The Type 97 ShinHoTo Chi-Ha was a Japanese medium tank, an improved version of the Type 97 Chi-Ha.
The Type 97 Chi-Ha had proven inadequate to deal with the Soviet tanks during the border incidents of 1939, because of its thin armor and its weak, low-velocity 57 mm gun. To remedy the latter, a program centered on the introduction of a new tank armed with the new Type 1 47 mm gun was began, that would eventually lead to the Type 1 Chi-He medium tank (with the new gun and increased protection. However, when during the Philippines campaign an urgent request for 47 mm tanks was issued, some Chi-Ha tanks were retrofitted with the turret of the Chi-He; this conversion proved successful and also less costly than the new tank. Therefore, until 1944 the Chi-He was not produced, with the Type 97 ShinHoTo Chi-Ha being given precedence.
The ShinHoTo Chi-Ha was basically a Chi-Ha with a larger, three-man turret that housed the 47 mm gun. The rest of the hull remained basically the same as the older tank. Almost a thousand tanks were built or converted from 1942 to 1945.
The ShinHoTo Chi-Ha was a definite improvement in terms of firepower over its predecessor; in fact, this was arguably the best Japanese tank used operationally (since other, more powerful tanks such as the Type 3 Chi-Nu, were never deployed on the field). However, it was still outclassed by foreign medium tanks such as the M4 Sherman and the T-34.
In Girls Und Panzer
It is used by Chi-Ha-Tan Academy in both the TV series and Film.