Combat experience in the Manchurian Incident of 1931 and subsequent actions in Manchuria and northern China reaffirmed the Japanese army of the utility of machine guns to provide covering fire for advancing infantry. The earlier Type 11 Light Machine Gun was a lightweight machine gun, which could be easily transportable by an infantry squad into combat. However, the open hopper design of the Type 11 allowed dust and grit to enter into the gun, which was liable to jam in muddy or dirty conditions due to issues with poor dimensional tolerances. This gave the weapon a bad reputation with Japanese troops, and led to calls for its redesign. The Army’s Kokura Arsenal tested the CzechZB vz. 26 machine gun, samples of which had been captured from the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China, and (after borrowing certain elements) issued a new design, designated the Type 96 light machine gun, in 1936.
Type 96 Light Machine Gun was almost identical in construction to the Type 11 in that it was an air-cooled, gas-operated design based on the French Hotchkiss machine gun. As with the Type 11, it continued... Read More