Technical Manual, U.S. War Department, October 1, 1944
[DISCLAIMER: The following text and illustrations are taken from a WWII U.S. War Department Technical Manual. As with all wartime manuals, the text may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the contents of the original technical manual. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]
Chapter X: Equipment
Section VII: Automotive and Land Transport Equipment
1. GENERAL. a. Although the automotive manufacturing industry was comparatively new in Japan, considerable progress had been made by the end of 1941. Both Ford and General Motors had maintained large assembly plants in Japan proper for many years, and very large numbers of the trucks produced by these plants naturally are used now by the Japanese Army. In addition, very large numbers of European and American motor vehicles were captured by the Japanese in their advance southward.
b. All motor vehicles manufactured in Japan are right-hand drive. They have comparatively high ground clearance and small turning radii. The Diesel is the preferred power unit for heavy vehicles, and many are so fitted. Power-weight ratios generally are not good, and tires often are overloaded. Power take-off systems of various kinds often are found. Hydraulic foot brakes were not installed until recent years; many vehicles still are equipped with mechanical brakes. Because of local regulations, the emergency, or handbrake, is always entirely separate from the main braking system and is mechanically actuated.
c. Because of gasoline shortages, charcoal and wood gas producers began to be installed in 1937. By 1942, all non-military vehicles had been converted to their use, and it seems probable that many military vehicles now operating in Japan proper are using self-generating fuel systems.
2. PASSENGER CARS. a. Japanese model 95 (1935) 4x4 scout car. This lightweight, unarmed, reconnaissance vehicle (fig. 394) was developed after the Manchurian Incident, when the need for an all-purpose scout car became pressing. Its air-cooled engine offers many advantages for operations in Manchuria and North China, where very low temperatures often are experienced. Initial difficulties with the four-wheel drive, particularly with the front universal joints, are believed to have been overcome. Special tires, with heavy rubber lugs, are provided for exceptionally difficult terrain.
b. Standard Nissan 5 passenger sedan. First produced in 1937, the Nissan (fig. 395) has had several modifications, but no major improvements. The design, and the tools to make it, were purchased from the Graham-Paige Co., which designed and tooled up for this model in 1935, but never went into production. The design is not remarkable in any way; from modern standards the power-weight ratio is poor.
c. Model 93 (1933) Staff car. This 6-wheeled staff car (fig. 396) was developed over a period of years. Originally, Hudson and Studebaker chassis were used, but a Japanese chassis ultimately was developed. Available specifications indicate a poor power-weight ratio, and a performance not comparable with that of any U.S. command car. However, this vehicle has not yet been reported from the field, and improved models may exist.
3. TRUCKS. a. Model 94 (1934) 6 x 4 truck. The development of this chassis (fig. 397), in which the rear 4 wheels drive and the 2 front wheels only steer, has been progressing for more than 15 years. In recent years an attempt has been made to distribute this vehicle to commercial users, and prior to 1941 a substantial subsidy was paid to private purchasers. Initial difficulties with the final drive now have been overcome, and the vehicle is reliable, although the power-weight ratio is not good. Ground clearance is unusually high, and one or more auxiliary transmissions can be fitted. More powerful Diesel engines than those mentioned in the specifications now may be in use. The chassis of the Model 94 is the basic one for the Japanese Army's armored car.
b. Model 97 (1937) Nissan 4 x 2 cab-over-engine truck. The original model, produced in 1937, was a combination of Graham-Paige and Japanese designs. The cab-over-engine design was adopted because of the narrowness of Japanese roads. The whole front axle assembly proved to be too light, however, and great difficulty was encountered in maintaining the alignment of the front wheels to prevent excessive tire wear. An improved model of more conventional design was finally developed, but a very large number of the original models still are being used by the Japanese Army. The power-weight ratio of the Model 97 is not good.
c. Model 1 (1941) 4 x 2 Toyoda truck. After disastrous experiments with a truck of their own design, the Toyoda Company finally produced this model (fig. 398), almost an exact copy of the 1939 Chevrolet.
Some manufacturing difficulties have been encountered, and the present power-weight ratio is not considered satisfactory.
4. TRAILERS. a. Model 94 (1934) 3/4 ton tracked trailer. This trailer (fig. 399) has been designed especially for towing behind the various model tankettes. In China, it has been used extensively for transportation of supplies and ammunition. The body of the trailer appears to be of pressed steel construction, and the suspension consists of 2 bogie wheels with front and rear idlers. Track is similar to that used on the tankette.
b. 2-wheel trailer. This 2-wheel trailer (fig. 400) is designed especially for high-speed transport. It is of metal construction and is equipped with pneumatic-type tires.
5. MOTORCYCLES. a. Model 97 (1937) motorcycle. Japanese military motorcycles (fig. 401) are adaptations of Harley-Davidson designs. Several models, between 1,000-cc and 1,500-cc displacement, have been produced, but it is believed that model 97 is generally in use. Extra large wheels can be fitted to obtain maximum ground clearance. The design of all types includes provision for a sidecar, which can be fitted with a light machine gun for which at least two different mounts are available. Only minor changes have been made in the original Harley-Davidson designs, and performance is generally satisfactory.
b. Motor tricycles (Sanrinsha). The motor tricycle (fig. 402) has been developed as a commercial freight carrier in Japan since 1930. Many commercial versions exist, with engines ranging from 350 cc to 1,000 cc in displacement. Lighter types have single-chain drive without differentials, whereas heavier types may have shaft or double chain drive, with differentials. Load capacities vary from 300 to 1,000 pounds. A standard three-speed transmission, and reverse, is used. It is believed that the Army adopted whatever types were available, and that no standard army model exists. Lighter motor tricycles may have 2-cycle engines, and some 2-cylinder types have been encountered. The usual design, however, is chain driven, with a slow-speed, single-cylinder, 4-cycle engine of about 750-cc displacement.
6. BICYCLES. Japan is one of the world's largest producers of bicycles; in 1940 there were 1,000,000 in Tokyo alone. There is a standard army type, designed along English lines, with front and rear wheel brakes and large wheels. It has been used extensively in the present war.
7. TRANSPORT CARTS. The Japanese Army employs a variety of hand- and horse-drawn carts. Several of these are shown in figures 403, 404, 405.
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