Anti-tank weapons of the Japanese infantry in World War II
Type 97 anti-tank rifle
During the fighting at Khalkhin Gol, the Japanese infantry used the Type 20 97 anti-tank rifle for the first time. It entered service in 1937 year and was used by Japanese troops until the end of World War II. PTR Type 97 was heavy and not very easy to handle, but it significantly increased the capabilities of the Japanese infantry in the fight against enemy armored vehicles.
The 97xNNXX mm ammunition, originally developed for use in 20-mm anti-aircraft guns, was used to fire a Type 124 PTR. Ammunition could include: armor-piercing tracer, high-explosive tracer, high explosive incendiary and incendiary tracer shells. For firing at armored vehicles, an armor-piercing tracer with a mass of 20 g was used, which left the barrel with a length of 109 mm with a speed of 1064 m / s. At a distance of 865 m, normal he could pierce 250 mm armor, which in the second half of 30's was a very good indicator.
Automation 20-mm anti-tank gun worked by the removal of a part of the powder gases. In order to increase the reliability of operation weapons in various conditions and for the use of different types of ammunition, the gas outlet tube of an anti-tank gun was equipped with a regulator that allowed the gas pressure on the piston to be changed. Power was supplied from a detachable magazine on 7 cartridges. Combat rate reached 12 rds / min. Aim devices allowed to fire at a distance of up to 1000 m.
Although armor penetration and rate of fire PTR Type 97 at the time of creation were at altitude, the anti-tank gun had a lot of flaws. Automation when shooting gave up to 5% of delays. The most common cause was not the burst shot. But if the calculations were reconciled with this, then the transport of PTR on the battlefield caused many problems. Before carrying the gun, the calculation was to install special metal handles. The designers believed that the anti-tank rifle would be carried by two calculation numbers, but in practice the transportation of weapons required the involvement of more people. Typically, the PTR Type 97 was tolerated by three or four fighters. The mass of weapons without arms and shield was 52,2 kg. An unloaded rifle with a flap and handles weighed 68 kg. Due to the heavy weight of the PTR Type 97 was used mainly in defense. To reduce a very strong impact on the gun there was a muzzle brake, but when fired, the powder gases scattered in the horizontal plane raised dust, which made it difficult to observe and aim, and also unmasked the firing position.
But perhaps the main disadvantage of the Type 97 anti-tank gun was its very high cost. In 1941, the price of a single 20-mm PTR made in the Kokura arsenal was 6400 yen. For comparison, the Type 6,5 38 mm rifle cost just 77 yen. Due to the high cost, after the release of approximately 1100 copies, the production of the Type 97 PTR in the second half of 1941 was curtailed. However, in 1943, Nihon Seikosho received an order for the manufacture of new rifles. The load of the enterprise did not allow him to release a large number of anti-tank guns, and the military was given a little more than 100 anti-tank guns.
Despite the relatively small circulation, Type 97 MFRs were used in combat until Japan surrendered in August 1945. 20-mm projectiles penetrated the relatively thin side armor of light M3 / M5 Stuart tanks, and also successfully hit floating LVT conveyors from any direction. Reflecting the landing of assault forces on the Pacific Islands, the Type 97 PTR created quite a few problems for the American marines. At the same time, the excessive mass of 20-mm guns forced them to fire from stationary positions, which were quickly identified and suppressed. In addition, even in the case of armor penetration, the striking effect of 20-mm projectiles was relatively small.
Although the Red Army used armored vehicles in sufficiently large volumes at Khalkhin-Gol, the command of the Imperial Armed Forces of Japan did not draw appropriate conclusions and did not bother to equip infantry units with a sufficient number of effective anti-tank weapons. This was partly due to the fact that the land army in Japan was financed on the leftover principle, it did not participate in the battles of the First World War and until the second half of the 1930-s did not face a strong adversary. 20-mm anti-tank guns after the appearance of tanks with counter-launch armor no longer met modern requirements, and the problem of anti-tank infantry defense had to be urgently addressed through the use of various improvised and surrogate means.
