Type 97 Te-Ke

The Type 97 Light armored car Te-Ke was a tankette used by the Imperial Japanese Army in the Second Sino-Japanese War, at Nomonhan against the Soviet Union, and in World War II. It was designed as a fast reconnaissance vehicle, and was a replacement for the earlier Type 94 TK.

Country Name Origin Year
Japan 1936
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Japan View

The origins of the Type 97 lay in a prototype diesel-engine version of the Type 94 Te-Ke developed by Hino Motors in 1936. Although the prototype had a more powerful engine and larger gun, initial trials were not successful and the Japanese Army demanded numerous changes before acceptance. Hino responded with a modified prototype in November 1937, in which the engine was moved towards the rear of the chassis. This design was accepted and full production began in 1938. A total of 616 units were produced from 1938 to 1944 (1 unit in 1937, 56 units in 1938, 217 units in 1939, 284 units in 1940, 58 units between 1941 and 1944).

Typically, Type 97s were distributed in pairs to support infantry divisions, where they were very often used as armored tractors and supply vehicles.

The Type 97 was successfully fielded in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1938–1945, as the Chinese National Revolutionary Army had only three tank battalions, which themselves consisted of some Italian CV33 tankettes. Their light weight enabled them to be transported easily across the sea or rivers. The Type 97 tankettes first real test of combat came during the Battle of Nomonhan during the months of May through August in 1939 against the Red Army of the Soviet Union. There, although not designed for such combat, the 97 tankette went up against Russian anti-tank guns and 45mm high velocity guns of the Soviet BT-5 and BT-7 light tanks.

With the start of World War II, the Type 97 contributed significantly to the Japanese victories at the Battle of Malaya and the Battle of the Philippines, as its light weight enabled the tank to traverse unsupported bridges and ferry crossing which would be unable to take heavier tanks, and its small size allowed it to travel along the long winding and narrow roads at that time.

Formal DesignationTankette, Type 97 Te-Ke
Production Quantityn.a.Production Periodn.a.
Length hull/overall (m)3.66Width (m)1.93
Height (m)1.80Combat Weight (kg)4400
Primary Armament37mm OR 7.7mm MGAmmunition Carried102 OR 2800
Traverse (degrees)(360°)Elevation (degrees)n.a.
Traverse speed (360°)n.a.Rate of Firen.a.
Secondary Armament-Ammunition Carried-

Engine Make & Modeln.a.Speed on/off road40 km/h
Type & Displacementdiesel, 4 cyl.Ground Pressuren.a.
Horsepower65@2300Ground Clearance (m)n.a.
Power/Weight Ratio14.8 hp/tTurning Radius (m)n.a.
Gearboxn.a.Gradient (degrees)n.a.
Range on/off road (km)241Vertical Obstacle (m)0.81
Mileage (liters/100km)38Fording (m)n.a.
Fuel Capacity (liters)91Trench Crossing (m)1.60
Armor (mm@degrees)FrontSideRearTop/Bottom
Hull4mm to 16mm

End notes