Type 97 Shinhoto Chi-Ha

The Type 97 ShinhoTo Chi-Ha was a Japanese medium tank used in World War II that was an upgrade to the original Type 97 Chi-Ha. This design was probably the best tank Japan produced in any large quantity up to 1945.

Type 97 Shinhoto Chi-Ha
Class Vehicle
Type Armoured Fighting Vehicle
Manufacturer Mitsubishi J
Production Period 1940 - 1943
Origin Japan
Country Name Origin Year
Japan 1940
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Japan View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Hitachi 1940 1943 View
Nihon S 1940 1943 View
Sagami RZ 1940 1943 View
Mitsubishi J 1940 1943 930 View

Japanese Army observers had watched tank developments in Europe and studied as avidly as any European military the operational experiences gained by German, Soviet, and Italian tanks in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). In order to improve the anti-tank capability of the Type 97 Chi-Ha, a new turret armed with a high-velocity 47 mm gun was combined with the Chi-Ha's hull; hence the new name ShinHoTo (Japanese: "New Turret").

When the Type 97 entered service, properly equipped and supported mechanized infantry units were realized. The Type 97 ShinHoTo Chi-Ha first saw action at Corregidor Island of the Philippines in 1942. The skill with which Japanese commanders maneuvered their mechanized infantry divisions was then best seen in Malaya, where the lighter weight of Japanese medium tanks allowed for a rapid ground advance so heavily supported by armor that British defenders never had a chance to establish effective defense lines. The Type 97 ShinHoTo Chi-Ha served against allied forces throughout the Pacific and East Asia as well as the Soviets during the July-August 1945 conflict in Manchuria. While vulnerable to most opposing Allied tanks (the US M2/M3 Light, M4 Sherman, and Soviet T-34), the 47 mm high-velocity gun did give the ShinHoTo Type 97 a fighting chance against them.

Formal DesignationType 97 Shinhoto Chi-Ha
Manufacturer(s)Mitsubishi, Hitachi, Nihon, Sagami
Production Quantityn.a.Production Period1940-1943
TypeMedium TankCrew5
Length /hull (m)5.50Barrel Overhang (m)n.a.
Width /with skirts (m)2.34Height (m)2.38
Combat Weight (kg)15800Radio Equipmentn.a.
Primary Armament47mm Gun Type 1Ammunition Carried120
Traverse (degrees)Manual (360°)Elevation (degrees)n.a.
Traverse speed (360°)-Sightn.a.
Secondary Armament2 x 7.7mm Type 97 MG (turret rear, bow)Ammunition Carried2745
Engine Make & ModelMitsubishi Type 97No. of Links/Trackn.a.
Type & DisplacementAir, V12, 21.7 litersTrack Width30.5cm
Horsepower170hp@2000rpmTrack Ground Contact370.8cm
Power/Weight Ratio10.8 hp/tGround Pressure8.4 psi
Gearbox4 forward, 1 reverseGround Clearance (m)0.40
FuelDieselTurning Radius (m)n.a.
Range on/off road (km)210Gradient (degrees)34°
Mileage (liters/100km)112Vertical Obstacle (m)0.90
Fuel Capacity (liters)236Fording (m)1.00
Speed on/off road38 km/hTrench Crossing (m)2.50
Armor (mm@degrees)FrontSideRearTop/Bottom
Hull20@30° (nose)9@0°20@curved8@90°
16@30° (glacis)
Superstructure16@82° (glacis)26@25°-13@90°

End notes