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Some history of T-99


Topic author: Edokko
Subject: Some history of T-99
Posted on: 02/17/2006 7:16:16 PM
Gents, I have unearthed some documents originally archived within the Japanese Army files that pertains to the application of official adaptation of the T-99 Rifle (Long) and the T-99 Short Rifle (Short). Canft tell you the source of this document since if I do, I will have to silence you all, or be silenced till eternity myself.
Anyways, the application was based on tests and analysis of the many prototypes and test variations of which final report was compiled in August 1939 by the Army Technical Department, and this seems to be when the designation gType 99h was placed on the two new types of rifles.
For some reason, the official final submission for approval documents was not circulated until July 1940 whereas the then General Superintendent of Education, Otozo Yamada notifies his approval to the then Army Minister, Shunroku Hata on July 20, 1940 and further another 4 months passes by until the then Army Chief of Staff Hajime Sugiyama notifies his approval to the then Army Minister, Hideki Tojo on November 18, 1940. And at that point these rifles become truly officially approved weapons of the IJA. The three amigos, gArmy Ministerh, gArmy Chief of Staffh and the gGeneral Superintendent of Educationh were the three top honchos of the Army system and were the final say in all major Army internal decisions.
Having said that, most likely the T-99 rifles were probably already in some level of early production readiness at the Army arsenals preceding this gofficializationh, being evidenced by another document I found that states a gift of gone Type 99 rifle and 300 rounds of ammunitionh along with other weapons including the Type 38 rifle and Type 99 LMG that was sent to the Brazilian Army on October 1939. Thatfs before the final gapproval by the brassh and less than two months after the final test and analysis report compilation, so there seems to have been some routine procedures to gget things up and runningh before the red tapes of top brass approvals were obtained.

Also, there are some notes on the development chronology in the test/analysis report which may be of interest to the Board members here.
Note that the initial concept of developing a 7.7mm cal rifle has been around since 1929, but was an on-and-off development until April 1938, when under pressure from field needs the Army orders the Tech Dept to commence final developments and conclude the project within one year.
Both the Type 99 long and short rifles started their gfinal developmentsh simultaneously in April 1938, to increase the caliber under the concept to 1) improve the gkill /injuryh performance and 2) to have compatibility with heavy machine guns and thereby easing the ammunition logistics.
In April 7 and 8 of 1938, a g7.7mm committeeh is held under the arrangements of the Technical Dept., attended by members of the Army Arsenal HQ, Tokyo Arsenal, (Tokyo) Munitions Arsenal, Nagoya Arsenal, Kokura Arsenal, Tokyo Research Lab, Chuo Kogyo Co. Nambu Factory and the Gas & Electric Co., Ltd. with meetings held to design, prototype and produce the new 7.7mm rifles and ammunition.

Both the long and short rifle design plans were whittled down to two plans each as below. I write the gcarbineh as gcavalryh since this is a more correct translation.
- Infantry Rifle Plan # 1 : Design to be similar to the Type 38 Infantry Rifle with improvements to accommodate the larger caliber ammunition and simplification of manufacture.
- Infantry Rifle Plan # 2 : Design to focus mainly on simplification of manufacture and especially the receiver / bolt design to separate from the T-38 design.
- Cavalry Rifle Plan # 1 : Design to be similar to Type 44 Cavalry with improvements to accommodate the larger caliber ammunition and simplification of manufacture.
- Cavalry Rifle Plan # 2 : Design to be similar to Type 38 Cavalry with improvements to accommodate the larger caliber ammunition and simplification of manufacture.

On October 1938, the first round of test prototypes were completed of which tests were conducted mainly for functionality and durability. Results as follows.
- Infantry Rifle Plan #1 : This test proto made by Nagoya Arsenal passed functionality but requires some improvement on durability.
- Infantry Rifle Plan #2 : This test proto made by Kokura Arsenal had much to be desired in improvements both in functionality and durability.
- Cavalry Plan #1 : This proto incorporated a recoil bolt, hence the felt recoil was fairly moderate, however the discharge noise was very annoying to the shooter and accuracy was unacceptable.
- Cavalry Plan #2 : This proto did not incorporate a recoil bolt but had a spring mounted buttplate, however both felt recoil and accuracy was unacceptable.

At this point a decision was made to drop both plans for the cavalry version and to redesign with a concept of a cavalry rifle with a 15cm longer barrel, and this would give birth to the T-99 short design concept

On January 30, 1939 the second round of test prototypes were completed where tests were conducted for durability, function, accuracy, recoil etc, and here the Infantry Rifle Plan #2 drops out due to insufficient functionality, and hereby concentrates on the Infantry Plan #1 with further improvements on simplification of manufacture.

