Saturday, January 6, 2018

Postponement of Work

  Hello everyone. It's been quite some time since I last updated my blog. Unfortunately, I've had troubles working due to various reasons, so my time to update and work on my research and articles has suffered because of it. So today I am going to post my final Blog Update for the near future.

As of January 6th, I'm due any day now for my baby boy. 40-weeks finished, and my little one is near ready to come into the world. However, for reasons I do not wish to go into detail on, I have been listed as a High-Risk Pregnancy. I have a life-long history of poor cardiac health, and this pregnancy has made my complications worse. I am told that everything has a good chance of being a-ok, so I am not worried. But nonetheless, my health decline puts a severe damper on my ability to work and share with the community. The Doctor told me I am forbidden from partaking in flights for 6 months because of my health with high altitudes, so that unfortunately means I will not be able to visit Japan again until late next year at best. Projects I had planned to perform are not really possible now, so until I have the opportunity to get back into the depth of things, I'm sad to say I wont be able to release as many things as I planned to.

I would like to apologize for those eager to get their hands on new content from me. I know that there has been much Ive been working on, many articles that are currently in the works I cant quite post now because of complications.

As for those in the War Thunder Community; my work with Gaijin will also be taking a pause. Due to health concerns and the fact I now have a baby boy to look after, my work with Gaijin Entertainment will be considerably slower paced. However I would like to keep this pause short as there are things to take care of. But of course, stepbacks.

As a farewell present, here's a little something for you all. I did not plan on showing any of what I found and received for the Ho-Ri last year. I planned on using all my material for my book. However I wanted to give something away as a little compensation. So heres one of the Ho-Ri technical drawings;

For those not apart of the /WarThunder Reddit, I have posted semi-regularly in regards to brief posts on Japanese Vehicles. If you are looking for information on a vehicle not covered on the Blog, try looking on my Reddit here;

- Seon Eun Ae & Baby Ri 😊

Friday, October 6, 2017

Ohka-based Interceptor Fighter

Recently I spent some time in the National Archive of Japan and the National Diet Library Center. I eventually found, with help of a friend procuring documents from the Canadian Heritage archive, a new type of Japanese interceptor based on the Ohka Suicide Bomb. I don't usually touch on aircraft, as my aerial knowledge is rather poor. To make this I worked with a few people who have a much better understanding than myself. Such as Cherryblossom, ARADO_AKBAR, Shapeshifter (Whelmy), and Leo Guo.

The aircraft, dubbed the Suzuka-24 by American Intelligence, was an interceptor rocket-based aircraft designed to intercept allied bombing formations at the end of the war. Unlike the Ohka, this new rocket was not intended to be used for kamikaze use, instead for a complete take-off, strafing run, and landing.

The following file material was used to construct the Suzuka 24;

  • US Intel Report No. 63a-6 Rocket Powered Aircraft
  • US Intel Report Report No. 9-a-60 Rocket Plane "Ball of Fire"
  • R.A Liaison Letter, July 1945 

Ohka Development Background 

As the end of the war drew quickly for Japan, the military started relying on drastic measures to achieve the most in the short window period they had left in the war. Such measures involved the use of suicide operated vehicles and weaponry - with the intend on using a platform loaded with explosives to crash and detonate the targeted object. From tanks, ships, infantry weapons, and most noticeably aircraft. The term Kamikaze was used heavily in reference to the suicide attacks via pilots, flying fighters and heavy assault vehicles where were equipped with explosives used to ram United States ships.

Photograph of the Ohka rocket, with its
warhead next to the nose.
With the United States Navy closing in on the Japanese home islands, and the lack of Japanese fleet warships left, the Navy Air Service were met with troubles on how to deal with the ships, especially American aircraft carriers. IJN ensign officer Mitsuo Ohta devised an idea of the use for a rocket powered aircraft designed to carry a large warhead that could be used to ram into warships at excessive speeds. Ohta was a member of the 405th Kōkūtai, a transport flight pilot with limited aero engineering experience. His concept was forwarded to the Aeronautical Research Institute, held at the University of Tokyo, where students became fond of the idea, to which was
 then sent to the Yokosuka Research Facility. The concept of the suicide rocket were eventually adopted as the project MXY7, and technical drawings and blueprints were drawn for the rocket.

