Type 5 15 cm AA Gun

The Type 5 15 cm AA Gun was a large caliber anti-aircraft gun developed by the Imperial Japanese Army during the final days of World War II. The Type 5 number was designated for the year the gun was accepted, 2605 in the Japanese imperial year calendar, or 1945 in the Gregorian calendar. It was intended to replace the earlier Type 3 12 cm AA Gun as a defense against American air raids.

Country Name Origin Year
Japan 1943
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Japan 1943 1945 View

In order to address the shortcomings of the Type 88 75 mm AA Gun, the Army Technical Bureau developed a larger version with superior range, designated the Type 3. It was one of the few weapons in the Japanese inventory capable of reaching the USAAF B-29 Superfortress bombers that were attacking cities and other targets in the Japanese home islands. However, by late 1943 it became apparent that the B-29 was capable of flying at altitudes in excess of 10,000 meters, beyond the effective ceiling of the Type 3 12 cm gun.

An emergency project was initiated in December 1943 to address this issue. To save time, the existing Type 3 design was scaled up to 15 centimeters in caliber, with a corresponding increase in range and firepower. The project was completed relatively quickly, with test guns ready for firing 17 months after the project starting. However by this point it was already too late — all major Japanese cities had been destroyed by the strategic bombing campaign against Japan, and American bombers were moving onto secondary targets. Japan lacked the raw materials and industrial infrastructure to follow through with mass production. Only two units of the powerful new Type 5 were completed before the surrender of Japan. One unit each was produced by the Army’s Osaka Arsenal and by Japan Steel Works.

Coming into service at the end of the war, the two Type 5s completed were retained on the home islands as part of the bolstering of Japan's defenses against Allied air raids and against the perceived threat of Allied invasion. These two guns were deployed to Kugayama, Suginami ward in the outskirts of Tokyo. In a single engagement on 1 August 1945 they brought down two B-29 Superfortress bombers. American bombing raids, however, avoided Kugayama after the incident and as a result the guns had no subsequent chance to fire.

Type Anti-aircraft gun
Place of origin  Empire of Japan
Service history
In service 1943–1945
Used by  Imperial Japanese Army
Wars World War II
Production history
Designed December 1943
Produced May 1945
Number built 2
Weight 9.2 tons (gun only)
Barrel length 9 m (29 ft 6 in) L/60
Caliber 149.1 mm (5.87 in)
Barrels single
Elevation 8 to +85 degrees
Traverse 360 Degrees
Rate of fire 10 rpm
Muzzle velocity 930 m/s (3,100 ft/s)
Effective firing range 13.9 km (8.6 mi) against a target at 12 km (7.5 mi).
Effective ceiling: 16,000 m (52,000 ft)
Maximum firing range 14.8 km (9.2 mi) against a target at 8 km (5.0 mi).
Maximum ceiling: 19,000 m (62,000 ft)

End notes