The Japanese service rifle for Russian Empire

Original taken from mikhaelkatz in Japanese service rifle for Russian Empire

During the First world war, one of the main allies of Russia, England and France, became the enemy of yesterday — the island Empire of the Rising sun. From 1905 to 1914, the Russian military command in the far East, actively preparing for revenge for the failure of the Russo-Japanese war. Two empires — the Russian Tsar and Japanese Mikado — was still rivals in the subjugation of Northern China. But the beginning of a world conflict forced the Russian monarchy to forget past grievances and to seek help to the recent enemy and competitor. The reason was simple — 1914, showed that the multimillion Russian army simply did not have enough rifles.


On the wave of Patriotic enthusiasm Russia has successfully conducted a General mobilization, the results of which the number of the army exceeded 5 million 300 thousand people. And then the staff suddenly realized that this army for weapons lacking a minimum of 300 thousand rifles.

It is curious that on the eve of the war stock of rifles was and even surplus. But in 1912-1914 180 thousand new “trehlineek” Mosin rifle, standing on the arms of the Russian army — was sold abroad, and to conserve a plan for the mobilization of reserves has reduced by 330 thousand barrels. At the initial stage of the war the situation could improve old weapons before the end of 1910 in warehouses kept a large stock in almost a million rifles to the Berdan system. However, as mentioned in the order of the Minister of war, “so as not to clutter the useless are already burdened warehouses”, half of their stock was sold, reworked in hunting or corny was scrapped.
The initial shortage just 7% of the required number of barrels could not seem fatal. However, the war tends to destroy the weapon even faster than people. If in August 1914, the shortage of rifles was 300 thousand, by November it had increased to 870 million. That is, each month the troops at the front were losing an average of 200 thousand rifles
Eduard Karlovich Harmonious.
The problem was complicated by the fact that this deficit cannot be covered by growth in industrial production. On the eve of war Russian General staff decided that the monthly demand for new rifles during the great war will not exceed 60 thousand. And in August 1914, all three of the plant that manufactured in Russia rifles (Tula, Izhevsk and Sestroretsk), together produce no more than 44 thousand rifles Mosina. Thus, the Russian gunsmiths were required to increase their production by almost five times. But with all the desire of Russian state-owned factories to do so could not, in two years of war were only able to triple the production of rifles.
In principle, a similar situation exists in all other belligerent countries. For example, Germany until September of 1914 produced only 25 thousand rifles per month. But the industry, unlike the Russian, had a much greater capacity for mobilization, and after six months, the factories in Germany produced 250 thousand rifles per month — five times more than in Russia. Similarly, out of position and other countries — England, France, Austria-Hungary, which had a much more developed machine-building and Metalworking industry.
That the shortage of small arms will not be able to overcome on their own, in the Russian General staff knew in August 1914. Naturally, the question arose about the purchase of weapons abroad. But outside of Russia, no “Masinac” is not produced, and the establishment of their production to overseas factories took a while. At the same time once you decide to buy foreign rifles, too, was difficult — a different system was required, and other cartridge and tens of thousands of rifles they needed tens of millions. To make such a monstrous expenditure in August 1914 the Russian generals did not dare yet. Therefore, the staff someone and left for the unknown story, came to mind almost brilliant as it seemed at first, the idea: to redeem Japan Russian rifles, which she got as trophies of war of 1904-1905.
It was assumed that for half the year the Russo-Japanese war trophies of the rising sun could be up to 100 thousand “trehlineek”. Therefore, August 25, from St. Petersburg went to Japan “a special military-technical Commission” headed by 50-year-old major General Germanism. In September 1914, the Japanese authorities responded to General Harmonious that all the captured Russian rifles, has long sent to the scrap, but they still found for the Russian junk Japan rifle.

