Japanese Military Markings!

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  1. HankStone

    HankStone New Member

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    http://www.radix.net/~bbrown/japanese_markings.html

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    Markings on Japanese Arisaka Rifles and Bayonets of World War II


    Last Updated 09/07/2000



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    Adapted from Japanese Rifles of World War II, by Duncan O. McCollum, 1996, published by Excalibur Publications, PO Box 36, Latham, NY 12110-0036, USA, ISBN: 1-880677-11-3; and Military Rifles of Japan, by Fred. L. Honeycutt, Jr., and F. Patt Anthony, Fifth Edition, 1996, published by Julin Books, 5282 Ridan Way, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418, ISBN: 0-9623208-7-0. Bayonet information from Bayonets from Janzen's Notebook, by Jerry L. Janzen, published by Cedar Ridge Publications, 73 Cedar Ridge Road, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma 74011-1142, USA. ISBN: 0-9619789-1-0.

    Table of bayonet variations added 09/07/2000.

    Production figures added 08/05/2000.

    Spelling of Col. Arisaka's name updated 06/25/2000, based on information supplied by his great-granddaughter.

    Markings on Japanese Arisaka Rifles and Bayonets of World War II

    The Japanese manufactured over 6.4 million rifles and carbines in the 40 years from 1906 to 1945. Most of these rifles were still in use during the Sino-Japanese War of the 1930s and the Pacific War of the 1940s. During the war and subsequent American occupation of Japan, thousands of these rifles found their way to the United States as war souvenirs, making them one of the most common foreign military firearms available in the country.

    The Arisaka rifles are named for Colonel Nariaki Nariakira Arisaka, who headed a commission during the 1890s which was charged with developing a new rifle to replace the earlier models such as the Murata. The Arisaka rifles were designated with the year of the current emperor's reign. Thus, the Type 38 rifle was designed in the 38th year of the reign of Emperor Meiji (1905), and the Type 44 carbine was adopted in the 44th year of his reign (1911). During the reign of Hirohito, rifles were designated by the last one or two digits of the adoption year according to the standard Japanese calendar. Thus, the Type 99 rifle was adopted in Japanese calendar year 2599 (1939), and the Type 2 paratroop rifle was adopted in calendar year 2602 (1942).

    A chrysanthemum with 16 petals (the symbol of the Japanese Emperor) was usually stamped on the receiver of rifles manufactured for the Imperial Japanese Army, indicating that the rifle belonged to the Emperor. The chrysanthemum resembles this:



    The chrysanthemum was at least partially ground off on rifles which were surrendered after the war, apparently as a face-saving gesture. Rifles captured in the field, however, normally have the chrysanthemum symbol intact. The Type designation was stamped into the top of the receiver using the character shiki for "type" and Japanese numerals. The shiki character and the characters for the Japanese numerals are shown in the following table.


    Japanese Characters Used on Arisaka Rifles Character Meaning
    Type
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    6
    7
    8
    9
    10


    A small number of Type 38 and Type 99 rifles had two concentric circles on the receiver in place of the chrysanthemum. The purpose of these specially-marked rifles is not known, although it is speculated that they were issued to paramilitary forces such as the Kempei Tai (Japanese Secret Police), other military police, and guards at prisons, embassies, and other civil instillations. Some concentric circle rifles were remarked standard issue Type 38 and Type 99 rifles that had the chrysanthemum completely or partially removed and replaced with the concentric circle marking. These rifles were serialized separately from regular production pieces. Other rifles apparently were originally manufactured and marked with concentric circles, which looks something like this:





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    Arsenal Marks

    Each Japanese rifle was marked with the symbol of either the arsenal of manufacture or the arsenal that supervised the manufacturing subcontractor. This mark can be found on the left side of the receiver at the end of the rifle serial number. Rifles manufactured by a commercial subcontractor bear the subcontractor's mark to the right of the supervising arsenal's mark. These marks are shown in the following table.


    Japanese Rifle Manufacturers Symbol Arsenal/Subcontractor Period of Operation
    Koishikawa Arsenal (Tokyo) 1870-1935
    Kokura Arsenal 1935-1945
    Nagoya Arsenal 1923-1945
    Jinsen Arsenal (Korea) 1923-1945
    Mukden Arsenal (Manchuria) 1931-1945
    Toyo Kogyo 1939-1945
    Tokyo Juki Kogyo 1940-1945
    Tokyo Juki Kogyo 1940-1945
    Howa Jyuko 1940-1945
    Izawa Jyuko 1940-1945


    At various times, rifles were removed from military service and sold to other countries or transferred to Japanese schools as training weapons. Normally, the chrysanthemum on these rifles was overstamped with the Koishikawa (Tokyo) / Kokura Arsenal symbol or a ring of small circles to indicate that the rifle no longer belonged to the Imperial Japanese Army. Rifles given to schools often have an additional character stamped on the top of the receiver between the chrysanthemum and the type designation characters. Most of these "school-marked" rifles also have two or three zeros preceeding the serial number. The "school" mark looks something like this:





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    Serial Numbers

    All Japanese military rifles had serial numbers except extremely rare prototypes, other pre-production guns, and occasional rifles assembled very late in World War II. The serial number was stamped on the left side of the receiver, followed by the arsenal symbol. Initially, rifles make in Japanese arsenals were numbered consecutively within each Type designation. In 1933 this scheme was replaced by a system in which rifles were numbered in blocks, or series, of 99,999 each [actually 100,000, according to Honeycutt, running from serial numbers 0 through 99,999]. Each series was identified by a small Japanese character (kana) placed within a circle to the left of the serial number. Specific blocks of kana were assigned to each arsenal or manufacturer to use for a specific rifle type. The series markings are illustrated in the following table.


