Kurogane Type 95
|Type 95 "Yonki"|
Russian soldiers posing with a captured Type 95 following the Battle of Khalkin-Gol
|Manufacturer||Tokyu Kurogane Kogyo|
|Assembly||Ōmori, Ōta, Tokyo, Japan|
|Designer||Tetsushi Makita (蒔田鉄司)|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door roadster
2-door pickup truck
|Layout||Front-engine, four-wheel-drive layout|
|Engine||1.2 L (prototype)
air-cooled, OHV V-twin 2 cylinder engine
|Wheelbase||2,000 mm (78.7 in)|
|Length||3,600 mm (141.7 in)|
|Width||1,520 mm (59.8 in)|
|Height||1,680 mm (66.1 in)|
|Curb weight||1,100 kg (2,425.1 lb)|
The Type 95 was a Japanese scout car built by Tokyu Kurogane Industries (東急くろがね工業? Tōkyū Kurogane Kōgyō), and was used during the war with China and World War II in the East. Between 1936 and 1944 approximately 4,700 were built. It was the only completely Japanese designed reconnaissance car ever used by the Imperial Japanese Army, which tended to use civilian cars.
It is the world's first four-wheel-drive passenger vehicle placed into mass production before the Willys MB (Jeep), which was introduced in 1941, the Daimler Dingo in 1940, the Volkswagen Schwimmwagen introduced in 1942, and the GAZ-61 in 1938. Its nickname is the "Yonki" (よんき) which in Japanese means "woodpecker". In the field, soldiers often called it the "daruma".
In 2013, an example built in 1938 was found in a repair shop in Kyoto, having fallen into disrepair. At the request of Masahiko Kobayashi, it underwent an extensive restoration process that was crowd-funded for restoration costs amounting to ¥13.24 million, or approximately USD $116,000 and having been added to a Japanese military museum. A video was made of the car's unveiling, showing the restored vehicle and engine running, which can be seen at the NHK World website. At the Motorcar Museum of Japan, an example built in 1941 is on display; the 1938 example was important because it was a verified example of a four-wheel drive passenger car having been built first in Japan. Until the example was found in Kyoto, it was thought that only three remaining examples were known to exist; the example on display at the Motorcar Museum of Japan, one in Moscow, Russia at the "Retro Auto Museum" and one in a Pennsylvania military equipment club called the "Redball Military Transport Club".
The Type 95 could accommodate 3 persons - two in the front and one in the back. The two-cylinder, V-twin, four-stroke, air-cooled gasoline engine, which developed 33 PS (24 kW; 33 hp) @ 3,300rpm, was an advantage in cold climates encountered in China and it had 4-wheel drive, using a gearshift activated transfer case to engage the front wheels. It was manufactured without weapons and unarmored. It had advantages over the Type 97 motorcycle used by the Japanese Army, which was limited by not being able to negotiate off-road conditions, and limited troop mobility capabilities. It had tall, narrow wheels which helped it to travel over rough terrain, mud and snow.
In 1934, the Japanese Imperial Army decided to develop a small rough terrain vehicle for reconnaissance, delivering messages to the field, and as a personnel transport vehicle. Toyota Industries Corporation Motor Vehicles Division who was building the Toyota G1, and Okamoto Bicycle and Automobile Manufacturing, which was absorbed into Daihatsu, were asked by the Japanese Military to collaborate with Kurogane in its construction. The prototype was the result, using a Japanese built internal combustion engine, with production begun in 1936 to be mass-produced. At the time military operations in Mainland China and Southeast Asia, a mass-produced military vehicle equipped with Japan's first four-wheel drive mechanism, increased mobility despite bad roads and rough terrain in the area. In 1934, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries had internally developed a prototype, four-door sedan with four-wheel-drive, called the Mitsubishi PX33, which was powered by a 6.7 litre four-cylinder diesel engine to serve as a personnel transport. Four prototypes were built before the project was cancelled.
The United States Army with the Jeep offered off-road ability and increased ground clearance, offering a light truck approach with regards to transporting passengers and equipment with an amphibious ability. The German Army had the Schwimmerwagen. The Type 95 was developed as a passenger car as a better alternative to motorcycle personnel transport, with four-wheel-drive advantages over the Type 93 motorcycle with a side car and the Type 97 two-wheeled motorcycle, which was a licensed copy of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Lightweight Dirt bikes weren't invented at the time.
During the 1930s, Japan’s manufacturing infrastructure wasn’t as advanced as the United States and Europe, and military manufacturing was being focused on ships and aircraft by Japan's premiere industrial manufacturer Mitsubishi, with other resources devoted to armament and tank production within Mitsubishi's zaibatsu partners. Aircraft were largely built between Mitsubishi, Tachikawa Aircraft Company, and the Nakajima Aircraft Company which built most of the aircraft. Limited raw materials were also devoted to higher priorities. The goal was to build 5,000 Type 95 in a supporting role, with the manufacturing process largely being hand built, without the use of a modern assembly line.
This car was first introduced at the Nomonhan Incident, with continued use during the Pacific War and Greater East Asia War as both its primary purpose, as well as a Japanese mainland Army and Navy officer flagship passenger using the 4-door version. The front grille had the Imperial Japanese Army five-pointed star which signified sakura, or cherry blossom, which has special cultural significance. Along with minor changes, such as mechanical changes or body adjustments, by the time production ended in 1944 a total of 4,775 were built.
Below is a list of each model. The Production A~C classification that noted here is only described as a convenience to distinguish changes.
- Production type A
1937-38 model year. Engine displacement is 1300cc. 3-person roadster type. Grill shape is oval. A bumper was used in production.
