Land Weapons

Mitsubishi

Type 61 MBT

The Type 61 was the Japanese Ground Self-Defence Force's first post-war tank design, one that borrowed extensively from its US contemporaries, namely the M47 which it strongly resembled. The Type 61 featured numerous peculiarities which stemmed from Japan's unique requirements for a main battle tank, and the fact that the country generally lacked a tradition for armored warfare. First and foremost was the fact that the tank was undergunned by European standards, with a locally-produced 90-mm gun, but this was seen as sufficient for national requirements. The Type 61's weight was initially limited to just 25 tonnes but this was eventually revised upward in order to improve its armor protection which reached a maximum of 64 mm in a highly sloped glacis plate. Additionally, the tank was designed to accommodate smaller crew members compared to the US M4s and M24s that had been provided to the JSDF after World War II, while local armament production had been prohibited. Aside from that, the Type 61 featured a conventional layout with a torsion bar suspension, infra-red equipment and a diesel engine. The Type 61 was also small enough to fit inside Japan's many railroad tunnels. After its introduction in the early 1960s it became the standard JSDF tank before being superseded by the more modern Type 74 which was considerably more competitive compared to US and European designs of the 1970s.

Development for a new Japanese tank design began in 1954, and the first prototypes were ready by 1957 of which the ST-A4 was selected for production as the Type 61. Variants include the Type 67 Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge with a scissors-type bridge that unfolds forward, and the Type 70 Armored Recovery Vehicle.

Type 61 MBT (JGSDF)
Type 61

Preceded by:

None

Succeeded by:

Type 74 MBT (1975)

Datafile

DesignType 61
TypeMain Battle Tank
Year1963
Crew4
Dimensions
Length (w/Gun)6.30 m (8.19 m)
Width2.90 m
Height2.49 m
Weight
Loaded35,000 kg
Ground Pressure0.95 kg/cm²
SuspensionTorsion bar
Performance
Speed (Off-Road)45 km/h
Range (Off-Road)200 km
AmphibiousNo
Fording0.99 m
Vertical Obstacle0.69 m
Trench2.49 m
Gradient60%
Powerplant
Engine1 x 600-hp
Mitsubishi
Type 12 HM 21WT
FuelDiesel
Power/Weight17.14 hp/t
Armament
Main1 x 90-mm L/52
Type 61 90 mm
Rifled Gun (50)
↑ 13° / ↓ -10° / ↔ 360°

Secondary1 x 7.62-mm (c)
1 x 12.7-mm
Armor
TypeSteel
Thickness15 - 64 mm
Max Effective46 - 64 mm RHAe
Hull Upper Front46 mm
Hull Upper Sides25 mm
Hull Lower Rear15 mm
Turret Front64 mm
Production
Built560
Total560