The Japanese Type 74 Medium Tank

Japan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, which means space is at a premium and there are limitations on its transportation network. These are narrow trains and roads that can’t cope with vehicles weighting in at over 50 tons. This has meant that the Type 90 has only been able to operate on the second largest island (and northernmost) Hokkaido. The obsolete Type 74 has therefore remained in service and has been the principle MBT for the rest of Japan, with 700 still in service in 2006.

The Japanese Type 74 Medium Tank Development

The Type 74 was designed and built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to replace the earlier Type 61. Its design was finalised in 1964, but didn’t enter widespread service with the JGSDF until 1980. The Type 74 is only used by Japan.

The Type 74 was a mish-mash of design features taken from other country’s tanks. It had the British L7 105mm Rifled gun, the controllable suspension of the MBT70 and the rolled steel hull of the Leopard 1. The controllable suspension can be used to tilt the tank by +15 /-13 degrees; this enables the main gun’s elevation to be increased. It also enables the driver to adjust the suspension according to different ground conditions.

The Japanese Type 74 Medium Tank
The Japanese Type 74 Medium Tank

The Japanese Type 74 Medium Tank Firepower

The L7 was initially fitted with an auto loader, however this was found to be too expensive and complex, so it was removed. New APFSDS and HEATMP (high explosive anti tank missile projectile) rounds were developed by the Japanese for the L7. The turret had a rotatable commander’s cupola. Secondary armament consists of a 7.62 coaxial M.G. and a 12.7mm Anti-Aircraft M.G. on the turret roof. The turret is powered electrically after lessons were learnt during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when hydraulically powered turrets caused injuries to crewmen.

During its service life, the Type 74 has been updated with such features as a laser range finder and a computerized fire control for the main gun and Infra Red Imaging for the commander and gunner. (Note these imagers are not Image Intensifiers).

The Japanese Type 74 Medium Tank Mobility

The Type 74 is powered by a Mitsubishi 10ZF 720hp 10 Cylinder air cooled diesel, this gives it a maximum speed of 53km/h, and a maximum range of 400km.

This page was writtern and Submitted by Bruce Forrest