Status Report: Japanese Tiger Importation Plans
The following paragraph is a translation about the Japanese Tiger from a Japanese magazine. The magazine is: ミリタリー・クラシックス Military Classics, issue 21, published on June 1st, 2008. The above art picture is also from this magazine.
There is an interesting story that present day tank fans know well which is that during World War 2, the great Empire of Japan tried importing a Tiger tank from Germany. To a Japan Army that has schemed war against the Soviet Union in Manchuria, the Tiger being more powerful than any other Japanese tank, while expensive, was a very attractive vehicle. In July, Showa year 18 (1943), through the Pro-German Lieutenant General Hiroshi Oshima at the military attaché in the Japanese Embassy, Japan negotiated with Germany and formally decided on importing the Tiger. Importation cost was at twice the cost of delivery to the German army, at 640,000 marks. In order to domestically produce the Tiger in Japan, blue prints, ammunition, repair parts, and so on were arranged into the import plan. As for the tank itself, it was planned to disassemble it and transport it to Japan by German submarine. However plans never progressed further. Due to the worsening of the war situation, exporting the tiger to Japan become impossible.
Here is a picture of Hiroshi Oshima.
While not related to the Tiger tank, the next picture has both Hiroshi Oshima and who is called "the father of Japanese tanks （日本戦車の父）" Tomio Hara. The picture is a little small but Hiroshi is in the very front and very center. Tomio Hara is immediately behind him to the left (This photo is also in "Tank and General" (戦車と将軍) by Shuhei Domon 1996 includes a description). This photo is of the "Oshima Military Affairs Inspection Group" that came to Germany in late 1935 to inspect the beginning of the re-militarization of Germany. The location is said to be at a Fensdorf tank base. I am not sure about Fensdorf so here it is as written in Japanese: ウェンスドルフ
From the following webpage:
Payment of the Tiger tank was confirmed by Henschel on February 28th, 1944. However, when the purchased Tiger could not be shipped, it was loaned by Japan to the German army. The tank went to what was being formed as the 101st SS heavy tank battalion in Belgium.
The webpage has the following picture below and describes that it is rumored that the man to the right is likely Hiroshi Oshima
However, the webpage continues that this photo was noted to have been taken on June 7th 1943 and at that time, Hiroshi was at the war front in northern Russia visiting the 502nd heavy tank battalion doing a field validation of the Tiger. So it remains unknown as to who these Japanese people actually are.
About a year ago, I found a batch of these pictures together on the internet, all concerning the Japanese tiger. I can't load up the page http://sspanzer.126.com anymore and I don't remember what brief descriptions might have came along with the pictures. But at least I saved the pictures at that time. Here are the rest of them.
1. ミリタリー・クラシックス Military Classics, issue 21, published on June 1st, 2008
2. "Tank and General" (戦車と将軍) by Shuhei Domon (土門周平),1996
3. Webpage post "日本の「ティーガーⅠ」輸入計画 2010/07/21" http://osabetty.com/hpgen/HPB/entries/12.html