PACOPS: Type 97 Chi-Ha Medium Tank

The 9th Armored Regiment of the 1st Tank Division was reassigned to the 31st Army in April 1944 and sent to Saipan where it was effectively annihilated and not reorganized. Commanded by Colonel Tadashi Goshima, the unit consisted of 31 Type 97 Medium Tanks (modeled below), 4 Type 97-Improved Medium Tanks and 12 Type 95 Light Tanks.

Just after midnight on June 16, 1944 the Japanese forces made a large counterattack against the US 6th Marine Regiment on the beachhead near Charan Kanoa and were soundly repulsed due to inexperience in mounting tactical armored engagements. The Marines were able to concentrate their firepower on the assault and were augmented by naval gunfire.

The Type 97 Chi-Ha medium tank was first outfitted with a short, 57 mm main gun (which I will be modeling below) that was later replaced with a 47 mm main gun with a longer barrel for greater effectiveness against enemy armor (due to the increase in higher muzzle velocity).

Production Steps

In the Estab Editor there are several steps to replicate (why recreate the wheel by creating a new estab when you can replicate with an existing unit that is reasonably close to what you are wanting to create) in order to field a functional tank to put into a force list to be used in the Scenario Editor.

Secondary Weapons and Ammunition
Main Weapon and Ammunition
Vehicle
Unit Estabs

Secondary Weapons and Ammunition

To build the Type 97, I will be starting with secondary weapons and ammunition. The Chi-Ha had two 7.7 mm light machine guns. I already have the 7.7x58mm Arisaka cartridge modeled in the estab, so all I have to do now is create the Type 97 LMG by cloning the Type 92 HMG I had already created and adjusting the parameters to fit the scope of a light machine gun.


This is the general tab where the weight is adjusted to 12.4 kg.


The performance tab where the muzzle velocity is set to 724 and the load is set to 2,000 (which is similar to other vehicle mounted LMG’s in the basic estab).

Main Weapon and Ammunition


The ammunition for the main gun is both AP & HE. For this part I decide to clone the 5cm PaK/KwK 39 HE & AP shells from the base estab. At this level the only thing that can be adjusted is the quantity and weight (in kilos of the minimum order quantity).


For this version of the Chi-Ha I will be using the original 57 mm main gun (later replaced by a 47 mm main gun with a longer barrel) by cloning an American estab 57mm M1 AT gun with some adjustments as follows: On the general tab Must Deploy to Fire is unchecked, No Image is checked and the weight is changed to 1.0 kg (this is consistent with other main gun weapons in the stock estab for other tanks).


On the performance tab I add in the Anti-Personnel Firepower ratings (aper) by copying the data from the aarm ratings and drop in the AP & HE shells respectively. The muzzle velocity is adjusted to 355.3 and the crew is dropped to 2.

Vehicle

And now to clone the vehicle that all of the above will be bolted on to. For this I am just going to clone an existing German estab, the PzKfw III Ausf M with some ad hoc adjustments (as mentioned in other estab posts, all of this data is subject to revision and I count on the community to constructively point out errors by providing well-sourced references).


On the general tab I make some changes to the dimension and weight of the vehicle and select “No Image”.


On the performance tab I change what I can easily find on the web: things such as crew capacity and max speed. There is a lot of other data that I need to do further research on or receive some help from the gaming community as referenced above.


On the armaments tab I drop in the two weapons systems created above and delete the existing ones that carried over from cloning the vehicle.


Once all that is done, I save the estab file and run the “Compile Estab File” function and receive the error above.


The culprit was the 355.3 muzzle velocity I input on the tank gun I created (the screen shot this originally appeared in above has been updated to reflect the change to 355).


Once the file was updated, save the file and run the “Compile Estab File” function again for the preferred result.

Unit Estab

To create a basic armor company for use in the Scenario Editor, I clone the German Heer WF - PzD - Pz IV Coy estab file.


When pulling the clone from Germany to Japan, I have to select the appropriate conversion rank for an Oberleutnant (equivalent to a first lieutenant), in this case that being a Rikugun Chūi.


On the general tab I change the personnel count from 70 to 40. This is because the calculation seems to be Crew X Tanks = Personnel. For the Panzer IV’s the original estab that I clone, they had a crew of five and there were 14 tanks in the company: 5 X 14 = 70.

The Japanese Chi-Ha had a crew of four and for right now I am placing ten of these tanks in the company: 4 X 10 = 40.


On the equipment tab I drop in my tank created above, set it at ten and then remove the IV’s.


On the icon tab I edit the colors to suit what I have for the Service that I created, that being the Imperial Japanese Army (I could have done a change there, reversed it and allowed it to cascade down to all children of the parent service which is a quick way to change colors for all estabs in a particular service).

Save the file, compile the file and exit (assuming there are no errors).

Scenario Editor


This is a test force list build for the 9th Armored Regiment with 3rd and 4th Companies as some research I have come across suggest that the 9th did not have 1st and 2nd at Saipan.


This is just some sample data in game at the regiment HQ and a single company unit level.


The result of 26 Type 97 medium tanks going up against a single company of M4 Sherman’s (18 total units): The Japanese force was able to decimate the Americans taking six of their tanks to a loss of only one Chi-Ha. Had this been an assault on the Marines at Red Beach further south along the same road, the 9th would have been wiped out completely (as in real life).

Where I Could Use Assistance

I need specific data as it relates to the performance decay at various ranges used in the Estab Editor for both the 57mm gun modeled above and the 47mm gun I need to model for the upgraded version of this tank. If you can provide specific references, please do so by posting a link in the comment section of this post.

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