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Type 97 Chi-Ha
Type 97 Chi-Ha


"One new and one old Type 97 knocked out!"
―Kinuyo Nishi

The Type 97 medium tank Chi-Ha (九七式中戦車 チハ Kyūnana-shiki chū-sensha Chi-ha) was a Japanese medium tank produced by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Interwar. It was the most widely produced Japanese medium tank of World War II.

History

Development

As the Type 89B medium tank was becoming obsolete by the mid-1930s, the Imperial Japanese Army began to develop a design that could replace it. Also profiting from the experience with the Type 95 Ha-Go light tank. A prototype was completed by 1937, but it had a competitor in the form of the smaller and less expensive Chi-Ni prototype, however as the prototypes were being confronted, the war in China began, which led to more funding available for the IJA, therefore the more performant Chi-Ha was selected as the Type 97 medium tank. The Chi-Ha had a hull of riveted construction, with a conspicuous circular radio antenna around the turret, it was primarily designed as an infantry-support tank, as demonstrated by its low velocity 57mm gun with no elevation gear and its relatively thin armor (a maximum of 25 mm frontally).

Proven to be inferior to it's Soviet rivals because of its thin armor and weak low-velocity 57mm gun, a program to introduce a new tank armed with the new Type 1 47mm gun was launched in 1940, which would lead in to the Type 1 Chi-He medium tank in 1943. However the Philippines campaign urged the need for 47mm tanks, some Chi-Ha tanks were retrofitted with the turret of the Chi-He, this conversion proved successful and also less costly than the new tank. It entered the service as the Type 97 Chi-Ha Shinhoto (new turret), the only difference with its predecessor was the larger three-man turret that housed the 47mm gun.

Operational History

The Chi-Ha's first deployement was during the Chinese campaign was successful against China's Panzer I and CV.33, however during the Nomonhan Incident of 1939 the Type 97 clearly show its limits against Russian tanks (such as BT tanks and T-26) that could easily out-range then with their 45mm gun while their 57mm gun lacks decent anti-tank performance despite their poor performance they only lose four of them. The tank performed very well during the Battles of Malaya and Singapore and the bad experience was again repeated during the war in the Pacific, when it encounters American tanks like the M3 Stuart or the M4 Sherman where the 57mm gun's anemic anti-tank capabilities were little to no danger for them. The Shinhoto saw its baptism of fire during the Philippines Campaign in 1942, however despite being more effective than the original Chi-Ha, it was still outclassed by foreign medium tanks such as the M4 Sherman and the T-34. Despite being obsolete, the Chi-Ha served until the end of World War II like the Battles of Saipan, Guam and Okinawa, even fighting the Russians in Manchuria where 389 tanks were captured.

After the war, the Chi-Has captured by the Soviets were given to the Chinese People Liberation Army during the Chinese Civil War and remained in their inventory even after the PLA's victory.

In Girls Und Panzer

Anime

The Type 97 made a little appearance in Episode 6 showing the dramatic aftermath of the match Kuromorimine vs. Chi-Ha-Tan.

Der Film

In the exhibition match against St.Gloriana/Pravda, Chi-Ha-Tan Academy fielded seven Chi-Has (four regulars and three Shinhoto), one Shinhoto was part of the group delaying Pravda with the Tiger(P), B1 Bis and the Ha-Go while the others were part of Miho's group assaulting St.Gloriana. During the skirmish one of the Chi-Ha managed to shot a Matilda with a lucky shot due to the gun's depression, thinking they destroyed the British tank (it was actually the StuG who land a shot directly after the Chi-Ha, they only destroyed a external fuel tank) all the Chi-Has got excited and charge. Unfortunalely for them it was was Darjeeling expected and all Chi-Has from Miho's group except Kinuyo's one were destroyed by the remaining Matilda and the Churchill, Nagura on her side after hearing her teammates charged do the same was buried by a T-34 and forcing the team to retreat to OY line. Once the line was broken, Nishi missed the retreat order due to her radio being broken, Duck Team tried the warn her but she's misread on Akebi and Noriko's lips "Retreat" to "Charge !!!", she then calmly charges to Pravda tanks and gets shot by Nonna's IS-2.

During the match against All-Stars University, Chi-Ha-Tan backed-up Ooarai first with twenty-one Chi-Has (fourteen regulars and seven Shinhoto) that was reduced to five (three regulars and two Shinhoto) due to Nishi misunderstanding Darjeeling's message which was that they'll bringing twenty-two tanks in total all schools combined. The Chi-Has were assigned to Morning Glory Company under command of Kay and Nishi, while posted in a forest they encounter Azumi's platoon and started a skirmish during which Ikeda's Chi-Ha and Hamada's Shinhoto were destroyed. After the retreat to the amusement park, the remaining Chi-Has were posted to the western back gate, once the University stormed the park Chi-Has come into hiding in the small water plan, once the Pershings on the bridge the two regular Chi-Ha destroyed the tracks of the first and last tank in the line to block them and Tamada's Shinhoto destroyed one Pershing with a shot at the turret's ring. Trying to help those encircled at the amphitheater they ended by encircled too only escaping thanks to Rabbit Team's ferris wheel diversion and scattered alongside the Type 89B. Hosomi's tank destroyed one Pershing whose turret was immobilized by the Ha-Go and the Type 89B and their last action was an attempt to take down the Centurion but Alice slaughtered them all in less than a minute.

Gekkan Senshado Magazine

Chi-Ha-Tan Academy fielded nine Chi-Has, four regular (one as flag tank) and five Shinhotos, during the tournament first round match against Kuromorimine Girls Academy. During the match, Chi-Ha-Tan recklessly charged their opponents despite having a tactical disadvantage and all tanks were destroyed by Kuromorimine's superior firepower.

Das Finale

Chi-Ha-Tan Academy fielded at least five Chi-Has, three regular (one as flag tank) and two Shinhoto, during the Winter Continuous Track Cup first round match against Koala Forest High School. Their were seen charging their opponent but it is unknown how they managed to destroy their flag tank.

Chi-Ha-Tan Academy fielded seven Chi-Has, four regulars (one as flag tank commanded by Nishi, the others being commanded by Hosomi, Ikeda and Kubota) and three Shinhoto (commanded by Tamada, Nagura and Hamada), during the Winter Continuous Track Cup quarter-finals match against Ooarai Girls Academy. During the first part of the match, they harassed Ooarai's forces where they took out Shark Team's Mark IV until nightfall where they took Ooarai by surprise at the lake. During the skirmish, they destroyed one of the Tiger(P)'s track and launch a faint with the three Shinhoto falsely targeting the flag tank and make a quick turnaround by destroying Leopon Team. In retaliation Miho destroyed Hamada's Shinhoto, quick after Ooarai lead them into a trap that make them fall into a mud pit, surrounded they were forced to retreat. <to be continued>

Gallery

Main article: Type 97 Chi-Ha/Gallery

Trivia

  • This is one of two Japanese tanks to be named Type 97, the other being the tankette Type 97 Te-Ke.
  • The tank was named Type 97 because the second prototype was finished in 1937 (Imperial year 2597).
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