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Type 1 "Ho-Ki" Armored personnel carrier tractor

Type 1 Ho-Ki This vehicle served as an artillery prime mover and as a personnel carrier for over a dozen men [contemporaneous US Army reports of two dozen seem rather high, based on photographs of the vehicle over loaded with fewer than a dozen troops]. In the late 1930s. The Japanese command finally came to the conclusion that it would not be enough to move the troops through the vast territories of the Chinese theater of operations. Many vehicles were destroyed by the enemy’s rifle fire, forcing the General Staff to issue a specification for the development of an armored personnel carrier. Since the main tank-building firms were loaded with other orders, the work on the new machines was not very fast.

In 1941, Japanese army ordered the development of an armored artillery prime mover being able to be used if need be as transport of troop. During the development separate elements from serial production tanks were used. Two different models were designed: a half-tracked vehicle, Type 1 Ho-Ha and a tracked vehicle, Type 1 Ho-Ki. The fully tracked Type 1 Ho-Ki was built by Hino Motors,, but very few specimens were produced. In spite of the fact that the Japanese employ troops mechanized in China since the Thirties, armored transport was considered to be too slow compared to the standard trucks and in fact inapt to follow the modern tactics of infantry. As much from Japanese armored vehicles, this kind of vehicle suffered from the priority given to aviation and navy.

The Ho-Ki Type 1 had funny silhouette, the steering compartment was a closed cabin in left-front of the vehicle with on its right the engine compartment. The engine which is located at the right front of the body is a 6-cylinder, in-line, valve-in-head, air-cooled diesel of a type similar to those used in the Model 2595 light tank and the combination prime mover and wrecker. Two fuel tanks provide an estimated total capacity of 50 to 60 gallons.

The undercarriage of the “Ho-Ki” consisted of 8 rubberized track rollers and 2 support wheels (4 and 2 on each side, respectively), front guide wheels, rear-wheel driving wheels and a fine track with metal tracks. The road wheels were equipped with a spring suspension. The bogie wheels and suspension were similar to those of the Type 95 Light Tank, but the track was both longer and wider than that of the tank. The vehicle had four speeds forward in addition to high and low range transfer case and was equipped with a spring-mounted towing pintle.

The hull of welded construction was divided into two sections. In the front part of the port side was the driver’s cabin, which was monitoring the road through large access hatches protected by armored covers. To the right of him, in a lower hood, housed the power plant. The transporter was equipped with a 90 hp 6-cylinder diesel engine and air cooling system. Nearby were two fuel tanks for 50 and 60 gallons (189 and 227 liters). For air intake in the frontal part of the hull and in the right-side armored shutters were installed. The exhaust pipe is also displayed on the starboard side. At the front inclined armor sheet fastened two high-beam headlights. A hull model with dual sides was also developed, but it did not enter mass production.

The rest of the hull was occupied by the transport department, which could be used both to transport ammunition and to accommodate 13 soldiers. The landing was made through the door in the aft hull. As a rule, in the laying it was possible to carry one or two 7.7-mm machine guns mounted in a combat position on swivels.

The rear was occupied by cargo area. If only one driver was required, the vehicle was in general controlled by two men who handled the movement of the two tracks by the means of a par of steering wheell. Cargo area could accomodate 13 troopers. The shielding was quite poor protection in fact. High sides with armor thickness of 6 mm were protected from the fire of light small arms, but the roof was absent - instead of it was used canvas of tarpaulin.

There were doors at the rear and one on each side to permit personnel to leave the carrier rapidly. The driver’s compartment was on the left front of the body and was equipped with metal vision slits for driving under fire. As Ho-Ki was designed as a artillery prime mover, it had no rear access door when the vehicle was used as carrier. No armament envisaged at the beginning, but it was always possible to mount a machine-gun behind the driver. The squadrons of Japanese infantry could mount their heavy machine gun Type 92 to this place.

The tests of the prototype "Ho-Ki" were generally successful. With the same engine power with a light tank Type 95, the conveyor showed higher dynamic qualities and better maneuverability. The car really turned out to be very successful, but it took some time to eliminate the identified deficiencies and the deployment of production. In addition, the production was loaded with the release of tanks, which pushed back the large-scale production until the beginning of 1944.

As a result, single copies of Ho-Ki transporters took part in the hostilities for the first time during the 2nd Sino-Japanese War. In mass quantities, they were used only during battles in the Leyte Gulf in the spring of 1944. At the same time a lot of cars went to the bottom along with transport ships that delivered equipment to the Philippine islands.

Active use of "Ho-Ki" continued until September 1945. Despite some shortcomings, the transporter turned out to be very successful, although not as massive as expected. An experimental armored personnel carrier with a fully closed transport compartment and a modified undercarriage was also built on the basis of Ho-Ki. Four basic skating rinks on one side were left, but now they are not stamped, but cast. Support rollers have also been removed. Detailed information about this machine has not yet been found.

The production plans were to start the mass production of the Type 1 at the beginning of 1944, but some difficulties were encountered and it was not included among the war priorities. In fact, it seems that military commands were reluctant to adopt the vehicle on a large scale, considering trucks more suitable for transporting troops quickly. These reasons caused a slow and not very large production, on which precise data from the sources are not available.

The tactical doctrine of Japanese armored war provided for assigning to each of the four armored divisions a regiment of mobile infantry , composed of three battalions : this component had to be mounted on Type 1 crawlers on the Type 1 Ho-Ha half-track. The inadequacy of the production regime, however, made it impossible to comply with these plans and, for example, the 2nd Wagon Division stationed in Manchuria received just seventeen Type 1 transports before being transferred in stages to Luzon , the Philippines ; during sea voyages losses were suffered and some Type 1 sank along with the freightersthat they had them on board. The division was then partly redistributed to other main islands, such as Leyte, where the US 6th Army landed on 20 October 1944. During the tough battle the Japanese armored department used some Type 1 survivors (unknown number) and was totally destroyed before the fell on the island in mid-December. One specimen was captured during the fighting and tested by US personnel, who found it to be an excellent vehicle; four others were found in January-February 1945 on the island of Luzon.

After the capitulation of Japan, all military equipment was captured by American troops, but after some time, "Ho-Ki" began to be transferred to the self-defense forces. As part of the updated Japanese Self Defense Force, these machines continued to be used until the early 1960s.

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Page last modified: 17-06-2019 19:12:02 ZULU