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"Japanese Island Defenses and Fortifications 1943-45" Topic

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5,311 hits since 17 Mar 2013
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Kaoschallenged Inactive Member17 Mar 2013 11:31 a.m. PST

Just found this great source of information, diagrams and photos. I think it would be very helpful and interesting to those who are gaming or want to game the Pacific Theater,

Japanese Island Defenses and Fortifications Tarawa,Iwo Jima and Okinawa 1943-1945
PDF link


nnascati Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2013 11:45 a.m. PST

Man did you post this at the perfect time! I was getting frustrated trying to get the right look onan MG position.

kyoteblue Inactive Member17 Mar 2013 12:09 p.m. PST


Tango0117 Mar 2013 1:25 p.m. PST

Excelent find Robert!.
Many thanks!!


Kaoschallenged Inactive Member17 Mar 2013 4:27 p.m. PST

Thanks all. I'm glad it was useful grin. Robert

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member17 Mar 2013 5:08 p.m. PST

Defense installations on Iwo Jima.
"Contains a photographic survey of the different Japanese defense installations on Iwo Jima as well as mapping of the mines, blockhouses, anti-aircraft, covered artillery, coastal defense, and enemy installations."

PDF link

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member17 Mar 2013 7:13 p.m. PST

Japanese deliberate field fortifications
"Consists of the most comprehensive set of field fortification layouts and specifications that had been obtained. Contains translations of these captured plans. Special translation number 58."
PDF link

Skeptic17 Mar 2013 8:15 p.m. PST

Many thanks!

Tango0117 Mar 2013 8:30 p.m. PST

You are the master-chief of WW2 forum Robert!.
Many thanks again!.


John Thomas8 Inactive Member17 Mar 2013 8:31 p.m. PST

Gordon Rottman's Japanese Island Defenses 1941-1945 Osprey book has some awesome diagrams, down to individual foxholes.

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member17 Mar 2013 10:40 p.m. PST

Thanks again. I really love the diagrams from the Military documents. Robert

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member18 Mar 2013 1:41 p.m. PST

I have Gordon's book BTW. Robert

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member18 Mar 2013 5:54 p.m. PST


Japanese bunker,Philippines

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member18 Mar 2013 8:06 p.m. PST

World War II:
Japanese Defense of Cities as Exemplified by the Battle for Manila
Published by the XIV Corps on July 1, 1945
PDF link

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member18 Mar 2013 11:22 p.m. PST

Progressive construction and camouflage of defense installations on Iwo Jima, supplement to bulletin no. 136-45.
"This publication focuses on the casemated coast defense guns and covered infantry and artillery positions on Iwo Jima. The aerial photographs cover the period from June 15, 1944 to February 19, 1945, the date of invasion."

PDF link

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member19 Mar 2013 11:11 a.m. PST


Japanese Bunker
Iwo Jima / Overrun / 1945

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member19 Mar 2013 10:35 p.m. PST

Some great photos and info for Okinawa here,



Kaoschallenged Inactive Member21 Mar 2013 8:36 a.m. PST

Japanese plans for the defense of Kyushu.

"This report discusses the defensive plans of Kyushu, Japan, based on Sixth Army's estimates and intelligence. The information was compiled for Operation Olympic, the invasion of Japan. The report is dated 31 December 1945."
PDF link

Tango0121 Mar 2013 11:43 a.m. PST

Many thanks Robert.
A big effort from your part.


Kaoschallenged Inactive Member21 Mar 2013 10:12 p.m. PST

Thanks. I do try wink LOL. Robert

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member23 Mar 2013 11:47 p.m. PST

Japanese defense against amphibious operations, Special Series, no. 29.

"This document addresses the following topics regarding Japanese defense against amphibious operations: tactics and organization; beach obstacles, barricades, and mines; fortifications and airfields; Japanese coast defense guns; dual-purpose, antiaircraft, and machine guns; and detection and communication."
PDF link

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member24 Mar 2013 4:53 p.m. PST

"Defense of Betio Island" from Intelligence Bulletin, March 1944
The following WWII military report describes Japanese defenses on Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll. The article originally appeared in the March 1944 issue of the U.S. Intelligence Bulletin. Figure 18 at the end of the article shows a comprehensive map of the extensive Japanese defenses on Betio Island. "


