Operation Ichi-Go

Date : April to Dec., 1944
Place : Henan - Hunan - Guangxi, China
Opponent : Chinese Army

Tank Unit



3rd Tank Division

Lieut. General Yamaji

255 Tanks (Type 97 Medium Tanks, Type 97-Improved Medium Tanks, Type 95 Light Tanks)

The OOB of 3rd Tank Division in Operation Ichi-Go

3rd Tank Divison

  1. Only tank units are stated. Other units are omitted.
  2. Each Tank Company had 12 tanks + 2 tanks in HQ.
  3. One Tank Regiment had 73 tanks.
  4. Gun Tank Company was equipped with Type 97 Medium Tanks. Real Gun Tank was not deployed.

In the spring of 1944, Japan took the greatest offensive in China during the Japanese-Chinese War. This offensive was called as the Operation "Ichi-Go" or "Tairiku Dastu Sakusen"(Operaton to break through the Continent), which means that this operation aimed to secure the route across the China continent and connect Manchuria to East-South Asia by railway.

This operation was consisted of two phases; The first phase to secure the railway between Peking and Wuhan and the second phase to exterminate US air forces stationed in Hunan and to reach at Liuzhou. 17 divisons, ie. 400,000 men, 12,000 cars and 70,000 horses paticipated in this operation.

In Henan, 390,000 Chinese troops led by General Tang Enbo were deployed and its strategic position was Luoyang. The 3rd Tank Division crossed Huang River around Zhengzhou in the late of April and defeated Chinese forces near Xuchang. Then the 3rd Tank Division swang around clockwise and dashed to Luoyang. Luoyang was defensed by three Chinese divisions. The 3rd Tank Division began to attack Luoyang on May 13 and took it on May 25.

In the sequence of these fights, the 3rd Tank Division had shown its full mobility and won a quick victory. Chinese forces withdrew and Henan was secured by Japanese.

The second phase of Ichi-Go began in May, following the success of the first phase. Japanese forces went down south and occupied Changsha, Hengyang, Guilin and Liuzhou. In Dec. 1944, Japanese forces reached at French Indochina and achieved the purpose of the operation.

Though the purpose was achieved, Japan could not profit from this success. US air forces moved to the inland of the China Continent and often interrupted the railway between Peking and Liuzhou by air raid. Japan continued the attack to the airfields where US air forces stationed up to the spring of 1945.

Map of Ichi-Go

3rd Tank Division advancing to Luoyang

Operation Imphal

Date : March to July, 1944
Place : Imphal, Burma
Opponent : British Army

Tank Unit



14th Tank Regiment

Lieut. Colonel Ueda

66 Tanks (Type 95 Light Tanks, Type 97-Improved Medium Tanks, M3 Light Tanks, Type 97 Tankettes, Type 1 75mm SPH)

In March, 1944, the Japanese took the offensive in the Burma theater. The purpose of this offensive was to occupy Imphal where the British dump existed and to prevent the expected Britsh offensive to Burma. However, this Japanese offensive was quite reckless because they lacked the supply. At the beginning, Japanese forces advanced quickly and besieged Imphal. But soon this operation became the awful disaster for Japanese. British forces in Imphal were supplied by air transport and kept the Imphal steadily. By the other hand, Japanese forces had no supply and suffered from starvation.

On June 22, the siege of Imphal was raised and the Japanese forces were routed. During the retreat from Imphal, thousands of Japanese soldiers died of a hunger and of an illness. It was the awful tragedy for Japanese Army.

The 14th Tank Regiment fought with the Biritsh in the south of Imphal. In this battle, Japanese tanks first encountered M3 Medium Tanks. In the early fight, a Japanese captured M3 Light Tank destroyed one M3 Medium Tank. That tank shot at the rear of M3 Medium Tank at close range.

The regiment lost almost all tanks during the fights and the retreat. After the battle of Imphal, the regiment was rebuilt near Mandalay and its strenght was about one third of the previous strenght. The regiment fought with the British around Meiktila and was annihirated in April, 1945.

