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Tall Chinese (?) casing - short Kanji translation/interpretation request

Article about: Hi, I just acquired a cut-short tall and heavy base of a cartridge casing. It was advertised (by someone who doesn't collect this stuff) as being Japanese, but it doesn't look like anything

  1. #1

    Default Tall Chinese (?) casing - short Kanji translation/interpretation request


    I just acquired a cut-short tall and heavy base of a cartridge casing. It was advertised (by someone who doesn't collect this stuff) as being Japanese, but it doesn't look like anything Japanese that I know. In fact, it in all respects comes very much across as being Chinese. While I specialise in Japanese medium and large calibre ammunition, I also collect Chinese ammunition as a side interest, and therefore, knowing in advance that the case was cut-short, I decided to take the gamble and buy it for the headstamp.

    Apart from the numerals on the headstamp, I myself cannot read it. It's obviously factory (arsenal) stamped, and not commemorative. There are two horizontal rows of text that will probably have to be read from right to left. There's also a "Western style" marking "No 1821" on it, which is a bit puzzling. Right to the left of it appear two symbols that may be small arsenal (or acceptance?) markings.

    Can anyone transcribe the Kanji markings for me and tell me what they mean? I would expect them to contain a date, a type indication (the 'Shiki' Kanji ideogram does appear to the left of the Kanji '+=' numeric part) and quite likely an arsenal of manufacture.

    I hope someone can help me with the complete transcription and translation, that would really help my research in the difficult realm of large bore Chinese ammunition a lot!

    Thank you very kindly in advance, and cheers!

    PS: Due to poor lighting conditions the pictures were taken of the entire set of markings as well as in smaller 'chunks' for being able to make the markings out more clearly.

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  2. #2


    I won't try to translate the markings just now. HOWEVER, I think it is Japanese because of the two inspection stamps:

    ( イ ) and [ オ ]

    Katakana were also used as ordinals. So our equivalent of "A, B, C, D, E " could, in Japanese, be "ア・イ・ウ・エ・オ"

    Just a guess.


  3. #3


    IJN High-Angle Gun
    Ha! I was reading the kanji from right to left! They should be read left to right:

    40 neck-diameter 88/98-type 20cm 7 high-angle cannon.

    四十口径八九式十二糎七高角砲[1](40こうけいはちきゅうしき12せんち7こうかくほう)は、日本海軍の開発した高角砲。通称12.7セン チ高角砲。1932年(昭和7年)2月6日正式採用された。

    The 12.7 cm/40 Type 89 naval gun was a Japanese anti-aircraft (AA) gun introduced before World War II. It was the Imperial Japanese Navy's standard heavy AA gun during the war.


  4. #4



    image source

  5. #5


    Hi Guy,

    Thanks a lot for that!
    Funnily enough, in a way your translation raises more questions than it answers!
    I'll explain.

    The transcription that you give does indeed very closely match the 127x581R calibre. I just checked the base of such a case against this cut short one and it comes close, but.... the cut-short one has a rim that's about 4mm wider than my 12.7x581R cases have. Also, the primer pocket is slightly wider than that of the 127x581R cases that I have. Other than that, the base itself does strongly come across as what one would expect from an IJN case in this calibre (note: I do NOT refer to the markings, as those are completely distinct from normal IJN cases!). The primer pocket on the cut-short case has been provided with some kind of brass 'plug' that's likely to have been custom made by who ever converted this case in a candelabra. On the inside, it has a tall brass insert, quite certainly used as a base for a candle. Unfortunately the 'primer plug' has been peened shut to the case in 4 positions, so it will not be easy to get it out and test if a standard IJN primer goes in the pocket.

    But.... the strangest thing of all is the text on the base. It's obviously not even close to a standard IJN headstamp. It's certainly not arsenal made then (at least not by an IJN arsenal).
    As for the text in the first row: some things "sound right" whereas others don't. For example, the type 88 / 89 indication of the guns is correct (i.e. they refer to the "Type 88 12.7cm/40 dual-purpose gun" (and the same for the Type 89 twin gun), but I do not understand the "20cm" part in the translation. That's not what the calibre was called by the Japanese. A 20cm case would have been much wider too. This bit of information on the base is really confusing and doesn't factually match the official designations.

