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Japanese Empire (1944)
Medium Tank protoype
The last medium, designed to kill the Sherman.
The Type 5 Chi-Ri (五式中戦車 チリ Go-shiki chusensha Chi-ri) was one of the last Japanese tank model to reach the prototype phase during WWII. Not a heavy tank, but a medium, it was designed to be more heavier and powerful than the Type 4 Chi-To.
It was designed to be a Killer of Shermans, and would have been the closest Imperial Japan would get to a vehicle as deadly as the German Tiger or Panther.
Development and Design
The Type 5 Chi-Ri was based on a lengthened version of the Type 4 Chi-To chassis (8 road wheels), with thicker sloped welded armor. This included 75 mm (2.95 in) on the frontal glacis, and from 25 to 50 mm (0.98-1.97 in) on the sides, rear and turret. Initially, it was to be powered by a Mitsubishi diesel engine, but a 800 hp V-12 gasoline-fueled aircraft engine designed by BMW, licence built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, was selected instead. There were four bogies of two roadwheels each, on Bell crank suspensions.
A side image of the captured prototype with it’s tracks removed. Note the crewed classifications painted on the chassis. a feature seen in every photo of the vehicle.
This Kawasaki Type 98 Ha-9-IIb could provide 550 hp, which could comfortably propel the 37 ton tank. The Type 5 75 mm (2.95 in) Tank Gun Mark I had a semi-automatic loader at first, same as the Chi-To. Eventually, a 88 mm (3.46 in) gun, based on the Type 99 AA Gun, was planned for the turret. Secondary armament comprised a front hull-mounted Type 1 37 mm (1.46 in) gun, and a Type 97 light machine gun was mounted coaxially to it.
Work started on the vehicle in mid-1944. Military planners thought of equipping several mobile armored division with this new model, ready to throw the invaders to the sea. Indeed, as designed, the Type 5 would have been quite a worthy adversary for the Sherman.
The Ho-Ri tank destroyer was based on the same chassis, and was to be equipped with a more powerful 105 mm (4.13 in) gun, in an arrangement very similar to the German Elefant/Ferdinand. It remained a paper project, and only a scale mock-up was found.
In May 1945, even though it was the easier vehicle to produce, the Chi-To was canceled, and the Type 5 was given first priority, due to the lack of resources at this stage. It is widely believed that much like the Type 3 Chi-Nu, that had the Chi-To or Chi-Ri ever made it to production they would have been saved for the final defense of the Home Islands.
An unfinished prototype was captured by American occupation troops in the fall of 1945. It was to shipped back to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, where it survived until 1952, after which it was scrapped along with other vehicles.
Type 5 Chi-Ri
|Dimensions||8.5 x3.05 x3.10m (28x 10x 10.2ft)|
|Total weight||37 short tons|
|Crew||5 (driver, gunner, commander, loader, bow gunner)|
|Propulsion||Kawasaki Type 98 petrol, 550 hp|
|Speed (road)||45 km/h (28 mph)|
|Armament||Type 5 75 mm Tank Gun (later an 88mm based on the Type 99 AA Gun),
Type 1 37 mm tank gun, 2 X 7.7mm Type 97 machine guns
|Armor||25 to 75 millimetres (0.98–2.95 in)|
|Total production||1 Prototype|
Links & Resources
Chi-Ri on Wikipedia
Chi-Ri on FTR
Osprey Publishing, New Vanguard #137: Japanese Tanks 1939-1945
Discovery of a video of the Chi-Ri in the USA on Rita Status Report
Video of several Japanese vehicles at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, including the Type 5 Chi-Ri.
Tank Encylopedia’s own rendition of the Type 5 Chi-Ri with a prospective camouflage, 1945, 1/72 scale.