Type 2 Ka-Mi

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Type 2 Ka-Mi
Amph tank (AWM 099057).jpg
A Type 2 Ka-Mi being tested by Australian soldiers in 1945
Place of origin Template:Country data german
Production history
Designed 1941
Number built 184
Specifications
Weight 12.3 tons (9.15 tons without flotation pontoons)
Length 7.42 meters (4.80 meters without flotation pontoons)
Width 2.79 meters
Height 2.34 meters
Crew 5-6

Armor 6-13 mm
Main
armament
Type 1 37 mm gun
Secondary
armament
2 × Type 97 7.7 mm machine guns
Engine Mitsubishi A6120VDe air-cooled inline 6-cylinder diesel
115 hp (86 kW)
Suspension Bell crank
Operational
range
200 kilometers
Speed 37 km/h

The Special Type 2 Launch Ka-Mi (特二式内火艇 カミ Toku-ni-shiki uchibitei kami?) was the Imperial Japanese Navy's first amphibious tank. The Type 2 Ka-Mi was based on the Imperial Japanese Army's Type 95 Ha-Go light tank with major modifications, and was a capable armoured fighting vehicle on both land and at sea.[1]

History and development[edit]

Type 2 Ka-Mi tanks without their flotation devices fitted

As early as 1928, the Japanese Army had been developing and testing amphibious tanks and created several experimental models such as the SR-II, the Type 1 Mi-Sha and the Type 92 A-I-Go which either never made it off the drawing board or were produced only as one-off prototypes for concept testing. In 1940, The Navy took over development of amphibious vehicles and two years later came up with the Type 2 Ka-Mi. The Type 2 Ka-Mi was designed for the Navy's Special Naval Landing Forces for the amphibious invasion of Pacific Islands without adequate port facilities, and for various special operations missions.

Only 184 units of the Type 2 Ka-Mi were built, beginning in 1942, due to the number of complex components and due to the fact that it had to be nearly completely hand-built.[2]

Design[edit]

The Type 2 Ka-Mi was based on the Army's Type 95 Ha-Go light tank, but with an all-welded hull with rubber seals in place of the riveted armor. It was intended to be water-tight. Large, hollow pontoons made from steel plates were attached to the front glacis plate and rear decking to give the necessary buoyancy. The front pontoon was internally divided into eight separate compartments to minimize the effects of damage from flooding and shellfire. These flotation devices could be jettisoned from inside the tank once the tank landed and commenced ground combat operations.

The Type 2 Ka-Mi's gun turret with a high-velocity Type 1 37 mm gun and a coaxial Type 97 light machine gun was able to rotate 360°. A second Type 97 light machine gun was located in the tank's bow. Occasionally Type 2 Ka-Mi's were armed with a pair of naval torpedoes; one on either side of the hull. The Type 2 Ka-Mi could also be launched from the deck of a submarine.[3]

The Type 2 Ka-Mi was capable of attaining speeds of 10 km/h in the water with a range of 150 km through two propellers situated at the rear of the hull, powered by the tank's engine. Steering was in the control of the tank commander, who operated a pair of rudders from the turret through cables.

That the crew included an onboard mechanic is an indication of the complexity of the design.

Combat Record[edit]

The Type 2 Ka-Mi came into active service after the initial campaigns of World War II, and was thus too late to be used in its original design mission of amphibious landings. Many units were assigned to naval garrison detachments in the South Pacific Mandate and in the Netherlands East Indies.

The Type 2 Ka-Mi was encountered by the United States Marine Corps in the Marshall Islands and Mariana Islands, particularly on Guam, where it was dug into the ground and used in static defense positions. It was also encountered in combat by U.S. Army forces at Aitape and Biak during the New Guinea campaign and during the fighting on the Philippine island of Leyte in late 1944. According to Ralph Zumbro in his book 'Tank Aces',several Ka-Mi were destroyed by Army LVT-1s off the coast of Leyte during history's only Amtank vs. Amtank action. A handful more were captured by Army troops on Luzon in 1945,but had not entered combat. A number of photos exist of these vehicles, as well as several others captured by Australian and Commonwealth troops.[2] Armor was thin but comparable to the LVT-1 which was also 6–13 mm thick.

Surviving Vehicles[edit]

The Kubinka Tank Museum in Moscow, Russia has a Type 2 Ka-Mi on display, complete with its front and rear pontoons.

A near complete hull is located in the bush near the airport on Babeldaob, Palau. Another interesting specimen is located in Koror area, Palau, between the Police Station and the Civic center. It's very interesting as it still has a heavy anti aircraft machinegun on the rear pontoon

See also[edit]

  • DD tank - World War II British tank flotation system
  • T-38 - World War II, Soviet amphibious tank

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Foss, Great Book of Tanks
  2. ^ a b Zaloga, Japanese Tanks 1939-45
  3. ^ [1] Tank specs at OnWar.com
Bibliography
  • Foss, Christopher (2003). Great Book of Tanks: The World's Most Important Tanks from World War I to the Present Day. Zenith Press. ISBN 0-7603-1475-6. 
  • Zaloga, Steven J. (2007). Japanese Tanks 1939-45. Osprey. ISBN 9781846030918. 
  • Zumbro, Ralph (1997), Tank Aces, Pocket Books/Simon&Schuster, ISBN 0-671-53612-5 

External links[edit]