Type 61 Main Battle Tank

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Type 61
A Japanese Type 61 main battle at the JGSDF Ordnance School as a part of an armour exhibit in Tsuchiura Ibaraki-prefecture Japan.jpg
A Japanese Type 61 main battle tank (MBT) at the JGSDF Ordnance School as a part of an armour exhibit in Tsuchiura Ibaraki prefecture Japan.
Type Main battle tank
Place of origin  Japan
Service history
In service 1961 – 2000
Production history
Designer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Designed 1955 – 1960
Manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Produced 1961 – 1975
Number built 560
Variants See Variants
Specifications
Weight 35 tonnes
Length 8.19 / 6.03 m
Width 2.95 m
Height 2.49 m
Crew 4

Armor 55 mm(hull) - 114 mm(turret)
Main
armament
90 mm L/52 rifled cannon,
Muzzle velocity: 910m/s (M318AP-T)
Secondary
armament
7.62mm Browning M1919A4 machine gun
12.7mm M2 Browning machine gun
Engine Mitsubishi 12HM21WT 4 stroke V type 12 cylinder vertical air cooled diesel
570 hp / 2100 rpm, 29600 cc
Power/weight 17.14hp/t
Suspension torsion bar
Operational
range
200 km
Speed 45 km/h (paved roads)

The Japanese Type 61 (61式戦車) was a main battle tank (MBT) developed for and used by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF). The Type 61 was built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Development of the Type 61 began in 1955; the vehicle was first deployed in April of 1961. The type number corresponds to the year of deployment. A total of 560 Type 61 MBTs would be manufactured between 1961 to 1975.

Prior to the Type 61 MBT, Japan was using US M4 tanks; however the M4 was becoming obsolete. The decision then was to use either another US tank such as the M47 or M48 or develop a native project. Japan settled on a native project and the STA-1 was amoung several designs that lead to the future Type 61 MBT.

One aspect of the descion for a domestic design was the fact that at the time transporting a tank was typical done by rail; with requirements on the width of the vehicle being less than 3 m and the weight no more than 35 t. The M47 as an example was 3.52 m in width and an unsuitable candidate.

The Type 61 MBT was the first domestic tank design in Japan since the end of the Second World War seeing it's development during the mid 1950s. The main gun chosen for the design was a 90 mm. Nihon Seikou was contracted to develop this gun; with a goal that it exceed in muzzle velocity and weight it's US contemporary. Mitsubishi was contracted for the power unit, the hull, and other general development.

There were four prototypes for the Type 61 MBT:

  1. STA-1 Main Battle Tank - the first of the prototypes to be built. This variant is notable because unlike the others which had 6 road wheels, this had 7.
  2. STA-2 Main Battle Tank - developed alongside the STA-1, the STA-2 was preferred as it was more mobile.
  3. STA-3 Main Battle Tank - this variant is notable for having an autoloader for the main gun and a remote controlled AA machine gun.
  4. STA-4 Main Battle Tank

Works Cited:

1. "The history of Type61." JGSDF Maniacs. N.p.. Web. 21 Oct 2013. <http://tankguy.gooside.com/type61history/Type61History.html>.

2. "Type 61." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 12 Oct 2013. Web. 22 Oct 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_61>.