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NFT: WW2 Rifle Question

Tesla : 6/17/2019 3:16 pm
Started re-watching Band of Brothers on D-Day....what an incredible series. Anyway, one question keeps bugging me....why do some of the soldiers use semi-automatic rifles (M1 Garland I believe) yet others use a submachine gun (Thompson?).

Did the soldiers get to choose? Did a platoon want a mix of both among the soldiers? I sort of assume the M1 was more accurate and better for distance and the Thompson better for close combat but not 100% sure of that either.

I know we have some WW2 experts here (i.e. Eric)....thanks for any help here to anyone who wants to chime in.
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RE: Probably  
section125 : 6/17/2019 4:26 pm : link
In comment 14474611 Eric from BBI said:
Quote:
the most accurate aspect of the "Saving Private Ryan" Omaha Beach scene was the rate of fire of the German MG42. It really was that deadly.


I also read somewhere that the MG42 actually required 6 men because of all the ammo it used and that even the air cooled Browning .30 cal was easier to service. You go through a lot of ammo at 1200 rounds per minute (7.92 mm) vs 450 rounds per minute (30-06)
picas, that is somewhat true, but not entirely.  
Red Dog : 6/17/2019 4:27 pm : link
The M1 rifle being one example of the American military being way ahead of everyone else. John Browning's 50-caliber machine gun was another example. Unfortunately unless you really get into the technology of weapons, some of our advances are hard to understand and to explain.

In artillery, the United States was way, way, way, way ahead in just about every way. We had better guns, better shells, better gun mounts, better developed use doctrine, better fire control (some of this under development), and better transport. In the case of naval guns, our "heavy" shells carried by the newer Battleships and Cruisers outweighed anything anyone else had for a same size weapon by anywhere from ten to forty percent! They typically packed the hitting power of a gun the next size up. You could write a substantial but quite technical book on the topic of American artillery advantages going into the war.

We also had some very advanced aircraft on the drawing boards in the late 1930s and very early 1940s - designs that were well ahead of anything else in the world but that also had relatively lengthy teething periods. The B-29 bomber would be first here, but the TBF torpedo plane, P-38 Lightning and F4U Corsair fighters, and probably a few others also belong on this list.
RE: Thanks for the great responses....  
Eric from BBI : Admin : 6/17/2019 4:27 pm : link
In comment 14474616 Tesla said:
Quote:
my grandfather fought in Africa and Europe in WW2 and handled the 50 caliber Browning, mostly for anti-aircraft purposes he said. After seeing some pics and videos of that thing in action I can't even imagine it being used against infantry, which I'm sure it was at times.

One of the absolute best things that ever happened to me was that our AP English teach in HS required us to interview a veteran and publish an article about them in our local town paper. When I spoke with my grandfather the stories he told me abut the war were absolutely incredible. My family was all shocked, because he had always refused to talk to them about his time in the war previously. I guess after so many years he was finally able to open up about it.

Watching shows like Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan really helps to imagine what he must have went through. Sad that we have so few WW2 vets left....really was an amazing generation.


When I was a kid in Binghamton, I saw someone fire a 50-caliber Browning at what I am sure was an illegal outside gun range. That thing cut through trees.
section125  
Eric from BBI : Admin : 6/17/2019 4:29 pm : link
The MG 42 was the best machine gun of the war. Our modern machine guns are actually based on it.

As pointed out above, our M1 rifle was superior to the German K98.
The Germans feared and hated the Browning 50-cal.  
Red Dog : 6/17/2019 4:33 pm : link
They were used to kill German snipers hiding in trees. The top of the tree would just explode under Browning 50-cal fire.

It was also used extensively as an anti-aircraft weapon in a quad mount on the back of a half-track, but that saw some use against infantry, too.
I'm pretty  
Eric from BBI : Admin : 6/17/2019 4:33 pm : link
darn sure the German MG42 was the inspiration for the modern U.S. M60.
Eric, yes, definitely.  
Red Dog : 6/17/2019 4:36 pm : link
Look at the loading mechanism of the M-60. It's a direct copy of the MG-42.
Which is funny, because the MG 42 was a very good weapon  
Greg from LI : 6/17/2019 4:39 pm : link
yet the M60 was a widely hated piece of shit
RE: RE: The BAR was a heavy, unwieldy weapon.  
JimInKgnNY : 6/17/2019 4:40 pm : link
In comment 14474587 Eric from BBI said:
Quote:
In comment 14474585 Crispino said:


Quote:


Most likely the guy who played guard on the football team, not the kicker, would be a candidate to man the BAR.