Colonel Arisaka Nariaki
Corporation “Mitsui” suggested the General Germanius inexpensive to buy 35 thousand rifles and carbines, which the factories of Tokyo have designed for Mexico. The fact is that while he executed this order, in Mexico began a civil war and military intervention of the United States. The Japanese did not want to irritate Washington, and produced the rifle was never sent and lay in warehouses. Therefore, the Japanese offered them unnecessary rifles are very cheap — 30 yen apiece. In the course of 1914, and it was about 29 rubles, despite the fact that manufactured in Russian factories “three-line” in that year was worth from 37 to 45 rubles. Along with rifles Mexican contract Japanese offered 23 million cartridges for them.
It is curious that the “Mexican” rifles “Mauser” did not fit neither the Russian nor Japanese, nor German bullets, but it was the cartridge, adopted in Serbia. In August 1914 Russia supported Belgrade, including their scarce supply of rifles and ammunition. Proposed by the Japanese 35 thousand barrels for Russia was a drop in the bucket, but Serbia could become a significant help, besides matching the Serbian patron.
13 Oct 1914 General Germanius signed a contract for “Mexican guns”. Over 35 thousand rifles and carbines and 23 million rounds, Russia has paid, then the most stable currency, transferring through the London banks to the accounts of Mitsui 200 thousand British pounds (about 2 million rubles at the exchange rate in 1914). It was the first purchase of Russian Empire foreign weapons in the years of the First world war, and in the next three years she will buy more than a hundred times more imported rifles and 3 million 700 thousand.
The first purchase of imported weapons was rapidly — Russian ship “Erivan” with “Mexican guns” left the port of Yokohama on October 17. At this point the Russian General staff felt that the situation at the front does not allow you to abandon in favor of Serbia, even from such a small and exotic party trunks. And the ship “Erivan” developed in the port of Dairen on the Kwantung Peninsula, China, the former Russian port far, inherited the Japanese following the war of 1904-1905. From there the rifle-Mexican women” enrolled at nearby Harbin for re-regiments of the Russian border guards in Manchuria, and handed them “trehlineyki” was sent to the army.
35 thousand arrived from the Far East “trehlineek” allowed to equip only two divisions and the deficit problem is not solved, and the Russian command decided to mass purchases abroad. Rifles required hundreds of thousands, and therefore they could not be ordered from small countries. Britain and France still do not increase the production of rifles for its army, the US was far from the ocean, and the closest to Russia from the countries with developed industry, not busy urgent military production, were all the same Japan.
Tokyo 23 August 1914 was at war with Germany, but Japan opposed no more than 4 thousand Germans in the German colony of Qingdao on the coast of China. In St. Petersburg was hoping that the Japanese quickly agreed to sell Russia some of their rifles from the army reserves.
Remaining in Tokyo, major General Germanius received an order to buy “up to a million rifles, the armament of the Japanese army, with ammunition at a thousand each”. This request Japanese generals accepted without enthusiasm. After difficult negotiations they agreed to sell Russia 200 thousand rifles of obsolete pattern and only 100 rounds each. Russian warned that the cartridges are old, with the expired period of storage from warehouses in the garrisons in Korea.
Sailor of the Baltic fleet, rearmed Arisaka rifle
It was about the Japanese rifle, developed in the late nineteenth century who led the Tokyo Arsenal Colonel Nariaki Arisaka. With this rifle, adopted by the Russo-Japanese war, Arisaka, all the same, already a General, he upgraded his rifle. New sample “Arisaka rifles” from 1910 began to enter service with the Japanese army, and the former samples, 1897, went to the warehouse. Now some of them had to go to Russia on the German front.
The main problem for Russian steel ammo. One hundred rounds the barrel is a laughable stock for the world war. But the Japanese, considering the profitable sale of old rifles at the same time frankly did not want for Russia to reduce its mobilization reserves of ammunition. In the end, they went on mocking the assignment, agreeing to increase the number of cartridges sold by 25 pieces for each rifle.
The contract for the purchase of 200 thousand rifles and 25 million rounds of ammunition was signed on 21 October 1914. The purchase cost Russia 4.5 million rubles in gold, which in wartime was not that expensive — just an old Japanese rifle without ammunition delivered to the port of Vladivostok has cost the Treasury only 16 rubles. However, before the end of the year from Japan received less than half, only 80 790 rifles. However, and this number somehow improved the situation at the front, as was equal to the entire production of rifles in Russia for a month and a half.
