The Chiyoda Armored Car was the first domestic Japanese armored car which was officially introduced by the IJA and used in large numbers. Around 200 are thought to have been produced. Design started in 1930 at the Chiyoda Motor Car Factory of Tokyo Gasu Denki K. K. (Tokyo Gas and Electric Industries, today Hino Motors Ltd.) based on their Type Q 6-wheeled truck under the development designation “Type QSW”.
The basic armor scheme and turret arrangement was similar to the Type Type 91 Broad Gauge Rail Tractor armored car based on the Sumida Type 90 Naval Armored Car, if with a slightly boxier and with less openings and opportunities for enemy penetration. Even the headlights had protection, which suggests the Sumida armored cars (including the Type 90 Naval Armored Car) and the Vickers-Crossley before it had been subject to having their headlights shot out by small arms. The turret had a cylindrical base with a sloped (in the driving direction) right upper section where a standard MG mount was placed for air defense. Another tank machine gun was mounted in the turret front and a third mounted in the left bow beside the driver. In addition three gun / visor ports were placed along each side of the fighting compartment, though these are not always clearly visible in photos, suggesting some armored cars did not have these. The standard crew consisted of a driver, three gunners and a commander. Armament was three Type11 (Taisho) 6.5 mm MGs, and later three Type91 6.5 mm Tank MGs.
The other differences with the earlier Sumida armored cars are subtle, such as the rounded rear fenders that appear to offer a little more room for wheel/suspension travel.. The armored grille is also seen closed in all photos, suggesting perhaps that the engine may not have been as prone to overheat as the Sumida models. All Chiyoda Armored Car photos also indicate a tri-color camouflage pattern applied to the vehicles. These do not include the separating black contrast lines or stark yellow lines seen on some early Japanese tanks, but rather are a simpler combination of subtle beige. brown and green.
Development was finished in 1931 and the vehicle was officially adopted as the “Chiyoda Armoured Car”. In western literature the vehicle is often designated incorrectly as “Aikoku Armoured Car” which is a misinterpretation of the writings on a vehicle used during the 1932 Shanghai Incident. This writing referes to “Aikoku -Koto” = “Public Party of Patriots”, a nationalistic and militaristic political party which donated money and military material to IJA (as Hokoku did for IJN). The text is often added to with a reference to the origin city or region of the donation.
Around 200 Chiyoda Armoured Cars were produced and used during several early and mid 1930s IJA operations in northern China for infantry support and security duties in captured regions.
Since the Chiyoda Armored Car was used around the same time as the Type92 Heavy Armored Vehicle or “Car” (which was in fact more like a tank with tracks instead of wheels), the two are sometimes confused. Confusion also occurs with the Sumida Armored Cars, also contemporary competing vehicles that shared the same overall body configuration and number/placement of wheels. A closer look easily reveals them as different designs, however.
The Chiyoda Armored Cars were effectively replaced in most of their roles after 1937 by the Type97 Tankette Te-Ke, along with later model Sumida “So-Mo” versatile rail and road-capable armored cars (Type91 Broad Gauge Railroad Tractors and later variants based on the Type90 Naval Sumida Armored Car). Use of the 6-wheel road-going armored cars overall seems to have declined after the spike in production of the Chiyoda armored cars, however, with most use of the Sumida armored cars on rail in China. Perhaps this is due to the Japanese needing to move deeper into rural China where good roads became scarce, and into the Pacific islands, both places where tracked light tanks and tankettes would fare better. For obvious reasons, armored cars were infrequently used or seen on previously uninhabited or road-free Pacific Islands, though they were used in the Philippines on rail.
Vehicles built: approx. 200
Battle weight: 5.6 t
Crew: 5 men
Armor: Up to 6 mm
Length: 5000 mm
Width: 1900 mm
Height: 2600 mm
Engine: 4 cylinder gasoline
Power: 75 hp
Maximum speed: 60 km/h
Power/weight ratio: 13.4 hp/t
Armament: 3 X Type Taisho 11 6.5 mm MG, later 3 X Type 91 6.5 mm Tank MG
In Games: The Chiyoda Armored Car offers entry-level armor for Japanese troops in games with infantry or urban environments. They can also be used to transport a few troops. They are not intended to challenge other armor. They have some limited anti-air capability with gun mounts allowing for firing upward.