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 IMPERIAL JAPANESE GRENADE LAUNCHERS

 

US Government Photograph

Japanese spigot grenade launcher, grenades, and pouch.

Source: Japanese Infantry Weapons, Special Series No. 19, 1943.

 

 

Welcome and Introduction

Welcome to the Imperial Japanese Grenade Launcher home page.  This site was established to aid museums and collectors in identifying their Japanese World War II grenade launchers, to promote the collecting of Japanese World War II grenade launchers, and to facilitate the enhancement of our grenade launcher database.  Our original research effort was focused on grenade launchers--attachments mounted on the barrels of service rifles for launching grenades, but we eventually expanded our studies to include grenade rifles--specialized rifles used exclusively for launching grenades.  Our research results can be found in our new book entitled Imperial Japanese Grenade Rifles and Launchers.  For more information about the book, including ordering instructions, please visit www.tekidanki.com/book.

 

 

Below you will find descriptions and photos of Imperial Japanese Grenade Rifles and Grenade Launchers. 

 

Although our book is now complete, we are continuing to research Japanese grenade launchers and rifles.  If you have a Type 100, Type 2, and/or spigot grenade launcher in your collection, please take a few moments to complete a data sheet.  If you have some other type of Japanese grenade launcher or grenade rifle, please send details about it to tekidanki@comcast.net.

 

I am also interested in obtaining grenade launchers and related items for my collection.  If you have something that you would like to sell, please see the contact information at the bottom of this page. 

 

 

Imperial Japanese Grenade Rifles

Grenade rifles are specialized rifles used exclusively for launching grenades.  Early in the 20th century, the Imperial Japanese Army developed grenade rifles that were used to launch high-explosive grenades and pyrotechnic shells, which had rods attached to their bases.  The launching of the grenade or shell was accomplished by properly aligning the rifle, inserting the rod into the rifle’s barrel, and then firing the launching cartridge.  Late in World War II, an improvised grenade rifle was made by mounting a small mortar tube over the shortened barrel of a standard service rifle.  A HE shell was propelled from the improvised grenade rifle with a launching cartridge.  Also late in World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army developed two types of simple grenade rifles made of easy-to-find materials such as wood, bamboo, sheet metal, nails, and wire.  These muzzle-loaded grenade rifles were designed to launch standard hand grenades.  Black powder was used to launch the hand grenades.  The Japanese Army did not actually produce the simple grenade rifles, but distributed plans for making them.  Japanese grenade rifles of any type are rarely encountered today.  For more information on Japanese grenade rifles, the reader is referred to Imperial Japanese Grenade Rifles and Launchers.

 

Mark A Grenade Rifle

From the US Army Ordnance Museum Collection

Photo by G. A. Babich, Copyright © 2001-2007

 

Mark B Grenade Rifle

From the US Army Ordnance Museum Collection

Photo by G. A. Babich, Copyright © 2001-2007

 

The Mark A and Mark B grenade rifles, shown above, were developed and used during World War I.  Mark A grenade rifles were made from pre-existing Type 18 Murata rifle actions, and Mark B grenade rifles were made from specially-made Type 38 rifle actions.  These grenade rifles were used to launch antipersonnel grenades, smoke grenades, and flares.  Mark A and Mark B grenade rifles are rare; the only known examples are at the US Army Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. 

 

 

Imperial Japanese Grenade Launchers

Grenade launchers are attachments that are mounted on the barrels of standard service rifles.  Grenade launchers were used to propel antipersonnel grenades, antitank grenades, and smoke grenades.  A variety of launching cartridges were used to propel the grenades including ball cartridges, wood-bulleted cartridges, crimped case mouth cartridges, and paper blanks.  Below are photos and descriptions of the three most commonly encountered Japanese grenade launchers.  For more information on Japanese grenade launchers, the reader is referred to Imperial Japanese Grenade Rifles and Launchers.

 

Type 100 Grenade Launcher

Photo by G. A. Babich, Copyright © 2001-2007

 

Development of the Type 100 grenade launcher began in 1939.  Mass production of these launchers started in 1942 and continued until the end of World War II.  There are two major variations and two manufacturers.  One variation has its retaining pin on the left side of the launcher, and the other variation has its retaining pin on the right side (see photo above).  Type 100 grenade launchers were produced by Toyoda Automatic Loom Works and the Toriimatsu factory of the Nagoya Army Arsenal.  Toyoda produced launchers from 1942 to 1944.  Toriimatsu produced launchers in 1945.  The launcher shown above was made by the Toriimatsu factory; only five Toriimatsu-made launchers have been reported.  The total number of Type 100 grenade launchers made from 1942 to 1945 is approximately 36,000.  The Type 100 grenade launcher was used with the Type 38 or Type 99 rifle, the Type 99 (A) hand grenade, and the standard ball cartridge.  The use of standard hand grenades and cartridges is very efficient from a logistics standpoint.  The Type 100 grenade launcher was issued with a canvas carrying pouch.

