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  #31  
Old 12-30-2012, 08:09 AM
dragoon500ly dragoon500ly is offline
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Default The Handguns, Part Two, Chapter Twenty-Five

When the United States entered World War One, it found itself with an inadequate supply of the M-1911 pistol. While other firms were tooling up to produce the weapon, other sources of handguns were needed to help alleviate the critical shortage.

While Colt was ramping up production of the M1911, as well as machine guns, the company already possessed the necessary tooling and fixtures to manufacture its large double-action revolver, the New Service. This was the same basic revolver adopted by the Army as the Model of 1909 and chambered for the .45 Long Colt cartridge. The Ordnance Department requested that Colt produce this revolver, as a limited standard, but to chamber it for the .45 ACP round. Since the ACP round is rimless, it was necessary to devise a method of loading this round into a revolver’s chambers and allow for its extraction. The solution was a simple sheet-metal stamped half-moon shape that held three rounds. The modified revolver was adopted as the Colt Model of 1917 and some 150,000 were built between October of 1917 and December of 1918.

The firm of Smith & Wesson also had the capacity to build a version of its large frame revolver, chambered for the .45 ACP round. Smith & Wesson produced 153,000 copies during WWII. This was adopted as the Smith & Wesson Model of 1917.

While the M-1911 was the preferred issue, the M1917 revolvers proved themselves to be powerful and reliable revolvers. Due to the shortages of the M1911, many M1917s found themselves used in the trenches.

After the war, the M1917 revolvers were retired into the war reserve stockpile. Official records show a total of 188,120 were still available by December 7, 1941.

With the outbreak of WWII, the M1917s were pulled out of storage and refurbished. The M1917s did not see much frontline service, there were adequate numbers of the M1911A1 available, and the revolvers were mostly reserved for stateside duties or for personnel such as the Military Police. The use of these obsolescent, but still serviceable handguns allowed for more M1911s to be shipped to the combat theaters. Still, some 20,993 revolvers did make it into the hands of combat units.

The M-1917s were issued with the Model of 1909 leather holster, which had a large leather flap that fastened to the body of the holster. The holster was a cavalry pattern (butt forward). The M1909 was modified in 1941 and reissued as the M-2 holster, the holster was redesigned slightly to allow it be worn on the hip in either butt forward or butt to the rear configuration. A canvas webbing pouch that held three sets of half-moon clips was also issued. This pouch had three pockets, each holding one set.

The official use of the M-1917 revolvers ended in May of 1945, when the Ordnance Department ordered that no more would be repaired or refurbished. It was decided to declare the M1917 as Obsolete and disposed of to reduce any further need for repair parts. The Army’s Provost Marshal General’s office requested and obtained permission to stockpile a small number of M1917s for use by Military Police units. This stockpile was latter eliminated after the Korean War.
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:45 AM
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Default Rifles, Chapter Twenty-Six, Part One

The rifle was the basic weapon for most of the U.S. Army of World War Two. Indeed, the term “Rifleman” was virtually synonymous with “Infantryman” during the war.

The U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, Model of 1903

Known to several generations of soldiers as the “Springfield 03” or more simply as the “03” this is one of the most famous U.S. military rifles of all time. It was adopted just after the turn of the century in response to problems with the Spanish-American War issue .30-40 Krag-Jorgenson rifle. This was the standard U.S. issue from 1903 until its replacement by the M-1 Garand in 1936.

As originally issued, the M1903 had an unusual integral sliding rod bayonet instead of the normal knife-bayonet. It was also chambered for the Model of 1903 cartridge (the .30-03) which had a round nosed bullet. After a short period of service, it was noted that both the rod bayonet and the M1903 cartridge had several deficiencies. In 1905, the rod bayonet was replaced by the Model of 1905 Knife-Bayonet. In 1906, the original M1903 cartridge was replaced by the improved Model of 1906, featuring a pointed (spitzer) bullet. This became the famous .30-06 cartridge and was the standard cartridge of U.S. military rifles and machine guns for the next fifty years.

The M1903 was built at the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts with the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois gearing up for production shortly thereafter. Between 1903 and 1936, total production was 1,900,000 with a further 1,415,593 being built between 1940-1045.

Besides its wide-spread use in World War One, most people are not aware of the role that the Springfield played in World War Two. Most of the USMC’s early campaigns were fought with the M1903. The Army used the M1903 throughout the Philippines campaign prior to its surrender. The Springfield was also used during the North African and Sicily campaigns as well as in Italy and France. During World War Two, the ‘03 was generally utilized due to a shortage of the M-1. Even when other weapons were available, the ‘03 remained the weapon of choice for many troops due to its reliability and greater inherent accuracy. Not only did the ‘03 serve in frontline fighting on all fronts, it was widely used as a training rifle.

A large number of M-1903 rifles were fitted with grenade launchers and remained in the hands of frontline troops long after other ‘03s were replaced by M-1s (due to the issues with the development of a grenade launcher for the M-1).

The M-1903 rifle and its numerous variants were declared as Limited Standard in November of 1944. This meant that the weapons currently in service would remain for use as needed, but no new procurement would be undertaken.

The original M-1903 remained in production from 1903 to 1914 and resumed in 1917 to 1936.. With the outbreak of World War Two, the decision was made to resume mass production of the ‘03. Machine tooling from the Rock Island Arsenal were transported to the Remington plant and production resumed in 1940. This was the Remington M-1903 Rifle.

As the demand for rifles increased, Remington began to run into problems with the worn-out equipment provided by Rock Island Arsenal. Remington engineers working with the Ordnance Department proposed several time-cutting changes, modifications to the stock and eliminating non-essential parts. This rifle entered production in 1941 and was designated the U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, M-1903 (Modified).

While the changed to the modified ‘03 did result in faster production, further changes were needed, mainly this was the replacement of the M1905 rear sight with a simple stamped metal adjustable rear sight that would attach to the rifle’s receiver, rather than the rear of the barrel. This sight saved production time and was actually a better battle sight than the original. In May of 1942, this became the U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, Model of 1903A3. In addition to the replacement of the rear sight, a longer hand guard (covering the former rear sight, the M1903A3 introduced many stamped metal components. The fit and finish of these war production rifles were a far cry from the high standards of the pre-WWII ‘03s, but they were still serviceable, with strong actions. The M-1903A3 was also built by the L.C. Smith & Corona Typewriter Company in February of 1942.

Early in WWII, the Army was faced with a serious shortage of sniper rifles. While the development of a sniper version of the M-1 was underway, the Ordnance Department directed Remington to design a variant of the M1903A3 into a sniper rifle configuration. With slight modifications to the receive, the U.S. Rifle Caliber .30, M-1903A4 (Sniper’s) was born. This was a M1903A3 with no front or rear sights and fitted with a Weaver 330C telescope (later designed by the Army as the M73B1) and a Redfield “Junior” scope mount. The Redfield sight was attached to the receiver ring and the existing rear sight base and the bolt handle was modified to clear the sight.

The M-1903A4 proved to be somewhat of a disappointment as a sniping rifle. The primary cause was the use of commercial components not designed for the rigors of combat. The Weaver telescope was found to be too delicate for service use and the lack of iron sights prevented the rifle from being used as a normal rifle if the telescope was damaged. Some 28,365 were produced Nevertheless, the M-1903A4 served throughout the war.

Two additional versions of the M1903A4 were produced especially for use by the USMC, they differed only in the type of scope fitted. The M-1903A5 was fitted with a Winchester A5 scope and dated from the First World War. They were considered to be serviceable sniping rifles. The M-1903A1 fitted with the Unertl Sniper Scope entered service in WWII, replacing the M1903A5 and serving the USMC well after the Korean War. Neither version saw any service with the Army (although you can see the M1903A1/Unertl scope in “Saving Private Ryan”).
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  #33  
Old 01-06-2013, 07:11 PM
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Default The Rifles, Part Two, Chapter Twenty-six

The U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, Model of 1917

During World War One, the U.S. was faced with a serious shortage of rifles. Fortunately, there was a source of slightly obsolete but thoroughly serviceable rifles available to the government. These were the
U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, Model of 1917, more commonly known as the Enfield or the U.S. Enfield.

The M1917 was a slight modification of a British design that was being manufactured in the U.S. under contract for the British Army. Known as the Pattern 1914, this caliber .303 weapon was produced by the firms of Winchester, Remington and Eddystone. The U.S. entered WWI when these firms were completing their contracts with the British government. Since the Springfield Armory and the Rock Island Arsenal were unable to meet the demand for rifles, even with greatly expanded production schedules, it was decided to utilize the factories and trained work forces that had successfully manufactured the P14 rifle to produce a version chambered for the standard American .30-06 cartridge. Thus the M1917 was born and some 2,422,529 were built in between 1917 and 1919. By the time of the Armistice, the majority of the soldiers and marines in the American Expeditionary Force were armed with the M1917.

The M1917 was a reliable and satisfactory rifle. It was a bit longer and bulkier than the M1903, and its sights were capable of windage adjustments. But for battlefield purposes, its sights were actually superior to those of the M1903. The Enfield was equal or superior to any of the rifles used by our allies or adversaries and compared very well to the ‘03 as a combat rifle.

With the end of World War One, there was some thought to standardizing the M1917 as the replacement for the M1903. However, for several reasons, including the ‘03s superiority as a match rifle, it was decided to retain the M1093 and retire the M1917 to the war reserve stockpile. When England became involved in the Second World War and faced the threat of German invasion, weapons were desperately needed to arm the hastily formed Home Guard units. Thousands of American weapons, including large numbers of M1917 rifles, were sent under the Lend-Lease Program. In addition to the shipments to England, M1917s were shipped to China. The Chinese military made extensive use of the Enfields.

The U.S. M1917 rifles were issued to a large number of the British Home Guard units and had a red band painted around the upper part of the sore grip to indicate that the weapon used the .30-06 and not the British .303 round.

War Department records also indicate that thousands of M1917s were shipped to the Philippines during the late 1930s. In 1939, the War Department declared the M1917 as Limited Standard which meant that no more would be produced and it would be issued if weapons classified as Standard were not available.

After Pearl Harbor, the U.S. military rapidly increased its rush to rearm. In order to free up M1903s and M1s for the frontline troops, the M1917s were pulled from the reserve stockpiles, sent to a limited refurbishing and issued as training rifles. Some M1917s saw service overseas in the North Africa campaign and with service troops in the Italian campaign.

The M1917 rifle was declared as Obsolete on October 3, 1945 and soon afterwards, the remaining U.S. inventory was sold off under the auspices of the Department of Civilian Marksmanship were the M1917 enjoyed a new life as a hunting and sporting rifle throughout the 1950s and 60s.
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  #34  
Old 01-07-2013, 08:27 AM
dragoon500ly dragoon500ly is offline
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Default The Rifles, Part Three, Chapter Twenty-Six

The U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, M-1

The U.S. service rifle most closely associated with World War Two is the M-1 Garand (named after its inventor, John C. Garand). The M-1 was the end product of development and experimentation conducted during the 1920s and 30s at the Springfield Armory. The rifle went through several design changes during this period. This included a change from primer to gas operation and the substitution of the standard .30-06 cartridge for the .276 caliber round originally conceived for use with the weapon. On January 9, 1936, the M-1 was adopted as the new service rifle.

The first production M1s came off the production line in late 1937 and limited numbers were manufactured for the next couple of years. The original M-1 utilized a gas system which trapped the escaping gas at the end of the muzzle which, in turn operated the mechanism.

In early 1940 this system was changed to a port drilled to bleed off the necessary gas. This increased the rifle’s reliability and made for a better combat weapon. This improved gas system was used on all M-1s from early 1940 until the end of production in 1957. The early M-1s saw combat service in the Philippines in 1942. While these early weapons were never recalled, as they were returned to the depots for refurbishment over the years they were converted to the new system.

Prior to Pearl Harbor, even though the U.S. was in the process of building up its military arsenal, thousands of M-1s were sent to Great Britain under the Lend-Lease Program.

During World War Two, the M-1 was manufactured by the Springfield Armory and later the civilian firm of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, total production of the M-1s by Winchester totaled some 513,880 M-1s before its contract ended in 1945. By the end of the war, total M-1 production came to 4,028,375 rifles.

While the M-1 was a superb battlefield weapon, many pre-war veterans were skeptical of the rifle when it was first introduced. Semiautomatic military rifles were somewhat of a novelty in the late 30s and early 40s and the M1s reliability and accuracy were often questioned. The M1 also had its share of developmental problems that had to be corrected. The Johnson rifle came onto the scene at about the same time that the M-1 was experiencing its early problems. Many people were convinced that the Johnson was superior to the Garand and subsequent events led to a Congressional investigation that was clearly and firmly decided in favor of the M-1.

The U.S. was the only nation involved in World War Two that issued a semiautomatic rifle in any appreciable numbers. This gave the American soldier a distinct advantage in many combat encounters. The firepower and reliability of the Garand saved many of our soldier’s lives and took a greater toll of our enemy than would have been the case if our infantrymen had been armed with the typical bolt action rifle. Other nations used some semiautomatic rifles very sparingly, but these did not have any significant impact. The Soviet Tokarev and the German G41 and G43 were not in the same league as the M-1 and saw only limited use during the war.

While the M-1 had an outstanding record of service, it was not without its faults. Some issues, such as the “Seventh Round Stoppage” and the adoption of the improved gas system were taken care of before the Garand’s widespread issue. Other problems took longer to solve, if they were solved at all. The rifle’s en bloc clip-loading system came in for its share of criticism; as quoted from “The Book of the Garand by Julian S. Hatcher”;

“The clip, as it is now designed, is a waster of ammunition. When one, two or three rounds have been fired, the user naturally wants to replenish his magazine so that he will have the full eight rounds ready for the next target, or perhaps for a Banzai charge. But after one or more shots have been fired, it is so difficult to reload that the remaining four, five or six rounds are invariably fired at once, and a fresh clip is inserted. Such excessive firing wastes ammunition, and discloses positions, especially at night. The Garand clip-loading system should be replaced by a magazine similar to tone on the BAR or the carbine.”

One of the design features of the Johnson rifle that found favor with its supporters was its rotary magazine, which could be easily and quickly topped off. The M-1’s successor, the M-14, was equipped with a detachable box magazine.

Another frequently lodged complaint against the M1 was its weight of almost 10 pounds, a full pound and a half more than the M1903. Soldiers having to carry the rifle on training marches or in non-combatant roles, frequently complained about its weight. On the other hand, soldiers using the M-1 in combat situations rarely complained about how much the rifle weighed. Actually, the rifle’s weight was not excessive for a full power service rifle and actually helped to dampen the weapon’s recoil.

One problem that was never totally solved was the Garand’s tendency to freeze under certain conditions of prolonged exposure to rain. A special lubricant was developed and issued that assisted in reducing this problem. Small containers of the grease would be carried in the rifle’s butt trap. When applied to the camming surfaces of the bolt, the problem was lessened.

Another problem was the finish on the gas cylinder. Since this item was made from stainless steel, it could not be blued or parker zed and a paint-like coating was applied. This did not prove to be very durable and it quickly wore off under adverse conditions and exposed the shiny gas cylinder, something that was less than desirable in a combat rifle. The formulation of the coating was improved which helped a great deal, although the problem was never totally eliminated.

The original rear sight of the M1 wound not hold its adjustment very well. By late 1942, a locking bar (which could be tightened after adjustment) was adopted. Right before the end of World War Two, a improved rear sight was standardized, which eliminated the needed for the locking bar.

All of the above criticisms have merit, but there are some that frankly, leave one wondering about the so-called experience of its maker. For example, some people complained about the so-called “M1 Thumb”. This occurs when the user presses down on the follower to release the bolt and does not remove his thumb in time and the bolt slams forward on the helpless digit. This is the result of carelessness or ignorance and is a suitable punishment for someone playing around with a weapon when not properly trained. Another ridiculous rap against the M1 was the alleged defect of the distinctive pinging noise caused by the ejection of the M1’s empty clip after the last round has been fired. It has been suggested that American soldiers were killed because this noise signaled their enemy that the weapon was empty and the <insert nationality of the enemy> would then be able to charge across open ground and kill the helpless GI before he could reload. Whoever dreamed up this idiotic scenario obviously didn’t know the first thing about combat! The typical battlefield was a deafening place and it would be all but impossible for anyone even a few yards away to hear the ejection of the clip. Even if someone did hear, an experienced M1 could reload his weapon within 2-4 seconds. Finally, isolated duels between two enemies were, at the very least, rare. Even if the soldier with the empty rifle couldn’t reload in time, there were fellow GIs all too willing to do in the enemy.

