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.