Japan is known to have very bad tanks in the eyes of the community, but in reality only a few of their tanks are hilariously bad. I’ll list the seven tanks, for the seven BRs, that I believe are the worse.
Tier I, the Type 95 Ro-Go and the Special Type 2 Launch Ka-Mi
Type 95 Ro-Go
The Ro-Go was Japan’s early attempt at developing a heavy tank and was developed from the Type 91, which was a failed project following the Type 89 medium tanks, and was developed into the O-I project after the prototypes were rejected by the military. Ingame, it sits as Japan’s one of only two heavy tanks, the Asian brother to the German Nb.Fz., and as easily the worst tank in tier I. The reason I say this is that it isn’t really good at anything.
While it’s classed as a heavy tank it’s armour at a maximum is only 35 millimeters thick meaning that it is the thickest that can be found in tier I but still isn’t saying much when everything besides a heavy machine gun or a French tank can penetrate you.
The guns are also in an odd situation. Its main armament is a very low velocity 70 mm howitzer 50 meters a second slow than the slowest round on the 57 mm guns with the 70 mm’s fastest round. You won’t be getting any use out of the 70 mm’s fastest round anyway; while it is APHE it only has a penetration of 21 mm at 298 meters a second which forces you to use the HEAT round to penetrate 76 mm at 200 meters a second. To put simply, it’s impossible to hit anything at range with the main gun. The other gun, a 37 mm Type 94 found on the other tanks in the tier, boasts a much more impressive speed at 575 meters a second but still only penetrates 33 mm of armour making it difficult to get much use out of it. Don’t expect to get any use out of the machine gun either, since it’s in the back turret you won’t be able to use it unless the enemy is behind you and it doesn’t track well enough to even shoot down a Po-2.
To top it all off the mobility as you would expect from such a large tank is terrible. It is only capable of reaching speeds of up to 23 kilometers an hour and with only 11.37 horsepower a ton you shouldn’t expect to reach even that speed anytime soon.
However, there is one redeeming qualities about this tank. The most prominent is that the one crew member in the rear machine gun provides a cheeky way to stay alive. Since he’s separated from the main compartment by the engine block you can effectively be invincible as long as he’s alive and granted you’re either on a point to trigger crew replenishment or you’re in AB. Outside of that it isn’t really good.
Pros and Cons
- The combination of the 70 mm howitzer and the 37 mm anti-tank gun allows you to switch between a decent close-range gun and a long-range gun.
- The crew member in the rear gives the tank excellent survivability granted the ammunition doesn’t cook off or if he is not there.
- It has a large number of crew members giving you more survivability.
- The 35 mm thick armour provides protection against heavy machine guns, small cannon rounds, and even can bounce large rounds given the right amount of angle.
- Both the 70 mm and 37 mm are poor weapons, with the 70 mm in damage potential and speed of the round unless you want to try to use the APHE and the 37 mm in penetration.
- The machine gun is useless on the rear turret.
- The 35 mm thick armour isn’t enough to do anything about most of the guns found in tier I, even if the Ro-Go is angled.
- The mobility is absolutely terrible due to its poor speed and poor acceleration.
- It isn’t worth buying it unless you are a novelty collector like me.
Special Type 2 Launch Ka-Mi
The Ka-Mi was the product of nearly a decade and a half of development into amphibious tanks and vehicles for the marines, known as Special Naval Landing Forces in Japan. While it was based off of the Type 95 Ha-Go nothing really remains reminiscent of that iconic light tank in this new amphibious design aside from the suspension. Ingame it is simply a light tank as it doesn’t have the pontoons, which would admittedly make the tank worst than it already is, that allowed it to float in real life. Before I go on I will admit I don’t find this tank absolutely terrible, compared to the Ro-Go it can be a very nice tank with a great gun that really only suffers from being bulky, having poor armour, and having poor mobility in comparison to the Ke-Ni and Ha-Go.
The armour, as I said, is a problem. It is only 12 millimeters thick on most of the front and is only 30 millimeters thick around the gun barrel. This makes it easy for even a .50 cal to spray it down. Now, alone this actually wouldn’t be much of a problem; the Ha-Go has the same armouring and use to be and still it to a lesser extent a good tank that makes up for that through it small size and nimble mobility. However, the Ka-Mi doesn’t have that. It is large, bulky, and more cumbersome which makes the 12 mm of armour a much bigger liability in comparison to the other tanks in tier I.
