Type 92 Japanese HMG at James D Julia

The Type 92 was the final iteration of a machine gun that began as the Model 1897 Hotchkiss HMG made in France. The Japanese army purchased many of these guns, and then produced their own slightly refined version. These in turn were replaced by the updated Type 3 (1914) heavy machine gun, and finally the Type 92 (1932). A lightened upgrade to the Type 92 was prototyped (the Type 1, 1941), but never went into production. Mechanically, the Type 92 is very much like a scaled-up Type 11 light machine gun, using 30-round strips to feed. Despite being generally derided today, these machine guns were very reliable, accurate, and effective. This particular one happens to have a 7mm Mauser barrel in it, from a South American contract.

28 Comments

  1. Having seen one of these in person, I can say that the barrel jacket is ridiculously massive, the barrel does look hilariously tiny when looking at it head on (not that I’d want to be at that end if it was firing).
    Give that the feed strips would have been a (minor) weakness to the system, how hard would it be to convert a hotchkiss system to belt fed? (I’ve seen hybrid belt-strip systems, but what about a straight belt fed?)

    • Russian book “Strelkovove orugie” (1947) states that (page 162):
      “Type 92 machine can be feed from 25-round strip or 250-round belt, belt move from left to right”
      There is also drawing of Type 92 machine gun ready to AA fire and loaded with belt (page 161)

  2. Were the feed strips reloadable in the field? I imagine the metal feed strips might have been thought to be more dependable in jungle conditions as they would not be susceptible to the wet conditions or rot that cloth belts might suffer with.

    • Metallic belts or strips are generally more resistant to weather conditions than fabric belts. Not just wetness, but temperatures around the freezing point tend to be problematic with fabric belts, when belts freeze and become stiff if they were not kept dry before the freeze. Such conditions were not rare in Northern parts of Japan or indeed Korea, Manchuria or Northern China.

    • The Type 92 had exposed ammo and a cartridge oiler, because brass wouldn’t extract dry. It was reliable if there was no dirt or mud, but jammed every second round if there was.

  3. Not that anyone has actually mentioned it, but didn’t the Type 92 come with periscopic sight or telescopic sight for better shot groupings? I was led to believe that the Type 92 will likely deal out headshots to supply truck drivers at ranges where the Browning M1919 can only dream of putting precise “gut the enemy general” hits. Disturbingly in a Japanese comic book scan I read, a Japanese gunner on Iwo Jima spots a charging would-be hero on the American side through the scope and cuts him in half with a long-range burst. The image is very graphic and although I have the page in question, I don’t think anyone here wants to see a Marine getting disemboweled by a machinegun.

    Given a choice with no “great” weapons and if you were overlooking a beach, assuming that a “landing force” of pirates were attacking (several coming ashore in boats, the rest of the pirate fleet providing fire support from cargo ships turned pirate ships with machineguns and RPGs), what would you do? You’re supposedly guarding a gigantic vault full of precious metal and jewelry.

    The following text describes your position and weapons at your disposal:

    Your position is a custom built “panzerturm” tank turret bunker, and the turret in question on top of your partially buried blockhouse was intended for a Panzer IV J. Your other “heavy hitters” are five 6-pounder Hotchkiss guns and two Autoannoni da 90/53 anti-air trucks, along with a French AMC Schneider P 16 halftrack. A nearby airfield is home to a squadron of Breda BA.65 attack planes (the planes weren’t too good at dogfighting, but I think the pirates would have a great disadvantage against planes that can simply drop fireworks on them). Sadly, the pirates sank all but one of the tank-turreted gunboats I was going to give you! The surviving boat has two T-26 tank turrets, one armed with a 45mm cannon and a Degtyarov DT MG, the other with a flamethrower, and the wheel house has two ShKAS machineguns on the roof.

