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Markings on Japanese Arisaka Rifles and Bayonets of World War II

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:

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

Symbol

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 "schoolmarked" rifles also have two or three zeros preceeding the serial number. The "school" mark looks something like this:

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 Series Series Series Number Mark Number Mark 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35

20 21 22 23

37 40 45

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 Arsenal/Subcontractor Series Serial number range Koishikawa (Tokyo) Kokura none 20 22 23 24 25 26 Nagoya 0-2,029,000 (see Note 1) 29,000-49,000 0-99,999 0-99,999 0-99,999 0-99,999 0-71,000 1923ca.1933 ca.1933ca.1940

Type 38

Dates 1906ca.1935 1933-1940

none 2,021,000-2,031,000 26 27 28 29 0-99,999 0-99,999 0-99,999 (see Note 2) 0-8,000

Jinsen (Korea)

none 0-1,400 (see Note 3) 30 1,000-13,000

ca.1939ca.1940 ca.1934ca.1940

Mukden (Manchuria)

none 0-30,000 none 5,000,000-5,065,000 none 65,000-79,000 (see Note 4)

38 Concentric

Nagoya

none 0-2,600 (see Note 5)

??

Circle Kokura 38 Carbine Koishikawa (Tokyo) Kokura Nagoya none 0-1,500 (see Note 5) none 0-212,000 (see Note 6) 2 12,000-92,000 ?? 1906ca.1935 ca.1933ca.1940 1923ca.1933 ca.1933ca.1940

none 0-2,000 4 5 6 0-99,999 0-99,999 0-4,000

Mukden (Manchuria)

none 0-7,000 none 600,000-628,000 6 29,000-44,000

ca.1934ca.1940

44

Koishikawa (Tokyo) Kokura

none 0-56,000 (see Note 7) none 1 56,000-70,000 (see Note 8) 0-9,000

1911ca.1933 ca.1933ca.1940 ca.1930ca.1933 ca.1933ca.1940 1939-1945

Nagoya

none 0-2,000 2 0-12,000

99

Nagoya

none 0-99,999 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 12 0-99,999 2,500-99,999 0-99,999 10,000-99,999 0-99,999 0-99,999 0-99,999 0-99,999 0-99,999 0-99,999 0-1,000 0-99,999 0-99,999 0-99,999 0-99,999

Kokura

20 21 22 23

1939-1945

24 25 Toyo Kogyo 30 31 32 33 34 35 Tokyo Juki Kogyo Izawa Jyuko Howa Jyuko Jinsen Arsenal Mukden Arsenal 99 Concentric Circle Nagoya Nagoya Tokyo Juki Kogyo Kokura Kokura Notes: 27 37 4 9 9 40 45

0-99,999 0-92,000 0-99,999 0-99,999 0-99,999 0-99,999 0-99,999 0-57,000 0-41,000 0-59,000 0-10,000 0-50,000 50,000-99,999 0-91,000 0-3,000 1940-1945 1939-1945 1939-1945 ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? 1940-1945 1940-1945 1939-1945

none 0-600 none 2 none (assembly numbers 0-700) 0-600

none 0-1,400 none 1,800-3,400

1. Koishikawa switched from "B" to "S" barrel proof mark in the late 800,000 serial number range. 2. 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". 3. Some rifles have been reported stamped with the character signifying "for education" (not to be confused with the school mark). 4. 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. 5. 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. 6. Carbines with a shallow "00" or "000" stamped in front of the serial number have been removed from service use. 7. Koishikawa switched from the "B" to the "S" barrel proof mark in the late 20,000 serial number range. 8. "T" proof mark stamped on barrel at receiver.

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 Blade Crossguard Grip Grip Fullers Finish Shape Shape Fasteners Bright Blue Blue Blue Bright Blue Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Hook Hook Hook SC Hook Hook C C CWA C C C Screw Screw Rivet Screw Screw Screw

Arsenal Mark

Pommel Shape BHC BHC BHF BHC BHC BHC

Bright Blue Blue Blue Bright Blue Bright Blue Bright Bright Blue Bright Blue Blue Blue Bright Blue Bright Blue Blue Blue Blue Bright Bright Blue Blue Blue Blue Bright Blue Bright Blue

Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes

Hook Hook SC SC Hook Hook SC SC Hook Hook Hook SC SC SC SC Hook Hook SC SC SC SC SC Hook SC SC SC SC SR Hook Hook SC SC

CWA CWA CWA S C C C C C CWA CWA CWA CWA CWA S CWA CWA CWA CWA CWA CWA S C C C CWA CWA CWA C C C C

Rivet Rivet Rivet Rivet Screw Screw Screw Screw Screw Rivet Rivet Rivet Rivet Rivet Rivet Rivet Rivet Rivet Rivet Rivet Rivet Rivet Screw Screw Screw Rivet Rivet Rivet Screw Screw Screw Screw

BHF BHF R R BHC BHC BHC BHC BHC BHF BHF BHF BHF BHF BHF BHF BHF BHF BHF BHF BHF BHF BHC BHC BHC R R R BHC BHC BHC BHC

Bright Blue Blue Bright Blue Bright Bright Blue Blue

Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No

Hook Hook SC Hook Hook Hook SC Hook SC

C C C C C CWA C C C

Screw Screw Screw Screw Screw Rivet Screw Screw Rivet

BHC BHC BHC BHC BHC BHF BHC BHC 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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