Numerous changes occurred during the M-1’s WWII production run. Some of these improved the weapon’s performance, while others were designed to either speed up production or reduce costs.

Even with the faults outlined above, the M-1 was undoubtedly the best general issue rifle of World War Two and its performance in that conflict speaks for itself.

M-1 Sniper Rifles

It was always intended to field a sniper version of the M-1, but its clip loading system effectively ruled out a conventional telescope and mount. As an interim weapon, the M1903A4 was adopted with off the self commercial scopes and mounts. There were two sniper versions of the M-1 that saw service.

The M-1C entered service in June of 1944 and some 8,000 were produced by the end of the war. Only a handful of M-1Cs saw combat service in WWII, mostly in the Pacific Theater of Operations. It was fitted with a commercial telescope and mount manufactured by the Griffin & Howe company. This was an offset that allowed the clip to load and eject and could be quickly removed without effecting the zero of the scope.

The M-1D did not enter service until the Korean War, although prototypes were built in 1945. This used a different design of mount than the M-1C.
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  #35  
Old 01-09-2013, 08:29 AM
dragoon500ly dragoon500ly is offline
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Default The Rifles, Part Four, Chapter Twenty-Six

The Model of 1941 Johnson Rifle was the only semiautomatic rifle other than the M-1 Garand to be fielded by the United States during World War Two. Unlike the M-1, the Johnson was procured in extremely limited numbers and saw only a modicum of combat use. The Johnson rifle was the brainchild of Melvin M. Johnson, a Marine Corps Lieutenant who was assigned as an observer at Springfield Arsenal during the development work on the Garand and its chief competitor, the Penderson. Johnson was charged with evaluating both weapons and his final report concluded that each rifle had inherent design flaws and neither could be mass-produced.

In 1935, Johnson began work on a semiautomatic rifle design of his own, which he believed would be an improvement over both the Garand and Penderson rifles. He initially started with a retarded blowback mechanism, but soon settled on a recoil-operated mechanism. While widely used in shotguns and low-powered rifle designs, a recoil operated mechanism was a bit of a novelty for a military rifle. Johnson’s original prototype was a strange combination if miscellaneous parts that included the barrel of a M1903 rifle, a hammer from a Browning shotgun and a firing pin fashioned from a knitting needle.

In spite of its crude components, Johnson’s recoil operated rifle showed promise and a more refinanced prototype was built. This rifle was extensively tested and validated Johnson’s basic design. A light machine gun was also developed based on the same recoil operated mechanism.

By late 1937, Johnson was working in conjunction with the Marlin Firearms Company and had further refined the design. Marlin built four rifles to be used for formal governmental testing. Not much is known about these four rifles except that they were recoil operated and used a vertical feed magazine. After further design refinements, Johnson gave an informal demonstration at Fort Benning in June of 1938. This successful demonstration convinced the Army to schedule a comprehensive Ordnance Department test of the design at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in August 1938.

The Aberdeen tests compared the Johnson rifle with the newly adopted Garand. The results were generally favorable to the Johnson design, but several weak areas were pointed out. Johnson immediately began work on the changes that included the substitution of a rotary magazine instead of the vertical feed type; a bolt with eight locking lugs to improve strength and accuracy and a barrel that could be easily removed. The firm of Taft-Pierce Company manufactured seven military-style rifles as well as a number of Johnson rifles in sporting configuration. These finely finished rifles featured a detachable box magazine rather than the rotary type, however, sales were quite low due to the unusual design and the extremely high price.

The Ordnance Department tested the improved Johnson rifle in December of 1939. Over 6,000 rounds were fired through one of the test rifles with only 12 stoppages. This extensive testing revealed that the design had some excellent features and functioned satisfactory. However, some short comings were noted, these included concerns about the strength of the magazine body, the overall length of the receiver and the fact that the rifle would not function reliably with a bayonet attached. The Ordnance Department released its report on the testing on February 23, 1940 and it concluded that the Johnson rifle was not materially superior to the M-1 Garand and that no additional consideration be given to the rifle. The report stated that “…in spite of its alleged mechanical and manufacturing advantages, it did not warrant further consideration as a replacement for the M-1 rifle.”

Such a negative conclusion would have permanently closed the door on Johnson’s goal of having his rifle adopted by the United States. However, as fate would have it, at exactly the same time that the Johnson was being tested, the new M-1 was coming under a great deal of scrutiny and criticism. While the M1 had its share of teething problems during the early production that took some time to be ironed out. These early problems were brought to light when 200 M-1s were supplied to the participants at the 1939 National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio. The experienced shooters who fired the Garand quickly became aware of the problems. When the Ordnance Department representatives were questioned about them, they became uncooperative and claimed that the shooters did not know how to properly handle the rifle. Needless to say, this did not go down well with the shooters and, from the a public relations standpoint, the Ordnance Department dropped the pooch. When staff members of the National Rifle Association were refused a request to examine and test some M-1s, it was felt by many that the Army must be hiding something about its new rifle. Articles critical of the M-1 begin to appear in “American Rifleman” and other media sources. At the same time, the “American Rifleman” published several articles that cast the Johnson rifle in a very favorable light.

The Garand-Johnson Controversy reached its peak in early 1940. A Congressional committee threatened to halt funding for continued production of the M-1 unless it could be clearly shown that the weapon was satisfactory for military use. A shoot-off between the Garand and Johnson rifles was held on May 5, 1940, which was attended by a number of high ranking officials, including senators and military officers. This final test revealed that both rifles were satisfactory for military use. The Senate Appropriations Committee decided that there was no real difference between the two rifles and as the Garand was already in production, there was no need to start production of a second service rifle.

A further nail in the Johnson rifle’s coffin was a USMC trail in late 1940 where the Johnson, the Garand and a design by Winchester were tested against a control M1903. The Marines concluded that none of the semiautomatics were sufficiently superior to the ‘03 to warrant adoption. The Johnson placed second behind the Garand.

In spite of his rifle being rejected by the Marines, Johnson redoubled his efforts to interest other nations in his rifle In spite of its rejection by the Army and the Marines, the Johnson did possess some excellent design features:

1) A rotary magazine that could be loaded with the bolt closed and could be easily topped off by either single rounds or by means of the M1903’s stripper clip.

2) The barrel was easily removable, thus making the rifle very attractive for airborne operations.

3) The Johnson demonstrated excellent accuracy and strength due to the bolt’s eight locking lugs.

4) The straight line stock allowed for better control when firing since the recoil force was in a straight line, a feature later adopted by later designs.

5) The Johnson was designed to be manufactured on general production tooling in small to medium machine shops.

By early 1941, Johnson had completed further refinements to his rifle and he named the latest version the Model of 1941 Rifle. He marketed his design to several foreign governments before finally achieving a order of 70,000 rifles by the Netherlands government in late 1941. The Dutch needed these rifles to arm their troops defending the Netherlands East Indies (Java and Sumatra). The only modification that the Dutch requested was that the rear sight be graduated in meters rather than in yards.

Johnson did not possess any manufacturing equipment so he entered into an agreement with the Universal Windings Corporation. This joint venture was based in Cranston Rhode Island and incorporated as the Cranston Arms Company.

The M1941s started coming off the production lines in the summer of 1941 and were shipped to the Dutch as soon as sufficient quantities were on hand. Unfortunately, by the time that the East Indies were overrun in early 1942, only a few thousand rifles had been shipped. Roughly half of the ordered had been shipped from the factory, but not yet delivered. The Dutch government in exile stored those rifles that had been delivered in an overseas location, were they were stored until 1953 and then sold to Winfield Arms.

By this time, the United States had entered World War Two and all branches of the armed services were clamoring for modern military rifles. The USMC had changed its mind about adopting the M-1 Garand, but current production had already been allotted t the Army. The Marine Corps Equipment Board decided to purchase the Johnson rifle for issue to the newly formed First Parachute Battalion. The Para-Marines and their Johnson rifles did see action in the Solomon Islands. Overall, the Marines considered the Johnson to be a delicate weapon and it was withdrawn from service as soon as adequate numbers of M-1s were available. In addition to its use by the Marines, the Johnson was also issued to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). All told only a couple of thousand of the 70,000 Johnson rifles made during the war were used by the U.S. military. Another 1,000 rifles were re-chambered in 7mm and sold to the Chilean Navy and the Israelis made a small number ( some 2,000) of Johnson rifles for their own use.
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Old 01-09-2013, 12:07 PM
Graebarde Graebarde is offline
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A very informative thread and much appreciated. It's interesting to note that the ones who use the tools in combat are usually not the ones that make all the claims it's not good or some such: ie pistols, the long bayonets, and weights of the weapons. Funny how combat changes one's thinking eh?
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Old 01-09-2013, 05:51 PM
dragoon500ly dragoon500ly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Graebarde View Post
A very informative thread and much appreciated. It's interesting to note that the ones who use the tools in combat are usually not the ones that make all the claims it's not good or some such: ie pistols, the long bayonets, and weights of the weapons. Funny how combat changes one's thinking eh?
Hmmmm, hang around the VFW and listen to the old timers debating the merits of the '03, M1 and the M14, just be prepared to duck when you mention the Mighty Mattel!!

Front line troops do tend to get a "mite" attached to their rifle!
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:42 AM
dragoon500ly dragoon500ly is offline
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Default The Carbine, Chapter Twenty-Seven

Only one U.S. military weapon rivaled the M-1 Garand in numbers produced and widespread use during World War Two. That weapon was the M-1 Carbine. It had originally been conceived and adopted as a new class of weaponry, the light rifle, and eventually was manufactured in greater numbers than any other American military firearm, including the M-1 Garand.

The carbine began its development soon after the end of the First World War when the concept of a light rifle had been explored. Wartime experience had shown that the weight and power of a full-bore military rifle was not always necessary in some combat applications. Development in the inter-war years, however, proceeded at a snail’s pace.

The success of the German Blitzkrieg in 1939-40 and its use of rapidly moving mechanized columns and vertical envelopment by airborne troops had made it apparent that the old ideas of fixed fortifications and static battle lines were outmoded. Under the doctrines of war, rear echelon troops that were essentially non-combatants could, in theory, become engaged by hostile forces at any moment. Clearly, weapons (other than the traditional pistol) were needed to arm these personnel. At the same time, it was recognized that arming these solders with service rifles, submachine guns or automatic rifles, heavy and bulky weapons, would hinder the performance of their assigned duties.

The light rifle design was re-evaluated. In addition to arming the rear echelon troops, a satisfactory light rifle could also be issued to such personnel as officers, Signal Corps troops, and crew-served weapons teams, giving them a more useful weapon than a pistol. It was also felt that a satisfactory design would not only take the place of the pistol, but would also serve as a replacement for the submachine gun.

In June of 1940, the War Department issued broad specifications to civilian and Ordnance Department designers. The new carbine was to weigh no more than five pounds, be capable of semi or full automatic fire and have an effective range of 300 yards. The War Department also required that the weapon be chambered for a new .30-caliber rimless round based on the Winchester .32-caliber Self Loading Cartridge. After several rounds of testing, on September 29, 1940, the Winchester design was declared the winner. The Ordnance Department chose to call the new weapon the Carbine, Caliber .30, M-1, the new carbine was a semiautomatic design that used a 15-round detachable box magazine.

As Winchester began to gear up for production, the War Department realized that demand for the new weapon would soon outpace Winchester’s production capacity. In order to pave the way for other companies to manufacturing carbines, the manufacturing rights were purchased for the sum of $868,000.

General Motor’s Inland Manufacturing Division was granted a contract for production on November 24, 1941. The first M-1s were delivered in August 1941 with Winchester’s first delivers occurring in October of 1941. With the entry of the U.S. into World War Two, the already high demand for the carbine increased dramatically and it was soon apparent that very large numbers of the carbine would be needed.

The War Department organized the Carbine Industry Integration Committee to coordinate production. So successful was the committee’s work that by mid-1945, 6,221,220 M-1 carbines were manufactured.

All told 10 firms were granted carbine production, only one of which was unable to successfully complete its contract. The firms involved in production represented a cross section of American industry:

(1) Winchester Repeating Firearms Company, New Haven, Connecticut. A total of 828,059 carbines were built, some 13.5% of the total production.

(2) Inland Manufacturing Division of General Motors, Dayton, Ohio. A total of 2,632,097 were built, representing some 43% of total production.

(3) Underwood-Elliot-Fisher, Hartford, Connecticut. They built a total of 545, 616 carbines, some 8.9%.

(4) Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation, Chicago, Illinois. They produced some 3.7% or 228,500 carbines.

(5) Quality Hardware Machinery Corporation, Chicago, Illinois. They produced some 359,666 carbines, 5.9% of the total.

(6) National Postal Meter, Rochester, New York. A total of 413,017 were built, some 6.8% of the total.

(7) Irwin-Pederson Arms Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. The only contractor unable to complete their deliveries, delivering only some 1,000 M-1s, less than 0.01% of the total.

(8) Standard Products, Port Clinton, Ohio. Representing roughly 4% of the total, this company built 247,100 carbines.

(9) International Business Machines, Poughkeepsie, New York. IBM turned out 5.7%, 346,500 carbines.

(10) Saginaw Steering Gear Division of General Motors, Saginaw and Grand Rapids, Michigan. They took over the Irwin-Pederson contract and built some 517,212 carbines, about 8.5% of the total.

So how good was the M-1 Carbine? No less a personage than the legendary Lieutenant Colonel Lewis “Chesty” Puller stated…”I considered it to be an excellent combat weapon and can see no need for retaining submachine guns and pistols in combat units if they were armed with M-1 rifles and M-1 Carbines.”

The carbine was considered to a light, handy, powerful, and reasonably accurate weapon. In certain situations it was considered to be a superior weapon than the M-1 rifle.

It seems that among World War Two veterans, even those who used the weapon in actual combat situations, there was little middle ground regarding their opinion; they either loved it or hated it.

While the carbine’s critics certainly had legitimate complaints regarding its relative lack of power, range and accuracy; it should be pointed out that Carbine was never intended to replace the rifle. It was always intended to replace the pistol, and in that role, it was a superlative weapon.

The only variants of the M-1 Carbine was the M-1A1, a folding stock variant intended for use by airborne troops. Some 140,591 were built during World War II by the Inland Manufacturing Division of General Motors. It was used in virtually every U.S. airborne operation of the war.

During the war, several issues were identified. The initial rear sight was a simple L-type flip sight that were set for 150 and 300 yards, it had no windage adjustment. This was replaced in 1943 with an adjustable rear sight. The push button magazine release was often mistaken for the safety, this was replaced by a rotary safety. There was no provision for mounting a bayonet. A wider front band assembly was designed and the M-4 Bayonet-Knife was adopted, but this was not issued until 1944-45.

In 1945, a selective fire version of the M-1 was designed. The Carbine, Caliber .30, M-2 featured the bayonet lug and a new 30-round magazine, but was not available in time to see combat. The M-2 saw service in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

The final version of the M-1 Carbine was the T3 Carbine which limited service in the Pacific in 1945. This featured a modified receiver fitted with an infrared night vision scope.
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Old 01-12-2013, 06:24 PM
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Default Combat Shotguns, Chapter Twenty-Eight

Not all of the combat weapons employed during World War Two were made in such large quantities like the M-1 Rifle and the M-1 Carbine. Another much less known, but equally interesting weapon is the combat shotgun. The role of the shotgun in WWII is not widely known, for instance, many veterans of the ETO seldom encountered shotguns, while veterans of the Pacific were well aware of the shotgun’s role in the war and its value in many combat situations.

The American use of shotguns in a military application is as old as the history of the United States. During the Revolutionary War, multiple buck and ball loads were commonly used in the smooth-bore muskets of the day. Shotguns were used in the Seminole Wars, and the War with Mexico. During the Civil War, the double-barrel shotgun was widely used by both sides. During the Indian Wars, many troopers carried their trusted shotguns into battle.

