The Type 96 Light Machine Gun or LMG was a gas-operated, air-cooled, light machine gun which was used by Imperial Japan during World War II.


It had a rate of fire of about 550 rounds per minute and it took the 6.5x50mm Arisaka cartridge. This weapon was introduced to the Imperial Japanese Army in 1936 and served until the end of World War II.[1] It was the successor of the earlier Type 11 LMG and it was slightly lighter than the Type 11 as well. The Type 96 weighed about 8.7 kg and was about 106.6 cm long. The Type 96 also had a 30 round box magazine and could be fitted with a bayonet.[2]

The muzzle velocity of the Type 96 was about 730 m/s and the weapon itself even included a safety switch to prevent accidental firing.[3] There are several features of the Type 96 that allow for increased mobility; these include a shoulder strap that can be added and a handle for carrying the weapon from place to place.


One of the only variants of the Type 96 LMG was the Type 99 LMG which only had one sub variant itself. The Type 99 had several improvements made to it which were based on combat experience. This included improved reliability and the usage of the newer 7.7x58mm Arisaka Cartridge. A bayonet could also be fitted to the Type 99 and so could telescopic sights. Normal iron sights consisted of a front blade type sight and a rear leaf type sight. Although, some of the features that the Type 99 had were used with the Type 96 such as the bayonet and the top handle for carriage. One of the other improvements of the Type 99 was a rate of fire that was increased to 880 rounds per minute, but one of the compromises of these new features was the increased 9.8 kg weight.


The Type 96 was first issued to Japanese troops in 1936 out of the need to replace the older Type 11 LMG which lacked reliability. The design for the Type 96 was based on the Czech ZB vz. 26 and French designed hotchkiss machine guns. Although, the ZB vz. 26 was the weapon that the Type 96 was primarily based on, giving it a similar appearance to the British Bren LMG which was also based on the ZB vz. 26. Despite the fact that the Type 96 was supposed to completely replace the Type 11; both weapons were still used throughout World War II. The Type 96 was used mainly in the conflicts in China and early on in World War II. The Type 99 which followed however, took over the role on many different Pacific islands. Becoming quite effective in the field, the Type 96/99 continued to be used by Chinese troops after the war. In total, some 94,000 examples of Type 96 and Type 99 light machine guns were manufactured during the war.



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