Type 95 Ha-Go/Type 2 Ka-Mi
|Primary Role||Light Tank|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseThe Type 95 Ha-Go light tanks were developed in the early 1930s to bridge a weakness in the Japanese Army which had no tanks that were fast enough to travel with its infantry-carrying trucks. The first prototype of the Type 95 Ha-Go design was completed in 1934 at the Japanese Army's Sagami Arsenal. In 1935, the design was accepted for service. The Japanese Army leadership agreed that despite weaknesses (mainly regarding thin armor plating, turret could not face rearward, and very rough ride), this new light tank design was not only superior to current Japanese tanks available, it was only among one of the better light tank designs at the time. Production began later that year by the Sagami Arsenal, Kokura Arsenal, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Hitachi Industries, Niigata Tekkosho, and Kobe Seikosho. Between 1935 and 1945, 2,103 units were produced.
ww2dbaseDuring the Second Sino-Japanese War theater of WW2, Type 95 Ha-Go light tanks were found to be very effective. They accompanied Japanese infantry in battles against Chinese forces that typically fielded few armored cars and wielded few anti-tank weapons. More than half of the Type 95 Ha-Go light tanks produced were deployed in China, and when the war ended in 1945 hundreds of them remained. They were taken and used by both sides of the ensuing Chinese Civil War. Some were also used by the Chinese communist forces in the Korean War.
ww2dbaseIn the opening chapters of the Pacific War, Type 95 Ha-Go light tanks were found to be sufficient against the few tanks that the United Kingdom operated in Malaya and Singapore and also sufficient when facing American M3 Stuart light tanks in the Philippine Islands. Both Type 95 Ha-Go and M3 Stuart tanks had 37-millimeter guns, while the Japanese tanks had thinner armor plating; however, when the two types of tanks faced each other on 22 Dec 1941 in the Philippine Islands, the Japanese tanks had the upper hand due to better training. Although they handled the Malayan jungles very well, when brought to the more southerly Pacific Islands, they quickly became bogged down in the wetter terrain. This happened right from the start when the first two Type 95 Ha-Go tanks were deployed to Milne Bay, New Guinea, and both of them were abandoned within days of landing because they were so deep in mud. Later in the war, when the British, Commonwealth, and American forces began to bring in heavier tanks such as the Matilda infantry tanks and the M4 Sherman medium tanks, they were essentially obsolete as their primary guns were too small and the armor plating were too weak. Due to necessity, they continued to be the main light tanks of the Japanese Army through the final year of the war, but as the end neared, more and more of them were dug in as static pillboxes as they were not able to stand up to Allied forces from both quantity and quality perspectives.
ww2dbaseIn 1940, 50 Type 95 Ha-Go light tanks were export from Japan to Thailand, which was on friendly terms with Japan through WW2. In the Royal Thai Army, they operated as Type 83 tanks and were in use until 1952 when they acquired M24 light tanks from the United States.
ww2dbaseBetween 1940 and 1942, the Japanese Navy took several examples of the Type 95 Ha-Go light tank design and developed the Type 2 Ka-Mi amphibious tank design. They were intended for use by the Special Naval Landing Forces for amphibious assault operations. The Navy engineers replaced all the rivets with wielding with rubber seals, and added steel plate pontoons to the front and rear of the tanks to provide buoyancy. Each of the Type 2 Ka-Mi amphibious tanks were driven by a pair of propellers, located at the bottom rear of the vehicle and operated by the tank commander located inside the turret. Occasionally the Type 2 Ka-Mi tanks were equipped with torpedoes, but for the most part they fielded similar armament as their Type 95 Ha-Go cousins. Because of the complexity of the design, the Type 2 Ka-Mi amphibious tanks were nearly completely hand-made, thus only 184 units were built. When they were introduced in late 1942, most of the amphibious invasion by the Japanese forces had been completed, thus they did not serve in their intended amphibious assault roles. Instead, they were assigned to naval garrison detachments for defensive roles very similar to the Type 95 Ha-Go light tanks.
Last Major Revision: Jun 2009
Type 95 Ha-Go
|Machinery||One Mitsubishi NVD 6120 air-cooled diesel engine rated at 120hp|
|Armament||1x37mm Type 94 gun, 1x6.5mm Type 91 machine gun or 2x7.7mm Type 97 machine guns|
Type 2 Ka-Mi
|Machinery||One Mitsubishi air-cooled diesel engine rated at 115hp|
|Armament||1x37mm Type 97 gun, 2x7.7mm Type 97 machine guns|
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Thomas Dodd, late 1945