1935 prototype. Engine displacement is 1200cc. Body styles use Roadster and enclosed 2-door sedan. The front grille is rectangular allowing airflow to cool the engine. Bumper is not used. Body on chassis frame is used.
- Production type B
1939-43 model year. Engine displacement is 1400cc. 4-person Phaeton type. Production volume most models. Grill shape is square.
- Four-door prototype
4 - door that has been only one trial in 1939 Phaeton type. Wheelbase has an extended door of the original 2-door type. For more information on engine unknown, but it has been theorized it used water-cooling rather than air cooling to increase durability and engine efficiency. Grill shape is square.
- Production type C
1944 model year. Engine displacement is 1400cc using air-cooling. 2-person pickup truck type. The final production model car model has been changed to a small truck.
Some vehicles were modified in the field by front seat passengers opening the top hinged passenger side windshield up and using a light machine gun such as the Type 11 light machine gun, the Type 96 light machine gun, or the Type 99 light machine gun in a similar fashion with a motorcycle sidecar. Because of its small dimensions and weight, it was able to fit inside Japanese manufactured Kokusai Ku-8 and deploying glider Airborne troops, specifically the Teishin gliding infantry regiment, and some cars also used an Autocannon machine gun.
Powertrain and Engineering Development
The developer of the four wheel drive and engine technology used to manufacture the Type 95 is also the founder of the Japanese Internal Combustion Engine Company, Tetsuji Makita. Mr. Makita was one of Japan's first automobile engineers during the 1920s-1930s, and worked with Toyogawa Hayataya, who built the first automobile in Japan called the "Otomo" which was built by "Hakuyosha Ironworks, Inc." one of the first Japanese automobile manufacturers. Mr. Makita and the Japan Internal Combustion Engine Company had been at the time established as a leading manufacturer of the Japanese market automobiles, Auto rickshaws, and motorized tricycles, competing initially with Datsun and Mazda, with Mitsubishi and The Hope Automobile Company (later reorganized as Suzuki) after the war. To set themselves as leading-edge Japanese manufacturers, the term "New Era" was used to advertise new, in-house developed engines in 1926, to coincide with the end of the Emperor Taishō era that ushered in the Emperor Shōwa era. Through a series of company reorganizations, the company was later renamed "Kurogane" (The word kurogane (くごがね or 鉄?) is an old term for iron).
The width of the vehicles was originally set at 1,300 mm (51.2 in), but to better cope with the center of gravity compared to the Jeep and Schwimenwagen it was enhanced to 1,500 mm (59.1 in). It had a narrow steel cruciform ladder frame chassis, and a 2,000 mm (78.7 in) wheelbase. The rear axle was a solid differential, with a semi-elliptical leaf spring suspension, the front wheels used coil springs and a double wishbone independent front suspension to enhance off road agility. The transmission had three forward speeds and one reverse gear that powered the rear wheels. A transfer case was used to temporarily engage the front wheels when necessary. Drum brakes were used on the rear wheels only, and it had a 48 L (13 US gal; 11 imp gal) gas tank with 4 L (1 US gal; 1 imp gal) for reserve, achieving 13.18 km/L (37.2 mpg‑imp; 31.0 mpg‑US). Its top speed on paved roads was 75 km/h (46.6 mph), with a driving range of 450 kilometres (279.6 mi). To keep production and maintenance simple, universal joints were used to engage the front wheels.
During development, a horizontally opposed engine had been considered due to the harsh, cold conditions of Manchuria where the car would be deployed initially. The vehicle needed to be durable and easy to maintain, and a flat engine had advantages in the torque production needed to operate all four wheels. Air cooling also solved the problem of available cooling water and engine ruggedness. Kurogane also manufactured motorcycles, and keeping the engine as air-cooled helped with parts availability. The engine used for production was a Kurogane V1-AF motorcycle engine, with a bank angle of 45 °, a V-type 2-cylinder OHV forced air-cooled engine with an engine displacement of 1.3 – 1.4 L developing 33 PS (24.3 kW; 32.5 bhp) @ 3,300rpm. It was a simple design, while the British made Sunbeam Motorcycle may have been used in reference to its development. The Japan Internal Combustion Engine Company was building three-wheeler trucks and motorcycles, using a single-cylinder engine of their "JAC” brand “Zaimasu" model motorcycle (zaimasu means “I will be there”) as the base engine used to develop the V2 engine. The front grille had a small hole to insert a handcrank to manually start the engine should the starter or battery fail.
In the prototype development stage, it was originally an air-cooled single-cylinder, borrowing from their current motorcycle products, but a V-twin engine proved more practical. To aid in cooling, a forced air cooling system used a propeller fan to further direct airflow across the cylinders without an encased cooling shroud, and it used a dry sump oil lubrication design. The carburetor used was copied from a Wheeler-Schebler Carburetor Company design in a single barrel carburetor that was placed in the center behind the V-bank, distributing to the left and right cylinder bank, through a cross-flow cylinder head. The engine was installed suspended above the front wheel differential and in front of the transmission. This arrangement gave the vehicle a higher center of gravity, helping to keep the engine out of river crossing conditions, while it had disadvantages regarding engine vibration as compared with a horizontally-opposed engine layout, but due to Japanese Army requirements, this arrangement was a trade-off, meeting the primary goal set before the development team. The engine layout having a symmetrical implementation with the engine directly in front of the transmission, with a transfer case providing power to the front wheels installed directly below the engine made manufacture simple to deploy. Because there was a rudimentary production system closely resembling handmade assembly, minor changes took place to various aspects of the car as the need arose, with the early prototype two-door enclosed sedan evolving into a roadster. While some vehicles over time had body changes, many of the production cars were not installed with doors, and the canvas roof for the two-door and four-door vehicles aided in reducing overall weight and adding flexibility to conditions in the field.
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