Hey everyone! Recently, another user
/u/Stewy___ posted a solid two-line proposal for Japanese TDs (I'd link the post but they seem to have removed it). There were quite a few interesting vehicles, and it was clear that you could come quite close to creating two full TD lines. With some Googling, I managed to complete what Stewy started, and came up with two complete TD lines. I made enough changes to their proposal that I decided this was worth its own post.
One line is of casemate TDs, with the low and mid tiers equipped with howitzers (think an entire line that is similar to the SU-152), and the high tiers more resembling high tier German TDs. The other line is of lightly armored turreted TDs, equipped with more traditional guns.
There are quite a few interesting vehicles – in fact, there is almost enough material for a *third* unique line. However, most of these casemate tanks are SPGs, and I don't think there's enough material to have both the casemate line and an artillery line. I think I speak for most people in saying that if I have to choose between the two, I'd rather have a second TD line than an SPG line.
Now, onto the vehicles. I will list the casemate line first, then the turreted line. For each vehicle, I'll list some historical information (with sources), a picture if one can be found, and a rough idea of how it might fit into the game. There are a lot of options on how to balance these vehicles in-game, so I'm defaulting to historical values.
The coolest thing about these lines is that they are almost completely historical. All but a couple designs were actually built, and only one vehicle is completely fake. They are also all WWII-era designs.
However, a lot of information is still hidden away in the archives. One particular user, by the name of Eun Ae Sun (on Reddit as MaiWaffentrager), has been digging through the archives and releasing interesting tidbits over the last couple of years, and has published a lot of information that is otherwise completely unknown. I do trust her; however, she is only a single source, and a lot of information she's released cannot be verified simply because no one else has checked the archives.
With that in mind, I've made two versions of each tree, one only with information from multiple sources, and one with Eun Ae Sun's information.
Casemate TD Line
Summary: these vehicles will not be particularly fast or well-armored, but will have high-caliber howitzers that pack a punch. The entire line from tiers 2-8 plays like the SU-152. The tier 9 and 10 vehicles go a very different direction, being better armored and equipped with more traditional guns. Mobility would be distinctly average and the armor would be not very good, but small profiles and excellent gun depression will help you get the most out of these platforms. I would not put it past WG to buff their armor values as well.
Tier 2: Ho-Ru
A prototype vehicle based on the Ha-Go light tank. The
Type 95 Ha-Go was first designed in 1933, with over 2300 vehicles built during its 7-year production run. Initially equipped with a 37mm gun, it proved to be insufficiently armed to engage other tanks, so various proposals were made to improve its firepower. One of these was to adapt it into a casemate TD, and equip it with the 47mm Tank Gun Type 1 (Model II), a shortened version of the the Chi-Ha's 47mm gun intended for lighter vehicles. This shortened version wasn't completed until 1945, so they tested the vehicle with the standard version of the gun, which was successful. Only one prototype was completed before the war ended.
This would be a fairly mobile and very sneaky TD for tier 2, with a top speed of 40 km/h and a remarkably low profile. The superstructure would be well-protected for its tier at 30mm frontally, but a weak lower plate and side armor (both 12mm) would leave this vulnerable. Gun traverse would be somewhat limited horizontally at -10/+10 degrees, but -15/+20 degrees of elevation would be fantastic. It would essentially be a tier 2 version of the
Tier 3: Ku-Se
This is a prototype vehicle based on the Ke-Ho light tank. The Type 5 Ke-Ho Light Tank was a project started in 1942 to replace the aging lineup of Ha-Go light tanks. The Imperial Japanese Army had already designed the
Type 98 Ke-Ni and Type 2 Ke-To, but they weren't sufficient replacements. The vehicle's design was completed in 1942, but production was postponed as the Navy needed the materials more, and it wasn't until 1945 that the one and only prototype was constructed.
The vehicle had up to 20mm of armor and was equipped with a 47mm main gun, the same one in use by the Chi-Ha, a quite effective gun for the vehicles it was engaging. The vehicle was quite mobile, with a weight of 10 tons, a power-to-weight ratio of 15 HP/ton, and a top speed of 50 km/h. At least on paper, it would have been a solid replacement for the then-10 year old Ha-Go. As only one prototype was ever built of the Ke-Ho, the Ku-Se was never actually built.
