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8th Tank Regiment
Peter Flahavin 1996
Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) as Type 97 Te Ke Tankette manufacture number unknown. This tankette was a later model armed with a 37mm main gun.
Assigned to the 8th Tank Regiment at Rapopo near Rabaul. This tank survived until the end of the Pacific War.
On September 8, 1945 Japanese forces on New Britain officially surrendered. Afterwards, all the operational tanks and vehicles were assembled at Rapopo Airfield. On September 19, 1945 the Australian Army 2/4 Armoured Regiment inspected forty tanks and vehicles were parked in lines including Type 97 Chi Ha medium tanks, Type 95 Ha Go light tanks and amphibious tanks and other vehicles.
On September 28, 1945 one of forty Japanese tanks surrendered at Rapopo Airfield to the Australian Army 2/4 Armoured Regiment. Afterwards, the tanks were driven to Rabaul by Japanese drivers with Australian commanders. Most of the tanks were destroyed or abandoned. This tank was shipped to Australia as war prize with Type 97 Chi-Ha Shinhoto. The other surrendered tanks were abandoned or destroyed.
In Australia, this tankette was used on war bond drives. This tank is displayed at the Royal Australian Armoured Corps Museum (RAACM). Painted in a two color scheme including dark green and tan. The turret has a yellow lightning bolt motif on each side. The front of the hull has two Japanese flags and the left side of the hull has three kanji and the side of the turret has a motif.
Stan Gajda adds:
"This tank has no fenders and the engine is incomplete and has not been restored inside. One track was installed back to front. But it is a nice corrosion-free example and could be made into a showpiece."
Thanks to Stan Gajda and Peter Flahavin for additional information
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