Type 98 Ke-Ni

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Type 98 Ke-Ni
Place of origin  Empire of Japan
Production history
Designed 1938
Produced 1942–1943
Number built 104
Specifications (Type 98A Ke-Ni[1])
Weight 7.2 tons[clarification needed]
Length 4.11 m (13 ft 6 in)
Width 2.12 m (6 ft 11 in)
Height 1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)
Crew 3

Armor 6-16 mm
Type 100 37 mm gun
1 x 7.7 mm Type 97 machine gun
Engine Mitsubishi Type 100 air-cooled
I-6 diesel
130 hp (97 kW)
Suspension Bell crank
300 km (190 mi)
Speed 50 km/h (31 mph)

The Type 98 light tank Ke-Ni (九八式軽戦車 ケニ Kyuhachi-shiki keisensha Ke-Ni?) (also known as Type 98 Chi-Ni[1]) was designed to replace the Imperial Japanese Army's Type 95 Ha-Go light tank, Japan's most numerous armored fighting vehicle during World War II.

Although designed before World War II, production did not start until 1942 and only about a hundred were produced by the end of the war.

History and development[edit]

The Type 98 developed in 1938 was a light tank with the same weight as the earlier Type 95, but with thicker armor. The prototype of the new Type 98 tank was completed by Hino Motors[2] in 1939,[citation needed] but it did not enter production at the time. This can be attributed to the adequate performance of the aging Type 95 against obsolete tanks of National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China forces.[3]

With the start of World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff quickly realized that the Type 95 design was vulnerable to .50 caliber machine gun fire and attempted to develop a light tank with the same weight as the Type 95, but with thicker armor.[2] A production contract for the Type 98 was awarded to Hino Motors and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, with a total of 104 Type 98s are known to have been built, 1 in 1941, 24 in 1942 and 79 in 1943.[4] By the end of the war, the Imperial Navy had priority on steel for warships and aircraft construction, leaving the Imperial Japanese Army at the bottom of the list for raw material to build tanks with.[5]


The design of the Type 98, in comparison to the Type 95, featured thicker, welded armor of improved shape, including the use of a Mitsubishi Type 100 6-Cylinder air-cooled diesel engine, rated at 130 horsepower, and located sideways to make maintenance easier. Slightly lighter and shorter than the original Type 95, it could travel at 50 km/h even with its thicker armor. Three pairs of bogies with six road-wheels connected to the chassis using bell cranks, which transferred any movement in the bogies into sideways motion that was absorbed by springs.[1]

In contrast to the one-man turret of Type 95, the Type 98 had a conventional two-man[1] turret, carrying a Type 100 37 mm tank gun, with a muzzle velocity of 760 m/s, and also a coaxial 7.7 mm machine gun.


  • Type 98 Ke-Ni
The standard version. It was known also as the Type 98A Ke-Ni Ko (九八式軽戦車(甲型) Kyuhachi-shiki keisensha (Kō-gata)?).
The experimental Type 98B developed by Mitsubishi[6]
  • Type 98B Ke-Ni Otsu (九八式軽戦車(乙型) Kyuhachi-shiki keisensha (Otsu-gata)?)
A Mitsubishi-designed alternative to the standard model made by Hino.[1] The most distinct feature was the suspension with four[7] large road-wheels supported by side-ways facing coil springs, in a manner similar[1] to Christie suspension. It was an experimental model, never accepted for production.
An improvement of the Type 98A version,[1][2] fitted with a more powerful Type 1 37 mm tank gun featuring a muzzle velocity of 810 m/s. Production of the Type 2 Ke-To went in 1944–1945 with 34 units built.[8]
  • Type 98 Ta-Se 20 mm anti-aircraft prototype
In November 1941, development bagan on an anti-aircraft version of the Type 98 with a 20 mm AA gun converted from a Type 98 20 mm autocannon[6] in a circumferential turret. The single prototype was designated Type 98 Ta-Se,[6] for Taikū ("anti-air") sensha ("tank"). Trials failed, and the project was canceled in 1943.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g History of War.org
  2. ^ a b c Zaloga (Japanese Tanks) p. 18
  3. ^ Zaloga (Japanese Tanks) p. 12
  4. ^ Zaloga (Japanese Tanks) p. 17
  5. ^ Zaloga (Japanese Tanks) pp. 3 & 15
  6. ^ a b c Skrzypacz, Marcin. "Type 98B Mitsubishi". Encyklopedia Uzbrojenia (in Polish). Archived from the original on 2 February 2008. Retrieved 22 August 2011. 
  7. ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=Es5Pxu8AGqcC&lpg=PA180&dq=%22Type%2095%22%20%22ha%20go%22&pg=PA182#v=onepage&q=%22Type%2095%22%20%22ha%20go%22&f=false
  8. ^ Zaloga (Japanese Tanks) pp. 10 & 18


  • 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. 
  • Foss, Christopher (2003). Tanks: The 500. Crestline. ISBN 0-7603-1500-0. 
  • Hunnicutt, Richard (1992). Stuart, A History of the American Light Tank; Vol. 1. Presidio Press. ISBN 0-89141-462-2. 
  • Zaloga, Steven J. (2007). Japanese Tanks 1939-45. Osprey. ISBN 9781846030918. 

External links[edit]