IJA (1944)
Medium tank – 170 built

An improved Chi-Ha

The Type 1 Chi-He was an attempt by Mitsubishi to modernize the Type 97 Chi-Ha, the latter being later upgraded to the Shinhoto standard in 1942. The efforts of the engineers were aimed at increasing the protection level and improve the main gun range, speed and accuracy. The American M4 Sherman was especially in their minds. Unfortunately, production was delayed due to steel shortages, reserved prioritarily for warship construction. When the production run ended in early 1944, after 170 units built*, the model was desperately outdated.
*170 is the commonly accepted figure. Japanese Tanks 1939-45, Steven J. Zaloga, 2007, goes as far as 587, perhaps including part of the Shinhoto conversions.

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Design improvements

The all-welded armor was increased to 50 mm (1.97 in), with a straight flat plate to simplify production. It was also slightly longer and taller, and weighed 1.5 tons more. Fortunately, this was compensated by the Mitsubishi Type 100 diesel, which gave 70 hp more than the previous Type 97, with a 240 hp total. Its main Type 1 47 mm (1.85 in) high-velocity (810 m/s or 2,700 ft/s) gun had a barrel length of 2.25 m, and was found able to defeat 72 mm (2.83 in) at 200 m or 52 mm (2.05 in) at 1,000 m, almost double of the original Type 97 Chi-Ha. However, it needed an elevation gear, but this also lead to superior accuracy. Elevation/depression was +20 and -15 degrees. The three-man turret was a retrofit of the Chi-Ha Kai one. The Type 1 was also the first Japanese medium tank equipped with a radio as a standard.

The Chi-He in action

Fortunately (or unfortunately) for the Japanese, the Chi-He never left the Home Islands. They were kept here to defend against the projected Allied invasion (Operation Olympic), scheduled for October 1945. However, what-if prospects, if the invasion had took place, would have seen the Chi-He still inefficient against the upgraded, 1944 pattern Shermans, especially the new M4A3E8, later deployed in the Korean war.

A single prototype was derived from it, the twin 37 mm (1.46 in) AA gun Ta-Ha SPAAG.

Links & sources

The Chi-He on Wikipedia

Type 1 Chi-He specifications

Dimensions 5.5 x 2.2 x 2.38 m (18.1 x 7.3 x 7.10 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 17 tons
Crew 5 (driver, commander, gunner, loader, machine-gunner/radio)
Propulsion Mitsubishi V12 Type 100 air-cooled diesel, 240 hp (179 kW)@2,000 rpm, 21,700 cc
Speed 44 km/h (27 mph)
Armor 8 to 50 mm (0.31-1.97 in)
Range (road/off road) 210 km (128 mi)
Total production 170
Type4 Ke Nu
Type 1 Chi-He, possibly in Kyushu, Home Islands, late 1944.

Type 1 Chi-He, unknown unit, Home Islands, 1945.


Official photo - at MitsubishiType 1 Chi-He in storageType 1 and Type 97 in storageRear view

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Type 3 Chi-Nu
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3 Responses to Type 1 Chi-He

  1. Brandon Huang says:

    I think from Wikipedia and some other sites mistakenly refer the Type 1 Chi-He being captured and sent over to the PLA.

    • Kierzek says:

      Brandon – there is some confusion based on old photos and also in looking at the chassis of the PLA “Gohchen tank” on display from the museum photo. However, that tank was “restored” by the Chinese government, so who know how much of the tank is original. The Wikipedia article on the Type 1 Chi-He has been changed.

  2. Fegelein says:

    in the description y’all forgot to put the armament for the tank

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