However, as I said it isn’t absolutely terrible. The gun is the greatest thing about it and it has the best 37 mm gun available in the Japanese arsenal: the Type 1 that can fling a Type 1 APHE at 800 meters a second to penetrate 47 millimeters of armour. In comparison to the Type 94 found on the Ha-Go it can only fire a Type 94 APHE at 575 meters a second to penetrate 33 millimeters of armour and the Type 99 found on the Ke-Ni can only fire a Type 94 APHE at 700 meters a second to penetrate 44 millimeters of armour. All three of these tanks are found at the same BR with the Ka-Mi having the best gun out of all of them at the cost of being the most vulnerable of all of them.
For the reasons I have stated I still like the Ka-Mi and don’t mind using it but I understand how other people feel about it and have taken it into account. In comparison to the other nations, yeah, it isn’t that good. It is trumped by the M2A4 in every way possible, the Pz. III B while having only slightly better armour also have an APCR available to it, BT-5’s and T-26’s APHE are far superior to the Ka-Mi’s, the Tetrarch and A13 both have great guns for their tier and have better mobility, and the French and Italian tanks have better armour than it by a longshot and some tanks are just plain invulnerable to the Ka-Mi.
Pros and Cons
- The gun is the best out of all of the Japanese 37 mm gun and is far better than the Type 94.
- The large size provides some benefit in that it is a bit spacey and can reduce the damage taken by some rounds.
- The armour, like most Japanese tanks, leave much to be desired for, but that combined with its cumbersome mobility and bulky size makes it many time worse than the other tanks.
- The gun is poor in comparison to the other nation’s reserves, excluding for maybe the Pz. III B.
A Note About Tier II-III
The thing about tier II and III is that when I say the ‘worst tank in these BRs’ I don’t mean they are bad tanks at all. These two tiers are Japan at its prime, and excluding the Chi-Ha Short Gun everything found in these tiers are balanced with other nations if not better. As such when you read these remember I’m not saying they’re horrible tanks or horrible Japanese tanks, I’m simply saying that compared to the tanks solely in their BR I find them to be the worst in comparison.
Tier II, the Type 97 Chi-Ha Short Gun and the Type 2 Ho-I
Type 97 Chi-Ha Short Gun
The Short Gun is a personal favorite of mine that makes me sad to see how much it has fallen from its release. It was one of the two tanks, along the Heavy Tank No. 6, that you could buy as packs to gain access to the Japanese CBT and after open beta and then the Japanese tree was officially released it remained an excellent tank. It had great mobility to make up for its armour, and even then the armour was trolly at some points, and the gun could crack open most tanks like soda cans except for the odd magical track absorbing the entire shell time to time. That changed when HEs were nerfed and the Short Gun fell into its big sad that it is still in.
As I already mentioned the mobility of the tank is great. Since it’s based off of the Chi-Ha chassis and it has light armour it is a nimble and quick tank ideal for flanking or just in general being an annoyance. It having between 25 mm to 35 mm of frontal armour is less than ideal but is still capable of bouncing or blocking some shots here and there, and is enough to not get penetrated by a heavy machine gun.
Where the Short Gun falls is the penetration on the 120 mm cannon which is nearly as bad as the Ro-Go’s APHE round. For a brief history lesson the 120 mm cannon is based off of an anti-submarine gun that had been shortened; due to the Japanese burning the documents after the war the official designation for the gun and its ammunition have been lost. Back to the game, the HE has only 29 mm of penetration which forces you to go for trapshots on most tanks around 1.7. Even then, the HE rounds can easily be absorbed by tracks and due to the low velocity of 290 meters a second it is hard to aim over distance and difficult to pinpoint aim at any range outside of AB.
Due to the learning curve involved in using the gun, and even then the gun can be weird, I have determined it to be the worse tank in tier II.
Pros and Cons
- It is a very nimble and quick tank which makes up for its rather thin armour.
- When the gun works it can be devastating and easily cook off ammunition in tanks.
- The armour leaves some to be desired for but can still score the odd deflection here and there.
- The gun is difficult to use due to the low penetration that the HE round has.
Type 2 Ho-I
I want to start this off by saying the Ho-I isn’t a bad tank by any means. It is an excellent tank alongside the others in its BR. When I say it’s the worst I only mean it’s the worst among its peers, but even then as I said it’s still an excellent tank. The tank itself was developed late in the war in order to produce a dedicated infantry support and didn’t see combat alongside the Chi-He. It’s role wasn’t to fight tanks, but rounds such as HEAT were still developed for it that we now see ingame.