    Then, I'm really curious what the second line reads. Maybe I missed it in your translation (if so: I'm sorry), but I think it is not there. The first line then (despite the above mentioned extremely odd anomalies) does point to the 127x581R calibre, but I'm really curious what that second line means.... Can you please transcribe and translate that one too?

    I really wonder what that second line says, because I'm completely baffled by this case now. The headstamp is just so "off" for the typical Japanese style that I can only see this possibly having been manufactured by some contractor. It certainly wasn't manufactured at any of the IJN arsenals.
    Very, very odd...

    Thanks again for your translation, and hopefully you can translate the second line too. I'm really curious what it says, as at this time I don't understand this headstamp at all.... :P


  6. #6


    Quote by ogreve View Post
    ...but I do not understand the "20cm" part in the translation. That's not what the calibre was called by the Japanese. A 20cm case would have been much wider too. This bit of information on the base is really confusing and doesn't factually match the official designations.
    Ooooooops! My bad. I originally read the text from right to left; when I corrected for "left to right" I did not properly give the number. Should be 12cm.

    Jū-ni senchimētoru
    12 cm.

    Hope that helps .....

  7. #7


    Hi Olaf,

    I am having NO LUCK at all with the second line -- not even when I google kanji sets. AND .... I cannot find the lead kanji; it's not in the on-line dictionary I'm using, and I do not have access to my Nelson's Kanji Dictionary. That first kanji is a compound kanji combining "moon" and "China" 月+唐. The closest I can find is -- but that is NOT correct.

    The rest of the line:

    I searched sets of kanji and found some partials that, when combined, kind of make sense:

    軸表示用: Axis/shaft Display Use
    望遠鏡: telescope [could this mean "telescoping/expanding"?]
    支持金: Support/propping metal

    I parsed each word -- which is the worst thing to do when trying to translate Japanese. Still, you might be able to find something that "rings true" to what you know about Japanese artillery rounds.

    【じく】 (n,n-suf) (1) axis; stem; shaft; axle; (n) (2) center; focal point; key point; (P); ED

    表示(P); 標示(iK) 【ひょうじ】 (n,vs) (1) indication; expression; showing; manifestation; demonstration; (2) {comp} display; displaying; (3) {physics} representation; (P); ED

    【よう】 (suff) use; for

    【ぼう; もち】 (n) (1) full moon; (2) 15th day of the lunar month [when combined with 望 means "distance looking"]

    【かがみ】 (n) (1) mirror; looking-glass; (2) barrel head;

    【とお】 (adj-no) distant; (P); ED Name(s): 【とおし】 (g) Tooshi

    支持 【しじ】 (n,vs,adj-no) (1) support; holding up; propping; (2) support; backing; endorsing

    【かね; きん】 (かね) (n) money; metal; (きん) (n,n-suf) (1) gold; (2) gold general (shogi) (abbr);


  8. #8


    Nice work Guy . Your efforts are very much appreciated here , thank you .

    We are the Pilgrims , master, we shall go
    Always a little further : it may be
    Beyond that last blue mountain barred with snow
    Across that angry or that glimmering sea...

  9. #9


    Hi Guy,

    Well thanks a million for all your help!
    Normally your translations give me pretty much a full ID on the items. This time, some questions remain. I tried to think of some definitively correct interpretations of that second phrase and can't be sure either. Some ideas are:
    -The "Axis" part _could_ refer to the "Axis pact", but I think it refers to something of the mount of the gun.
    -The "display" part may refer to this perhaps being the base of an official dummy. That could also explain the number and the odd text on the base.
    -The other parts somehow sound as if they may refer to a "focusing, aiming or targeting" system.... Odd...

    In brief: I too am stuck at it. :P
    There's someone I know who is a native Japanese speaker and whom I ask occasionally for translations. I shall run this by him and see what he makes of it. Obviously, I shall add his answer (if any) to this post too....

    Intriguing.... To be continued...:P


  10. #10


    Hi Olaf,

    Usually I can kind of make heads or tails out of the translation ... not this time! I'll be grateful to read your native-speaker's translation.

    The "axis" part would PROBABLY refer to a spoke-hub type of axis, axle. When referring to the Tripartite powers, the kanji [Sūjiku Koku] were used -- as well as 日独伊三国同盟 [NichiDokuI Sangoku Dōmei].

    日独伊 = Japan (日), Germany (独), Italy (伊).
    三国同盟 =Three-Country Alliance

    As always, I reserve the right to be wrong!


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