Tomio Hara – Japanese tank pioneer


Hello everyone,

this is a translation of the article from wot-news about Tomio Hara. Enjoy!

From the moment of its beginning by the end of the 1920′s, tank development in the land of the rising sun met with considerable difficulties. Apart from the objective reasons, amongst which were the lack of resources and qualified engineering staff, one of the main reasons was the wary and skeptical attitude towards the armored vehicles in the Japanese army. Military commanders of Japan at that point regarded the tanks only as the means to support infantry and not as a separate army branch.


One of the most prominent personalities of Japanese tank development was the young military engineer-designer Tomio Hara, to whom the armor of the land of the rising sun largely owes the independence (originality) of its design and engineering tradition. He basically disagreed with the common military point of view and did put together a group of four ambitious designers, who then started to work on the first project of native Japanese tank. Since they had no engineering-design basis to work on, the development was started from scratch, independently creating both the essential parts and the details of the design.

Nevertheless, in May 1926, the group finished its project of the first Japanese tank and transferred the drawings to the Osaka arsenal (Osaka Rikugun Zoheisho) in order to build the prototype. In February 1927, the assembly was successfuly completed and four months later, the first trial in front of the military command staff took place. Despite all the fears of skeptics, the tank (although with great difficulties) passed all field trials. Although the design itself had many flaws, it was possible to call the program a success. Even to the most notorious “tankophobes”, of which there were plenty amongst the military staff it was proven that local designers can definitely produce viable armored vehicle.


After that, this designer group took part in creating many successful types of Japanese tanks. One of its most significant developments was the unique suspension design, first introduced to the small “Type 94″ tank – it was named after its creator: “Hara suspension”. A bell crank scissors suspension which paired the bogie wheels and connected them to a coil spring mounted horizontally outside the hull. This design offered good stability, reliability and driving smoothness.


As for Tomio Hara himself, he enjoyed a successful military career. As the head of the design department, he participated in the creation of the majority of Japanese tanks and the suspension type, developed by him, was used until the end of the war. Tomio Hara ended his service in 1945 as a Lt.General. After the demobilization, he did not leave the design field and wrote several successful books on Japanese armor.

11 thoughts on “Tomio Hara – Japanese tank pioneer

  1. He also had a hand on the development of JGSDF tanks as executive director of the Japan Association of Defense Industry until his death in 1990. Basically, every single vehicle in the WoT Japanese tree has his handprint on it.

    • Nice, but how can it be so diffucult to find information on these tanks as he wrote about them? as there were several succesful books, they must be available anytime..
      Ofc, Idk the amount of books and how many tanks he wrote about.

      • Because he was involved in development, but by the 1940′s Mitsubishi was driving the development, with most of the blueprints and such being in the hands of Mitsubishi-related individuals.

  2. The first tank in the article is the Type 87, is it not? Even so, it looks much like the T-28…except very, VERY slow…

  3. Japanese tanks are certainly very interesting an unique. Kinda makes me wonder why they introduced the chinese ones first…not that they dont have their unique side, but still…

    • The information on Japanese tanks only really came into existence through the tireless research conducted by SoukouDragon and Daigensui. The Chinese branch of WG already did research of the Chinese line, which was originally going to be Chinese WoT exclusive, however WG RU decided it was good enough for release to everyone.

      • notice that WG does not have a Chinese branch. WoT in China is run by a 3rd party company. Also explains why their homepage is not similar to the usual WoT website, and that they use almost diffrent emblems and country name (china being the only one with its red star and yellow outline emblem).

        • That is because not even stronk wg is allowed to run a business in China. Only a local company is allowed to do that by law – which ss also explained is the reason for the wrong flags…