Perhaps the most ubiquitous of all Imperial Japanese tanks was the Type 95 KE-GO Light Tank. The Type 89 was originally intended to be a light tank, but armor and the 57 millimeter gun raised it into the medium class and made it very slow. Therefore, in 1933 design work began on a new tank that could keep up with the newly formed mechanized infantry.
Nearly 1,250 of these light tanks were built by Mitsubishi and others under the name of HA-GO (the military designation was KE-GO) between 1935 and 1942. They were used in both cavalry and infantry roles on every front in the Great East Asian War.
The Type 95 was powered by an improved air-cooled diesel engine, which was built by Mitsubishi and which produced 120 horsepower. The hull was of iron girder construction, suitably reinforced and covered with armor to a maximum thickness of .47 inch.
Woven asbestos curtains lined the interior to protect the three crewmembers -- driver, machine gunner, and tank commander -- from heat thrown off by the air-cooled engine. The curtain also served as a cushion when traversing rough ground. Space between the curtain and the hull wall supposedly allowed air to circulate. The driver sat on the right side in the front behind a hatch that could be propped open. The machine gunner sat to the driver's left, and the tank commander sat, or stood, in the turret.
The Type 95 was armed with a 37mm main gun as well as two Type 91 6.5mm machine guns, one mounted in the hull and the other in the turret facing to the rear. The 6.5mm machine guns were exchanged for more powerful 7.7mm Type 97 machine guns in 1941, The commander was responsible for loading, aiming, and firing the main gun, The Type 95 tank carried two types of ammunition, Type 94 high-explosive and Type 94 armor-piercing.
Continue to the next page to learn what modifications were made to the Type 95 KE-GO Light Tank.