When I was a teenager, I went to my father’s Army reunion in Colorado Springs. My father was the Company Commander, and introduced me man by man to those in attendance. Most of these guys were well into their 60’s by then. My Dad introduced to s stocky limping Mexican American guy named Ernest Villalobos. As we moved on, my dad told me that “Villalobos was our BAR man. He killed more Japs than most of the rest of us put together.” (Pardon the vernacular, it’s part of the story.)



Outing my age here, when I was a kid, I loved the BAR because it made the coolest sound on the old TV show, "Combat".


Eric--wasn't Kirby the guy who carried the BAR?
JimInKgnNY  
Eric from BBI : Admin : 6/17/2019 4:42 pm : link
That sounds familiar but damn, it's been probably 40 years since I saw that show.
RE: Probably  
Tesla : 6/17/2019 4:42 pm : link
In comment 14474611 Eric from BBI said:
Quote:
the most accurate aspect of the "Saving Private Ryan" Omaha Beach scene was the rate of fire of the German MG42. It really was that deadly.


Something else I never understood is why we never took out those bunkers on the beach in Normandy prior to D-Day with our planes. I suppose we weren't able to get to them for some reason.
I found a comparison of the  
Eric from BBI : Admin : 6/17/2019 4:42 pm : link
MG34 and M60
MG42 vs M60 With R. Lee Ermey - ( New Window )
RE: RE: RE: The BAR was a heavy, unwieldy weapon.  
Klaatu : 6/17/2019 4:43 pm : link
In comment 14474634 JimInKgnNY said:
Quote:
In comment 14474587 Eric from BBI said:


Quote:


In comment 14474585 Crispino said:


Quote:


Most likely the guy who played guard on the football team, not the kicker, would be a candidate to man the BAR.

When I was a teenager, I went to my father’s Army reunion in Colorado Springs. My father was the Company Commander, and introduced me man by man to those in attendance. Most of these guys were well into their 60’s by then. My Dad introduced to s stocky limping Mexican American guy named Ernest Villalobos. As we moved on, my dad told me that “Villalobos was our BAR man. He killed more Japs than most of the rest of us put together.” (Pardon the vernacular, it’s part of the story.)



Outing my age here, when I was a kid, I loved the BAR because it made the coolest sound on the old TV show, "Combat".



Eric--wasn't Kirby the guy who carried the BAR?


Yup.

Tesla  
Eric from BBI : Admin : 6/17/2019 4:43 pm : link
They bombed the crap out of everything. Even the ships bombarded them.
As pointed out above, the MG-42 had its drawback.  
Red Dog : 6/17/2019 4:44 pm : link
I have heard a former German MG-42 gunner discuss the weapon.

He pointed out that they were constantly cautioned by their superiors to conserve ammo because its high rate of fire could exhaust what they had on hand so quickly.

All machine guns need a multi-man crew, but the Germans needed to tie up more men to serve an MG-42 than other armies needed for their machine guns.

Given the German's generally short-handed situation and inability to sufficiently supply their troops in many situations, this became a real liability.

On the other side of the coin, the US Army produced a training film specifically to ready our troops to run into this weapon in combat.
I am told  
GruningsOnTheHill : 6/17/2019 4:45 pm : link
by the WWII buff/firearms expert here at the PD that different guys were issued different weapons depending on their jobs. The difference between the M1 Garand and the Thompson is that one was for up close & personal, and the other was for distance.
RE: I'm pretty  
section125 : 6/17/2019 4:45 pm : link
In comment 14474629 Eric from BBI said:
Quote:
darn sure the German MG42 was the inspiration for the modern U.S. M60.


