They Type 26 was an indigenous Japanese revolver introduced in 1893 (26th year of the Meiji era) to replace the Smith & Wesson No. 3 in Japanese military service. In many ways the Type 26 was akin to the other military revolvers of the day, like the Russian (and Belgian) Nagant, the French M1892, as well as the later models of Webley. It uses a fairly weak (by today’s standards) 9x22mm rimmed cartridge, which was roughly equivalent to a light .38 S&W load (the Handloader’s Manual of Cartridge Conversions has instructions for making this from .39 Special brass).
Type 26 revolvers were manufactured until 1930, and although the Type 14 and Type 94 Nambu automatic pistols were adopted to replace it, the Type 26 revolver saw service through the end of WWII. In fact, these revolvers tended to live quite harsh lives, and the majority were arsenal refurbished at some point (some being refurbished more than once). Teri at Nambu World has several pages of excellent detailed photographs of several Type 26 revolvers, showing many of the details of the refurbishing process.
In shooting and handling, I found the Type 26 very similar to the British Enfield No2MkI. Both have quite light recoil thanks to their light-powered ammunition, and both are double-action only designs. As with the Enfield, the Nambu trigger feels too heavy when target shooting or general handling, but I suspect it would prove well suited to combat shooting (as the Enfield certainly does). One interesting potential defect of the Type 26 is that its cylinder can spin freely until the trigger is pulled, at which point it is indexed by one position and locked in place. This theoretically makes it possible for a partially-fired cylinder to be inadvertently rotated, and a previously-fired round to wind up under the hammer when the shooter is expecting a live round. This seems unlikely to happen very often, but it is possible. The rapid unloading of the break-action design is nice, although (again, as with the Enfield) loading cartridges individually prevents the gun from being very fast to get back into action.
Overall, I like the Type 26. It isn’t flashy or powerful or particularly innovative, but it is a reliable and effective combat sidearm. It’s a shame the ammunition is essentially unobtainable outside of converting brass and handloading.
I got an email recently from a producer of a TV program who is looking for a vintage photo of a Japanese aerial gunnery training camera – specifically a Type 89 Rokuoh-Sha:
He wants something showing one in context – mounted on an aircraft, with some trainees or pilots, or that sort of thing. I don’t have any pictures like that, so I figured I’d ask the audience here – anyone have something along those lines? In lieu of a Type 89 specifically, he would probably be happy to get a period photo of any Japanese training camera. If you have such a photo, please email me and I will give you the fellow’s contact info. If you have one you would be willing to share but don’t want to be involved with a TV producer, I would be happy to pass it along anonymously.
Ja, even zee anchor is essential equipment! (photo from Drake Goodman)
A German WWI pioneer displays (rather sarcastically) the gear he has to carry – complete with wagon, ladder, 2-man saw, naval anchor, axe, sledgehammer, and pipe (click to see the full size version). The more things change, the more they stay the same…
About a year ago, I wrote a post about some Browning 1919 feeding devices that were patented but never went into production. Well, reader Alex found photos of one of them in the Springfield Armory archives. Thanks, Alex!
It’s a belt box designed to be clipped onto the top cover of a slightly modified Browning 1919 to provide a compact and un-cluttered ammunition feed. The photos are dated February 15th, 1927 – and it was tested with the intention of using on aircraft guns.
I initially called this a saddle magazine, but it appears to actually be a belt box (like the MG42 50-round assault drum). It serves simply to hold the belted ammo in place and feed it smoothly to the gun, where a true saddle magazine (like the German double drum for the MG15 and MG34) includes a complete feed mechanism and is loaded with loose cartridges.
Note that the patent for this was applied for in January of 1926, but not granted until April 1931 – 4 years after these photos were taken. You can find the patent in full here:
US Patent 1,800,595 (J. M. Browning, “Magazine Feed Mechanism for Machine Guns”, April 14, 1931)
This belt box was tested on a Browning T2 machine gun – an experimental variant of the M1919 which also included provisions for being able to feed from either the right or left – a feature much desired for aircraft use (and a feature not necessarily important if belt boxes like this one were used). The Springfield Arsenal Museum also has three photos of the T2 used with the experimental box – two with it in place and one without:
I’ve been doing some reading a researching on the Spanish Civil War in preparation for an upcoming month that will be dedicated to that conflict and the arms involved in it (which include virtually everything in military use in the first half of the 20th century). One particularly interesting item just arrived last night:
“Cataluna War Industries”
It’s the magazine for an Astra 400 copy made by the Anarchists during the war – the pistol itself will be arriving shortly. Ascaso was a noted Anarchist hero (or terrorist, depending on who you ask) who died early in the war, and a factory in Tarrasa decided to name their pistol production after him. We will get more into who he was and take a look at one of the pistols later, but in the time being there is a very interesting documentary sympathetic to the Anarchist movement available on YouTube. It was filmed at least a couple decades ago, and is largely composed of interviews with folks who participated in the war (it is in Spanish, with English subtitles). I strongly recommend it for anyone interested in seeing that side of the conflict:
Today we have the second of a three-part guest series by Seth Cane on the Galil rifle. Today he looks at the Galil AR…
by Seth Cane
The Galil AR was the standard-infantry model of the Galil produced by IMI. The AR was, in a nutshell, a down-sized ARM model. Early production took the wood handguard assembly (and later plastic) and Gas Block from the SAR while retaining the barrel, Gas Piston and Cylinder from the ARM. As with the other three, there was no bayonet-provision and was offered in both 5.56NATO and 7.62NATO, with the former being more popular.