Flight path of the Ohka leaving the G4M.
Designed to carry three Type4 Model I rockets, the MXY7 would have its first powered flight in November of 1944. The idea was simple, and deemed effective for use. Mass production of the aircraft began as soon as it came in. The designation Ohka was given to the suicide rocket, and 755 units of the Ohka were built at the Yokosuka and Kasumigaura naval arsenals. The rocket saw limited use, with only a handful of successes resulting in American warships being sunk.

The Ohka was transported by a mothership, the Mitsubishi G4M Betty. While considered for land and submarine deployment, it was never conducted with the suicide-purposed models.


Suzuka 24

The Ohka rocket from 1944 to 1945 went through several design changes. With the underlying change of which for different warhead sizes and powertrains. All of the models shared the same underlying theme -  suicide use against warships. However by 1945, a new threat emerged to Japan, American strategic bombing raids. The introduction and use of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress posed a substantial threat to Japanese aircraft. To remedy this issue, development of new more powerful fighters took place. Not only, but correspondence with Germany resulted in sharing of rocket and jet engine information to Japan. Such examples and information would lead to aircraft such as the Kikka and Ki-200 to be built at the end of the war.

Suzuka 24 POW sketch.

Rocket development became heavy in Japan, with multiple designs being built. It was decided to redesign the Ohka for a new role - bomber interception. Similar in operation to the Ki-200 rocket, the Ohka-based interceptor would be lighter in weight, smaller armament, and a small silhouette. The Ohka was designed by the Japanese Naval Air Service, however the change to use a land-based interceptor was developed by either the Navy or Army air serviced, currently unknown.

The new design removed the use of a warhead entirely. As its purpose was intercepting B-29's, the weight and use of a warhead was seen as impractical and hazardous to the design. Instead, a fuel tank and two 20mm cannons were placed in the nose of the design. Due to this, there is no room in the nose to fit a warhead of any size. With only a length of 6 meters, the 20mm cannons take up a considerable worth of space to fit the gun and munition belts properly. The design of the aircraft was significantly altered to account for its new use. A changed tail design, now introducing a general vertical and horizontal rudder and elevator, allowing better control of the aircraft in flight. Along with this a longer wingspan, being 0.5 meters longer on each side of the aircraft and thicker support. The new design of the Ohka-interceptor allowed for ease of maneuverability in flight. 

The Ohka interceptor was produced in a handful of models. By the time the war ended in 1945, most of the vehicles were kept at Suzuka, Yokosuka, and Kanoya airfields. United States Intelligence discovered one model at Suzuka, and labeled the aircraft as the Suzuka-24 as the official designation was not known.

Four more models of the Suzuka-24 were discovered at Kanoya airfield. At Yokosuka, another model was found along with a pilot belonging to the airfield captured. The pilot listed details of the aircraft, its designated use being bomber intercepting, and measurements of the aircraft. Photographs were mentioned as being taken, however at this time none have been found.

Combat History

The Suzuka-24 saw only two accounts of combat. Both were separate engagements on B-29 formations on April 3rd, 1945. The bomber crew report the Suzuka-24 being a "ball of fire" in accordance to the rocket's discharge. The report lists the rocket lasting for 6 to 8 minutes, where the rocket finally died and the aircraft broke off from the B-29 formation. The crew report matched the fuel time the Suzuka-24 could sustain, 7 minutes. To reach the formation, the Suzuka-24 was given an assisted-rocket on the underside of the central fuselage. 

They note the rockets flickering on and off while chasing the bombers. Due to the KR-10's being new and flawed, performance reflected operational use. The Suzuka-24 struggled to get even with the B-29 bombers during its engagement. Overpassing and following behind due to the flickers. The KR-10 by April 3rd were highly experimental. Even when mounted on the J8M prototype months later, the KR-10's operated poorly and even resulted in exploding due to the rocket mixtures.

Known Statistics and Performances

Only a general look of the Suzuka-24's specifications are known. 
B-29 report on seeing the Suzuka-24 in action.

General characteristics
Crew: 1
Length: 20 feet aprox. (6.097 meters)
Wingspan: 20 feet aprox. (6.097 meters)
Height: N/A
Powerplant: KR-10 (presumed)

Maximum speed:  N/A
Maximum Glide Speed: 840 kmh (520 mph)
Rate of Climb: 10,000 feet per minute (3,050 meters per minute)
Range: 7 minutes of fuel
Service ceiling: 32,000 feet (9,755 meters)

Guns: x2 20mm Cannons (60 or 150 shells per gun) (Unknown Ho-5 or Type99)
Bombs: None


After the war, the United States encountered many different aircraft. Multiple variations of the Ohka were made and left over in mixed conditions. Because of this, the Suzuka-24 is confused to be an identical Ohka with a warhead, the Model 43B.  The Model 43B was similarly designed to hold two 20mm cannons. However the fuselage was extended to carry both the cannons and warhead with fuel for a Ne20 jet engine.

