Behold! The War Tuba!

Japanese war tubas

Here is a strange photo of Emperor Hirohito inspecting some impressive “war tubas” in the 1930s. War tubas were a type of “acoustic locator”: for detecting aircraft that pre-dated radar.

Found randomly via “Futility Closet”: Isn’t the internet wonderful late at night?

*ADDENDUM:* Also see “Dutch”:, “Russian”:смотреть-russian-war-tubas/, “British”:, and “Canadian”: war tubas.

About Younghusband

Sir Francis Edward Younghusband (1863-1942) was a British explorer, army officer, military-political officer, and foreign correspondent born in India who led expeditions into Manchuria, Kashgar, and Tibet. He three times tried and failed to scale Mt. Everest and journeyed from China to India, crossing the Gobi desert and the Mustagh Pass (alt. c.19,000 ft/5,791 m) of the Karakoram mountain range in modern day Pakistan. Convinced of Russian designs on British interests in India, Younghusband proactively engaged in the nineteenth century spying and conflict over Central Asia between the British and the Russians known as the Great Game. "Younghusband" is a Canadian who has spent a number of years bouncing back and forth between his home country and Japan. Fluent in Japanese and English with experience in numerous other languages from Spanish to Georgian, Younghusband has travelled throughout Asia. He graduated with an MA from the War Studies Department at the Royal Military College of Canada, where he focussed on the Japanese oil industry and energy security issues. He has recently returned to Canada from Japan, and is working in the technology sector.
This entry was posted in General and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Behold! The War Tuba!

  1. kende says:


    …just wow.

  2. That is some damned fine looking equipment. It manages to be steampunk 80 years before its time, and hence weirdly retro-contemporary instead of antique-looking.

  3. Dan tdaxp says:

    Behold, the power of steam!

  4. Julia says:

    war…. tubas…..

    oh wow

  5. Lin Floyd says:

    It is very difficult for me to believe that this weird rig ever detected anything smaller than a good sized city. I can see this as a weapon against airmen (clobber them with some high volume Bing Crosby) but a detector? Where is the detection equipment? Still, a cool picture!

  6. Steve says:

    These detected airplanes by listening for the sound of their engines. By rotating those tubes, which collected and focused the noise, you could get a direction. Based on the volume and listening for harmonies, you could approximate distance and size of the attacking force.

  7. Pingback: Neanderpundit » Cry Havoc!

  8. Sigivald says:

    To echo what Steve said, it wasn’t just Japan that had such equipment. The US, Britain, and Germany all had them, before the Brits invented RADAR.

  9. lmandin says:

    “Every time I walk past these things I crave a root beer and Mama Burger.”

    - Emperor Hirohito

  10. Dale says:

    technology, at it’s best in it’s own time.

  11. “Let loose the high B flat!!!!”

  12. Billy Bussey says:

    Isn’t that just a very big ear trumpet?

  13. Pingback: War Tubas « KuiperCliff

  14. Pingback: Arthur C Clarke (16-12-1917 - 19-3-2008) : the braincap

  15. Pingback: I Dream Awake » Blog Archive » Another War Tuba

  16. Pingback: » Blog Archive » I say there, war tuba.

  17. Pingback: » Blog Archive » War tubas, eh!

  18. Chuck W says:

    Wow! I’ve seen big tubas, but that is crazy. I wonder what they sounded like.