Kaoschallenged Inactive Member25 Mar 2013 7:19 p.m. PST

Some good photos here,


Kaoschallenged Inactive Member26 Mar 2013 3:57 p.m. PST

Here is a very interesting photo,


"A rocky outcropping on Iwo Jima carved to look like a tank. Multiple Marine tank crews attempted to claim credit for "knocking it out""

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member27 Mar 2013 7:59 a.m. PST

Now of course does anyone make a miniature of this wink LOL. Robert

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member28 Mar 2013 11:26 p.m. PST

"In the Pacific Theater of Operations, the Japanese also utilized decoys; one recorded instance was during the Battle of Iwo Jima. A "tank" was surrounded by American infantry, which had been under artillery bombardment: they found it was not real, but merely a sculpture carved out of volcanic ash.[6]"

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member17 Apr 2013 9:01 p.m. PST


Japanese Coastal Defenses. 8-cm. naval guns installed in log emplacements
on Makin (above) and Tarawa (below).


Japanese Tank Defenses on Makin. The West Tank Barrier (above);
one of the antitank gun emplacements at teh East Tank Barrier (below).


Kaoschallenged Inactive Member21 Apr 2013 5:30 p.m. PST

Chapter 3 from the Leavenworth Papers number 18, Japan's battle of Okinawa, April to June 1945 is alot of information on Japanese caves and the tactics used to tackle them. Robert


Jemima Fawr Inactive Member21 Apr 2013 11:06 p.m. PST

On a related note, these training pamphlets, published by the British-Indian XIVth Army, detail Japanese methods of fortification in Burma:


Kaoschallenged Inactive Member22 Apr 2013 3:05 p.m. PST

Thanks for that Mark grin. Robert

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member02 May 2013 10:15 p.m. PST

"The Piti Guns or Piti Coastal Defense Guns is the site of three Vickers-type Model 3 140-millimetre (5.5 in) coastal defense guns in the War in the Pacific National Historical Park in Piti, Guam. The Japanese manufactured these Model 3 coastal defense guns in 1914. During the Japanese Occupation of Guam from 1941-1944, they built up defensive positions on the island. The Chamorro population was forced to work in building up these defenses, and did so here at the Piti Guns.

The Piti guns were strategically placed in a village consisting mostly of rice paddies in 1944. This area was chosen to defend the beach at Asan from a possible invasion. These guns have a firing range of close to 10 miles (16 km) and were intended for use against ships and landing craft. When the United States Armed Forces came to retake the island on July 21, 1944 these guns were not fully operational. Consequently, not one of the three coastal defense guns was ever fired. However, these guns are representative of the type of weapons used by the Japanese on Guam for fortification efforts.[1]"



Kaoschallenged Inactive Member03 May 2013 6:53 p.m. PST


Japanese Fortification at Okinawa 12-cm British gun in concrete emplacement.


Japanese Naval Guns Emplaced on Betio.
These 8-inch (200-mm.) guns were part of the fortifications installed on teh island.

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member04 May 2013 12:22 p.m. PST


Japanese Pill Box Saipan / Constructed / 1943


Japanese Pillbox with 120mm gun Iwo Jima

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member06 May 2013 10:44 p.m. PST


LAST POINT OF RESISTANCE in the Oroku Peninsula was Hill 57, shown above in panorama. Below is a close-up of a concrete emplacement (dotted outline in photo above) after it had been blasted open by Marine artillery fire.



Kaoschallenged Inactive Member07 May 2013 12:57 p.m. PST

Dead Japanese soldiers lay scattered around a blasted Japanese pillbox at Tarawa Island in the South Pacific on Nov. 11, 1943

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member10 May 2013 8:01 p.m. PST

TM-E 30-480: Handbook on Japanese Military Forces
Technical Manual, U.S. War Department, October 1, 1944

Chapter VII: Tactics of the Japanese Army

Part II: Application of Tactics

Section IX: Small Island Defense


Kaoschallenged Inactive Member13 May 2013 10:29 p.m. PST


The taking of the Japanese positions in the Buna area (southeastern New Guinea) was a relatively lengthy process. Much of the difficulty was occasioned by the strong field works constructed by the enemy, and by the tenacity with which these works were held. Of interest, therefore, is the following extract from a report made by a U.S. Army engineer.

