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  3. Japan’s ‘Suicide Gun’

All of these methods served to provide the government with revenue and at the same time keep inflation under control. War production profoundly changed American industry.

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Companies already engaged in defense work expanded. Others, like the automobile industry, were transformed completely. In , more than three million cars were manufactured in the United States. Only more were made during the entire war. Instead, Chrysler made fuselages. General Motors made airplane engines, guns, trucks and tanks.

Packard made Rolls-Royce engines for the British air force. The average Ford car had some 15, parts. The B Liberator long-range bomber had 1,, One came off the line every 63 minutes. Fort Laramie is launched in a Mobile channel. America launched more vessels in than Japan did in the entire war. Shipyards turned out tonnage so fast that by the autumn of all Allied shipping sunk since had been replaced.

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In alone, the United States built more planes than the Japanese did from to By the end of the war, more than half of all industrial production in the world would take place in the United States. Wartime production boomed as citizens flocked to meet the demand for labor. In one instance when the United Mine Workers went on strike in , newspapers condemned the miners as traitors. On June 25, , Congress passed the War Labor Disputes Smith-Connally Act that authorized the President to take over plants needed for the war effort or in which war production had ceased because of a labor dispute.

Naval History and Heritage Command

While 16 million men and women marched to war, 24 million more moved in search of defense jobs, often for more pay than they previously had ever earned. Eight million women stepped into the work force and ethnic groups such as African Americans and Latinos found job opportunities as never before.

And there were all kinds of jobs. Like the shipyards in Mobile and plane-repair facilities near Sacramento , factories in Waterbury , Connecticut were transformed to keep up with the war. The Mattatuck Manufacturing Company switched from making upholstery nails to cartridge clips for the Springfield rifle, and soon was turning out three million clips a week. The American Brass Company made more than two billion pounds of brass rods, sheets and tubes during the war. Naturally the Japanese military became his largest customer. Although it was a sound design, troops considered the Type 14 bulky and difficult to reload.

It also cost more to manufacture than the foreign handguns available for sale in Japan. Japanese officers were required to purchase their own sidearms, and many of them chose German or American designs over the Type By doing this he hoped to attract not only Japanese military sales but also interest from the South American market.

As a result of that meddling, the new firearm wound up costing more than the gun it was designed to replace.

Sten Gun Production - 1942 (1942)

In return, though, Nambu gained army approval for his firearm, meaning he was sure to see a profit even if the export market failed. The Type 94 Shiki Kenju in Japanese pistol took its name from the last two digits of the Japanese year , or on Western calendars.

When commercial sales never materialized, the military took over all production contracts. A recoil-operated semiautomatic pistol, the Type 94 was 7. The odd-looking weapon weighed 1. It was fitted with plastic or wooden grips and held six rounds of 8mm Nambu ammunition.

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A magazine disconnector prevented the Type 94 from firing without its magazine in place. It also came equipped with a traditional thumb safety switch. Accessories included a leather or canvas holster, which held a cleaning rod and spare magazine as well as the gun. First issued to pilots and tank crewmen, the Type 94 eventually became general issue with both the Japanese army and navy. Those who wore the pistol inside a cramped space such as an aircraft or armored fighting vehicle appreciated its light weight and handy size.

Japan’s ‘Suicide Gun’

After war broke out between Japan and China in , many Japanese servicemen learned to their horror that their Shiki Kenju sidearms possessed several deadly design flaws. A completely exposed and protruding sear bar meant the pistol could fire without any trigger movement. Striking a sharp blow to the side of the gun often caused the weapon to discharge accidentally.

Japanese soldiers, sailors and airmen could very easily wind up shooting themselves while simply holstering loaded Type 94s. Loading the weapon could be dangerous as well. There was no safe way to handle a loaded Shiki Kenju. Its mechanical safety failed frequently, so the pistol had to be carried with an empty chamber. Countless Japanese soldiers perished when they were unable to load and fire their sidearms quickly enough.

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Dirt and grime, always present on the battlefield, clogged the firing action. The pistol was difficult to take apart for cleaning and contained many easily lost small parts.