In game, this would be the mobile alternative to the Valentine AT. The top speed would be twice as high, but the armor would be less effective overall (~30mm frontally instead of 60mm on the hull and 14mm on the gunshield), and of course the gun would be less intimidating. I'd give it the 47mm gun as an alternate weapon option.
Tier 4: Ho-Ni II
A casemate tank destroyer based on the
Type 97 Chi-Ha which equipped a 75mm field gun. In December 1939, the largest anti-tank gun on any Japanese tank was the 47mm gun equipped by the Chi-Ha, so a larger gun was desired in case well-armored tanks ever had to be engaged. Following the same concept as the Panzerjäger and Marder tanks, the Japanese simply took an existing chassis, added an open casemate, and plopped a larger caliber gun into the vehicle – in this case, the Type 90 75mm Field Gun.
Despite being a simple design, it wasn't until 1941 that the vehicle was accepted into production, due to doctrine conflicts – they couldn't decide if it should be used for anti-tank or artillery purposes. Ultimately, a compromise was made by designing the Ho-Ni II, the exact same tank but with a Type 91 105mm howitzer, which would be the "artillery version". With production woes dragging on as late as 1944, ultimately, 26 Type Is and 54 Type IIs were constructed. The vehicles saw action in the
Battle of Luzon in the Philippines in 1945, where they were defeated along with the rest of the 2nd Tank Division. Most units were retained to defend the Japanese home islands, so they never saw combat.
I decided to combine the Ho-Ni I and II into the same tank, as they basically only differed in armament. Both gun options fit well into tier 4 – a decent 75mm gun and a 105mm howitzer. With a top speed of 38 km/h but a P/W ratio of only 11 HP/ton, this would be a reduction in mobility. Armor would be okay at up to 51mm frontally, but the open top and back would leave this very vulnerable to artillery. Overall, it would fit in pretty well with all the other 105mm derp TDs.
Tier 5: Ji-Ro Sha
Picture (on bottom)
Another casemate TD conversion, this time of the Type 95 Heavy. This was an open-top SPG with a rear-mounted 105mm main gun. The Type 95 Heavy tank was a multiturreted heavy tank first designed in 1932 as the successor to the Type 91 Heavy tank prototype. It had considerably improved armor, at up to 35mm thick, and was very well armed for the time. The central turret equipped a 7cm gun, the front turret a 37mm gun, and the rear turret a 6.5mm machine gun. A total of four prototypes were built and performed well in trials, but the vehicle was ultimately never mass-produced, as smaller light tanks like the upcoming Ha-Go better fit Japanese tank doctrine.
This was one of two TD conversions considered, alongside the Hi-Ro Sha, which was actually built (
picture). They both equipped the Type 14 105mm cannon (called the "10 cm cannon"), a field gun designed in 1925 which was not very well-regarded and was soon replaced by the Type 92 10 cm cannon (another 105mm field gun). Reportedly, one Ji-Ro prototype was also built, although no photographs are available.
This vehicle would require some modification to not be frustrating to play, as it is based on the widely despised Type 95 Heavy. In particular, it would really benefit from a mobility buff. It could potentially get a modified version of the Type 92 10 cm cannon, the 105mm gun used by the O-I. This would make it feel somewhat similar to the S35 CA.
Tier 6: Ho-To
The Type 4 Ho-To was a prototype self-propelled gun based on the Ha-Go, which mounted a 120mm howitzer. Not much information is available on this vehicle, other than that it equipped a Type 38 12 cm howitzer in an open casemate, and that one prototype was completed. Reportedly, it could fire HEAT shells out of the low-velocity gun.
Although this historically equipped only the 12cm low-velocity howitzer, I'd also give it the Type 92 10 cm cannon, as used by the O-I. Without more information on this vehicle, there isn't much else I can say – WG would have a lot of freedom with this tank.
Tier 7: Ho-Ro
Described as "the Japanese Grille", this vehicle was the product of a project between the Germans and Japanese to share their tank designs. This SPG, inspired by the Grille, adapted a Chi-Ha to house a Type 38 15 cm howitzer in an open-backed casemate. This vehicle would've replaced the Ho-Ni II as the standard self-propelled gun, and could still be used in an anti-armor role as it also had HEAT shells. Only around 12 vehicles were produced during its production run in 1944, all but one of which were destroyed in combat in the Philippines and Okinawa in 1945.
