Friday, July 17, 2009

Japanese Snipers

I was always intrigued by the sinister Japanese snipers. They wrecked havoc on the US marines during the assaut on Iwo Jima. So far i haven't read much about their role in the Malaya campaign.

During the early part of the Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese annoyed with German trained Chinese snipers decided to develop snipers for themselves. The first Japanese sniper rifle was developed in 1937. 'The Japanese were equipped with a number of different rifles, the earliest, a 6.5mm Type 38, dating back to 1905. Under the guidance of Colonel Namio Tatsumi, the 6.5mm Type 97 and 7.7mm Type 99 rifles were developed, being equipped with 2.5x or 4x power telescopic sights. One advantage of the smaller 6.5mm cartridge was that there was almost no smoke from the discharge, and the sound of the rifle-a distinctive high-pitched "crack"-made it very difficult to locate.

Training in camouflage, fieldcraft and other such techniques were common to normal Japanese infantry, so a Japanese sniper was specially trained only in shooting and given a sniper rifle. The Japanese did develop some unique sniper-related items, like tree-climbing spikes, for use by their snipers. Snipers were trained together with normal riflemen in an infantry unit. Usually, there was one sniper in one rifle platoon. Sometimes, snipers were gathered and formed a sniper team.

During the Malaya campaign, the Japanese used snipers who would take down British, Australian, and Indian troops while dressing in local native attire to disappear into the population after attacks. This was a trick learned from the Chinese. Some of the Japanese "snipers" faced by Allied troops were actually just marksmen asked to harrass the Allied troops more than men specifically trained as snipers.


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