Anti-tank grenades, bundles and incendiary bottles
The simplest means of combating enemy armored vehicles that could be quickly manufactured in the field is a bunch of hand grenades. For this, the Type 98 grenade, which was an adapted copy of the German M-24 beater, was best suited. From the German prototype, it outwardly differed shortened handle.
The body of the grenade is made of cast iron and has a thread at the bottom for attaching a wooden handle. The charge of picric acid was placed inside the case and packed in a paper cap. With a mass of 560 g grenades, it was loaded with 50 g of explosive. Slow down time 6-7 sec. In order to destroy the caterpillar or damage the tank chassis, it was necessary to fix it to the grenade with the 5-6 fuse of the grenade hulls, and the weight of the bundle was 2,5-3 kg. It is clear that it is relatively safe to apply such a construction only from the trench. To increase the high-explosive effect, the body of a grenade Type 98 was often tied with swords with melinit.
Also, the Japanese armed forces used several types of grenades without handles with cast housings that had vertical and horizontal notches. Such grenades could be fastened with wire or rope to a wooden stick. Grenade Toure 97 weighed 450 g and contained 65 G trotyl. Slow down time - 4-5 with.
A common feature of all Japanese fragmentation grenades was the inconvenience of their use and low effectiveness in anti-tank combat. Due to the imperfection of the fuses, their response time varied greatly, which could be dangerous for those who used them. In 1943, the Type 3 hand-held anti-tank grenade was adopted by the imperial army, which the American Marines called the “Fox Tail” for their unique appearance.
The construction of the Type 3 grenade was very simple, and its production used affordable and cheap materials. The explosive charge was placed in a cloth case. In the upper part of the charge, a metal ring with a thread was fastened with a clamp, into which a fuse was screwed. The same clamp fixes the cloth cover. A hemp or silk twine stabilizer was attached to the grenade with a yoke. Bottom charge rests on a wooden base. At the head of the grenade there was a cumulative funnel lined with steel or aluminum 3 mm thick. Before throwing a grenade, a cloth tape was removed and a safety check was removed. Thanks to the grenade stabilizer, the Type 3 flew forward. Inertial fuse triggered by hitting the barrier.
There are several modifications of Type 3 grenades: Ko (Type A), Otsu (Type B) and Hei (Type C). They differed in size, weight and filling. A modification of Type A (the color of the bag is white or brown-yellow) weighed 1270 g and was filled with 853 g with a mixture of hexogen and trinitroaniline. Type B variant (the color of the bag is white or brown-yellow) had a mass of 855 g and contained a mixture of TNT and Teng. The latter is the most compact and lightweight modification (bag color is yellow) with a mass of 830 g and 690 g of picric acid.
In the English reference books it says that all modifications when hit at right angles had the same armor penetration - 70 mm. However, taking into account the use of various metals for facing a cumulative funnel and explosive components that differed in detonation speed and power, it is extremely unlikely. Now it is impossible to reliably establish what thickness of armor a particular modification of the Type 3 anti-tank grenade could penetrate. But this armor penetration theoretically allowed to hit the frontal armor of the tank M4 Sherman. A well-trained and physically developed soldier could throw a Type 3 Hei anti-tank grenade on 25 m, but usually the target throw didn’t exceed the 15 m. This anti-tank grenade contained a minimum of metal parts and gave a better chance for the grenade launcher to survive than a bunch of frag grenades.
Quite predictably, the Japanese military tried to fight tanks with glass bottles filled with fuel. At the first stage, these were bottles filled in troops with a mixture of low-octane gasoline with used engine oil. Before you throw such an incendiary projectile into an enemy tank, it was necessary to ignite the wick-stopper of tow.
