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"Japanese Parachute Troop Equipment" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following quartermaster report on the equipment of Japanese parachute troops in WWII was published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 14, Dec. 17, 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.]


The information available on Japanese parachute troop equipment is somewhat sketchy as compared to the report of German equipment, analyzed in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 13, p. 45. The following report regarding Japanese equipment gives certain details that follow substantially the same outline as in the case of the German report.

a. Personal Equipment

(1) Uniform

Information from Timor has been received indicating that uniforms worn by Japanese paratroops were green and buttoned all the way up to the neck. Rubber boots were worn. As part of their personal equipment, key sets and compasses were carried; the latter, strapped to the wrist. In the Netherlands East Indies the following uniform equipment was observed: buff-color crash helmet with ear flaps and chin strap, very light canvas webbing equipment, and water bottle.

Another report dated September 1941 indicates the following uniform equipment provided for officers, NCOs, and privates. All men wore flying jacket and trousers, and flying helmet with glasses. Officers carried an electric torch and a haversack with maps and writing utensils. NCOs and privates carried a haversack with corn, a complete change of clothing, an extra pair of boots, and one mug.

(2) Weapons

The following arms and ammunition were observed during operations in the Netherlands East Indies as part of the Japanese parachutists' personal equipment.

A pistol with 1 clip of rounds and 13 rounds loose; an unstated number of clips for rifle or light machine-gun ammunition—each clip containing 5 rounds; 5 or 6 hand grenades; and bayonet.

(3) Rations

At Timor, emergency rations were observed, carried in cellulose wrapping and consisting of rice and dry compressed fish.

In the Netherlands East Indies, parachutists were observed to be carrying glucose sweets, minor medical supplies (iodine, bandages, and so forth), cigarettes, and rum flask.

b. Unit Equipment

(1) Parachutes

Information is unavailable beyond those observations made at Timor: section commanders' parachutes were blue, and platoon commanders' parachutes were red.

(2) Containers

The only information obtainable from the source reporting with reference to parachute containers was that at Timor it was observed that apparently no containers, either for arms or supplies, were used.

(3) Rations

Information dated September 1941 with regard to unit rations for parachute troops indicated that a 3 days' food supply for each man consisted of:

Rice -- 2 kg - 250 grams (21 lbs 4 oz)
Fish -- 2 tins
Meat -- 2 tins
Tea  -- 1 oz

In view of the weight of the above-mentioned food supply, it would not seem practicable for the individual parachutist to carry this as part of his personal equipment; in other words, it would seem more probable that these rations were either dropped in containers, or provided from the air or ground by other means. The following extract from a report dated July 7, 1942, is submitted as further information pertaining to rations for Japanese parachutists.

Parachutists in Sumatra and Celebes had to carry food in large quantities, which, however, had to be as low in weight as possible. Colonel Kawashima spent 17 years in research on this problem and the following is taken from his statement:

"Iron rations for parachutists are in wafer form and consist of ground rice and wheat with a content of sesame. In addition to this, they are fed on extract of mussel-flesh, dried plums, preserved ginger, crushed bean meal and nori (a typical Japanese product used as a foodstuff for hundreds of years, made from dried seaweed and containing alkaline substances, soda, and iodine). One meal of these rations weighs 200 grams. The wafer form was chosen, as tins or boxes carried by parachutists can get damaged on landing and they constitute superfluous weight. These iron rations stand up to the climatic conditions in eastern Asia, and have been thoroughly tested by experts in Malaya, East Indies, the Philippines, China, Manchuria, and Siberia. All foreign army iron rations were tested before the selection of this type as most suited to the Japanese soldier."


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