The rest of the weapons under this contract arrived in Russia only at the beginning of 1915. By this time, Petersburg has appealed to Tokyo with new requests for the sale of rifles.
23 December 1914, Minister of war Sukhomlinov sent a letter to the Minister of foreign Affairs Sazonov, which stated: “currently, the military Department faced the difficult task of acquiring at the earliest possible time of a significant number of rifles. Taken in this regard, including the purchase of 200 thousand rifles in Japan, was insufficient, and at the present time, it is imperative immediate purchase at least another 150 thousand rifles. In view of the foregoing, I have the honor to request Your Excellency to instruct our Ambassador in Japan to enter into relations with the Japanese government to sell us another 150 thousand rifles with as many bullets”.
While there were bureaucratic correspondence between the war Department and the foreign Ministry, while the request went to Japan, the front received an all-new persistent requests for weapon, and eventually, in January of 1915, Ambassador extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Russia to His Majesty the Emperor of Japan (so this post was called) Nicholas Malevsky-Malevich officially asked Tokyo about the sale of 300 thousand rifles.
The Japanese have agreed to sell only 100 thousand the most worn-out rifles of the old model of the “highly questionable advantages”, as he described them after the examination the General Germanius. However, a belligerent Russia could not be too picky, January 28, 1915 Harmonious signed a new contract for the supply of 85 thousand rifles and 15 thousand rifles, model of 1897, and 22.6 million different cartridges for a total amount of 2 million 612 thousand yen (about 2.5 million). In addition, the Japanese agreed to sell an additional 10 million Russian pointed cartridges new model, the supply contract which was signed on 3 February. The Russian side has taken into account past delays with the transfer of the purchased weapons and delivery time was defined by the middle of April 1915.
To sell more rifles, the Japanese refused. The Minister of foreign Affairs of Japan, Takaaki Kato at a meeting with Russian diplomats deliberately said that to sell the rifle allegedly does not allow the Minister of war OCA of Ainosuke. In reality, around the supply of large quantities of Japanese weapons began a diplomatic bargaining.
The Minister of war of the Russian Empire General Mikhail Belyaev.
The Japanese government in January 1915, using the fact that all the forces of the great powers were busy fighting in Europe, issued an ultimatum to the government of China — the so-called “21.” The Japanese demanded the Chinese providing them with additional military bases and zones of influence in China, various political and economic benefits, including assignments in the Chinese army, the Japanese advisers. In fact, when acceptance of these conditions of China, then so backward and weak, would become a Japanese semi.
Naturally, this strengthening of Japan was not in the interests of Russia. But fighting in the West the Russian army was in desperate need of rifles, and the Japanese hinted the Russian diplomats that he would continue to sell weapons only after Russia will somehow support them in their demands to China.
The tsarist government hesitated for three months, choosing what’s worse — to be left without weapons or be at the East neighbor of heightened Japan. In the end the choice was made in favor of pressing problems — in may 1915 the Germans and Austrians began a General offensive against the Russian troops in Galicia. The Russian army, which in those days lacked rifles and artillery shells, retreated.
Attacking Germany seemed in Petrograd, growing worse in Japan. And Russian diplomacy in may 1915 tacitly supported the demands Tokyo to Beijing. It is curious that England, Russia’s ally in the “Entente” with their colonial interests in China, actively protested against the strengthening influence there of the Japanese. But the British army, unlike the Russian, grabbed their rifles.
In may of 1915, China, under pressure from Tokyo and with the tacit consent of Russia has adopted the requirements of Japan. In those days, in the town of Baranovichi in Western Belarus, the Bet commander of the Russian army arrived Japanese major General Masataka Nakajima. He told the Russian generals that “now Japan is totally to the service of Russia”.
