Very Rare Antique 1944 Army Landing Craft Launch Commemoration Ship Shaped Tobacco Box
This is a very rare and unique late WW2 item - a launching commemoration tobacco box/ashtray for the army's new landing craft. The whole thing is made out of carved wood done in the shape of a boat. The words on the middle lid are "I-go Launch Commemoration" and then the three vertical lines
"Ship #1: Showa 18th Year (1943) December 12th"
"Ship #2: Showa 19th Year (1944) February 1st"
"Ship #3: Showa 19th Year (1944) February 20th".
The other line of text is "Field Combat Landing Craft Arsenal". This is part of the army's requirement to build new landing crafts to suit their tactical needs - basically, the army didn't have enough crafts that could send supplies to frontlines in the southern theater (basically, islands in the Pacific, the Philippines, etc) so they needed a fast craft that could carry 50 tons of goods at high speed (to evade enemy since the Americans already had air superiority). This was the resulting craft.
The plan was to have every company of transport supply unit to have 4 of these crafts. The three listed here would be the very first batch and were supposedly put into use, although they had trouble getting anywhere and were not really serviceable after only a few months of combat. There's a pretty detailed account of these late war supply ships here (in Japanese).
Any kind of launch ceremony item is going to be quite rare, mostly because it only happens once for every ship. For them to be such a late war item is even rarer. This tobacco box is well loved - someone really used it. The end of the ship is a small ashtray. The middle cavity would be for tobacco. I'm not sure what the little hole at the front is for. Either way, all three have lids and it's a very well done piece. The base of the ship is carved from one piece of wood. The ashtray has a metal lining.
Condition: There's surface damage and wear commensurate with the age of the item. The lid for the ashtray is somewhat damaged on one side
Size: 14" long and about 4" tall at the tallest.