Showa 20.7 Type 14 Photos (A)
I got this Showa 20.7 (July, 1945) dated Type 14 as part of a six-gun deal in March, 2005. Pistols produced in 20.7 and 20.8 (July and August, 1945) are known as “last-ditch” guns because Japanese industry had been disabled to the point that it could no longer produce all the parts needed. With the possibility of an American invasion looming, the Toriimatsu factory of Nagoya Arsenal, the only maker of Type 14s at the time, therefore began to assemble guns using previously rejected parts, parts stripped from damaged guns and parts that had been shipped to it the previous year when the Kokubunji factory of Chuo Kogyo ended Type 14 production. Like most such guns this one appears unissued. It had no grips until shortly before I bought it. The previous owner then fitted a pair of very nice Toriimatsu 24-groove grips. The factory had not been fitting those grips since October of the previous year, so they are a bit of an anomaly. Most last-ditch guns that have grips are fitted with 17-groove leftovers from Kokubunji.
Here is the left side. Last-ditch guns are fairly scarce. Some collectors specialize in them and actually delight in their crudity and makeshift assembly.
Here are the markings on the right side of the frame. The first symbol means Nagoya Arsenal. The second symbol, the “square in a circle”, is the katakana phonetic symbol ro. It is the indicator of the Second Series (after 99,999 they attached a phonetic symbol like this in front of the serial number each time they started in on another series of 99,999). The date 20.7 below translates to July, 1945. The character in front of the date is Sho, short for Showa, the name for Emperor Hirohito’s reign. Normally there would be a small character stamped as a final inspection mark to the right of the last digit in the date. However, since the whole inspection process had broken down by that time, most last-ditch guns do not have final inspection marks. The serial number is the lowest known for the month. By coincidence, my other 20.7 has the highest known serial number that is in sequence.
A common feature among last-ditch pistols is that the heat treating of the area of the frame around the aperture for the locking block is plainly visible. On earlier pistols they made sure the discolouration was not visible by touching up the finnish, but there was no time for that by July, 1945. This shot shows the left side; the same thing is somewhat less clearly visible on the right side in the photo above with the serial number and date.
Most of the rest of this section consists of very detailed photos of the inspection marks and serial numbers on the parts. For true afficionados of last-ditch guns, such details are the object of careful study. The grip frame has the usual M inspection markings: left front.
There is also this katakana ri marking on the left side of the frame just below the hole for the magazine latch (from the ri in Toriimatsu).
The sight picture is the standard square cut one found on late guns. Earlier guns had undercut rear sights (wider at the bottom than the top), and some of these older frames that had earlier been rejected were recycled and found their way into last-ditch guns.
The rear sight bridge is also the standard shorter one found on late guns. Earlier guns had a slightly longer bridge.
This shot shows the bottom of the frame. Note that the sear bar (L-shaped piece on left side of photo) is bent in to make contact with the shoulder of the trigger sear. The top of this photo shows the bottom of the magazine safety block and magazine safety block plunger.
Normally all major parts would carry the last three digits of a gun’s serial number plus inspection marks of the factory where they were made. The number on the barrel of this gun (061) does not match; very few parts on last-ditch guns match. The other symbols are inspection marks. The one in the middle of the depression towards the top of the photo is the katakana ri, as in ToRIimatsu, the name of the place where the factory was located. Further to the right, just inside the edge of the depression, is an M, which was an interim inspection mark.
This is a top view of the front sight…
…and here is a side view.
Here is the top rear part of the bolt. It actually has no number at all. The number should be on the top of the bolt at the back, just before the threads (i.e. on the flat area just below the threads in the photo).
The bolt is blued and has the
inspection mark of the Kokubunji factory on the top behind the extractor. This
is the kanji To (as in
The cocking knob has the serial number 464 but no inspection mark. It is obviously from Toriimatsu, though, since only they made the knurled (rather than grooved) knobs.
The safety lever is Toriimatsu and has a matching serial number rather haphazardly applied.
The locking block should also be blued on a Toriimatsu gun, but this one is unfinished (bare metal).
The reason is that this one is from the Kokubunji factory—note the same To inspection mark just below the tail in the photo. The same mark is very weakly struck on the other side, but this part has no serial number.
The trigger guard has the serial number 003 and is marked Toriimatsu as shown in the next photo.
The strange thing is, the trigger itself has the number 004 on the right side at the top. The same side also has a Toriimatsu ri mark.
The flat on the trigger guard that fits into the slot on the frame also has this ri inspection mark from Toriimatsu.
The striker is the early, long type, unnumbered. It seems to have been salvaged from a used gun based on the corrosion on it.
Oddly, it seems to have a trace of a Toriimatsu inspection mark.
The striker spring guide (also called a firing pin extension) is the shorter type and bears the Kokubunji inspection mark To, here shown on its side (top to the left). The other side has a very clearly struck katakana to in a circle, which was another Kokubunji inspection mark.
The magazine latch is also unblued metal with straw colouring from heat treatment and has the Kokubunji inspection mark To (right side of photo). On the other side there is also a trace of a very poorly struck katakana to in a circle. It is unnumbered.
The magazine safety block has a Toriimatsu katakana ri on the front face, but I didn’t take it out to check the number. I hate trying to get this part back in since the plunger is under spring pressure and has a tendency to shoot off into parts unknown.
The magazine is mismatched, bearing the sloppily applied number 021 and the Toriimatsu ri inspection mark.
It also seems to have been salvaged. Note the crack in the right side of the mouth above the slot the follower button slides in.
One of the two pins at the bottom is also missing. (Note: these pins are peened in and should only be removed as a last resort when the magazine needs repair.)
The grip numbers don’t match the gun, but as noted above these grips were not on the gun when it left the factory. The grip screws were with the gun. They are coarse threaded, but the holes appear to be fine threaded. As a result, the screws are badly stripped.
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Last updated: June 20, 2005. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.