Following post is translated to English by my friend who is an amateur translator, so please forgive me if it is a bit hard to read.
For WG, Japan maybe an exotic and mysterious country hidden behind a veil of orientalism. That’s why they introduced O-Ni and Type 5 Heavy, who are as much of a fantasy as Oni (ogres) and Youkai (Demons). Some might think “here comes just another idiot whining about historical accuracy in WoT, play another game lol.” But that’s not true. Their stats aside, as a Japanese WoT player, I don’t really mind those made-up tanks introduced to the tech tree. First of all, Japan has real tanks in the game. Type 95 heavy and O-I are actual historical tanks, and the medium line is filled only with real tanks. Unlike, say, Italian tech tree or Polish tech tree, Japan at least has one legitimate historical line, so we’re better off on that regard. Secondly, I realize it takes a lot of effort to make up a tank. They have to write a convincing cover story, while making a detailed 3d model and balancing the statistics without any real-life information to reference. It is obviously a huge task. Of course, it is much harder to try to find a document with one short line that suggest an existence of a yet-to-be-seen tank from a pile of documents confiscated by the allies, but still, I respect their effort. So, I won’t criticize the made-up tanks occupying half of the existing HT line and most of the new HT line in Blitz here.
However, should I also turn a blind eye, when they’re being ignorant and risking spreading a misinformation? Now if that’s a fake historical information made-up by WG alone, that’s one thing. WG would be solely responsible for that misinformation, and besides, no one would trust them as a source of historical facts at this point anyway. But it would be another thing entirely to casually reference an un-verified opinion of a self-proclaimed researcher to give it an aura of authority. That’s very irresponsible of WG as a global company, and that’s why they shouldn’t have introduced Mitsu-108 to Blitz.
This thing, Mitsu-108, is clearly a chimera of “Mitsu-104” and “Ishi-108” mentioned in ‘Forgotten Tanks and Guns of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s’ by David Lister. But the book doesn’t cite a source of information about these two tanks. It says the description of them are based on an intelligence report found in British archive, but then it fails to cite an actual primary source, nor any Japanese source to back it up. So aside from YouTube comment section, the book has no place in academic discussion. Simply put, Mitsu-104 and Ishi-108 are highly likely to be fake.
Granted, tank developments in Japan before and during WW2 were done in secret, under the strict information regulation policies. With the loss of documents upon the surrender to boot, possibilities of some undiscovered tanks existing cannot be denied. However, it is a huge undertaking to develop, manufacture and operate a tank. It involves many people to achieve, and usually someone end up leaking some information, or at least a small rumor. O-I for example, has been a mystery for a long time when it comes to its shape, but rumors of a 100 tons class superheavy was persistently there. Tomio Hara, who was heavily involved in Japanese tank development before and during the war, talks about this experimental superheavy in his book ‘Japanese tanks(1961)’ while completely ignoring two tanks mentioned in ‘Forgotten Tanks’ by Lister. It is inconceivable to me that a core member of the tank development department in the imperial army like him didn’t know about Mitsu-104 and Ishi-108 if they were real, therefore I highly doubt the existence of them.
Often, legitimacy of an academic research is judged by the number of citations. Citing someone regarded as an authority in the field would especially make it seem trustworthy. That is what’s happening here. Granted, WoT is already dominated by made-up tanks and no one trusts WG as academic source. But at the same time, the impact and influence WoT has in pop culture should not be underestimated. Introducing tanks from ‘Forgotten Tanks’ in any form means WG as a company is legitimizing the book, when, as I mentioned, information contained in it is highly questionable, and not accepted as a serious subject of discussion among tank researchers in Japan. WG shouldn’t confirm such a shaky information, let alone spread it. Such a careless behavior by WG can get in the way of healthy research of military history, and also shows their ignorance toward the tank community in Japan.
To go back a little, when Japanese tech tree was introduced to the game, there was no Japanese researcher involved in the information gathering process. It was done through a Korean researcher named Seon Eun Ae, aka “Mai waffentrager.” He later broke up with WG and became a consultant on Japanese tanks for Gaijin, where the tanks introduced to War Thunder based on his information were met with doubts and questions from WT community in Japan. Now you might see where I’m going. Yes, the author of a chapter about Japanese tanks in ‘Forgotten Tanks~,’ whose legitimacy I repeatedly called into question in this post, is this same Mr. Mai waffentrager. Some in Japanese Tank community apparently have tried to contact him directly and question him, but they didn’t get satisfactory answers. After a while, they started to just ignore him.
Now to be clear, tank researchers in Japan are working tirelessly to find any information from before and during the war. But because of the loss and confiscation of documents upon surrender, it is really hard for them to reach those documents sitting in foreign archive. So if there is a legitimate and cite-worthy document lying around somewhere, they (or should I say WE) want that for any cost. But again, ‘Forgotten Tanks’ doesn’t show proper citations, so we can’t check that document ourselves. And THAT is the No.1 problem here.
There are already misconceptions about Japanese tanks spreading abroad, because of the language barrier. For example, in the Wikipedia article on “Type 95 Heavy Tank” in English, a name of an experimental SPG called “ヒロ車 (Hi-Ro Sha)” is mentioned, despite no one in Japan has ever heard of that. It is known that there was such an experimental SPG, but it is actually called “試製十二糎自走砲（Experimental 12cm SPG）” and not a nonsense name like Hi-Ro. This kind of misconceptions shouldn’t spread further. WG as a global company has a responsibility not to further the misunderstandings by introducing poorly researched tanks to the game. I wouldn’t go so far as to tell them to reverse their decisions regarding Blitz, where those new tanks are already scheduled to be released very soon. But the attention toward those tanks should be limited as much as possible. They must not import Mitsu-108 to PC, at least until the whereabouts of the source data becomes clear.
As u/Leggasiini once posted, Japan hasn’t received any new tank for several years, which makes me sad as a Japanese tank enthusiast. Meanwhile in Blitz, new Japanese tanks have been released relatively consistently, which has given me some hope. The new HT line, even though it is a bunch of bullpucky that are finer than that in PC, made me rather happy. But can you imagine my sorrow when I saw the silhouette of that likely-to-be-fake abomination? While the fake tanks made up by WG are lies to the players, which are sometimes necessary to make an enjoyable videogame, Mitsu-108 is a lie and an insult to not only the players, but the entire Japanese tank enthusiast community. It was a slap in the face to the nerds like me. WG, please have some respect to the Japanese tanks and the community behind it. I don’t demand new tanks to be released tomorrow. I know it is a very costly undertaking for them as a corporation. But being respectful costs you nothing. Why can’t WG even do that? I hope they will redeem themselves from this doubt.