Since 1943, the industrial production of glass incendiary grenades, filled with a flammable liquid with rubber dissolved in it, has been organized. The rubber acting as a thickener, which did not allow the incendiary mixture to drain, quickly contributed to the fact that the ignited liquid stuck to the tank's armor and when it hit the viewing devices an opaque film was formed. The burning of ognesmesi, thickened with rubber, was accompanied by thick black smoke, which severely limited the visibility for tank crews. The industrially manufactured incendiary bottle was sealed with an airtight stopper. When breaking the armor, fuel ignition was provided by a special chemical composition in fabric bags, which was fastened to the bottle with ribbons. Incendiary bottles were delivered to the troops in cardboard or tin cases protecting them from mechanical impact.
Along with incendiary, the Japanese army actively used smoke glass grenades filled with titanium tetrachloride. The field as the glass wall of the grenade collapsed, a chemical reaction occurred in which titanium tetrachloride, evaporating, reacted with water vapor contained in the air. In this case, the chemical compound decomposed into titanium dioxide and hydrogen chloride, with the formation of thick smoke. A smoke cloud blinded the tankers and allowed the Japanese infantry to approach the tanks. Especially actively smoke glass grenades were used in Okinawa. Often seeing clubs of thick white smoke ahead, American tankers preferred to retreat and fired artillery or aviation support.
In addition to grenades and bottles, Japanese infantry could use several types of mines to fight tanks. For direct installation on the armor was intended magnetic mine Type 99, adopted by 1939 year. Like most Japanese anti-tank mines, its design was extremely simple and cheap.
The body of the mine was a canvas bag in which there were eight checkers to sweep melinit with TNT. Above there was a time-delay fuse designed for 7-10 seconds. The mine is attached to the side of the tank with four magnets located on the side of the canvas bag. Before attaching the mine to the tank, it was necessary to pull out the safety pin for the string, and hit the fuse head on a hard object. With the weight of a magnetic mine 1,23 kg, it contained 680 g of explosives. The diameter of the mines - 121 mm, height - 40 mm. Magnetic mine had only a high-explosive effect, and could penetrate armor with a thickness of 20 mm. To increase armor penetration, you could hold together a few minutes. Two magnetic mines could penetrate 38 mm of homogeneous armor, three - 46 mm. Mines were delivered in canvas bags, where the fuse was also stored.
The implication was that the Japanese soldiers had to mount magnetic mines to the bottom of tanks passing over their trenches, or, running up to a moving tank, set mines on board or stern. In this case, the fuse should be initiated in advance. It is clear that with this method of application the probability of surviving the one who installed it was small. However, Type 99 mines were used until the end of hostilities.
A pole mine with rubber suckers was designed to be mounted on board or astern of the tank. The tin casing contained mines up to 2 kg of the alloy of trotyl with hexogen. This amount of explosives was enough to break through the armor with a thickness of 30 mm. Even if a through-break did not occur, pieces of metal that hit the crew broke from the inner surface of the armor.
The fighter, fixing a mine on suckers, activated the tamper igniter, which set fire to the igniter cord that burned 12-15 with. During this time, the soldiers of the imperial army had to leave the affected area or take refuge in a trench.
Approximately at the same time with the anti-aircraft high-explosive mine, attached to the tank's armor using rubber suction cups, the Ni04 high-explosive mine mine was put into service, which could be placed under the tank track.
This anti-tank ammunition had a metal body in the form of a hemisphere, filled with 3 kg of TNT or melinita. In the upper part of the hemisphere was a push fuse, which was activated when a tank hit a mine. Considering the fact that the length of the bamboo pole was no more than 2 m, the close 3 kg explosion of a powerful explosive charge in an open area guaranteed to kill someone who used a mine against a tank. If a Japanese soldier managed to hide before an explosion in a trench, then at best he would get a heavy concussion.
Also, the Japanese infantry had Type 93 universal mines, which, depending on the fuse, could be used as anti-tank and anti-personnel mines. The push action fuse was supplied in two versions - under the actuation force of either 31-32 kg or 110-120 kg. The body of the mine, made of tin, contained 907 g of melinite, the mine itself in curb weight weighed 1,36 kg. Case diameter - 171 mm, height - 45 mm.