May 25, 1915 in Beijing, Chinese President yuan Shikai signed an unequal Treaty with Japan, and on the same day in Tokyo, the Russian Ambassador Malevsky visited the Japanese representative with the news about the willingness to put 100 thousand rifles and 20 million rounds within a month. But this time the Japanese sold their rifles for the price of two and a half times higher than previously — 40 yen per share.
The arms came to the front in August 1915, when the Russian army under the onslaught of the Germans, during the “great retreat” of the enemy left Warsaw and Brest. In those days in Tokyo five Japanese generals were awarded the Russian medals — in gratitude to the Royal government for the supply to Russia of Japanese weapons.
In the summer of 1915 the Supreme commander sent a telegram to Petrograd: “the Situation with the rifles is becoming critical, it is impossible to equip part due to the complete lack of rifles in the reserve army and the arrival of the main mouth naked”. In the North-Western front, reflecting the German offensive in Poland and the Baltic States, including 57 infantry divisions, with the shortage of rifles in 320 thousand in fact, 21 of the 57 division was unarmed.
In the hope that after concessions in China, the Japanese can not refuse new requests, in Tokyo you should request another 200 rifles and 300 million cartridges. But the Japanese side refuses beneficial agreement signed with China and Russian no longer needed. At the request of Petrograd Japanese authorities agree to begin deliveries of rifles not earlier than six months and then only once from Russia will come the necessary in the arms production materials — zinc, Nickel, tin, spring and tool steel. The supply of raw materials to the Japanese war plants started in July 1915.
August 11, 1915, the Russian foreign Minister Sazonov summoned Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Motono. The conversation went without the usual diplomatic conventions, a foreign Minister openly told the Japanese about the dire situation of the North-Western front, stressing that in the circumstances no one but Japan can’t help it. Russian Minister asked the Ambassador about a million rifles. Thus Sazonov said that before the Imperial government took a policy decision to make new concessions to the interests of Japan in the far East in the event of consent.

Rifle “arisaka”.
When the Japanese Ambassador inquired about any concessions, the Minister hinted at the readiness of the Russian government to give Japan one million rifles of the southern part of the CER (Chinese Eastern railway, crossing the whole North of China, and which then belonged to Russia. Some Russian generals, fearful of attack Germany, in those August days were ready to go even further.
So, the acting chief of General staff, General Mikhail Beliaev in a conversation with a Japanese military attaché Odagiri expressed that Russia seems ready to “reward” Japan for the sale of 300 thousand rifles to the Japanese the Northern half of Sakhalin island, which since 1905, was divided in half between Russia and Japan.
The Japanese after these hints I tried to go even further — the Prime Minister of Japan, Okuma Shigenobu (by the way, one of the founders of the group “Mitsubishi”) just said the Russian Ambassador in Tokyo Malevskaya-Malevich that Japan “is ready to take over security of the Russian far Eastern possessions to send troops liberated far East of Russia on the European front. In fact, it was a direct proposal to give the Japanese the far East in exchange for military assistance. To the credit of Malevich, he did not even consult with Petrograd, and then in diplomatic terms staged the Japanese premiere of the real scandal, explaining that such a proposal “inappropriate.” More of these brazen projects the Japanese side were not voiced.
However, the Japanese have agreed to sell Russia a new batch of weapons. In early September, 1915, a contract was signed for the supply of 150 thousand Japanese rifles new sample and 84 million rounds of ammunition. Russia has paid for them 10 million rubles in gold, and thanks to that money, the Japanese army has purchased new machines for their arsenals.
Russian soldiers with foreign rifles: to the left Japanese “arisaka”, on the right the old Italian Vetterli rifle.
Almost all Russian payments for military orders in Japan first passed through the London offices of Japanese banks. But in October 1915 the Japanese defense Ministry has handed over to Russian Ambassador in Tokyo a wish, in fact, the requirement to continue paying directly in Japan, not Bank transfers, and gold by transferring it to the mint in Osaka. From now on payment for military supplies went to the Japanese Islands directly from Vladivostok — gold coins and bullion was transported by a special squad of the Japanese military vessels under the command of rear Admiral Kenji IDE.
