Type 97 Chi-Ha
includes on Type 97 Chi-Ha Medium Tank & one Tank Commander.
The Type 97 Chi-Ha was developed as a replacement for the Type 89 Chi-Ro which was considered obsolete by the late 1930s. In essence, the Type 97 was simply a scaled-up version of the Type 95 Ha-Go but with greater power-to-weight ratio, thicker armour and a two-man turret.
Armed with a short-barrelled 57mm main gun, the primary role of the Type 97 was infantry support to which the gun was well suited. Secondary armament consisted of two 7.7mm machine-guns, one mounted in the front of the hull and the other in the rear of the turret.
After facing off again the Soviet BT-5 and BT-7 tanks armed with their 45mm guns, it soon became that the 57mm gun had limited value against opposing tanks. This led to the development of the Type 1 47mm gun; a direct competitor to the Soviet 45mm gun. An up-gunned version of the Type 97 designated the Type 97-Kai Shinhoto Chi-Ha and went in production in 1942.
Japanese Model & Year System
The weapons the Imperial Japanese Army used during its wars in Asia and the Pacific were designated using a model system based on the year of the Japanese Emperor they entered service with. This can sometimes be confusing as the weapons available could come from the reign of three different emperors; Emperor Meiji (1867 to 1912), Emperor Taisho (1912 to 1926), and Emperor Hirohito (1926 to 1989). To confuse things further, during the reign of Emperor Hirohito the model system referred to the year in the Japanese calendar, which was 660 years ahead of the current western date, so 1939 was 2599 in Japan. The model is usually referred to as Type in English translations.
The 6.5mm heavy machine-gun was an older weapon that entered service in 1914 during the third year of Emperor Taisho’s reign, giving it the designation Type 3. However, the 6.5mm Type 96 light machine-gun used by the infantry was produced in 1936, or 2596 in the Japanese calendar system, which was abbreviated to 96.
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