GUNS Magazine May 2013 Digital Edition - Page 54

Of The JAPANESE SoLDIERS WERE ARMED WITh A vARIETy oF hIGh-quALITy ARMS GoING INTo WWII. ver since World War II ended a misconception has existed that Japan armed its infantry troops with junk firearms. Such has even been stated in books by noted historians albeit obviously not ones overly familiar with firearms. Japan did not do that. At least not until they were so desperate later in the conflict that some of their rifles became shoddily made to the point of being dangerous to shoot. Conversely, at the beginning of WWII their infantry small arms were as good as any other nations’. Of course some reader right now is screaming “Garand! Garand!” True the US Army adopted M1 Garands in 1936. Still most American troops in ground combat until late 1942 carried bolt-action ’03 Springfields. E Mike “DUke” VenTURino PhoToS: YVonne VenTURino However, it must also be stressed excellent manufacturing quality does not necessarily equate to wellconceived designs. Here is but one for-instance. The Japanese Type 14 8mm semi-auto pistol had no hold-open device to keep its bolt rearwards when the magazine’s last round was fired. The magazine itself performed that job but when removed for reloading the bolt closed. After a fresh magazine was inserted the bolt had to be retracted manually in order to chamber a round. That process could be deadly slow in the middle of a firefight. This Japanese soldier circa 1940 is armed with a Type 38 6.5x50mm carbine with its bayonet mounted. infantry rifles & carbines As with American armed forces the Japanese had two types of infantry troops. There were Imperial Army soldiers (hetai) and Naval Special Landing Forces (rikusentai). The latter could be roughly likened to US Marines. American forces fought both types of Japanese infantry on dozens of Pacific War battlefields. Starting in the 1890s the Japanese military relied on a 6.5x50mm semi-rimmed cartridge for their infantry troops, which incidentally, was the smallest bolt-action infantry rifle round used by a major military force in W W W . G U N S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • M AY 2 0 1 3 54

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