I'm working on collecting the technical drawings and other details at the moment. When I have them, I will make sure to update the post. [10/5/17]

Friday, June 23, 2017

Through the Gauntlet

It is not often you hear of Japanese war heroes during the War in the Pacific. Due to their reputation, many cases of Japanese bravery went unnoticed as the years went on. Often set aside to instead forget about the tragedies and brutal events that took play throughout the Second World War. However if any account of bravery is to be known, it is the actions of a single tank commander of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Battle for Iwo Jima. A man who took personal responsibility and dared to do the unthinkable to protect his comrades when all had seemed lost. The Battle for Iwo Jima had been one of the most brutal and bloody battles of the war. Japan's last hope of defense against the invading American forces, who needed the island in order for its long range bombers to reach the home island of Japan.

26th Tank Regiment

Takeichi Nishi during the 1932
 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
One of the commanding officers on Iwo Jima was Baron Takeichi Nishi, in charge of the 26th Tank Regiment and its 600 personnel. Takeichi Nishi had been Japan's 1932 Olympic Gold Medalist in equestrian show jumping during events at Los Angeles. and regarded as a celebrity in both Japan and the United States. He had been assigned as the commander of the 26th Tank Regiment in Northern Manchuria for the preparation for a possible Soviet invasion. Nishi and the 26th were stationed in Mudanjiang, which held one of the key logistical railways for supplying the Imperial Japanese Army; should the IJA lose control of the railway, the Soviets would be able to make significant territorial gains. In spite of this risk, the tides of war began to shift; Nishi and the 26th Tank Regiment were eventually ordered to Iwo Jima, to bolster the garrison of Lt. General Kuribayashi on the island fortress. Prior to this deployment, Nishi had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in recognition of the distinguished conduct of the 26th Tank Regiment in Manchuria. Yet this award was effectively hollow; the 26th Tank had no actual combat experience. The same was true of many of the units already on Iwo Jima, which Nishi and his regiment were being sent to reinforce.

Defending Iwo Jima

Preparations for the defense of Iwo-Jima were made under the command of Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi,  whose forces were told hold the island at any cost. Kuribayashi had been personally selected by Prime Minister Hideki Tōjō to be the head commander of Iwo Jima due to his reputation as the prior commander of the 2nd Imperial Guards Division. Kuribayashi knew the United States outmatched Japan in all fields; when the defense would begin, there would be no equal ground for engaging the Americans in the field. To counter the Americans, the Japanese defenders would attempt to use attrition to defeat the invasion force. In preparation for the execution of this strategy, the garrisons on Iwo Jima constructed 10 miles of underground tunnels throughout the island. These linked roughly 6000 fighting positions, including pillboxes and caves for gun-emplacements.

An example of a dug-in tank. 
The 26th Tank Regiment only had 23 tanks stationed on the island by the time the American forces arrived. Originally, there were 28 tanks (Mostly Chi-Ha Kais) assigned to the defense of  Iwo Jima, however on July 18th, 1944, a cargo vessel carrying the tanks had been sunk by an American submarine, the USS Cobia. Takeichi Nishi had been forced to wait for a new set of tanks to be supplied to the island. Only 23 units were able to be scrounged up for Nishi and the 26th to use in the defense of Iwo Jima. Among these 23 tanks, there were twelve Type 95 Ha-Go light tanks and eleven Type 97 Chi-Ha tanks. Of the Chi-Ha’s, only 3 were Kai models with the 47mm Anti-Tank gun. Takeichi Nishi decided to use the tanks as pillboxes on the rocky terrain of Iwo Jima. Their weak armour could not match the American M4 Shermans, however they were still a threat to infantry with their guns given appropriate protection by the geography.
The tanks were scattered across the island in various
positions to ambush the American forces as they moved inland.

By the end of 1944, the island’s garrisons reached 12,700 troops of various reserve divisions who mostly had been kept in China during the war, with little experience. 3,000 naval troops were also stationed on the island.  It came as a surprise to Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi when the year had ended without any offensives by the Unites States. Japan had expected the island to come under attack sometime during 1944, but nonetheless no such attack happened. It wasn't until the middle of February that the American navy had came with a force of over 110,000 troops to take over the island from the already well-prepared Japanese. The naval bombardments began a few days before the landings were to commence. On the 19th of February, the landing forces stepped foot on the island, and the battle of Iwo Jima had begun.