The total number of rifles purchased by Russia from Japan by October of 1915, amounted to 672 400 pieces. Of course, it did not meet all the needs of the Russian army, but, as the saying goes, “the road spoon for lunch.” The rifle then at the front was a terrible deficit, oborachivaetsya a lot of blood. All military factories in Russia in the autumn of 1915, produced more than 120 thousand rifles per month, with demand of at least 200 thousand. And other shipments of guns from abroad, except for the Japanese, until the autumn of 1915 was not.
Military historians estimate that by the end of the first year of the war, every tenth rifle on the Russian front was Japanese. One of the leading military theorists, General Nikolai Golovin later recalled: “In October 1915 of the 122 infantry divisions, those that were numbered over a hundred, armed with Japanese rifles. The soldiers called their Japanese divisions.”

Original Japanese rifles went to the rear part, replacement battalions and brigades of the state militia. So, in the fall of 1915 in heavy fighting with the advancing Germans at the fortress of Ivangorod (Dęblin), near Warsaw, fought bravely 23rd brigade of the militia, armed with Japanese rifles. However, firing tables to “arisaka” (with information about the amendments of the sight depending on the distance) is first translated from Japanese correctly, and armed them part accuracy did not differ until after several months, the staffs did not correct the error.
At the end of 1915, the commanders decided to concentrate the “arisaka” on the Northern front, which fought in Poland and the Baltic States, covering from the Germans the most important area to Petrograd. The concentration of Japanese rifles were allowed to ease their supply of ammunition and faster to organize the repairs. Japanese rifles rearmed and sailors of the Baltic fleet to pass their “mosinki” in the front part.
Japanese rifles were supplied with Japanese bayonets, which differed from the Russian. It was in fact a dagger with a blade of 40 cm, only 3 cm shorter than the needle of Russian bayonet. With these bayonets and other form of the shutter of the Japanese guns are easy to distinguish at the old pictures from the Russian.
At the end of 1915 the Japanese rifles came to Russia from the other side, from the West of Europe. The fact that in 1914, fearing a shortage of rifles, 128K Japanese “arisak and 68 million patrons bought him to England. But British industry increased its production, lack of guns they have not happened, and the allies “the allies”, the frightened retreat of the Russian army, agreed to hand over the Japanese arms in Russia. The first 60 thousand rifles “arisaka” arrived in Russia from England in December 1915, and the rest in February 1916. In addition, the English factories agreed to accept the Russian order for production of ammunition for the Japanese rifles.
Thanks to these measures by the spring of 1916 the two Russian armies on the Northern front — 6-I and 12-I was completely translated into Japanese rifle. The 6th army provided the defense of the coast of the Baltic sea and the outskirts of the capital, the 12th army fought in the Baltic States, covering Riga. Here, a 12-member army of local volunteers had formed a separate division “Latvian Riflemen”, who became famous during the civil war. But few know that the Latvian Riflemen in November 1917 guarding Lenin in Smolny, it was armed with Japanese rifles. With their “arisaema” Latvian Riflemen later successfully proveout entire civil war.
The whole of 1916 in Petrograd and Tokyo were negotiating a new Russian-Japanese agreement. The Japanese offered the Russians to sell part of the road CEL (actually to cede part of its zone of influence in Manchuria) for 150 thousand rifles. But by the time the sharpest weapons crisis at the front passed, the Russian government was able to buy rifle not only in Japan but also in other countries, including the United States and Italy. Therefore, to give its zone of influence in Northern China by the Russian Empire refused.
However, our country has continued to generously pay Japan for the supply of weapons. In 1916 the Russian gold payments for military orders close to 300 million rubles and amounted to more than half of all revenues of the Japanese Empire in that year. In the land of the rising sun Imperial power purchased not only rifles, but artillery, shells and a lot of other military equipment. For example, only in the end of 1915 Russia bought the Japanese one million shovels and 200 thousand hand-axes — in Russia, even they were scarce and urgently needed to equip the engineers at the front.
