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Babu

Tank or submarine swords, real or fantasy.

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Hi

Does the belief that very short Gunto were made in WWII for tank or submarine officers have any basis in fact?

I've one arriving tomorrow that's hand made traditional blade but pretty short.

It's in Shingunto mounts of some type.

Thank you Adam

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No. I suspect they are from the average waki bought up by the govt during the shortage and issued.

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I know of a full length gendai katana that was taken from a submarine captains bunk.

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From many other threads here I think "we" as a forum have concluded that the waks were not necessarily used for submarines, tanks and aircraft but either bought by the government late in the war to make up for lack of sword production or a family heirlooms that special mounts to fit them were for. 

 

Here is a link to a thread referring to them as pilot swords 

 

 

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Pure fantasy term to sell swords.

 

Any sword carried in aircraft, submarines and tanks is a 'pilot' sword and the overwhelming evidence is that swords of all sizes were carried by all members of the armed forces.

 

Oh, lovely looking sword too!

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Adam,

What I can say factually:  There are no known Japanese military uniform regulations that mention such a category for gunto.  There are no known mil specs for the design of such a gunto.   While on the other hand, we have seen the actual documents that lay out the specs for officer and NCO gunto, and NONE of them allow for waki-length gunto.  We have photos of pilots carrying katana-lenght gunto, and none carrying waki-length gunto.

 

We know of the practice of carrying family waki into combat from as early as WWI through the end of WWII.  We know of the sword shortages that prompted civilians to donate family blades, waki & katana, and the army program to buy civil swords.  So there were quite a large number of waki blades re-fitted for WWII.  I have read a story of a young Lt who went to a sword shop to have his long blade cut down because he was short, and he wasn't a pilot or tanker or submariner. as well as a letter written by a surviving professional polisher who stated that swords were made to match the height of the soldier.

Were there ever Japanese pilots, tankers, or submariners that carried a waki?  Who knows!  It is possible.  We just don't have actual evidence that anyone did.

 

I personally believe the terms got started from early collectors right after WWII that had no idea what a wakizashi was, so they simply deducted that such a short gunto MUST have been carried be these professions.

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There is a very likely some correlation between these short Gunto and officers in tank or naval units but nothing I would list as authoritive or specifically issued/required. There is a normal size Kai Gunto in the Australian War Memorial from the Sydney Harbour midget sub attacks, even in such cramped conditions officers still carried full size swords. 

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What it boils down to is that Wakizashi length blades were fitted out as Shin-Gunto, and carried by Japanese officers in the field, so they are a genuine WW2 item.  There is no evidence that they were reserved for or especially desired by pilots, tankers or submariners.

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