日本の弾薬 - www.japaneseammunition.com is live!

Hi all,

With some pride, I feel it is now time to inform you guys of my new website, http://www.japaneseammunition.com
Over the past few weeks I’ve made a thorough start with filling it with actual content.
Covered are (and/or “will be”) the following categories:
-Japanese ‘gun’ ammo, calibres 12.7mm and bigger
-Captured ammo
-Mortar ammo
-Artillery fuzes
-Bomb fuzes
-…and lots of other stuff!

It is a LOT of work to put everything online, but I feel I now have enough online to start spreading the word. This is one website that will probably never be done, but rather, now content will be posted all the time as it becomes available.

For now, the main focus has been on adding items from my own collection. I’m working my way up on making a complete calibre list for both IJA (currently 12.7-75mm are covered) as well as IJN ammo (13-57mm are covered), and I am filling those pages with the content I have. The items I have added cover all of my present gun ammo, up to (inclusive) the 75x104R calibre. All bigger calibres will be covered still over the next few weeks, including several spectacular new finds which I have incoming on November 7th (the sections that currently already have content will then be expanded too).

It should be noted that I have left those pages of which I have no items yet empty (apart from the page headers). Those pages will later be filled, possibly using content from other peoples’ collections and/or general texts.

For now, just click through the pages listed under the menus: “Army gun ammo” and “Navy gun ammo”, and those that are filled, apart from having sections with common details for the respective type of ammo, also have a trailing section at the bottom of the page (called “Pictures and details”) which contains links to highly detailed items of the specimens in my collection.

Make particularly sure to not miss those sections.

Note: Though there is a login section, this is not required (and currently only used by me to fill the site). All content is publicly available.

I hope you all enjoy your visit, and I’m open for all comments. Also, I’m always looking for ammo of the covered areas (even if I already have several similar specimens). If someone has some Japanese ordnance for sale/trade please let me know (no matter how benign it may seem to you; to me it may not). My direct e-mail address is: ogreve@japaneseammunition.com


1 Like

Great job, do you plan to have smaller calibres added in the future? Most of Japanese ammo I see at the shows has no headstamps, like I need more confusion!!!

Very nice start.

The initial concept for a site is often the hardest part, and this is a well thought out design that should allow for the rapid inclusion of new info as time allows.

I look forward to seeing it grow.

It will be added to the IAA links page.

SUPER ! Maybe you know what the “F” stands for on Japanese artillery ammo ?

Maybe you have something to say about this 37x124mm which I got from Japan. Bob Meliichamp says it is likely a 1 1/4 pdr. with Tokyo Arsenal reload markings.


Regarding the ‘F’ marking… As you know very well this is subject of debate and has been so for a good many years. However, there is a very likely candidate meaning. The British use a marking system with letters like ‘CF’ (= ‘Charge Full’), ‘CR’ (= ‘Charge Reduced’), and I think also ‘CA’ (= ‘Charge Adapted’, IIRC??). There’s a theory, but at present it’s nothing more than that, that the IJA used the ‘F’ to indicate rounds with a 'F’ull charge.
There certainly is some circumstancial evidence to suggest this. I have several IJA casings where the ‘F’ has been stamped in, out of line with the rest of the headstamp (i.e. normally it appears exactly at the 12 o’clock position, when putting the arsenal mark exactly at the 6 o’clock position), sometimes it’s printed around the 11 o’clock or 1 o’clock positions. Also, on some casings, it is printed at an angle in relation to an imaginary radius line coming straight out of the very centre of the primer. This suggests to me that the ‘F’ is not stamped into the heads at the same time when the rest of the casing is stamped.

As a matter of fact, I had been wanting already to make a page about this marking, so rather than showing everything to support the above theory here, I invite you all to take a look at the page: http://www.japaneseammunition.com/start.php?main_cat=23&sub_cat=191 where this theory is explained in full, with plenty of pictures (incl. one of an IJA headstamps WITHOUT F marking!).

