Type 1 Chi-He (Family)

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The Type 1 Chi-He (一式中戦車 「チへ」) was an improved version of the Type 97 Chi-Ha medium tanks of the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II. It uses the same anti-tank gun as the Chi-Ha Kai and boasted an upgraded engine and thicker armour. It was the first Japanese tank to have a communication radio as standard equipment.


Rank II



Type 1 Chi-He Prototype With Unarmed Turret

While the new Chi-Ha Kai redesign was underway, the development of its new 47mm high-velocity gun and the new turret design would prompt a new tank on the side of development.

The new tank would go under the name of Chi-He, and the turret design would directly be used on the Chi-He. By 1941 both the tank and 47mm would be adopted within the army and were given the designation of Type 1 (47 mm) and Type 1 Chi-He.

While the Chi-He looks very similar to the Chi-Ha, it has been simplified in design while being an upgrade at large with the changes being:

  • The Chi-Ha would see many rivets on the front of the tank, but the Chi-He would be welded or flat bolted.
  • As part of the simplification, the tank would see way less curved armour parts, and the whole body would be straightened out, unlike the Chi-Ha's design and would see an increase of thickness
    • The newly designed Chi-Ha Kai turret would be used with additional armour to the front face of the turret.
  • The Mitsubishi SA12200VD was replaced by a Type 100 Mitsubishi engine which created 70 hp more and effortlessly compensates for the additional weight in armour.
    • The hull became slightly longer to mount the new engine
  • The firing system was exchanged for an electrical one and got rid of the shoulder support mechanism
  • It would be the first Japanese tank to have radio as standard equipment in every tank.

On testing of the Chi-Ha vs Chi-He, a 15cm heavy howitzer would be used on both tanks where the Chi-Ha would pretty much fall apart, unlike the Chi-He that would allegedly still withstand the blast. Although it was an improvement over the Chi-Ha in most regards, it would come a little too late as it was already dated for a 1941 tank, which would be produced even later than that which didn't allow it to see frontline combat and would be held back for homeland defence.

Combat History

Type 1 Chi-He, Type 97 Chi-Ha Kai and other armoured vehicles of the 1st Tank Division, 1945

A total of 170 Chi-He's were produced, including prototypes (with an unconfirmed total of 587).

Americans first reported the new Chi-He during the Battle of Luzon, Philipines. But as they successfully engaged with the tanks and came for a closer inspection, it was simply the Chi-Ha Kai.

All of the Type 1 Chi-He's were allocated to the Japanese home islands to defend against the projected Allied Invasion and never saw combat. Despite the Chi-He's superiority in terms of armour and firepower over the earlier Type 97 Chi-Ha, it still underperformed against the American M4 Sherman, leading to a new design known as the Type 3 Chi-Nu.

See Also

Medium Tanks

Gun Tank

Amphibious Tank



External links

Japan medium tanks
Type 97  Chi-Ha · Chi-Ha Kai · Chi-Ha Kai TD · Chi-Ha Short Gun
Type 1  Chi-He · Chi-He (5th Regiment) · Ho-I
Type 3  Chi-Nu · Chi-Nu II
Type 4  Chi-To · Chi-To Late
Type 5  Chi-Ri II
Type 61 MBT  ST-A1* · ST-A2* · ST-A3* · Type 61
Type 74 MBT  ST-B1* · Type 74 (C) · Type 74 (E) · Type 74 (F) · Type 74 (G)
Type 90 MBT  Type 90 · Type 90 (B)
Type 10 MBT  Type 10
Other  Ka-Chi
USA  ▅M4A3 (76) W · ▅M47
  *ST-X is prototype stage for said MBT