Japanese 'Tiger fever'?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Chef, Nov 23, 2011.

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  1. I have just watched a documentary on the siege of Kohima, and aside from the courage displayed by the Allied troops towards the end of the programme it was shown that the Japanese knew the end was near when the REs built a road enabling A(!) tank to get into a fire position and give the Japanese rooty toot.

    The tank in question looked like a Grant, although the sponson 75 moved from the right to the left as the film was flipped.

    My thought was; the Japanese were not afraid of anything (irony) but as the Lee/Grant was well past its sell by date in Europe two years earlier, and the Sherman was no better, they were more than adequate against Japanese armour, so did the Allied tankies feel like they'd bought a late model Panther, and did the Japanese tank crews think,
    'Damn, another invincible Grant/Sherman to be dealt with, why couldn't it be a Stuart? At least we'd have a chance?'

    Granted the far east theatre was not tank friendly, but most accounts seem to focus on the Japanese superiority in snipers, jungle craft, aircraft (Zero) so I just wondered. Were the Japanese the emotionless military paragons or no?
  2. Haven't the foggiest mate.
  3. Schaden

    Schaden LE Book Reviewer

    Good read is Nemesis about the fall of Japan - they certainly weren't the emotionless military paragons they were supposed to be and knew full well the total futility of attacking armour - even quite out of date armour with no a/t weapons other than a shell and a brick to strike it with - quite a few comments in diaries as Japanese officers totally despaired when fighting in Burma against the British or across the Pacific vs the Americans.

    Japanese armour was not much better than tankettes - good against light armed infantry in China and the initial Malaya campaign pretty useless against anything else.

    Having said that they were very very unpleasant little shits and deserved a good shoeing - I'm just amazed any were left alive after reading how they treated their conquered empire.
  4. Don't know about the Zero being so superior. Fine aircraft and was certainly the better in '41 and '42 when up against F4F's and Buffaloes, but the Americans overcame their early inadequacies and once F6F's and Corsairs arrived in numbers the Zeroes were dogmeat.
  5. Japanese Type 1 47mm Anti Tank Gun could easily penetrate a M4 series armor. Its one of the reasons you see late PTO shermans with steel track blocks (usually T49 3 bar cleat or T54E1 steel chevron) welded all over the turrets and front glacis. M26 Pershings were sent to Okinawa to make up losses but arrived to late due to the ship being sent to the wrong destination.
  6. The tanks at Kohima were the Replacement & Delivery Squadrons for 254th Indian Tank Brigade, which was down at the road at Imphal with three Lee regiments and a regiment of Stuarts. The Delivery & Replacement Squadrons were based at Dimapur, so were the only readily-available tank support outside the Imphal pocket that could support the effort to relieve Kohima. They were also joined by the Priest SP guns of 18th Field Regt RA, whose Sherman OP tanks were also sometimes forced, by necessity, to fight as tanks alongside the Lees.

    Yes, even the Lee was far superior to anything the Japanese deployed in Burma and the Shermans was indeed, Tiger-like in its superiority. In addition to 254th Brigade with IV Corps at Imphal, there was also 50th Indian Tank Brigade, which rotated regiments in to support XV Corps in the Arakan (2x Lee Regts, 1x Stuart Regt & 1x Sherman Sqn, later increased to a full Sherman Regt) and 255th Indian Tank Brigade (3x Sherman Regts), which moved to Imphal with XXXIII Corps later in 1944.

    The commander of the Japanese 14th Tank Regiment, which was allocated to support the Imphal offensive, recorded in his diary that he wept when he first saw the size and depth of the track-marks left in the mud by Lees of 254th Brigade. His total tank complement consisted of three companies of thin-skinned Type 97 Shinhoto Chi-Ha Mediums, a company of VERY thin-skinned Type 95 Ha-Go Lights, a company of Ho-Ni 75mm SP guns and five elderly Stuarts that had been captured from 7th Armoured Brigade in 1942. These were supplemented by a single Lee captured at Tiddim in 1944 and the Tankette Company of the 31st Division. Thus, the 14th Tank Regiment was not only outclassed by its opposition, but it was also outnumbered at Imphal by a ratio of roughly three-to-one. This ratio was made even worse by the effects of the terrain and mechanical failures during the march to Imphal; the 75mm SP guns had to be left behind at Fort White as flank-protection and most of what was left was abandoned at the roadside. Less than 20 tanks, plus a handful of tankettes, actually made it to Imphal. Compare this to 1945, when XIVth Army was going the other way - 254th and 255th Indian Tank Brigades arrived on the Central Burmese Plain with virtually their full strength of six regiments, having suffered minimally from mechanical failures in the jungles and mountains.

    The Japanese did have better tanks, but they were kept back for their two Armoured Divisions and the defence of the Home Islands. Some of these better types (improved versions of the Chi-Ha, with 75mm guns and better armour; roughly equivalent to a Sherman) did fight in Okinawa, but to little effect, as they were generally used as pillboxes.
  7. What was the name of the documentary? I wanna have a look and see if i can dig it up, it sounds interesting to watch.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the book about the siege of Kohima and i cant for the life of me remember what its called but for anyone who hasnt read it id highly recommend. It gives accounts from both sides and certainly shows that men were tougher in them days. When i get home ill post the name up, unless anyone else knows the book i mean...
  8. Off the top of my head was it something like 'The Road of Bones'?.....the father in law was there in the Admin Box with the Sigs, top man (RIP) He Joined as a 14 year old Drummer Boy, left a few months before 3/9/1939, called back to the colours, survived Dunkirk then sent to Burma, no home leave for 6 years!...did the full 22 then worked as a Cypher Clerk with various MI Depts until retirement - had a BFO Warrant signed by QE11 stating something like 50 years service!
  9. Thats the badger!! Top read and highly recommended.
  11. If you're after how the Japanese tankers mental ideas there are some accounts in Nomonhan: Japan Vs Russia by Dr Coox. Granted that's quite a bit earlier than Kohima, but the Japanese armour was outclassed during the battle.
  12. Mindset of Jap tankers was odd in many cases if the tanks were held up, the crews thought nothing of dismounting and going forward as infantry in futile attacks. On Saipan 55gal drums lashed to the back decks carried riflemen aboard for the July 7-8th Banzai charge.
  14. "Did the Japanese have "Tiger Fever"? is an interesting question.

    We know that the British and US armour has a touch of "Tiuger fever" But did any country other than the Western Allies have a fear of the enemy's biggest tanks?

    In 1940 the germans faced Matilda II and Char 1 bis and in 1941 they faced T34s and KV1 tansk whose armour could not be penetrated by the 37mm 50mm and short 75m tank guns.

    Lots of soviet tank crews in T34/76 Valentines, M4A2 Shwermans and T60 faced tigers and King tigers and the rest of the bestiary of German AFVs.