The half-track as a military armored vehicle saw its heyday in World War 2 (1939-1945) where they were built in the tens of thousands and operated by all major participants in the war. For the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA), only a few notable types were developed. A late-war addition became the Type 1 "Ho-Ha" series which only saw limited production - for it only entered service in 1944.
Half-tracks held inherent value to warplanners for their strong hauling power, the ability to keep up with the main mechanized fighting force and proceed cross-country with equal vigor. Many were used as prime movers for artillery, infantrymen and supplies, getting these cargoes from Point A to Point B and all places in between. Such vehicles adopted the same arrangement - a tank-like track-and-wheel scheme under the rear of the vehicle with a truck-like, steerable pair of road wheels at the front axle.
The Type 1 was influenced by the successful SdKfz 251 series half-track fielded en masse by the German Army and operated as the service's standard half-track vehicle across Africa and Europe. As such, the Japanese offering followed the German design in both form and function - save that the IJA model showcased an all new track wheel arrangement (no overlapping wheels as in the German model). The driving compartment was held at front in the traditional manner and aft of the engine compartment. Aft of the driver was the passenger / cargo space. Armament was strictly self-defensive in nature - up to 3 x 7.7mm Type 97 Light Machine Guns (LMGs) could be installed to cover various angles of the vehicle, though firing arcs were limited due to their placement about the hull superstructure. A standard operating crew numbered three with space for up to twelve passengers.
Power came from a single diesel-fueled engine of134 horsepower and offered road speeds up to 31 miles per hour. Armor protection ranges up to 8mm along the thickest facing. Overall weight of the vehicle reached 6,500 kilograms. Dimensions included a length of 20 feet, a width of nearly 7 feet and a height of8.2 feet.
Design work on the vehicle began as early as 1941 but the finalized form did not enter production with Hino Motors until 1944. For those examples that made it off the assembly lines and into the active IJA inventory, they saw limited operation service during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) as well as the Battle of the Philippines (1944-1945). However their low available numbers restricted their strategic value in the far-reaching war. IJA authorities were also better sold on the concept of traditional, tried-and-proven wheeled trucks as movers and haulers.