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"Japanese Antiaircraft Gun Installations" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A report on Japanese antiaircraft gun positions in the Pacific during WWII, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 31, August 12, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


A study by the official U.S. Navy Pacific Photo-Interpretation Unit of aerial photographs of Japanese occupied areas in the Solomon Islands, reveals that the plan of enemy medium and heavy antiaircraft battery positions usually follows one of three patterns: that of an arc, a triangle, or a rectangle. A typical battery position is shown in figure 1.

[WWII Japanese Antiaircraft Gun Installations]

a. Ground Patterns

(1) Arc Pattern

The arc pattern includes 3 to 10 emplacements. The radius of the arc usually varies directly with the number of guns in the pattern. These batteries are frequently reinforced with a few scattered light AA positions. The CP of the arc battery is located back of the battery, approximately equidistant from the ends (see figure 2). Gun crew quarters and ammunition dumps can usually be observed at the edge of the clearings in which the batteries are installed. One noteworthy battery consists of a series of three arc patterns, the center one of the three being reversed in direction from the end two. This battery is located at Vila.

[WWII Japanese Antiaircraft Gun Installations]

(2) Triangular Pattern

This is a three-gun installation in the shape of a triangle. The CP is usually located in the center of the position. It is similar to the arc and rectangular positions in all other respects (see figure 3).

[WWII Japanese Antiaircraft Gun Installations]

(3) Rectangular Pattern

The rectangular position is a four-gun battery built in a roughly rectangular pattern. This pattern is more of a trapezoid but for purposes of classification, patterns of this type are classified as rectangular. This type of battery has a CP in the center of the position. Crew quarters, ammunition dumps, etc., are removed from the position as in the case of the arc pattern; if the position is in a clearing they are located at the edge of it (see figure 4).

[WWII Japanese Antiaircraft Gun Installations]

b. Revetment Types

(1) Circular Revetment

The revetments that the Japs build are usually circular. In most instances they have no entrances. Some have been observed with a protected entrance, and a few with an unprotected gap. These revetments vary in size from 12 to 33 feet inside diameter. Most of them appear to be slightly countersunk. The revetment is probably built up of sandbags or some similar material (see figure 3).

(2) Modification of Circular Revetment

At Vila a new type revetment has been observed. This consists of a ramp leading down into the opening of a covered shelter, probably for ammunition storage, which in turn opens directly into a circular gun revetment. Another revetment is built around the first. Several of this type were observed in a battery (see figure 5).

[WWII Japanese Antiaircraft Gun Installations]

(3) Spiral Revetments for MG or Light AA

At Munda a spiral sloped revetment was observed. The inside diameter was approximately 10 feet. The purpose of the spiral was to form a protected entrance. The spiraled wall continued about 3 feet beyond its beginning.

c. Location of Batteries

The location of batteries relative to a landing strip is highly variable. In most instances batteries have been built in natural clearings and elevations. This is illustrated by a comparison of figures 6 to 9.


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