Tank Trouble

4th tank Battalions combat report.
The American landing forces were met with stiff resistance the moment they came off the beachhead, however it only took 4 days for the American marines to capture Mount Suribachi and establish a major foothold on the island. Dug in within the various underground tunnels, the Japanese kept themselves hidden in order to take advantage of the American marines as they advanced further inland. The Americans had also deployed armoured units in the form of LVT's and M4A2, Shermans to support the advancing marines. However, due to the size and attraction the tanks caused on the island, the marines often pushed without the help of tank support. This led to infighting between company and tank commanders. Instead, most of the tanks moved to the northern airfields without heavily relying on infantry to safeguard the way for mines.

A Taken Out Chi-Ha Kai on Hill 382.
Sherman tank crews were forced to rely on their comrades and fellow tank crew’s for advancing inland. Due to the lack of available engineers on Iwo Jima, the crews had to manually leave their tanks to scout out the rocky terrain to judge how viable crossing would have been. This became apparent to the Japanese 26th Tank Regiment on February 20th, when a marine regiment alongside a tank company assaulted Hill 382 against the Japanese positions supported by tanks of the 26th. The engagement lasted until the 27th when the marines took the hill. Losses on the American side amounted to eight M4A2 Shermans, with another four damaged. The 26th Tank Regiment’s losses are unknown, but all the tanks supporting the defenses of Hill 382 were destroyed. The remaining Japanese tanks and crew retreated further North to Hill 362c. However, while the majority of the 26th retreated, a pocket of tank crewmen decided to stay behind and garrison a cave to ambush the oncoming American forces as they pushed past Hill 382.

On the 28th of February, American marines were unexpectedly attacked by Type 97 Chi-Ha tanks, in a desperate measure to prevent the advance. While surprising the infantry, the tanks were not an issue due to American bazooka’s quickly disabling the attack.

Hill 362c

After the battle of Hill 382, the remains of the 26th Tank Regiment positioned themselves on Hill 362c, one of the last remaining Japanese defenses on Iwo Jima. At this point, there were only 2 tanks left to defend the island. Lieutenant Colonel Takeichi Nishi had been reported as Killed In Action by the time the Japanese had finished gathering on Hill 362c. The American forces had kept the battle on hold temporarily as forces recuperated and were reinforced with supplies and replacements. The 21st Marines and 4th Tank Battalion were ordered to push for a final assault against the Japanese, and take Hill 362c from the defending forces. The United States had successfully captured most of the Island, and only a small pocket of Japanese troops were left. However, the last few Japanese knew that the island mustn't fall at any cost.

The assault on Hill 362c began on March 6th. The 21st Marines scheduled for a naval bombardment on the hill in an attempt to scare the Japanese out of their defenses. The first shells landed at 0845 hours and lasted for quite some time. Once the shelling had ceased, almost abruptly the Japanese began to return fire on American positions. As infantry attacks would not work, the 21st asked for the 4th tank battalion to attempt an assault on the hill. Three M4A2 Shermans were sent across the field to attack the Japanese positions mid-day.

Daring Hero

Photograph of Sec Lt. Otani Michio.
During the defensive, Japanese morale had been shaken despite their self perseverance. The remaining troops did not have the sufficient arms to defend against the oncoming Sherman tanks. However, the 26th Tank Regiment had one remaining Type 97 Chi-Ha Kai on the hill. Its crew being almost entirely killed with the exception of the commander, Second Lieutenant Otani Michio, who had been able to keep the tank covered during the bombardments. Otani Michio had been short on remaining munitions, and the tank being damaged beyond further repair at this point, was left to hold off an American tank column alone.

Otani Michio had the three tanks in his sights as they advanced. His Chi-Ha Kai covered by the terrain, his 47mm anti-tank gun had been able to successfully take out a Sherman within 100 meters of his position. Afterwards, Otani fired his remaining shots at the second Sherman tank, however unable to effectively penetrate and destroy due to the angle of fire the tank was positioned in. The crew had likely bailed due to damage of the repeated hits to the side. It is unknown what happened to his tank, however the gun was no longer useable after firing upon the second Sherman. Shocking his comrades, instead of retreating, Otani instead decided to exit the tank and sprint towards the second Sherman he had fired at. An unprecedented move, Otani managed to get on top of the damaged Sherman.