Source 1 2
This tank is intended to be a SPG, but I think with some light modification it can work as a tier 7 TD just fine. The 15cm gun would be very reminiscent of the SU-152's main armament, although I would consider giving it a non-historical 105mm long-barrel option as well. With a top speed of 38 km/h and a modest P/W ratio of 12.8 HP/ton, it wouldn't be too sluggish, although the maximum of 25mm of armor wouldn't do it many favors. It still retained 10 degrees of gun depression, although I'd happily buff the 3 degrees of horizontal gun arc to 10 degrees to each side.
Tier 8: Ho-Chi Sha
No picture available
Another variant of the ever-modified Chi-Ha – there are so many variants, they have their own article. One proposed variant was the "Experimental Type 5 15 cm SPG", named the "Ho-Chi" or "Ho-Chi Sha". This equipped a Type 96 15 cm howitzer on the Chi-Ha chassis. It is not known how much this vehicle was developed, and I was not able to find any more information on this tank.
All I know is that this uses the same 15cm howitzer used by the O-I, O-Ni, and O-Ho. I assume more information is out there, just not available via Google. Just like other nations, Japan has plenty of info still hidden away in their archives. However, seeing as I don't read or speak Japanese, live on the opposite side of the world, and lack the necessary security clearances, I can't easily get any more info on this vehicle.
Tier 9: Ho-Ri
The true Japanese heavy tank destroyer, this was a proposed casemate TD built on the Type 5 Chi-Ri, a prototype chassis for a new 37-ton medium tank. The vehicle was to have 30mm of armor, a six-man crew, and equip a new experimental 105mm gun. Additionally, the tank was intended to equip a 37mm gun in the hull, as is seen in the Chi-Ri, as a secondary armament for when the primary gun would be overkill. Impressive elevation angles of -15/+20 degrees, as well as 10 degrees of traverse to either side would have enabled it to perform this role fairly well – clearly, this hull-mounted gun was better thought out than those found on many other tanks.
There were two main designs considered: one, which resembled the German Elefant (known to players as the Ferdinand), with sloped frontal armor, a mid mounted engine, and a rear fighting compartment. The second resembled a Jagdtiger, with a rear engine and central fighting compartment.
A total of five vehicles were slated to be built in 1945, but records indicate none of the tanks were completed; however, the 105mm gun was in fact completed. The elevation angles were great at -10/+20 degrees on both designs, and gun traverse was fairly standard at -11/+11 degrees. Lastly, one source suggests the vehicles would've had 125mm frontal armor.
Source 1 2
This would be a glass cannon, with very poor armor but decent mobility. Being based on a much larger chassis, this would not be as diminutive as the tanks leading up to it. With only a 105mm gun at tier 9, this would require fantastic gun stats, so I could see WG equipping it with a larger caliber gun, or a more exotic option such as making this an autoloader. In general, I could see WG stretching the values considerably – what exactly they change would depend on whether they want to emphasize firepower, mobility, or armor protection.
Tier 10: Ho-Ri II
The second proposed variant of the Ho-Ri. Notably, this version had twin 25mm anti-aircraft guns mounted on the back.
Again, this would be a glass cannon. Based on current information, this could resemble just about anything, but until more information is uncovered from the archives, it is up to Wargaming to decide what exactly this tank would look like in-game.
Eun Ae Sun's Information
According to her, there is more information on a final, production model Ho-Ri which had increased armor protection and a much larger 1000hp engine. If this is verifiable, then I would either remove the Ho-Chi Sha or Ho-Ri II, downtier whatever needs to be downtiered, and make the Ho-Ri Production Model the tier 10.
These vehicles are physically large, lightly armored, and equip more standard long-barrel armaments unlike their casemate counterparts. The low tiers would essentially be mediums with howitzers, though. They would have good mobility, excellent gun angles, and would likely emphasize gun handling and DPM. That is at least my vision for this line.
This line would start at tier 4, with the first vehicle branching off of both the Ku-Se and the regular Chi-Ha.