Ingame it is first and foremost a support tank in my opinion. It has a wide variety of ammunition including APHE, smoke, HE, and HEAT. At 2.0 the APHE isn’t that useful with only 43 mm of penetration, though the HEAT provides 76 mm of penetration, the HE can find its use in fighting open-top vehicles, and the smoke provides an early smoke screen for squads. The fault of the 75 mm Type 99 gun is the speed of its projectiles with its HEAT only reaching 350 meters a second, though its smoke reaches a much more respectable 570 meters a second. Due to this it has a relatively low damage potential and poor long-range potential in comparison to the Chi-He fitted with the high-velocity 47 mm gun or the gun tanks and Chi-Nu equipped with long-barreled 75 mm guns. Even so the gun will work and kill things efficiently with the right aiming.
Like all tanks with the Chi-Ha chassis, it is a quick and nimble tank and boasts some decent armour being 50 millimeters thick in the front of the turret and hull.
An oddity among this compared to other World War II-era Japanese tanks is the 7.7 mm machine gun atop its turret that allows it to operate as an anti-air gun to a very limited extent.
I will close this off by saying again that this isn’t a bad tank, tier II is just filled with good tanks that I had to pick this as being objectively worse among them but certainly not objectively worse among all of the Japanese tanks.
Pros and Cons
- The tank has a good diversity of ammunition and the gun is good enough for its BR with the smoke allowing it to easily fill the role of a support tank.
- It has decent armour being 50 millimeters thick.
- The 7.7 mm machine gun allows it to fire on attacking aircraft.
- It is a quick and nimble tank due to being on the Chi-Ha chassis.
- The main gun has a low-velocity making it difficult to participate in long-range combat.
- The damage potential of the HEAT round is poor whereas the APHE round’s penetration is too bad to be usable in regular combat.
Tier III, the Type 5 Chi-Ri II
Type 5 Chi-Ri II
Like my reviews of the tanks in tier II, I will say that the Chi-Ri II isn’t a bad tank. The problem lies in the fact that tier II and III are just filled with completely good tanks. I can’t think of one, besides the Short Gun, that is completely terrible in even the slightest. The Chi-Ri’s development itself is a bit of a mystery and I cannot actually find the information on why Mai found it being called the ‘II’ when the prototype that was captured by US forces didn’t even have a gun. Continuing on the the ingame aspect, it is a good tank in all regards and even overpowered or broken in a few eyes.
The feature that stands out most about the Chi-Ri II, while also being the best thing about it, is also the reason why I think it’s the worst among tier III. It is an gun with a loading tray that allows the loader to load the first two shots in just four seconds before it being increased to eight. This allows it to pump out rounds at a rate that leaves most tanks to envy. Another interesting aspect is the 37 mm in the hull which, while useless at fighting tanks in 5.0, allows you to trick people into thinking you shot by first shooting the 37 mm and then shooting your 75 mm when they turn the corner believing you’ve already shot. The explosive filler in the 75 mm is also something to marvel at, rivaling those of the USSR and Germany, and basically guarantees a one-shot kill. The reason I also find this to be the worse is that the gun, with the penetration, is at the very edge of being poor. With only 150 mm of penetration at most it is forced to aim at weakspots while the relatively thin armour of the Chi-Ri allows the enemies to usually point and click. Besides that, I find it to be a good tank.
The armour is the only other place it suffers as its impossible to angle the tank. If it is then the 50 mm thick cheeks of the turret and hole would be exposed, meaning its better to just face your enemies with the flat 75 mm of armour. It is a spacey and large tank which reduces the effects of -HE rounds slightly, but not by much. What is most interesting is the mobility which is nearly as mobile as Shermans, an attribute that I appreciate.
Pros and Cons
- The main gun is great boasting an impressive filler and good penetration for its BR.
- The 37 mm allows you to trick enemies into thinking you’ve shot your main gun in some cases.
- The mobility is good, though it’s no longer based off the Chi-Ha chassis it is still reasonably nimble and quick.
- While the armour can bounce the odd shot here and there, it is basically irrelevant at this BR.
- The four second reload of the main gun only lasts for the next shot after the first one before increasing to eight seconds.
Tier IV, the ST-A1 Experimental Tank
ST-A1 Experimental Tank
The ST-A1 alongside the ST-A2 were one of the four prototype tanks developed between 1956 to 1960. They served as testbeds for equipment, and ultimately became closer and closer to resembling the Type 61 as they went through the models. Ingame, the ST-A1, ST-A2, and Type 61 probably have the absolute worst stock grinds of anywhere in the Japanese tree. Being stock, basically every attribute of them is terrible: they get a bad AP stock round, of which is basically useless in the Type 61, they have bad mobility and horrid acceleration, they have bad armour, and they have bad crew placement in the case of the ST-A1 and ST-A2. However, I will review it as if it was fully grinded.
