Japanese Snipers in WW2

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Mehmet Fatih
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Japanese Snipers in WW2

Postby Mehmet Fatih » 21 Dec 2005 19:00

Can anyone give any info about Japanese snipers in WW2?
Their weapons and equipment, snipers with most kills etc.

Regards

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asiaticus
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re: Japanese snipers

Postby asiaticus » 22 Dec 2005 00:51

My understanding from what I have read is that because of their experiences in China, during the early part of the Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese annoyed with German trained Chinese snipers decided to develop snipers for themselves. The first Japanese sniper rifle was developed in 1937. 'The Japanese were equipped with a number of different rifles, the earliest, a 6.5mm Type 38, dating back to 1905. Under the guidance of Colonel Namio Tatsumi, the 6.5mm Type 97 and 7.7mm Type 99 rifles were developed, being equipped with 2.5x or 4x power telescopic sights. One advantage of the smaller 6.5mm cartridge was that there was almost no smoke from the discharge, and the sound of the rifle-a distinctive high-pitched "crack"-made it very difficult to locate.

Training in camoflage, feildcraft and other such techniques were common to normal Japanese infantry, so a Japanese sniper was specially trained only in shooting and given a sniper rifle. The Japanese did develop some unique sniper-related items, like tree-climbing spikes, for use by their snipers. Snipers were trained together with normal riflemen in an infantry unit. Usually, there was one sniper in one rifle platoon. Sometimes, snipers were gathered and formed a sniper team.

During the Malaya campaign, the Japanese used snipers who would take down British, Austrian, and Indian troops while dressing in local native attire to disappear into the population after attacks. This was a trick learned from the Chinese. Some of the Japanese "snipers" faced by Allied troops were actually just marksmen asked to harrass the Allied troops more than men specifically trained as snipers.


You might want to read, Osprey's "The military Sniper since 1914" by Martin Pegler

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Peter H
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Postby Peter H » 22 Dec 2005 02:41

Japanese sniper hat:

Image
http://www.nps.gov/amme/wwii_museum/bat ... hat_lg.jpg

"Usually covered with leaves and twigs for camoflage".

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tom!
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Postby tom! » 23 Dec 2005 16:54

Hi.

Japan used soldiers with high marksmanship as snipers during the early thirties first. The standard Type 38 Arisaka rifle was a good weapon but the ammunition was weak. So accurate shooting beyond 450m was not possible. The lack of a telescopic sight also decreased accuracy.

So in mid 1935 the Toyama Arsenal in cooperation with the Army Infantry School began to rework the type 38 rifle as a sniper rifle. The type 97 2.5X telescopic sight was added and the breech handle was moved from a 90° position to a 75° position as the sight caused problems with the handling. Additionally the production accuracy and finish of the weapon was improved increasing accuracy and effective range (650 m). The rifle was introduced in early 1937 as type 97 sniper rifle. The sight could be dismounted and had to be adjusted specially to the using soldier.

Image

Image

Additionally a special ammunition with smokeless propellant was introduced and produced in spring 1937 only. Due to the high costs and the small improvement compared to the standard ammunition only some 100.000 bullets were produced and used up in late 1937 in China.

Paralell to the development of the type 99 7,7 mm rifle a sniper rifle was made, too. Apart from the caliber the weapon was similar to the type 97 sniper rifle and the 2.5X scope was used, too.


In 1942 a new 4X scope was introduced.

Yours

tom! :wink:
Last edited by tom! on 11 Jan 2006 08:44, edited 2 times in total.

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Barrett
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Postby Barrett » 27 Dec 2005 00:39

Something to keep in mind: definition of terms. Semantics, if you will.

Many allied accounts of enemy "snipers" apparently refer only to opposing riflemen, not trained/dedicated snipers as we know them today. Frequently in the context of WW 2, a "sniper" was merely an unseen hostile infantryman.

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Imad
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Postby Imad » 28 Dec 2005 14:03

Barrett wrote:Something to keep in mind: definition of terms. Semantics, if you will.

Many allied accounts of enemy "snipers" apparently refer only to opposing riflemen, not trained/dedicated snipers as we know them today. Frequently in the context of WW 2, a "sniper" was merely an unseen hostile infantryman.

That's an interesting observation Barrett. Does that apply only to Allied accounts of Japanese snipers though or does it apply to the German "Scharfschutzen" as well? (pardon the poor German)
Imad

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Postby Barrett » 28 Dec 2005 16:29

I don't know the answer, Imad. I've never seen reference to "American snipers" in any Axis translations, and while I can stumble thru a bit of German, my Japanese leaves much to be desired! :?