The AR remains as being the less-recognizable of the three base-models. The reasoning for this is that the AR, while having all the necessary functions of a basic infantry-rifle, didn’t have the flexibility of the ARM nor the compact size of the SAR to make it attractive. That, and it was never adopted by the IDF in significant quantity.
Mexican Navy during parade with Galil AR rifles
However, the AR did not become a failure in the least. One major-order in the beginning was by Guatemala; the regime at the time cooperated well with the Israeli government and brokered armament purchases from IMI. All three Galil models were reportedly shipped, but the majority were modified Galil AR rifles, dubbed the KEL. The KEL was restricted to Semi-Auto only, with the exception of those for use by special-forces. For reasons not yet clear, the Guatemalan government chose to locally-produced the handguards for the rifles using (presumably) slave-labor. During the Guatemalan civil war, the KEL saw widespread usage both by the government and rebel forces.
Guatemalan KEL rifle (Galil AR copy)
Farther south, the AR made its biggest-splash in the harsh climates of Colombia. INDUMIL, the state-run arms manufacturer of Colombia, licensed IMI to produce the AR locally in its own configuration for the Colombian military. Early models used a new gas block with integrated bayonet mount amongst other small changes. Later on, the gas block would be changed to ARM variation with integrated bipod mount.
Galil AR receiver markings
One final place the AR found success was with the American civilian market, albeit in semi-auto form. Before the import-ban of 1989, the AR was the most popular of the models offered for civilian sales. The demand for the AR over the ARM was so great, that the initial importer Magnum Research began converting ARM models over to AR configuration through the use of conversion-kits.
While not being the most well-known, the Galil AR has proven to be a practical and rugged design both to soldiers and sportsmen throughout the world.
After posting the video on the Remington Model 8 last week, we received an email from reader Rod, whose grandfather was an auxiliary police officer and something of a gun nut. One of his rifles that Rod inherited was a Model 81 modified by Remington to use extended (15-round) detachable magazines. We have a few photos of it and the magazines here:
Not very any of these police model guns were made; they just didn’t sell well. The distinguishing features that identify this as a legit period conversion are the heavier-than-normal foreend, the sling swivels, and the lack of a bolt release catch. In fact, one of the folks from the Remington Society page on the Model 8/81 has put together a page and a YouTube video explaining these variants of the 8 and 81 in excellent detail:
The Smith & Wesson 1940 Light Rifle is one of the spectacular failures of arms design, on several levels. It was too expensive, too heavy, too fragile (ironically, given the weight), too difficult to manipulate, and just all-in-all bad. To put the bad-ness in perspective, the British cancelled their order of these guns and rejected those already delivered – right in the aftermath of Dunkirk, when they were in serious need of arms. To completely reject a gun that was being actively produced and delivered under those circumstances says a lot! I had the opportunity to take a closer look at a second model M1940 S&W Light Rifle at Rock Island Auctions, and took this video:
In the Vault page on the M1940 Light Rifle, you can find a longer description of the gun’s shortcomings, as well as a copy of the manual S&W wrote for it. In addition, I have a scan of a 1969 article on them from Gun Facts magazine, in which Jan Stevenson does an excellent job of explaining the weapon’s history and eccentricities.
Our friends at MG34.com (Allegheny Arsenal) have rebuilt their web site with a much nicer new layout, and are offering a month-long special to go along with it. You can get anything and everything they offer with free shipping by using the coupon code “ALLEGHENYFREESHIPPING” at checkout. Cool!
Allegheny has parts and accessories for a wide variety of machine guns, including a bunch of parts that would be excellent spares for owners of live full-auto or semiauto such guns – DPs, RPDs, Maxims, Vickers, Brens (including the Bulgarian ZB-39), and many others.