Japanese tanks consist of lightly armored medium/light tanks that are fairly mobile, have good gun depression, and above average firepower. Their main downsides are the lack of durability and sometimes their large sizes(with no return in protection). There are also Japanese heavy tanks which are a recent addition for World of Tanks and Japanese heavy tanks excel at superb armor protection, decent firepower, and for being very large/slow.
Japanese Medium Tanks
Starting at tier 1 is the Renault Otsu which oddly enough the most well protected tank you will play as far as armor goes for it’s tier. The Renault is not very quick nor does it have a great gun due to it’s very poor accuracy. What it does have is excellent armor and a gun that packs great damage per shot for it’s tier….but then again you will only be playing this for a handful of battles.
Ha-Go, Ke-Ni & Ke-Ho
At tier 2 you have a choice of either the light tank line or the medium tank line. If you prefer very mobile tanks built for spotting and harassing the enemy then the light tank is for you. If you prefer slightly slower gameplay that is focused around dishing out damage from further back then the medium line will suit you better. Starting off with the light tank line is the tier 2 Ha-Go which for a light tank isn’t the most mobile. It does pack a large amount of firepower alpha wise for its tier. The 37mm guns and the 5.7cm hit hard but are not the easiest to use since the accuracy is not a selling point. Its a neat tank to play due to the massive gun on a tier 2 light tank but it can be difficult to play at times.
The tier 3 Type 98 Ke-Ni which sticks with the 37mm gun of the previous tank. Being very mobile with the upgraded engines combined with the upgraded 37mm allows you to not only scout/spot but also to dish out damage from a semi-safe range. Compared to the Ha-Go the added mobility improves the tank greatly.
The last light tank at tier 4 is the Type 5 Ke-Ho. The Ke-Ho keeps things the game by being decently mobile, low HP/armor, and packing a very good gun for a light tank. The 47mm and upgraded 57mm guns have very good damage and penetration for a tier 4 light tank. You will have some difficulties against tier 5/6 opponents like most other tier 4 tanks due to your lack of HP. Overall the Ke-Ho is a fun tank to play if you can afford to carry a few premium rounds to deal with pesky tier 5+ heavies and have continued to improve upon the frail light tank play style from previous tanks.
Chi-Ni, Chi-Ha, Chi-He
If lights aren’t your thing you can go up the medium tank line that begins with the Chi-Ni at tier 2. Compared to the Ha-Go light tank the Chi-Ni receives a bit more HP, a pinch of armor, loses some mobility, and gains a slightly more reliable 5.7cm. Being tier 2 this tank is a quick grind and mainly plays as a close quarters brawler that picks and chooses when to take pot shots. It is hard to play with the poor mobility at this tier but the firepower is there when you do get into the fight.
Following the Chi-Ni is the Type 97 Chi-Ha at tier 3. The Chi-Ha is not that mobile for a medium tank but does gain a considerable amount of firepower in return. It’s 37mm guns are a good stop gap while you unlock the top 47mm. The top 47mm is a great gun at tier 3 and absolutely shreds anything you will come across aside from tough tier 5’s which you will need premium rounds for. The Chi-Ha like the previous tank plays very similar since it has iffy armor and low durability. It does however keep the Japanese trait of having very good firepower and great flexibility.
Topping off the low tier medium tank line is the tier 4 Type 1 Chi-He that resembles a buffed up Chi-Ha. The Chi-He starts out slow since it is a tad more sluggish than previous tanks since it is heavier without any engines to compensate for it. It does however upgraded very well since it has a very good 57mm upgraded gun that allows you to sit back safely and dish out damage reliably. Unlike other Japanese tanks the Chi-He does have decent armor with 50mm on the hull and turrets that allows you to shrug off some shots from lower tier tanks.
Type 3 Chi-Nu
Sitting at tier 5 is the Type 3 Chi-Nu which is a very good all around medium tank. It does have a lot of unlock-able modules and starts out slow due to this. It slowly transforms from a boring medium that doesn’t excel at anything to a very good medium tank that is above average at almost everything. The top 7.5cm gun has great damage per shot, good rate of fire, and soft stats for a tier 5 medium. Combined with this you are still very mobile and have good gun depression. The main downsides is that you are not very sturdy due to your armor, HP, and somewhat “tall” size leading you to taking damage easily. By now you should have gotten used to being frail so that is a minor downside and this tank will be a breeze to play.