* * *

The enemy bunkers and dugouts in the Buna area were constructed of coconut-palm logs, dirt, sand, and sand bags, covered with natural camouflage. In some instances, pieces of armor plate were set up. No concrete positions were found. The log-and-dirt bunker construction was done carefully, and strongly. The corner posts were firmly embedded in the ground, and the horizontal logs neatly and strongly attached and interwoven. Several alternating layers of logs and earth were generally used to give full protection against mortars and light artillery. Roofs were thick and were also made of alternating layers, giving excellent protection. Bunkers were connected to systems of radiating fire and communication trenches on both sides. In some instances, underground trenches were used, and the enemy used these to place snipers in our midst even after they had long been driven from the general area. Leaves and grass were well used to camouflage all bunkers; in addition, the bunkers had been planned and built for just this purpose long before the campaign actually started, and the quick jungle growth, sprouting up over the earthworks, gave first-class natural camouflage.

The enemy work was generally neat and strong. One position in Buna Mission, consisting of kitchens, latrines, dugouts, and trenches, was, in consideration of the locale and the terrific bombardment that it had endured, a model of neatness and efficiency.

The enemy dugout positions were well sited and mutually supporting. It was extremely difficult, if not impossible, to bypass any of the positions, each of which had to be reduced in turn.

It would be impossible to overstress the tenacity with which the Japs clung to their prepared positions. Grenades, and ordinary gun and mortar fire were completely ineffective. There were many instances (not isolated ones) where dugouts were grenaded inside, covered with gasoline and burned, and then sealed with dirt and sand--only to yield, 2 or 3 days later, Japs who came out fighting. One souvenir hunter, entering, 4 days after the battle, a dugout that had been sealed, was chased out by a Japanese officer wielding a sword. Some of the instances in which Japs lived on in these positions, through the burning and the detonation, in the filth and gore, when sorely wounded themselves, are almost incredible. "

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member14 May 2013 11:50 a.m. PST


"The following are notes on Japanese defensive tactics encountered by our forces in recent actions in the Solomon Islands:

"Japanese trenches and shelters on the islands attacked by U.S. forces were skillfully emplaced under buildings and hedges. All dirt excavated in constructing shelters had been carried away so that detection of field works was very difficult.

"Telephone lines of galvanized wire were laid between Japanese strongpoints. Our shell fire and bombing had disrupted their communications, No evidence of visual signalling or arm and hand signals was observed. At night the Japanese used whistle signals, but their meaning was not established.

"Japanese weapons noted were rifles, pistols, light machine guns and grenades. Mortar fire was encountered on some islands but not on others.

"The flanks of Japanese positions and weapon emplacements were covered by snipers. Snipers were concealed in the tops of palm trees and were not detected until they opened fire, despite careful observation of tree tops. The Browning automatic rifle proved to be an excellent weapon for dealing with snipers.

"On several occasions, the Japanese were called upon to surrender but ignored the opportunity. Two Japanese were observed to throw down their rifles and run toward our lines with their hands in the air. Our forces ceased fire, but a Japanese machine gun shot down the would-be prisoners before they reached our lines.

"The Japanese made extensive use of natural caves, and replaced casualties at near-by guns from personnel in reserve in the caves.

"When grenades were first tossed into Japanese positions, the Japs threw them back. It was found necessary by our troops to release the firing mechanism and count to three before throwing, in order that grenades would explode before the Japs could throw them back.

"Fighting took place at ranges of 50 to 100 yards.

"The Japanese staged several small local counterattacks of 8 to 10 men led by an officer. The Japanese were nearly invisible but disclosed their positions by holding their rifles, with fixed bayonets, aloft while they assembled.

"The slit trenches employed by the Japanese gave excellent protection from bombing.

"When questioned about the lack of prisoners, a U.S. officer said that apparently a great deal of propaganda had been spread among the Japanese soldiers about the horrible things that would happen to prisoners.

"Naval gunfire and dive-bombing was still going on when the initial wave landed. No fire was received by this first wave, as all the Japanese had taken cover. After cessation of naval gun fire and bombing, the Japanese began firing from dugouts on the island and fire was received from an adjacent island.

"The first wave tossed grenades into the entrance to the dugouts that they passed. Although the grenades exploded within the entrance, it was later found that they were ineffective due to the type of entryway. Enemy troops fired from dugouts on the rear of the first wave and into the second and third waves, aided by snipers in the tops of coconut trees.

"Japanese dugouts were cut back into the hill on the island and were faced on the front and flanks with sand bags and steel plates. A U.S. sergeant sketched one of these dugouts as follows:

[Japanese Dugout]

"The Sergeant stated that the Japanese fired from the entry of the dugout. Each dugout had about eight men in it.