From that perspective, the ST-A1 isn’t actually that bad of a tank in my opinion. Its mobility actually becomes descent and while its nothing like the tanks of World War II or light tanks of the comparable era it can still travel around maps quickly and efficiently. The gun also gets much better once the APHE is unlocked which allows it to deal with most tanks it faces and the HEAT-FS it can unlock later on allows it to ignore any more at the most of low damage potential. The 8-16x scope allows it to easily participate in long-range combat, though the low velocity of HEAT-FS can be an issue at times and it disadvantages the tank in close-range combat. The .50 cal on top of the turret also allows it to ward off aircraft.
The armour still remains a problem being only effectively around 68 mm thick on the hull and 75 mm thick on the turret. This assures that nearly everything can penetrate you and even Wirbelwinds can be an issue due to the 60 mm piece of armour on the top of the turret of the ST-A1. The crew placement doesn’t make it any better, the low silhouette comes with the tank being extremely cramped and assuring that even an AP round would most likely kill everyone in the tank.
The low placement of the turret while making the overall size of the tank smaller also makes it unable to fire behind it due to the engine block being in the way.
The reason I chose the ST-A1 over the ST-A2 for being the worse is due to that while it has a lower silhouette and having a .50 cal, I don’t like how it sacrifices the capability of firing behind it in order to do so. I also find the tank to just be a general eyesore due to its weird appearance in comparison to the ST-A2 and to other tanks in general.
Pros and Cons
- Once it is fully upgraded the gun is great with the APHE and HEAT-FS rounds.
- It has a low silhouette.
- Once it is fully upgraded its mobility is decent.
- It has a great 8-16x zoom for long-range combat.
- It has the most horrible stock grind in the Japanese tech tree alongside the Type 61 and ST-A2.
- The armour and crew placement in the tank is absolutely terrible.
- It is unable to fire behind and over the engine deck due to it being in the way.
- The zoom can be a detriment in close combat.
A Note About Tier V-VII
While I have all the tanks in tier V and VI excluding for the Type 75 MLRS and Type 89 IFV at the time of making this guide, I have yet to play them in battles. I also have neither of the tier VII tanks. As such I will be taking everything I say about them from the experience of other people and their technical details.
Tier V, the Type 75 130 mm Multiple Rocket Launcher and the Type 60 Anti-Tank Missile Carrier
Type 75 130 mm Multiple Rocket Launcher
The Type 75 MRL is Japan’s throw at the rocket-equipped vehicles found in the game and is the most modern and powerful of them all. It’s based off of the Type 73 APC, the successor of the Type 60 APC that the Type 60 ATM is based off of, and was developed between 1973 and 1975. The most prominent feature as you might already know is its rocket launcher system which in comparison to other rockets equipped on ground vehicles penetrates the most armour and contains the most explosive filler in TNT equivalent. It is also, like the other rocket-launcher vehicles excluding for the Calliope a big meme.
With only 20 mm of armour on the front and 12.7 mm everywhere else it is easy prey for heavy machine guns and especially planes. It does have a small degree of protection against them in the form of the .50 cal mounted atop the commander’s hatch, but its unlikely you would be able to take down a plane before it kills you in a straff.
The rockets, while being the most powerful in the game, finds themselves at 7.0 and can either kill a tank in a single rocket or take a full salvo to take down. It is capable of killing every tank, but most require you to aim at traps like HE rounds rather than aim carelessly. The low ammunition count of thirty rockets makes it essential that you aim with them, but the lack of a sight makes it difficult to do at range. Luckily there is a custom sight you can pick up.
While most hate it, you can have fun with it. I have found several people that do enjoy it and I am planning to get it myself when the anniversary sale comes and the ridiculous price of 8,200 eagles, or nearly fifty dollars, gets cut in half.
Pros and Cons
- It’s fun.
- The rockets are powerful and can easily destroy vehicles around its BR when aimed correctly.
- The .50 cal provides some protection against aircraft and lightly armoured vehicles like
- As expected, it is a quick and nimble vehicle.
- The armour is worthless and can be penetrated by everything.
- You only have thirty rockets.
- There is no sight in the vanilla version unless you pick up a custom sight.
Type 60 Anti-Tank Missile Carrier
The Type 60 ATM is based off of the Type 60 APC. It is universally considered to be one of the worst if not the worst Japanese tank even when it’s fully upgraded, and to be the absolute worse of any of the ATGM-equipped vehicles. The reason for this bleak outlook is due to two main things: the ATGMs themselves and its armour.
