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Type 5 Chi-Ri

Medium Tank Project

Imperial Japan | 1945

"Only a single unfinished Type 5 prototype was available to Japanese forces by the end of World War 2."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 09/25/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Type 5 "Chi-Ri" was a further evolution of the preceding Type 4 "Chi-To" development - both becoming unrealized medium tank projects for the Empire of Japan by the end of World War 2. The original 33-ton Type 4 was in development beginning 1942 into 1944 and only saw two pilot vehicles completed before September 1945. The system proved the most promising of all the Japanese tanks available, a fleet stocked with mostly light-class vehicles falling to the mercy of American M4 Sherman Medium Tanks and anti-tank weapons as small as 37mm. The Type 4 incorporated a hexagonal turret housing a 75mm main gun and was defense by 2 x 7.7mm Type 97 Light Machine Guns (LMGs). The powerpack included a Mitsubishi 412 horsepower engine providing speeds of 28 miles per hour with an operational range out to 160 miles.

The following Type 5 emerged as a 37-ton vehicle fitting armor as thick as 75mm along its critical facings. Main armament of initial vehicles was to be a 75mm Type 5 series gun until replaced by a more potent 88mm offering in the Type 99 line. Secondary armament included a 37mm Type 1 cannon mounted to the bow as well as 2 x 7.7mm Type 97 LMGs. Unlike the Type 4, the Type 5 would be powered by a Kawasaki water-cooled Type 98 series gasoline-fueled engine based on a German BMW 800-horsepower aero engine design and outputting at 550 horsepower. Projected road speeds were 28 miles per hour with an operational range of 174 miles. The Type 5 Medium Tank was being designed as a direct counter to the ubiquitous M4 Sherman series utilized by all American allies during the Pacific War.

Design work on the Type 5 commenced in 1943 and spanned into 1944 to which a prototype entered construction in 1945. The vehicle was only partially completed in May when Germany fell to the Allies, ending the European Front and leaving the Pacific Front as the remaining source of contention. The Japanese mainland was under constant Allied bombing raids and its infrastructure severely disrupted. Resources were lacking as valuable territories were being conceded by the retreating Japanese Army forces who lacked viable naval and air support due to Allied victories in several major campaigns. As such, the future of the Type 5 proved grim and the single prototype example was all that would eventually emerge from the program.

Outwardly, the Type 5 mimicked the preceding Type 4 design to an extent including its faceted hull superstructure and hexagonal turret. The chassis was lengthened from its predecessor to complete the needed internal volume for crew, ammunition, storage, engine and fuel as well as create a larger base in which to support the turret and armament fitting. This also necessitated the use of an extra pair of road wheels to a track side. The track system revolved around a front-mounted drive sprocket and a rear-mounted track idler with three return rollers present. No side skirt armor was fitted. The driver sat at the front right of the hull with a gunner managing the hull-mounted 37mm cannon to his left. The engine was fitted to a rear compartment in a conventional fashion. The vehicle would have been crewed by five total personnel including a gunner, loader and commander all housed in the turret. Armor was welded steel to provide the necessary protection against the Sherman's 75mm main gun. By any measure, the Type 5 was highly conventional in its design approach and its combat effectiveness could only be estimated by historians. One noticeable drawback to the Type 5's arrangement was its rather tall profile - making for a tempting target along the horizon. The vehicle stood at 10 feet with an equal width and ran 27 feet, 9 inches in length. Even the "tall" Sherman measured shorter at 9 feet.

With the fall of the Japanese Empire in August of 1945 and the subsequent occupation by Allied forces from September onwards, the incomplete Type 5 prototype was captured by the Americans. Its existence beyond that point remains unknown while several theories exist (either scrapped by the Americans or lost to a typhoon en route to America via transport ship).

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one land system design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Type 5 Chi-Ri Medium Tank Project.
1 x Kawasaki Type 98 water-cooled gasoline engine developing 550 horsepower.
Installed Power
28 mph
45 kph
Road Speed
155 miles
250 km
The physical qualities of the Type 5 Chi-Ri Medium Tank Project.
27.9 ft
8.5 meters
O/A Length
10.2 ft
3.1 meters
O/A Width
10.2 ft
3.1 meters
O/A Height
81,571 lb
37,000 kg | 40.8 tons
Armament & Ammunition
Available supported armament, ammunition, and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Type 5 Chi-Ri Medium Tank Project.
1 x 75mm Type 5 main gun (88mm Type 99 planned fo rlater production models).
1 x 37mm Type 1 cannon in hull bow fitting
1 x 7.7mm Type 97 Machine Gun
1 x 7.7mm Type 97 Machine Gun
Not Available.
Nightvision - NONE.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Protection (CBRN) - NONE.
Notable series variants as part of the Type 5 Chi-Ri family line.
Type 5 "Chi-Ri" - Base Series Designation; single prototype partially completed at war's end.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Type 5 Chi-Ri. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national land systems listing.

Total Production: 1 Units

Contractor(s): State Factories - Imperial Japan
National flag of modern Japan

[ Imperial Japan ]
1 / 1
Image of the Type 5 Chi-Ri
Front left side view of the single infinished prototype of the Type 5 Chi-Ri medium tank

Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to battlefield requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Type 5 Chi-Ri Medium Tank Project appears in the following collections:
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