Near as I can tell, US snipers were rarely deployed in the Pacific. Europe, of course, was another matter.

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Tim Smith
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Postby Tim Smith » 29 Dec 2005 17:31

Barrett wrote:Frequently in the context of WW 2, a "sniper" was merely an unseen hostile infantryman.


.....who also happened to be a good shot.

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Wm. Harris
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Postby Wm. Harris » 30 Dec 2005 00:41

Tim Smith wrote:
Barrett wrote:Frequently in the context of WW 2, a "sniper" was merely an unseen hostile infantryman.


.....who also happened to be a good shot.


That kind of reminds me of how German tanks of all types were invariably "Tigers" when described by Allied infantrymen.

But....my understanding is that marksmanship was not given a very high priority in Japanese army training, with much more emphasis put on closing with the enemy and finishing him with the bayonet. From what I've read of the Burma front, the British came to regard Japanese marksmanship very poorly - not because of racial arrogance but from actual combat experience. This may not have been a universal belief but it certainly comes up frequently in first-hand accounts.

I don't know whether the Americans generally held the same opinion, but it seems unlikely to me that a typical Japanese infantryman would be mistaken for a sniper, at least in areas where they were in contact with British or Indian forces.

Bill H.

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Tom Houlihan
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Postby Tom Houlihan » 30 Dec 2005 00:44

Tim Smith wrote:
Barrett wrote:Frequently in the context of WW 2, a "sniper" was merely an unseen hostile infantryman.


.....who also happened to be a good shot.


Not necessarily...

I was reading some William Manchester last night (Goodbye Darkness), and he talked about a run-in he had with "a sniper." Apparently, the guy's sights were off, because when Manchester made his move, he was able to roughly predict where he thought the next shot would hit, based on the previous shot. Luckily for him, he was right!
Last edited by Tom Houlihan on 30 Dec 2005 05:29, edited 1 time in total.

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Barrett
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Postby Barrett » 30 Dec 2005 04:26

The Japanese certainly did not take marksmanship seriously. There's a really obscure branch of sociology called fusilology (I can't even find it on Google) that examines a culture via its weapons. The Japanese are a prime study: they had some of the finest LMGs on earth--and put bayonet mounts on them. To me, that esoteric fact speaks volumes.

Another thing: watch their infantry advancing in film footage. NOBODY is at high port--everybody carries his Arisaka at trail arms. Those soldiers are not ready to shoot, but they all have long bayonets fixed.

To paraphrase a friend from Bloody Ridge: "The 'Japanese' brought bayonets and swords to a machine gun fight."

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Imad
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Postby Imad » 30 Dec 2005 14:05

That might also might explain their horrendous casualties, eh? Sorry, that seems to be a pet obsession of mine.
Imad

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Barrett
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Postby Barrett » 30 Dec 2005 17:33

A partial explanation for such heavy Japanese losses could be the army's recent institutional experience. The IJA "grew up" whipping the Chinese and handed the Soviets a bloody nose in '39. Sort of the same way that the first six months of the Pacific War led to the Navy's serious tumble at Midway, partly the result of "victory disease."

More specifically, however, Japan had never fought a thoroughly capable, modern enemy. (The Red Army had recently been purged of its most competent leaders, a factor in the humiliating showing in Finland that same year.) Guadalcanal was a major-major wakeup: what worked in China was near-suicide against Americans who understood interlocking fields of fire and co-ordation between infantry & arty. Confronted with such a dilemma, the institutional computer defaulted to its base program: Banzai! Didn't work worth a dang...

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Postby Mark V » 30 Dec 2005 18:30

Tim Smith wrote:
Barrett wrote:Frequently in the context of WW 2, a "sniper" was merely an unseen hostile infantryman.


.....who also happened to be a good shot.


Which is also enought for most cases.

I hate the modern stereotypes of snipers, or special forces - need million dollars equipment, and fancy camo painted to weapon metal, otherwise they surely can not operate...

An good shot with decent rifle could well fill the purpose of harassing enemy, or hindering their advance. Sniper that held the highest tally during WW2 used iron sighted rifle.


Mark V

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Barrett
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Postby Barrett » 30 Dec 2005 19:04

Mark V: Simo Hajha (sp?), the Finnish rifleman? Far as I know, he was in fact the most prolific shootist of WW II though I think he ran up a large tally in the 1939-40 Winter War.


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