Type 74 Main Battle Tank (Japan)

In the 1960s, the Japanese realised that the Type 61 would not meet their requirements in the 1980s and so Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and the Japanese Ground Self-Defence Force began project definition studies into a new MBT in 1962. A design had been formulated by 1964 and to prove the basic concept, a number of test rigs were built and extensively tested between 1964 and 1967. The first two prototypes are constructed at the Maruko works of Mitsubishi heavy industries late in 1968 and completed by September 1969. These were designated the STB-1, and contained many features of other tanks under development at the time, for example, the hydropneumatic suspension system of the MBT-70, the hull of the Leopard 1, the British 105mm L7 series rifled gun as used on the Leopard 1, and the M60, Centurion and other MBTs of the period and a turret that was similar to that on the AMX-30. The STB-1 had an automatic loader for the British L7A1 gun, which was subsequently built under licence by the Japan Steel Works. This first prototype was followed by the S T been - a three in 1971, which had had the automatic loader removed as it proved too complex and too expensive. The turret had also been the slightly redesigned and deferred in shape with a much longer bustle. In actual fact, the first production contract was placed before the final prototype model, the STB-6, appeared in 1973. The tank was redesignated the Type 74 with the first production vehicle completed in September 1975 and by January 1980, some 225 had been built. Production has now been completed and there are 870 vehicles in service. The Type 74 is being supplemented by the Type 90 in Japanese service. The relatively long gestation period for this tank has meant that the unit costs have been relatively high and but it is a clear generation ahead of its predecessor.

The hull of the Type 74 is of all welded steel construction. The layout is conventional with the driver being seated at the front of a vehicle on the left side and has a single piece hatch as well as three JM17 Mod 2 periscopes that are mounted forward of the hatch, the centre one of which can be replaced by an infrared periscope. The turret is made of cast steel, with the commander and gunner seated on the right side and the loader on the left. The commander's cupola can be turned through 360 degrees of, has a single piece hatch and has a J3 infrared periscope sight with an integral laser rangefinder (with magnifications of x 1 and x 8) in its forward part. The commander also has another five periscopes to on either side and one to the rear. The gunner has a J2 infrared periscope sight (with magnifications of x 1 and x 8) in the roof of the turret, a ballistic computer and a telescope are linked to the main armament. The loader has a single piece hatch and a periscope mounted forward. The engine and transmission is mounted at the rear of the hull with the exhaust pipes and silencers are mounted on the running boards to the rear of the turret. The engine is a Mitsubishi 10ZF Type 22 WT 10-cylinder diesel (750hp) coupled to a Mitsubishi MT75 manual transmission. The suspension is of a hydropneumatic type and can be adjusted to suit the type of terrain being crossed. There are five dual rubber-tyred road wheels, drive sprocket at the rear and an idler at the front. Standard equipment includes infrared driving lights, an infrared searchlight to left of the main armament and an NBC system. The main armament consists of a 105mm rifled tank gun (based on the British Royal Ordnance L7 series and built under licence in Japan) which fires the standard range of ammunition. The Type 74's main armament was not fitted with a thermal sleeve initially, but a number of tanks are starting to receive them now. The gun has a drop block breach mechanism and a new concentric recoil mechanism to reduce the volume of the upper part of the down as well as the frontal area of the turret. A 7.62mm Type 74 machine gun is mounted coaxially with the main armament and a 12.7mm (0.5) Browning M2 HB machine gun is mounted on the turret forward of the commander's and loader's positions. Variants include the Type 78 Armoured Recovery Vehicle and Type 87 air defence system (twin 35mm cannon).

Hull length: 6.7m. Hull width: 3.18m. Height: 2.48m. Crew: 4. Ground Clearance: 0.2 to 0.65m. (adjustable) Weight: 38,000kg (combat) Ground pressure: 0.86kg/sq.cm Max speed: 53km/h. Max range (internal fuel): 400km on road. Armament: 105mm L7 series rifled gun, 1 x 7.62mm Type 74 machine gun mounted coaxially, 1 x 12.7mm (0.5) Browning M2 HB machine gun on turret roof.

Illustrated Encyclopaedia of the World's Tanks and Fighting Vehicles, Foss, Christopher, Salamander Books, London, 1977.
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Foss, Christopher. Jane's Tank Recognition Guide, HarperCollins, Glasgow, 1996.
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Gelbart, Marsh. Tanks: Main Battle and Light Tanks, Brassey's (UK) Ltd, London, 1996.
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How to cite this article: Antill, P. (1 June 2001), Type 74 Main Battle Tank (Japan), http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_type74japan.html

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