While many shotguns found their way into combat, they were never officially adopted and all were privately procured. This was the situation when the United States became entangled in the Philippines after the Spanish-American War of 1898. The standard issue Krag rifle and the .38 Colt revolver were found to be lacking in stopping power. The shotgun was seen as an ideal weapon and the government purchased a quantity of the new Winchester Model 1897 repeating slide action shotgun, which immediately proved their value.

When the United States entered World War One, the Army found itself fighting a bloody, stalemated trench war. The War Department determined that a specialized weapon was necessary for the fighting and a combat version of the shotgun was developed that was capable of mounting a bayonet.

The Winchester Model 1897 shotgun was selected as the basis for the new weapon. It was modified by the addition of a ventilated metal hand guard and a bayonet adapter that was capable of being used with the M1917 Enfield bayonet. The new weapons was then adopted as the Trench Gun, Model of 1917.

Winchester delivered 20,000 trench guns to the Army during the First World War. Several thousand more were purchased from sporting good wholesalers and converted at government arsenals. To supplement the Winchester contract, the government also purchased Remington Model 10 shotguns.

The German reaction against the trench gun was very strong. The German government announced that the use of the shotgun was banned under the rules of international warfare and threatened to execute any American captured with such a weapon, or even the ammunition, in his possession. The American government quickly responded with a firm promise of very strong and swift retaliation, and the matter was dropped with the exception of some propaganda outbursts.

In addition to the trench guns, the government also acquired riot guns for the issue of prison camp guards as well as long barrel shotguns, used to train aircrew in trap shooting (and teaching the fundamentals of leading a target).

In the inter-war years, the trench guns continued to provide service in the various “Banana Wars“, China and other hot spots around the world.

In 1940, a survey of the shotguns in the U.S. arsenal showed only 21,187 shotguns on hand, many of these were the long-barreled shotguns used for training airmen. Most of the trench guns were quite well worn and replacements were needed. Since Remington had stopped production of the Model 10 several years earlier, only the Winchester Model 97 was available in any appreciable numbers.

On August 7, 1941, the Ordnance Department ordered the following shotguns as standardized for combat and training: Winchester Model 97; Winchester Model 12; Ithaca Model 37; Remington Model 31A and the Savage M620. The Army specified that the shotguns were to have 20-inch barrels and be fitted with ventilated hand guards and a bayonet attachment. In addition to the new production trench guns, a variety of riot guns were ordered, again for MP and prison guard use.

During the Second World War, the standard 12-gauge shotgun sun was made of cardboard. These suffered from moisture problems which caused the cardboard to swell and not chamber in the shotguns. In late 1944, the decision was made to order all-brass shotgun shells, but these did not arrive in the PTO until the end of the war.
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Old 01-12-2013, 11:51 PM
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It seems that among World War Two veterans, even those who used the weapon in actual combat situations, there was little middle ground regarding their opinion; they either loved it or hated it.
I've heard that, too. Does anyone have any similar info on the M2 carbine? I never heard much about that one, and it seemed like a neat weapon to me, sort of a proto-assault rifle. The v2.2 stats aren't too bad. I think if I had a Merc character, I'd see about arming with one.
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Old 01-13-2013, 09:12 AM
dragoon500ly dragoon500ly is offline
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I've heard that, too. Does anyone have any similar info on the M2 carbine? I never heard much about that one, and it seemed like a neat weapon to me, sort of a proto-assault rifle. The v2.2 stats aren't too bad. I think if I had a Merc character, I'd see about arming with one.
The M-2 really earned its reputation in the Korean War, both the CCA and the NKPA used large numbers of Soviet SMGs and in short range fights, were able to overwhelm the Garand. The M-2 had the advantage of a more powerful cartridge and greater range than the SMGs. It is estimated that by the middle of the Korean War, roughly half of U.S. infantrymen were carrying M-2s.

During the Vietnam War it was widely issued to the SVNA, who preferred over the Garand, the light-built SVN soldiers were better able to handle its recoil than a full-fledged .30-06.
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Old 01-13-2013, 07:19 PM
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The M-2 really earned its reputation in the Korean War, both the CCA and the NKPA used large numbers of Soviet SMGs and in short range fights, were able to overwhelm the Garand. The M-2 had the advantage of a more powerful cartridge and greater range than the SMGs. It is estimated that by the middle of the Korean War, roughly half of U.S. infantrymen were carrying M-2s.

During the Vietnam War it was widely issued to the SVNA, who preferred over the Garand, the light-built SVN soldiers were better able to handle its recoil than a full-fledged .30-06.
I knew it was used in Korea and early in the VN War, but it hasn't seemed "famous" to me from there, so to speak.

At least until the AR-15/M-16 came along, it seems. I can't recall right now, was the M-2 at all considered as a competitor to the Stoner designs when they came along? Seems to me it was dropped PDQ rom the US arsenal when the M-14 came along?

FWIW, I now remember the M-2 was one of the weapons in the arsenal of my brother's 12" GIJoe back in the '70s, I can remember the bigger magazine. Mine had a white-stock M-1 Garand.
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Old 01-13-2013, 10:18 PM
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This is an interesting site with this page specifically dealing with the M1 carbine and variants in service: http://www.rt66.com/~korteng/SmallArms/m1carbin.htm
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Old 01-19-2013, 09:01 AM
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Default The Submachine Guns, Part 1, Chapter Twenty-Nine

Of all the weapons of World War Two, the most iconic is the legendary Thompson submachine gun. The brainchild of a distinguished Ordnance Department officer, who retired in 1915, John Taliaferro Thompson was also a key player in the development of two other legendary American weapons, the M-1903 Springfield rifle and the M-1911 pistol. He was recalled to active duty in 1917 and named as Director of Arsenals and charged with supervising small arms production. The results of Thompson’s work was very impressive and he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. He was released from active duty in December of 1918.

After his retirement, Thompson remained interested in the development of improved military weaponry. He designed a semiautomatic rifle that was ultimately passed over in favor of the M-1 Garand.

Thompson was also very interested in the concept of a “trench broom” (as he called it), which would be ideal for close-quarter combat. He recognized that the .45 ACP cartridge (which he had been instrumental in having adopted in 1911) would be ideal for such a weapon.

While working on his semiautomatic rifle design, Thompson had become enamored with a locking mechanism developed by a U.S. Navy officer, John B. Blish. The Blish principle utilized a sliding wedge as a locking device. Thompson chose to adopt the Blish locking mechanism for his trench broom gun, which he eventually renamed a submachine gun.

With Thompson’s reputation, it was not difficult for him to obtain financial backing for his new gun. He was able to assemble a talented team of designers and began to work in earnest. In 1919, the new firm of Auto-Ordnance was at the fore-front in the development of a American submachine gun.

The prototype weapon was tested by the government on April 27,1920; the Springfield Armory ran the weapon through a variety of tests, most impressive was a string of 2,000 rounds being fired, with only one stoppage. The Army test was quickly followed by a Marine test with equally impressive results. The new weapon was given a public showing at the National Matches in August of 1920 and impressed the crowed to no end.

The new weapon was given the designation “Thompson Submachine Gun, Model of 1921”. While the Army and the Marines tested the weapon, the weapon was not adopted due to budgetary reasons. Auto-Ordnance demonstrated the weapon to several foreign governments, who were all impressed by the weapon, but orders were not forthcoming. The company then switched to commercial sales, where it had better luck, although sales were never very high. The Thompson eventually gained a reputation as a gangster weapon due to its widely publicized use in the hands of the notorious criminals of the era. Sales to law enforcement agencies increased as many municipalities, as well as the FBI, who felt obliged to obtain Thompsons so as not to be outgunned by the crooks.

The Marine Corps also obtained several hundred M1921s for use in Nicaragua, where the weapon proved quite valuable in jungle fighting. A number of Thompsons were also obtained for the use of Marines guarding the mail during a rash of armed robberies. The Navy also obtained M1921s and issued them for use on some of its vessels, particularly the Yangtze River gunboats patrolling Chinese waters.

In 1928, the Navy decided to official adopt the Thompson, but asked for several modifications. The Navy wanted a lower rate of fire than the M1921
(600rpm vs. 800rpm), a horizontal foregrip replacing the vertical handgrip and a Cutts compensator. This feature had been available by special order since 1926. It helped to hold down the muzzle during firing by deflecting the muzzle blast upwards. With these changes, the “U.S. Navy, Model of 1928” was adopted. An order for 500 was placed with Auto-Ordnance which, with the previous 340 M1921s were sufficient for Navy and Marine needs for the current time.

By the late 1920s, the Army was in the process of acquiring mechanized vehicles such as tanks and scout cars to reequip the Cavalry. It was recognized that the Thompson would be ideal for use in such vehicles and in March of 1932, the Army standardized the weapon as “Non-Essential Limited Procurement”. In September of 1938, the Thompson was changed from Limited Procurement to Standard and received the designation of Submachine Gun, Caliber .45, Model of 1928A1.”

The M1921, M1928 and M1928A1 all used either 20-round box magazines or a 50-round drum magazine. A very heavy and cumbersome 100-round drum magazine was available as a commercial product, but none were ever procured by the government.

In June of 1939, the Army placed an order for 950 Thompsons, Auto-Ordnance licensed this contract to the Savage Arms Company while they purchased a old brake-lining factory in Bridgeport, Connecticut and renovated it as a arms making facility, in anticipation of increased orders. By late 1940, the demand for Thompsons had skyrocketed. In 1940 alone, the Army placed orders for 20,405 additional M1928A1s and in early 1941, orders topped 319,000 weapons. Many of these initial weapons were intended for Lend-Lease as the Army was slow to purchase Thompsons for their own use, since it was felt that the new M-1 Carbine would replace the submachine gun. After Pearl Harbor, however, it was decided that both weapons were needed and by February 1942, some 500,000 M1928A1 Thompsons had been produced.

The Thompson submachine gun had acquired the nickname “Tommy Gun” early in its life and the name stuck with the weapon. Auto-Ordnance recognized the value of the name and soon patented it. Thompsons were referred to as Tommy Guns both in and out of military service and the term is almost generic for all submachine guns.

The Thompson had the great advantage of being the only submachine gun in mass production in any of the allied nations during the early days of World War Two. It quickly earned a reputation was a reliable, hard-hitting weapon; but faced with an ever-increasing demand, Auto-Ordnance searched for ways to simplify the Thompson and increase its rate of production. The first candidate for redesign was the finely made, fully-adjustable Lyman rear sight. This required a great deal of machining time was quite expensive. Realistically, the sight was superfluous and overly complicated for use on a short-ranged weapon. In December of 1941, it was replaced by a simple stamped sheet metal peep sight that was not capable of adjustment. This change speeded up production and reduced the cost of the weapon, but did not materially effect the usefulness of the Thompson.

Another feature that was changed was the deletion of the barrel cooling fins. These were finely finished on the commercial Thompsons but as military production continued, the fins were first squared-off and then eliminated altogether. Again, this had little impact on the gun’s performance further reduced the cost and speeded up production.

Another shortcut was the elimination of the checking on the safety and fire selectors levers. These were replaced by simple stick-type levers. While not as easy to manipulate as the early levers, once again, it eliminated machining time and further reduced costs.

The M1928A1 Thompson was manufactured in greater numbers than any other variant with some 562,511 being produced between 1940 and 1943. Of these, some 300,000 were supplied to allied nations via Lend-Lease.

Even with these modifications, the basic mechanism remained unchanged from the M1921. In order to make a significant impact on manufacturing time and cost, all aspects of the weapon had to be re-evaluated. The Savage engineering team proposed a radical redesign that centered around the elimination of the Blish locking device. The Blish lock had always been considered to be of dubious value and required a great deal of manufacturing time. Savage proposed a simple straight blowback system that worked quite well in tests. In spite of initial resistance by Auto-Ordnance, the advantages of the blowback design were to great to overlook and a prototype was tested in early 1942. The new design functioned every bit as well as the M1928A1 and had the advantages of being cheaper and taking less manufacturing time. The Submachine Gun, Caliber .45, M-1 was adopted in April of 1942.

The M-1 had several changes: it a straight blowback design. The cocking handle was moved from the top of the receiver to the right side. The Cutts Compensator was eliminated. The removable buttstock of the M1928A1 was replaced by a permanently attached stock. The ability to use the 50-round drum was eliminated, only box magazines could be used.

The M-1 Thompson was placed into production as soon as the M1928A1 contracts ended. It was produced in the lowest numbers of any of the variants, with some 285,480 being made from early 1942 to early 1943.

The M-1 Thompson was further simplified by the substitution of a fixed firing pin on the face of the bolt rather than the separate hammer used with the M1928 and M1 models. This was adopted as the Submachine Gun, Caliber .45, M-1A1 in October of 1942. A major change was the introduction of stamped metal guard “ears” on either side the of stamped rear sight to protect it from damage.

Almost twice as many M-1A1s were produced with some 539,,142 being built by the time production stopped in 1944. In addition, a number of M-1s were converted into M-1A1s at ordnance depots and arsenals.

The elimination of all of these features had no real impact on the performance of the Thompson. Likewise the fact that the simplified Thompsons could not use the 50-round drum magazine had no real impact. In spite of its capacity, the drum magazine was considered to be awkward, heavy and prone to rattle, all undesirable traits in a combat weapon. In order to compensate for the loss of the drum’s firepower, a 30-round box magazine was issued and this could be used with all models of the Thompson.

The Thompson was a reliable weapon, able to function surprisingly well even when quite dirty. At close range, the .45 ACP round was a proven man-stopper and the rapid rate of fire, which could make control difficult, could place a lot of lead on target when necessary.

In spite of its overall good reputation, there were a number of problems. At 10 pounds, the Thompson was heavier than the M-1 Garand. Its pistol-caliber round resulted in a short effective range. But perhaps the most serious drawback was its lack of penetrating power. The .45 ACP round simply would not penetrate trees, roots and the sides of dugouts to anywhere near the degree that the .30-06 round could, this was vital in jungle warfare.

Just how good was the Thompson? Even though the Thompson was replaced by the M-3 and M-3A1 submachine guns following World War II, many soldiers carried it throughout the Korean War as well as the Vietnam War. Sixty years after the end of World War Two, many veterans consider the Thompson as one of the best weapons of the war. As one GI stated “My Thompson never let me down, it saved my life more than once.” No better praise can be given to any military weapon.
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Old 01-20-2013, 08:05 AM
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Default Submachine guns, Part 2, Ch Twenty-Nine

In February of 1941, even while plans were underway to increase production of the Thompson submachine gun, the Ordnance Department began a search for a new submachine gun. Twenty foreign and domestic designs were tested at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds. Surprisingly, the highest rated foreign submachine gun was the British Sten. Indeed, the Sten scored higher than the Thompson in such areas as simplicity, accuracy, weight and reliability. In addition, the Sten also had the very large advantage of being cheaper and faster to produce than the Thompson.

The highest rated domestic design was submitted by George J. Hyde. The Hyde gun was not as easy to produce as the Sten but required markedly less production time and cost than the Thompson. Since the Hyde gun showed some promise, the Ordnance Department negotiated a contract with General Motor’s Inland Manufacturing Division to work with Hyde in refining the design. After several prototypes were completed, in April of 1942, the Hyde gun was adopted as the “U.S. Submachine Gun, Caliber .45, M-2” and was given the designation of Substitute Standard. Since GM was heavily involved in production of the M-1 carbine, the firm could not start production of the M-2. In July of 1942, a contract was awarded to the Marlin Firearms Company. However, due to a combination of problems including difficulties in acquiring the necessary raw materials and some inherent design bugs, the M-2 never made it into production and the project was scrapped in early 1943.
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:03 PM
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Default Submachine Guns, Part 3, Chapter 29

When it became apparent that the M-2 design would not work out, the Ordnance Department began a search for a replacement design. After extensive study of the British Sten, the Ordnance Department announced a program in October of 1942 for “an all-metal gun, fabricated as far as possible from stamped parts to permit speed and economy of production and to require a minimum of machine operations and use little or no critical metals…A full automatic weapon with a low cyclic rate.”