Type 4 Chi-To
The Type 4 Chi-To at tier 6 improves upon the Chi-Nu’s design successfully and gives you another great platform to deal out large amounts of damage in. The Chi-To does have a tid-bit of armor with 75mm that can give you some protection from weaker tanks unlike most other tanks you have played. Overall it has decent mobility, a fantastic top gun that is very easy to use, and all around does not lack in any one area to make it a bad tank. The Chi-To is capable of doing very well as the top tank while playing more as a medium/heavy and in tier 7/8 matches it’s gun allows it to play further back while dealing a lot of damage. The main downside is the somewhat poor view range, “tall” boxy size like the Chi-Nu, and somewhat low durability against tier 7+ tanks.
Type 5 Chi-Ri
Tier 7 the Type 5 Chi-Ri starts out as simply a Chi-To at a higher tier since you carry over the top gun. The Chi-Ri is very large for a medium tank that is not that nimble, has “meh” armor, and resembles a heavy tank in appearance. Start out by grinding the top turret+top gun and equip them(you can run enhanced torsion bars+rammer+vents with this set up). You will want to have the 3 round auto-loading 7.5cm since without it you are simply a tier 7 Chi-To. The upgraded suspension/engine allows you to to gain better acceleration(you have good speed without turning) and also allows you to drop the torsion bars and add coated optics. Even as a top tier you will want to avoid taking to many hits since your armor is very poor and your large size attracts unwanted guns pointing towards you. The good part is that your 3 round burst spews out 390 average damage very quickly and has a very short(around 9s depending on crew) reload between clips. Like other tanks in this line it is capable of dealing a lot of damage if you stay alive long enough and get into the correct locations.
Chi-Ri Tank Guide: http://wotguru.com/tank-guide-type-5-chi-ri/
The STA-1 at tier 8 begins as a very difficult tank to play since the two first guns are very lackluster due to the damage, rate of fire, and penetration when combined. Since you have absolutely no armor(even on the turret front) you need to stay out of the path of anything coming your way since at tier 8 you encounter a lot of high alpha guns. You should unlock the second gun first, then the upgraded turret, and then follow with the tracks/engine. While the top gun makes this tank you can get by with spamming premium rounds when needed with the 90mm rifled gun(although it is very expensive). Once you unlock the top gun this tank turns into an excellent support tank that should be played like you have 1 HP for the first few minutes of match due to your lack of armor. Your mobility is top notch, great gun depression, very good on the move accuracy, and your standard AP round has very good penetration(one of the few times when your premium round is worse than standard ammo). Overall this tank plays like a unarmored M26 Pershing that gains a better gun and soft stats.
You’ve made it this far and the last two tanks at tier 9 and 10 will not disappoint. At tier 9 the Type 61 starts off with a difficult grind until you are able to get that fantastic top 105mm gun. Like previous tanks the Type 61 has very poor armor/durability but does have good mobility. With the 105mm you do pay a bit with just “ok” gun depression and soft stats but with 390 damage/6 RoF you have tier 10 medium firepower on a tier 9 tank. The main goal of the Type 61 is to sit back and shred things without being seen. Later on in matched due to your firepower you can play more aggressively since you can deal damage out before you die. While the initial grind is a bit painful the end result is worth it.
Type 61 Tank Guide: http://wotguru.com/tank-guide-type-61/
Following the Type 61 is the tier 10 STB-1 that sees a significant improvement across the board to much needed areas. The STB-1 gains much needed gun depression and a strong turret face(not immune but tough enough to bounce most shots). Added to this is a frontal hull that while it does not have great protection is thick enough and angled enough to bounce shots at range. The 105mm from the Type 61 gains a rate of fire boost along with other soft stats that turns it into one of the most deadly medium tanks out there. The downsides of this tank is that the overall accuracy/aim time is lower than other tanks like the Leopard 1 which makes wielding the excellent gun a little wonky at times. It also will make you sit out exposed for slightly longer but due to the good gun depression+turret front that is not a huge negative. Mobility wise you are a “tad” sluggish and do not move around as well as other tier 10 mediums but that is to be expected with all of the other positives you have.
