In 1936, the Type 95 light tank began service with the Japanese military. The Ha-Go (“third issue”) was designed to be much faster and more mobile than the previous Type 89 tank. Equipped with the same engine as the Type 89, the Type 95 weighed only half as much.
In combat in Manchuria, China, Malaya, Singapore, and the Philippines, the Type 95 held its own against Chinese fighting vehicles and Allied M3 Stuart tanks. A Type 95 captured in the Aleutian Islands in 1943 was the first Japanese tank to be evaluated at Aberdeen Proving Grounds.
When the Type 95 began to encounter heavier tanks, such as the US M4 Sherman, it was hardly a match. The Type 95’s light armor averaged one-quarter to two-thirds of an inch thick, compared to the Sherman’s 1.5 to 2.5-inch protective cladding. Despite this disadvantage, Type 95 tanks fought in the Pacific for years and were still serving in front-line units during Russia’s invasion of Manchuria in the last days of World War II.
Some 2,300 Type 95s were made by Mitsubishi and Hino Motor Company. Only a handful of the iconic Japanese tank remain.