And on to the third level round of prototypes tested on May 1939, which after final tweeks basically becomes the T-99 long and short as we know today.

Wow, long post !


Reply author: Ronin48
Replied on: 02/17/2006 7:44:50 PM
EXCELLENT, but the document has the dates all screwed up. But what can one expect without any rfeference. Probably dreamed up by the Kalifornia Harleydog and he Alabama grasshopper.

Seriously, this is something for the 99 book (should it ever appear.) Was anything said about the "500 rifles" (T-38s) converted to 7.7 for ammunition testing?

I've bveen thinking about my last post this afternoon after posting, even before the above appeared. I'm 99'9 % correct on everything and if there is a minute chance I'm wrong I'm excellent at crawfishing, ie. looking at the problem from a different prospective.

Japanese had several hundred thousand troops in combat in China, all the 'ground-pounders' were armed wiwth 38s. An efficient resupply system both for replacement rifles and ammumition had to be in operation. This would have been interrupted creating serious supply problems if a large number (ie 'slug) of new cal. rifles (99s) were suddenly introduced. So there was no reason to rush 99 production (something I've been trying to get you guys to say all along, now I have to spell it out for you). So 99 production, whenever Edokko's convoluted post says it began, did not have to be hurried, just as I have always believed. Now how's that for crawfishing?

Reply author: davef
Replied on: 02/17/2006 7:57:06 PM
Sounds reasonable to me, seems you'd re-arm in division sized groups rather than rushing in, the logistics of keeping the ammo and parts straight if you rushed the change in would be a nightmare.JMHO but I think you'd bring in a enough new rifles for everybody in a area at once,or send in new troops with the new rifles so as not to have 2 rifles and 2 cartridges together...seems to me it made a mess for the brits with p-14's and p-17's in the same theator...they wound up painting a stripe around them to keep the ammo sorted out as I recall..

Reply author: 03man
Replied on: 02/17/2006 9:33:34 PM
I have gleaned from some of Frank Allan's emails that the T38 production continued longer than we think, in to 1940 and maybe 1941? This makes sense with the above info from Edokko.
Maye Frank will chime in here, as he has the data.

I would think that few 99's made it to China until much later than anywhere else, just because it also makes sense not to confuse the logistics as Dave said.

Though multicaliber logistics were dealt with by the US in every theater, and the Japanese with their several different machinegun rounds and ultimately two rifle calibers.

Reply author: arisakadogs
Replied on: 02/18/2006 12:22:55 AM
Great post Edokko! Glad some good info is getting out instead of conjecture!

03, I don't know if the Japanese Army replaced rifles at unit levels, but I have a photo of a platoon of SNLF troops that have mostly T-99s, but there are about 5 T-38s present.

Reply author: 03man
Replied on: 02/18/2006 08:54:37 AM
Hi Rob,
I'm sure there are exceptions, but I think every picture and every original film clip of Japanese soldiers I have seen has at least one T38 or variant in it. It appears to me that they never withdrew the 38's. And for real conjecture, maybe they let the men keep a 38 if they wanted when 99's were available???

Reply author: Edokko
Replied on: 02/18/2006 09:36:50 AM
Quite frankly I have a strong feeling that the T-99 (or 7.7mm) project was of utmost urgency at that point in time of 1938, and most likely the T-99 production was already in place by late 1939. I need to dig up evidence somewhere in the pile of documents but probably when the final assesment report of August 1939 was wrapped up, by then the arsenals Nagoya and maybe Kokura had already set up their production line, this being done as they went through the prototype evaluation process.
Several point to note, is that 1) the historical backdrop when they put together the 7.7mm commission in April 1938 was when Japan was alraeady in the 2nd year of heavy fighting in China, and a requirement of a higher capacity rifle round must have been a top urgent issue, 2) a "one year" deadline to come up with a design, prototype and production plan of a new weapon was pushing it to the extreme, 3) according to documents, the Izawa Firearms Co was already commissioned to build T-99 rifle in Oct 1939. (Initial supply of barrels to come from the Army Arsenal). This gives facts that the Army understood the need and put into action the urgent ramp-up of churning out high numbers of these rifles which led to commissioning the private sector to augment the Army arsenals. 4) in August 1939, the 7.92mm German 24 Mauser was officially adapted as an Army weapon, of which the performance assesment was done in comparison with the then prototype T-99. This shows that the Army needed a high cal. rifle in urgency and taking action of an import contingency plan to bridge the gap between the "field needs" and "actual supply".

So all in all the "7.7mm project" was in high acceleration mode and will not be surprised that production started simultaneous to the final prototype assesment.

