Field Equipment [Sogu]
Japanese Army adopted western style uniform for battle before
the Meiji Restoration and until 1912 there were three major
revisions. Field gear was generally revised in 1930 (M-Sho-5)
in 1938 (M98), and in 1943 (M-3). Besides general field gear
there was Winter Gear, Summer Working Gear, and Special Workers
Gear. Six different sizes of wearing apparel were prepared.
The main color used was yellowish khaki, and in 1943 more green
infantry policy was seriously based on walking rather than
relying on the other transports. The background of this reality
was lack of fuel and their terrain of the field, such as in
China, made the use of vehicles totally unsuitable for military
operations. Thus, the kind and quality of footwear available
were vital to the progress of the infantry.
The Japanese military boots are very similar to the heavy
duty work boot type of footwear popular today everywhere.
There were three main types of short boots in the Japanese
- Cowhide, with all leather sole, without any metal, and
with an engraved mark on bottom.
- Hob-nailed leather soles-there were two types
A). with 38 round spikes on bottom, each spike measuring
7mm in diameter and 3mm high. There was also a crescent
moon-shaped metal piece on the outside of the heel.
B). with scallop-shell shaped metal studs on the
bottom-seven on the front part of the sole, and four on
the heel, with each measuring 15mm x 22 mm and 3mm thick.
- A rubber-soled boot, with leather uppers and no metal,
very similar to the modern version.
The sizes of boots were measured
in lengths that corresponded to the size of the Mon, a type
of old coin. The size was shown on the boot and punched out
in dotted holes.
For example, size 10.0 Mon would be 25cm( 10inches) and approximately
6 1/2 American size, and the size 10.3 would be 27cm(11inches),
American size 7. All stitching was double stitched. The makers
logo was also stamped into the leather.
There are several names of the manufacturer seen such as CHIYODA,
SAKURAGUMI, OUTSUKA, and so on.
About half of the boots seen were made from cowhide, with
the tanned or brown part of the leather on the outside. Yet,
there were still a large number of boots using the suade side
of the leather outside.
Boots without the metal studs were probably used by tank soldiers
or drivers because they would not slip on iron, and by the
naval landing forces.
After 1944 many of the boots were made using pigskin or sharkskin
mainly because of the lack of materials. Pigskin is much weaker
and does not hold up as well, and later boots were of much
lower quality, made to lower standards, with only single stitching,
and no markings, and no size. Very few of these survived.
|In Japanese a helmet is called
a "Tetsu-bou" and a field cap is a "Ryaku-bou." Until the late
1920's the cap "Gun-bou," was the main head gear for the troops.
The latest Gun-bou was the M-45 (1912) which was yellow with
a red band and a black visor. The main helmet used since 1930
was the M-90 (1930), and it was used until 1945. Another type
of helmet used before 1930 had a chrysanthemum ornament on top,
and few of these helmets exist today.
The Japanese Army first began to use helmets in 1928, but perhaps
the Naval Landing Forces might have used them a little earlier.
The early helmet models had a flared shape with visor, and photographs
from 1929 show that helmets were used by both the Army and Navy.
It is believed that a total of only 15,000 of the Old Style
helmets were produced. The peak of the Old Style helmet was
decorated with a cherry blossom, and the strap was fastened
at four points. In 1930, the M-90 with its simple, ordinary
shape was adopted, and this helmet was manufactured with almost
no change until 1945. The M-90 helmet was made of high quality
chrome molybdenum steel. A star symbol was attached to the front
of the helmet.
The M-90 helmet, which has a simple
round shape, was made from molybdenum steel and was painted
khaki. It has a leather interior with a cloth chin strap. A
cloth cover and a net for camouflage purposes were used with
this helmet. There are two sizes - large (Dai) and small (Shou)
- and the size is usually painted on the inside of the brim
at the rear. The M-90 helmet was made mainly at the arsenals
initially and later several commercial companies (Kobe Seiko)
joined in the production. Probably several million of these
helmets were made and average annual production during the 1938
- 1944 period was 600,0000. Naval Landing Forces used the same
M-90 helmets probably until 1943.
Field Cap [Ryaku-Bou]
It was made in cotton for summer
and in wool for winter. Its color is between khaki and yellow.