The damaged Sherman, crewless, gave Otani the opportunity to deal with the remaining M4A2. Otani occupied the gunner position of the second Sherman, and opened fire on the third tank. Due to the blind spots and lack of visibility of the Sherman as reported by the 4th Tank Battalion, Otani managed to make his move without worry of counter fire. Firing the 75mm cannon, he was able to successfully disable the last Sherman. By this point the marines had already gotten to the field and began to engage the Japanese position. Otani managed to exit the sherman, and return to safety as his comrades provided fire support.

Only Known Photograph of the Engagement
with Otani and the Shermans, by American troops.
 His actions gave his fellow troops exceeding morale, and forced the 21st Marines to plan another route of attack. The marines decided to launch a night assault on the Hill, something the Unites States hadn’t done during the Pacific Theatre. On the midnight of March 6th, the 21st’s attack was a success, as most Japanese troops ended up sleeping, unexpecting the American marines to attack under the moon. Once aware of the marines’ actions, the Japanese began engaging the American infantry to desperately protect the Hill. The night assault had been a resounding success, and on the dawn of March 7th, left the already dwindled Japanese even smaller in number. Their morale battered, the tides turned again in the Marines favour.


The Sherman model Otani Captured.
Still residing on Iwo Jima.
It has become a tourist attraction. 
By March 9th, the Unites States’ 21st Marines managed to successfully capture Hill 363c from the Japanese. The American forces during the engagement lost a total of 827 troops. The battle report lists 4 missing in action, likely had being the Sherman crew the Japanese engaged after bailing from their tank whom Otani had damaged. Not long after the battle for Hill 363c, Japan had officially surrendered the Island to the Unites States. Just over 200 Japanese troops had surrendered. Second Lt. Otani Michio had been one of them, and was recognized as a hero by his comrades.

He was regarded as a war hero once he and fellow prisoners returned home when the war had finally ended in September of 1945. Due to his actions not reaching home until the war's end, he was never officially recognized for his feats in battle. The tank he managed to occupy remains on the island today, as a monument for his actions on the 6th of March, 1945.

Hello everyone. Finally I've been able to finish and post this historical article! Hopefully now that this is done, I can also get other projects finished so I can share them here. I'll plan on doing a tank article next to get back in the cycle, and yes... I haven't forgotten the O-I series with Part 3, its coming soon!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Blog Update [5/21/17]

  Hello everyone. I'm sure its apparent that I haven't been posting many articles so far in these past two months. I'd like to apologize for my extended and unannounced absence. Both on Sensha and on my media outlets. I've been going through a rough couple months with my health taking a turn for the worse. I haven't been feeling that well and it has forced me to spend less time doing my research and connecting with you all here on the web.

The good news for me is that I'm expecting a new addition to my little family, rather soon. I haven't really mentioned it online, but to those who were curious, yes, I'm going to be having a mini-me running around this year. 😄

Unfortunately, with something this drastic coming into my life, that leaves my frequent trips to and from Japan to do research is limited. To be honest, I do not plan to take another visit for at least another year. I'm suggested not to take flights with a little one due to my health not being as well as it should be. But I am hoping to be able to get back to the work many of you appreciate in the foreseeable future. Not to worry though, I still have many files with me I have yet to dig through. So no short on things to talk about and show you, no doubt!

In regards to new articles, don't worry, they're coming. I'm currently finishing up 3 articles for you guys I really look forward to sharing. One of which has taken me a few months to prepare, as finding all the data on the events has been a lengthy process. But I hope what I've been able to get together will be an satisfying read.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

High-Voltage Dynamo Tank

  Visiting the National Archives as of late has been rather unfruitful. I've found myself finding less data for my current research projects and more on Japan's oddities throughout the war. Last week, I came across a private file in the archive which contained a series of the military's secrets during the period. Secret tank and weapon projects to battle the Allies and support a triumphant victory to end the war. The file was labeled "High Voltage Dynamo Vehicle" Ref. A06033400540.  This had caught my eye, and I spent a day and half analyzing its contents. What I found was fairly odd, and today I wanted to share the Japanese tank project that would have changed the war in the Pacific.

