Type 89 machine gun

Type 89 refers to two unrelated Imperial Japanese Army aircraft machine guns. When any reference is made to a 7.7mm Type 89, it is impossible to tell which gun is indicated without more information. Its Imperial Japanese Navy counterparts are the Type 97 machine gun (fixed), and Type 92 machine gun (a Lewis gun copy).

7.7 mm Type 89 machine gun
7.7 mm (modified single) Type 89 machine gun
TypeMachine Gun
Place of originEmpire of Japan
Service history
Used byEmpire of Japan
WarsWorld War II
Korean War
Cartridge7.7x58mmSR Type 89

The first machine gun is recoil-operated, it is a licensed copy of the Vickers Class E machine gun re-chambered to 7.7x58mmSR Type 89 cartridge,[1] it is referred to as the "fixed type". It was used in synchronized applications in fighter cowls and in wing gun applications. It was belt-fed, using a steel link disintegrating belt. The fixed Type 89 was used in the Nakajima Ki-27, Ki-43, early Ki-44 fighters, the Mitsubishi Ki-30 and Ki-51 light bombers, the Kawasaki Ki-32 light bomber and various others. Communist forces used some ex-Japanese Type 89s during the Korean War.[2]

The second machine gun is gas-operated, it consists of two modified Type 11 machine guns paired into a single unit, similar to the German MG 81Z. It is commonly referred to as the "flexible type". It was derived from otsu-gou - an experimental machine gun (1922-1929) which was a Type 11 turned on its side and fed from pan magazine.[1] The machine gun was chambered in 7.7x58mmSR Type 89 cartridge, it used an "Y"-shaped metallic stock, spade grips, the barrels had no cooling fins (contrary to Type 11), it was fed from two quadrant-shaped 45-round pan magazines (each magazine has a place for nine 5-round stripper clips).[3] The machine gun was used as a rear gun on aircraft and some were pressed into ground and anti-aircraft use, though their small caliber made them ineffective in all roles during much of the Pacific War. Single or doubled Type 89s were used in most Imperial Japanese Army aircraft that had flexible defensive weapons, including the Mitsubishi Ki-21, Ki-67 and Nakajima Ki-49 heavy bombers, the Mitsubishi Ki-30, Ki-51 and Kawasaki Ki-32 light bombers, the Tachikawa Ki-9 (for training purposes only), and various other aircraft in the Army Air Force inventory.

Additionally, there was also the Te-4 machine gun (the Te designation was given to firearms under 11mm, and Ho to larger weapons such as the 12.7mm Ho-103 heavy machine gun and 20mm Ho-5 autocannon), the machine gun bore a strong resemblance to otsu-gou (of which Type 89 "flexible" was a derivative),[1] due to that fact it was assumed to be a further modification of the double-barrelled machine gun, as such it was referred to as Type 89 "modified single". It is uncertain whether the Te-4 was a direct derivative of otsu-gou or it was a result of splitting the Type 89 "flexible".


  1. Mikesh, Robert C. (2004). Japanese Aircraft Equipment 1940 - 1945. Shiffer Publishing. pp. 115–116. ISBN 0-7643-2097-1.
  2. Kinard, Jeff. "Machine guns". In Tucker, Spencer C.; Pierpaoli, Paul G., Jr. (eds.). The Encyclopedia of the Korean War: A Political, Social, and Military History. 1. A-L (2nd ed.). ABC-CLIO. p. 535. ISBN 978-1-85109-849-1.
  3. http://mpopenker.livejournal.com/1630937.html%5B%5D
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