Unlike other engineering munitions that were used for anti-tank minefields, Type 93 was intended for use by infantry from the very beginning. In view of the relatively small mass and dimensions with it, it was quite easy to move on the battlefield and quickly installed in the path of moving tanks. Also on the case there were rings for ropes, with the help of which the mine could be dragged under the tank track. However, with excessive power for use as an anti-personnel mine, the explosive charge insufficient for an anti-tank mine did not allow serious damage to the tank. In most cases, with the detonation of a Type 93 mine on Sherman medium tanks, the case ended with a broken track.
In addition to the mines in the Type 93 metal hull, Japanese infantry had anti-vehicle mines in the Ni 01 and Type 3 wooden hulls. Among the most commonly used is an anti-vehicle elongated mine, referred to in the United States as Yardstick.
The anti-vehicle mine had a metal body of oval cross section with a length of 94 cm. Total weight - 4,76 kg, of which 1840 g accounted for an explosive (melinit). There were four push action fuses in the mine with a triggering force of about 120 kg. Due to the greater length, the probability that the tank would roll over an extended mine was higher.
After it became clear that the scales in the Pacific theater were leaning toward the Allies, the Japanese armed forces widely used kamikaze tactics not only in air and sea battles, but also on land. Initially, Japanese suicide bombers undermined British and American armored vehicles, hung up with grenades and swords with explosives, or rushed under a tank with an anti-tank mine. Later, special knapsacks with surrogate explosives based on ammonium nitrate and cumulative pole mines of Ni05 instant action were used.
In American sources, this anti-tank ammunition is referred to as Lunge Mine (Shock Mine). In terms of its design and method of use, Ni05 refers to airborne cumulative mines. Structurally mine is very simple. A charge of TNT weighing about 3,5 kg was placed in a cone-shaped body made of tin. In the lower part of the body there is a cumulative groove lined with iron. Three metal legs are welded to the lower plane of the hull so that at the time of the explosion the charge is at a strictly defined distance from the armor, which ensures optimal formation of a cumulative jet. The upper part of the body is a short cylindrical tube with an external thread. A long tube is screwed onto this tube, the end of which is wide and has an internal thread. A bamboo pole up to 2 m is inserted into a long tube. The total mass of the mine is about 6,5 kg. The case diameter at the bottom of the 20,3 cm, the length of the case - 48 cm. Armor penetration - more than 150 mm.
Before using the mine, the soldier had to remove the safety check. Then he ran to the tank, holding a mine horizontally in front of him like peaks, aiming at the side of the tank. At the moment of the impact of the mines with their feet into the side of the pole, moving forward by inertia, broke the shear pin. The drummer worked on the detonator cap, which caused it to explode and transfer detonation to a shaped charge. The explosion of a cumulative charge led to penetration of armor and destruction of the tank. Kamikaze also died in a mine explosion.
Anti-tank grenade launchers
Although from the second half of 1943, the Japanese command in the fight against tanks relied on the primitive anti-tank ammunition used by land-based kamikazes, it should not be assumed that Japan did not create “remote” VET weapons in which fragments and impact weapons were minimized wave and there was no need to leave the shelter. As part of military-technical cooperation with Germany, in the 1941, documentation was received for the Panzergranate 30 (G.Pzgr.30) anti-tank 30-mm cumulative grenades. Japanese designers adapted the Panzergranate 30 for their production capabilities and created the Type 2 rifle grenade launcher.
The Type 2 grenade launcher was mounted on Japanese 6,5 rifles mm Type 38 and 7,7 mm Type 99. If the German rifles Mauser 98k for shooting grenades used blank ammunition with a sleeve starved "asterisk", the Japanese used 7,7-mm cartridges with a wooden bullet. This somewhat increased the range of the shot, but it was necessary to strengthen the bottom of the grenade. The maximum range of a Type 99 rifle at an elevation angle of 45 ° is about 300 m. The sighting is no more than 45 m. The firing range of grenades with 6,5-mm rifles was less by about 30%.