The M60 was absolutely based on MG42. The M60 I believe used the breach and receiver of the MG42(almost exactly), the barrel change out of the Bren gun and there was a third component that escapes me now. It was basically a meld of the best of the best.
RE: RE: Probably  
Klaatu : 6/17/2019 4:47 pm : link
In comment 14474637 Tesla said:
Quote:
In comment 14474611 Eric from BBI said:


Quote:


the most accurate aspect of the "Saving Private Ryan" Omaha Beach scene was the rate of fire of the German MG42. It really was that deadly.



Something else I never understood is why we never took out those bunkers on the beach in Normandy prior to D-Day with our planes. I suppose we weren't able to get to them for some reason.


Most likely because back then precision bombing was short on precision.
they did bomb extensively  
Greg from LI : 6/17/2019 4:47 pm : link
Unfortunately, the low cloud cover over the beaches rendered it ineffective. Naval bombardment wasn't much more effective due to the relatively flat trajectory of naval guns, which makes it more difficult to penetrate dug-in land defenses.
RE: Which is funny, because the MG 42 was a very good weapon  
section125 : 6/17/2019 4:51 pm : link
In comment 14474633 Greg from LI said:
Quote:
yet the M60 was a widely hated piece of shit


It weighed too much...plus carrying 7.62x51 ammo belts at 8 lbs per 100 rounds (if my memory of talking with my armed security teams is correct). I think the SAW's 5.56mm weighed half as much.

Hump that crap through the jungles in Nam....
RE: RE: RE: Probably  
section125 : 6/17/2019 4:53 pm : link
In comment 14474646 Klaatu said:
Quote:
In comment 14474637 Tesla said:


Quote:


In comment 14474611 Eric from BBI said:


Quote:


the most accurate aspect of the "Saving Private Ryan" Omaha Beach scene was the rate of fire of the German MG42. It really was that deadly.



Something else I never understood is why we never took out those bunkers on the beach in Normandy prior to D-Day with our planes. I suppose we weren't able to get to them for some reason.



Most likely because back then precision bombing was short on precision.


FWIW, they bombed Iwo Jima for 6 weeks with naval artillery and bombers.....
RE: Which is funny, because the MG 42 was a very good weapon  
Klaatu : 6/17/2019 4:58 pm : link
In comment 14474633 Greg from LI said:
Quote:
yet the M60 was a widely hated piece of shit


"Never forget your weapon was made by the lowest bidder.
- Rules for Soldiers.
Another interesting tidbit  
Bubba : 6/17/2019 4:59 pm : link
the Browning 50 cal design is little changed from then to now. It is a beast of a multi use weapon.
RE: RE: Which is funny, because the MG 42 was a very good weapon  
section125 : 6/17/2019 5:00 pm : link
In comment 14474660 Klaatu said:
Quote:
In comment 14474633 Greg from LI said:


Quote:


yet the M60 was a widely hated piece of shit



"Never forget your weapon was made by the lowest bidder.
- Rules for Soldiers.


Nice sounding quote, not necessarily true...
RE: RE: Which is funny, because the MG 42 was a very good weapon  
Greg from LI : 6/17/2019 5:03 pm : link
In comment 14474651 section125 said:
Quote:
It weighed too much...plus carrying 7.62x51 ammo belts at 8 lbs per 100 rounds (if my memory of talking with my armed security teams is correct). I think the SAW's 5.56mm weighed half as much.

Hump that crap through the jungles in Nam....


Actually, in pure weight the SAW is only a pound lighter ( and the M240 machine gun in current service is actually heavier) but I've read that the M60's design made it awkward to carry and made it seem heavier than it actually was. As far as the rest goes, there's a whole long passage at Wikipedia describing the many issues with the "Pig"
Link - ( New Window )
Patton said the M1  
Coach Red Beaulieu : 6/17/2019 5:15 pm : link
Was the greatest battle implement ever devised, and he's right of course. Firing accurate semiauto rifle powered bullets at a time when when the rest of the world was firing bolt action rifles. Made obsolete the Japanese banzai charge which was a semi-effective tactic at the time against other infantryman.
RE: Another interesting tidbit  
Coach Red Beaulieu : 6/17/2019 5:18 pm : link
In comment 14474661 Bubba said:
Quote:
the Browning 50 cal design is little changed from then to now. It is a beast of a multi use weapon.

