Japanese export (?) fuzes - short Kanji translation/interpretation request for article
Article about: Hi guys, I am about to finish my third extensive article on Japanese artillery ammunition and this is the one that treats the early IJA ammunition in great detail (note: for the interested r
Japanese export (?) fuzes - Kanji translation/interpretation request for article
I am about to finish my third extensive article on Japanese artillery ammunition and this is the one that treats the early IJA ammunition in great detail (note: for the interested reader: the other articles can be found on my site, from this page: Japanese Ammunition ).
At the eleventh hour before having to hand in the article for publication a great new find was done through a post at BOCN on which I was asked for information. To summarise: the Japanese seem to have exported substantial amounts of (possibly refurbished) Type 31 shrapnel rounds including fuzes. The Japanese themselves most likely stopped using this ammunition after the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905, in favour of using the more powerful successors.
Now... I would like to cover these items correctly in the article, and there are three fuzes that have odd markings that I do not completely understand and for which I hope someone can give a good translation or interpretation. Even if only the relevant Kanji markings can be transcribed I would already be helped, as I can then see what (if anything) the Tangorin site comes up with as potential interpretations.
I shall post the pictures with questions in 3 separate reactions to this post, so it will hopefully be clear which questions involve which fuzes.
I would be very grateful for any and all interpretations that anyone has.
Thanks a lot in advance, and cheers,
Last edited by ogreve; 05-21-2015 at 10:24 PM.
Fuze number 3
This is the third (and last) of the fuzes I have some questions about.
Shown is a 36.6 seconds combination powder-time-impact fuze, that appears to be a derivative of a Type 38, or Type 41 or Type 5-year fuze.
The fuze threads are very, very odd. Normally Japanese fuzes of this style have a much narrower, coarse threaded fuze, that goes in an adapter. This one goes directly on the projectile body. I suspect this to possibly be a "special" export version, quite likely made of a standard Type 38, Type 41 or Type 5-year fuze, that has been equipped with a different base.
This fuze (and the projectile on which it is fit), as well as a specimen that's very similar to it, come from battlefields in Slovenia and Italy.
There is a very good chance that they were exported by Japan around the beginning of WW1 (quite likely in 1915 and/or 1916), but...... I cannot make heads nor tails of the date markings on the fuze.
It clearly has a Taisho era indicator (i.e. the character: '大'). To the left of it, normally appears in Kanji digits the year of manufacture. By all accounts I *think* it shows a '二' (= 2) and a '九' (= 9). The fuze on the specimen that the other person has, appears to have similar markings, but instead of the '二' I think it has a '一' (= 1). Now.... this is really, really odd. For starters, there is of course no such thing as a "Taisho year 29" nor "Taisho year 19", when calculated, the corresponding dates would fall well within the Showa era. Besides, when writing such compound years in top to bottom notation, they would normally have used the '十' (= 10) instead of a '一'.
Nothing appears to have been struck through and there is also a single month indication, being '11' (= November) on the shown specimen and '12' (= December) on the other specimen.
In all reality, the only thing I can logically make of it, is that the fuzes were perhaps first stamped in November of Taisho year 2 (first specimen), being November 1913, and the other specimen in December of Taisho 1, being December 1912.
The Kanji '9' is clearly present, unless I'm misreading it and it needs to be something else. It could be that these fuzes were re-issued in Taisho 9, which would be 1920. That would make most sense. They could have been adapted in that year, for explicitly being exported along with a possible large supply of surplus Type 31 bodies that the Japanese possibly still had after the Russo-Japanese war.
However... if these were indeed re-issued in 1920, that would be well after the end of WW1, which would be greatly at odds with the theory that these items were exported around the beginning of WW1 ?!??!
-Can anyone tell me what date(s) really appear on this fuze? Am I misreading this?
-This fuze has no Osaka cannons. Instead, at the position where the Osaka cannons would normally appear (i.e. right above the date) there is a single Kanji ideogram. Can someone tell me what that ideogram means? Could this be an export marking, or could it perhaps indicate a contractor who may have manufactured the fuze?
This was the last of the set of questions. I really hope someone (or multiple people) can shed a light on it, as I hate to publish incorrect and/or incomplete information. Especially as the article goes in print...
Thanks a million in advance for any and all answers!
If this is a Taishō indicator, then the date would be "Taishō Gan-nen" or, 1st year of Taishō.
大元 = 大正元年 [30 July ~31 Dec 1912]. Perhaps the 11 indicates November 1912?
Imperial dates can be funny because they do not begin with the calendar year. For example, "Shōwa Gan-nen" only lasted six days -- 26-31 Dec 1926; Shōwa 2 began in January, 1927.
Thanks a lot for your work!
It is very clarifying.
Your interpretation as most/several of the isolated markings being part of the surnames of inspectors is indeed an explanation/interpretation that I have seen before when I asked some questions about similar markings on casings. e.g. the 青 (ao) one is seen quite often on contemporary items. It would surprise me if many inspectors would have inspected the same item, but it is possible.
Some of them may have a distinct meaning, I think.
Regarding the ones that go near the Osaka arsenal cannons on the first two fuzes, I had not recognised them as the ones you transcribed. In light of your transcription I now strongly suspect the following interpretation:
- 本 = Hon = Abbreviation of Japan (日本).
- 大 = O = Abbreviation of Osaka (大阪).
That would make a lot of sense when put in an "export context".
I know that on pretty much all items manufactured by the Osaka arsenal, apart from the crossed cannons either the 阪 marking is present too (particularly on headstamps), and on others one finds the 大 marking (e.g. on 20mm projectiles). On normal Japanese used items I would not quickly expect the marking for "Japan". I strongly suspect it to indeed be an export marking (much like the modern day "Made in Japan" would mean).
Do you think that meaning is likely to be correct?
Then the date on the third fuze: I'm so glad you came through with that! Indeed I had seen the way you write the early Taisho dates before in full (i.e. 大正元年), but I hadn't recognised the abbreviated form! That information is dynamite, because now not only does it make full sense, but it also EXACTLY matches the expected era of manufacture!
Yes, the '12' and '11' are indeed month indicators. Such is common practice on Japanese Army items.
Now I can make a much better supported case that these items were all manufactured close to the beginning of WW1 and that indeed they were exported to Europe for usage in WW1.
The 修 (Shu) marking you transcribed that appears above the date on the 3rd fuze is quite likely to be a manufacturer's indication. I'm not sure, but since there is no arsenal marking above the date (which is where it normally would go), I strongly suspect the 'Shu' indicates a contractor that would have manufactured the fuze.
As for Katakana markings: those are seen on Japanese items regularly. They can have distinct meaning. When printed in ink on Showa era items they are often (though not always) used in filler markings. They are also used to indicate specific types on "non-common" projectiles, like "practice" projectiles etc. With a single Katakana marking it's of course difficult to be sure of the exact meaning but I don't think those are part of inspector's names. It seems no Katakana is used on any of these fuzes.
Hiragana is almost not seen on Japanese military items (at least almost not on ordnance up to 1945). The only items on which I sometimes see them is on fuzes. I'm not sure of their meaning. These could well indeed be part of an inspector's name or perhaps they are "function" related to the fuze, where their presence would perhaps indicate "something" or "some spot" of importance related to the usage of the fuze. Does such sound logical?
One further Kanji ideogram that could perhaps have a special meaning in this context is the 兵 (Hei) one. I've seen that marking as part of the word "arsenal". I don't know if it's a coincidence in this case...
Again: thanks for the super information!