George Hyde submitted a totally different design that met all of the above parameters. The new gun would be lighter and more compact than the Thompson and would be constructed of chiefly of stamped metal, thus overcoming the raw materials problem encountered with the ill-fated M-2. The new gun could be made for $20.00, a fraction of the cost of even the simplified M-1/M-1A1 Thompson, and it required less manufacturing time. The new design was even more reliable than the Sten. Since it was an unusual and crude appearing weapon, especially when compared to the Thompson, the gun managed to offend the sensibilities of traditional-minded military personal. With this in mind, the Ordnance Department stated the obvious when it summed up the gun’s test report “…in modern warfare, there are other criteria than mere appearance.”

The new submachine gun was formally adopted on December 24, 1942 as the “Submachine Gun, Caliber .45, M-3”, only two months after the initial design was submitted. General Motor’s Guide Lamp Division, which had extensive experience in metal stamping fabrication, was selected to manufacture the new submachine gun and production was underway by the summer of 1943.

The M-3 had a number of excellent features in addition to its ease of manufacture. The low cyclical rate of 400rpm made the gun easier to control. The weapon’s straight line of recoil also aided in controlling the weapon in automatic fire. A ejection port cover helped keep out a great deal of dirt and mud and the gun’s general loose tolerances allowed for operation, even when the weapon was dirty. All in all, the M-3 was more reliable than the Thompson under adverse conditions.

The new weapon was only issued with a 30-round box magazine. The M-3 was only capable of automatic fire; however, with its slow rate of fire, an experienced user could squeeze off single shots without much trouble.

In the latter part of 1943, the M-3 began to be issued to the troops, its reception was not enthusiastic. The gun looked peculiar when compared to traditional and well-machined weapons, such as the Thompson. The M-3 earned many nicknames, but the most common one was the “grease gun”, given the weapon’s uncanny similarity to the mechanic’s lubricating tool of the day. The M-3 was produced in fairly large numbers with some 605,664 being built between 1943-1945. All were made by Guide Lamp.

In spite of the M3’s good traits, there were a number of problems. It had poor balance which made it awkward to an inexperienced user. The magazine proved to temperamental and was not as reliable as the Thompson’s magazine. In February of 1944, changes were made to correct several issues. These included a reinforced rear sight, a strengthened magazine catch, a higher grade of metal for the locking lever and a redesigned bolt retracting lever.

While these changes helped, in April of 1944, a program was initiated to design additional modifications aimed at further increasing the weapon’s utility and ease of manufacture, these included:
1) The ejection port was enlarged.
2) Since the retracting handle had proven to be troublesome, it was eliminated and a finger hole added to the bolt which allowed the bolt to be pulled back to the cocked position.
3) Disassembly grooves were added to the barrel to assist in removal.
4) The cover spring was made stronger.
5) The wire buttstock was redesigned to allow it to be used as a barrel removal wrench and as a magazine filler.
6) The grip contained an oil can with a larger capacity.
7) A guard was added to the magazine release catch to prevent accidental release of the magazine.

The changes were significant enough to require a designation change. The newly modified weapon was adopted in December of 1944 as the “Submachine Gun, Caliber .45, M-3A1.” and was classified as Standard. The M-3 was reclassified as Limited Standard in April of 1945. Few M-3A2s were produced during World War Two, with only some 15,469 being built by 1945.

When the M-3 was first issued, the GI viewpoint of the weapon was negative. But as the soldiers gained combat experience with it, their viewpoint changed. The M-3 proved to be at least as reliable as a Thompson and had the advantage of being lighter and more accurate when fired. With the end of World War Two, the Thompson was withdrawn from service, while the M-3 soldiered on well into the 1990s…not a bad record for weapon that hasn’t been manufactured for over 40 years!
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Old 01-23-2013, 07:40 PM
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Default Automatic Rifles, Ch 30

World War One was the first conflict in which automatic weapons played a major role. The heavy toll that machine guns had on both sides forces a revision in tactical thinking and improved weaponry to counter this new threat.

While the unwieldy, crew-served heavy machine guns of the day were brutally effective in fixed, defensive positions, there was also a need for an automatic support weapon that was light enough to be carried and operated by one man. Such a weapon would dramatically increase the firepower of an infantry squad. So desperate was the need for such a weapon that engineers on both sides labored to come up with suitable designs.

When the U.S. entered the war, so severe was the lack of modern weapons that the U.S. Army had to adopt many French designs. One of these was the French “Fusil Mitrailleur Modele 1915”, more widely known as the Chauchat. This automatic rifle was used extensively by both the French and Americans and while it filled the role of an automatic rifle, it was a poorly designed, and even more poorly constructed weapon that earned one of the worst reputations of any military weapon of the 20th Century.

Clearly, a better designed weapon was sorely needed.

Legendary gun inventor John Moses Browning stepped up to the task. He had conceived a automatic rifle design several years prior to World War One, but he had not fully developed the concept into a working model. With the U.S. entry into the war, Browning resumed work on his automatic rifle and he had a hand-built prototype ready less than a month after the U.S. declaration of war. In May, 1917, the War Department created a board to test several automatic rifle designs. Browning’s design was the clear winner, and it was adopted and rushed into series production. While Colt had developed the design, so back logged were they that the could produce the rifle. In World War One, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company and the Marlin-Rockwell Corporation were the prime contractors for the new automatic rifle.

Adopted as the “Browning Machine Rifle, Model of 1918”, the new rifle entered production in December of 1917. Soon after it entered service it was soon widely known as the Browning Automatic Rifle or even more simply, as the BAR.

The M1918 BAR was a beautifully crafted weapon with a massive receiver machined from a solid steel bar. It was finished in commercial grade blue and had a good quality walnut stock. It was capable of both semi- and fully-automatic operation and it could fire at the rate of 500 rounds per minute. It weighed only 16 pounds, it was chambered for the powerful .30-06 cartridge and used a 20-round box magazine.

The initial “role” for the BAR was to deliver “marching fire” to keep enemy soldiers suppressed as our infantry advanced across No Man’s Land. BARs saw their first combat action in July of 1918 and it gained immediate popularity with the Doughboys. As soon as the British and French saw the new weapon, Washington was deluged with requests for the BAR to be sold to the allies. These requests were denied until our troops had been fully equipped. Sufficient numbers (43,368) of the BAR did not become available until November of 1918.

After World War One, the BAR was adopted as the armed forces standard automatic rifle where it served around the globe in the various hot spots of the inter-war years; where it cemented its already formidable reputation. In 1922, the Army developed a lightweight version as the Model of 1922, intended for use by the cavalry. Only a few hundred were ever built and the M1922 was removed from service before several years before the Second World War.

In June of 1937, the M-1918A1 entered service, this was a modification of the basic M-1918. These consisted of a folding bipod along with a hinged butt plate to assist in keeping the weapon on the shoulder when fired. The M1918A1 was capable of selective fire like the M1918. The weight was increased to 18.5 pounds. No M1918A1 BARs were manufactured, being converted from existing stocks of the M1918, the exact numbers modified are unknown but is believed to not have very large.

The final mass produced version of the BAR was the M-1918A2 which was adopted in 1940. It was similar to the existing M1918/M1918A1 with the following modifications;
1) A folding bipod, adjustable for height with skid-type feet was mounted on a new flash hider. The M1918 did not have a bipod, while the M1918A1 had spiked feet and was mounted on the gas cylinder.
2) A removable monopod butt rest was added when first adopted, although this feature was soon dropped from use.
3) The M1917 Enfield sight used on the M1918/M1918A1 was replaced by a new sight, very similar to that used on the M-1919A4 machine gun.
4) The fore-end was cut down in height in order to expose more of the barrel surface as an aid in cooling and to help prevent charring of the wood in sustained fire.
5) Guide ribs were added in front of the magazine well to assist with the insertion of magazines
6) A folding butt plate assembly similar to the M1918A1 was utilized.
7) The M1918A2 was not selective fire, with the adoption of the M-1 Garand, it was no longer felt that the semi-automatic feature was needed. It was replaced with a selector that allowed a slow rate of fire (300-450rpm) and a high rate of fire (500-650rpm).

These improvements raised the weight of the M1918A2 to 20 pounds.

The first M1918A2s were modified from M1918 BARs, a total of 181,380 M1918s (virtually the entire World War One and inter-war production) were converted by 1943. So great was the need for the M1918A2, that International Business Machines (OBM) and New England Small Arms were awarded contracts. During the period 1941-1945, some 208,380 M1918A2s were delivered to the government.

With the pressure of increased demand, the Ordnance Department soon was seeking means to speed up production. Lower grades of steel and other manufacturing shortcuts were tried out. The original fore-end was replaced with a shorter one. The monopod butt rest was dropped. A plastic buttstock was substituted for the walnut stock. Later in the war, a carrying handle was mounted on the barrel to assist in carrying the BAR. But as soon as the BAR reached the hands of the troops, and the troops entered combat, many of these features soon found themselves “damaged in combat” or “combat-lost” as the troops stripped the BAR back into its original 1918 version.

Originally, the TO&E for an infantry squad called for one BAR to provide the squad with automatic fire support. As the war progressed, many infantry squads obtained additional BARs by every possible means. By the end of the war, there were reports of squads with as many as 4-5 BARs.

The popularity of the BAR was due to several reasons. The main reason was that the .30-06 round has superior power and penetrating ability than the .45 caliber round of the submachine gun. The BAR combined firepower with reasonable portability and good accuracy. It complemented the M-1 Garand.

The BAR was not a perfect weapon. It did not have a quick-change barrel, which led to problems with overheating in the sustained fire role. Its 20 pound weight was hated. The limited capacity of the 20-round magazine was disliked, but its placement under the receiver prevented a larger capacity magazine from being used.

The Ordnance Department was well aware of the BARs shortcomings and there were several attempts to design a replacement. One of the first was a plan to produce the British Bren light machine gun in the
.30-06 caliber, testing did not reveal a sufficient improvement to warrant the replacement of the BAR. The second was a plan to produce the German MG-42 in .30-06. While being several pounds heavier than the BAR, the MG-42 had many desirable qualities, utilizing a belt-feed and featuring a quick-change barrel. It is a little known fact that during World War Two, the Saginaw Steering Gear Division of General Motors actually hand-built two prototypes of the MG-42, chambered in .30-06. Both weapons were tested but were unsatisfactory and the project was dropped. It was later discovered that the project engineers had not allowed for the difference in the sizes of the German 7.92mm round and the American .30-caliber. In any event, many features of the MG-42 were utilized on the BAR’s successor. The M-60 machine gun.

The M1918A2 BAR soldered on throughout World War Two and into the Korean War. It was retained in U.S. service until 1957 and the weapon saw service during the Vietnam War. The Browning Automatic Rifle’s reputation as a classic American combat weapon is secure.
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  #48  
Old 02-03-2013, 08:37 AM
dragoon500ly dragoon500ly is offline
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Default Automatic Rifles, Chapter Thirty

The only other weapon similar to the BAR that was fielded in World War Two by the U.S. Army was the Model of 1941 Johnson Light Machine Gun. In spite of its name, the design was technically classified as an automatic rifle. Invented by Melvin M. Johnson ,designer of the Model of 1941 Johnson Rifle. Like the rifle, the Johnson Light Machine Gun shared many similarities, it was even produced by the same firm---Cranston Arms Company.

Like the Johnson Rifle, the Johnson LMG utilized the same short-recoil operation and the receivers and other features were vary similar. The LMG was capable of semiautomatic operation as well as full automatic (rate of fire could be varied from 300-900 rpm). In order to decrease muzzle rise, the gun was designed to have a straight line recoil thrust that necessitated a high front sight. The rear sight was capable of fine adjustments and could be folded down when not in use. A bipod was fitted that could also be folded back when necessary.

In addition to its novel recoil operated mechanism, the M1941 LMG had several innovative and useful design features. It weighed (without magazine) only 12.3 pounds. The weapon fed from a 20-round detachable box magazine that was inserted into the left side of the receiver. Additional rounds could be added from the right side of the receiver, either by single rounds or via the five-round ‘03 stripper clip, without removing the magazine. This enabled several rounds to be inserted while keeping the balance of the magazine in reserve. Another valuable feature was the fact that the feed lips that guided the cartridges into the chamber were an integral part of the receiver. Since the feed lips were machined from solid metal, they were not subject to deformation and subsequent misfeeding as were other conventional detachable box magazines.

Another interesting feature was its ability to fire in the semiautomatic mode from a closed bolt and in the fully automatic mode from an open bolt. This gave the advantage of increased accuracy when firing semiautomatic but allowed the cooling effects of open bolt operation to prevent “cook offs” from an overheated chamber when firing full automatic.

Like the M1941 Rifle, the M1941 LMG’s barrel could be quickly and easily removed. This eliminated one of the BAR’s major liabilities of a permanently attached barrel. With the M1941, extra barrels could be carried, which allowed the weapon to have a greatly increased sustained fire capability when compared to the BAR.

Like the M1941 Rifle, orders of the LMG were mostly placed by the Netherlands government, but, as the case with the Johnston Rifle, few were delivered prior to the capture of the Dutch East Indies. The balance of the order was embargoed in order to keep them out of the hands of the Japanese.

The Ordnance Department tested five M1941 LMGs in August of 1942, but no recommendations for their adoption was forthcoming. Since the Marines were unable to get sufficient BARs for their use, conducted a series of tests of the M1941 LMG which led to the procurement of a number that were issued to the Para-Marines and Raiders. Following this, the Marine TO&E of 1942, called for 87 Johnson Light Machine Guns to be issued. By most accounts, the M1941 LMG was generally popular with the Marines who used them.

In addition to its use with the USMC, the Johnson LMG was also issued to the Army’s First Special Service Force. The FSSF had airborne operations as part of its training and the Johnson LMG attracted attention due to its ability to be dissembled into a small package (it has been reported that the FSSF was able to trade a quantity of the new RS explosive compound to the USMC in exchange for 147 M1941 LMGs).

The FSSF is the only Army unit known to have used the Johnson LMG, although it has been reported (without any written confirmation) that the Army Ranger battalions may have also used the weapon. By all reports, the M1941 LMG was well liked by its users.

During the Second World War, some 10,000 M1941 Johnson LMGs were manufactured, all by the Cranston Arms Company, with only a few hundred ever being issued to Army and Marine units.

In spite of its popularity with many of its users, not everyone was enamored with the Johnson LMG. Among the many issues was the lack of a suitable means to carry the Johnson’s 20-round curved magazine. Since the Johnson was a non-standard weapon, such accoutrements as magazine belts were not procured. In addition the side mounted magazine’s tendency to unbalance the weapon by placing more weight on the left side. The high front sight also came in for criticism due to its snagging on vines and undergrowth when moving through the jungle.

There was no formal evaluation of the durability of the Johnson LMG during World War II. But there are reports that the LMG was a bit too fragile and delicate for extended military use. The long unsupported barrel and some internal components were not durable enough for the rigors of combat. There were also reports of the weapon jamming during extended periods of firing.

An improved version of the M1941 LMG was designed to eliminate some of the defects of these defects. The improved weapon was tested at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in December of 1943 and it was revealed that functioning was “generally very satisfactory under normal conditions, but unsatisfactory under adverse conditions of mud, cold and dust…”

Further development led to the M1944 Johnson LMG which was thoroughly tested by the Marine Corps Equipment Board, who recommended it for adoption as a replacement for the BAR. This was rejected by the Commandant in July of 1944 as it was felt that the height of a war was not the time to “change horses in the middle of a stream”. It was also noted by the Commandant that “the Marine Corps was a customer of the Ordnance Corps in small arms matters, and consequently is reluctant to adopt an automatic rifle which is not Army standard.” However, the Marines did not close the door on the M1944 LMG, stating “the Corps desires to lend impetus to the continued development of the Johnson Light Machine Gun, and stands ready to perform such functions in that connection as may be considered desirable.”

The Army placed an order for ten M1944 LMGs for testing, these weapons were not delivered until June 1945 and the war ended before any extensive evaluation could be conducted.

Further development work was ultimately ended in the post-war glut of surplus weapons. By the late 1940s, Johnson dropped any further development of his machine gun.
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  #49  
Old 02-12-2013, 07:48 AM
dragoon500ly dragoon500ly is offline
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Default Crew-Served Weapons, The M-1917A1

The first machine gun in U.S. Army service was the mechanical, multi-barreled Gatling Gun which was issued in 1-inch, .50-caliber and .45-70 calibers. Never purchased in large numbers, these weapons served in the latter part of the Indian wars and during the Spanish-American War.

