Wheels of the Emperor – Japanese Armoured Cars in WW2

Wheels of the Emperor

Japanese Armoured Cars

The conflict with the Empire of Japan is often thought of as starting on December 7, 1941, with the attacks on Pearl Harbour, the invasions of the Philippines and Malaya, followed by the rapid expansion of the Japanese sphere across the South Pacific.

The bloody fighting in the jungles of New Guinea and the “island hopping” campaign tends to narrow our view of Japanese forces to the resolute infantry backed by a few underwhelming tanks, often used more as bunkers than mobile fighting vehicles. These forces were either conducting the quick assaults in the first six months following Pearl Harbour or engaged in stoic defense of their homeland once the weight of the Western Allies bore down on them.

With that focus, we ignore the decades long campaign of the Japanese on the Chinese mainland. Starting in 1931 with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and then exploding into a full-blown war in 1937, a war that lasted until the unconditional surrender of the Japanese in August 1945

The fighting in China was quite different from the South Pacific campaign; the terrain was expansive, there were roadways and railways that both aided the Japanese invaders logistically as well as requiring security from widespread guerilla attacks behind the lines.

As well, there was much difficult and bloody urban fighting within cities in the Chinese theatre.

The Japanese recognized the need for some wheeled armoured support for their troops in engaged in this campaign. The Japanese initially employed their Type 87 Armoured car, a copy of the British Crossley armoured car. This vehicle was limited by its solid rubber wheels and was restricted to solid road surfaces. The Japanese employed several other armoured car types, both four and six wheeled models, in the next few years.

These tended to share some common characteristics ;

  • They were based on rear wheel drive commercial truck chassis
  • They had a central turret with machine gun armament
  • They were geared towards security functions, as opposed the reconnaissance role which, for example, British and German armoured cars were utilized.

The Japanese armoured cars of the early 1930s included

  • Type 92 Chiyoda
  • Type 93 So-Mo ( known for its dual road/railway use)
  • Type 93 Kokusan (a six wheeled A/C used by the Japanese naval landing force, it carried upwards to 5 machine guns)
  • Type 92 Hokoku-Go, a.k.a. Type 92 Osaka
  • To add to the confusion, the fully tracked Type 92 Jyu-Sokosha tankette was titled as a “Heavy Armoured Car” by the Japanese. We would normally refer to it as a light tank or even a tankette, akin to the early war British Light tanks or the German Pz Mk. 1.

Japanese Armoured Cars in Bolt Action

The Japanese Army selector allows for a respectable number of choices in the armoured car selectors

  • Type 87 Armoured Car (7+ armour, x 2 MMGs)
  • Type 92 Tankette (7+ armour, 1 x HMG, 1 x MMG)
  • Armoured Railroad Car (most commonly the Type 93 So-Mo) (7+ armour, 1 x LMG)
  • Type 94 Tankette (7+ armour, 1 x MMG)
  • Type 97 Te-Ke Tankette (7+ armour, 1 x Light ATG)
  • Type 92 Hokoku-Go Armoured Car (7+ armour, 1 x MMG, 1 x LMG)
  • Type 95 Kurogane (6+ armour, no transport, 1 x MMG)

I chose to develop this model, the Type 92 Hokoku-Go, because it doesn’t appear to be available commercially, and it is a useful option in games like Bolt Action, as it has two weapons so it can fire at two targets each turn, ands it has recce. As well, it is available to not only Japanese army players but it is also available to the Chinese army player under both the Communist faction as well as the Warlord Army (a Bolt Action Chinese player can play as a Nationalist /KMT, a Communist or a Warlord)

This .stl represents a 1/56th scale model of the Type 92 Hokoku-Go. A helpful review of its history can be found here.


Note that the author of this article noted the vehicle actually had MMGs in both the turret and front hull, not the MMG and LMG armament proscribed by the Warlord book.

The .stl

This is an original file. I created it for both the player of the armies of Japan as well as those playing as two of the three Chinese armies.

The FDM file consists the following

  • The hull
  • The turret (the MMG barrel fits into the turret recess, the barrel is on the left when looking at the turret face on – please see pics); the hull LMG barrel fits into the recess opposite the driver’s large vision plate
  • Two axles and the front bumper with head lamps. The bumper fits snuggly under tight to the chassis

** please note the axles have arrows and “UP” printed on them; this indicates the direction the axles are to be mounted on the hull recesses**

  • The four wheels; the double wheels to the rear

Please print with supports and at 0.1mm layers. Clean off support material carefully and test fit all parts before gluing.

The .stl file for the Type 92 Hokoku-Go can be located here, in the Wargaming3d shop.



  • I feel that I am an 12 year old boy trapped in the body of a much older man, and I am an enthusiast for tabletop miniature gaming as well as 3D design of AFVs and wargaming terrain pieces. I assure my spouse that it is all still cheaper than buying a Harley and wearing leather chaps. My original 3D .stl files are available at https://www.wargaming3d.com/shop/ the range includes unique WW2 AFVs, transports, gun and tabletop wargaming terrain.

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