Artillery / Japan
75-mm Field Gun Type 38 (Improved)

75-mm Field Gun Type 38 (Improved) 

Field Gun Type 38 (Improved) was a title given by Western intelligence agencies to a field gun that was in widespread use with the Japanese field batteries between 1935 and 1945. The gun had its origins in a Krupp design that was obtained for licence production as far back as 1905. This was the original Type 38, and during World War I the Japanese had observed enough of artillery developments elsewhere to be able to make improvements to the original design.

Perhaps the most obvious of these Japanese innovations was the introduction of a form of box trail in place of the original Krupp pole trail. This innovation made possible extra elevation, and thus range was increased accordingly. Other alterations were made to alter the balance of the barrel on its cradle, and yet more minor changes were made to the recoil mechanism. Although the updated gun was given the full title Field Gun Type 38 (Improved) by the Allies, by 1941 few, if any, of the Type 38 guns had been left unmodified, so the extra terminology was superfluous.

Despite the changes introduced to the Type 38 by the Japanese, the overall design was unremarkable, and the overall performance was also unimpressive. Throughout its service life the gun was never adapted for vehicle traction, so horse or mule teams were used right up to 1945. In appearance the gun was archaic, and it was indeed a design relic of a former era, maintained in service as the Japanese were never able to develop the industrial potential to produce artillery in the amounts required. Although much more modern and powerful field guns (with calibres of 75 mm/2,95 in and upwards) were produced right up to the beginning of World War II, they were never produced in numbers sufficient to permit the replacement of the Type 38. Thus Japanese gunners were saddled with obsolete guns in default of anything else.

During the initial stages of the Japanese war against the Chinese during the 1930s the Type 38 proved more than adequate for all its required operational tasks, but once the Allies joined in the conflict after 1941 things were very different. Following initial easy successes, the Japanese gunners constantly found themselves outgunned by even small forces of Allied artillery, and in these circumstances the Type 38 did not shine. In fact the Type 38 became something of a liability for, being horse-drawn, it was easily rendered immobile by enemy action or terrain conditions and many precious Japanese guns were lost or knocked out simply because they could not be moved rapidly enough.

After 1945 quantities of Type 38 guns passed into the hands of various forces in South East Asia, some official and some unofficial, and there were reports of the weapon being used against French forces in Indo-China during the late 1940s.

Specification Field Gun Type 38 (Improved)

Calibre: 75 mm (2,95 in)
Length of piece: 2.286 m (90 in)
Weight: travelling 1910 kg (4,211 lb) and in action 1136 kg (2,504 lb)
Elevation: -8° to +43°
Traverse: 7° Muzzle velocity: 603 m (1,978 ft) per second
Range: 11970 m (13,080 yards)
Shell weight: 6.025 kg (13.3 lb)
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