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With similar cultures, Japan and China both shared and conflicted thru history.  Their relationship would eventually deteriorate into direct wars changing their neighbor status through World War II and beyond.  Japan’s aggression and territorial expansion emanated into the Sino-Japanese War, preceded by their penetration into Korean territories and the intended annexation of the Ryukyu Islands in 1879.  Manchuria turned into a puppet of the Japanese empire when Japan overran the country in 1932 under the establishment of the Kwantung Army, and declaring Manchuria as the state of Manchukuo.


Through these conflicts and eventual war with Russia, the Japanese expansion and occupation of neighboring countries developed the necessity to control captured armaments of manufacturing arsenals and private sub-industries.  As a result of these events and with the Japanese military services utilizing a variety of automatic weapons produced within these countries deems it appropriate to identify them in the relationship.


CHINA, through its Warlord control periods, civil wars, and defense of invaders had accumulated a vast amount of ordnance arsenals throughout the country.  In 1932 a yearbook was produced on the country’s general political, and economic status.  One of the chapters was devoted to the condition of its Army and Navy forces outlining arms, uniforms and equipment.  The section on arms provided a summary of Chinese arsenals listed as follows:


NOTE:  This listing pertains to those arsenals and industries involved in the specific manufacture and/or repair of automatic weapons and associated ammunition  [and may have also been involved in other small arms ordnance production].


CANTON Arsenal:  Canton, China.  One of the 5 largest arsenals for small arms production in the 1920’s, it’s 1930’s production capacity for small arms ordnance was 8, [Vickers], machine guns and 700,000 ammunition cartridges per month.


CHENGTU Arsenal:  Chengtu, capital of Szchwan Province.  Manufacturers of small arms ordnance including machine guns and ammunition.


FOOCHOW NAVAL Arsenal: Foochow [Minhow], capital of Fukien Province.  Navy’s largest arsenal producing 10 water cooled Maxim machine guns per day.


HANYANG Arsenal: Hupeh Province, North China. Manufacturing 100 Mauser pistols daily, and 50 Browning water cooled machine guns per month.


HANGCHOW Arsenal: Hangchow, capital of Chekiang Province.  Specializing in repair work, which included machine guns.  Production of small arms ammunition was 200,000 cartridges per day.


KAIFENG Arsenal:  Kaifeng, capital of Honan Province. Manufacturer of small arms ordnance including machine guns and their repair.  Small arms ammunition production was 50,000 daily.


KIANGNAN Arsenal:  Shanghai, produced 50 browning water cooled machine guns per month and their repairs.  Also manufactured 170,000 rifle and pistol ammunition cartridges per day.  The arsenal was dismantled in March 1932 and machinery relocated to the Hangehow Arsenal.


KUNGHSIEN, [HSIAOYI], Arsenal: Manufactured heavy and light ordnance including machine guns.


NANCHANG Arsenal:  Nanchang, capital of Kiangsi Province. Main products were small arms including machine guns and ammunition.


PEIYANG [Tientsin], Arsenal, Tientsin, North China.  Repairing 10 machine guns per month and later in the mid 1930’s included manufacturing of small arms ammunition.


TAIYUAN [FU] Arsenal: Taiyuan, [formerly Yangku], capital of Shansi Province.  Arsenal second only to the Mukden, Manchuria Arsenal.  Manufacturing a variety of heavy and light ordnance and ammunition, which included 500 Mauser pistols, 30 Maxim and Czech ZBvz26 light machine guns per month along with their repairs.  Small arms ammunition production was 120,000 cartridges per day.  Manufacture also included copies of Thompson sub machine guns.


TEHCHOW Arsenal: Tehchow,  Hopeh Province, North China, eastern outskirts of Peiping.  Manufacturers of machine guns and small arms ammunition.


TSINAN [FU] Arsenal: Tsinan, capital of Shantung Province, North China.  Manufactures of small ordnance including 11 machine guns and 1,700,000 small arms ammunition per month.


There were also many small workshops throughout China during the restless period that had been turned into small arsenals such as Kalgan and Jehol which serviced various warlords.  Some went out of existence and some remained such as Johel which provided small arms repairs and furnishing of small arms ammunition.


Continuing through the 1930’s and into World War II were additional arsenals and private firms throughout China, Manchuria and Korea which were involved in quantity production and servicing of machine pistols, light and heavy machine guns, both prior to and during the Japanese Expeditionary Forces occupation.  As an example, the Japanese estimates for the small arms ordnance program of fiscal year 1945 in China listed the following monthly productions:


NANKING:      1000 light machine guns


TIENTSIN:       1500 light machine guns

                          500 heavy machine guns

                        Also repairing up to 10 machine guns per month.


The following is a listing of arsenals and private firms involved in small arms automatic weapons production in these countries as evolved in the 1930’s and in preparation for World War II through its conclusion in 1945.




                                                    Pacification Commission Repair shop, Chih Chiac,

                                                    Pan Yu, machine gun repairs. 


                                                    Naval ordnance Repair shop, Chang Ti, Canton,

                                                    China, machine gun repairs.                                                                 

Central China Airways.  Canton reported to repairs Thompson weapons [sub machine guns]


CHONG JING ARMS REPARATIONS WORKS:  Shanghai, China.  Production of Mauser pistols.


CHONGQUING Arsenal: Chunking, China; Originally owned by warlord: Liu Hsiang renamed to 21st Army Military Equipment Repair Depot.  Produced copies of the Czechoslovakian ZBvz26 light machine guns. 


DAGU NAVAL SHIPYARDS: Tientsin, China.  Produced copies of the Czech. ZBvz26 light machine guns.