Tier 4: Ho-I
A variant of the Chi-He which equipped it with a new turret, housing the Type 41 75 mm mountain gun. This is very similar to the early model Panzer IVs, which equipped short-barrel 75mm guns for use in close fire support. First designed in 1939, this was originally going to be an upgrade to the Chi-Ha, but it was decided to use the very similar, improved Chi-He chassis instead. Due to both material shortages and the choice to use the Chi-He chassis, which was already in short supply, only 30 vehicles were produced in total from 1942 to 1944. They were used to defend the Japanese home island, so they never saw combat.
With a top speed of 44 km/h and a P/W ratio of 14.9 HP/ton, this would be a fairly mobile vehicle. I'd compare this tank to the M8A1, with a better performing 75mm howitzer in exchange for the reduced mobility. Being a modified Chi-He, you could also give it all the guns that tank gets, such as a 57mm gun. Despite its label, this would play a lot like a medium tank.
Tier 5: Short Barrel 120 mm Gun Tank, or Shinhoto Chi-Ha 120
A special variant of the Shinhoto Chi-Ha (the improved version of the Chi-Ha), this unusual tank was used by the Imperial Japanese Navy. This equipped a 120mm anti-submarine gun and mostly fired HE rounds, although an AP shell was available. It would have been used to assist in landings, alongside amphibious vahicles such as the
Type 3 Ka-Chi and Type 2 Ka-Mi. Despite its large caliber, the gun still had -10/+20 degrees elevation, and the turret only required slight modification. Around a dozen vehicles were produced. It isn't known how effective they were in combat, and no vehicles survive today.
"Short Barrel 120 mm Gun Tank" is its official designation, but that's a mouthful, which is why I proposed "Shinhoto Chi-Ha 120" instead. This is literally a Chi-Ha with the 12cm derp from the O-I Experimental. Thus, I'd compare this tank to the M10 Wolverine. It would have reasonable mobility, little armor, and a very punchy gun. I'd be tempted to give it a 57mm as a second gun option, but this TD is all about the derp.
Tier 6: Na-To
Although a SPG platform with a high-penetration 75mm gun was desired as early as 1942, such a gun was not developed until 1944, when the Type 7 75mm Tank Gun was completed. At that point, development went underway of a lightly armored tank destroyer, based on the chassis of the Type 4 Chi-So medium tracked carrier. The Japanese Army ordered 200 units, but the war ended before any vehicles rolled off the production line. A total of two prototypes were built, neither of which saw combat. This concept of attaching a 75mm gun to an existing tracked carrier is rather similar to what the Americans did with the
M3 Gun Motor Carriage, although that was based on a half-track.
Historically, this only equipped the top gun used by the Chi-To. The gun had -10/+20 degrees of elevation and -20/+20 degrees of traverse. However, another gun had been considered for this tank: the Experimental 7.5cm Anti-tank Gun Type Ge. Based on the German 7,5cm Pak 41, this could penetrate 190mm of armor from 100 meters with standard ammo and 241mm with tungsten ammo.
Source 1 2
The vehicle would've had reasonable mobility for the time, with a top speed of 40 km/h, a weight of 13.7 tons, and a P/W ratio of 12 hp/ton, but very thin armor at 12mm on the front and sides. This equipped the top gun on the Chi-To, which is already rather unimpressive at tier 6, so I'd be tempted to give it the Chi-Ri's top autoloader with the exact same stats, making it play like the TD version of a Škoda T 25. Alternatively, it could get the experimental Type Ge, giving it exceptional penetration and making it play more like the Achilles. If the firepower is still lacking, I'd consider buffing the engine power for gameplay purposes.
Tier 7: Ka-To
A prototype turreted tank destroyer based on a lengthened Chi-To chassis. Development began in 1943 to create an anti-tank SPG equipped with a 105mm gun. The design is rather similar to the Na-To, with this vehicle weighing 30 tons. The gun used was the Type 5 10 cm Tank Gun, which could reportedly penetrate 175mm of armor at 1000m with AP. The vehicle was reasonably mobile, with a top speed of 40 km/h and a P/W ratio of 13.3 hp/t, but the armor was rather thin at 25mm on the front and 20mm at the sides and rear, further compounded by a large profile. Mitsubishi completed 50% of the chassis before the war ended.
This is just a bigger version of the Na-To with a punchier gun. As a ballpark for stats, I'd give it the O-Ho's top 105mm gun, albeit with much better overall gun handling. This would be a bigger, slower, and even worse armored Challenger, so it would need a substantial leg up in firepower to stay competitive.
