Original WWII Japanese Army Officer Battle Worn P-1944 Shin-Gunto Katana Sword by YOSHITADA - Dated 1945

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Purchased recently at a large military auction, this is a very nice late war style battle worn Japanese officer Katana, with an arsenal-made blade. It is in the standard 1944 pattern fittings, officially known as the 臨時正式 (Rinji Seikishi) or "Special Contingency" version of the Type 98 Shin-Gunto (九八式軍刀 kyūhachi-shiki guntō) setting.

These fittings, while often called the P-1944, were in fact designed in 1938, but didn't really see much use until 1940. They were designed to be more robust than the regular Type 98 fittings, as well as less expensive and time consuming to produce. However the standard Type 98 fittings continued to be produced concurrently until almost the end of the war.

A Shin-Guntō (新軍刀, new military sword) is a weapon and symbol of rank used by the Imperial Japanese Army between the years of 1935 and 1945. These are not made as carefully or to as high of a standard as the earlier blades, which makes them a very economical way to get into Japanese sword collecting. This is a very nice example, and appears to have seen very little use in combat. It is signed and dated 1945 on the blade tang by the smith who made it, YOSHITADA.

The katana itself measures 37 3/8 inches overall, with a 26 1/4 inch arsenal-made blade. The blade is most likely not traditionally made, as it does not show any lamination lines or grain, and does not have the correct polish for a hand-made blade. It has a standard bright finish to it, with a faux hamon (temper line) visible on the majority of the blade. However, it also has scratches, edge chips, and other wear consistent with use in actual combat. Whether this was during or after the war, we are unfortunately unable to tell. However this gives it a great "battle worn" look that is impossible to duplicate.

One side of the tang bears the Mei, or signature, of the smith it was made by: 義 忠, which is read as YOSHITADA. There is very little information out there on this maker, which looks to only have made late war blades such as this.

The other side of the tang bears the date when the blade was produced, in the standard long form indicating years into the current emperor's reign: 昭 和 二 十 年 二 月. This would be read: SHOWA (current reigning emperor) Ni-Juu Nen (20th year of reign - 1945) Ni-Gatsu (2nd Month - February).

The tang of the blade (nakago) is the typical futsu (普通 normal) shape of the period, with a Naagari (asymmetrical rounded) nakago-jiri (tang tip), with the usual file marks (yasuri-me), which help the tang stay secure in the handle. The two hole tang is also typical of this period's arsenal forged blades.

The blade mountings are the typical Pattern 1944 era Army style, though unfortunately some parts have been lost to time. It still has a round iron copper plated tsuba (cross guard) with no decorations, a brass habaki (blade collar), with a single seppa (spacer) between them. At some point the bottom of the crossguard was peened near the blade to keep it steady, which has made it nearly impossible to remove. This may have been done during wartime if some of the fittings broke or were lost.

The tsuka (handle) has magnetic Imperial Army cherry blossom menuki (grip decoration), and an unadorned black Kabuto-Gane (Pommel Cap). The Tsuka (handle) has faux stingray (Sa-Me) grip panels, covered with complete Ito (cloth binding), which is in excellent condition, but not wrapped traditionally, which is typical on the P1944 Setting. There is a single peg in the handle, but it looks to be a post war replacement, and the lower peg was broken off in the hole.

The scabbard for this katana is in very good condition, with the correct 1944 pattern original brown paint and late war blacked steel fittings. There are a few dents and scratches, and some minor oxidation, but those just add to the lovely patina! The blade tang, the end of the tsuka, and the inside of the scabbard are all marked with western number 228, indicating that these fittings were made for this specific blade, even though some are missing.

A great chance to pick up a real Japanese WWII Shin-Gunto with some great battle wear, ready to display!

Blade Length: 26 1/4"
Blade Style: Katana
Overall length: 37 3/8“
Scabbard Length: 28 1/2"

It has been over one thousand years ago that the art of making swords appeared in Japan. The swordsmiths of the time may not have known it but they were creating a legendary sword. The Samurai sword has seen combat in many battlefields. From the early days of the Samurai warrior to the fierce battles in the South Pacific during WWII.

Each hand-made Samurai sword is unique because it is forged from steel stock. A tremendous amount of work is dedicated to creating these pieces. They were an instrument of war as much as a beautiful artifact to adorn a room.

The Samurai sword has grown to be one of the most highly desired military antiques.

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