The 14th Tank Regiment's Shinhoto Chi-Ha captured near Imphal


Date : Oct. to Dec., 1944
Place : Leyte, The Philippines
Opponent : US Army

Tank Unit



7th Independent Tank Company

Captain Kawano

11 Type 89 Medium Tanks

1st Independent Tank Company

Captain Uchida

10 Type 95 Light Tanks

2nd Independent Tank Company

Captain Kurobe

10 Type 95 Light Tanks


Lt. Commander Itoh

10 Type 2 Amphibious Tanks

Notes :
The 1st Independent Tank Company was converted from the 1st Company/10th Tank Regiment and the 2nd Independent Tank Company was converted from the 1st Company/6th Tank Regiment.

When the American forces landed on Leyte, the 7th Independent Tank Company was only one tank unit on Leyte. This Tank Company was deployed near the Burauen airfield. On D-Day, the tanks of the company advanced towards the beach and fought with the Americans around Dulag. Six tanks were destroyed and the remains withdrew. It is unknown how did the remaining tanks do after that.

Japan sent the large reinforcements to Leyte in order to fight a decisive battle. The 1st & 2nd Independent Tank Company extracted from 2nd Tank Division were attached to the 1st Division, which was the main force of reinforcements to Leyte. The tanks of both companies were used as the tractor to carry 1st Division's artillery from Ormoc to the Limon Pass. Then, the tanks carried the ammunitions and fought to support infantry who defended the Limon Pass. The tanks were lost gradually with fights or accidents and the last three tanks were destroyed by the Japanese when they retreated from Liomon Pass at the end of Dec.

The Itoh SNLF unit equipped with 10 Type 2 Amphibious Tanks was send to Leyte in order to make a counterattack against the Americans who had landed near Ormoc. However, when they left transport ships and were going to the Ormoc breach, Ormoc had been already occupied by the Americans. The transport ships were shot from the Americans in Ormoc. 10 Type 2 Amphibious Tanks were launched from ships and eight reached the beach. However, they were destroyed or captured by the Americans on the beach.


Date : Jan. to April, 1945
Place : Luzon, The Philippines
Opponent : US Army

Tank Unit



2nd Tank Division

Lieut. General Iwanaka

Approx. 200 Tanks (Type 97 Medium Tanks, Type 97-Improved Medium Tanks, Type 89 Medium Tanks, Type 95 Light Tanks, 4 Type 1 75mm SPHs, 20 Armored Engineer Vehicles)

8th Independent Tank Company

1st Lt. Matsumoto

11 Type 89 Medium Tanks

9th Independent Tank Company

1st Lt. Nakajima

11 Type 89 Medium Tanks

Iwashita Tank Company

Captain Iwashita

8 Type 97-Improved Medium Tanks

Sumi Independent SP Gun Company

Captain Sumi

2 Type 4 150mm SPHs

The OOB of 2nd Tank Division in the Philippines

2nd Tank Divison

  1. The 1st Company/10th Tank Regiment and the 1st Company/6th Tank Regiment were sent to Leyte.
  2. Only tank units are stated. Other units are omitted.
  3. Gun Tank Company was equipped with Type 97 Medium Tanks. Real Gun Tank was not deployed.

As the lots of units had been sent to Leyte, the 14th Army in Luzon became weak. When confronted with the American invasion to Luzon, General Yamashita, the 14th Army commander, gave up a decisive battle and decided a protracted struggle. Three years ago, he had attacked the British in Malaya and became a glorious victor. Now, he was a defender of Luzon and had to fight a hopeless battle against the gigantic forces of USA. General Yamashita intended to withdraw his forces into the mountain strongholds. He planned to use the 1st Tank Division to delay the Americans so that other forces could withdraw. He himself moved his HQ to Baguio.

The 2nd tank division under the 14th Army also became weak by that time. From the beginning, it lacked one regiment and lost many tanks by submarine attack during transport. For the battle of Leyte, two companies were extracted from the division to send to Leyte as the reinforcements. Therefore, they had to use even old Type 89 Medium Tanks which had been retained on Luzon after the battle of the Philippines in 1942.

Luzon.gifThe American forces landed along the Gulf of Lingayen on Jan. 9th. They overwhelmed the Japanese defenders and were breaking through the Japanese line. General Yamashita decided a counter-attack and ordered the 7th Tank Regiment to attack the American beachhead in Lingayen. The regiment dispatched a vanguard consisted of one tank company and one motorized infantry battalion. In the night of 16th, the vanguard advanced towards the beachhead, but they were ambushed by AT guns and suffered heavy losses.

