Se oli laajimmin tuotettu japanilainen panssarivaunu, mutta ohuen panssarin, suhteellisen pienen pää-aseistuksen ja alitehoisen moottorin takia vähemmän tehokas kuin liittoutuneiden panssarivaunut.
Japanin armeija alkoi kehittää jalkaväen tueksi Type 89 Chi-Ron korvaavaa panssaria. Type 89 huomattiin olevan liian hidas pysyäkseen muiden ajoneuvojen mukana.
Jalkaväen komentajat pyysivät mallia, jonka huippunopeus on 35 km/h ja jossa on vähintään 47 mm tykki.
Type 97 Chi-Ha oli neljän miehen versio, jossa oli kahden miehen tykkitorni, paksumpi panssari ja parempi suorituskyky.
Type 97 Chi-Ha
Panssarointi: 8–26 mm
Miehistö: 4 johtaja, ajaja, ampuja, lataaja
Moottori: Mitsubishi Type 97, diesel, V-12, 21,7 litraa170 hp / 127 kW
Pituus: 5,50 m
Leveys: 2,34 m
Korkeus: 2,33 m
Nopeus: 38 km/h
Toiminta: 210 km tiellä
Aseistus: 57 mm Type 97 panssarivaunukanuuna ja 2 x 7,7 mm Type 97 konekivääri
The Type 97 Chi-Ha (九七式中戦車 チハ Kyunana-shiki chu-sensha chiha?) was a medium tank used by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Battles of Khalkhin Gol against the Soviet Union, and the Second World War. It was the most widely produced Japanese medium tank of World War II, although the armor protection was considered as average in the 1930s.
After 1941, the tank was less effective than most Allied tank designs.
The Type 97's low silhouette and semicircular radio antenna on the turret distinguished the tank from its contemporaries. The crude suspension was derived from the Type 95 Ha-Go light tank, but used six road wheels instead of four.
With the Type 89 Chi-Ro fast becoming obsolete in the late 1930s, the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) began a program to develop a replacement tank for infantry support. Experience during the invasion of Manchuria determined that the Type 89 was too slow to keep up with motorized infantry. The new medium tank was intended to be a scaled-up four-man version of the Type 95 Ha-Go light tank, although with a two-man turret, thicker armor, and more power to maintain performance.
The Tokyo factory of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries completed a prototype designated Chi-Ha. The second prototype was completed in June 1937. Although the requirement was for a 47 mm cannon, it retained the same short-barreled 57 mm cannon as the Type 89B tank.
However, at the time IJA was more interested in the lighter Chi-Ni prototype proposed by Osaka Army Arsenal, because it was less expensive and had the same 57 mm gun.
The Second Sino-Japanese War broke out on 7 July 1937. Peacetime budgetary limitations were removed, and the more expensive Mitsubishi Chi-Ha model was accepted as a new Type 97 medium tank.
Chi came from Chu-Sensha ("medium tank"). Ha and Ni, in Japanese army nomenclature, refer to model number 3 and 4, respectively. The Type was numbered 97 as an abbreviation of the imperial year 2597, corresponding to the year 1937 in the standard Gregorian calendar.
Hence, the Type 97 Chi-Ha, could be understood as the 1937's medium tank model 3.