Reply author: Ronin48
Replied on: 02/18/2006 10:34:51 AM
Gentlemen, I can honestly state that this new information has me the most excited I've been since the 5th grade when the 'friendliest' girl of Ms. Winter's class, Butt Eugly, actually believed I kept my pet snake in the front of my pants and ran her hand down to retrieve it!

I have buried my belief for the last 30 (+/-) years that full 99 production (whatever that was) was obtined by the summer of 1940. Somewhere, I think there is a production figure reported for 99s in 1940. I will endevor to retrieve it and , perhaps construct a new dating table, at least we/you will have a document at which to snipe.

I'm also reconsidering my 'preaching' for the last many years that mum grinding was probably done at the request of the Japanese, possibly at the pre-surrender negotiations. (Two white-painted Betties with the gteen crosses, one ran out of fuel and landed in the surf returning to Japan, remember?)

MacArthur was a swell-headed, pompous, ass hole, that is one openion I'll never change. It is just possible that he, or one of his staff mandated the chrysanthemum, the symbol of the head of the Japanese people, be removed from all rifles (why not T-30s?) as a sign the returning serviceman was returning home with a rifle of a defeated nation. Although he publically stated he did not want to "insult" (exact term escapes me) the Emperor, removing his symbol may have been another matter.

Before my hard drive goes south for good, I'd really be interested in the truth, whether it suits my beliefs or not.

Reply author: fredh
Replied on: 02/18/2006 11:29:35 AM
Colonel Tatsumi, who served on the board developing the T99 told me that production of the T99 started at Toriimatsu factory in August, 1939; and I included this info in the book. Edoko, your findings echo the info that I had received from Tatsumi and others, but I didn't have the timeline on the approval at the upper level. Tatsumi said that Toriimatsu was set up before final adoption of the T99 but with anticipation of the project. The short timeline was typical of ordnance policy and was used to keep pressure on everyone involved. They proceeded with 90 day timelines on the semi-automatic program conducted at the same time. Part of the impetus was field demand from China, that they wanted a more powerful rifle cartridge to match what the enemy had. As for the modified T38's, I was told that was the initial objective, but reality set in when they recognized that arsenal capacity was not sufficient to produce T38's in 7.7mm. in the quantity needed with Japan on such a war footing. So, the optimized T38 configuration (max use of sheet metal, design enhancements, etc., etc.) led to the final T99 configuration. That was a safe way out, making max use of experience and knowledge. They had 35 years of successful T38 experience to build on. I tell you what. When I do get the time to sit down and rewrite the rifle/pistol books, I'll expand it to include more of the history. MROJ was intended for use at the shows, so that quick identification could be made and an acquisition not lost. When setting up the book, everyone kept telling me that no collector wants to read through a lot of explanation about the variations. To the contrary, they want all the info on the same page with the photos, so decisions can be made. I'll compromise a little next time.

Additional comments include the fact that Toriimatsu was not self sufficient initially. They received some minor parts and stocks from Chigusa. Another thought is that the initial 6.5mm. caliber was adopted with the idea that wounding soldiers was a better idea since so many people were involved in taking care of wounded soldiers.

Reply author: Firearms
Replied on: 02/18/2006 2:21:35 PM
There were plenty of T99 issued in China. So much so that the Nationalist government started a program to rechamber the T99 to 7.92x57mm. This was documented along with the program to rechamber all the T92 HMGs.

Reply author: Ronin48
Replied on: 02/18/2006 2:44:15 PM
In my humble (1) way of thinking, this is the most important, from an historical stand point, post that has ever appeared on the "Firearms of the Rising Sun" Board. THANK YOU, Gentlemen.

(1) ('Gee, but it's hard to be humble, when you're perfect in every way.')

Reply author: Ronin48
Replied on: 02/18/2006 5:25:48 PM
In going through the files this pm ran across a page from our translator concerning 99 devedlopment. In it he notes: " Mr Jiro Sayama, in his "Introduction to Rifles, Pistols and Machine Guns" mentions the following dates: April, 1938 -First trial production of 30 rifles were ordered. Oct 1938 - First trial production completed. Jan. 31, 1939 - Third trial completed. Tests continued. July 15, 1939 - All the tests successfully concluded and a formal filing made to registere as a Standard ordnance."

I have not checked back to see if these dates are at odds with the earlier posts on this subject.

Reply author: arisakadogs
Replied on: 02/18/2006 9:53:59 PM
Well, dammit Doss, you are getting me interested in this subject as well. Been thinking about it all day. All the stuff I was going by has more to do with rifle issue than it does with production. Honestly, I've never given this start of production issue much attention (I guess that was evident). I'll have to keep an eye on this thread & see where it goes.

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