Japanese Machine Guns – Japanese Firepower

Japanese machine guns are known as Kikan Jyu. Japan import Gatling guns from the U.S. in 1867. Gatling guns have multiple barrels that can fire volleys of bullets in rapid succession. They use these guns during the Civil Wars of 1868 and 1872.  Japan also imported Maxim guns in the late 1800s. Those who can afford Machine guns are countries that could afford this weapon. It also needs well-trained troops to man these weapons. Japan was the last to join these countries. It was during the Russo Japanese War of 1904 to 1905 that Machine guns were used. It was in the late 19th century when several Japanese inventors came up with the design inspired by the Hotchkiss System. The Hotchkiss system was named after their American born inventors that spend his time mostly in France. Mr. Nambu also added his ideas to this invention. Hotchkiss was known for its lightness and special cooling features. It was what Japanese operations in Manchuria needed.

When Japan was able to develop the very successful bolt action from that of the Arisak rifle what followed was the development of Machine guns. It was Mr. Kijiro Nambu who was responsible for developing the Japanese Machine Guns. He was acknowledged as the father of Japanese Machine Gun. He was responsible for the designs on Ho-Shiki, M-3, M-11 and M-89. Later on, he was able to develop more models like the M-92, M-96, M-99 and M-100 Machine guns. Even if this seems like a lot, Japan produced relatively a few submachine guns during World War II. The most numerous ones made where 100 Japanese Machine Gun Type. When compared to British Sten which millions were produce the number of M-100s paled in comparison because only 30,000 of these were made. Japanese Machine Guns are classified into: Infantry and dual purpose machine guns and vehicle and aircraft machine guns.

Top Japanese Machine Guns of World War II

  • Type 100 Sub Machine Gun from circa 1940. Even if Japan was slow in adopting a weapon that they can use for combat, eventually Japan was able to come up with M-100. Production for this Japanese Machine Gun lasted for only three years though since this model was not considered a successful weapon of war. However, this inspired the development of a better 1944 model which generate greater rate of fire
  • T-99 Japanese Machine Gun. These Japanese Machine Guns were invented in 1939. This was based on an earlier design T-96.  However, it looks Japanese in appearance. Since this came too late for use during the war this did not leave a mark on soldiers who were able to use it. Still, this was considered as a huge improvement from the old Japanese weapons. Beyond the IJA this type found itself in the inventories of other Asian countries like China, North Korea and Taiwan
  • T-96. This was a light machine gun known as Kyuroku-shiki Kei-kikanju. This was used by the Imperial Japanese Army in the interwar period in World War II. This has a folding bipod attached to the gas block.  Another special feature of this is that it can be fitted with standard infantry bayonet. This was identical in construction to Type 11. However, both of these were produce in large quantities which means the Japanese forces used Type 96 and Type 11
  • T-11. This is a lightweight gun that Japan has invented. It was far from perfect but, it was an unusual gun nonetheless. It was capable of firing automatically but, there is nothing phenomenal about it

Kinds of Infantry and Dual Purpose Machine Guns

  • Type 11 Light Machine Guns. Type 89 Flexible Twin Type Japanese Machine Gun falls under this model. Type 89  Special and Type Modified Single
  • Type 21 Light Machine Gun
  • Type 89 Fixed Licensed Built Vickers
  • Type 92. This was copied from Lewis gun
  • Type 96 Light Machine Gun was copied from Zb vz. 26 captured from China. Type 97 light machine gun is under this and is widely used for Japanese tanks. Type 99 Light Machine Gun is also under this that shows a more higher reliability rate
  • Type 3 Heavy Japanese Machine Gun. This is based on 8mm Hotchkiss M1914. Type 92 Heavy Machine Gun is under this and so does Type 1 Heavy Machine Gun which was modified for weight reduction
  • Type 98 7.7mm Water Cooled Heavy Machine Gun. This was inspired by Vickers gun which was captured from Chinese. This was used to protect fortresses

Types of Vehicle and Aircraft Japanese Machine Guns

  • Type 91 Machine Gun. This was modified for automotive use
  • Type 92 Automotive 13 mm cannon
  • Type 97 Aircraft Machine Gun. This is a modification of Type 89 Fixed
  • Type 98 Turret Machine Gun. These are licensed production of German MG15 7.62mm machine guns
  • Type 4 Heavy Machine Gun. This was tested from 1942 to 1944 however, this was not acceptable for Japanese Army use until Japan surrendered after the war

These Japanese Machine Guns are support equipment for the Imperial Japanese Army or IJA and Imperial Japanese Navy or IJN from 1937 until 1945. The Empire of Japan forces conducted operations through North China which stands on the borders of Russia. The development of weapons was specifically developed separately for both IJA and IJN until 1943. However, IJN received a bigger cut of the budget which allowed the Imperial Japanese Navy in owning Super Battleships and other advanced form of aircraft weapons. On the other hand, the Imperial Japanese Army suffered from lack of supply which created an impact on the use of tactics and weapons in their engagements including those in World War II. Machine Guns require at least four personnel to transport and carry because of its lack of belt fed system. These produce limitations on prolonged fire. This challenge the Japanese commanders faced with lack of equipment. The Japanese armies resorted to Banzai or bayonet. The poor attempts to engage the enemy in hand to hand combat was no match for the enemies who were armed to the teeth with better weapons.