M4 Sherman vs Type 97 Chi-Ha
Gen. Isao Shigemi ordered the deployment of the 7th Tank Regiment’s tanks in revetments around San Manuel.
The revetments took advantage of the extensive vegetation around the town, including thick stands of bamboo.
In addition, the town’s periphery had a number of earth berms associated with dikes and other elements of the
irrigation system for the paddies on the outskirts of town. As a result, the Type 97-kai Shinhoto Chi-Ha medium
tanks and Type 95 Ha-Go light tanks were extremely well camouflaged on the morning of January 24 when the
American attack began. The M4A3 tanks of Company C, 716th Tank Battalion began to advance towards the
outskirts of town with the infantry of the 1st Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment some distance behind. The
infantry was not in close support of tanks since the artillery preparation continued until the tanks were only
300 yards from the town. The Japanese tankers exercised strict fire discipline and withheld fire until the American
tanks had reached to only about 150 yards from their positions. The camouflage on the Japanese positions was so
thorough that they could not be seen by the American tankers. The Japanese tankers were well aware that their
tank guns were ineffective against the thick frontal armor of the American tanks, but they could penetrate their
weaker side armor. At 150 yards, the Shigemi Group began taking the American tanks under fire, hitting them with
a sudden volley from several tanks, a 47mm antitank gun, and two 105mm howitzers. Several tanks were hit in
the original volley and came to a halt. One M4A3 tank was destroyed and four more were damaged. The tank attack
faltered when a drainage ditch was encountered. One M4A3 crew attempted to get over the ditch by backing up,
revving the engine, and jumping the ditch at full speed, but this only managed to get the tank bogged down on
the far side of the ditch. The US tanks withdrew and took up overwatch positions to provide fire support for the
161st Infantry who began their attack on the town.