The biggest problems with the ATGMs besides the low number is their speed that is just 85 meters a second. This is slower than even the Swingfire that goes at 89 meters a second and well below the average of between 200 to 300 meters a second. This forces the player to sit around for up to nearly twelve seconds if they’re trying to hit a target 1,000 meters away who would likely move out of the way by that time. The only saving grace is that due to it being a second-generation the missiles are controlled by the crosshair instead of the keyboard.
The other problem with it, though it isn’t odd for it to be this way, is the thin armour. Usually this wouldn’t be an issue for ATGM-equipped vehicles as they would either be purposebuilt with a cannon while the ATGM was added on later on in the design or the ATGMs could actually reach their target in a respectable timeframe. However, the slow ATGM requiring the person to sit still for seconds to even hit targets up close makes the thin armour that can be penetrated by a .50 cal from all sides a huge liability.
Surprisingly, the tank isn’t fast either. It can only reach 38 km/h though the acceleration is okay.
In short, it has poor mobility, poor offensive capability, and no armour, which is why it’s considered the worse Japanese tank in the entire tree.
Pros and Cons
- It has good acceleration.
- It can penetrate up to 500 millimeters of armour.
- Its armour is absolutely worthless.
- Its speed is slower than the Tiger II.
- Its missiles are the slowest in the entire game.
Tier VI, the Type 87 Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun
Type 87 Self-Propelled Anti-Air Gun
I will start this off the same way I did the tier II and III and say this isn’t a bad vehicle. The Japanese tree is just so sparse at this point and similar to tier VII, I had to choose a good vehicle that was worst among the bunch. That being said, the Type 87 does have one glaring flaw that earns its title as a worse Gepard. The tank itself is based off the chassis of the Type 74 main battle tank and uses the same Oerlikon 35 mm twin cannon system that is also found on the German Gepard.
The guns itself aren’t horrible at all; the radar allows it to easily target enemy jets and then blow them to bits with the API and HEI rounds in the belt. Optionally, it can also destroy light vehicle and MBTs from the side with the APDS belt capable of penetrating up to 112 millimeters of armour. Where it faults is the relatively low ammunition count of six-hundred versus the Gepard’s six-hundred-and-eighty. While it’s not a huge difference, it does represent a flaw in the SPAAG.
It’s armour, as one would expect, is nothing special. It’s enough to not be penetrated by .50 cals but can be penetrated through by larger caliber AP rounds and autocannons. Being based off of the Type 74 chassis it has the same mobility as it, being capable of reaching speeds of up to 53 km/h and sharing the same acceleration with the Type 74. This gets it to where it needs to be and allows it to pull off flanking attacks if the driver wants to.
The Type 87 as I said isn’t a bad tank, in all regards it is a good SPAAG, but compared to the Type 89 IFV, the Type 74, and the Type 74 mod G/Kai I find it to be the poorest of the bunch.
Pros and Cons
- The gun and radar can easily take out aircraft and equipped with the APDS belt the gun can easily take down light vehicles or MBTs and heavier vehicles from the side.
- The mobility is decent enough though it isn’t on the level of a light tank.
- The armour is good enough to deflect .50 cals.
- The armour is thin enough for 20 mm AP and higher to penetrate through it making aircraft a bit of a threat if they try to straff the Type 87, though they are far more likely to be shot down than successfully destroy the SPAAG if they do.
Tier VII, the Type 16 Maneuver Combat Vehicle
Type 16 Maneuver Combat Vehicle
The Type 16 is one of the most recent additions to the Japanese military being first introduced in 2007. Ingame it is a relatively light vehicle in comparison to the MBTs and has a gun that is okay for top tier.
Its armour is 150 mm in the front which is great if it was in lower BRs, but by this point any bit of armour is usually worthless. It is enough to protect itself against aircraft most of the time, though the turret sides and rear are weak, and is spacious enough to the point that while the turret crew could be killed the driver could still be alive.
The gun as I mentioned is just okay, it doesn’t boast a high-penetration HEAT-FS like other guns found in top tier and is only capable of penetrating 405 millimeters at the most.
Like most wheeled vehicles its specialty comes in its speed as its capable of reaching 100 kilometers an hour. However, the acceleration is poor and in normal situations it would be hard to push it beyond 50 kilomters an hour.
In comparison to the Type 90, it’s a good backup and a good flanker.
Pros and Cons
- It is capable of reaching speeds of up to 100 kilometers an hour.
- The armour is enough to protect it against more strafing aircraft.
- The gun is able to deal with most enemies it faces,
- It can be hullbroken.
- The armour is thin and can be penetrated by every cannon at top tier.
- The gun can have some trouble with a few enemies.