Ariska Rifle Meiji 38

japanese flagJapanese infantry rifle Type 38 Ariska.
History, development, service, specifications and pictures.

Ariska rifle Meiji 38

Ariska rifle Meiji 38

Ariksa rifle Type 38
Type: Infantry rifle.


Ariska Model 1897 rifle

First Ariska Model 1897 rifle

When the Japanese Army, like many others, decided to introduce a magazine rifle, it came to the realization that the Mauser system was the best solution. But like some other armed forces, they preferred their own product and had some other ideas about what makes a good rifle. So they took Mauser as a starting point and developed their own version.

The design was the work of today unknown technicians, but the commission, which was set up by the emperor for the development of the new rifle, was headed by Colonel N Ariska. And that’s why the rifle has since been known by its name.

The first repeating rifle Model 30 was completed in 1897 and perfected in 1905. This weapon, designated Meiji 38, was introduced in 1905, which was the 38th year of the reign of the Japanese Emperor Meiji, hence the designation Model 38. The weapon replaced the original Model 1897 and had two or three improvements.

 mechanism of the Ariska rifle

The mechanism of the Ariska rifle from the Japanese manual.

The mechanism is basically like that of Mauser, but with a large mushroom-shaped safety button on the back of the bolt, which led to a revision of the trigger mechanism. In addition, some characteristics of the Mannlicher rifle were adopted, combined with some Japanese developments.

An unusual addition, which is only rarely available in preserved specimens, was a sheet metal cover, which worked together with the bolt and prevented rainwater or dust from entering the mechanism. While this functioned as intended, as with most other such devices of a similar nature, it was threadbare and tended to rattle at the most adverse moments, indicating the position of the wearer of the weapon. So most of these covers were ‘lost in action’ at the first opportunity.

Ariska carbine Model 38

Ariska carbine Model 38 with sheet metal cover over the bolt.

The 6.5 mm caliber was adapted to the smaller stature of the Japanese soldiers, and the 50.25 inch rifle’s length should increase its range in bayonet combat. This makes the rifle quite unwieldy.

Russian soldiers with Ariska rifles

Russian soldiers in World War I, armed with Japanese Ariska rifles.

The Ariska rifle was also exported to Thailand and used by the troops of various warlords in China. During the First World War Britain purchased 500,000 Ariska rifles for the Royal Navy and training purposes. Russia used 763,000 pieces of the models of 1897 and 1905 for units on the northern front. In Mexico, the rifle was adopted with caliber 7 mm in 1913.

Like the Italians, the Japanese also came to the realization that their older 6.5mm caliber was not efficient enough and therefore developed a new 7.7mm cartridge in the 1930s as a replacement. As a logical consequence, a rifle had to be developed which could fire this cartridge. This was no more than a caliber-drilled Model 38 as Type 99. It had some other questionable new features, such as a special visor for shooting on low-level planes, but this affected the weapon’s rate of fire.
However, few of the new rifles reached the hands of the troops and the Japanese were no more successful than the Italians in the change of caliber, which was mainly due to production difficulties.
As a result, the 6.5mm cartridge with the associated rifle remained the Japanese standard during World War II. The Model 38 became one of Japan’s most famous and well-known infantry weapons.

Ariska rifle Type 99

Ariska rifle Type 99 with caliber 7.7mm

Japanese soldier in the Second World War

Japanese soldier in the Second World War with 6.5 mm Ariska rifle and mounted sword bayonet.

After the Pacific War was in full swing in 1942, the production standard for the Japanese Ariska rifles and carbines dropped quickly. Each part of the weapon, which was not necessarily needed, fell by the wayside during the production process. This went so far that due to the Allied sea and air blockade, some of the rifles manufactured at the end of the war had to be built with poor quality wood and metal, making them more dangerous to the shooter than his target. In the end, even single-shot weapons were built with 8mm pistol cartridges.


Type 2 paratroop rifle

Type 2 paratroop rifle

Carbine M1938: Allegedly made for cavalrymen and artillerymen, this model was also used by Japanese infantry, who even preferred it to the standard rifle because of it’s about a foot shorter length and a half a pound lighter weight. The mechanism of the weapon was the same as the long rifle. In addition, there was a foldable version for the parachute arm.

Sniper Rifle M97: This was the original Ariska rifle with an extra bipods and a low resolution scope on the left side of the rifle to allow reloading. The locking handle was folded down to prevent the shooter’s hand from contaminating the visor when the bolt was operated.

Specifications Ariska Rifle Meiji 38

Ariska Meiji 38 specification
Type infantry rifle
Caliber 6.5 mm (Type 99: 7.7mm)
Length 50.25in (1.275m)
Weight 9.25lb (4.2kg; Type 99: 4.1kg)
Barrel 31.45 in long, 6 grooves, right hand twist
Feed system 5-round integral box magazine
System of operation Mauser turnbolt
Muzzle velocity 2,400 ft/sec (731m)
Rate of fire ?
Effective range ?
Service statistics
Ariska Meji 38 specification
Manufactures State arsenals
Production delivery 1905
Final delivery 1945
Production figure ?
Price per unit ?

Today’s War Diary and Report Feeds

Today 75 and 100 years ago and daily World War Report:

Diary May 25, 1943

Edsel Ford

Edsel Ford dies of gastric cancer at the age of 49, even before his father

WW2 War Diary for Tuesday, May 25, 1943:

Home Fronts

USA: Death of Edsel Ford, President of Ford Motor Company, aged 49.