    Also at your disposal are Type 92 HMGs and 13mm Type 93 HMGs, M38 Carcano short rifles chambered for 7.35 Carcano with folding bayonets already fixed (the knife bayonets, not permanently attached pig-stickers), G.41(M)s, Mondragon rifles with drum magazines, 25mm Puteaux anti-tank guns, Type 97 Anti-tank Rifles disguised as shrubbery near a supply cave, Luger and broom-handle-Mauser carbines, Type 100 SMGs, and pistols of your choice (okay, you can bring shotguns if you want). To top the ridiculousness of this scenario, I recommend that any participant willing to engage hand-to-hand with the pirates get a sword (or you can use a polearm or an axe if you prefer). Let’s see here, katana, cutlass, claybeg, epee, saber, long-sword, rapier, take your pick…

    The pirates are out to get your treasure! They can’t do it if they’re DEAD! [maniacal laughter!!!]

    • Do you really think someone would do that? Just… draw something in a manga that wasn’t true? That would be horrifying!

    • Do you really have to post these childish “games” under every single article lately? Neither fun nor informative, it doesn’t add anything to the discussion.

      • I’ve just gotten out of a depressive mood recently. Winter was a bit harsh at home, I hope you understand what restlessness comes when it’s too cold to go outside the house to take a good walk. I’ll just stop commenting for 2 months if that makes you happy.

        I deeply regret that I have caused so much trouble for you guys. I suppose saying “sorry” won’t cut it.

        • Hey Man, don’t sweat it. I wasn’t meaning to offend you and I definitely don’t want you to stop commenting. Was in a bad mood myself this morning so let’s call it even :).

          • Okay, back to something now that I’ve probably gotten over winter madness. Ian mentioned that the Type 92 didn’t get reduced production quality compared to the Arisaka rifles as the war dragged on, so I have a reason for that. Rifles are less costly to build and easier to replace than machineguns, and one would certainly not want the platoon’s heavy hitter to break down easily! As a result, the machinegun was given priority over the rifle in terms of manufacturing quality.

    • “Not that anyone has actually mentioned it, but didn’t the Type 92 come with periscopic sight or telescopic sight for better shot groupings?”
      “Strelkove orugie” (1947) states that [page 161]:
      “Main difference between Type 92 and Type 3 is different caliber. Moreover Type 92 has optic periscope-type sight when Type 3 don’t have. Due to fact that lens is considerable above gun, it can be used for observation of battlefield from behind the cover”

  4. Is there a figure for ‘pretty extensive manufacture’? It did get me wondering vs. 5 million M1919’s, a million PKM’s, or a million mg 34/42’s.

    • Chile. The Chilean army bought some numbers of the Type 92 before the war, in the early 1930s if I remember correctly; what puzzles me is the relatively late date of this particular Type 92 (February 1942, according to the description at the James D. Julia website).

    • Japan had extensive foreign trade with Latin America from the 1890s on, largely due to the fact that by that time, there were Japanese expatriate colonies in several countries there, notably Chile and Peru.

      During WW1, Japan supplied Arisaka rifles to Tsarist Russia, Great Britain, and Mexico. Russia and Britain used them for training, and Mexico issued them to their reserve formations. Keep in mind that at the time, Mexico was dealing with both an internal revolution and diplomatic problems largely due to their previous close relations with Germany (see “Zimmermann telegram”), so they literally took whatever arms the could get anywhere. There were probably other sales south of the Rio Grande beyond that, as well.

      AFAIK, all such Arisakas were in 6.5mm. The existence of a Type 92, apparently intended for Chile, in 7 x 57 Mauser indicates that Arisakas in that chambering probably were at least a “catalog item” at the time. (BTW, the two most common military-issue rifle calibers in South America prior to WW2 were 7 x 57 and 7.65 x 53 Mauser.)

