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The Evolution of IJA Canteens (1889-1945) Expanded Version

Article about: The Evolution of IJA Canteens (1889-1945) Expanded Version This is a updated and expanded version of an article I originally released a month ago. Foreword The army’s standard infantryman’s

  1. #21

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    1940 New Stopper B

    29th July 1940 saw the introduction of an all wood stopper, using softwood (sandal wood) for the stopper plug and hard woods such as maple for the top.
    This was called the B model (ロ号) stopper.
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  2. #22

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    1940 Steel Canteens

    On 21st October 1940 Army Ordinance 75, announced that the material description of the canteen body will now become “aluminium or steel” in order to reduce aluminium usage. The technical evaluation comments explain the following.

    1. Dimensions and shape are identical to the aluminium model.
    2. Weight is 20 grams more. Steel canteen weighed 270 grams vs 250 for aluminium.
    3. Durability is not affected
    4. Wear-ability and care characteristics are unaffected
    5. Water seems to reach its boiling point slightly slower
    6. Mess kits obviously also need to be reconsidered, but no solution has yet been found.

    I am not sure how often one would see steel canteens, as they seem to have stuck pretty well to aluminium production until late 43, when any material seemed to do.


    1941 Stopper Strap Change

    The first change to the strap design came on 30th September 1941, when the buckle on the leather strap holding the stopper was changed to have buckles at both ends of the leather stopper strap like the 1919 web harness we discussed earlier, which used this feature to accommodate the conflicting needs of infantrymen and cavalrymen. One would think this 1941 change aimed at the same thing, but the explanation in Army Ordinance 26 for this change merely said “Addition of buckles at both ends was done to facilitate easier cradling of the canteen”. This strap configuration will later be known as the “Sho 5 A type” strap arrangement (昭5式伊号). This name was given retrospectively as B and C variations were added below.
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  3. #23

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    1941 Another Stopper Strap Change

    On 20th November 1941, Army Ordinance 82 introduced an economy version of the stopper strap by saying “The stopper strap may be a cotton strap that does not have to close with a buckle”, which is “officialese” for “tie down straps are permitted” instead of the buckled leather straps. This strap configuration was what the army called the “Sho 5 B type” strap arrangement (昭5式呂号).
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  4. #24

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    1942 New Stopper Variant C


    16th April, 1942 was the introduction date of the C (ハ号) variant stopper, in which the plug was cork with an aluminium top.
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  5. #25

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    1942 November Shoulder Strap Change

    The next year in November, this time the adjustment buckle hardware on the “Sho 5 B type” strap arrangement was deleted and replaced by a cloth loop adjustment. This is clearly the war taking its toll on material supply. This strap configuration was the “Sho 5 C type” strap arrangement (昭5式波号).
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  6. #26

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    1943 Rubber Stopper D

    2nd May, 1943 saw the introduction of yet another stopper, a D model (仁号) which was an all rubber stopper.
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  7. #27

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    1943 If it holds water anything goes

    Anything was better than not having water at all, as Army Ordinance 99 decreed on 10th December, 1943 that all specifications in aluminum may, for the time being, be replaced by other metals, rubber, leather or porcelain. Here a rubber canteen in combination with the last ditch model carrier, which omits the bottom lateral strap. This type strap has the nickname “Fundoshi” carrier among Japanese collectors, because it resembles a loin cloth.
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  8. #28

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    Canteen Wear Practices in WW2

    Earlier you read that the infantrymen were to carry the canteen slung from the left shoulder to have the canteen at the right hip, while the cavalry wore it the other way around. That was back then, but as special gear got established for various branches, things got busier with more items to carry. So by WW2 the following wear practices for canteens were codified as part of the uniform regulations.

    1. NCOs and EM in Infantry, Kempei, Engineers, Flight personnel (Excl. Technical NCOs and EM) When wearing a pistol, to be slung from right shoulder. Otherwise to be worn in reversed direction. Tank and motorized troops may keep canteens in their vehicles with the exception of when they need to march on foot.

    2. NCOs and EM in Cavalry, Transport Troops (Excl. transport labor) also Artillery NCOs and EM (Excl. Technical NCOs). When shouldering a rifle, wearing a pistol or when one is a horse-mounted bugler, slung from right to left. Otherwise, to be worn from left to right.

    3. Technical NCOs in the engineer and artillery branches, Financial Admin staff and EM technical troops; slung from left shoulder to right hip.

    4. Transport labor personnel; slung from left shoulder to right hip.



    Canteen and mess kit repair kit for the 1930 model canteen

    The army also had a portable tinkerer’s kit for hammering canteens and mess kits back to shape when they got banged up.
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  9. #29

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    Classic Revival

    There is still a lot more in the spec book on things like how to check the quality of a canteen by conducting acid tests, etc, but that sort of detail is outside the attention span of most readers, so let me just end this long article by taking us back to the very beginning.
    A former Japanese army veteran, who had fought in China commented that in 1944 rookie replacements arrived at his unit from Japan wearing bamboo Samurai style canteens. These rookies were given the excuse that the improvised gear was only during transit to their final units, but one has to doubt whether they really could be issued any real canteens at that time. Soon house wives in Japan would start sharpening their bamboo laundry-drying poles to get ready for the American landing in mainland Japan.
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  10. #30

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    Great thread Nick, and a fascinating read.........!
    Regards,


    Steve.

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