To stabilize the grenade in flight, in its tail part there was a belt with ready-made cuts, which coincided with the rifled part of the mortar. The head of the grenade was made of tin, and the tail was made of aluminum alloy. In the head part there was a cumulative funnel and a charge from an alloy of trotyl with hexogen with a mass of 50 g, and in the back - a bottom fuse. A cumulative 30-mm grenade weighing about 230 g along the normal could penetrate 30 mm armor, which allowed it to fight only with light tanks and armored cars. Due to the lack of armor penetration, an 40-mm cumulative grenade with over-caliber warhead soon entered service. The mass of the grenade increased to 370 g, while in its case 105 g of explosives were contained. The thickness of the pierced armor when hit at an angle of 90 ° was 50 mm, and the maximum range of a shot from a rifle grenade launcher - 130 m.
In theory, infantrymen armed with Type 2 grenade launchers with 40-mm grenades could hit American light tanks M3 / M5 Stuart from any direction, and the average M4 Sherman into the board. However, the accuracy and firing range of cumulative rifle grenades was low, and the reliability of the timely operation of the bottom inertial fuse left much to be desired.
After the captured American "bazookas" fell into the hands of Japanese designers, in Japan, work began on creating their own anti-tank rocket grenade launchers. In July, the 1944-mm grenade launcher, designated the Type 74, was put into service.
Apparently, the design of the RPG Type 4 was influenced not only by the American Bazooka, but also by the German Panzerschreck. By analogy with the American M9 Bazooka grenade launcher, the Japanese RPG Type 4, created by the designers of the army arsenal in Osaka, was collapsible and consisted of two parts, which were assembled together just before the battle, and on the march the grenade launcher was transferred in a disassembled state. In the front of the Type 4 grenade launcher, the bipod from the Type 99 light machine gun was attached, and the rear - a pistol grip and firing mechanism. The sights consisted of a rear viewfinder and a front frame with front sights.
Although the Type 4 grenade launcher viewed features of the American and German samples, it had a number of significant differences. Thus, the stabilization of the Japanese jet grenade in flight was not carried out by tail, but due to rotation caused by the expiration of powder gases from inclined nozzles. Another difference between the Type 4 and the American and German grenade launchers was the replacement of the device for the electric launch of a rocket jet engine with a mechanical one. The trigger was connected by a cord with a spring-loaded drummer fixed to the rear end of the barrel with a striker. Before loading, the drummer cocked and locked, and when the trigger was pressed, the cable released the drummer, and he, turning on the axis, smashed the primer-igniter in the center of the nozzle bottom of the jet grenade
Structurally and externally, the rocket grenade resembled a Japanese missile 203-mm. At the head of the rocket grenade there was a fuse from 81-mm mines. It was followed by a steel recess and a shaped charge. At the rear was a jet engine with oblique nozzles. Jet fuel served as pyroxylin powder. With a length of 359 mm, the rocket grenade weighed 4,1 kg. Of which 0,7 kg accounted for explosives. The powder charge of a jet engine with a mass of 0,26 kg accelerated a grenade in a pipe to 160 m / s. The maximum range of shooting 750 m, effective - 110 m. The mass of the unloaded grenade launcher in a combat position - 8 kg, length - 1500 mm.
The calculation of the grenade launcher consisted of two people: the gunner and loader. Shooting, as a rule, was conducted from a prone position. Experienced calculation could produce up to 6 rds / min. When firing behind the grenade launcher, due to the release of a jet stream, a dangerous zone with a length of about 20 m was formed.