The next morning, American M4 Sherman tanks advanced and engaged with the tanks of the 7th Tank Regiment stationed in Urdaneta. The 47mm gun of Japanese medium tank was able to destroy Sherman only when shooting the side or rear of Sherman at close range. One platoon of 3rd Company ambushed Sherman tanks on the road to Urdaneta and destroyed two Shermans by flank fires. But, the platoon was destroyed by the attack of enemy tanks. Other tanks of 3rd Company swung around towards the flank of the troop of Sherman tanks and attacked them. However, a company commander tank was destroyed by the fire of Sherman tanks and they retreated.

When the 7th Tank Regiment withdrew to San Manuel, 34 tanks remained and they dug in along the fan-shaped line. The Americans bombarded them in 5 days. In the morning of Jan. 26th, 15 to 16 Sherman tanks approached the Japanese defensive line. They came carefully not to show the side for the enemy and fired Japanese tanks from a safe distance. Japanese tanks were destroyed one by one. In the night of 27th, there remained only 7 tanks in the regiment. The regiment carried out a Banzai attack and brigade commander Shigemi and regimental commander Maeda were killed in action.

The 10th Tank Regiment had sent the 5th Company to Baguio and the 1st Company to Leyte. The 3th Company deployed in Lupao and the remaining regiment deployed in San Ishidro. On Jan. 31st, the regiment was attacked by shipplanes and suffered a heavy loss. The regiment received an order of withdrawal from the division. They advanced forwards San Jose, but they were checked by the American forces. The regimental commander decided to abandon the tanks and the crews withdrew on foot.

The 3th Company in Lupao was surrounded by the Americans and had been attacked by Sharman tanks in several times. On Feb. 7th, the company escaped the siege and withdrew into the eastern moutains of Lupao. During the retreat, they lost all their tanks.

On D-Day, the 6th Tank Regiment was stationed in the southern part of Luzon. They moved north and reached at Gonzalez on Jan. 18th. There, they were order to deploy in Munoz in order to check the emeny forces. The regiment moved to Munoz and built a defensive position.

The bombardment into Munoz began on Jan. 26th. On Jan. 27th, GI's attacked Munoz, but the regiment's tanks repulsed them. The Americans stopped attacking and had been bombarding heavily in some days. The regiment's tanks were destroyed one by one with bombardments. From Jan. 30th, GI's and Sherman tanks restarted the attack to Munoz. The regiment was surrounded by the American forces and its tanks decreased to approximate twenty.

On Feb. 6th, the regiment was ordered to withdraw. In this night, the regiment intended to break through the siege, but the Americans found out the cars and tanks escaping from the seige and fired them furiousely. When the regiment reached at the mountain near San Jose, the regiment's strenghts decreased to one fifth.

The Iwashita Independent Tank Company and Sumi Independent SP Gun Company fought at Clark Field togather with the main body of the 2nd Mobile Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Tank Division. After the fierce battle at the airfield, they lost their all tanks and retreated to the west mountains.

In April, 1945, the American forces had been approaching to the 14th Army HQ in Baguio. The only tank force that General Yamashita had was the 5th Company of 10th Tank Regiment. The company had 3 Medium tanks and 2 Light Tanks. As the Japanese tank could not cope with the American tank, General Yamashita ordered the company to carry out a suicide-attack by tanks.

One Type 97 Medium Tank and one Type 95 Light tank were attached with two explosives in front of the hull. They hid into a bamboo bush near the road between Baguio and Sablan on which the Amercian tanks would advance. When a column of Sherman tanks turned the corner about 100m far from them, they dashed forwards the column. The leading tank of the column was surprised at them and tried to go back, but it failed to turn and fell into a valley along the road.

Japanese tanks clashed with enemy tanks and four tanks(two Shermans and two Japanese tanks) burned up. The Japanese crews who survived jumped off a tank and run into the enemy position, brandishing a Japanese sword. After this incident, the Americans would not advance for a week.

Iwo Jima

Date : Feb. to March, 1945
Place : Iwo Jima, Bonin Islands
Opponent : US Marine

Tank Unit



26th Tank Regiment

Lieut. Colonel Nishi

11 Type 97 Medium Tanks*
12 Type 95 Light Tanks

*Some were Type 97-Improved Medium Tanks

The 26th Tank Regiment was converted from the recon regiment of the 1st Tank Division. The regimental commander Nishi came from the cavalry. He was a famous horseman and was the champion of the equestrian event of the Los Angels Olympic in 1932. He inspected Iwo Jima and understood there was no room for the movement of the tank in this small rocky island. He ordered to dig in the tanks and intended to use them as pillbox.

