Amercom ACBG71 Japanese Early Production Type 97 "Chi-Ha" Medium Tank - 3rd Tank Company, 1st Tank Regiment, Malaya, 1941 (1:72 Scale)
"The moral collapse of British rule in Southeast Asia came not at Singapore, but at Penang."
- Historians assessment of the Battle of Malaya
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 Armor's 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.
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Release Date: April 2014
Historical Account: "The Tiger of Malaya" - General Tomoyuki Yamashita (November 8th, 1885 - February 23rd, 1946) was a general of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. He was most famous for conquering the British colonies of Malaya and Singapore, earning the nickname "The Tiger of Malaya".
On November 6th, 1941, Yamashita was put in command of the Twenty-Fifth Army. On December 8th, he launched an invasion of Malaya, from bases in French Indochina. In the campaign, which concluded with the fall of Singapore on February 15th, 1942, Yamashita's 30,000 front-line soldiers captured 130,000 British, Indian, and Australian troops, the largest surrender of British-led personnel in history. He became known as the "Tiger of Malaya".
The campaign and the subsequent Japanese occupation of Singapore included war crimes committed against captive Allied personnel and civilians, such as the Alexandra Hospital and Sook Ching massacres. Yamashita's culpability for these events remains a matter of controversy, as some argued that he had failed to prevent them. However, Yamashita had the officer who instigated the hospital massacre and some soldiers caught looting executed for these acts, and he personally apologized to the surviving Alexandra Hospital patients.