STB-1 Tank Guide: http://wotguru.com/tank-guide-stb-1/
Japanese Heavy Tanks
Starting off the Japanese heavy tank line at tier 2 is the I-Go/Chi-Ro medium tank. The I-Go/Chi-Ro is very slow for a tier 2 tank and combined with this slow speed is very poor armor, making it very difficult to stay alive if you are caught out in a bad location. To offset this the I-Go/Chi-Ro has two 5.7 cm guns that do great damage while having a good rate of fire for a tier 2 medium tank with a 5.7 gun. On the downside the shells are very inaccurate, travel slow, and have poor penetration(although they can overmatch a lot at tier 2/3). Overall the I-Go/Chi-Ro is a quick grind at tier 2 and takes a careful thought process to avoid being useless in a match due to speed/durability.
Since the Type 91 is a low tier heavy tank its armor is poor and given that much of it is vertical you won’t be playing the Type 91 expecting to soak up a lot of damage. The speed of the Type 91 is below average and this low speed/poor mobility will linger throughout the Japanese heavy tanks.. On the positive side the Type 91’s stock howitzer gun is decent for a stock gun and its upgraded 47mm has a good combination of damage, penetration, and rate of fire. Once upgraded the Type 91 can dish out damage reliably but on the downside takes a long time to travel any sort of distance and can’t bounce any shots. Luckily being a tier 3 you will be able to push through the Type 91 fairly quickly and painlessly.
The Type 95 is supposed to be the “upgrade” to the Type 91 heavy tank but in actuality it feels like a downgrade.. The Type 95 has limited matchmaking and does not see any tanks above tier 5. Like the Type 91 before it the Type 95’s armor is pitiful for a heavy tank and its speed is well below average. Unlike the Type 91 the Type 95 does not get a very good top gun and arguably the tier 3 Type 91 has the better gun once upgraded. Driving the Type 95 you are stuck with low velocity 7 cm/7.5 cm guns with low penetration and poor accuracy. At tier 4 the grind is still short and moving onto tier 5 won’t take very long.
The tier 5 O-I Experimental sees a vast improvement over the Type 95 and for many is the true “beginning” of the Japanese heavy tank branch. The O-I experimental is a massive 100 ton tank and at tier 5 dwarfs most other tanks it sees and can deal a ton of ramming damage. Although the O-I exp. is a bit slow to get up to speed it has a surprising amount of mobility and a top speed of 40 km/h which makes it comparable to a KV-5 “esque” tank at tier 5. Armor wise the O-I exp. doesn’t have many true weak spots frontally but its armor isn’t strong enough to protect it against most tanks you face. What makes the O-I exp. stand out is its firepower and the 300 damage top 10 cm gun. Overall the O-I exp. is a great tank once you start upgrading it and holds up well against a wide array of foes and situations.
O-I Experimental Weak Spot Guide: http://wotguru.com/weak-spot-guide-o-i-experimental/
Armor wise the O-I virtually doubles the amount of armor found on the tank moving from tier 5 to tier 6 excluding the side armor. This gives the O-I enough armor to bounce shots semi-reliably from non heavy tanks/tank destroyers if you angle your hull slightly. Firepower wise you start out with the 10 cm from before but now are able to upgrade it into a 15 cm howitzer that has huge damage potential. With 700 damage shells and 910 damage HE shells you can annihilate lightly armored tanks and still carefully damage more well protected foes if you pick your battles. With the huge damage per shell you are hampered with poor accuracy and poor penetration. As long as you go into the O-I knowing its a slow heavily armored HE chucking machine you’ll love it. The O-I is great for facing off against mediums, weak tank destroyers, lower tiers, and heavy tanks that are distracted.
