The island-hopping campaigns for Imperial Japan during World War (1939-1945) dictated the type of military it was to field and the style of doctrine it was to employ. This required a strong navy consisting of warships, principally battleships and aircraft carriers, a strong collection of naval aircraft, and a ground force capable of assailing from the sea (i.e. amphibious assaults). To fulfill the latter requirement, the IJN adopted the Type 2 Ka-Mi amphibious tank and 184 examples followed in 1941. The vehicle was armed with a turreted 37mm gun and was operated by a crew of five.
By 1942 though was already shifting to a more capable form and the Type 1 Chi-He Medium Tank in Army service was selected for a conversion process to become an amphibious tank system. Development continued into 1943 and essentially produced a dimensionally larger and better-protected Type 1 but for navy service. Its armament was improved to a 47mm main gun with 2 x 7.7mm Type 97 machine guns (one coaxial and the other bow-mounted) used for local defense. Drive power was through a Mitsubishi Type 100 V12 air-cooled diesel engine of 240 horsepower. The running gear included a Bell crank suspension system and an extra road wheel was added to each hull side. Road speeds could reach 32 kmh while operational ranges were out to 320 kilometers. Flotation pontoons were added to the front and rear of the hull for buoyancy and were made jettisonable once the vehicle reached land. A snorkel provided air to the engine when in water. The total crew complement numbered six, sometimes seven, personnel and armor protection reached up to 50mm thickness.
Dimensions included a length of 10.3 meters, a width of 3 meters and a height of 3.8 meters. Overall weight was 28.25 tons.
After the American entry into World War 2 following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the Japanese military put a decided focus on aircraft and warships which left the Type 3 Ka-Chi with limited interest from authorities. To that end just nineteen examples were produced with the first units arriving for service before the end of 1943. Some were used to defense positions across the Pacific and in Southeast Asia until these areas were taken over by the Allies in their march to Tokyo. Final service was in defense of the homeland by which point they were all but outclassed by American medium tanks like the M4 Sherman.