Ammunition, Guns and Mountings Definitions

By Tony DiGiulian
Updated:  27 September 2015

This document defines abbreviations, designations and terms for Japanese ammunition and guns.


Dan, Dangan or Hôdan - Shell or projectile

Eiryôdan or Eikôdan - Tracer Shell

Endan - Smoke shell

Enshûdan - Exercise (inert training) projectile

Jigen Enshûdan - Times Exercise (time fuzed) projectile

Mokuhyôdan - Target Shell

Seidan (before 1938) or Shômeidan A (after 1938) - Illumination (star) shell without parachute

Shômeidan B - Illumination (star) shell with parachute

Ryûsandan - Shrapnel shell

Shôi ryûsandan (Sankaidan) - Incendiary shrapnel shell (Fragmentation)

Tekkôdan - Armor Piercing (AP) projectile

Hibô Tekkôdan - Capped Armor Piercing (APC) projectile

Tsûjôdan - Common projectile

Hibô tsûjôdan - Capped Common projectile

Shôi tsûjôdan - Incendiary-common

Chakushokudan - "Pillar coloring shell."  Shell containing a dye for coloring the splash.

Chakuhatsu Shinkan - Percussion fuze

Dan shinkan - Shell fuze

Dantei Shinkan - Base fuze

Dantô Shinkan - Nose fuze

Fukudô Shinkan - Double action fuze  (instantaneous and timed)

Kikai jigen shinkan - Time fuze

Sakuyaku - Bursting Charge (inside projectile)

Bakuyaku - Explosive

Sôyaku - Propellant charge

Jô sôyaku - Full charge

Jaku sôyaku - Reduced charge

Gen sôyaku - Light or half charge

Kyô sôyaku - Heavy or proof charge

Kayaku - Powder (gunpowder, propellant powder)

Bursters - The following description is adapted from "Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War" by Eric Lacroix and Linton Wells II:  Shimose, a picric acid burster roughly equivalent to British Lyddite, was adopted prior to the Russo-Japanese War.  Like most bursters derived from picric acid, the Japanese found that shells using this had a tendency towards premature detonation.  Following the end of World War I, the Japanese obtained a quantity of German AP shells which used a TNT - beeswax mixture for the burster (Fülpulver C/02) enclosed in a "pulp" mantle as a dampener and a wooden plug at the top of the explosive cavity which acted as a buffer against the impact shock.  Based upon this knowledge, the Japanese developed a similar enclosure made of hardended stone plaster pulp and parafin and the burster was changed to a mixture of wax with Shimose.  This development was in an advanced stage by 1922 when the Japanese purchased some AP shells from the British armament firm of Hadfields, Ltd., Sheffield, in order to examine the latest British improvements.  Lessons learned from this examination and from live-fire experiments were incorporated into the new shell designs finalized in June 1925 and adopted as the 5 Gô hibo tekkodan (APC Model 1925).  These shells still had some degree of premature or low-order detonations and in 1928 they were replaced with the improved Type 88 (APC Model 1928) which had an improved container for the burster among other modifications.  A few years later in 1931, the Japanese adopted TNA (tri-nitro-anisol), which was more stable explosive than shimose.  This burster was designated as Type 91 bakuyaku (Model 1931 Explosive) and was used for the Type 91 APC and Type 1 APC shells during World War II.

Propellants - Cordite in various forms was used by the Japanese from about 1890 to the end of World War II.  Different formulations were used, most containing about 30 percent nitroglycerin and 65 percent nitrocellulose with the remainder being stabilizers.  Nominal diameters of the cords were given in units of 0.1 mm (0.004").  For example, DC80 would be cordite with cords of 8 mm (0.315") diameter.

Powder Bags - Powder bags appear to have been made from wool up to 1942 at which time silk ones were introduced.


- Gun

Kiju - Machine Gun

Kôkei - Caliber (bore)

Kôsha-Hô - High Angle (AA) Gun

Shiki - Type (year designation)

Sokusha-hô - Quick Firing Gun (QF)

Imported Gun Designations

Many European armament firms built guns for the Japanese Navy during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Some of the more famous ones are listed below.

Antotokuryû hô - AN Type Gun (British Armstrong)

HI hô - HI Type Gun (British Vickers), this is also shown as BI hô

Kanot (?) hô - KA Type gun (French Canet)

Kuryôhaku hô - Koku Type Gun (German Krupp)

Ruizu kiju - RU MG (Lewis MG)

For other definitions and information, see Gun Data

Page History

02 July 2008 - Benchmark
27 May 2012 - Updated to latest template
27 September 2015 - Corrected typographical error

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