If there’s a place that could come up with otherworldly, out-of-the-box, never-done-before ideas, it would be no other than Japan. It was also showcased during World War II with the impressive naval capabilities it needed in order to efficiently fight off the scattered islands of the Pacific Theater of war. Although their tanks were not superior compared to those of the Allied forces, their innovativeness made it possible to bridge their tanks and naval capabilities through their amphibious tanks, which were no doubt impressive and the best of their kind.

Japan’s Amphibious Tanks

What could be better than an armored vehicle that could easily roll to the shore during an invasion in an island-y place? Virtually nothing! That’s why Japan started to work on the idea in the late 1920s and continued until World War II broke out. They started by creating a few experimental vehicles beginning from those that were 4 to 8 tons, like the SR I-Go, SR II Ro-Go, and SR III Ha-Go, and the Sumida Amphibious Armored Car prototypes.

When World War II broke out, Japan wanted to bring amphibious tanks with them on their upcoming Pacific campaign as they thought they would greatly help them break defenses in the remote areas. In the 1940s, they assigned the task of developing these vehicles to the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Using their knowledge and experience from the SR series of vehicles for their amphibious tank, they built their first amphibious tank using the chassis of Type 95 Ha-Go light tank. The Type 1 Mi-Sha, as it would be known, led directly into the Type 2 Ka-Mi. Both of them were based on the Type 95 Ha-Go. In 1942, Type 2 entered production with just over 180 of these tanks built until its production ended in 1943.

Type 2 Ka-Mi

As mentioned, the designers of Type 2 Ka-Mi decided to base its development on Type 95 Ha-Go, all while keeping its engine, transmission, suspension, drivetrain, and chassis. However, the hull and the turret were completely redrawn for the task. The tank’s crew and engine compartments were sealed with rubber gaskets and the armor plating was joined by the relatively new technology of welding rather than using rivets.  The inert gases used in welding were pretty expensive at the time, and the US did not adopt welding in the manufacture of military vehicles and ships until about 1938.


Captured Japanese Ka-Mi amphibious tank, tested by Americans in 1945. (Wikimedia Commons)Ka-Mi’s engine transmission was designed to power two shafts that could provide a 6-knot speed on the water, about 6.21 miles per hour, and a 93.2 miles maximal range. As for the steering, it was provided by a pair of rudders operated through cables that ran from the rear up to the driver’s compartment.