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Developed after the campaign of Manchuria to compensate for the lack of such a vehicle in the Japanese army, the recon vehicle Type 95 Kurogane "Black Medal" was mass-produced and was modified in numerous variants all along the war.

Equipped with tires designed especially for it, able to sneak through any kind of terrain, it allows its three-man crew to accomplish their intelligence gathering mission. It is however quite slow for a recon jeep.


The Imperial Japanese Army seeking a small military personnel carrier, directed Nihon Nainenki Company to develop what would become Japan’s first 4-wheel drive vehicle. When standardized in 1936 as the Type 95, the indigenous Kurogane (the company’s brand-name) was considered quite advanced for Japanese automotive technology. It had an air-cooled, 2-cylinder motorcycle engine, with large 6.00 x 18-inch tires and double-wishbone suspension for good cross-country mobility.

It is a small, Phaeton-style body type car designed to carry two passengers. It has two doors and a convertible top, and strikes an interesting profile – sort of “bustle-high” exaggerated by the curved body lines and rear deck mounted spare tire. The Type 95 weighs some 1060 kilograms and is constructed from sheet steel stampings, with steel piping bumpers. Aside from tiny flares behind the front fenders, the Type 95 does not support steps or running boards along its sides like other contemporary auto designs of its time. It did not have a sophisticated suspension system for additional stability, but its short wheelbase and large diameter wheels performed well. It had a large approach and departure angle and good performance on rough terrain. The front wheels track slightly inside the rear wheels. The small engine displaced 1399 cc’s and developed a maximum of 33-horsepower at 3300 rpm. It was easy to maintain in the field.

The Type 95 would serve the Japanese military in command and reconnaissance roles on all fronts, with some 4800 units built for the IJA between 1937 and 1945. It was the only completely Japanese designed recon car ever used by the Japanese Army.

See also