Type 97 Medium Tank Chi-Ha
Designed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in 1937 as a replacement for the obsolete tanks then in service, the Type 97 Chi-Ha tank first saw action in the Second Sino-Japanese War. It was deployed in Manchukuo and China with a high degree of success considering that the Chinese were only equipped with small numbers of Vickers light tanks, Panzer Is, and Italian CV33 tankettes. However during the Battles of Khalkhin Gol in July 1939 against the Soviet Union it was found that the Type 97 was already obsolescent as Soviet BT-5 and BT-7 caused heavy Japanese losses. As a result of this, the Imperial Japanese Army ordered the development of a new more powerful 47 mm canon for the Type 97. The new canon went into production in 1942. Even though this improved the tank's anti tank performance, the Type 97 was completely obsolete by the time the new canon went into production. In spite of this production of the Type 97 continued to the end of 1943. 2,092 were produced. The Type 97 Chi-Ha tank fought in most major Imperial Japanese Army battles of WWII including Battle of Malaya, Battle of Singapore, Burma Campaign, Battle of Corregidor, Battle of Saipan, and the Battle of Okinawa. Near the end of the war large numbers of Type 97s were retained on the Japanese home islands in anticipation of the American invasion. After the Japanese surrender the Type 97 was used by Communist China, Indonesia, North Korea and South Korea. Several Type 97 tanks survive today. The Type 97 Chi-Ha tank was armed with one Type 97 57 mm Tank Gun and two 7.7 mm Type 97 machineguns. This model shows a Type 97 Chi-Ha tank with No. 3 squadron, No.1 tank division in Malaya during 1942.