The Type 2 Ka-Mi is a relatively well-known Japanese amphibious tank, but its much larger and lesser-known sister, the Type 3 Ka-Chi, was a much more imposing machine that would have been a fearsome sight emerging from the sea for the unprepared had the nineteen units manufactured and tested ever left the Japanese home islands. Though it had a very tall profile, with a crew of 5-7 and a 47mm tank gun, it had the potential of being the most capable armored landing craft of the Pacific war.
The Ka-Chi was a much better armored vehicle than the Ka-Mi and significantly larger than any other Japanese tank at over 10 meters long with its pontoons. It also had an optional commanders cupola which can be seen attached in the photo below. In water it was driven by screw type propellers and looked tall enough (especially with the cupola attached) to be less worrisome to ride in choppy waves than smaller amtanks that seem only capable of sneaking across placid waters, especially the early ones like the SR-II Ro-Go
One of the photographs that has made the rounds on the internet (below) shows the gigangtic scale of the vehicle with crew standing atop it, however, and gives some hint of how it might have filled a unique operational niche. The Ka-Chi, like several late-war projects, however, came too late and never saw battle.
It could be argued that Japanese amphibious tanks (mostly the Ka-Mi) were poorly utilized during the war in the Pacific. An amtank is, after all, an armed and armored landing craft, should have been used offensively where possible. The desperate defensive posture of the Japanese forces late in the war may have contributed to the misuse of the amtanks overall. Their main strength would have been surprise landings of armor on strategically important islands in the Pacific, however they are not documented as having been used overly much in that capacity (though they were shown deployed in places already taken such as Saipan). Strangely they were often found immobile, in hull-down defensive positions. Perhaps the Ka-Mi amtanks were distributed among the SNLF too late to be used offensively. Where they were used they faced stiff anti-tank resistance from Americans and were easily dispatched.
It is worth noting that the pontoons of the Ka-Mi were often left intact to provide additional armor since the standard armor thickness of the vehicles was not enough to stop the anti-tank weapons of the allies. Taking the pontoons off would have made the Ka-Mi and Ka-Chi amtanks more manueverable and lighter, but it was a time intensive activity to remove them and was not something that could be done in the heat of battle.
A 3+ meter tall Ka-Chi seen without its pontoons in testing could have been mistaken for a “super tank”.
In Games: The Ka-Chi should be utilized as a vehicle that can attack both patrol boat sized sea-faring vehicles as well as provide an armed and armored landing vehicle for a small number or SNLF soldiers. It can provide Japan with a unique strength on water-based maps that will give it an edge that other nations might not have — even those traditionally known for their strong tanks, like Germany. The Ka-Chi’s tall profile would make it an easy target in simple tank versus tank type multiplayer games on mostly land maps, so the “surprise” factor of the amphibious vehicle should be emphasized. Armor and armament are significantly better than the Ka-Mi, however, and the large size means a big health point pool.
Armor: 10-50 mm
Main armament: 1x 47 mm Type 1 gun
Secondary armament: 2× 7.7 mm Type 97 machine gun (one coaxially mounted on the turret, and one in the forward hull).
Engine: Mitsubishi Type 100 air cooled V-12 diesel