A Young Kesuke Miyagi.
As tensions began to wise globally during the late 30's, Japan knew a new war was closely approaching. Tank development in the nation  had only recently begun, whilst other nations were far ahead in the tank production race. Japan sought other alternatives, ones which relied on science to give Japan their much needed edge. A Japanese science professor and engineer, by the name of Kesuke Miyagi, proposed a solution to Japan's needed problem. Miyagi had studied in the United States during the 20's and 30's as a colleague of Nikola Tesla, the engineer who developed widespread use of electric power. During Miyagi's time in the States, he studied with other scientific minds in developing use of electric energy in the modern world. Miyagi took inspiration off  one of Tesla's designs for an electric ray gun that the Unites States had asked Tesla to construct for the military. It was brought to the Japanese in mid 1937 when Miyagi returned back to Japan to attempt getting his new design for military use to be used within the military.

National Archive File Ref. A06033400540 "High Voltage Dynamo Vehicle".
Kesuke Miyagi's design proposal had been accepted in the June of 1938. However it had been delayed soon after due to the Nomonhan Incident with the Soviet union the following year. After Japan's blatant defeat in Manchuria, the high command grew desperate for a weapon to change the tide. The command gave the order to construct the electric repulsion cannon. The cannon was built in prototype form in 1939, and after successful trials entered service under the Military as the Type100.

Prototype Tank

Ka-Ha Prototype during trials. 
 The Japanese high command became fond of the ray gun, and in 1940 ordered for its use in the field. Placed under the 3rd Technical Research group, the Type100 had been decided to be implemented within the chassis of a modified Type97 Chi-Ha tank. To accommodate the need for a specially built electric generator for the gun, the Chi-Ha hull had to have been raised changing the tank's height to 4.12 meters. The generator ran off of diesel, and was able to produce up to 300 million volts, amounting to the common lightning bolt in electric power. No vehicle of the era amounted to the tank's power output, and had been considered a milestone in electrostatic repulsion.

After 6 months the first prototype had been completed. It had been given the name of the Ka-Ha, and was able to complete trials without fail. It was tested against captured Vickers 6-ton tanks captured in Shanghai. The cannon had been capable of tearing apart large holes in the tank’s structures with the electric force. The trial runs showed to Japan the power the tank had been capable with. It was ordered for the tank to be mass produced immediately sent to the field.

Combat Usage

By 1943, four units of the Ka-Ha Voltage tank were manufactured.  Due to the demanding generator needed to power the Type100 electrostatic repulsion cannon, the Japanese lacked the sufficient resourced to produce the Ka-Ha on the projected scale required. This was seen as unacceptable to the high command, who viewed the Ka-Ha as the key to success during the war. To counter this, a series of vehicles were made with lower output generators, from 400-10000 volts that were used in China. They were to fire on telephone lines and disable and kill partisans relaying Japanese positions to the Nationalist Army.

A destroyed Cruiser tank with a ruptured hull
from the blast of the Ka-Ha tank. 
For the 4 units of the Ka-Ha that maintained the original Type100 cannon, they were deployed in Burma regions. Most combat was seen in Burma during the British advances in the South to recapture the occupied territories Japan had taken during the initial stage of the war. Due to the monsoon rains that took place during the campaign, it offered the Japanese a vast superiority of the British when using the Ka-Ha in the field. With the rain amplifying the power of the Type100, whole groups of Cruiser and Matilda tanks were annihilated during their advances. While Britain had been able to ultimately push Japan away from Burma, the losses at the hand of the Ka-Ha reached varying numbers of 10-23 armoured vehicles vehicles.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Theorem on Newly Discovered Tanks

   As of late, I have uncovered photos of Japanese tank training in Manchuria sometime in 1937 at a photograph auction. At first I regarded this as just another photographed album of pictures of the inter-war period, but, looking through the album, I came across a photo which deeply intrigued me. Two tanks of unknown design, being tested climbing a rise in the fields outside the Manchurian Tank School. At first glance, I had presumed them to be both Chi-Ha tanks as they fit the typical Japanese medium tank style. Further analysis, however, made me believe that these were not Chi-Ha tanks, rather, two brand new designs of tanks as yet unknown. Consulting with some of my colleagues on this, I have since connected some dots in Japanese tank development history that were previously left unnoticed with the research community. Here today I present my new thesis regarding the steps the Japanese most likely took when producing their tanks.

Two New Medium Tanks I recently discovered through a photograph auction. 


The Empire of Japan, like other nations, had their own style of classifying things in the military. Japan used the Imperial Calendar when naming weapons and vehicles in the military under the year of enacted service or construction. It emphasized using the last two (or three) digits of the given year as a Type in number form. A common example of this was the Type 95 Ha-Go tank. The Type refers to the fact the given vehicle belonged to the military. The two digit number following the Type meant that the tank was built in 1935 (Imperial Year 2595). This was standard issue for all things in the military, and would follow through to even the current year.