Tier 8: Chi-Se
A planned upgrade to the Chi-Ri, this would've housed the Experimental 105mm gun developed for the Ho-Ri in an uparmored version of its prototype turret. There were major improvements to the armor protection on the hull – the frontal hull was 120mm thick at a slope of 70 degrees, with a similarly well-sloped 75mm lower plate. The turret face was 200mm thick at a shallow slope. No vehicles were fully assembled before the war ended.
This is basically a faster
T28 Prototype, but with a bit less armor and a lower caliber gun. Actually, it could be compared to many tier 8 TDs, depending on how exactly it is balanced. The tank's existence is verified elsewhere, but only Eun Ae Sun has these armor values listed. That said, even if it turns out the tank has the same armor as the regular Chi-Ri, it would fit into tier 8 just fine.
To be honest, this is not consistent with the rest of the line, and I mostly included it because there was no other obvious candidate. It could be made to work as part of an alternative MT branch, for example, if enough Chi-Ri derivations exist. The best alternative option that I know of would be to make up a "Ka-To Kai" as a fictional improved version of the tier 7. There may be enough historical information to justify this.
An obscure prototype, this mounted the Type 10 120mm naval gun to a Chi-Ha chassis. Pretty much nothing is known about the tank that can't be seen from the photograph. It is doubtful if the gun could even be fired without destroying the tank in the process.
However, this is World of Tanks, and we aren't restricted by such nonsense as "reality". After all, this tank did actually exist in real life, which is more than enough to justify inclusion into this game. It could be given a full turret, because why not? I know I'm playing it a bit fast and loose here, but some creative liberties have to be taken to complete this line. This would be roughly analogous to the Waffenträger auf Pz. IV, depending on how exactly it is balanced.
Here, I had to make up a tank. I'd envision this as being very similar to the tier 9, but as a Chi-Ha equipping a 14cm/50 3rd Year Type, the same 14cm gun used by the Type 4 and 5 Heavies.
I would substantially buff the gun from what the heavy tanks get. I like 600 alpha, but would replace the silver AP with the gold AP, add a new gold round with at least 320mm penetration, and make substantial improvements to accuracy, gun handling, and DPM. This would compare to the Grille 15, but in exchange for worse alpha, top speed, and fully-aimed accuracy, it would get much better camo, gun handling, and DPM.
Eun Ae Sun's Information
Thankfully, with her help, we have an actual historical option for tier 10.
Tier 10: 105mm GSR
The Type 60 vehicles were starting to show their age, so in 1978, Japan undertook a project to build an Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), resulting in two prototypes. One of these, the B78, was further developed and equipped with a 105mm low-recoil cannon. It performed well in trials, but was ultimately rejected in favor of the competing prototype, the Model 89.
I don't have any specific information on this tank, but it could be made to work at tier 10, if you were willing to mess with its gun options a bit.
No tech tree is complete without some premium tanks! There are a couple of options here:
Tier 4 or 5: Ho-Ni III
An upgraded version of the Ho-Ni I, this Chi-Ha-based vehicle equipped an improved 75mm gun and improved the crew protection by making the casemate fully enclosed. Although 57 vehicles were ordered, production issues meant only 31 to 41 vehicles were completed. Some vehicles saw combat, while most were stationed in the Japanese home islands.
I'd be remiss to include the other Ho-Ni versions but not this one, seeing as they are the few vehicles in this list that were serially produced. This is the same gun used by the Chi-Nu, which would be suitable for tier 5. Despite its somewhat large size, it is not well-armored, nor is it particularly fast. Depending on how exactly it is balanced, it could fit comfortably at either tier 4 or tier 5.
Tier 8: Ho-Ri Prototype
No particular picture
Credit goes to Stewy for this one. There is enough information on the Ho-Ri development that an early version could be made into a standalone premium tank at tier 8. Potentially, this could be the Ho-Ri II, if that wasn't used as the tier 9. It would play like a slightly worse version of the Ho-Ri, but would make a lot of credits, just like what premiums are supposed to be.
There are an impressive number of prototypes developed by the Japanese during WWII, and I'm sure over the next few years there will be even better proposals as more information is made public. This is just the best I can do with the information I have.
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