With over 2,100 units made, the Type 97 Chi-Ha medium tank was the second most produced Japanese medium tank of World War II, after the smaller Type 95 Ha-Go. It saw extensive action in the Second Sino Japanese War, the Battles of Khalkhin Gol against the Soviet Union, and throughout World War II.
With Allied bombing and ground campaigns hampering Japanese industry the Emperor’s soldiers learnt to use whatever materials were at hand to face the enemy, as firearms and ammunition became ever more scarce. This would see Japanese soldiers sacrificing themselves with grenades, a courageous last ‘banzai’ charge with swords drawn, or using sharpened lengths of bamboo as makeshift spears.
Japanese paratroopers – Teishin Shudan (raiding group) – proved highly effective in the early years of the war. German successes with paratroops during 1940 encouraged the Japanese to develop their airborne arm as a constituent part of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force (IJAAF).
Fanatical loyalty and iron discipline were the core of the Imperial Japanese Army ethos, and although it didn’t have the same level of heavy weaponry and vehicles as their Allied opponents they were well supported by the likes of the Type 92 medium machine gun and Type 97 medium mortar.
The Type 95 Ha-Go light tank was most numerous armoured fighting vehicle fielded by the Japanese during WWII. It also saw action versus the Soviet Union at Khalkhyn Gol in 1939 and during the Sino-Japanese war of 1937-45. It saw action in both Imperial Army and Special Naval Landing Force forces.
Thought of as invincible by the Allied forces in the early stages of World War II, the Japanese soldier was a brave, disciplined, often fanatical, warrior who fought to the death sometimes against overwhelming odds. Conquering all before them and carving out a vast Empire during the opening stages of the war the Imperial Japanese Army were truly a force to be reckoned with.
Due to the deep distrust the Japanese Army and Navy had for each other, joint operations were all but out of the question and the Navy created the Special Naval Landing Forces as a result. First seeing action in 1932 during the 'Shanghai Incident’ of the Sino-Japanese War, the SNLF were highly trained, high quality troops with excellent morale. Each SNLF formation was named after the base in which it as formed.