Peter H wrote:Poster unknown
This man carries a Austrian Steyr-Solothurn 7.63mm submachine gun MP 34 (but Swiss-made by Solothurn?), one of the more rare early Japanese SMGs. The ammunition is Mauser, but was better-known in 9mm for its Austrian users and later German ones too.
Smith and Smith state that a very small number of MP 34 were purchased by Japan. Although apparently not widely noted, this photo looks like one of them here. Some MP 34 were reportedly sold to China as well, also in 7.63mm Mauser.
Interestingly, and though unclear, the side-mounted knife bayonet may also be Austrian. It looks like the Bajonett Modell 1895 made for the Austro-Hungarian Army's rifles of the time. If so, the Japanese would have bought it with the weapon. Unfortunately, we can't see if the leather ammunition pouches were also used.
Among the common literature, I haven't yet found how all the import Japanese SMGs were marked.
Thanks Peter, I've long wondered about the origin of the Type II submachine gun. I had never before heard that it was a Nambu design.
That author alleges that a version of Type II saw some Navy SNLF use at Shanghai after its rejection by the Army. But Taki's history states rather the converse, that the Army was convinced of SMGs after the Bergmann's successful Navy use at Shanghai. Smith and Smith describe the Type II as a developmental weapon seen only postwar, at least by the Allies, (pages 505-506):
Prototype development continued during the war and the 8mm Type II was discovered by United States personnel in Japan after the war was over. The 8mm Type II was a step in the right direction as far as weight and length were concerned. It also had one unusual feature which was borrowed from the Finnish Suomi, an airlock-type buffer arrangement which can be used to regulate the cyclic rate [of firing].
A special air lock is provided [for this] at the rear of the receiver. As the bolt is blown back it is secured to an extension arm on the piston of the air lock. An escape valve can be set to allow the air compressed within the lock to escape at different rates. By thus speeding up or slowing down the travel rate of the bolt, the cyclic rate of fire can be increased or decreased.
The gun above is yet a third model apart from the ones in the new book.
In manufacture alone, the Type II does seem closer to the British Sten and Soviet PPSh submachine guns.
The wooden gunstock would have been more elaborate and time-consuming to make than is found on most second-generation guns. Its thin pistol grip also looks likely to break in hard service, especially around the trigger hole, but that would not be a high design priority in hurried wartime manufacture for a limited service life.
Why would this gun have been developed at all (or continued in development), with no especial advantage over other SMGs already in Japanese service or development? Would it at least have been easier to manufacture?
- The urgency of war sometimes overrode national pride, so that:
- the British copied the German MP 28 submachine gun (at the start of the war),
the Germans copied the British Sten (at the end of the war),
the British and Americans copied the German “Jerry can” for gasoline,
the German Army adapted the American bazooka (in larger caliber),
German U-boat men adapted British battle dress-type uniforms (after wearing captured originals),
Spain copied and adapted from a variety of both Allied and German small arms.
More to the point -- the Japanese Navy developed its own version of the American M1 rifle, though too late for any real use. And if the Type II copied a Finnish SMG feature, presumably it came via the Germans. So why would the Army not have made more and sooner progress with the simpler matter of submachine guns, well before the war turned against Japan?
Note also the different shape and better wood finish of this closer-up Type II “Model B''s” gunstock below (of which the authors below mention report that less than 50 were made), compared to the one above:
(Nakata and Nelson's Imperial Japanese Army and Navy Uniforms and Equipment 2nd edition (Hong Kong: Chesa Publishing Ltd, 1987), page 19)
Interestingly, the Type II seems to have no provision for the long Japanese bayonet as did other Japanese SMGs and LMGs. But it might well have been awkward to aim and fire with a bayonet fixed.
Still more unusual is the recent author's report that the Type II could be mounted (but on what?). How many other submachine guns besides the early Italian Villar-Perosa were designed to be used this way?
Smith and Smith report one last strange twist to this weapon. They believe that it was the basis for the Nationalist Chinese SMG shown below –- chambered for American .45-caliber ammunition (Chinese 11mm).
(Small Arms of the World 9th edition, page 513)
Is this likely? The Nationalists had large numbers of the battle-proven 1928 Thompson, M3, and M3A1 submachine guns. They could likely have gotten more if wanted. Moreover, they themselves made direct copies of all three guns and kept them in service for decades.
It is not impossible, but why would the Nationalists go to the trouble at all of adapting a gun as uncommon as the Type II, however small the extent? Chambering it for American .45 ammunition means scaling up the original design. Also, it does not much resemble any of the models seen here at least.