GONGXIAN Arsenal: Kunghsien, China.  Name later changed to 11th Arsenal produced copies of the Czech. ZBvz26 light machine guns starting in 1937.


GUANGSI Arsenal Preparing Division: Kwangsi, China, production of ZBvz26 light machine guns.


GUANGDONG Weapons Manufacturing Factory, [1st Arsenal]: Canton, China; later named the 41st Arsenal manufactured ZBvz26 light machine guns.


KIANGAU Arsenal: Kiangau, North China.  Important Japanese occupied arsenal, manufacturing ordnance including 11 light and heavy machine guns per month.


KWANGTUNG Arsenal: Canton, China, later name changed to 41st Arsenal manufactured ZBvz26 light machine guns before and after its relocation in 1938.


NANJING Arsenal: Nanking, China, later relocated and merged with Chongquing Arsenal, which also controlled the 20th arsenal, all producing ZBvz26 light machine guns.


NANKING Arsenal:  Nanking, China.  [The head arsenal for all activities in China, under the control of China Expeditionary Force.]  Produced 40 Maxim water cooled machine guns per month in the early 1930’s. Later production through July 1945: 20 light machine guns, 80 heavy machine gun repairs.


NORTH CHINA ENGINEERING CO. LTD: Located in PEKING, North China, produced light machine guns.


PEIPING: Headquarters of the North China Area Army.

The North China Company, factory #1 located at 51 Yung Ho Kung Street.  Privately owned, started production as an arms factory in 1941. After capture by the Japanese in 1944 it produced 80 light machine guns per month.


Kanegafuchi Diesel Industrial Company, [Yung Tseng Iron Works], #6 West, Hsien Tan, Peiping, repaired heavy machine guns.


SHANGHAI Arsenal: Weapon Repair Factory, [sub factory], Yu Yuen Road, Shanghai, China; repaired machine guns.


SHANSI Arsenal: Sinhsien, Shansi Province, North China.  Manufacturer of Chinese Type 38 machine guns and ZB vz26 light machine guns.


SHANSI MACHINERY BUREAU, [SHANSI MILITARY TECHNOLOGY PRACTIC FACTORY]:  Shansi Province, North China.  Manufacturer of Thompson submachine guns, Mauser pistols.


SICHANG Arsenal: Szechwan Province, China.  Manufacture of Mauser pistols and various small arms ordnance.


TAKU NAVAL DOCKYARD Arsenal: Hopi Province, China.  Produced copies of Mauser pistols. 


TUNG-SHAN Supply and Repair Depot: Tung-Shan, China.  Serviced the 6th Area Army with supplies and repairs. Produced 20 light machine guns and its three branch factories manufactured a total of 30 light machine guns per month.


51st Arsenal: Kunming, China, later changed to 53rd Arsenal after incorporating the 22nd arsenal produced ZBvz26 light machine guns starting in 1941.  The arsenal complex was moved to Chunking in 1937.  In 1942 the 51st arsenal was combined with the 22nd and 53rd arsenals.


The Chinese produced, by copy, their own versions of foreign weapons in their 

arsenals and in small civilian factories.  Because of this separation of quality  performance and heavy demand for output, there eventually developed a variety of conditional craftsmanship weapons.  They ranged from excellent, when under early German supervision, to poor when produced during the major war years, especially in individual shops and roving factories where lesser materials and limited quality workmanship prevailed.


It has been estimated that during the period from 1937 thru 1945 the Chinese produced some 87,000 machine guns.


MANCHURIA:  The ordnance activities were centered in Mukden and the suburbs.  During the Japanese occupation, depots were located in Mukden, Chang-chun and Harbin controlled directly from Tokyo.  The main arsenal was at Mukden, Hoten Zoheisho KK, [Mukden Arsenal Co. Ltd].  This facility contained some 218 buildings and also controlled 37 local small machine shops.  All together, they had a rated capacity for production of 1,680 machine guns annually and the additional repairing of substantial amounts of machine guns.  In the last quarter of 1944, the actual production was reduced to 200 of each type due to Allied bombing activity.


Manchuria Machine and Tool Company, 1-4 Kranko Gaj, Tassei Ku, Mukden, by war’s end was in the process of manufacturing a newly designed machine pistol originating from Tokyo.  The weapon chambered for the standard 8 mm pistol ammunition encompassed both Browning and the Japanese Type 14 pistol features.  The 20 completed models were confiscated by the Russians along with parts for 50 additional guns in various stages of assembly. 


KOREA:  Japanese Army Arsenal, Jinsen, [Inchon], Korea.  The arsenal was located 5 miles from the port of Jinsen and 20 miles north of Seoul.  Beginning in 1935 and through the end of World War II, it produced a variety of small arms ordnance.  These activities included the assembly and repair of light machine guns along with ammunition production.


After World War II, in April 1946 an Allied inventory of disarmed Japanese ordnance included an accounting of 12,446 light and heavy machine guns.



The following summarizes Chinese and Manchurian arsenals that produced various small arms ammunition including specialized ammunition for automatic weapons for both Chinese and Japanese during the wartime period:

Canton Arsenal

Hanyang Arsenal

Hunan Arsenal

Kwangsi Arsenal

Kunghsien Arsenal

Mukden Arsenal, [includes 6.5mm cartridges]

Nanking Arsenal

Shanghai Arsenal

Szechwan Arsenal

Tientsin Arsenal, [includes 6.5mm cartridges]

Wu Man Arsenal


20th Arsenal

25th Arsenal

30th Arsenal

40th Arsenal

41st Arsenal

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