Japanese Type 99 Light Machine Gun In Miniature

By William M.P. Easterly

While conducting research for the upcoming publication of my manuscript entitled Dragons of Fire, I discovered the Japanese manufactured training machine guns in 3/4 scale. Further details of this unique aspect of the Type 99 will be included in my monograph, which focuses on Japanese automatic weapons from their inception through the World War II years.

While reviewing this significant bit of information, I was reminded of the time when I was completing the manuscript on the Lewis Automatic Machine Gun, which was subsequently published under the title of The Belgian Rattlesnake. I had the unique opportunity to visit with John Calfee, son of Robert M. Calfee, attorney and key player in Isaac N. Lewis’s Automatic Arms Company (AAC). I had the privilege to examine a silver miniature of the Lewis Gun, one of three made and presented by the Birmingham Small Arms Company to Isaac Lewis, Robert Calfee, and Oliver A. Huberty, another key player in the AAC organization.

A few years after that visit, miniature firearms were becoming popular, mostly instigated by the Miniature Arms Society, which once again sparked my memories of the Calfee visit and the unique and fascinating rendition of the subject of my book in meticulous miniature detail. Fast forward to 2010 when I was in communication with a friend who mentioned the renowned Russian metallurgy artist, Mihail Solomin, whose field of expertise is producing detailed firearms miniatures.

Seeing photos of Mr. Solomon’s work, I was convinced he could, without a doubt, produce a miniature museum quality replica of the Type 99 light machine gun. I had sent him many photos of the Type 99 series produced during its manufacturing years before Allied war pressure forced a scale-back version of the original due to materials reduction. I recently received Mr. Solomon’s rendition and my assessment of his skill and artistry is without question. The weapon’s detail and quality were impressively translated and replicated. The photos demonstrate the detail of the weapon through its 3D reproduction.

The 1/3 scale specimen, serial number 2, is resting in its own Birch wood ordnance chest with brass fittings and is complete with detachable bayonet, magazine, scope and sling. The internal removable parts: bolt assembly, operating rod, recoil spring, guide rod and cap are in exactness. Also within in the receiver assembly is the ejector in detail. The overall length is 13 3/4 inches with bayonet, 12 1/2 inches without the bayonet. It is 6 inches in height with its 3 point bipod/monopod extended and magazine inserted. The width is 5 inches overall with the bipod extended. The metal used for all components is low carbon steel with Birch used for the wood components.

Overall, I am more than satisfied with this reproduction; its quality and attention to detail in comparison to the original is exacting. I am quite proud to own this museum quality artwork as part of my personal collection and it is a centerpiece to my research and writings on this historical series.

This article first appeared in SmallArmsReview.com on December 27, 2013


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