The first true machine gun to see service was the M-1895 Colt machine gun, more commonly known as the “Potato Digger” due to the unusual action of its gas return lever. These first saw service in the Boxer Rebellion and later the Spanish-American War. Originally, these were chambered for the 6mm, then the
.30-40 Krag round and, later, the .30-06 round. The M1895 was never officially adopted by the Army, instead being used as “test” weapons.

In 1904, the Army adopted the Maxim machine gun as the M-1904. In the pre-World War One years, some 300 were delivered, followed by another 12,000 during World War One. But in World War One, the need for machine guns so far outpaced production, that the U.S. Army had to purchase several thousand machine guns from the French for use by the AEF.

Enter John M. Browning.

Browning recognized in 1901, that there was a need for a truly modern, American machine gun. He did initial work on a recoil operated weapon, but his design was never fully developed. The Ordnance Department tested his design in 1917 and found it to be an outstanding design. It was adopted as the M-1917 machine gun. The firms of Remington, Colt and New England Westinghouse built some 68,389 during World War One, with some 30,582 serving in France.

The M-1917, like most of Browning’s designs was noted for its simplicity and reliability. Compared to its contemporaries, the Browning was very easy to disassemble with only a simple combination tool. This feature impressed the ordnance officers at the weapons test. There is a little known story that goes;

“One of the guns at the trails was accompanied by a formidable kit of tools in a box. An officer asked Mr. Browning where the tools for the Browning gun were and where did he want them put. Mr. Browning smiled a sad sort of smile and reached into his vest pocket and pulled out a device the size of a fountain pen. With this device and an empty shell, he dismounted the Browning gun and put them back together again.”

With the end of World War One, the Army evaluated the M-1917 and suggested some improvements to correct weaknesses in the design.. The M-1917A1 was adopted in 1920. Nearly all of the 68,000 WWI M-1917s were modified to the M-1917A1 standard. Many of these modified weapons saw service with the British in the early days of World War Two.

The M-1917A1 .30-caliber water-cooled machine gun was designated as a heavy machine gun. The gun (with water) weighed in at 41 pounds, while its tripod added another 52.15 pounds, all told it weighed a hefty 93 pounds in its firing position, NOT including water cans, ammunition boxes and other accessories. The typical method of feed was by a 250-round fabric belt, this was latter replaced after WWII by a disintegrating link belt. Rate of fire was between 450-600 rounds per minute.

In spite of its weight and bulk, the M-1917A1 was widely used in all theaters. Its performance was outstanding and it proved to be one of the most reliable weapons of its type ever fielded.

Its sustained fire capability was impressive due to its water-cooled system. On numerous occasions, the
M-1917A1 delivered sustained fire lasting for hours. It was the workhorse of the Army’s and Marines through out WWII and into the Korea War.

However, the M-1917A1 was not with its faults. The heavy weight of the weapon restricted it to fixed, defensive positions. It could not be rapidly deployed forward to support fast-moving infantry assaults, this restricted its use in the miserable terrain of the Pacific Theater. Although it saw much more service in the European Theater due to the scale of vehicular mobility.

During World War II, some 53,859 M-1917A1s were built.
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Old 02-12-2013, 05:19 PM
Neal5x5 Neal5x5 is offline
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If you ever happen to pass through Ogden, Utah, (along US I-80) take the time to visit the John Browning Museum. They have a replica of Browning's workshop, as well as a fantastic assortment of original firearms and prototypes in various stages of assembly. For a gun enthusiast, it's just a shade below visiting Mecca.
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Old 02-19-2013, 08:36 AM
dragoon500ly dragoon500ly is offline
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Default Crew-Served Weapons, The M-1919 series

While the M-1917/M-1917A1 was considered to be an outstanding design, it was recognized early on that the disadvantages of its water-cooling system and the resulting weight precluded its use in an offensive role. It was a search of lightweight machine guns to equip aircraft and the fledging tank corps that brought about the next evolution in U.S. machine guns.

The Ordnance Department started its search by modifying a M-1917 by stripping the water jacket and decreasing the length of the barrel down to 18 inches. World War One ended before the result could see any combat testing, but it was adopted as the Caliber .30 Browning Tank Machine Gun, Model of 1919. In order aid the cooling of the barrel, a perforated metal jacket was fitted around the barrel and an optical sight and ball mount added for use in a tank (along with a lightweight tripod for dismounted use).

Some 2,586 M-1919s were converted from existing M-1917 guns and it remained the Army’s standard tank co-axial weapon well into the 1930s. Of interest was that almost all of the M-1919s were converted into
M-1917A1s prior to World War Two.

While the M-1919 was intended as an armor weapon, its usefulness as an infantry weapon was obvious. In the early 1920s, several M-1919s were modified for infantry use by removing the ball mount and substituting a more durable tube sight. Development work lasted for a decade, but it was later adopted as the
M-1919A1 in 1931.

Since the M-1919A1 was a makeshift design, problems soon arose with the weapons sights, barrel and tripod. Nevertheless, the M-1919A1 validated the concept of a lightweight .30-caliber air-cooled machine gun for infantry use. An improved variant, the M-1919A2 was developed for use by the cavalry, but was not totally acceptable to the Army. Only a small (unknown) number were every converted. Reportedly, several M-1919A2s saw action in the early days of World War Two in the Philippines.

By the late 1920s, the Army was committed to the idea of an air-cooled .30-caliber machine gun for the infantry. And an evaluation was performed to test the modifications recommended to improve the earlier weapons. The M-1919A3 was developed to test the modifications. This testing process confirmed several weaknesses in the M-1919A3 design and only 75 were ever purchased. A modified M-1919A3, that incorporated the beast features of the earlier designs and added improvements; including a 24-inch barrel, new sights and an improved tripod.

The refined design was adopted in the mid-1930s as the M-191A4. Initial production was extremely low, a total of 389,251 M-1919A4s were built during World War Two, with the Saginaw Steering Gear Division of General Motors producing the largest number.

The M-1919A4 weighed in at 31 pounds (the M-1917A1 at 41 pounds); its lightweight M-2 tripod weighed in at a mere 14 pounds, while the M-1917A1’s tripod weighed in at 52.15 pounds. Both weapons used the same 250-round fabric belt (later replaced by a disintegrating link belt). Rate of fire for the M1919A4 was a steady 400-550rpm. While it was not as capable as the M1917A1 in the sustained fire role, the M1919A4 was much more portable and more easily concealed. The M-1919A4 was issued at the rate of two per rifle company’s weapons platoon.

The M-1919A4 saw service throughout World War Two, the Korean War and into the early days of the Vietnam War. A large number were converted to the standard NATO 7.62x51mm round.

Even with the success of the M1919A4, there remained a gap in between this weapon and the squad’s BAR. In 1940, the Ordnance Department issued a directive calling for a machine gun weighing 22 pounds or less. While several foreign designs were tested, none were adopted. Front line troops asked for a machine gun, fitted with a bipod and buttstock and a carrying handle. The Ordnance Department added these requests to a standard M1919A4 that had been retrofitted with light weight parts, creating the M-1919A6. Some 43,479 were built throughout WWII and the Korean War. The M1919A6 could also be used with the M-2 tripod. Soldiers who had used both weapons did not consider the M1919A6 to be sufficiently lighter and handier than the M1919A4.
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Old 02-19-2013, 11:39 AM
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You're really putting in the work, dude. Thanks for the sweat and toil. I'm enjoying reading this work immensely.
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Old 02-20-2013, 08:30 AM
dragoon500ly dragoon500ly is offline
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Default Mr. Browning's .50 caliber shooting machine

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, one of the most formidable and versatile infantry weapons of World War Two was the famous Browning .50-caliber machine gun. During the war, the .50-caliber served in a variety of roles ranging from aircraft armament to ground combat use. Its effectiveness has made it one of the most widely used weapons of the American military (not to mention that it is still in service!).

Like the M-1917A1, the .50-caliber machine gun has its roots back in the First World War. When the American Expeditionary Force entered combat, one of the weapons in the German arsenal that our troops did not have was the 13.2mm antitank rifle. This massive, bolt-action weapon was developed by the Germans to counter Allied tanks. The lightly armored tanks of the time were highly vulnerable to this large caliber, high velocity cartridge.

Since the Germans were beginning to deploy tanks against the Allies, the AEF needed a comparable weapon to counter this new threat. In April of 1918, the AEF requested a machine gun firing a cartridge comparable to the German 13.2mm round. It was felt that a machine gun would be more effective than a bolt-action rifle.

The task of developing such a cartridge fell to the Winchester Repeating Firearms Company. Ballistic testing confirmed that a .50-caliber cartridge would be the optimum size (comparable to the 13.2mm which is .53-caliber). The resulting cartridge bore a strong appearance to a greatly scaled up .30-06 round. Preliminary testing revealed some ballistic shortcomings and additional development was need to make it acceptable.

While Winchester worked out the problems with the cartridge, the Ordnance Department looked for the best type of machine gun to use the round, so they approached John M. Browning. Browning stated that he could scale up his M-1917 action to fire the new .50-caliber cartridge. Working in conjunction with the Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company, Browning tackled the project and had a prototype weapon ready for testing on November 12, 1918. Unfortunately, the Armistice occurred on November 11, 1918, so the new weapon saw no combat service.

Development work on the machine gun continued after the war and the Frankford Arsenal took over the refinement of the .50-caliber cartridge. The revised round was significantly more powerful than the original Winchester design. The new round fired a massive 700 grain bullet at 2,800 feet per second, which equaled or excelled the performance of the original German 13.2mm round. Unfortunately, the power of the revised .50-caliber round presented some problems including the fact that its recoil could shake apart Browning’s basic machine gun mechanism apart. To counter this problem, Browning developed a hydraulic buffer which eliminated much of the recoil stress and could also be adjusted to control the rate of fire to some extent.

Extensive testing of the new machine gun and cartridge began in 1919 and continued for almost two years. This in-depth testing showed the excellence of the weapon and it was formally adopted as the Model 1921. This used the basic Browning recoil-operated mechanism (with the new buffer system) and utilized the basic type of water-cooling. Both the Army and the Navy adopted the M-1921 (although none were procured for issue until 1925). Between 1925 and 1934, only 1,000 M1921s were delivered. Although intended as an antitank weapon, it was also utilized as an anti-aircraft weapon.

During this period the only major problem to arise was with the charging handle, which proved to be rather difficult to manipulate. An improved design was developed in 1930 and the revised weapon was named the M-1921A1. The new charging handle was retro-fitted to the weapons previously manufactured.

As the Army began to consider the eventual necessity of changing from the old horse equipment to mechanized equipment, the type of armament for tanks and other vehicles was carefully evaluated. Since the M-1921A1 was the standard antitank weapon, it was natural for that weapon to be considered for such use. However, the water-cooling mechanism was both heavy and bulky and so a request was made for an air-cooled version.

In order to compensate for the removal of the water-cooling mechanism, a heavier, 36-inch barrel was designed. This weapon proved to be what the Army was looking for and the “Caliber .50 Machine Gun, Heavy Barrel, M-2” was born.

In addition to its use on vehicles the M-2HB was equipped with a heavy tripod (the M-3) for ground use. In order to achieve the maximum possible performance of the .50-caliber cartridge, the barrel length was increased from 36-inches to 45-inches. The greater weight of the new barrel lowered the rate of fire. The basic M-2HB weighed in at 81 pounds and the M-3 tripod added an additional 44 pounds. The M-2 could be feed from either side of the receiver. It had a rate of fire ranging from 450-550 rounds per minute and had an effective range of 2,500 yards.

While production was ramping up for the M-2HB, it was also decided to improve the M-1921/M-1921A1 by replacing its bulky water-feed mechanism with a streamlined version. This adopted in 1933 as the “Caliber .50 Machine Gun, Water Cooled, M-2”. The M-3 weighed in at 100 pounds and the water jacket added another 21 pounds. It was typically mounted on the M-3 anti-aircraft mount which weighed 380 pounds when set up for action. The “Water Chest, M-3” was also, but weighed in at 74.5 pounds when filled. Due to its extreme weight, the M-3 was not used in the infantry role, being used instead as an anti-aircraft mount in fixed, fortified weapons. In such a role it was very effective because it could fire long bursts without danger of over-heating. Some 82,500 water-cooled M-2s were built during World War Two.

The M-2HB saw widespread use in every theater of the war, total production was 1,964,418, three quarters of which were modified for aircraft use by adding a perforated cooling jacket to the barrel. The M-2HB was unquestionably the best weapon of its type field by either side during World War Two. After the war, it remained the standard heavy machine gun of the U.S. military and provided honorable service in Korea and Vietnam, with only minor changes to its World War II configuration.

Even more remarkably, the M-2HB is still the stand heavy machine gun of the U.S. military today! As one author so aptly stated “There isn’t a machine gun that has received more heartful appreciation from its uses and fear from its victims…than Mr. Browning’s caliber .50 shooting machine.”

Seventy-four years after its adoption, John Browning’s classis design soldiers on.
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  #54  
Old 03-20-2013, 10:33 AM
dragoon500ly dragoon500ly is offline
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Default The Bazooka

The evolution of warfare in the 20th Century had resulted in ever-increasing challenges for the infantrymen. Beginning in the First World War, the average soldier was faced with stopping weapons that were unimaginable less than a decade earlier. For example, tanks and airplanes made their debut during World War I and the introduction of these weapons caused the armies of both sides to look for ways to counter the new threats.

The United States developed the .50-caliber machine gun during the 1920s and 1930s in order to provide the infantry with an effective antitank and antitank weapon. When compared to the lightly armored tanks of the period, this weapon was considered to be an adequate weapon. This remained the case until virtually the time of America’s entry into the Second World War.

The overwhelming success of the early German victories of 1039-1940 was due in large measure to the innovative and aggressive use of armored units. The U.S. Army recognized that it was unprepared to deal with the technology of modern armored warfare. With the advent of heavier armor, it was apparent that the standard antitank weapon, the .50-caliber machine gun, was totally inadequate. Clearly, a new type of antitank weapon capable of being used by an infantryman was desperately needed.

The weapon that is now commonly known as the bazooka was the result of a fortuitous and timely combination of two divergent technologies. The individual most responsible for the development of the bazooka was Leslie A. Skinner. The son of an Army surgeon, Skinner was born in 1900. He had a fascination with rockets since his early teens and had built a number of working models. He was appointed to West Point and was commissioned in the U.S. Army in 1924. He transferred to the Ordnance Corps in 1931 and was assigned to develop rockets fired from airplanes. Skinner was in the enviable position of having his vocation and avocation coincide. Skinner left his duties in 1933 to study for a year at M.I.T. and returned to Aberdeen Proving Grounds in mid-1943. He continued his experiments with rockets and often used his own money to fund the research. He was transferred to Hawaii in 1938 and his rocket research came to a halt until he was reassigned to Aberdeen in November of 1940. By this time, the German onslaught in Europe was in full force and the Ordnance Department wanted Skinner to concentrate on the task of developing an antitank weapon using his rocket research. Skinner had the good fortune of having a capable assistant assigned to the project, Lieutenant Edward G. Uhl. Skinner and Uhl began testing a prototype design in early 1942, which comprised a simple metal tube with an electrical firing system operated by two flashlight batteries. Skinner’s design overcame the typical problem common to other experimental antitank weapons being tested, that of excessive recoil. Since the tube was open at both ends, the rocket’s exhaust gases were vented out of the bank and the recoil problem was minimal. The new rocket launcher worked well but the weapon had one severe problem. It could not operate with an explosive charge large enough to penetrate a tank’s armor. As stated in the book “There’s a War to Be Won,”
“By the spring of 1942, Skinner and Uhl had broken the back of every obstacle but one; they didn’t have an effective warhead. They had a rocket that flew straight and true. What they didn’t have was a weapon.”

