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Japanese Tank Type 95 Ha-Gō (九五式軽戦車 ハ号 Kyugoshiki keisensha Ha-Gō). 1935. Японский танк Тип 95 “Ха-Го”.
china low volume production
Image by Peer.Gynt
Poklonnaya Gora WWII Museum. Moscow.
Поклонная гора. Москва.

Specifications
Weight – 7,400 kilograms
Length – 4.38 m
Width – 2.06 meters
Height- 2.18 meters
Crew – 3

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)
Suspension Bell crank
Operational range250 kilometers
Speed 45 km/h (road)

The Type 95 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. Although it was very slow for a light tank, it proved sufficient against opposing infantry in campaigns in Manchuria and China, as the Chinese National Revolutionary Army had very few tanks or anti-tank weapons to oppose them. However, the Type 95 lacked the armor or armament of contemporary Allied tanks, and was regarded as obsolete by the start of World War II. More than 2,000 units were produced. It was also used by Imperial Japanese Navy SNLF detachments in Pacific areas during conflict.
History and development

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. Its code name was "Ha-Gō" (ハ号) designated that it was the "third type" of tank developed.[3]

In 1935, a meeting was held at the Army Technical Bureau, at which time, 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 armaments 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.[2]

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

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

Right side view.

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 more 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.

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.

[edit]
Design

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 Type 94 37 mm Tank Gun with 37 mm caliber, barrel length of 1.3585 meters (L36.7) (early model), 1.358 meters (L36.7) (late model), el angle of fire -15 to +20 degrees (early model), -15 to +20 degrees (late model), AZ angle of fire of 20 degrees (early model) 20 degrees (late model), muzzle velocity: 600 m/s (early model), 700 m/s (late model), penetration: 45 mm/300 m (early model) 25 mm/500 m (late model) used by the Type 95 Light Tank. 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 as 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.[3]

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 engine Mitsubishi NVD 6120 with 120 hp (89.5 kW) was installed.[3] Some Type 95 were fitted with two reflectors in the front of the vehicle for night operations.

[edit]
Variants

Type 95 tank in Bovington tank museum, Dorset

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

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

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.
Type 4 Ke-Nu
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.
Type 2 Ka-Mi Amphibious Tank
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.
Type 5 Ho-Ru 47 mm 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.
Type 98 Ke-Ni light tank
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.

[edit]
Combat history

When the Type 95 entered service in 1935 it was a capable machine and comparable to any contemporary light tank in the world. It was the best vehicle of its category available to the Japanese forces in any numbers from the 1930s to World War II, and was used primarily to support infantry or as cavalry reconnaissance and, to a lesser extent, as raiding vehicles. It could compete with the American M3 light tanks on the Philippines, while the British had very few tanks of any type in Malaya or Burma in December 1941. [4]

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 twelve Type 95s took part in the attack which broke the Jitra line on 11 December 1941.

The first tank-vs-tank battles of the war was on 22 December 1941 during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. Type 95s of the 4th Tank Regiment clashed with M3s of the American 192nd Tank Battalion. Both tanks were armed with a 37 mm gun, and the M3 was better armored; however, the inexperienced American commanders failed to make good use of their tanks.

Two Type 95 tanks were deployed to support the Japanese landing at Milne Bay, 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.

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. Its firepower was insufficient to take on other tanks such as the medium M4 Sherman or the M3 Stuart light tanks. [4]

As the tide of the war turned against Japan, the Type 95s were increasing 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.

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.

Japanese Tank Type 95 Ha-Gō (九五式軽戦車 ハ号 Kyugoshiki keisensha Ha-Gō). 1935. Японский танк Тип 95 “Ха-Го”.
china low volume production
Image by Peer.Gynt
Kubinka Tank Museum. Танковый музей в Кубинке.

Specifications
Weight – 7,400 kilograms
Length – 4.38 m
Width – 2.06 meters
Height- 2.18 meters
Crew – 3

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)
Suspension Bell crank
Operational range250 kilometers
Speed 45 km/h (road)

The Type 95 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. Although it was very slow for a light tank, it proved sufficient against opposing infantry in campaigns in Manchuria and China, as the Chinese National Revolutionary Army had very few tanks or anti-tank weapons to oppose them. However, the Type 95 lacked the armor or armament of contemporary Allied tanks, and was regarded as obsolete by the start of World War II. More than 2,000 units were produced. It was also used by Imperial Japanese Navy SNLF detachments in Pacific areas during conflict.
History and development

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. Its code name was "Ha-Gō" (ハ号) designated that it was the "third type" of tank developed.[3]

In 1935, a meeting was held at the Army Technical Bureau, at which time, 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 armaments 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.[2]

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

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

Right side view.

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 more 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.

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.

[edit]
Design

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 Type 94 37 mm Tank Gun with 37 mm caliber, barrel length of 1.3585 meters (L36.7) (early model), 1.358 meters (L36.7) (late model), el angle of fire -15 to +20 degrees (early model), -15 to +20 degrees (late model), AZ angle of fire of 20 degrees (early model) 20 degrees (late model), muzzle velocity: 600 m/s (early model), 700 m/s (late model), penetration: 45 mm/300 m (early model) 25 mm/500 m (late model) used by the Type 95 Light Tank. 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 as 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.[3]

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 engine Mitsubishi NVD 6120 with 120 hp (89.5 kW) was installed.[3] Some Type 95 were fitted with two reflectors in the front of the vehicle for night operations.

[edit]
Variants

Type 95 tank in Bovington tank museum, Dorset

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

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

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.
Type 4 Ke-Nu
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.
Type 2 Ka-Mi Amphibious Tank
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.
Type 5 Ho-Ru 47 mm 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.
Type 98 Ke-Ni light tank
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.

[edit]
Combat history

When the Type 95 entered service in 1935 it was a capable machine and comparable to any contemporary light tank in the world. It was the best vehicle of its category available to the Japanese forces in any numbers from the 1930s to World War II, and was used primarily to support infantry or as cavalry reconnaissance and, to a lesser extent, as raiding vehicles. It could compete with the American M3 light tanks on the Philippines, while the British had very few tanks of any type in Malaya or Burma in December 1941. [4]

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 twelve Type 95s took part in the attack which broke the Jitra line on 11 December 1941.

The first tank-vs-tank battles of the war was on 22 December 1941 during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. Type 95s of the 4th Tank Regiment clashed with M3s of the American 192nd Tank Battalion. Both tanks were armed with a 37 mm gun, and the M3 was better armored; however, the inexperienced American commanders failed to make good use of their tanks.

Two Type 95 tanks were deployed to support the Japanese landing at Milne Bay, 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.

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. Its firepower was insufficient to take on other tanks such as the medium M4 Sherman or the M3 Stuart light tanks. [4]

As the tide of the war turned against Japan, the Type 95s were increasing 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.

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.