Then, regarding the casing you showed the headstamp of: that’s a bizarre one!
The British have manufactured a variety of casings for the IJN, right around the late 1980s and early 1900s. Those seen include at least the 47x131R and 57x306R calibres, but others seem to exist too. A fellow Dutch collector has an alleged Japanese 1.5 Pounder casing (though I’m not 100% certain that it really is that). Your casing was obviously manufactured by EOC (= Elswick Ordnance Company) and it seems to have the ‘C’ of a ‘charge’ marking (such as the ‘CF’ = Charge Full) marking on it. The absence of a broad arrow means it was never accepted by the British forces, and hence almost certainly was manufactured for export. So far so good. However, as for the stars, I could be mistaken, but I am not so convinced these are from the Tokyo arsenal. Before 1933 Tokyo used the three interlocked circles (later this arsenal marking was used by the Okura arsenal), after that, the Tokyo arsenal did use a star, but not a pointy one as this one. Besides… It seems that the British solely (or mainly, at least) manufactured for the IJN and not the IJA.
I also have no explanation for the ‘JM’ or ‘LS’ markings. Finally, I have never seen a Western date (i.e. like the 1913 shown on this one) on a Japanese casing. Somehow the casing ‘feels’ very American to me…

Quite an interesting casing though! I hope someone can ID it…


The “F” page is very well done and interesting. I have seen many cases with and without the F in many calibers.

Your theory could make sense for FIXED ammunition but I don’t see it holding for seperate loading ammo where there are variable increments as many of the Japanese guns had.

I don’t take either side in the “debate”. My side is “I don’t know”. Nothing which I have ever read or seen answers this for me yet.
If the marking was for Japanese consumption ( which it appears to have been) why use a Western letter. The Japanese had plenty of their own.

They did like to copy British styles and the British certainly liked to put "F"s on their artillery headstamps so maybe the Japanese just could not help themselves. But meaning ; what ?

As for the 1 1/4 pounder case - identified by Bob Mellichamp - I thought it was a 1 1/2 pdr. I think that it was dated when made at EOC.

I see nothing about it that says American. Could you explain that ? It came from Tokyo recently with a projectile which I think is Russian which tells us nothing .


Unknown thus far.


Some comments/thoughts:

You wrote:

The “F” page is very well done and interesting. I have seen many cases with and without the F in many calibers.
Your theory could make sense for FIXED ammunition but I don’t see it holding for seperate loading ammo where there are variable increments as many of the Japanese guns had.

I don’t see them very often without the ‘F’, but what you write about separately loaded ammo makes sense. Perhaps the ‘F’ is stamped into the casing after some form of strength test, meaning something like “suitable for a full charge”?!?
Hmmm, I guess it’ll remain a guessing game until some formal document is encountered that mentions the exact meaning.

If the marking was for Japanese consumption ( which it appears to have been) why use a Western letter. The Japanese had plenty of their own.

Precisely that may be the reason; just like using a Western number for the month indicator, and the Western letter ‘S’ on IJN casings for Showa, and the letter ‘K’, for Kure… I’m not certain what their rationale was in this…

As for the 1 1/4 pounder case - identified by Bob Mellichamp - I thought it was a 1 1/2 pdr. I think that it was dated when made at EOC.

This is another grey area, as little or no documentation seems to be out there that treats the ammo that was British manufactured for Japan in detail (at least: I don’t have anything about it). 1913 seems somewhat late in relation to what I see on ‘typical’ UK manufactured Japanese casings (check my pages on 47x131R and 57x306R ammo for several specimens). I’m not certain when the British stopped manufacturing for Japan, but it seems that most of the items they made that are dated are from around 1897-1901. It is of course well conceivable that later (and earlier) manufacture also took place.

The headstamp style of the case you showed doesn’t match anything I’ve ever seen on the British cases that were manufactured for Japan. This is of course no evidence, but it doesn’t help to support the possibility of it being for Japan either.

I see nothing about it that says American. Could you explain that ? It came from Tokyo recently with a projectile which I think is Russian which tells us nothing .

The Russian projectile certainly only confuses matters more. The headstamp doesn’t look typically Russian either. As for me writing that it has got an “American feeling” to it: this is purely based on a gut feeling, based on possibly incorrect memories of what some early US 37mm headstamps look like. It’s probably best to ignore that supposition of mine, as it is not based on specific markings being present, and chances are good that for those specialised in US ammo it doesn’t look like an American headstamp at all.


Who knows… The 1.5Pr casing that is being owned by the Dutch collector also has a bizarre headstamp: it has a single character that (if original!) appears to be a Hiragana (!) ‘sa’ or ‘ma’, IIRC (I’d have to look it up again to be sure), which could be explained away as possibly meaning ‘Sazebo’ or ‘Maizuru’, but for me, that’s just about “a guess too far” as Hiragana are virtually unknown in ammo contexts (though it seems to me that Type 89 Powder Time fuzes also seem to feature some single Hiragana characters). Very obfuscating, and I’ve got no idea what to make of it…

Unknown thus far.

Aye, Roger that!

I hope someone can tell for sure though!


Superb information and insight. Gotta love those Dutch guys.