Type 95 Heavy "Ro-Go".
Prior to the Battle of Shanghai in 1937, the Japanese used a specialized system for labeling tanks. Instead of using a class system to label tanks under specific weight groups like Light, Medium, Heavy, etc, they merely used the order in which they were built. The first Japanese tank built in significant numbers had been the Type 89 I-Go, produced in 1929. It had been the Japanese tank that began mass production for the military, and was named accordingly. I-Go is translated to First Domestic Tank in the Japanese Army. “I” representing First, and “Go” for Domestic [vehicle]. This had been applied to produced tanks until 1937. Three known tanks used this system;

I-Go: First Domestic Tank
Ro-Go: Second Domestic Tank
Ha-Go: Third Domestic Tank

The Ro-Go is commonly known as the Type 95 Heavy Tank. Until 2015, the heavy tank was simply referred to as a heavy tank due to no found naming term applied to it. However discoveries with the O-I documentation release confirmed the tank was given the name Ro-Go, as it was the second tank in Japan produced in numbers outside one or two. It was never labeled as a heavy tank in name, only in its description. Hence the common theory arose that the tank was only referred to as the Type 95 Heavy, instead of the proper name Ro-Go. Other tanks such as the Type 94 Te Ke were not included in this nomenclature due to being a tankette, classified as an armoured car. Hence only three tanks were given naming.

Starting in 1937, the Japanese enacted this new nomenclature starting with the Chi-Ha tank, with the new system being  called the Iroha Naming Convention. Replacing the previous system where tanks were named in their domestic order, they were instead classed under their weight and the number in which they followed through in order. The Chi-Ha, for instance, is translated as “Third Medium” in the army. Other tank classes were given their own names in Kanji and the respective numbers:

Weight Terms:
Chi-Ni Medium Tank. 

Ke: Light
Chi: Medium
Ho: Gun Tank
Ju: Heavy
O: Super Heavy
Shi: Car

1: I
2: Ro
Chi-Ha Medium Tank.
3: Ha
4: Ni
5: Ho
6: He
7: To
8: Chi
9: Ri
10: Nu
11: Ru
12: O

Popular Examples of the Iroha system:

Ke-Ni: Fourth Light
Chi-Nu: Tenth Medium
O-I: First Super Heavy
Chi-Ri: Ninth Medium

Holes in History

The glaring issue with this system was that the Chi-Ha had been labeled the Third Medium tank, despite there being no First and Second Medium tank (I and Ro). Many historians came to the commonly agreed upon conclusion that since the system was only applied to tanks produced from 1937 onwards, the vehicles prior to this were not given the integrated naming change. Japan had produced two medium tanks with the old classification system, the Experimental I tank, which was classed as a medium-like tank, and the Type 89 I-Go. With no knowledge of any other tanks, it was believed the Japanese considered these two tanks the predecessors of the Chi-Ha, and falsely labeled the Experimental I and I-Go tanks as the “Chi-I” and “Chi-Ro” tanks respectively.

Of course, there were problems in this common interpretation that were left unanswered. The Type 98 Ke-Ni, dubbed the Fourth Light Tank, was the first Japanese light tank design  with the new Iroha classing nomenclature. The Ha-Go, which was referred to as the Third Domestic light tank in Japan, had too been incorrectly placed before the Ke-Ni in the Iroha naming system. This left a gap in light tank development that had simply been left unfilled. The lack of documented records with early Japanese tank history had given many historians decades later the trouble of securing a firm timeline of tank development and naming.

Tank "A".
As I mentioned earlier, two new tanks were found that did not match known tanks of the Japanese military. The fact that these two tanks existed in 1937, and had not been commonly known to the world only connects the hiccups in the applied Iroha system. These two tanks, which I for now I will refer to as Tank “A” and Tank “B”, logically fill the spots for the First and Second Medium tank naming that was incorrectly put with the Experimental and I-Go. During the mid ‘30s, Japan began developing a medium tank to became the new battle tank to support the infantry in the field. A series of prototypes were proposed take the spot. The two most known were the Chi-Ha and Chi-Ni tanks. While the Chi-Ha took the role, the Chi-Ni was labeled as the Fourth Medium tank as it was built after the Chi-Ha. However if these two tanks are in fact mediums that were also considered for the role, it is safe
to presume them to be the first series of tanks to compete for
 the role as Japan’s new battle tank.

