Ground Guns

Other Guns

Machine Gun Equipment


Ground Guns

Heavy Machine Guns (Jyu-Ki)
Model Ho (Ho-Shiki)

Probably in 1896 French-made Hotchkiss machine guns were purchased by Japan. This Hotchkiss gun was in 6.5mm Japanese and it used 30-round feed strips. Soon after its purchase this gun was manufactured at Tokyo Arsenal under license obtained from Hotchkiss. This gun was called the M-30, but this designation was not official. The Japanese used standard infantry rifle ammunition in their machine guns. The total production of the HO-Shiki was about 1000 and this gun was used in the Russo - Japanese War of 1904 -1905.

Strangely, Japanese writing about the Russo - Japanese War in the late 1930's indicated Japanese troops had suffered badly from Russian machine guns, and especially because Japan had no machine guns. The truth is that the number of machine guns fielded in that war was equal to or exceeded the number used by the Russians. Probably the Japanese Army used machine guns quite often for indirect fire, shooting over the heads of their attacking infantry. Almost from beginning of use the ammunition for machine gun was oiled.

Model 38 (1905)
This gun, in 6.5mm, was a modified form of the HO-Shiki and it had seven cooling fins on the barrel, a grip safety, and right side sights. The tripod for this gun was developed by Nambu and was adopted as the M-38 tripod; the tripods made for the M-3 and M-92 heavy machine guns kept almost the same style. The M-38 was produced by Tokyo Arsenal and fewer than 1000 were made. Just after the development of this gun the Japanese standardized the infantry heavy machine gun squad, which was composed of six guns. The photograph shows that the M-38 was used by the Japanese in their attack of German fortress of Tsingtao with English and Indian troops at the beginning of WW I in 1914.
Model 3 (1914)
This gun, in 6.5mm, had a gas-operated, air-cooled system and it was fed from a 30-round feed strip. The total production of the Model 3 was about 3000, and some of them were exported. Most of these guns were made by Tokyo Arsenal, and later they were made by TGE (Hitachi). The M-3 was developed from the M-38 Hotchkiss gun.
Mr. Nambu mentioned that this gun was improved over the M-38 with respect to feeding, cooling system, and accuracy. The barrel change became easier. The overall length of the M-3 was 121cm, its barrel length was 72cm, its height was 56cm, and its weight was 26kg. The M-38 tripods total length without poles was 110cm, and with poles it was 226cm; this tripod's weight was 23kg without poles, and 28kg with poles.
Model 92 (1932)

The M-92 had a gas-operated, air-cooled system, and it used a feed strip of 30-rounds of 7.7mm ammunition. This was the principal heavy machine gun for Japanese troops, and total production by TGE and mostly by Hitachi, was about 45,000 guns. Each company had two guns, and six guns composed a machine gun squad. About ten soldiers were needed in support of each gun, and the gun usually was carried on its tripod by two to four men. The 4-power M-96 scope was used on this gun. Continuous fire was delivered by successively hooking 30-round strips together as they were fed into the gun. At a Banzai Shootout several years ago a Model 92 was tested and the people there were impressed by its stability and accuracy. The M-92's overall length was 115cm, its barrel length was 70cm, its height was 55cm, and its weight was 28kg.

Light Machine Guns (Kei-Ki)
Model 11 (1922)
This gun, in 6.5mm, had a gas-operated, air-cooled system, and ammunition was supplied to the gun from a 30-round hopper which used 5-round rifle clips. The total production of this weapon was 29,000 and it was made by Kokura, Nagoya, and Hitachi. Infantry rifle ammunition was used, often being supplied by soldiers from their ammunition pouches. This gun was made from 1923 until 1941. During the Japan-China War of the 1930's the M-11 was the major weapon for the rifle squad. Of all Japanese long arms only this cannot be fitted with a bayonet. The M-11's overall length was 110cm, its barrel length was 48cm, and its weight was 11kg.
Model 96 (1936)
The M-96 had a gas-operated, air cooled system and used a top mounted box magazine which held 30 rounds of 6.5mm ammunition. This gun was developed by Nambu and used his patented locking system. Total production of the M-96 was about 41,000, and the gun was made by Kokura, Nagoya Nambu, and Mukden. The overall length of the M-96 was 105cm, its barrel length was 54cm, and its weight was 9kg.
Model 99 (1939)

This weapon was a scaled-up version of the M-96, made to use 7.7mm ammunition. It was made by Kokura, Nagoya, Hitachi and Mukden, and total production was about 53,000. A 30-round box magazine was used in its feed system. The overall length of the M-99 was 119cm, its barrel length was 55cm, and its weight was 11.4kg.


Probably there were several hundred thousand Japanese machine guns left behind in China and Manchuria at the end of WW II. Most of them went to the Chinese Communists to oust the Chinese Nationalists in their Civil War. Since the 1930's America had supported the Nationalists but America did not come to the aid of the Nationalists in 1949 and they were driven from mainland China. This was the beginning of troubles in Asia for the next forty years.

Testing Japanese light machine guns reveals them to be easy to carry, having light recoil, demonstrating good accuracy, and being easy to clean.