I don’t have the pleasure of knowing this fellow but he does first rate work. I have an original Japanese ammunition manual which might explain all of this but have never found anyone who can read it. My Japanese military contacts said that the specialized ordnance vocabulary makes it impoeeible for someone not trained in that to read it.

Nothing about the case looks American to me and other than the EOC part the rest is a mystery ( at least to me ).

I have collected Japanese ammo for over 50 years and I more questions now than when I started.

Some years ago I offered the Japanese flaregun grenade which I got from Col Jarrett for sale and got all sorts of flak about it not being so. It was not until others showed up in CHINA in buried Japanese positions that folks figured it out.

Col. Jarrett was no fool and I would take his information above all others until I saw original paper to the contrary.

Hi again,

Thanks for the nice words regarding my research! I try to be thorough in it, and wherever I’m not 100% certain of something, I specifically flag those parts by having them preceded by a red disclaimer text. I’m hoping to avoid “conjecture turning into (incorrectly copied) facts” this way. :P

Yes, I can see how one ends up with more questions than answers. I too have come across some very odd items (for an example: check the Army (!) 20x142 HE projectiles that are paintless, but for a single thin yellow band; the Navy for sure used such simplified colour coding towards the end of the war, but I’ve never seen this before on ARMY ammo).

Also, as for “us having met”, a few years ago when I just started collecting Japanese ammo we did actually have some e-mail interchanges, but matters went sour then. It matters not anymore; all that is in the past. Together with a friend of mine who was also interested in some of the titles you sell, we bought some 5 titles of yours, two of the most interesting ones are the one with the translation of Japanese ordnance markings, and what I assume is the Japanese document you mentioned. I too am looking for someone who can translate it for me. I am quite positive that I know someone who can contextually correctly translate selected parts for me (or at least tell me roughly what they say), but I doubt he has the time to do an integral translation… I am going to look over the document and select some parts that may contain such information, and then I shall ask him.

Regarding your casing: so it does indeed not look American at all. O.k.: this was just a gut feeling of mine; never mind it.
I think there are also reverse ways of guesstimating for whom it was intended, by not looking at the receiving side, but the sending side. Chances are good that some of the British collectors have good insight into whom EOC manufactured ammo for. I shall show your headstamp on BOCN and see what people may be able to tell me about it.
The mentioning of China (in regards to the flare gun) is interesting; there is always a possibility of this casing having been made for China or Russia, and then as spoils of war having ended up in Japan. It could also have been captured from the British, though I see no British broad arrow acceptance marks, so I don’t think that’s the case.
It would be great to know what nations had contracts with EOC for manufacture.


Keep up the good work. Real scientists in the collecting world are rare. So much of the paperwork in Japan went up in flames as a result of bombing and then as a result of the instruction of the government to destroy all research and technical information before the enemy landed. Most of what we know is the result of allied examination of captured munitions. These reports are based upon tactical recovery and shed little information on the manufacture. My assumption is that the " F " is a code symbol of manufacture importance and has no tactical meaning.

We who study headstamps tend to think that they have a meaning in the field; they do not.

I have interviewed hundreds of gunners of many nations and asked about headstamping. Most respond; what is that ?

The only gunners who I have met who are familiar with headstamps are collectors.

The others are most often surprised to learn how much information is on the bottom of the case !

I do not believe than any Japanese gunner turned up a case and said " this one has an " F " on it , it is the good one to shoot ".

Japanese arsenal documents are EXTREMELY RARE. The Japanese have few to none and of the tons of material which our intelligence men brought back virtually none were ammunition manufacturing documents.

The technical intelligence reports on the manufacture of Japanese munitions were done with the help of very few Japanese technicians and workers and were based almost entirely on interviews rather than documents.

I hired a couple of Japanese army officers to research their archives some years ago . Although anxious to please they turned up very little which was not already reported.

I still have several extensive manuals on Japanese ordnance which were compiled by the Australians which I need to have scanned but my scanning project has met a snag.

Top quality agent who will scan at a reasonable price are rare.

As regards the souring of our relationship; I have corresponded with THOUSANDS of ordnance collectors over 50 years at this and ,given my disposition, many have gone sour. Good to see that you were not discouraged by that.

I have to remind my family often that my bad temper is not their fault.

I am mostly a one man circus and get to be the clown , the juggler and the fellow following the elephants with a shovel as well as the man with the cotton candy.

If it were not for schizophrenia I would not be able to do it.

What you are doing there is first rate and I look forward to seeing more.

