Type 2 “KA-MI”: Japanese amphibious tank

Specifications

Production started in 1942.
Weight without pontoons – 9.5 tons.
Weight with pontoons – 12.5 tons.
Crew – 5 people.

Dimensions (edit)

Length without pontoons – 4.83 meters.
Length with pontoons – 7.42 meters.
Width – 2.79 meters.
Height – 2.34 meters.
Clearance – 0.36 meters.

Specifications

Engine power – 120 hp with.
Highway speed – 37 km / h.
Water speed – 10 km / h.
In store down the highway – 170 km.
Cruising in store on water – 100 km.

Armament

Gun – 37 mm.
Machine gun – 2×7.7 mm.

Armored amphibious

The peculiarity of the formation of the Japanese armored forces was that tanks, ineffective in the war on the islands, played a secondary role in the structure of the army. Nevertheless, it was also impossible to neglect such an important weapon for this period. Back in the 1920s. in Japan, work began on the creation of a amphibious tank adapted to carry out amphibious operations on the islands.

On land and at sea

Initially, Japanese designers followed the path of their European colleagues, developing machines that remained afloat due to a large displacement hull. However, testing such machines each time gave extremely unsatisfactory results. The seaworthiness of these tanks was very low, and even a slight roughness at sea could be fatal for them. Due to the large dimensions of the hull on land, such vehicles turned out to be clumsy and were seriously inferior to their land counterparts in armor and weapons.

Everything changed in 1941, when Mitsubishi presented a prototype of the KA-MI tank. When developing this machine, the company’s specialists abandoned the generally accepted scheme with a large-volume displacement hull. Instead, buoyancy was provided by large steel pontoons that were attached to the front and rear of the tank. The shape and size of the pontoons gave good seaworthiness, making the car suitable even for long sailing in rough waters. On land, having dropped the pontoons, the tank enters the battle as a land tank.

There is no doubt that the KA-MI water tank has become an outstanding achievement of Japanese tank building. However, the vehicle intended for offensive operations appeared too late, when Japan had already gone over to the defensive, and the KA-MI crews could not realize all the advantages of the tank.

Combat successes

The baptism of fire “KA-MI” took place at the end of 1942 in the battle for Guadalcanal, in which the “HA-GO” tanks also took part. A sufficient number of “KA-MI” appeared in the troops only in 1943. One of the few episodes with the massive use of “KA-MI” tanks was the night landing operation from June 15 to June 16, 1944 on the island of Saipan in order to attack the American troops, which began landing on the island. During the operation, a group of KA-MI tanks successfully landed on the enemy’s flank. However, the vehicles, deprived of air and artillery support, could not oppose anything to the American troops that had managed to regroup.

Later, until the end of the war, the main task of the KA-MI water tanks were raids on the enemy’s rear, which did not bring significant results. Tanks were also used in the defense of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, when, like most other poorly armored Japanese armored vehicles, they were used as fixed firing points, remaining buried in the ground.

Ten examples of this tank have survived to this day. Seven of them, damaged in battles and abandoned by their crews, are scattered across the islands of the Republic of Palau. All of them are in the open air and are in poor condition. The remaining three copies are kept in Russia: in the Central Museum of Armored Weapons and Equipment in Kubinka, as part of the exposition of military equipment and engineering structures in the Victory Park in Moscow and on the Shumshu Island of the Kuril ridge.

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