Imperial Japanese Army IJA (1944)
Self-propelled gun – 31 built

The last operational Japanese tank hunter

The Type 3 Ho-Ni III program started in 1942, as the Imperial Japanese Army experimented with early models of tank hunters, like the Ho-Ni I and II. These did not provide sufficient protection to their crews, with their partially open casemate, and their guns were inadequate for the role, having a too low muzzle velocity. In early 1944, an order from the Army to Hitachi Ltd requested a new series, able to address theses issues. It was known, after being accepted for production, as the 三式砲戦車 ホニIII San-shiki hōsensha, or Ho-Ni III, Type 3.


Hitachi’s tank hunter was indeed the best of the series, based on the late Type 97 Chi-Ha Shinhoto chassis. It fielded the 75 mm (2.95 in) Type 90 field gun, derived from a rechambered Schneider M1927 85 mm (3.35 in) field gun. It had a very good muzzle velocity of 683 m/s (2,241 ft/s). This gun formed the basis on which the Type 3 75 mm (2.95 in) tank gun was devised, later fitted on the Type 3 Chi-Nu medium tank. Around the Type 90 gun, the designers fitted a long armored casemate, protruding from the sides, with a roof and two hatches, able to completely protect the gun crew, both from ground and aerial fire. The rear was closed with two armored doors. There was no provision for a secondary weapon, and no hull machine-gun. As the casemate was cramped, most rounds were stored below, in the hull, but it was a real improvement over past designs.

Active service

Due to a growing shortage of materials, a consequence of the ongoing bombing campaign and depredation caused by the US submarine fleet, very few of these tank hunters were built, and Hitachi records are not known with precision. Total production figures range between 31 and 41. These vehicles were a match for US tanks, like the M3 Grant, and even the M4 Shermans, but too few (if any) were allocated to units stationed in active sectors, like the Philippines or Okinawa. Most were kept on the Japanese Home Islands, waiting for the Allied invasion. Therefore, there is no record or clue of any tank-to-tank engagement of the Ho-Ni III.

Type 3 Ho-Ni III specifications

Dimensions 5.52 x 2.29 x 2.39 m (18×7.6×7.10 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 17 short tons
Crew 4 (driver, commander, gunner, loader)
Propulsion Mitsubishi air-cooled V12 diesel, 170 hp
Speed 38 km/h (24 mph)
Armor 12 to 25 mm (0.47-0.98 in)
Armament 75 mm (2.95 in) Type 90 gun
Range 200 km (160 miles)
Total production 31


4 view drawing on The Blueprints

Type 3 Ho-Ni III, Japanese Home Islands, Honshu, late 1944.

Type 3 Ho-Ni III, Home Islands, Kyushu, 1945.

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One Response to Type 3 Ho-Ni III

  1. Michael Goncalves says:

    I am facinated with America’s first Tank to Tank battle—the M3A2 Stewart vrs the Type 97 Ha-Go light tank, said battle taking place PI, 22DEC1941. Both tanks sported the 37mm gun BUT the US had the 37mm M5 L/56 (884m/s) Penetration 53mm@500 m or 40mm @ 1K m vrs the Japanese 37mm Type 98 L/46 (640-700 m/s) Penetration 25mm@500m [meaning the Ha-Go could only penetrate the side/back of the M3 whereas the M3 could demolish any part of a Ha-Go at 1000m. Both Tanks were relatively quick at 36mph/20mph off road [Positives] Team USA 18 ton tank 38mm upper/44mm lower front 25mm sides and a great Gun [NEGATIVES] Team USA—GOD AWFUL GAS MILEAGE 75 miles per tankful and required PREMIUM (97octaine) gasoline. [Positives] Team Japan’s standard diesel engines cranked out a magnificant 400 miles tankful of standard Diesel fuel. FYI that was the deciding factor in the battle-Team USA had a Full BN, ran out of gas in route, had to consolidate tanks of gas to make combat operational FIVE TANKS. Worse, the Japanese got off the first shots and drilled the National Guardsmen into defeat. [Negatives] cramped one man turrent where the CDR was gunner & loader, Razor thin armoured tank (6mm-20mm) where even a US M2HD 12.7mm (0.50 cal) could penetrate it coupled with a truely wretched AT gun (25mm@500m).

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