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Japanese Tanks and Tank Tactics
Military Intelligence Service, Special Series No. 26, November 15, 1944
[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from a WWII U.S. War Department Special Series publication. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]

Chapter III: Equipment

The main armament of Japanese medium tanks usually is the Model 94 (1934) 37-mm tank gun. It is a short-barreled, medium-velocity gun primarily designed for antipersonnel use. This factor, of course, was in keeping with the former Japanese policy of utilizing tanks mainly for infantry support. There is also a Model 98 (1938) 37-mm tank gun, thus far found mounted only in a Japanese fighter plane. It is a single shot with a semiautomatic sliding-wedge breechblock. The barrel is 49.5 inches long and the chamber is of the same size as the Model 94. This model, like the 94, is a medium-muzzle-velocity weapon. Replacement of low- or medium-muzzle-velocity guns by high-velocity weapons seems to be a reasonably certain trend in the modernization of Japanese armored vehicles.

There also are 47-mm and 57-mm tank guns installed in medium tanks but little is known about them. The 47-mm probably is a high-velocity antitank piece that has been modified for use as tank armament. It is likely that this weapon will be found with increasing frequency.

The Model 97 (1937) 57-mm tank gun has a tube 3 feet, 1.6 inches long. The gun has a vertical sliding breechblock actuated by a hand-operated lever which is counterbalanced by a breech-closing spring. There is no elevating mechanism but the gun is capable of a total traverse of 20 degrees without turning the turret. Two recoil cylinders of equal size are installed in the cradle.

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Figure 76.—Model 94 (1934) tank gun.

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Figure 77.—Comparison of ammunition for the Model 94 (1934) 37-mm AT gun and the Model 94 (1934) 37-mm tank gun. Left to right: AP-HE and HE rounds for the AT gun; AP-HE and HE rounds for the tank gun.

MODEL 94 (1934) 37-MM TANK GUN
Caliber  37-mm (1.46 inch).
Muzzle velocity2,100 feet per second (estimated).
Maximum elevation+24°.
Maximum depression-20°.
Traverse10° right, 10° left, without rotating the turret.
Breech mechanismVertical sliding, semiautomatic in action.
Recoil systemHydrospring.
AmmunitionAPHE and HE.

Caliber  7.7-mm (0.303 inch).
Principle of operationGas operated, full automatic only.
Type of feedVertical box.
Magazine capacity30 rounds.
Length of barrel28 inches.
Overall length46 inches.
Weight34 pounds.
Cyclic rate of fire500 rounds per minute.
AmmunitionFires special Model 99 rimless.

MODEL 97 (1937) 57-MM TANK GUN
Caliber  57-mm (2.24 inches).
Weight283 pounds.
Length of tube3 feet 1.6 inches.
Length of chamber5.1 inches.
Number of lands and grooves20.
Maximum length of recoil11 inches.
Maximum elevation+45°.
Traverse10° right, 10° left, without rotating the turret.
Type of breechblockVertical sliding.
AmmunitionOnly high explosive rounds have been
    recovered to date. They are characterized
    by a rather short cartridge case.

Light Machine Gun

The light machine gun almost invariably installed in Japanese tanks is the Model 97 (1937) 7.7-mm machine gun. This weapon is gas operated and air cooled. It is a shoulder-controlled weapon with a specially designed stock and is fitted with conventional sights. When used for tank purposes, however, a telescopic sight of 1 1/2 power and 30-degree field of view usually is fitted. To prevent injury to the gunner, a heavy rubber eye-pad is attached to the rear of the telescope. The design is similar to that of Model 99 (1939) 7.7-mm light machine gun, an infantry weapon. The Model 91 (1931) 6.5-mm machine gun—actually the Model 11 (1922) 6.5-mm infantry weapon modified for tank use by removal of the bipod—also still may be encountered, although it probably is being replaced by the Model 97 (1937) 7.7-mm gun.

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Figure 78.—Model 97 (1937) 7.7-mm tank machine gun, with telescope and barrel guard removed. Telescope and telescope clamp are illustrated in the lower part of the photo.

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Figure 79.—Model 97 (1937) 7.7-mm tank machine gun.

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Figure 80.—Model 97 (1937) 7.7-mm tank machine gun with telescope in place.

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Figure 81.—Model 97 (1937) 7.7-mm tank machine gun with bipod for use as a ground gun. Telescope and magazine are in place.

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Figure 82.—Model 91 (1931) 6.5-mm tank machine gun. Hopper and butt are missing.

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