Tank "B". 
One of my work colleagues, by the name of David Lister (Listy), had two years ago, uncovered more tanks that were produced in Japan during the interbellum period. Hidden within the British archives were a series of heavy and light tanks that according to documents of multiple nations (such as Britain, Japan, Sweden, Australia, America, and Russia) were produced in small numbers and serviced throughout the Chinese mainland and Pacific islands. With these tanks are three light tanks, all supposedly built. If the two tanks I uncovered are truly the Chi-I and Chi-Ro, this even further supports the theory as the three light tanks fit perfectly into the Iroha system where the Ke-Ni is the Fourth Light, with no known predecessor to fit the first three spots as circumstantial evidence supporting my theory.

In this new proposed theory, every spot in the Iroha classing system falls into their proper order up until the 1944-1945 gap where many tanks were scrapped and remain unknown.

Chi-I:  (Medium First) Tank “A”
Chi-Ro:  ( Medium Second) Tank “B” 
Chi-Ha: ( Medium Third) Type 97 Chi-Ha
Chi-Ni: (Medium Fourth): Type 97 Chi-Ni
Chi-Ho: (Medium Fifth) Type 98 Chi-Ho
Chi-He: (Medium Sixth): Type 1 Chi-He
Chi-To: (Medium Seventh): Type 4 Chi-To
Chi-Ri: (Medium Ninth): Type 5 Chi-Ri
Chi-Nu: (Medium Tenth): Type 3 Chi-Nu

Ke-I: (Light First) Unreleased Tank*
Ke-Ro: (Light Second) Unreleased Tank*
Ke-Ha: (Light Third) Unreleased Tank*
Ke-Ni:  (Light Fourth) Type 98 Ke-Ni
Ke-Ho: (Light Fith)  Type 5 Ke-Ho
Ke-He: (Light Sixth) Currently Unknown
Ke-To: (Light Seventh) Type 2 Ke-To
Ke-Ri: (Light Ninth) Type 3 Ke-Ri
Ke-Nu: (Light Tenth) Type 4 Ke-Nu

Ju-I: (Heavy First) Type 96 Heavy*
Ju-Ro: (Heavy Second) Type 97 Heavy*
Ju-Ha: (Heavy Third) Mitsu-104*
Ju-Ni:  (Heavy Fourth) Ishi-108*

* = Tanks currently not publicly available. Kept private with David Lister and I until his book, which was recently contracted, is published.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

O-I Size Comparisons

While I finish up the next history article for you guys, Here is something interesting for those curious about the O-I superheavy tank. I've put together a few diagrams comparing the size of the O-I with popular tanks of other nations many are familiar with.

Built in 1943, the O-I tank was one of the largest armoured vehicles produced, dwarfing even the notorious Tiger tank serviced in Germany during the Second World War. The tank had a height of 3.63 meters, a length of 10.12 meters, and a width of 4.84 meters. The dimensions of the vehicle closely matched those of the Panzer VIII Maus. These proportions were massive and required the equally large amount of crew to operate it. The crew consisted of 11 manned positions. These were; 1 Driver, 1 Co Driver, 3 Main turret gunners, 1 Commander, 2 secondary turret operators, 1 rear turret operator, 1 Radio signaler, and 1 Engineer to maintain the tank. It maintains one of the highest crew count for any produced tank.

O-I with the Tiger I tank (Front View)

O-I, Maus, T-95 (Front View)

O-I, Maus, T-95 (Side View)

O-I and Type95 Ro-Go heavy (Side View)


If someone came to you and asked the question; "what comes to mind when you hear the term super-heavy tank?", the average answer would be the notorious Maus or E-100 respectively. Big clunking tanks with large slabs of thick steel and armed with monstrous cannons. The idea of this class of vehicle had lingered on since the First World War, often relegated to the domain of prototypes and experimental designs. It would not be until the inter-war period that the concept captured designers' imaginations and drawing-boards as the 'next big thing' to turn the tide in the wars to come. Japan was no exception; in the dawn of the 40's, this super heavy tank would be known to the public as the O-I.


The O-I was conceived out of the necessity to produce a mobile bunker to contest the Soviet Union in the then-expected Second Russo-Japanese conflict. The flaw with the routine bunker or pillbox is that you cannot maneuver and relocate them with the frontline constantly being pushed. Japan would need a sustainable fortress that could push with the infantry and advance further into the USSR without the need to construct more immobile bunkers with resources already scarce.