The purchase of Japanese rifles continued in 1916, and even after the February revolution of 1917. Immediately before the revolution, Russia was bought in Japan 93 thousand rifles and ordered the factories in Tokyo, another 180 thousand new arisak”. Cartridges were bought not only in Japan but also in England, which in the spring of 1916 until October 1917, Russia put them almost half a billion.
As a result, by February 1917, Russia has purchased almost 820 thousand Japanese rifles and nearly 800 million of the cartridges that have enough weaponry to 50 divisions. By the time “arisaka” amounted to a quarter of all purchased overseas guns. The weakness of Russian industry has resulted in the First world in service of our army consisted of nine different systems of rifles with seven types of ammunition. In 1914-1917 Russian factories produced 3.3 million rifles and abroad, they had to buy 3.7 million For comparison, over the same period, Germany and Austria in its factories produced 10 million rifles.
The last major contract of Russia for the purchase of guns in Japan was signed just two months before the October revolution — 5 Sep 1917 7 million gold rubles bought 150 thousand “arisak”. History sometimes likes deliberate symbolisme — Russian steamer “Simbirsk” sailed from Japan with the last shipment of 20 thousand Japanese rifles November 7, 1917.
The October revolution and the Brest peace however did not complete the history of Japanese rifles in Russia. These weapons were used by all sides of the civil conflict on all fronts. So, in September of 1919, the Kolchak government signed a loan agreement with Japanese banks for the purchase of 50 thousand rifles “arisaka” and 20 million cartridges per month. To pay the “Supreme ruler of Russia” planned gold and granting Japanese firms concessions on Sakhalin and in Primorye.
Significant stocks of Japanese rifles and ammunition in warehouses in Central Russia inherited the Soviet government, which issued them to the red Army. Therefore, in 1919, when Kolchak bought “arisaka” the Japanese southern front of the Bolsheviks, reflecting the coming of the armies of Denikin on Moscow, spent a month of fighting 25 million Russian ammo to the “mosinka” and 8 million rounds of ammunition to “arisaka”. Nearly a third of the soldiers were armed with Japanese rifles.
The parade of troops of the red army in Kharkov, 1920.
The first world war scattered “arisaka” throughout the former Russian Empire. Japanese rifles from the arsenals of the Baltic fleet went to Finland, some of them Finns handed over to the Estonians and 30-ies of them were armed border guards independent Estonia.
Japanese rifles were even in the army of the Ukrainian nationalists of Petliura. Fought in its ranks the future of the USSR poet Vladimir Sosyura later recalled on the application of the old “arisak”: “Began to shoot, but the rifle Japanese sample after the second shot was almost unusable for shooting. The shutter as if he was attached, and it was required to beat the foot.”
Mentions of the Japanese rifle, and Alexei Tolstoy’s novel “road to Calvary” dedicated to the Civil war: “I Ordered to give fighters captured corned beef with beans, sweet canned milk, so get the brand-new Japanese rifles to replace them as far as possible, old rifles, russianny in fights.”
After the civil war, the Bolsheviks took into account the errors of the king’s command — all foreign rifles, even the old and worn out, including the “arisaka” after 1921 had carefully collected and laid in long-term storage warehouses. In the mid-twenties, several thousand Japanese rifles with these stocks relations Department of the Comintern passed in China.
In the last battle of the Japanese rifles of Russian soldiers went in 1941 — in July, they were armed people’s militia of Kiev and militias in the Smolensk region. In September 1941, “arisaka” was fielded by some units of the Moscow militia and partisan detachments of Crimea.
Latvian Riflemen, 1919, in the foreground a leather case from rifle Arisaka…
However, in the Soviet Union with the production of small arms fared much better than in the Russian Empire, and Moscow militia fairly quickly rearmed with Soviet weapons. So part of the stock of old “arisak” survived even the Second world war, and being re-built in a warehouse, they have even taken into account in the mobilization plans of a hypothetical Third world.
Before the collapse of USSR some amount of Japanese rifles were stored in the warehouse of the Carpathian military district in the area of Shepetovka. In 1993, in Ukraine these rarities First world sent to the facility.
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Translated by Yandex Translate