AI4FR Virtual Militaria Items Tour 

Japanese Items


This WWII era Japanese Type 99 rifle is a bolt-action rifle of the Arisaka design that was used by the Imperial Japanese Army. Colonel Nariakira Arisaka headed a commission in the 1890s and was in charge of developing a new rifle design to replace such rifles as the outdated Murata. Like the Nambu Type 14 pistol, during the reign of emperor Hirohito, rifles were designated by the last one or two digits of their year of adoption according to the Japanese calendar. Thus, the Type 99 rifle was adopted in the Japanese calendar year of 2599 which translates to 1939 in the Western calendar.

The rifle utilized a cock-on-closing action, which improved the rate of fire from the standard Mauser cock-on-open design. The Type 99 also featured a quick release bolt and antiaircraft sights, as well as a rotating bolt(dust) cover and monopod. The Type 99 rifle is considered to be a very solid weapon and having one of the strongest receiver assemblies of any military rifle of its time. The Type 99 rifle would have been outfitted with the the Type 30 bayonet.

The Type 99 rifle is based on the earlier Type 38 Japanese rifle but is chambered in 7.7mm rather then the weaker 6.5mm caliber of the the Type 38. The Type 99 rifle was manufactured at nine different arsenals. Most of these arsenals were located in Japan, but two were located outside of Japan. They include  Mukden in China and Jinsen in Korea. 

It was the intention of the Imperial Japanese Army to replace the Type 38 with the Type 99 by the end of the war. With the outbreak of the Pacific war though, it never allowed the Japanese army to completely replace the Type 38 and so the Imperial Japanese Army used both rifles during the war. As was so often the case with many of the nations that fought in WWII, the Japanese started to implement cost saving measures into their war instruments in order to speed up production. The Type 99 was not spared this fate and by the end of the war, even the metal buttplates were being made from wood.

The photograph on the right is of the top of the receiver. The white highlighted Japanese symbols on the receiver indicate that this is a Type 99 rifle, or as translated would read 99 type. We can also see in this picture that the Japanese chrysanthemum also referred to as mum for short, has been removed. The chrysanthemum with its 16 petals was the symbol of the Japanese Emperor.

The chrysanthemum was either fully or partially ground off, or in some way defaced on rifles that were surrendered after the war. No one knows for sure why this was done. Did the Japanese love their Emperor so much that even the thought of a symbol of the emperor in other hands was not to be tolerated? Did General MacArthur order it to be done to help suppress the nationalistic pride? Either way, at the end of the war when the Japanese surrendered their weapons to the Allies, they destroyed this marking. Some rifles have been found with the defacing marks not even touching the chrysanthemum and it is thought that the person doing the defacing could not bring them self to destroy a mark of the emperor.

There is a also a lot of speculation out there as to the rifles found with an intact chrysanthemum, are these battlefield captured weapons, was the rifle missed during the removal of the chrysanthemum process, did a U.S. soldier sneak the weapon home? The list goes on and no one really knows for sure and the circumstances for each rifle will be different.. If you ever have the opportunity to purchase a war relic and the seller is claiming that it is a "vet bring back" or has a fantastic story to go along with the inflated price of the item, always try to remember to base what you think the item is worth just on the item and not the story.

The Type 99 featured on this page was made at the Nagoya arsenal and is a late 5th series rifle. In 1933 the serial numbering system was replaced by a system in which rifles were numbered in blocks, or series, of 100,000 at a time. Once they reached 100,000, a new symbol was added to the front of the serial number and it was started again from 0 and went to 99,999. Being that this is a 5th series rifle and Nagoya went to series 12 during the years of 1939 to 1945, a rough guess would place the age of this rifle some where around 1942.

These next two photographs are of the anti-aircraft rear sight that is found on the Arisaka Type 99 rifle. The white lettering is not original and I added this to the rifle after it was fully cleaned and inspected. This white lettering is not permanent and is easily removed. The anti-aircraft rear sights seen here have an adjustable peep sight with folding leaf graduated in 100 meter increments from 300 to 1500 meters. The anti-aircraft wings on the sight are used when the sight is in the upward position. The calibration on the wings indicate the speed of the aircraft and are graduated from 100 to 300 kilometers per hour. if the reader examines the left photograph closely, they will notice two sets of peep sights, indicating that the anti-aircraft sights do not need to be folded in the upward position for accurate fire. it is my understanding that the actual accuracy when firing at aircraft was not very good due to the ability of the shooter not being able to predict the speed of the aircraft. The white lettering in the photographs is not original and I added this to the rifle after it was fully cleaned and inspected. This white lettering is not permanent and is easily removed. To learn what I used for the white lettering please click HERE.

The photograph on the left is of the muzzle of the Type 99. The small rod underneath the barrel is the cleaning rod in its factory resting place. The picture on the right is of the buttstock of the rifle. In this photograph we can see the metal buttplate at the end of the stock, the sling attachment loop and an unknown circle marking. How did this mark in the wood come to be? The age of the mark appears to be of the same age as some of the other old dents and dings on this stock. Did a homesick and bored Japanese soldier make a rising sun on his rifle? Did a bored U.S. soldier on the way home make it? Was it applied by a former owner of the rifle here in the states by accident or on purpose? The list is endless and as it stands now, I have no idea who or why or even how it was applied or if it is even finished or was there supposed to be more. Your thoughts?  

These next two photographs are parts from the Type 99 rifle from above. When an item first arrives, I tear it completely apart to not only give it a thorough cleaning, but to photograph and document every stamp and marking. I will end up taking dozens and dozens of pictures of each item. This will also give me a good idea if a particular firearm is safe to shoot. The photograph on the left is of the bolt assembly and the picture on the right is of the trigger guard assembly. In these pictures, both the firing pin spring and the magazine spring are still attached.




Military pistols of Japan by Fred Honeycutt

Military rifles of Japan by Fred Honeycutt &Patt Anthony

The Japanese Naval Special type 99 rifles and carbines by Francis Allan & Carl Goddard

The standard directory of proof marks by Gerhard Wirnsberger

Official guide to gunmarks by Robert Balderson

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