At first, the units of the regiment were deployed at three positions. The 2nd company with one artillery platoon was deployed in the western district and the 1st company with one artillery platoon was deployed in the southern district. The 3rd Company and HQ were deployed in the eastern district in the rear of the front line.

On Feb. 20th, the next D-Day, the 1st Company was engaged with a Marine regiment supported by a tank company. They continued to fight until March 1st, and was annihilated on the Hill 382. On Feb. 25th, the 3rd Company was sent to the Second Airfield in order to defense the airfield from the Marines. The fights around the Second Airfield was a fierce battle. They fought desperately, but the airfield was occupied by the Marines on Feb. 27th.

In the morning of 28th, the tanks of the 2nd Company which had been hidden in the caves suddenly appeared and attacked the 21st Marine Regiment. The Marines were surprised at the Japanese tanks, but destroyed them by the bazookas.

The survivors of the regiment gathered in Maruman village in the eastern district. They lost almost all the tanks and fought as infantry until about March 20th. The last time of Lieut. Colonel Nishi is not known.


Date : May, 1945
Place : Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands
Opponent : US Army/Marine

Tank Unit



27th Tank Regiment

Lieut. Colonel Murakami

14 Type 97 Medium Tanks
12 Type 95 Light Tanks

From the American forces landed on Okinawa, General Ushijima, the general commander of Okinawa defense forces was doing only a defense and refusing the repeated requests for offensive. However, in the end of April, he agreed with the plan of offensive, pursuaded from his staff. Though he knew that the offensive was useless, he could not lose the battle without taking the offensive.

The 27th Tank Regiment paticipated in the offensive of May 4th. They attacked the Hill 120 and Kochi, but they were repulsed by the enemy fires and suffered a heavy loss. They stopped attacking and withdrew to Shuri. On May 5th, they attacked towards Maeda, but this attack also did not succeed. In this night, the offensive was cancelled due to the heavy loss.

The regiment was deployed at Shuri and made tanks digged in and deployed Type 90 75mm Field guns in the defensive position. Type 90 Field guns were effective against enemy tanks and the regiment maintained the defensive position until Shuri was abandonned in the end of May. The regiment withdrew into the south end of Okinawa and its regulated activity was ended.


Date : Aug, 1945
Place : Shimushu, Kuril Islands
Opponent : Soviet Army/Marine

Tank Unit



11th Tank Regiment

Colonel Ikeda

20 Type 97-Improved Medium Tanks
19 Type 97 Medium Tanks
25 Type 95 Light Tanks

Shimushu Island is the most north island of the Kuril and the border line of Japan and the Soviet Union was drawn between Shimushu Island and Kamchatska Penninsula. About 8,000 Japanese soldiers and one tank regiment were deployed on Shimushu to defend a Japanese territory against the Soviet.

When Japan surrendered on Aug. 15th, Japanese forces were ordered to stop the attack against the Allied. However, the Japanese government still reserved the right of self-protection. On Aug. 18th, the Soviet forces suddently invaded Shimushu Island without notice. The strenghts of the Soviet forces were 8,360 soldiers and the Soviet Navy and Soviet Air Forces supported the attack. This Soviet invasion was caused by the territorial ambitions of Stalin. He desired to occupy the Kuril Islands before the American forces would been stationed there.

When the Soviet attacked Shimushu, Japanese forces on the island were prepared for disarmament. They were ambarrassed with the Soviet invasion, but dicided to fight with the Soviet for self-protection. They fought strongly with the Soviet soldiers landed on the beach of Shimushu and did much damage to the Soviet, who had not expected the strong resistance of the Japanese defenders.

The 11th Tank Regiment also attacked the Soviet forces. About 40 Japanese tanks run over the Soviet soldiers and rushed into the beach. The Soviet soldiers fired to the tanks with AT guns, which were unloaded on the beach in a hurry. As a fog gathered over the beach, it was difficult for the tanks to find out AT guns. A close combat had been fought for over two hours and both sides suffered a heavy loss. When the combat ended, there were twenty one destroyed tanks and over one hundred dead Soviet soldiers on the beach.

On Aug. 20th, Japan and the Soviet concluded a cease-fire agreement. The battle on Shimushu Island was the last battle for Imperial Japanese tanks.

- The End -