      One story that recurs is that the Nambu Type 94 (1934) automatic pistol in 8mm, which was adopted as a substitute standard weapon by the Japanese forces in WW2, was originally intended as an export item to their South American customers. This may or may not be so, but I would question exactly how good a “seller” the clumsy and potentially dangerous (to its user) Type 94 would be in a market that was not only saturated with WW1 surplus pistols, but also had a strong sales presence by the various Spanish gunmakers, and of course Colt, Smith & Wesson, etc., as well as their own indigenous industry that was being created at the time. Forjas Taurus and Rossi are older than a lot of people realize.

      cheers

      eon

  5. I am somewhat puzzled by the notion that the Type 92 is derided today. Admittedly I haven’t read every possible book or article about the subject, but I have never seen an overly negative assessment of it.

    The criticism I have seen usually revolves around it being essentially a WW1 style “heavy” machine gun designed for sustained fire. The strip feed is criticized for being old-fashioned and requiring an assistant to feed the strips, whereas a belt-fed gun can be operated more effectively by a single man in a pinch. The rate of fire is perhaps a little too slow. Still, I haven’t seen suggested that it was an unreliable or generally unsatisfactory weapon.

  6. In the mid-1980s I was travelling in the Solomon Islands on a scuba diving trip. While on Guadalcanal I came across a fairly informal open-air ‘museum’ which was owned by one of the locals. Not far from Honiara city. Heaps of aircraft, vehicles and weapons all over the place. And to my amazement, one of these Type 92 ‘woodpeckers’ standing alone in the middle of an open area, not covered in any way and in beautiful condition! If only I could have picked it up and taken it home! Got a good photo of it though. I also saw one on an anti-aircraft mount on one of the sunken Japanese ships in Truk Lagoon, a few years later.

  7. Being the proud Owner of a Type 3 (Modelo 1920 Cileno),in 7×57 and in working order, I can speak from experience. Being in the Film ordnance Industry, I had a NEW Barrel made in 7,62×51 Nato by my barrel maker, and fitted the usual BFA at the inside of the Muzzle. It fires RG L10A1 7,62 Nato Blanks like a dream ( it can also, if needs be, fire Ball 7,62 Nato for sound effects, tracer effects etc.)

    The Standard Japanese 30 round strip is a copy of the Hotchkiss Universal Export Strip ( for “Mauser” type cartridges); it also fits .303 Br. as well. My retired Toolmaker, who built a Hotchkiss Portative from steel bar etc,( Two Guns, actually) also designed and we had made,( by a Tool & Die Company) the stamping tooling to make the 30 round strips. These have been used successfully in several films (Blank fire) and several have been sold in the USA to Portative and Nambu Owners with great success.

    My friend also made a copy of the Flexible Belt strip for Hotchkiss (as used by the Royal Tank Corps and the Australian Light Horse during WW I.) This also works through the Nambu quite well, especially if one uses a feed hopper or drum to “unwind” the “belt” correctly ( like the Spool on the MG 08/15.) The French used a 500 round Spool for their 8mm Lebel Hotchkiss on Aircraft ( The Lighter Portative Model, Not the Heavy M1914). The 8mm Lebel Flex-Belt was more like a true Belt, one clip per cartridge, hinged into a Belt. The “Universal” Flexi-Strip was usually Three cartridges per segment, with two hinge pins per joint.

    Capacity of Hotchkiss Strips was 24 for Large rimmed cases 8mm Lebel and 7,62R Russian ( and the earlier Black Powder/Smokeless conversions) like the Norwegian Jarmann, French 11mm Gras anti-Balloon gun etc.)
    30 rounds for “Mauser” and “Mannlicher rimless” type cases ( 7,9mm;7mm; 7,65mm; 6,5 MS, 6,5Dutch; 6,5 Arisaka, 7,7mm T92, etc.).

    Flexi-Belts were made in 50, 250 and 500 capacities.

    The British developed special strips…9-round for Cavalry and Light Horse Portatives, 14-round for Anti-Aircraft use on high angle mounts. Note that these “smalls” are simply 30 round strips cut into three or two, allowing for wastage of strip due to correct “end forming”.

