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Discussion Starter #1
I never had much interest in Japanese small arms, but that is changing. I ended up with Type 38 rifle and after doing some shooting, I'm a fan.

The Japanese had some small arms that were less than perfect...but they also had some that were REALLY good. The type 99 LMG might be the best magazine fed LMG of the war...and they knew how to use them well.

The Japanese never went to "short" rifles because they liked to get in close, at night, and bayonet their enemies, and a long rifle is better for that. For that tactic, the Type 38 & 99 are ideal. Unfortunately that tactic proved pretty easy to counter when army's learned the tricks the Japanese played.
 

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This month's American Rifleman has a great article on Japan's attempts to copy the M1 Garand. Very interesting stuff!
 

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Yeah, of all the weapons to try to copy; they pick the one that is the most difficult to manufacture. Getting the manufacturing right was a HUGE pain in the backside for the US. To think you can just reverse engineer something so hard to make.

Of the designs to copy at that time, I would have gone with the Tokarev rifle. MFG is WAY easier, and they have a much better chance of making a Tok copy work than a Garand. I'm guessing the Japanese didn't have a clue how difficult it was to make a Garand that works like a Garand...They found out.
 

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Would the Japanese have had access to Tokarevs to copy? They had captured Garands. Would the Johnson rifle have been easier to reverse-engineer, assuming they'd captured some of those too?
 
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Would the Japanese have had access to Tokarevs to copy? They had captured Garands. Would the Johnson rifle have been easier to reverse-engineer, assuming they'd captured some of those too?
Yeah, my assumption as well...they probably just didn't have any. Or they tested the two and saw the Garand was superior and made the wrong assumption it was superior by design, rather than superior by manufacture.

The Johnson was created because Melvin Johnson saw the issues with the manufacturing of the Garand and thought he could do better. Had it continued in development, it certainly would have been. The Johnson's receiver is investment cast...that was rather leading edge manufacturing technology in the early '40's. So yeah, the Johnson is WAY easier to manufacture, if you know how to do investment casting...I have no idea if Japan did any investment casting in the 1940's. And milling a Johnson receiver just makes no sense; that would take forever.
 

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The Japanese were hamstrung by their belief that individual small arms were not as important as their superior " Bushido spirit".
They thought their spirit would simply overwhelm any opponent, and up until they faced the Marines on Guadalcanal, they were right.
The Chinese and other Asians were no real match, and they'd done a fair job against the Russians in the early 1900's.
Note that the Japanese wasted untold resources making poor quality swords to arm officers who would have been much better armed with a decent quality pistol other then the expensive Nambu and the inexcusably horrible Type 94.

It took some time for them to admit that a .30 caliber bullet wasn't impressed by "spirit", and they needed better weapons.
By that time it was far too late.
That's why they fielded substandard infantry weapons and made no attempt to develop better one's until they were out of time.
Recall, that up until the 1960's the Japanese had much better luck copying Western goods, so it's not surprising they attempted to copy the M1.
They might have been better to copy the M1 Carbine, but it was also too late to develop a suitable small cartridge for it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yet, in 4 years they weren't able to definitively defeat the Chinese. The problem with Japan wasn't at the level of the infantry battalion. Most times the IJA faced us forces, they had been cut off and without any logistical support. They were good with artillery, mortars, and LMG's, but they were always out of ammunition for the first two.

The problems were right at the top, just like Germans. The difference is, Japan was incompetent by committee, rather than the rantings of a single lunatic.
 
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