Even as Skinner was working on his rocket launcher, a totally unrelated Ordnance Department project was underway. In late 1940, a young Swiss engineer, Henry H. Mohaupt, approached the Ordnance Department with a proposal for a new type of antitank explosive. Mohaupt’s design was based on a previously discovered, but unrefined concept of the shaped charge. This type of warhead focused an explosive charge on a single concentrated point and allowed a relatively small amount of explosive to punch a hole through armor. Subsequent testing convinced skeptical Ordnance people that the concept worked. Since the threat of German tanks loomed large at this time, a crash program was started to develop an antitank grenade based on the shaped charge concept. In late 1941, on the eve of the U.S. entry into World War Two, the “Grenade, High-Explosive, Antitank, M-10” was adopted. Unfortunately, it was impossible to hand throw this three-pound grenade so an effort to develop a spigot-type discharger was started. This proved to be unsuccessful as the angle of trajectory was unsuitable. The only means left to project the M-10 was either via the rifle grenade launcher or by fitting a launcher to the standard .50-caliber machine gun. The extreme recoil generated by firing the rifle grenade version often resulted in the shattering of rifle stocks and at least two reported instances of the soldier’s shoulder as well), so severe was the recoil force that even the .50-caliber’s tripod was bent. While the Ordnance Department labored to develop a suitable projector, production of the M-10 continued.

As Skinner was working on a suitable warhead for his rocket, he came across some M-10 grenades at Aberdeen and it quickly became apparent that this was the solution that he was looking for. The M-10 grenade weighed three pounds and could penetrate about 80mm of armor. Skinner and Uhl fashioned the first projectiles from dummy M-10s found on the Aberdeen ranges and added a rocket motor and fins. In April of 1942, the Frankford Arsenal built a launcher based on Skinner’s design. The prototype had a 54-inch long tube which was 2.36-inches in diameter. The inside diameter of the tube was dictated by the outside diameter of the M-10 grenade. The length was calculated as the minimum needed to allow the rocket motor to completely burn out before leaving the tube.

Skinner and Uhl took their new weapon to be tested at Aberdeen and, as luck would have it, they arrived as a demonstration of various other antitank weapons was in progress. A moving tank was used as a target, and Skinner and Uhl quietly took up a position at the end of the firing line. Uhl had fashioned a crude sight from a piece of wire he found on the ground. As the tank approached them, Uhl fired a rocket and hit it. Before the tank could turn around, Skinner had reloaded and Uhl hit it with the sound round. Excited Ordnance officials quickly converged on the pair and were soon firing the new rockets as well. The result was that the new launcher was ordered into priority production.

It was also noted that when Skinner’s superiors at the Ordnance Department discovered that he didn’t “go through channels,” he “…found himself the guest of honor at a private, very through chewing out covering all the bases from lack of loyalty too insubordination.”

The new weapon was standardized on June 30, 1942 as the “Launcher, Rocket, Antitank, M-1” and the rocket as the M-6. The weapon was soon dubbed the “bazooka” since it had some resemblance to a musical instrument used by a well-known radio comedian of the day, Bob Burns. The term bazooka was never officially adopted, but it quickly caught on and was universally used throughout the war.

The General Electric Corporation was selected to build the new weapon and on May 19, 1942, the firm was given a purchase order to “design, develop and produce” 5,000 bazookas in 30 days. This was a month prior to the official adoption of the bazooka. GE accepted the order even though it would normally take at least six months to accomplish. General Electric’s Bridgeport Works tackled the job and within 24 hours, the first design drawings were finished. Four days later, several test models were in the hands of the Army for evaluation and by the end of May, 20 test models had been completed. The testing took two weeks before approval was given to start production. This left only eight days to manufacture the 5,000 bazookas. GE worked feverishly to complete the order. Steel was delivered from Pittsburgh by truck drivers working around the clock, and some material was delivered by aircraft. It is reported that an Army Ordnance officer working on the project was bringing a trunk load of bazooka stocks to the factory in his automobile and was stopped for speeding by a state policeman. When the policeman learned of the nature of the delivery, he provided a personal escort to the plant.

While General Electric was producing the M-1 launcher, the firm of E.G. Budd Company was working on its contract to make 25,000 M-6 antitank rockets and 5,000 M-7 practice rockets.

The Army desperately needed the bazookas in the hands of the troops soon to be sent to North Africa and every possible effort was made to speed production. As stated in the book “Men and Volts at War,”
“As the bazookas came off the line they were hustled into waiting Army trucks, and were on their way to a port of embarkation before the stain on the gunstocks was dry. The last of the 5,000 bazookas of this big job came off the line on the eighth day with 89 minutes to spare before the expiration of the Army’s time limit.”

The initial order for 25,000 M-6 rockets was increased in June of 1942 to 75,000 rockets. Also in July, the number of bazookas on order was increased to 75,000 with delivery to be made before the end of the year.

The M-1 bazooka weighed approximately 18 pounds and was 54-inches long with a 2.36-inch bore and was remarkably similar to Skinner’s original design. A front sight was welded on the barrel near the muzzle and could be used from either the left or right sides. It had four aiming points corresponding to 100, 200, 300 and 400 yards. The rear sight was a simple metal leaf. Two hand grips were welded to the bottom of the tube. The rear grip contained the trigger and electrical contact switches. A wooden shoulder stock was fastened to the bottom of the tube, held two dry-cell flashlight batteries in a sliding compartment. One battery provided the power necessary to ignite the rocket and the other was a spare. A circuit tester consisting of a single small light bulb was placed on the left side of the stock that could be used to check if the electrical firing systems was operational. This proved to be a valuable feature since malfunctions due to weak batteries were common.

The M-6 antitank rocket had a wire taped to the outside of the body that was fastened to a contact box on top of the bazooka’s tube. An electrical charge carried by this wire ignited the rocket motor. The M-6 was equipped with a safety pin that was removed prior to placing the rocket into the tube. This was necessary as an armed rocket could be easily detonated by dropping it. A bazooka team consisted of two men, the gunner and his loader. Basic ammo load consisted of two bags that each held three rockets.

The new bazookas were soon aboard troop ships headed for North Africa. The new weapons was classified as Secret and given the code name of “The Whip”. Virtually none of the troops had seen, or even heard of this mystery weapon prior to loading. Initial training took place on the transports and was handicapped by a shortage of manuals and qualified instructors. In spite of this lack of training, the bazooka was used during the landings at Oran, Algiers and Casablanca. Stories quickly made the rounds of the foxholes, including one about a soldier firing a single rocket at a small coastal fort and forcing the surrender of its garrison. Other stories went the rounds about tanks exploding from a single hit or a turret being knocked completely off of a tank. Another, often repeated story was the surrender of ten German tanks after the commander witnessed a tree shattered by a bazooka rocket, which caused him to assume his command was under attack by 155mm artillery. How many of these stories are true will never be known with any degree of certainty, but the stories are impressive and raised the troop’s confidence in the new weapon.

Needless to say, serious problems began to appear soon after the M-1 saw combat. Malfunctions were common, particularly with the rocket. It spite of the stories circulating among the troops, the commanding general of the Army’s Armored Command in Tunisia noted that “…could not find anyone who could say definitely that a tank had been stopped by bazooka fire.”

In September of 1942, 600 bazookas were shipped to the British in Suez for use by the Eighth Army. After a demonstration, the British concluded that “…the weapon was not suitable for desert warfare, since the desert provided none of the concealment that the bazooka operator needed to hide him from small-arms fire until the tank came close enough for his rockets to be effective.” The bazookas were never issued and were place in storage.

The bazooka was demonstrated to Soviet observers in May of 1942. They immediately requested a large shipment. Little is known of the Soviet’s use of their bazookas, but it is known that the Germans captured several. They copied the design and increased the size of the rocket to 88mm, and the resulting weapon was known to the German troops as the “Panzerschreck.”

So severe was the malfunction problem, that the War Department suspended its issue in May of 1943 until an evaluation could be conducted and improvements made. The evaluation centered on the unreliability of the M-6 rocket. The contact wire taped to the outside of the rocket body was easy to damage. High temperatures affected the reliability of the motor, resulting in a premature explosion. The bazooka itself was criticized for the exposed contact box and the lack of any sort of shield to protect the gunner from unburned exhaust. A redesign of the rocket motor and a change in the composition of the propellant fuel fixed the rocket issue and protective gloves and face mask were issued for the gunner. Such problems were understandable in a weapon that was rushed into production without the normal testing process.

While the Ordnance Department tinkered with the design, the Army high command was demanding a return of production of the bazooka, taking the viewpoint that infantry with a bazooka was much better than infantry without a bazooka.

The improved bazooka was adopted in July 1943 as the M-1A1. The changes include replacing the contact box with two spring contacts. Eliminating the front hand grip. The center of the tube was reinforced with wire for some 20-inches in order to increase its strength. Finally a removable truncated conical wire flash screen was added to the front of the tube to protect the face of the gunner. The M-6 rocket was replaced by the M-6A1 rocket which replaced the outside contact wire with an internal contact wire. These changes eliminated the major problems of the bazooka and the weapon began to be issued in large numbers.

Although the improved M-1A1 solved many of the earlier problems, there were still issues that need to be corrected. The electrical firing system still had problems, especially in the Pacific Theater. Corrosion of the firing mechanism due to the constant dampness was an ongoing problem. A percussion firing system using a .410 gauge shotgun shell was tested, but eventually, electro-plating of key parts was implanted.

Perhaps the greatest drawback of the M-1 and M-1A1 bazookas was their 54-inch tube was cumbersome to carry through heavy undergrowth and was unsuitable for airborne operations. At the urging of the Airborne Command, the M-9 bazooka, a launcher that could broken down into two separate components was adopted for service in October of 1943. In addition, the battery firing system was replaced by a trigger-operated magneto, the wooden shoulder stock was replaced by a metal, two-position, shoulder rest and a safety switch was added. Troop trials showed that the coupling mechanism was not as sturdy as necessary and was further modified and entered service as the M-9A1. The rockets were further modified with reshaped ogives to lower the angle of effective impact and cylindrical fixed fins to increase stability in flight. The cones in the warhead were changed from copper to steel, which improved armor penetration by 30%. In addition, better waterproofing of the fuse assembly increased reliability under inclement conditions. This was adopted as the M-6A3.

The M-9/M-9A1 was much easier to carry as it could be disassembled into two sections, which could then be clipped together for carrying. The M-9/M-9A1 weighed 15.87lbs was 5 feet, 1 inch in length when assembled and 2 feet, 7.5 inches long when disassembled.

For much of its service life, the bazooka used crude metal sights, these did not allow for precise sighting and were prone to damage. An optical ring sight was designed for the M-9, but its construction required the use of optical calcite, which was in short supply. A marginally improved metal sight bar with a rear peep sight was designed and in service by January of 1944. In August of 1944, a much improved optical reflecting rear sight that did not use any scare materials was developed and entered service as the T-90 by September of 1944.

General Electric remained the primary producer of the bazooka for much of the war until June of 1944, when the small firm of Cheney Bigelow Wire Works of Springfield, Massachusetts was awarded a contract for M-9A1 launchers. By May of 1945, GE had produced some 450,000 bazookas (all variants) and Cheney Bigelow about 40,000 M-9A1s. Philco Corporation Metal Products Division had also manufactured a number of bazookas in WWII, but the exact number has never been confirmed.

The last major variant of the bazooka consisted of a tube constructed of aluminum that reduced the weight down to 10.88 pounds. This was later standardized as the M-18 and was slated to replace the M-9A1. GE was working on the initial order of 500 M-18s when the war with Japan ended.

The 2.36-inch bazooka M-1/M-1A1/M-9/M-9A1 saw widespread use throughout the war. While generally effective, it was not always equal to the tasks at hand. As an antitank weapon, it met with mixed success. It was relatively effective against the earlier German tanks and was normally devastating against the lighter Japanese tanks. As the Germans fielded tanks with heavier armor, the bazooka often proved inadequate. With the thicker armor protecting the front, sides and turret, the GIs had to attempt their engagement with shots at the rear of the tank, down through the thinner deck armor, or use the rocket to knock off a tread or otherwise disable a tank without destroying it. The bazooka was also used to engage enemy bunkers and other emplacements.

In spite of its problems, the bazooka was a very important infantry weapon for the U.S. military. It was arguably the best weapon of its type fielded in quantity by any nation with the exception of some of the German designs. Perhaps the greatest compliment to the bazooka was that paid by the Germans, who copied the design.

By October of 1944, it was recognized that the 2.36-inch rocket could not penetrate heavy armor, the development of a larger 3.5-inch rocket was stated and was standardized after the end of the war as the M-20. This version saw use in the Korean and Vietnam Wars and can still be found in service in many third world countries.

Perhaps the best description of the bazooka and its impact could be found in “There’s a War to be Won”:
“It (the bazooka) had its flaws and limitations, to be sure, but it was a remarkable weapon for all that. Skinner and Uhl had done what hardly seemed possible---they had put a man on an equal footing with a tank.”
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  #55  
Old 12-22-2013, 08:26 AM
dragoon500ly dragoon500ly is offline
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Default Hand Grenades, Charpter Thirty Two

The War Department used five basic classifications of hand grenades, as follows:

1) Fragmentation: These contain an explosive charge within a metal body and are designed to break up into fragments intended to inflict casualties upon the action of the bursting charge. They have a killing range of 5 to 10 yards and stray fragments are dangerous up to 50 or more yards.

2) Offensive: These contain an explosive charge in a paper body and are designed for demolition effect and to stun the enemy in enclosed places, so that the thrower can charge while the enemy is in a dazed condition.

3) Chemical: These contain a chemical agent designed to produce a toxic or irritating effect, a casualty effect, a screening or signal smoke, an incendiary action or combinations of these.

4) Practice: These contain a reduced charge for safe use in training.

5) Training: These contain no explosive charge or chemical and are made for use in throwing practice.

Each type of grenade was designed for a specific purpose and therefore differed somewhat in configuration and appearance. The chief parts of the hand grenade are the fuse, the filler and the body. The most critical component of the grenade was the fuse. Most U.S. grenade fuses of WWII were of the automatic/timed type. This meant that the grenade was exploded after a specific lapse of time, not on impact, and that the fuse begin its timing process automatically as the grenade left the thrower’s hand.

American hand grenades had a safety lever that was secured by a safety pin. Once the pin was removed, the lever was held in place with the hand and when thrown, the lever was released. This caused an internal striker to set off the primer, which in turn, ignited the time fuse. After a pre-set period of time, the grenade exploded. The typical time delay used was from four to five seconds from the time the safety lever was released, although some specialized grenades used a much shorter time fuse.

There were two basic types of time fuses used in World War II hand grenades: the detonating fuse (which contained a small amount of explosive material that would set off the bursting charge) and the igniting fuse (which contained a burning compound that worked by igniting the buster charge).

Grenade, Hand, Fragmentation Mark II
The most widely used fragmentation grenade was the Mark II, an improved version of the Great War Mark I.

The Mark II weighed about 21 ounces and used a TNT filler. Since TNT was in short supply in the early days of the war, an explosive filler compound consisting of 25% nitrostarch, 34% ammonium nitrate and 40% sodium nitrate was used. As TNT production caught up with demand, this was substituted for the nitrostarch compound.

The standard fuse used was the M64A. This fuse was generally reliable, when used, it produced a flash, a report and some smoke and sparks, which allowed an alert enemy to spot the location of the thrower. The improved M204 fuse eliminated this problem and came into service in 1944, both types of fuse were used until the end of the war.

The body of the Mark II was made of cast iron with serrations designed to produce more lethal fragments upon detonation. The Mark II, due to its explosive filler was initially painted bright yellow (indicating a HE filler) which led to its nickname of “lemon”. Needless to say, it was soon realized that yellow could be far more easily spotted in combat and the change was made to a OD green with two narrow yellow bands (and the new nickname of “pineapple“). The range of the Mark II was dependent upon its thrower, but 35 to 40 yards was considered the maximum range. As the fragments could be dangerous out to 50 yards, the GI was trained to keep down until after their grenade had exploded. The time delay was from 4.0 to 4.8 seconds, but experienced GIs were soon cutting fuses down to 3.0 seconds.

While the Mark II outwardly resembled the Mark I, its performance was markedly increased due to the use of high explosive fillers. A typical Mark I would produce about 50 fragments, while the Mark II would produce about 1,000 fragments.

A later variant of the Mark II was the mark IIA1. This was similar to the Mark II, but used the improved M204 fuse. It differed from the Mark II in that it had one yellow band rather than two, in all other functions, it was identical to the Mark II.

Grenade, Hand, Offensive, Mark III
Designed to produce a concussive effect in enclosed spaces, the offensive grenade did not produce the cloud of fragments that the Mark II did.

