Type 95 Kurogane 4 x 4


After the jump, a look at a basic Japanese staff vehicle.

This post should put an exclamation point on my usual “brief” format!

IMG_9521 IMG_9522

The Kurogane filled the same purpose for Japan as a Jeep for the US or Kubelwagon for Germany.  Every combatant needed such simple, light utility vehicles.


This car was used by the Japanese Army and Navy from 1937-45, just less than 5000 were made.  Its main claim to fame would be it was the first successful 4 x 4 production vehicle in the world (that means more than a prototype or test vehicle).  One oddity would be it was a three seater.  The rear seat was mounted almost throne-like behind the front.



This is the Tamiya kit, in Japanese Army colors.

About atcDave

I'm 5o-something years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I was an air traffic controller for 33 years and recently retired; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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6 Responses to Type 95 Kurogane 4 x 4

  1. Theresa says:

    Interesting vehicle but not much use in the big picture of the war.

  2. Thanks for a thoroughly informative post Dave. I have little knowledge of Japanese utility vehicles and this post has inspired me to research the Type 95 Kurogane further. Great article and as always great build – thank you!

    • atcDave says:

      I don’t think many people have much knowledge of Japanese utility vehicles, notice this post was less than 200 words long!

  3. John says:

    The wheels and tires look out of proportion, almost like the car in ‘ Who Framed Roger Rabbit’. They must have been sourced from a heavy truck. Also 650,000 Jeeps were made in WW2. This shows the relative production capability of the two nations and also the US’s greater emphasis on mechanization.

    • atcDave says:

      U.S. Manufacturing tends to dwarf everyone else. But thanks for bringing up that disparity John. It’s not just the obvious weapons where Japan couldn’t compete, it’s the limits on support equipment too.

      It is ungainly looking! I couldn’t find much on if it was considered reliable or drove well. There just doesn’t seem to be so much out there on light utility vehicles. I did see it referred to as “practical” a couple times, but I think that might just be in reference to its drive train. I’m not sure how broadly that adjective applies.

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