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"New Weapons Captured at Ormoc" from Intelligence Bulletin, March 1945

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   A report on new Japanese weapons captured in the Ormoc area of Leyte Island, including the ceramic hand grenade, Model 90 75-mm gun, Model 2 120-mm mortar, and 81-mm barrage mortar, from the Intelligence Bulletin, March 1945.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on enemy equipment and tactics published for Allied soldiers. More accurate data on foreign equipment and tactics is available in postwar publications.]


Ordnance Intelligence men who advanced with combat troop into the Ormoc area of Leyte Island have recovered four new-type Japanese weapons, ranging from a hand grenade to an artillery piece. Some of these weapons had been known but not seen, and their capture in the Philippines indicates that the newest and best items from Japan's industrial arsenal will be met with increasing frequency as U.S. forces move closer to Tokyo.


Of primary interest to the infantryman is the discovery of a ceramic hand grenade, the size and shape of a baseball. A short bottle neck protrudes from the sphere, and the external appearance of the grenade resembles an old-fashioned idea of a bomb. A loop of white tape is tied into a groove around the neck, apparently for carrying. The grenade body is made either of white porcelain or glazed pottery, and is covered with a close-fitting, tan rubber cover.

A rubber plug is cemented in the bottle neck and holds the simple fuze. This detonator is no more than a blasting cap crimped on to a five-second length of fuze. The other end of the fuze, which is outside the rubber plug, is covered with a match-head composition. A slip-on rubber cap covers the whole neck, and fuze. A small, loose wooden block with an abrasive composition on one side is contained in the rubber fuze cover.

[Two views of the Japanese Ceramic Hand Grenade]
Two views of the Ceramic Hand Grenade showing (left) the grenade with carrying tape and exposed match-head fuze, and (right) the grenade with rubber cover and rubber fuze cap.

Weighing less than a pound, this grenade is easy to throw, but the thrower must be careful not to strike a nearby hard object, such as a tree, as the porcelain shatters easily. The grenade is ignited by removing the rubber fuze cover and scratching the striker block across the match-head composition. It also seems possible to light the fuze with a cigarette. The grenade should be thrown as soon as the fuze is lighted.

This grenade is entirely a concussion weapon, as there is considerable blast but little fragmentation resulting from the explosion.


One of Japan's most modern weapons, the Model 90 75-mm field gun, has been recovered for the first time by U.S. troops. A long-barreled weapon, this gun is the weapon of first-rate Japanese artillery units only. It is equipped with a horizontal sliding breechblock, hydropneumatic recoil mechanism, split trails, muzzle brake, and automotive-type combat tires.

This gun has a reported muzzle velocity of 2,296 feet per second, and a reported maximum range of 16,350 yards—it is perhaps the most effective antitank gun the Japanese have, and, when equipped with pneumatic tires, it is highly mobile.

[The Model 90 75-mm field gun, one of the most modern of Japanese artillery weapons.]
The Model 90 75-mm field gun, one of the most modern of Japanese artillery weapons. A suitable antitank weapon, this is the first of its kind to be captured by U.S. troops.


A large-caliber mortar known to have been developed by the Japanese, but never before encountered by U.S. troops, was also taken near Ormoc. It is the Model 2 120-mm mortar, which resembles the U.S. 81-mm mortar in design, except for size, the firing mechanism, and the fact that the bipod and cradle break down to two assemblies. The very heavy, ribbed base plate, which is equipped with four carrying handles, has only one socket for the spherical projection on the barrel. The barrel is reinforced at the muzzle.

A movable firing pin is connected with a plunger that sticks upward and out from the breech of the barrel. After the piece has been loaded, it is fired by striking this plunger with a mallet or similar instrument. The blow on the plunger thrusts the firing pin forward thus detonating the propelling charge on the mortar shell.

The shell, which weighs 26.4 pounds, is the conventional "tear drop", fin-stabilizer type. It is fuzed with the standard Japanese Model 100 mortar fuze.


The capture of an 81-mm barrage mortar has been reported. Sometimes called a "spike" mortar, this type of weapon consists of a mortar tube on a wooden base block on the bottom of which is a large metal spike. When fired, the barrage mortar shell, after reaching a definite range, expels a series of parachute-supported high explosive charges which detonate by time fuzes. Because of the crude spike and block arrangement for emplacing it in the ground, the mortar is considered highly inaccurate. It is believed to have been developed for use against low-flying aircraft, or for firing over the heads of hostile ground troops. The Japanese are known to have a standard 70-mm barrage mortar, but the 81-mm variety found at Ormoc is the first of its caliber to be reported.

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