat. A number of photos exist of these vehicles, as well as several others captured by Australian and Commonwealth troops.[2] Armor was thin but comparable to the LVT-1 which was also 6–13 mm thick.

Formal DesignationType 2 Ka-Mi
Production Quantity184Production Periodn.a.
TypeAmphibious TankCrew5
Length hull/overall (m)7.42Width (m)2.79
Height (m)2.34Combat Weight (kg)11300
Primary Armament37mm Type 1Ammunition Carried132
Traverse (degrees)Manual (360°)Elevation (degrees)-11.5° to +5.5°
Traverse speed (360°)-Rate of Firen.a.
Secondary Armament2 x 7.7mm Type 97 MG (coaxial, bow)Ammunition Carried3500

Engine Make & Modeln.a.Speed on road/water37/10 km/h
Type & DisplacementDiesel 6 cylinderGround Pressuren.a.
Horsepower120Ground Clearance (m)0.36
Power/Weight Ratio10.6Turning Radius (m)n.a.
Gearbox4 forward, 1 reverseGradient (degrees)n.a.
Range on road/water200/150 kmVertical Obstacle (m)0.74
Mileage (litres/100km)121 road/161 waterFording (m)-
Fuel Capacity (litres)241Trench Crossing (m)2.01
Armor (mm@degrees)FrontSideRearTop/Bottom

End notes