Hi John (and others),

Thanks for your further reaction. Your analogies brought a smile to my face. :)
No worries about previous clashes we might have had; they were never of the severe kind, and as you wrote, by no means bad enough to get discouraged. Good to see all that as being in the past now! :)

Alright, it has been (and still is) a very busy weekend, with virtually no spare time for a day or three (hence the late reply to this e-mail), but as promised I have just posted questions about your 37x124 (or is it 37x124R?) casing at BOCN. Let’s see if someone can tell us some more. You can follow the thread at:

Also: I have slightly amended my page on the ‘F’ marking to reflect what you wrote about semi-fixed and separately loaded ammo. Indeed it may be that the ‘F’ does not mean ‘Full charge’ but rather ‘strong enough to support a full charge’, or something like that.

There are also possibilities that it has to do with the supplier of the raw material (though that seems very unlikely, and virtually impossible in light of the marking also being present on the captured Russian casings).

Let’s see if some new information surfaces! :)


1 1/4 pounder in Japan ?

I received a forward from the British site of your post on the subject. Very interesting.

Hi John,

After having bumped the BOCN thread again yesterday there are now some reactions to it; you may want to look over them.
It appears that not even the people who are very specialised in 37mm ammo know for sure!

Meanwhile… the ‘F’ investigation has taken on new heights too. Lothar Tabbert and I have been asking a lot of the major Japanese collectors worldwide to check their casings for the ‘F’ mark. Some of the progress can be read at this BOCN thread:

To summarise:
-The ‘F’ seems to only be present on Showa era brass IJA casings (calibres 30x115 and bigger).
-None of the inspected steel casings have an ‘F’ marking.
-None of the seen Taisho and Meiji pure Japanese headstamps have an ‘F’ marking.
-The captured/bought Russian 76.2x385R casings are highly interesting. All 5 seen specimens were manufactured in 1915 or 1916. 4 specimens have the ‘F’, one specimen does not.

Particularly in light of the Russian casings I cannot see the ‘F’ having to do with the manufacturing process of the casing, but it makes all the sense in the world to me that it has a lot to do with the filling/(re-)loading process!
I am putting my money on it being a marker that indicates the strength of the brass or the entire casing; quite possibly meaning “strong enough to support a full charge”.

Not many other logical explanations remain (not to me at least).

As for the Taisho and Meiji casings seen by me: they tend to have single Kanji markings at the 12 o’clock position. Possibly these indicate the same thing as is indicated by the later ‘F’. I’ll ask Takehito Jimbo to translate those Kanji for me.

Then, a request to you: I know you have little or no Japanese ammo left that is of relevance to this investigation (at least, not AFAIK). However, do you perhaps still have headstamp pictures of specimens from your own (former) collection, or from those of other people’s collections?
I’m looking for pictures of ALL pure IJA headstamps; be they Meiji, Taisho or Showa era based (though particularly the Meiji and Taisho era casings, and steel Showa era casings are of interest). Maybe you have also otherwise kept track of the presence/absence of the ‘F’?
Particularly as far as steel IJA casings go, it would be highly interesting to have each individual specimen checked for the presence/absence of the ‘F’. So far we are not aware of a single specimen WITH an ‘F’ !


I have hundreds , possibly thousands , of images of Japanese ammunition both in still and video format. What I do not have is TIME. I am too old to get into new projects. My current and FINAL project is getting rid of as much of this collection and archive as possible while converting as many rare references as possible to CD format. I still have many thousands of specimens and I have not started selling off the bound books , manuals and reports , photos yet. I am going to try to get back into posting shells on Auctionarms and Gunbroker next years. There are lots of Japanese items left.

Hi John,

O.k., so there are more items left than the ones that have been for some while on AuctionArms… I thought those were the last remnants.
It shall be interesting to see them!

Should you happen to already have CD-ROMs with pictures (be they raw or edited), that would be very handy… I could sift through them myself.

If not, that’s o.k. too. We have already gathered information from several major Japanese collectors, but… the more, the merrier!


Not in much of a hurry to sell anyting which is listed already on sites. if it sells , great . These lisitngs give my heirs an idea of the value. They can sell when and if they want at a price which is not based upon ignorance. I have sold items listed for 5 years to buyers who never saw them before and could not wait to buy them. They usually saw; " I never saw this stuff for sale before ". The market is always changing as new folks come on and other die off. I have sold the majority of my items through 25 private auctions. I could do 25 more but have run out of the energy to do it again. Many of the top items which I have listed on Auctionarms are items which Woodin Lab already has or I got from there. That always affects the value.