    Series Markings Series Number Series Mark Series Number Series Mark
    1 24
    2 25
    3 26
    4 27
    5 28
    6 29
    7 30
    8 31
    9 32
    10 33
    11 34
    12 35
    20 37
    21 40
    22 45
    23



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    Production Figures

    The following table, based on information from McCollum's and Honeycutt's books, provides some information about rifle production at the various arsenals, organized by type of rifle. These figures are only estimates, and are based on recorded serial number information. Blank entries indicate that the information in the entry immediately above applies to the blank entry as well.

    Production information for sniper rifles, paratroop rifles (Types 100 and 2), Test Type 1 rifles, and Type I rifles (produced by Italy for the Japanese Navy and not based totally on the Arisaka action) are not included.


    Japanese Rifle Production Figures Type Arsenal/Subcontractor Series Serial number range Dates
    38 Koishikawa (Tokyo) none 0-2,029,000 (see Note 1) 1906-ca.1935
    Kokura 20 29,000-49,000 1933-1940
    22 0-99,999
    23 0-99,999
    24 0-99,999
    25 0-99,999
    26 0-71,000
    Nagoya none 2,021,000-2,031,000 1923-ca.1933
    26 0-99,999 ca.1933-ca.1940
    27 0-99,999
    28 0-99,999 (see Note 2)
    29 0-8,000
    Jinsen (Korea) none 0-1,400 (see Note 3) ca.1939-ca.1940
    30 1,000-13,000
    Mukden (Manchuria) none 0-30,000 ca.1934-ca.1940
    none 5,000,000-5,065,000
    none 65,000-79,000 (see Note 4)
    38 Concentric Circle Nagoya none 0-2,600 (see Note 5) ??
    Kokura none 0-1,500 (see Note 5) ??
    38 Carbine Koishikawa (Tokyo) none 0-212,000 (see Note 6) 1906-ca.1935
    Kokura 2 12,000-92,000 ca.1933-ca.1940
    Nagoya none 0-2,000 1923-ca.1933
    4 0-99,999 ca.1933-ca.1940
    5 0-99,999
    6 0-4,000
    Mukden (Manchuria) none 0-7,000 ca.1934-ca.1940
    none 600,000-628,000
    6 29,000-44,000
    44 Koishikawa (Tokyo) none 0-56,000 (see Note 7) 1911-ca.1933
    Kokura none 56,000-70,000 (see Note 8) ca.1933-ca.1940
    1 0-9,000
    Nagoya none 0-2,000 ca.1930-ca.1933
    2 0-12,000 ca.1933-ca.1940
    99 Nagoya none 0-99,999 1939-1945
    1 0-99,999
    2 2,500-99,999
    3 0-99,999
    4 10,000-99,999
    5 0-99,999
    6 0-99,999
    7 0-99,999
    8 0-99,999
    10 0-99,999
    11 0-99,999
    12 0-1,000
    Kokura 20 0-99,999 1939-1945
    21 0-99,999
    22 0-99,999
    23 0-99,999
    24 0-99,999
    25 0-92,000
    Toyo Kogyo 30 0-99,999 1939-1945
    31 0-99,999
    32 0-99,999
    33 0-99,999
    34 0-99,999
    35 0-57,000
    Tokyo Juki Kogyo 27 0-41,000 1940-1945
    37 0-59,000
    Izawa Jyuko 4 0-10,000 1940-1945
    9 0-50,000
    Howa Jyuko 9 50,000-99,999 1940-1945
    Jinsen Arsenal 40 0-91,000 1939-1945
    Mukden Arsenal 45 0-3,000 1939-1945
    99 Concentric Circle Nagoya none 0-600 ??
    Nagoya none none (assembly numbers 0-700) ??
    Tokyo Juki Kogyo 2 0-600 ??
    Kokura none 0-1,400 ??
    Kokura none 1,800-3,400 ??

