Date: January 2006
This series of images was taken at the Australian War Memorial Treloar Technology Centre, Canberra ACT by Ron Puttee.
The Memorial documents Australian military history since colonial times.
This particular vehicle (number 88) was manufactured in 1934 and captured by Australian troops on Balikpapan in 1945. The “S125” marking on the rear hatch was applied after capture. The image of this vehicle on the Memorial website indicates that it has been repainted and refurbished since these images were taken.
The vehicle is of the later, improved type, in which the original rear idler was replaced with a larger diameter version which trailed on the ground. Interestingly, the idler on the earlier version had teeth as well as the front drive sproket. The design concept of this vehicle was for a tractor vehicle as small as possible for a two man crew, with the ability to defend itself and to be proof against small calibre armour piercing weapons, and to penetrate enemy held areas. It was designed to pull a trailer of 3/4 ton capacity. Its performance was such that it was in essence a “midget” tank, and was used successfully as such by the infantry units to which it was assigned, providing an “organic” light armour component.
The modification to the rear idler incorporated a coil spring enclosed in an armoured cylinder, thus supporting the weight of the rear of the vehicle as well as preventing pitching to which the early models were prone at high speeds. This arrangement provided sufficient stability to enable firing on the move, decreased average ground pressure and enabled the mounting of a 37mm gun in the turret, the improved suspension being able to absorb the increased recoil without necessitating structural changes.
More information about this particular vehicle can be found on the Australian War Memorial site under the Collections Database:
Australian War Memorial
- AFV Weapons Profile 54: Japanese Combat Cars, Light Tanks and Tankettes, LTGEN Tomio Hara, IJA (Retd), Profile Publications.
- Tank Power 9: Japanese Armour Vol 1, Andrzej M. Tomczyk, AJ Press, 2002. ISBN 83-7237-097-4.