Dragon DRA60434 Imperial Japanese Army Late Production Type 97 "Chi-Ha" Medium Tank - Company 5, 9th Tank Regiment, Saipan, Mariana Islands, 1944 (1:72 Scale)
"I have always considered Saipan the decisive battle of the Pacific offensive (it was) the naval and military heart and brain of the Japanese defense strategy."
- Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith, Commander of the US Fleet Marine Force in the Pacific, July 1944
During the development of the Type 97 Medium Tank, The Japanese decided to call it "Chi" as a code name of sorts for the medium tank. Because the Type 97 was the third medium tank created (the previous two being the Type 89 "Ko" and "Otsu"), the Type 97 was named as Chi-Ha (Ha is the third letter of the Japanese alphabet). Note that Chi had not been used before Type 97. Before that, the code name of the Japanese tank is a simple sequential name like Yi-Go, Ha-Go.
From 1942 onwards, the Type 97 tank was re-armed with the high velocity 47mm cannon and became known as the Shinhoto "Chi-Ha" (The term Shinhoto means "new turret"). Of course, mounting a larger cannon required a larger turret design than was originally envisaged for earlier versions of the Type 97. All things considered, this was probably the best designed tank that Japan fielded right up to the end of the war. Nevertheless, it was no match for their Allied counterparts, particularly the M4 Sherman series, which it was oftentimes forced to face.
Dragon Armor is adding to its range of Japanese subjects in its much sought-after 1/72 scale range. The new arrival is a Type 97 Chi-Ha tank, Japans most widely produced medium tank of WWII. Boasting a short-barreled 57mm main gun and two Type 97 machine guns, this tank was intended to serve as an up-scaled version of the Type 95 for infantry support. Armor protection was modest on this vehicle. A total of 2,123 tanks were produced from 1938-43, although 930 of these were of the improved Type 97 Kai version featuring a higher-velocity 47mm gun. The tank could move at a speed of 38km/h.
The Chi-Ha was used in combat in Manchuria and China, as well as fighting against the Allies. Indeed one of the largest tank attacks of the Pacific theater occurred at Saipan in 1944 when 36 Type 97 tanks of the IJAs 9th Tank Regiment conducted an all-out attack against US Marines. Dragon Armors model portrays one such Type 97 Chi-Ha medium tank that participated in this ferocious battle on Saipan. The colorful camouflage paint scheme is particularly well rendered. The accurate markings such as Japanese characters on the side of the hull, national flag emblems, prominent turret images and rear number plate. These markings are very interesting, especially when compared with contemporary Allied or German markings. Japanese tanks of WWII dont usually gain the attention that equivalent German ones do, so this model allows collectors to get acquainted with a very important Japanese tank design.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a Japanese Type "Chi-Ha" medium tank which served with Company 5, 9th Tank Regiment, then defending Saipan, in the Marianas Islands, during 1944.
Length: 4 inches
Width: 1 inch
Release Date: July 2011
Historical Account: "Stepping Stones" - The Battle of Saipan was a battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, fought on the island of Saipan in the Mariana Islands from June 16th - July 9th, 1944. The Allied invasion fleet embarking the expeditionary forces left Pearl Harbor on June 5th, 1944, the day before Operation Overlord in Europe was launched. The U.S. 2nd Marine Division, 4th Marine Division, and 27th Infantry Division, commanded by Lieutenant General Holland Smith, defeated the 43rd Division of the Imperial Japanese Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Yoshitsugu Saito.