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"Japanese Chemical Warfare Organizations and Gases" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. military intelligence report on Japanese chemical warfare was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 9, Oct. 8, 1942.

[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. Organization, Administration and Strength

During the Sino-Japanese hostilities beginning in 1937, chemical warfare units were organized by the Japanese. These were known as "Field Gas Companies," "Temporary Smoke Battalions," and "Infantry Regimental Temporary Smoke Companies." In addition, certain infantry regiments were reported to have a 13th company which was used for chemical warfare purposes, although this may be identical with the infantry regimental temporary smoke company mentioned above. All the above units were equipped with the toxic-smoke and lachrymatory-gas candles (see Tactical and Technical Trends No. 7, p. 10 for additional information on this subject).

b. Field Gas Companies

Field gas companies are nondivisional units which are allotted to divisions for specific operations. Their organization is not known, but they are believed to supply personnel and equipment for temporary smoke battalions.

c. Temporary Smoke Battalions

Temporary smoke battalions are probably formed from field gas companies, and consist of a headquarters and a number of companies, each about 220 strong. The headquarters is divided into executive, meteorological, signal, and first-aid sections. Companies consist of a headquarters and three platoons, each of three sections. Each section consists of an NCO and 23 men (7 of whom are drivers) and 6 one-horse carts. The section works in 4 groups of 3 men each, the remaining 4 men being used for intercommunication and protective duties. Four of the 6 carts each carry 6 boxes of "smoke" candles, while the remaining 2 carry rations and forage for 10 days.

The total number of candles carried by the company is reported as 3,240, but it is not certain whether this number applies only to the special smoke (arsenical toxic smoke) candles or to the ordinary smoke and green-gas (CAP nonpersistent lachrymator) candles as well.

d. Infantry Regimental Smoke Companies

Temporary smoke companies of infantry regiments are formed from regimental personnel trained for these duties, and are employed for specific local operations only. The company is organized into a headquarters, similar to that of a rifle company, and three platoons, each of 4 sections. Sections consist of 11 men organized as leader, assistant, and 3 groups, each of 3 men. Detailed organization is as follows:

    Personnel       Horses     Vehicles   Materials  
Company Hq    12     1    --    --
3 platoons, each  51
(includes platoon
commander and
6 drivers)
    6     6 36 boxes
(540 candles)
Total  165    19    18 108 boxes
(1,620 candles)

e. Gases

Blister, choking, nose, and tear gases are all likely to be used.

(1) Blister Gases

Mustard (HS) -- Used in aircraft bombs and spray; shells, mines, and in ground contamination apparatus.

Lewisite (MI) -- Used in aircraft bombs and spray, and in shells, generally mixed with mustard to lower freezing point.

(2) Choking Gases

Chlorine -- Used in cylinders.

Phosgene (CG) -- Used in aircraft bombs, mine shells and cylinders.


(3) Nose Gases (toxic smokes)

Adamsite (DM) -- Used in aircraft bombs, shells, generators, and grenades.

Diphenylchlorarsine (DA) -- Used in generators.

DC -- Used in generators.

(4) Tear Gases

CAP -- Used in aircraft bombs, shells, generators, and grenades.

Bromoacetone -- Used in hand grenades.


(5) Miscellaneous

HCN (hydrocyanic acid) -- Used in shells.

Experiments in the practical uses of the following gases have been carried out at the Army Chemical Laboratory in Yodobashi, Tokyo:

Phosgene and diphosgene

Mustard gas (dichlordiethyl sulphide)

Palite (chlormethylchloroformate)


Lachrymator (brombenzyl cyanide)

Smoke (SO3, Phosphorus, etc.)

Incendiary mixtures (thermite, etc.).


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