Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Perhaps the most popular Japanese tank of the war was the Chi Ha - also known as Type 97. This was a medium tank design and produced by Japan prior to WWII as an infantry support combat vehicle. Chi means medium and Ha is the model number: 3. It carried a 4 man crew: driver, gunner, loader and commander, with the latter two located in the turret. One interesting and distinguishing fact is that the radio antenna was installed horizontally around the edge of the turret. The Chi Ha first saw action during the invasion of China in 1937. At the time it was adequate for the type of combat that it faced. Armed with a 57 mm gun and average armor -33mm at the front-, it did not encounter significant threats until the entry of the United States into the war, particularly when the Sherman tank joined the jungle battlefields of the Pacific. By 1942, the Chi Ha's gun was 'upgraded' to a 47mm high velocity gun. About 2000 of them were produced up to 1943 when it was replaced by heavier tanks. Unfortunatelty for the Japanese, the Chi Has were never used in sufficient numbers to make a difference. In terms of affordable tank models, there is a serious lack of options as you can see below.
Classic Toy Soldiers Chi Ha Tank
Entirely made out of plastic, a bit undersized and without a lot of detail. I am hoping that once it is painted it will look better. The turret rotates and it is removable. The hull MG also needs to be attached. For lack of better options, if you want to give your Japanese infantry some support, this is the tank for you.
The only other Chi Ha I have ever come across was a metal model -from Figarti I believe -costing 2 or 3 times as much as a typical FOV tank. It was fully painted, in a nice cammo scheme, with lots of detail and a nice heavy feel to it, but if you wanted to equip your unit with several tanks you would be trading a lot of plastic models for those few Chi Has...
Click here to see a post about Japanese Infantry
Click here to see a post showing the Japanese in action