Compared to other models of Japanese anti-tank weapons, the Type 4 grenade launcher was a big step forward. However, the Japanese industry at the final stage of the hostilities could not equip the army with the necessary number of 74-mm rocket launchers. According to US data, before the end of World War II, about 3000 anti-tank rocket launchers were launched in Japan. In addition, the rotation of the reactive grenade reduced armor penetration due to the “splashing” of the cumulative jet due to centrifugal force. During the fighting, it turned out that with the declared armor penetration along the normal 80-mm, a cumulative grenade cannot guarantee reliable penetration of the frontal armor of the American Shermans and the British Matilda.
Due to the lack of armor penetration Type 4 at the beginning of 1945, the 90-RPG RPG was created, which constructively repeated the Type 4, but had an increased caliber. Due to the significant increase in weight, the 90-mm grenade launcher received additional support located at the rear of the barrel.
The mass of the new grenade launcher was about 12 kg, the reactive grenade - 8,6 kg (of which 1,6 kg accounted for the explosive and 0,62 kg for the powder charge of the jet engine). The initial speed of the grenade was 106 m / s, armor penetration - 120 mm, effective firing range - 100 m. Despite successful trials in the army, mass production of 90-mm grenade launchers was not adjusted.
Tactics of Japanese tank destroyers
To fight the tanks, the Japanese formed special detachments of 10-12 people. The group was ordered to act cohesively and from an ambush. Two or three people were engaged in setting up a smoke screen, at that time 5-6 people tried to immobilize a tank by blowing up a caterpillar, put a magnetic mine on board, or hit a pole-shaped cumulative mine, and blew up the tank with a knapsack bomb. The rest threw incendiary bottles and grenades, and also covered the squad’s actions, firing at enemy infantry, and distracted the tank crew’s attention to themselves. Very often, Japanese detachments hid in fox-holes, which were stockpiled on top with bamboo shields and vegetation. After waiting for the right moment, all members of the detachment attacked the approaching tanks.
Measures to protect against Japanese infantry fighter tanks
The creation of reactive anti-tank grenade launchers in Japan began too late, and the RPG received by the troops did not have a noticeable effect on the course of hostilities. To fight American and British armored vehicles, the Japanese used the tactic of “one soldier - one tank,” which meant that, sacrificing themselves, one Japanese soldier must destroy one tank. This approach brought the desired effect only in the first stage. Faced with land-based kamikazes, the Americans, Australians and the British avoided using tanks in places where they had the opportunity to secretly approach them to install a magnetic mine, strike a cumulative mine pole, or use a land mine bomb. In addition to the use of specially designed anti-tank weapons against enemy tanks, Japanese infantrymen were instructed to use other methods: wedge the chassis with metal rods, smash optical devices, jumping onto the tank through open hatches, throwing fragmentation grenades inside. It is clear that such methods of dealing with armored vehicles led to enormous losses among those who dared to do so.
In part, the actions of the Japanese infantry were facilitated by poor visibility in combat operations in the jungle. Having suffered losses, the Americans began to actively burn vegetation with napalm aircraft tanks, to use flamethrower tanks and backpack infantry flamethrowers.
Also, to protect their tanks, the US Army and Marine Corps began to attract infantrymen armed with automatic weapons, and preemptively comb through suspicious places with machine-guns and artillery and mortar fire. Due to the increased consumption of ammunition, it was often possible to disperse and destroy Japanese groups of tank destroyers hiding among tropical vegetation.
American tankers also used passive means of protection: boards were sheathed with boards, armor was increased by hanging trucks, and the hatches were welded with nails pointing up or covered with a net, which prevented the magnetic mine from being installed directly on the hatch. Top armor was enhanced by sandbags.
The Japanese land kamikazes, armed with pole mines and loaded with satchels of explosives, tried to delay the advance of Soviet tanks in Manchuria and in Korea. However, the extensive experience of the fighting at the time of the outbreak of war with Japan allowed the Red Army to avoid any noticeable losses in armored vehicles. Long before the Soviet Union entered the war against Japan, tank escort by infantry became the standard. As a rule, a submachine gun unit was planted on each tank. In this way, even during the battles in Germany, tanks were protected from "faustnikov."
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