20mm Antitank Rifle
Imperial Japanese Army – 500 built.
Design and active history :
The lack of Japanese antitank weapons is a well documented historical fact. However, many AT weapons types were conceived and manufactured, ranging from converted AA guns as antitank, to smaller infantry types like this one : The Type 97 Kyuunana-shiki jidouho. It was basically a scaled-up heavy machine-gun developed in 1937 by the imperial arsenal, firing 20mm ammunition. The muzzle velocity was sufficient against most lightly armored objectives and vehicles, like M3 and M5 light tanks on the rear or sides and most British light tanks. However medium allied tanks proved immune to this. Technically it was gas operated, full automatic only weapon, using two gas pistons located below the barrel.
Firing was from open bolt position, in full automatic mode, and to reduce the violent recoil, the barrel was buffeted by a large spring and the head fitted with a muzzle brake. Feeding was for top-mounted 7-rounds detachable box magazines. The Type 97 was probably one of the heaviest AT infantry rifle ever built, and came with a pair of U-shaped carrying handles. It could be also mounted and protected by its own 8mm thick armored shield, but was usually carried and operated by a crew of three, posted while using a bipod, elevated and firmly planted in the ground using the third butt adjustable monopod. The type 97 served later as a technical basis for the development of the Ho-1 and Ho-3 AA guns. Read more about the 97 Japanese AT rifle.