 

Type 2 Grenade Launcher

Photo by G. A. Babich, Copyright © 2001-2007

 

The Type 2 grenade launcher is a copy of the German Schiessbecher.  Examples of the German Schiessbecher and its antitank (hollow-charge) grenades were delivered to Japan by blockade breaker.  Two blockade breakers with identical cargos were sent to Japan to improve the odds of the mission’s success.  The blockade breaker Tannenfels arrived in Japan first, on 12 May 1942.  By August of 1942, the Type 2 and its hollow-charge grenades were being produced, and some examples had reached Guadalcanal by October of 1942.  Production of the Type 2 grenade launcher was halted in 1943.  Approximately 49,000 Type 2 grenade launchers were produced from 1942 to 1943.  This figure is very small when compared to the more than 1.4 million Schiessbecher that were delivered to German troops from 1942 to 1944.  (The numbers of Schiessbecher delivered to German troops by year are listed in Deutsche Gewehrgranaten und ihre Abschussgeräte bis 1945 [German Rifle Grenades and Their Launching Devices up to 1945] by Michael Heidler, page 33).  All known examples of the Type 2 grenade launcher were made by the Chigusa factory of the Nagoya Army Arsenal.  The Type 2 was used with the Type 38 or Type 99 rifle.  The physical characteristics of this launcher remained stable throughout its short production period; however, variations in the launcher’s markings have been identified.  Early launchers were dated using the Showa era, and later launchers were dated using a secret code.  Two hollow-charge grenades were used with the Type 2 grenade launcher--a 30 mm version and a 40 mm version (the 40 mm version is shown above).  Two types of launching cartridges were used; one had a wooden bullet, and the other had a crimped case mouth.  The Type 2 grenade launcher was issued with a canvas carrying pouch, barrel wrench, and canvas pouch for carrying 10 rifle grenades.

 

Late Spigot Grenade Launcher

 Photo by G. A. Babich, Copyright © 2001-2007

 

The Japanese military used two different types of spigot grenade launchers.  The first type of spigot grenade launcher was encountered by Allied forces early in the war, and the second type was encountered later in the war.  The later type is shown above.  The late spigot grenade launcher was used by Japanese Naval Landing Forces to launch an antitank (hollow-charge) finned grenade.  It was also used to propel antipersonnel grenades and a WP smoke grenade.  These grenades had wood-bulleted launching cartridges stored in their tailpieces.  Spigot grenade launchers are not numbered, and production figures are not available.  Authentic examples of spigot grenade launchers are rarely encountered.

 

 

Japanese Grenade Launcher Data Sheets

Extant Japanese World War II grenade launchers are an important source of information that can help us to better understand manufacturing trends.  With this in mind, we ask that you please fill-out a data sheet for your launcher regardless of how common you believe it to be.  To obtain a grenade launcher data sheet, click on the link for your launcher; once the data sheet is open, print it, complete it, and send it to the address at the bottom of the sheet.  If you prefer to use email, please send all of the appropriate information to tekidanki@comcast.net. 

 

 Photo by G. A. Babich, Copyright © 2001-2007

Type 100 Grenade Launcher Data Sheet

 

Photo by G. A. Babich, Copyright © 1999-2007

Type 2 Grenade Launcher Data Sheet

 

 R. E. Larson Collection and Photograph, Used by Permission

Spigot Grenade Launchers Data Sheet

 

 

Wanted!

Japanese grenade launchers and accessories are wanted for my collection.  (I am not interested in the grenade discharger or “knee mortar.”)  If you would like to sell your grenade launcher, pouch, wrench, and/or inert rifle grenade, please contact Greg at tekidanki@comcast.net.  Email pictures if possible.

 

 

Copyright Notice: Copyright (c) 2001-2007 by Gregory A. Babich, all rights reserved.  This website, its documents, artwork, and photographs are protected by copyright laws.  The images and text at this web site cannot be reused without advance written permission.

 

 

Trademark Notice:  Any trademarks depicted herein are the property of their respective owners and are protected by trademark laws.

 

 

Web page created by Gregory A. Babich

Web page established 9 September 2001

Revised 1 January 2007

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