    Notes:


    Koishikawa switched from "B" to "S" barrel proof mark in the late 800,000 serial number range.
    Rifles in this series have been observed with (i) mum removed and either an elongated M or the school mark substituted, or (ii) mum overstamped by the Nagoya symbol, an elongated M, or other characters. The elongated M indicates "military reserves".
    Some rifles have been reported stamped with the character signifying "for education" (not to be confused with the school mark).
    Serial numbers in this range are preceded by two hiragana characters for "i" and "ro", the first two characters in the Japanese syllabary. These characters resemble "w" and "3", and these serial numbers have been misidentified as being in the 300,000 range.
    These rifles will normally be found stamped with a symbol similar to the series mark for "4" stamped underneath the receiver or on the barrel, indicating a second class arm.
    Carbines with a shallow "00" or "000" stamped in front of the serial number have been removed from service use.
    Koishikawa switched from the "B" to the "S" barrel proof mark in the late 20,000 serial number range.
    "T" proof mark stamped on barrel at receiver.


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    Bayonets

    The primary kind of bayonet used on Japanese rifles in World War II was the Type 30, introduced in 1897. They averaged about 20 inches in overall length and were produced in 18 distinct manufacturing patterns, but most are similar to the following 3 types (pictures copied from Bayonets from Janzen's Notebook):

    Hooked quillon:



    Straight quillon:



    Straight quillon with squared pommel:



    The bayonets were normally serial numbered, but the serial numbers were assigned independently from those assigned to the rifles.
    Symbols indicating the arsenals at which the bayonets were manufactured, or the arsenal that supervised the subcontractor, are stamped on the right ricasso. These markings are identified in the following table:


    Japanese Bayonet Arsenal Marks Symbol Arsenal/Subcontractor
    Tokyo Arsenal prior to 1936
    Kokura Arsenal 1936-45
    Nagoya Arsenal
    Jinsen Arsenal (Korea)
    Mukden Arsenal (Manchuria)
    National Denki (National Electric)
    Unknown
    Unknown company under Kokura supervision
    National Denki under Kokura supervision
    Howa Jyuko under Nagoya supervision
    Unknown company under Nagoya supervision
    Toyoda Jidoshoki Seisakusho (Toyoda Automatic Loom Works) under Nagoya supervision
    Unknown company under Nagoya supervision


    The variations are too numerous to illustrate here, but the following table (lifted from Honeycutt) lists the more commonly found variations. The abbreviations are listed below the table. My references do not list any production information for the many variations.


    Typical Type 30 Bayonet Variations Arsenal Mark Blade Finish Fullers Crossguard Shape Grip Shape Grip Fasteners Pommel Shape
    Bright Yes Hook C Screw BHC
    Blue Yes Hook C Screw BHC
    Blue Yes Hook CWA Rivet BHF
    Blue Yes SC C Screw BHC
    Bright Yes Hook C Screw BHC
    Blue Yes Hook C Screw BHC
    Bright Yes Hook CWA Rivet BHF
    Blue Yes Hook CWA Rivet BHF
    Blue No SC CWA Rivet R
    Blue No SC S Rivet R
    Bright Yes Hook C Screw BHC
    Blue Yes Hook C Screw BHC
    Bright Yes SC C Screw BHC
    Blue Yes SC C Screw BHC
    Bright Yes Hook C Screw BHC
    Bright Yes Hook CWA Rivet BHF
    Blue Yes Hook CWA Rivet BHF
    Bright Yes SC CWA Rivet BHF
    Blue Yes SC CWA Rivet BHF
    Blue No SC CWA Rivet BHF
    Blue No SC S Rivet BHF
    Bright Yes Hook CWA Rivet BHF
    Blue Yes Hook CWA Rivet BHF
    Bright Yes SC CWA Rivet BHF
    Blue Yes SC CWA Rivet BHF
    Blue No SC CWA Rivet BHF
    Blue No SC CWA Rivet BHF
    Blue No SC S Rivet BHF
    Bright Yes Hook C Screw BHC
    Bright Yes SC C Screw BHC
    Blue Yes SC C Screw BHC
    Blue Yes SC CWA Rivet R
    Blue No SC CWA Rivet R
    Blue No SR CWA Rivet R
    Bright Yes Hook C Screw BHC
    Blue Yes Hook C Screw BHC
    Bright Yes SC C Screw BHC
    Blue Yes SC C Screw BHC
    Bright Yes Hook C Screw BHC
    Blue Yes Hook C Screw BHC
    Blue Yes SC C Screw BHC
    Bright Yes Hook C Screw BHC
    Blue Yes Hook C Screw BHC
    Bright Yes Hook CWA Rivet BHF
    Bright Yes SC C Screw BHC
    Blue Yes Hook C Screw BHC
    Blue No SC C Rivet BHC

    The following abbreviations are used in the above table:

    Crossguard:

    SC - Straight contoured
    SR - Straight rectangular

    Grips:

    C - Contoured, screw retained
    CWA - Contoured, wrap around, rivet retained
    SWA - Straight, wrap around, rivet retained
    S - Straight, rivet retained

    Pommel:

    BHC - Birdshead, contoured
    BHF - Birdshead, flat sides
    R - Rectangular




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    As usual, I'm not responsible for any factual errors, but please report any transcription errors to me.

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    Last edited: Apr 5, 2013
  2. kfox75

    kfox75 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    thanks for posting this Hank. The link has been quite helpful in finding out more info on my grandfather's Arisaka.