O-I Weak Spot Guide: http://wotguru.com/weak-spot-guide-o-i/
The O-Ni at tier 7 sees a dramatic increase in size and looks larger than the tier 10 Maus. The O-Ni has very good overall armor with 175mm/70mm/150mm on the hull and 200mm/150mm/150mm on the turret. Side armor is a weakness of many Japanese heavies and the O-Ni is no exception even with most of it being covered in spaced armor. Outside of the side armor however the O-Ni’s armor is well above average and it will be able to take a beating. Mobility is very poor which is to be expected due to the extreme size of the O-Ni. For those who do not like howitzers you can rejoice since the O-Ni has a choice between two 10 cm guns and a 15 cm howitzer. The top 10 cm is well rounded and outside of the .42 accuracy will hold up against most foes it comes across. One huge downside is the poor gun depression when pointing across the front hull. This can lead to difficultly hitting enemies without exposing the weak side armor. Your height is also high enough where most enemies can not be hit if they are next to your tank.
O-Ni Weak Spot Guide: http://wotguru.com/weak-spot-guide-o-ni/
The O-Ho improves upon the previous O-Ni and keeps many things the same. The O-Ho sees a noticeable buff to both the hull and turret armor. The side armor being increased from 70mm to 105mm while retaining good spaced armor allows the O-Ho to take a few more risks since your side armor isn’t anemic. The O-Ho is a truly massive tank like the O-Ni and the size coupled with the very poor mobility make the O-Ho take a large amount of incoming fire from SPGs. No surprise the mobility is very poor like the O-Ni. The O-Ho does see some improvements over the O-Ni when it comes to its firepower. The top 10 cm has performs decently but many prefer using the 15cm howitzer gun. The larger HE gun allows you to take shots while focusing on deflecting shots. You can also use some AP/HEAT from it to cause massive damage on thin roof armor due to your height. The O-Ho also suffers from poor gun depression across the front of the tank like the O-Ni.
Type 4 Heavy
The Type 4 Heavy which sees another significant improvement in the armor department at the cost of even more mobility making you extremely slow. Your armor is significantly increased and you lose the mini-turrets that ruin your gun depression. The sides and rear do suffer from lack of protection but the frontal armor more than makes up for it. Mobility wise the low 20 km/h top speed along with a poor power to weight ratio limits where you can get to on maps in a reasonable amount of times and forces you to think ahead 3+ minutes. The Type 4 Heavy stays with the trend of increasing the size of the tank yet again and by now you should be used to being a large target. Gun wise the Type 4 Heavy starts out with a 12.7 cm and upgrades into a 14 cm that gives it a higher alpha strike. There is also an upgraded howitzer gun that has high potential damage at the expense of a slow reload and poor performance against heavy tanks. Both the 14 cm and HE howitzer are viable guns and picking one determines how you play the Type 4 Heavy.
Type 4 Heavy Weak Spots: http://wotguru.com/weak-spot-guide-type-4-heavy/
Type 5 Heavy
Finally at tier 10 the Type 5 Heavy improves upon the tier 9 Type 4 Heavy in several areas to provide you with a massive heavy tank to rival the German Maus. The Type 5 sees a buff to both hull and turret armor coming from the Type 4. Most tier 10s will struggle to penetrate the Type 5 Heavy’s front armor without careful aiming and/or premium rounds. The Type 5 Heavy is extremely lacking in the mobility department and is also the largest tier 10 currently in World of Tanks. What it does have is extremely good armor, a 660 damage shell, very good health points, and great gun depression. If you can live with having a large silhouette and being the slowest tank on your team(most of the time) then the Type 5 will provide a mobile fortress to crush your opponents with its sheer might. As of 9.17.1 the Type 5 Heavy received a new howitzer gun like the Type 4. If you prefer howitzer guns this gun is very easy to slowly rack up damage. Unfortunately you struggle against heavily armored tanks that you will usually see. For many using the standard gun and carrying a few HE shells for lightly armored tanks is the better option.
Type 5 Heavy Weak Spots: http://wotguru.com/weak-spot-guide-type-5-heavy/