The Mark III and Mark IIIA1 weighed about 14 ounces and was constructed of a pressed fiber body with sheet metal ends and was filled with TNT. It used the same types of fuses as did the Mark II/MkIIA1. The body was painted yellow with the type, model and lot numbers stenciled on the side in black ink.

Offensive grenades saw little use during WWII.

Grenade, Hand, Fragmentation, T-13
A little-known and seldom used grenade was the T-13 “Beano”. This baseball-shaped grenade was designed for use by the OSS. It was fitted with an in-flight arming fuse that was designed to arm itself after the grenade had traveled at least 25 feet; then grenade would then explode on impact. The sole producer of the Beano was the Eastman-Kodak Company. Performance of this grenade was very erratic and, like all impact grenades, was inherently dangerous to the user. It was reported (but not confirmed) that some T13 grenades were issued during the Normandy campaign.

Grenade, Hand, Incendiary, Frangible, M1
Another type of grenade that saw little use during WWII was the M-1 Frangible Grenade. This was essentially nothing more than a self-igniting version of the Molotov Cocktail. A glass bottle was filled with a mixture of gasoline and alcohol and a glass tube filled with chromic anhydride was attached to the outside of the bottle. When the bottle was thrown against an object, the bottle and tube would break and the gasoline would be ignited by the chemical reaction between the alcohol and the chromic anhydride. A latter version was the M-3 frangible grenade, which was improvised from any type of bottle. The problem with these grenades were that they were dangerous to produce, ship and store. They were discarded in 1943.

Grenade, Hand, Incendiary, AN-M14
Production of this grenade started in 1942 and sufficient supplies were on hand by 1943 to discontinue their production since relatively few of these were issued. Better known as the “Thermite Grenade” it was most often used for destroying enemy artillery pieces by igniting a grenade in the breech mechanism, which would fuse the breech block closed and render the piece inoperable.

The AN-M14 had a smooth sheet metal body and was painted blue-gray and had “TH INCENDIARY”, the lot number and one band stenciled in purple ink. The grenade weighed 32 ounces and was equipped with either the M200A1 or M200A2 igniting fuse with a 2.0 second time delay.

Grenade, Hand, White Phosphorus, M-15
While the chief purpose of the WP grenade was as a smoke producing agent, it also was used to inflict casualties on enemy soldiers. Burning phosphorus could only be extinguished by cutting off all oxygen to the pellets, producing severe burns.

The M15 was made of a smooth sheet metal body, with a filler of white phosphorus, in appearance it was very close to the AN-M14 grenade. The M15 weighed 31 ounces and used the M-6A3 detonating fuse with a 4.0-4.8 second delay. The grenade was painted blue-gray with “WP SMOKE”, and a single band in yellow on the body. Its burst radius was approximately 25 yards and it burned for 50-60 seconds.

Grenade, Hand, Colored Smoke, M-16
Grenade, Hand, Colored Smoke, M-18
The most widely issued type of signal munitions of World War II were the smoke hand grenades. Development of these munitions began in September of 1942 upon the request of Army Ground Forces as a means to identify troop positions. Chemical Warfare Service Engineers developed the prototypes from the M-7 chemical warfare grenade. It has been reported that CWS representatives contacted Hollywood special effects people to assist in this project due to their experience with the use of colored smoke in movies.

The first type was standardized in April of 1943 as the M16. This grenade was made in six colors: red, orange, violet, black, yellow and green. When ignited, it produced a cloud of smoke for about two minutes. While this grenade worked well, a thicker cloud of smoke was desired and an improved version was developed and adopted as the M-18. The M-18 gave off a more dense volume of smoke than did the M16, although its durations was only for about one minute. Eight colors were originally developed, but this was later changed to only four: red, green, yellow and violet. Both grenades had a smooth sheet metal cylindrical body with wither an M200A1 or M200A2 igniting fuse. They weighed about 17 ounces. The body was painted blue-gray and had the lot number, model and one band painted in yellow. The top of the grenade was painted to indicate the color of the smoke.

Grenade, Hand, Red Smoke, AN-M2
Grenade, Hand HC Smoke, AN-M8
This grenade was intended primarily for screening troops. It produced a large cloud of red smoke for about two and a half minutes. It was similar in appearance and function to the M-18, including the same type of body and igniting fuse. The AN-M2 was stenciled in yellow on the body “SMOKE RED”, the date of filling and one band.

Another type, which was used to produce a thick cloud of white smoke was the AN-M8. Externally similar to the AN-M2, it differed by the markings on the body “HC SMOKE” and lot number and one band stenciled in yellow.

Grenade, Hand, Gas, Irritant, CN-DM, M-6
Grenade, Hand, Gas Irritant, CS , M-7
One little known and seldom used grenade as the Gas, Irritant. This type is more commonly known as a tear gas grenade and its official function is simply listed as “harassment”. It is intended to incapacitate the enemy by strong irritating fumes. Two basic types were fielded in World War II. The first was the M-6, which had a smooth cylindrical sheet metal body and an M200A1 or M200A2 igniting fuse. It was filled with the chemical CN-DM which emitted noxious fumes for up to 60 seconds. It was painted blue-gray and had “CN-DM GAS” and a single band painted in red on the body.

The second grenade was the M-7 which was virtually identical to the M-6 except the filler was pure CS gas. It was marked on the body in red with “CS GAS: and a single red band.

Both grenades saw very limited service during the war in persuading reluctant enemy soldiers trapped in bunkers, caves or buildings to surrender. Most often, however, the enemy refused requests to surrender and fragmentation and white phosphorus grenades were used with much more permanent results.

Training and Practice Grenades
Since hand grenades are quite dangerous weapons to untrained users, much emphasis was placed on safe training techniques. Since the thought of a bunch of raw recruits on the range with live grenades was enough to turn even veteran drill instructors pale…training grenades were developed. These grenades were of the same configuration, size and weight as the service grenades, but replaced the high explosive fillers with a reduced charge of black powder and the iron filling plug was replaced by a cork plug that was easy to blow out. The resulting cloud of black powder allowed the thrower to simulate a grenade explosion at little risk to themselves. These grenades were painted blue to help distinguish them from service weapons.

Practice grenades were even simpler, being solid cast iron copies with, at most, a removable pin. Their solid construction allowed the training of green recruits with no fear of injury.
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  #56  
Old 12-22-2013, 08:38 AM
dragoon500ly dragoon500ly is offline
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Default Rifle Grenades, Chapter Thirty Three

The United States Army ended the Great War with the French-designed V-B rifle grenade launcher as standard. The V-B utilized a cup type launcher fitted to the on the M-1903/M-1917 rifle. The V-B grenade had a hole through the middle which allowed the use of standard rifle ammunition. The bullet passed through the hole and the gas generated by firing propelled the grenade to a maximum range of 200 yards.

While the V-B launcher saw wide-spread use during World War One, there were problems. The loose fit between the launcher and the rifle often caused inaccuracy and loss of range. In addition, manufacturing errors sometimes resulted in V-B grenades with off-center holes and premature explosions could result.

The V-B launcher remained in U.S. service until 1924, when it was restricted to firing pyrotechnic shells and it was declared obsolete in 1928.

Work on a replacement for the V-B continued at a snail’s pace during the 1930s, mainly due to elements in the Army that disputed the need for a rifle grenade launcher. By 1940, the war raging in Europe confirmed the need to propel grenades for loner distances than hand throwing. Early experiments with the M-1 Garand resulted in numerous failures and the decision was made to design a grenade launcher for use with the service bolt-action rifles.

The M-1 Grenade Launcher/The M-2 Grenade Launcher
Adopted in 1941, the M-1 launcher was designed for the M-1903 rifle while the M-2 was designed for the M-1917 rifle. Both clamped to the end of the barrel by means of a clamp secured by a wing nut. The tube was about 7.25-inches long and weighed 9 ounces. The tube had a series of raised rings on the outside surface which were used in conjunction with the angle of elevation to determine range. With a grenade in place on the tube, the greater number of rings exposed, the shorter the range. A special grenade cartridge was used to fire the grenade. Both launchers could be easily removed and then allow the firing of normal ball ammunition.

The initial production concentrated on the M-2 launcher due to the decision to transfer large numbers of the M-1917 rifle to the United Kingdom as part of Lend-Lease (some 31,980 prior to December 1941). With the entry of the U.S. into the war on December 8, 1941, the War Department ordered a switch in production to the M-1 launcher. Production of some 63,360 in January 1942 and another 55,040 in February met the U.S. Army’s foreseeable needs and production was shifted back to the M-2 launcher. The last of the M-2s rolled off the production line in July 1942 with some 112,327 completed. Production shifted back the M-1 launcher until May of 1943, when some 322,892 were completed (and a further 39,793 M-2 were converted into M-1s).

In U.S. service, the M-2 was mostly used for training and practice. The M-2 was declared obsolete of in September 1944.

The M-1 Launcher remained in service throughout the war for two reasons: first the M-1 Garand Rifle was in short supply prior to mid-to-late 1943, so the M-1903 was often the only rifle available to many troops. Secondly, the problems encountered with developing a satisfactory grenade launcher for the Garand was never solved during the war. A launcher was eventually adopted, but the rifle could not fire service ammunition with the launcher fitted. Even when production of the Garand caught up to demand, many soldiers preferred the M-1903/M-1.

The M-7 Grenade Launcher
While the M-1 and M-2 Launchers were in production, development was underway for a launcher that could be used with the semiautomatic M-1 Garand rifle. A number of developmental models were tested before the T14 was standardized as the M-7 in February, 1843. The M-7 clamped the M-1 rifle’s bayonet lug by a hinged clamp and had a stud that fitted into the rifle’s gas cylinder valve screw to hold it open and vent excess gas. This prevented the M-1 rifle from operating in the normal semiautomatic mode with the grenade launcher attached. A special type of valve screw was issued with each M-7 along with an instruction sheet. The original type of screw (B147851) remained open after the launcher was removed and closed after a live round was fired. A improved version (B7310079) was adopted in January 1945 which closed immediately upon the launcher being removed from the rifle. The special valve screw was necessary in order to “bleed off” the excess gas generated by the grenade launching cartridge that would otherwise wither blown up or otherwise seriously damaged the rifle.

Total production of the M-7 came to be some 795,699 by August 1945.

The M-7 worked reasonably well, but had the unpopular handicap of not allowing the M-1 rifle to fire in the semiautomatic mode with the launcher attached. Since the soldier would not want to keep the launcher attached to his rifle any longer than necessary, they typical employment method became to fire the grenade and then quickly remove the launcher so that the rifle could be fired immediately. This led to large numbers of the M-7 being dropped in the heat of battle and not being retrieved later. The high production numbers reflect as the War Department tried to keep up with combat losses.

An improved M-7A1 launcher was developed in July of 1945. This was functionally similar to the M-7 but had the advantage of allowing the M-1 rifle to fire normally while the launcher was in place. A total of 72,000 were produced by August 1945, but were never issued.

M-8 Grenade Launcher
While work was underway on the M-7 launcher for the M-1 rifle, a launcher was being developed for use with the M-1 carbine. While the carbine was never intended for use with a grenade launcher, the problems with the M-1 rifle’s launcher gave urgency to the development of one for the carbine.

The carbine’s gas system actually made the design of a suitable grenade launcher much easier than for the Garand. A launcher, very similar to the M-1 and M-2 launchers that clamped to the end of the barrel (and held in place by a wing nut) was developed. Since the venting of excess gas was not necessary, the carbine could function in the semiautomatic mode with the launcher in place.

The carbine grenade launcher was standardized as the M-8 in February of 1943. A total of 385,165 were produced by August 1945. While the M-8 proved to be popular with the troops, the M-1 carbine had never been intended to withstand the stresses of firing a rifle grenade, split or broken stocks were common. The M-1A1 carbine could only be used to fire a rifle grenade by folding the stock, pointing the pistol grip upwards, with the rear of the stock firmly on the ground, even doing this still left a chance of the stock being bent under the force of firing.

Grenade Launching Ammunition
In order to launch rifle grenades, special ammunition was needed that could develop sufficient gasses to propel the rifle grenade. Grenade launcher ammunition looked somewhat like blank ammunition, but could be identified by their crimped necks.

Cartridge, Rifle Grenade, Caliber .30, M-3
The M-1, M-2 and M-7 launchers utilized the M-3 grenade cartridge to launch rifle grenades. The M-3 was loaded with five grains of very fine black powder and 40 grains of smokeless powder. This load could propel the standard M-9A1 antitank grenade with a velocity of 180 feet per second. The M-3 cartridge was issued in ten round cartons.

Cartridge, Rifle Grenade, Carbine, Caliber .30, M-6
The carbine’s M-8 launcher was used with the M-6 grenade launching cartridge. This round was loaded with one grain of 60mm mortar ignition powder and 20 grains of smokeless powder. This could propel the M-1 grenade adapter at a velocity of 145 feet per second. The M-6 cartridge was packed in cartons holding six rounds.

Cartridge, Grenade, Auxiliary, M-7
In order to increase the range of a rifle grenade, a auxiliary cartridge was developed. This small cartridge could be inserted into the grenade launcher tube prior to placing a grenade on it and was ignited by the firing of the grenade cartridge. The use of the M-7 increased the velocity of the grenade by 40-90 feet per second and increased the range by 60-100 yards. Since the use of M-7 markedly increased the recoil, its use in the carbine was restricted to emergencies only. The M-7 quickly gained the nickname of “the vitamin pill”.

Rifle Grenades
There were two basic types of rifle grenades. The first consisted of adapters that held a standard hand grenade. The second consisted of grenades specifically designed as rifle grenades.

M-1 and M-1A1 Grenade Projection Adapters
The M-1 Grenade Projection Adapter was designed to hold a standard Mark II fragmentation hand grenade. It secured the grenade by means of four retaining claws that grasped the grenade’s serrations. One of the claws also mounted a metal arming clip into which the grenade’s safety lever was fitted and held in place (the M-1A1 was similar, but used only three claws). Both adapters were about seven inches in length.

The adapters were simple and effective in their use. The Mark II grenade was inserted into the adapter and the safety lever inserted into the arming clip. The grenade’s safety pin was pulled (but the arming clip held the safety lever securely in place). When the grenade was fired from the launcher, the arming clip was sheared away, thus releasing the safety lever. The timing fuse then exploded the grenade. By using the adapter, the Mark II could be used to inflict enemy casualties by effective air bursts.

Due to the heavy recoil generated by the rifle grenade and the fact that a curved trajectory was usually the most effective, the butt of the rifle was placed on the ground for firing. Regulations called for the rifle grenade to be launched with “…the butt turned sideways to avoid stock breakage.”

The M-1 and M-1A1 adapters saw much use during the war. With practice, a soldier could fire fragmentation grenades with surprising accuracy for a distance of almost 200 yards.

Chemical Grenade Adapter, M-2 and M-2A1
Similar in use to the M-1 and M-1A1, the M-2 adapters were used to fire the colored smoke, offensive and white phosphorous grenades. Both the M-2 and M-2A1 were fitted with three claws and a retaining band, they differed only in the fin assembly fitted.

Functionally, they were used in the same manner as the M-1/M-aA1 adapters.

M-17 Impact Fragmentation Rifle Grenade
The only other type of fragmentation grenade launched from grenade launchers was the M-17. This consisted of a fragmentation grenade similar to the Mark II, but fitted with an impact fuse. The M-17 was designed strictly as a rifle grenade . Due to the inherent dangers of an impact use, few were made and issued.

M-9 and M-9A1 Antitank Rifle Grenade
The M-9 was issued in the early days of the war and was quickly replaced by the M-9A1. The M-9A1 had a sheet metal body and nose that contained a shaped charge similar to that used in the bazooka. The grenade was fitted with an impact fuse and had a safety pin that had to be removed prior to firing. The M-9A1 could penetrate between 3-4 inches of armor. It weighed 1.31 pounds and had a maximum effective range of 250 yards.

The M-9A1 was a simple and effective weapons. The grenade would be fitted onto the launcher at the desired range increment. A safety fin would be removed prior to firing. Unlike the frag and chemical grenades, it was necessary to fire the M-9A1 using a flat trajectory. This meant that the soldier would have to fire the weapon from the shoulder rather than placing the butt on the ground to absorb the heavy recoil.

