Type 98 Ke-Ni

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Type 98 Ke-Ni
Type 98A Ke-Ni.jpg
Type 98A Ke-Ni light tank
Place of origin Empire of Japan
Production history
Designed 1938
Produced 1942–1943
No. built 104[1]
Specifications (Type 98A Ke-Ni[2])
Weight 7.2 tons (metric)
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) or Type 98A Ke-Ni Ko (also known as Type 98 Chi-Ni light tank[2]) 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, with 104 being produced by the end of the war.[1]

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,[3] 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.[4]

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.[3] A production contract for the Type 98 was awarded to Hino Motors. Serious production began in 1942. A total of 104 Type 98s are known to have been built: 1 in 1941, 24 in 1942 and 79 in 1943.[1] By the end of the war, the Imperial Navy had priority on steel for warships and aircraft construction, leaving the Imperial Japanese Army at a low priority for raw material to build tanks.[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.[2]

In contrast to the one-man turret of Type 95, the Type 98 had a two-man turret, which offered more room for the gunner/commander and carried a Type 100 37 mm tank gun, with a muzzle velocity of 760 m/s, and also a coaxial 7.7 mm machine gun.[2][3]


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.[2] The most distinct feature was the suspension with four large road-wheels supported by side-ways facing coil springs, in a manner similar to Christie suspension. It was an experimental model, which never entered production.[2]
An improvement of the Type 98A version,[3] fitted with the more powerful Type 1 37 mm gun featuring a muzzle velocity of 800 m/s.[7] The new 37 mm gun used gave the tank "slightly better performance".[3] The Type 2 Ke-To went into production in 1944–1945 with 34 tanks built.[8]
Type 98 Ta-Se anti-aircraft Tank
  • Type 98 Ta-Se 20 mm anti-aircraft tank
In November 1941, development began on an anti-aircraft version of the Type 98 with a 20 mm AA gun converted from a Type 98 20 mm AA machine cannon in a circumferential turret.[9] The single prototype was designated Type 98 Ta-Se,[9] for Taikū ("anti-air") sensha ("tank"). During trials it was determined that the chassis was too small to be a stable "firing platform".[9] There was also a prototype built with modified twin Type 2 20 mm AA machine cannons.[9] It was known as the Type 98 20 mm AAG Tank. The project was canceled and neither tank went into production.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Zaloga 2007, p. 17.
  2. ^ a b c d e f History of War: Type 98 Chi-Ni Light Tank
  3. ^ a b c d e Zaloga 2007, p. 18.
  4. ^ Zaloga 2007, p. 12.
  5. ^ Zaloga 2007, pp. 3, 15.
  6. ^ Skrzypacz, Marcin. "Type 98B Mitsubishi". Encyklopedia Uzbrojenia (in Polish). Archived from the original on 2 February 2008. Retrieved 22 August 2011. 
  7. ^ History of War: Type 98 Type 2 Ke-To Light Tank
  8. ^ Zaloga 2007, pp. 17, 18.
  9. ^ a b c d e Tomczyk 2007, p. 14.


  • 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. 
  • Tomczyk, Andrzej (2007). Japanese Armor Vol. 5. AJ Press. ISBN 978-8372371799. 
  • Zaloga, Steven J. (2007). Japanese Tanks 1939–45. Osprey. ISBN 978-1-8460-3091-8. 

External links[edit]