The first Japanese domestic armored car officially mass-produced for service in China was the Chiyoda. It followed another popular model, the “Wolseley”, based on locally-produced Wolseley British chassis, engine and components. At that time, the Army searched for a better protected vehicle with good off-road capabilities. These requirements led to a 6×6 design, similar to the parallel “Hokoku” (officially Type 93) armored car, also used by the IJN. The prototype was ready in 1931 and successfully passed all trials. It was officially adopted as the “Chiyoda Armored Car”, named after the builder, Chiyoda from Tokyo. In western literature, the corresponding designation is often “Aikoku Armored Car”. This may be due to some 1932 Shanghai Incident papers which mentioned the “Aikoku -Koto”, the “Public Party of Patriots”, that helped fund the construction of these vehicles. It is also sometimes confused with the Sumida armored car.
The Chiyoda Motor Car Factory belonged to Tokyo Gasu Denki K. K., or Tokyo Gas and Electric Industries, and is nowadays named Hino Motors Ltd. It had previously produced the Type Q 6-wheeled truck, or “Type QSW”. In 1930, it was chosen to design the new army armored car, and submitted blueprints. The basic armor scheme was, in many ways, similar to that of the Wolseley. However, the spoked wheels with pneumatic tires had been found to be too fragile and were replaced by disk wheels with fixed rubber bands. The hull was made of rolled homogeneous armor, possibly 6 mm (0.24 in) thick, enough to withstand shrapnel and light arms fire, and was riveted around a central frame.
The compartmentalization was straightforward, with a frontal engine protected by armored shutters, a headlight protected by covers. The driver’s compartment came after, with the driver on the left hand side and gunner taking place to his right, firing a standard light Type 92 machine-gun. The fighting compartment behind extended to the rear, with a revolving truncated conical turret. Three visor ports were placed along each side of the fighting compartment. Access was granted through side doors for the driver’s compartmentm and through rear doors for the fighting compartment.
The turret had an AA mount on its frontal slope, and another MG was located in one of its side ports. Storage boxes were fastened over the rear axle mudguards. Normal armament provision comprised three Taisho 11 6.5 mm (0.25 in) machine-guns, replaced during WW2 by the more compact Type 91s. The vehicle was propelled by a Wolseley 4-cyl gasoline engine, producing 75 hp for a power-to-weight ratio of 13.4 hp/t, enough for an estimated top speed of 60 km/h (37 mph) on road.
An estimated 200 Chiyoda armored cars were produced and participated in the 1932 Shanghai incident and subsequent IJA operations in China in the mid-1930s. They provided both infantry support and security duties in the captured regions. Starting in 1937, the Chiyoda were gradually replaced by the Type 97 Te-Ke tankette, which had far better mobility, and the Type 90 Naval Sumida or “So-Mo”, a more versatile rail and road-capable armored car. However, there are no records of surviving vehicles used during WW2, although its likely they did fight.
|Dimensions (L-w-h)||5 x 1.90 x 2.60 m (16.4 x 6.23 x 8.53 ft)|
|Total weight, battle ready||5.6 tons (11,200 lbs)|
|Crew||5 (commander, driver, 3 gunners)|
|Propulsion||Wolseley 4-cyl gas., 75 hp, 13.4 hp/t|
|Speed (road)||60 km/h (37 mph)|
|Armor||4 to 6 mm (0.16-0.24 in)|
|Armament||3 x Taisho 11 or Type 91 6.5 mm (0.25 in) machine-guns|
Unknown unit, China, 1930s. The illustrations shows the turret turned sideways.
Unknown unit, China, 1930s, showing the turret turned forward, with its AA LMG.
Unknown unit, China, 1930s.