Ha-Go on the roll, 76 years ago today
“A tank unit of our victorious army roaring by the Philippine legislature (Japanese caption).”
Image taken from the captured Japanese propaganda booklet, Victory on the March (3月の勝利), published in 1942 at the high water mark of the Empire.
General Douglas MacArthur declared Manila an open city to prevent its destruction on Dec. 24, 1941 and withdrew U.S. forces from the capital. The neoclassical-style Legislative building was constructed in 1921 and was the seat of the Philippine government.
The building, much like Manila itself, was largely destroyed in February 1945 when the Japanese withdrew, with many historians remarking that no other national capital with the exception of Warsaw suffered the same amount of destruction. The building was restored and used by the Philippine Senate until 1997 and is now the home of the National Art Gallery and Museum complex.
The vehicles in the top image, of a column of Type 95 Ha-Go light tanks, likely of the 4th Tank Regiment of the 14th Army, was taken when Japanese forces occupied Manila on 2 January 1942, some 76 years ago today.
The 4th was a crack veteran unit, as it had taken part in the Nomonhan against the Soviets in 1939 and would go on to be used in the Dutch East Indies within weeks of this image (bringing captured M3 Stuarts with them), then remain there in Java as garrison forces until 1945.
As for the Ha-Go, the 16-ton tank was the most numerous Japanese armored fighting vehicle ever made and saw extensive use from China to Siam. With its 37mm gun it 25mph road speed, it was roughly comparable to the M3 Stuart, though with just 12mm of armor it could easily be knocked out with a 37mm anti-tank gun (or the British comparable QF 2-pounder) from as far away as 1,400 yards, or the average bazooka later in the war at ranges much closer.
In short, it had pretty thin armor for a WWII-era tank.