"Fourteen dugouts were seen by the sergeant. He stated they were close to the water's edge and were mutually supporting.

"The Japanese installed no obstacles nor rigged any booby traps.

"One double-barreled light machine gun was captured. It fed alternately right and left from a central clip.

"The Japanese were very adept at concealing themselves. Some hid under their shelter halves and others under fallen palm fronds. One sniper shot down from a tree had coconuts hung around his neck to help conceal him. One sniper in a palm tree had protected himself with armor plate.

"No means of communication between dugouts were seen nor did the sergeant see any control exercised by officers or noncommissioned officers. Soldiers appeared to fight as individuals.

"Japanese marksmanship was characterized as poor and not very dangerous if one kept moving and avoided lying in the open.

"It was emphasized that no flash, smoke or muzzle blast was visible from Japanese weapons and this materially aided the Japanese in remaining concealed.

"The Japanese snipers paid particular attention to picking off officers and noncommissioned officers whose exterior garments carried insignia or markings indicating their rank."

* * * *

Further information on the Solomon Islands campaign and on the tactics and fighting qualities of the Japanese soldier is contained in the following abstract of a personal letter from a Marine officer serving with our forces in the Solomons.

"I want to try and describe some of the characteristics of the Japanese soldier. Some of it may sound like so much hooey but it is an actual fact.

"Individually, he is a good soldier; in fact, an excellent one. They very, very seldom give up but will fight until killed, even after being badly wounded. Of a force of well over 700 that we wiped out, we were only able to take 34 prisoners, and 33 of them were so badly wounded that they couldn't do anything. We asked each one if they had been told that they would be killed if captured and they said "No," but that they expected to be. All insisted that they would never be able to return to Japan, so that probably is the answer.

"The first bunch that hit my right flank at 3 a.m. on the 21st, evidently didn't realize that they were approaching our positions. They were walking right in the edge of the surf and got tangled up in some barbwire that we had salvaged from fences. They started jabbering so our bunch let go with everything they had. They immediately rushed our positions and it was a grand mess for a few minutes. After driving them from our positions they took refuge right in the edge of the surf underneath a 3-foot bank and there they stayed about 50 yards from our line. By that time their main force closed in and tried to advance down the narrow sandspit; naturally, the slaughter was terrific. The rest of the main body had deployed on the east side of the river--about 100 yards from our lines--and a beautiful fire fight continued for many hours. They were well equipped with mortars, 70-mm cannons, flame-throwers, and heavy machine guns.

"There were probably close to 200 that were actually piled up along the narrow sandspit. The ones that were wounded would lie perfectly still but continued to snipe at us all during the day. We had one captain wounded by one even after we had, we thought, cleaned them out thoroughly. As we closed in through the mass of bodies, one man happened to step on a hand and he thought he felt it move so he kicked it. As he did, the Jap jumped up and tried to throw a grenade at a group near but the pin never came out. I actually saw dead Japs with grenades in their hands with the pins pulled. Others that I saw had two or three wounds that had been bound up, but they stayed right there until the end.

"After it was all over, we saw one swimming well out to sea so we sent a boat out to get him. As the boat came alongside he made a dive and never came up. In other words, they kill or get killed. You must give them that credit.

"As you have been told before, they are great on sniping. After our initial landing, and after they had taken to the mountains, they worried us quite a bit, as they would slip in at night (or hide out during the day) and do a lot of firing. For two nights we actually had them running around inside Regimental Headquarters lines. As it was as dark as pitch we couldn't fire and they would outrun our boys. We had one sniper near our galley that would take one shot of a morning and one in the evening. We combed the fields and the coconut trees but we never found him. I am glad to say that he was a damn poor shot and he didn't get anyone before he finally beat it.

"Each Jap carried a camouflage net made of mesh with wood-fiber strands, and it is actually impossible to see them at 50 yards if they lie still with it on.

"The unit that hit us had landed 40 miles down the beach two nights before, so they had hiked and carried all of their heavy equipment that distance in less than 22 hours' hiking time. They hid in the brush during daylight. They had no food except what little each man carried and it was practically nil--I imagine they had eaten what they brought ashore and I can't figure out what they expected to do for more. Maybe they expected to get ours.

"In my opinion it boils down to this. The Japs are excellent individual soldiers but their headwork is very poor. They have gotten away with murder so many times maybe they think that it only takes a small force to lick a big one. Well, they got badly fooled once anyway."

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