M-19 White Phosphorus Rifle Grenade
Similar in appearance to the M-9A1, the M-19 had a filler of white phosphorus. Upon impact, it would scatter WP pellets over an area of about 10 yards, igniting spontaneously and giving off a dense white smoke as well as inflicting casualties.

M-22 Colored Smoke Rifle Grenade
The standard colored smoke grenade of World War II. Produced in four colors: red, green, violet and yellow. Fitted with an impact fuse. The M-22 was used for signaling as well as marking targets.

M-23 Colored Smoke Rifle Grenade
Once fired, the M-23 would ignite, leaving a streamer of smoke that lasted roughly 12 seconds, this continuous stream of smoke would burn throughout its 250 yard range. Produced in the same four colors as the M-23.

M-20 HC Smoke Rifle Grenade
Identical to the M-22 grenade in appearance, the chief difference was that the M-20 would produce a cloud of white smoke for about 30 seconds upon impact. As with the An-M8 HC Smoke grenade, the purpose of the M-20 was to conceal troop movements.

M-17A1 Ground Signal, White Star, Parachute Rifle Grenade
M-18A1 Ground Signal, Green Star, Parachute Rifle Grenade
M-21A1Ground Signal, Amber Star, Parachute Rifle Grenade
M-15A1 Ground Signal, Red Star, Parachute Rifle Grenade
This series contained a parachute flare that separated from the case at about 400 feet in the air. It would burn for about 30 seconds and was used for illumination purposes as well as signaling

M-8A1 Ground Signal, White Star, Cluster Rifle Grenade
M-20A1 Ground Signal, Green Star, Cluster Rifle Grenade
M-22A1 Ground Signal, Amber Star, Cluster Rifle Grenade
M-52A1 Ground Signal, Red Star, Cluster Rifle Grenade
This series was used in the same manner as the parachute flares, but contained five pyrotechnic stars that were ejected from the case at about 400 feet and burned for five seconds.

Grenade Launching Sights
Sight, Rifle, Grenade Launcher M-1
In order to improve the accuracy of rifle grenades, several types of auxiliary sights were tested during the war. The first to be standardized was the M-1 sight, designed for use with the M1903 and M1917 service rifles. This was a rather crude sight constructed of two stamped sheet metal front and rear sights that were aligned to achieve the required angle of elevation. The two sight components were fastened to the rifle by springs and attached together by a wire spacer.

The M-1 sight saw very limited use early in the war and proved to be unsatisfactory. It was soon dropped from use.

Sight, Rifle Grenade, M-15
With the failure of the M-1 sight, several other sights were tested with varying degrees of success. The best design was the T59E3, which featured a sighting bar with a leveling bubble and a front post and rear peep sight. The T95E3 could be used with the M1903 and M1 rifles and M1 carbine. A mounting plate was installed on the weapon’s stock by two screws. The sight assembly was attached to the mounting plate and could be elevated or depressed from zero to sixty degrees. The T95E3 was standardized as the M-15 in March of 1944 and some 20,000 were produced.

The M-15 could be used to launch antitank rifle grenades with the peep sight and fragmentation and smoke grenades with the bubble sight.

Recoil Boot
The last item used with grenade launchers was a black rubber recoil boot. The boot slipped onto the butt of the rifle and contained a thick rubber pad. It could be used with the service rifles, but could not fit the carbine stock. It was designed to help cushion the heavy recoil of the rifle grenade when fired from the shoulder. It also lessened the chances of the stock breaking when the butt of the rifle was placed on the ground.
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  #57  
Old 12-24-2013, 08:59 AM
dragoon500ly dragoon500ly is offline
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Default Mortars, Part One

Mortars filled the gap between grenades and artillery. They were used to provide fire support when artillery either wasn’t available or couldn’t be moved up fast enough to support rapidly moving troop advances. As the Ordnance Chief remarked “Comparing weight of material to ammunition delivered on the target, mortars are the most efficient of weapons.”

Often called “The Infantryman’s Artillery”, the mortars of World War Two were basically improved models of the Great War mortars. They were used to provide short range, high-angle trajectory fire in direct support of the infantry.

The basic form of the mortar was designed by Sir Frederick Wilfrid Scott Stokes during World War One. The Stokes Mortar consisted of a smooth bore tube with a fixed firing pin at the bottom of the tube. The tube was fitted into a metal plate that rested on the ground and absorbed the recoil force. The front of the tube was supported by a bipod that was adjustable for elevation and traverse. The Stokes was not fitted with a sight, but was lined up on target by sighting along a white line drawn the length of the tube.

The Stokes weighed in at 110 pounds in the firing position and could be broken down into three loads for carrying: the tube (43 pounds), the bipod (37 pounds) and the base plate (30 pounds).

The mortar bomb used was a simple metal cylinder containing an explosive chare of two pounds of TNT. The entire shell weighed 12 pounds. The Stokes was fired by means of a shotgun-like cartridge that was inserted into the base of the shell and exploded upon impact with the fixed firing pin at the base of the tube. The range was determined by placing a number of small rings (made of silk bags) of explosive propellant (ballistae) around the cartridge container. The more ballistae rings used, the further the range.

With the end of the Great War, an evaluation of the combat use of the Stokes determined that there were two serious deficiencies: lack of range and accuracy, Both of these problems were due, in part, to the firing of a projectile without stabilizing fins from a smooth bore tube. The lack of an effective sight also had a negative bearing on the accuracy of the Stokes.

In the Great War Edgar William Brandt committed his French-based firm to the development of an improved Stokes mortar. Brandt recognized that the basic Stokes was a sound design and he concentrated on improving the unsatisfactory ammunition. He developed a mortar bomb with a streamlined shape and stabilizing fins that proved to be very accurate at ranges from 200 yards to 3,350 yards. In place of the silk bags of the Stokes shell, Brandt introduced celluloid packets or strips, which clipped to the bomb’s fins.

In 1927, the Stokes-Brandt Mortar, Model 1927 was introduced. This 81mm mortar was very similar to the Great War Stokes, but was provided with a collimator-style sight and a spring buffer to reduce the stress of firing on the bipod and sight. The Model 1927 continued to be refined and four were purchased by the United States for testing in 1931. These were designated the Stokes-Brandt Mortar, 81mm, T4. The T4 differed from the M1927 by having a improved bipod, sight and base plate.

While the T4 was undergoing firing trails, the Stokes mortar was redesignated as the Mortar, Trench, 3-inch, Mark I and Mark IA2. Several Stokes mortars saw service in the early days of World War Two (in the Philippines).

In the late 1930s, the United States purchased manufacturing rights from the Brandt Company and standardized the T4 mortar as the 81mm Mortar, M1 with Mount M1. The M1 weighed 136 pounds in its firing position and be broken down into three basic components for transport: the tube (44.5 pounds), the bipod/sight (46.5 pounds) and the base plate (45 pounds).

The M1 81mm mortar was very similar to the older 3-inch Stokes mortar, but had the following differences.
1) The tube was of heavier construction so as to better withstand the higher pressures generated by modern ammunition. The tube was also machined to finer tolerances than was the Stokes mortar.
2) A cross-leveling mechanism was attached to the left leg of the bipod.
3) The clamp that attached the bipod to the barrel was easily adjusted to four different positions.
4) The improved base plate consisted of a pressed steel body with welded braces, flanges and two carrying handles. A socket was welded onto the base plate which had three positions for the spherical end of the mortar tube’s base plate.
5) The M1 mortar was fitted with a greatly improved sight, which included a collimator, elevating and deflection mechanism and longitudinal and cross levels.

The M1’s range varied depending on the type of shell used, with a minimum range of 100-300 yards and a maximum range of 3,290 yards. The sustained rate of fire was 18 rounds per minute, but as many as 30-35 bombs per minute could be fired for short periods of time.

The 81mm mortar could be readily transported by three men, although it was normally transported in a jeep or weapons carrier in the infantry divisions. A number of half-tracks were converted to carry the 81mm mortar and was issued to the armored divisions.

81mm Mortar Ammunition
The M1 was a versatile mortar that could easily fire several types of ammunition.

M43A1 Light HE Bomb
This was the lightest of the 81mm mortar bombs, weighing 6.87 pounds and having a minimum range of 100 yards, and a maximum range of 3,290 yards. Eighty percent of its fragments covered a radius of about 25 yards, which compared favorably with the 75mm howitzer. The M43A1 was fitted with an fast detonating fuse so that the bomb would explode on the surface of the ground.

M45 and M45A1 Heavy HE Bomb
These were the heavier bombs used with the 81mm mortar, weighing 10.62 pounds. The maximum range was 2,558 yards. These bombs had a bursting radius comparable to that of the 105mm howitzer. These bombs were fitted with a delay fuse so that some penetration was possible for demolition use.

M56 Heavy HE Bomb
The heaviest of the 81mm mortar bombs, weighing in at 15.01 pounds. Its maximum range was only 1,300 yards. It was equipped with a fuse that could be adjusted for either super quick or delay operation.

M57 White Phosphorus Bomb
M57 FS Smoke Bomb
M57 HS Persistent Gas Bomb
Both types of smoke bombs weighed about 10.75 pounds and had a maximum range of 2,470 yards. They were intended to lay down covering smoke “in order to hinder enemy observation, either to reduce the effectiveness of hostile fire or to conceal the movements of friendly troops.” The WP bomb also had antipersonnel applications. The Gas bomb was loaded with a irritant tear gas filler, it was seldom used.

M301 Illuminating Bomb
This contained an illuminating compound that burned at 275,000 candlepower for about 60 seconds and had a range of 2,200 yards. The projectile was attached to a parachute which slowed its descent and increased its effectiveness. The M301 had a fuse that could be adjusted with a delay of 5 to 25 seconds after firing.

U.S. mortar bombs were issued assembled as complete rounds with the maximum number of powder increments attached. These were removed as necessary to achieve the desired range. While the system worked well, in general, problems were encountered with the exposed powder increments, particular in the humid climate of the Pacific. When the increments became damp, the range was severely reduced and rounds often fell short, with sometimes fatal results for friendly troops. The solution that was adopted during the war was to order the mortar crews to disposal of any increments that had been darkened by moisture.

The Quartermaster Unit of Fire issue for a single 81mm mortar was 275 rounds. This often proved to be very inadequate, with many reports of the entire daily quota of bombs being expended in as little as an hour. Stocks of 81mm mortar bombs could often run short and emergency resupply would be flown in by air transport. It is interesting that the Japanese and Germans used similar Stokes-Brandt 81mm mortars. There are numerous accounts of U.S. troops using captured enemy mortar bombs in their M1 mortars.

The usefulness of the M1 was simply stated in numerous Army and Marine reports, which referred to it as “the infantry’s artillery.”
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  #58  
Old 12-24-2013, 09:00 AM
dragoon500ly dragoon500ly is offline
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Default Mortars, Part Two

60mm M-2 Mortar
While the 81mm mortar was undergoing its evaluations in the 1930s, the two major branches of the Army, the Infantry and the Cavalry, considered it to be a very good weapon. However, both branches believed that many missions would not require such a large and heavy weapon and requested a smaller and lighter version of the mortar.

A weapon for use between the effective ranges of the rifle grenade and the 81mm mortar was desired. The Ordnance Department requested that the Brandt Company produce a 42mm mortar for testing, Brandt provided a 47mm model for demonstration. During its tests, it was determined that the weapon was not powerful enough. Consequently, the Ordnance Department acquired eight 60mm mortars from Brandt, which underwent extensive testing.

In February of 1938, the 60mm mortar was adopted as the M2 Mortar. An initial order of 1,500 60mm mortars were place in January of 1940. As requirements for the 60mm increased, some 30,000 were produced by early 1944. As the fighting increased that year, additional orders for an additional 24,250 mortars were placed.

The 60mm M2 mortar was very similar in appearance and construction to the M1 81mm mortar, other than the obvious differences in weight and size. The method of operation was identical. The M2 weighed 42 pounds in the firing position. The overall length was 28.6 inches. Like the M1 mortar, the M2 could be broke down into three pieces: tube (12.8 pounds), bipod and sight (16.4 pounds) and base plate (12.8 pounds).

The initial M2 bipod was replaced by the improved M5 bipod which had an improved traversing and shock absorbing mechanism, as well as a better barrel lock.

The M2 used the same M4 sight as the M1 mortar. The 60mm mortar had a sustained rate of fire of 18 rounds per minute, but could be fired for short periods of time at 30-35 rounds per minute.

There were several attempts during the war to develop an lighter version of the M2 mortar, and while examples such as the M19 saw limited service in the Pacific, the M2 proved itself to be much more accurate and deadly to the enemy.

60mm Mortar Ammunition
The M2 mortar used three types of shells:

M49A2 HE Bomb
This shell weighed 3.07 pounds and had a maximum range of 2,017 yards, although its accuracy was reduced at ranges beyond 1,000 yards.

M302 WP Bomb
This round weighed 4.02 pounds, with a maximum range of 1,100 yards and was used, as with other WP ammunition, to create smoke screens and inflict casualties.

M83 Illumination Bomb
This bomb weighed 3.7 pounds and had a range of 1,000 yards. It would burst at about 800 feet and illuminate the area with 145,000 candlepower for about 25 seconds.
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  #59  
Old 12-24-2013, 09:04 AM
dragoon500ly dragoon500ly is offline
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Default Mortars, Part Three

4.2-inch Chemical Mortar
The Chemical Warfare Service adopted the M-1 4.2-inch Mortar in 1928. This rifled weapon could drop gas shells at an effective range of 2,000 yards. Limited numbers were procured and its manufacture was suspended in 1935.

With the entrance of the U.S. into the war, the War Department authorized the formation of two chemical mortar battalions. The original M1 was slightly redesigned to increase its effective range to 2,400 yards and was standardized as the M-1A1 chemical mortar. Further testing revealed that if the powder charge was increased by 50%, the mortar’s range could be extended to 3,200 yards. However, the tubes of the M1 and M1A1 could not safely handle the increased pressure and a stronger tube and base plate were adopted. This was designated as the M2. Both the M1A1 and M2 would see service throughout the war.

During the M2s development, it became apparent that the M2 was capable of more than firing gas and smoke shells. The CWS requested permission to develop a HE bomb. In spite of heavy opposition by infantry officers “who felt that the functions of the CWS was confined to gas masks, gas weapons and smelly clothing…”, the CWS got permission to develop the HE bomb. The testing of the new bomb so impressed the review board, that all opposition was overcome and permission to employ the chemical mortar with a HE bomb was forthcoming.

The 4.2-inch mortar first saw combat during the Sicily Campaign were its barrages with the new HE shell were impressive. The weapon saw use in the European and Pacific theaters and by war’s end, some 41,452 4.2-inch chemical mortars had been procured.

4.2-inch Chemical Mortar Ammunition
The chemical mortar used two types of HE shells during the war. The M3 HE Bomb weighed 24.5 pounds and the M4 HE bomb weighed 32 pounds. The various types of chemical and gas bombs weighed between 24.25 pounds and 25.5 pounds. These included WP and several types of irritant and screening gases.

While the 4.2-inch was useful in supporting the infantry, it was not as versatile as the 81mm and 60mm mortars. Ready for firing, the M2 weighed 333 pounds. Like the smaller mortars, the “four-deuce” could be broken down into three loads: tube (105 pounds); bipod and sight (53 pounds) and base plate (175 pounds)---each too heavy to be carried by one man for any distance. The 4.2-inch was most often carried by either a jeep-towed trailer or by a weapons carrier.

During the latter stages of the war, efforts were made to develop larger mortars. Two models, the 105mm T13 and the 155mm T25 saw what could only be described as "in the field test firing" during the Philippines Campaign. While they did deliver impressive amounts of firepower (the 105mm HE bomb weighed in at 26 pounds, with an effective range of 2000 yards. And the 155mm HE bomb weighed 60 pounds, with an effective range of 2500 yards), the sheer weight of the weapons preculuded their use. A review of records shows that the two models fired less than 3,000 rounds, before V-J Day.
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  #60  
Old 12-24-2013, 11:06 AM
Adm.Lee Adm.Lee is offline
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It's my understanding that a few battalions of 4.2" mortars were used in the early waves of most amphibious landings in the ETO and MTO. They were portable enough to be gotten to the beach on LCVP, and had the firepower and range to be effective while firing from just off the beach.

Having said that, I can come up with zero sources for this assertion at this moment....
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