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The Evolution of IJA Canteens (1894-1945)

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    Canteen Wear Practices in WW2

    In the article you read that the infantrymen were to carry the canteen slung from the left shoulder to have the canteen at the right hip, while the cavalry wore it the other way around. That was back then, but as special gear got established for various branches, things got busier with more items to carry. So by WW2, the following wear practices for canteens were codified as part of the uniform regulations.

    1. Officers

    Left shoulder to right hip with exception of medical warrant officer, who wears from right shoulder.

    2.NCOs and EM in Infantry, Kempei, Engineers, Flight personnel (Excl. Technical NCOs and EM)

    When wearing a pistol, to be slung from right shoulder. Otherwise to be worn in reversed direction. Tank and motorized troops may keep canteens in their vehicles with the exception of when they need to march on foot.

    3.NCOs and EM in Cavalry, Transport Troops (Excl. transport labor) also Artillery NCOs and EM (Excl. Technical NCOs)

    When shouldering a rifle, wearing a pistol or when one is a horse-mounted bugler, slung from right to left. Otherwise, to be worn from left to right.

    4. Technical NCOs in the engineer and artillery branches, Financial Admin staff and EM technical troops

    Slung from left shoulder to right hip.

    5.Transport labor personnel

    Slung from left shoulder to right hip.


      Corrosion-proofing of Aluminum (Oxalic Acid Anodizing, Almite)

      In post 9 of this thread, I wrote how the army almost got a heart attack in 1901, when they discovered their aluminum bowls and plates crumbling due to corrosion. This was still the early days for aluminum and one does not hear about this problem now or even during WW2. Why?

      That is because, in 1923 a Japanese company called Riken developed the world's first aluminum anodizing finish, using oxalic acid and patented it. This was called "Almite" in Japan since Riken trademarked that name in 1931. This was used on various household items like kettles, lunch boxes and plates, so when aluminum was specified, it was basically taken for granted that it would be Almite. The army naturally switched to Almite and that was how the corrosion problem could eventually be solved without having to specify any more the location of pickled plums within the rice carried in the mess kit as did the early army manual.

      The Chromic acid anodizing process developed in 1923 in England was also available in Japan, but was hardly applied to goods and was limited to duralumin aircraft components. The sulfuric acid anodizing from the USA, which was discovered in the same year as well, also saw some application since around 1936, but was no match for the overwhelming popularity of Almite in Japan. However it did become more widespread as the war brought shortages of oxalic acid. They often had to tint it a brownish color to make it look like Almite for better acceptance by the population.

      The army had Riken to thank for making aluminum the robust material it had become for field use, but when Riken tried to renew its patent in 1939 (patents were valid only for 15 years), citing that it's investment in two new large factories had not yet been fully amortized, the army prevailed upon its Minister to block this renewal. Riken's patent in those days restricted Almite processing to designated production facilities only and the army saw that as a very unwelcome bottleneck for expansion of its military production capacity, not to mention the extra cost of patent royalties to Riken.

      I realized I had overlooked this part of the story, while corresponding with member STEGEL regarding the Almite application in the Type 95 sword. I thank him here for reminding me.


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