Diary May 25, 1918

 position in the Alps 1918.

Austria-Hungarian position in the Alps 1918.

World War One Diary for Saturday, May 25, 1918:

Southern Fronts

Piave: Bersaglieri and Arditi surprise more Austrian Capo Sile positions and repel two counter­-attacks (night May 25-26).
Trentino: Alpini attack in Tonale­-Adamello region (west of Lake Garda) and capture line of five major peaks commanding upper Val Carnonica.

Eastern Front

USSR: First Congress of Councils of National Economy in Moscow.
Siberia: c.60,000-strong Czech Legion begins revolt against Reds.
Western Russia: Germans arrest 60 conspirators in Dvinsk.

Middle East

Armenia: Armenian 2nd Cavalry Regiment charge Turks successfully. Dro’s troops hold Bas-Abaran Defile north of Erevan (May 29) against Turk 3rd Regiment of 11th Division.
South Persia: 1,600 British (51 casualties) with 4 guns defeat Saulat’s 4,800 tribesmen (estimated 600-700 casualties) at Deh Shaikh 11 miles west of Shiraz and return there on May 27.

Operation Rhine Exercise

Operation Rheinuebung (‘Rhine Exercise’), the final cruise of the Bismarck

Detailed action, numerous photos and video.

t_arrow2 here to Part I: development, specifications, and 3d model of Bismarck

Bismarck is firing on Hood

Battleship Bismarck is firing on Hood, pictured from Prinz Eugen.

Operation Rhine Excercise, the final cruise of the Bismarck

In that month, in company with the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, she sailed for the Atlantic to raid and disrupt the Allied convoy routes. It was hoped to break out undetected, but late on May 23, while passing in fog through the Denmark Straits, they were sighted by the British cruiser Suffolk. She was soon joined by a second cruiser, the Norfolk, and despite efforts to shake them off the British cruisers began to shadow and report on the position of the German force.

battleship Bismarck is leaving Bergen in Norway

The battleship Bismarck is leaving Bergen in Norway for her last journey.

On the morning of May 24, two heavy ships appeared from the southeast and at 0532 the leading vessel, the battlecruiser Hood, opened fire on Prinz Eugen at a range of 24,232 m (26500 yards). The second ship, the battleship Prince of Wales, opened fire shortly afterwards while the German ships replied at 0535 hrs, both firing on the Hood. The Bismarck straddled her target with her third and fifth salvos, the latter achieving one or two hits. At 0601 hrs the after magazines of the British flagship exploded. She broke in two and sank in three minutes, leaving only three survivors. Fire was shifted to Prince of Wales but after about ten minutes the British ship broke off the action and retired.

The German flag ship had been hit by three 14-in (355- mm) shells from the Prince of Wales – one damaged and contaminated an oil fuel tank, another hit the side armour and caused a leak which later put one boiler-room and one dynamo out of action, while the third hit did no important damage. The contaminated oil reduced the ship’s endurance and the loss of one boiler-room reduced the speed by 2 knots, so it was decided to call off the operation and make for St Nazaire for repairs. The Prinz Eugen was undamaged, and later that day she separated and continued into the Atlantic.

RAF reconnaissance plane discovered Bismarck

RAF reconnaissance plane discovered the irregular oil slick in the wake of Bismarck.

On the evening of May 24, battleship Bismarck was attacked by Swordfish aircraft from the carrier Victorious and was hit by one torpedo, but no serious damage was done. Later that night she managed to evade her shadows, and by making a wide sweep to the west, remained undetected until 1030 hrs on the 26th, when she was sighted by a Catalina flying boat of Coastal Commando. This aircraft had been directed into the area after signals from the Bismarck had been intercepted and decoded on an Enigma machine. That night she was again attacked by Swordfish aircraft, this time from the carrier Ark Royal, and was hit by two torpedoes. One hit amidships caused only minor damage, but the second hit the stern and seriously damaged the steering gear. With both rudders jammed 15° to port she began steaming in circles, and then, using her propeller revolutions, started steering an erratic course to the northwest – towards the oncoming enemy. During the night she was attacked by destroyers of the 4th Flotilla, but they achieved little apart from the disruption of attempts to repair the steering gear.
On the morning of May 27, 1941 two battleships appeared on the northern horizon, the battleship King George V (Flag Admiral Tovey, C­in-C, Home Fleet) and Rodney. The latter vessel opened fire at 0847 hrs, followed one minute later by the flagship. At 0849 the German battleship replied and straddled the Rodney with her second salvo. However, she was straddled herself by Rodney’s third and fourth salvos and a hit from the latter put A turret out of action. Five minutes later, at 0857, a direct hit put B turret out of action. Another hit destroyed the forward command post, killing most of the senior officers, and shortly afterwards the main fire-control positions, both forward and aft, were also destroyed.

burning Bismarck

Salvos of Rodney and King George V surrounding the burning Bismarck with water fountains.

By 0920 only X turret, under local control, remained in action and by 0940 the ship was silent. First Rodney and then King George V closed and fired on her at the point-blank range of 2743-3658 m (3000-4000 yards). When the British battleships finally ceased fire she was a floating wreck, very low in the water and on fire. At 1025 the cruiser Dorsetshire fired two torpedoes into her starboard side and, ten minutes later, a third into her port side. She heeled over and began to sink by the stern, and at 1040, her flag still flying, she capsized and sank in position 48°10’N, 16°12’W. There were 118 survivors.

t_arrow2 here to Part I: development, specifications, and 3d model of Bismarck