    One problem found with use of the 24 and 30 round strip was “whiplash” of the strip whilst firing Bursts. The Japanese solved this problem by delivering the 30 round strip in a Cardboard and Muslin sleeve, made up of a 1/3 and 2/3 sections, sealed with a Glued Paper strip (Label). By removing the short section, the Strip could be fed by the #2 holding the 2/3 segment, as a guide for both locking onto an existing strip, and preventing whiplash and possible cartridge Loss ( more common in the Portative, where the cartridges “hang downwards”..The 1914 and the T3/M1920/T92 have LH Feed, with the cartridges uppermost.)

    Now the Subject Gun at Julia: in the 1920s and 30s, Japan, through its Dai-Nippon Marketing Organisation, sold a lot of 7mm and 7,65 MGs of both T3 and T92 Design. ( But even the T92 designs were only different from the T3 as far as the Trigger Mechanism is concerned, since a T92 Back head will fit and function Perfectly in a Type 3 Receiver, AND Vice Versa ( I also Have a T92 (Pillar sight and Scope sight etc) but fitted with T3 Trg. mech. It looks like this export gun simply has a Type 92 Trigger and Outboard Hand grips on a Normal T3 (Mo.1920) Receiver. *****Correction, didn’t see the T92 rear sight and scope base***

    As to the Chilean order, from Serial Numbers already observed on “Mixed Number” Guns, at least 200 were Purchased in the First Lot ( 1920-25.) My Gun is # 48 on the Body, but some parts have numbers up to 196.

    The Subject gun above has a T92 receiver, (Scope sight Slide and RHS Pillar Iron sight) whilst the T3/1920 has a “Mauser” tupe rear sight atop the Body ( where the Scope sight grooves are in the 92.)

    Also the Chilean guns have the Chilean National Crest ( same as the Mauser rifles) on the Top cover.( behind the Oiler Reservoir.)

    Could this be a Normal Japanese T92, which has had its 7,7SR barrel changed out for a Chileno Barrel???(7×57)…I know that such conversions go on all the time in the USA, given ammo availability FOR SOME CALIBRES AND NOT FOR OTHERS??? Or is it a Late 1930s export delivery to Latin America???

    More details are required as to this excellent gun’s Provenance…. The Chilean Guns were sold through an English firm back in the early 1990s (That’s where mine came from, anyway, “un-touched” by deact/Gas-axe or similar vandalism.

    Doc AV
    AV Ballistics Film Ordnance Services
    Brisbane Australia.

    • Thank you very much for your informative and detailed e-mail! So, the Chilean Type 3 guns were exported in the 1920s and not in the early 30s, or could the order have been completed or complemented by the early 30s? As for the 7.65 guns you mention, I suspect some may have been sold to Peru in preparation to or during the conflict with Colombia, also known as Leticia War, in 1932/33.

      The export of “guns and ammunition” to Peru (and perhaps to Bolivia, as Bolivian armed forces also used 7.65×53 as their standard cartridge) under “emergency circumstances” is mentioned by Ikeda Michiko in her book on Japanese foreign trade published in 2008, but unfortunately I don’t think the author provides further details, but I can check it soon. The book by professor Ikeda draws heavily from primary sources and presents a valuable insight into Japanese foreign trade and export, guns and ammunition being referred among the first truly sophisticated, high value manufactured goods exported by the Japanese heavy industry, in contrast with the reliance on the mass export of cheap products by their light industry such as cotton textiles and home appliances. I think – my educated guess, not Ikeda’s conclusion – the language barrier and stiff competition from the major European gun makers, namely those located in Germany, Belgium, Czechoslovakia and, albeit to a lesser extent, Switzerland and Danmark (the Madsen machine gun was sold to virtually all South American nations before WW II), were the main factors that stood in the way of a deeper and more lucrative penetration of South American markets by both state-owned and private Japanese gun-making companies in the 20s and 30s, besides from possible restrictive measures directed against Japanese exports such as those imposed after 1932 by many Western powers. I don’t read Japanese, but I wonder if Sugawa Shigeo has mentioned in any detail exports of machine guns in his reputedly authoritative Nihon no kikanju (Japanese Machine Guns) book, which deserves an English language edition.

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