Japanese machine gun lodged in the barrels of a Quad 40 mm Bofors


A Japanese machine gun from an A6M Zero Kamikaze lodged in the barrels of a Quad 40 mm Bofors AA gun after impact aboard USS Missouri (April 11, 1945).

After action report:
1442 Commences firing on a low flying Zeke coming directly in on starboard quarter, bearing 150 degrees T, distance 7,000 yards [approx. 4 miles], altitude 100 feet.

1443 Zeke [Mitsubishi A6M Zero] crashed ship at frame 169 starboard about 3 feet below main deck level. The ship was sprayed with parts of the plane, and the plane’s starboard wing was thrown forward to the first superstructure [01 level just aft of the Surrender Deck] frame 102, inboard of “5 mount #3. A gasoline fire resulted at this point. The mutilated body of the pilot landed on aft main deck.

1446 Fires were reported under control. No casualties, damage only superficial caused by fire. Minor damage to 40mm quad #17 and bulwark area.

The Type 97 machine gun closely resembled the Army Type 89 machine gun but was the standard fixed light machine gun on Navy aircraft. A licensed copy of the Vickers Class E, it was belt-fed and used a short recoil toggle locked action. It synchronized particularly well and was the standard nose armament on the A6M “Zero.” Illustrating the lack of cooperation between the two Japanese services, the Type 97 and Type 89 were chambered for rounds of slightly different cartridge length and thus their ammunition was not interchangeable.


    • My grandfather had a mixed opinion of them. For taking out Japanese incoming planes, he said that a bunch of .50’s was a more reliable way to take them out. He said with the higher firing rates of the .50’s, the gunners could walk their streams of fire into the aircraft more reliably than the 40’s could get their shells on target. He said that late in the war, when the Japanese were sending waves of kamikazes against the Navy, that there were times when a couple rounds of .50 resulted in the plane just going “poof!”

      He did say, however, when the 40’s “got lucky” and a single round of 40mm got a direct hit on an aircraft, the issue was done, regardless of whether they were packed with explosives.

      Now, when it came to working over a LZ, he said the 40’s were wonderful. Walk that stream of fire up and down the vegetation just inside the beach, he said, “and watch stuff blow up.” It wasn’t enough to make the landings a walk-on, but it did give the guys some optimism that the Navy was taking out some of the welcoming committees.

      It wasn’t until much later in life I realized that he had PTSD. He never drove. Grandmother drove. When they went on a road trip, he worked off the case of Michelob in the trunk, one bottle at a time. Come evenings at home, he’d have nine or 10 beers. Every night. He was never drunk. Unless he was at work, he was never sober, either.

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