In 1944 and 1945 many different kinds of helmets were made
for the Naval Landing Forces because of the expansion of naval
forces on the ground after the Navy lost its sea powers. Some
were for guards, some were for training, and some of these
helmets were made for commercial use.
[Kawa-Obi] and Bayonets' Holders [Jyuken-Sasi]
M-30 bayonet and bayonet holder are basic equipment. The belt
is 103cm long and there are 11 hole and 7 hole variants.
Tools and Kits [Teire-Gu]
Many Japanese small arms were
designed with features to protect them from the dust, mud,
and water of the North East part of China where they suffered
severe battlefield conditions. Most Japanese rifles were equipped
with full size cleaning rods under their barrels, with the
exceptions of the Murata-22 which had a tubular magazine and
sections stored inside the buttstock. A Japanese infantry
rifle squad each had a kit of cleaning tools in a bag which
contained a screwdriver, sections of a cleaning rod, a cleaning
rod guide of wood which was used in place of the rifles bolt
during cleaning, a muzzle guide, a cleaning brush, and a jag
tip. There were various muzzle covers and action covers to
protect every open portion of a weapon. Machine guns had leather
or canvas gun covers for protection.
"Clean a weapon to preserve
it forever" is one of the mottos of the Japanese military.
Mr. Murata wrote in the manual for his Murata rifle of the
1870's that a rifle properly cared for should be preserved
forever. Mr. Nambu mentioned almost the same words. Japan
was a poor country so it was strict policy for troops to take
good care of their weapons in all circumstances. A weapon
was regarded with more importance than a man.
|Today it is difficult to find
other equipment items, such as back packs, bread bags, portable
tents, camouflage nets, and map cases in original and in good
condition. Most equipment items are OD khaki color, but when
the battle front went south green was added. In 1933 a backpack
was adopted which had twelve tapes on it to hold a shovel, a
mess kit, a tent, and a pair of Tabi; because of the many tapes
it was called "OCTIPUS LEGS." This equipment was made from canvas
and many of these backpacks used a cloth belt to hold down the
Kit [Han-Gou] and Canteen [Sui-Tou]
Japanese troops ate mainly rice
for their rations. Rice was a superior food for carrying and
for preserving, but it had to be cooked in good water over
a fire. Rice was cooked individual soldiers for there seldom
was a central field kitchen available. The mess kit was brown
in color, and it had an inside liner. The cooked rice was
contained in the outer container and inside container was
used for side dishes. A soldier was supplied with six Gou
(one Gou is about two pints) of rice per day, with a canned
side dish. The ration was a tremendous amount. The average
Japanese consumes only one Gou of rice per day at present.
|It was of one liter capacity
and it was painted brown. There were many variations of the
canteen, depending upon manufacturer.
of compasses were used but the most popular style was
made of black Bakelite material and was liquid - filled.
soldiers started using the wrist watches individually
probably late 1920's. SEIKO introduced "NATION" model
9 and 10 which had 7,10,15 stones in 1929 based on their
Army model watches. In 1937 SEIKO produced 700,000 Army
watches. During 1937-42 , SEIKO Second Factory made more
than 1million watches for the Army and Navy each year.
An Army model had a star marking on the dial and a Navy
Model had an anchor marking on the back plate. In 1938
an Army wrist watch cost about 1/10 of a M-38 rifle.
|There should be
several million Japanese military wrist watches existence ,
but these days they are very hard to find.
most popular gas mask used by the Army was the M-95 whose cannister
filter was separated from the face mask by a hose and which
was carried in the bag. The Navy used the M-97 which also separated
face mask and filter, and the filter was carried on the man's
back. These gas masks could be used for up to 100 hours of continuous
use. Later the Army adopted the M-98 gas mask which mated face
mask and filter cannister as one unit and the filter on this
mask was useable for up to 30 hours. These masks were made by
millions but today they are hard to find. There were many civilian
types and these were small units with the filters incorporated
in the face mask and they were supplied in a thin canvas bag.
were several hand tools carried by infantry troops: shovels,
axes, saws, pickaxes, sickles, and wire cutters. There were
threee sizes of shovels, a small one for infantry, and a medium-sized
one for artillerymen. The artilleryman's shovel has two holes
in the blade which may be used as viewing holes when the shovel
is used as face protection when observing enemy positions from
a trench. Machine gun squads used shovels to make proper emplacements
for their guns.