Nambu World: Japanese Flare Guns

    Japanese flare guns (shingo-ju) are quite scarce. Shown above are a an Army Type 10 single-barrel (right), Navy Type 90 double-barrel model (centre) and a Navy Type 90 triple barrel (right). Total production of all Army and Navy models combined was less than 30,000 units . Of this low number, even fewer survived because most were used on board ships and planes and most of Japan's ships and planes were sunk or shot down during the war, resulting in the loss of all equipment on board. They were also not as popular as souvenirs with US GIs as regular pistols, so few were brought back. Fortunately for collectors their prices do not fully reflect their scarcity since collecting flare pistols is not as popular as collecting regular pistols. I think they are really cool, though, and was pleased as punch to be able to obtain two of those shown above in December, 2007 when a US collection was liquidated. In April and July 2008 I was able to add two more. I also have holsters for the single and double barrel models, but am still looking for one for the triple barrel.

    The Imperial Japanese Army used almost exclusively the Type 10 shown above, which fired 35mm flares. The Imperial Japanese Navy used several models that had one, two or three barrels and discharged a 28mm flare. Of these Naval models, the double-barreled version of the Type 90 was by far the most common (there were actually more double-barrel Navy flare guns made than the single-barrel Army Type 10). The flares themselves are very scarce. I don't have any yet, not even a spent shell (please let me know if you have one!). Near the end of the war a tiny number of single- and double-barrel pistols were made for the Navy in 20mm (12 gauge), but the latest book on Japanese handguns, Collector's Guide to Imperial Japanese Handguns 1893-1945 by James D. Brown, now considers these as "Special Naval Pistols" intended primarily for guard use with 12 gauge shotgun shells, whereas in previous works they were lumped in with flare guns.

 To see more photos of the Type 10 single barrel flare gun shown above, please click here: Nambu World: Japanese Type 10 Flare Pistol

 To see photos of an ultra-rare Type 10 flare gun with a safety (not shown abovbe), please click here: Nambu World: Japanese Type 10 Flare Pistol with Safety

To see photos of an early, double-barrel, double exposed hammer Kayana flare gun, please click here: Nambu World: Japanese Early Kayaba Double Flare Pistol 

To see photos of a Type 90 double barrel flare pistol shown above, please click here: Nambu World: Type 90 Double Barrel Flare Pistol

To see more photos of a Second Variation  Type 90 triple barrel flare pistol shown above, please click here: Nambu World: Japanese Type 90 Triple Barrel Flare Pistol

To see photos of a Third Variation Type 90 triple barrel flare gun (not shown above), please click here: Nambu World: Japanese Type 90 Triple Barrel Flare Pistol-Third Variation

To see photos of a Type 97  single barrel flare gun, please click here: (under construction)

To see photos of the 28mm IJN and 35mm IJA flares, please click here: (under construction)

*****

    This is the only photo I have ever seen of Japanese troops (sailors in this case) actually firing flare guns. I found it in an album entitled Futsuka shingojutsu renshu sotsugyo kinen (Ordinary section, signal technique training graduation commemorative album, issued in 1941 by the Kaigun kokai gakko  (Navy Seamanship School).

    This cropped extreme close-up allows identification of the flare guns being used. The first sailor (far left) has a triple-barrel Type 90, as does the third one from the left. The others appear to have the rare Type 97 single-barrel naval flare guns. Note that they are all using a two-handed grip. The Imperial Japanese Navy also taught the two-handed grip for firing the regular service handguns such as the Papa Nambu and Type 14.

For more reading on Japanese flare pistols, see the Derby & Brown book Japanese Military Cartridge Handguns 1893-1945 (Ch. XV, pp. 307-343), or James D. Brown's  Collector's Guide to Imperial Japanese Handguns 1893-1945 (Ch. XIV, pp. 58-62) referred to above. Both are available from Schiffer Publishing.

I don't have any flares for my Japanese flare guns yet, but f you would like to know more about flare cartridges for the 28mm flare guns, the book to get is Japanese Signal Pistol Cartridges: 28mm by Jerry L. Price. (an expended second edition is now available). E-mail me and I will pass on the author's e-mail; the book is only available direct from him.

Here is a link to another site that has photos and brief histories of some of the other models of Japanese flare pistols, including those "Special Naval Pistols": Japanese Signal (Flare) Pistols

Here is a link to another site that has photos of a variety of flare pistols from around the world, including Japan: Flare (Verey) Pistols & Signal Pistols of the World

Last updated: April 27, 2012. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.

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