Nearly 100 years of frontline service.

Versatile because .50 can is at that threshold of the most firepower you can make a reasonably man portable gun with, and easy mounting on a variety of vehicles.
One of the more fun stories  
JohnF : 6/17/2019 6:12 pm : link
is how a convicted murderer (David Marshal Williams) devloped the floating chamber and short-stroke piston that lead to Winchester developing the M1 Carbine. It's a pretty fascinating story.

Just as an aside, how did the best British/Canadian and Soviet rifles rate vs the American/German ones?
I read these two short books last year  
Peter from NH (formerly CT) : 6/17/2019 6:25 pm : link
on being German during D-Day. Changes your perspective on who saw the shit. Interviews by a journalist with German soldiers before D-day and then he tracked them down years later. The amount of firepower that rained down was devastating - in particular the use of Phosphorus. Lots of surprises - and i have read a lot of military history.

BTW - my Dad was drafted a week before Pearl Harbor. All that was available was old Springfield bolt actions who he was in training.
There is a second volume available as well - ( New Window )
RE: One of the more fun stories  
section125 : 6/17/2019 7:01 pm : link
In comment 14474718 JohnF said:
Quote:
is how a convicted murderer (David Marshal Williams) devloped the floating chamber and short-stroke piston that lead to Winchester developing the M1 Carbine. It's a pretty fascinating story.

Just as an aside, how did the best British/Canadian and Soviet rifles rate vs the American/German ones?


The Brits and Canadians used the Lee Enfield .303 cal bolt action rifle. Excellent rifle, very accurate and very reliable. IIRC they had a 10 round internal magazine.

The Mosin-Nagant was used by the Russian. I believe it was a very accurate rifle and quite reliable with a 5 round internal magazine.
Absolutely love the M1 Garand......  
Simms11 : 6/17/2019 8:09 pm : link
I wish I owned one, but they are a bit on the heavy side. Supposedly a very accurate rifle once zeroed in.

As far as picking your own weapon, NO. Weapons are assigned by position in the squad. The Automatic Fire weapons were generally used to lay down a base of fire so the Infantry Riflemen could maneuver unimpeded. They also had ammo bearers because that ammo is heavy and bulky. It would be very difficult for the Automatic Rifleman to carry all of that equipment with ammo, as well.
One reason the Germans and other countries did not use semi-automatic  
Marty in Albany : 6/17/2019 8:27 pm : link
rifles like the M-1 was the mis-guided ideas that a single shot rifle would 1. conserve ammo, and 2. make the soldier aim more carefully before pulling the trigger.

Here's a picture of a particularly devastating use of a Browning .50 cal., the quad-50.

The Mosin is a good rifle  
Greg from LI : 6/17/2019 8:32 pm : link
But damn, that thing kicks like a mule. Those Soviets soldiers must have had permanently bruised shoulders from firing that thing all the time. My brother in law has one, and after 10 shots or so I'm good for another year before I pick it up again.
I shot a 50 cal mounted on a Humvee while in Iraq..  
NJ_GIANTS : 6/17/2019 10:56 pm : link
The range had metal oil drums on it... it amazed me how i could blow those drums apart..

The special weapons have always been assigned for special purposed, teams, and missions.. soldiers would also pickup weapons and ammo they'd find along the way.. the ability to ship ammo to the front line wasnt always easy, that's why they used what they had...
Even better than a .50, though, is the Mark 19  
Greg from LI : 6/17/2019 11:01 pm : link
Only got to fire it once, but DAMN
RE: Even better than a .50, though, is the Mark 19  
section125 : 6/17/2019 11:21 pm : link
In comment 14475128 Greg from LI said:
Quote:
Only got to fire it once, but DAMN


Mk 19 - lay eggs all over. Automatic grenade launcher with 40mm grenades..
I'm curious about the .30 Machine Gun used  
BigBlueBuff : 6/17/2019 11:46 pm : link
in WWII. I recently spoke to a veteran who landed on Omaha Beach with the 29th Infantry Division and he was a .30 machine gunner who (obviously) managed to survive the war. How heavy is that weapon and how was it deployed in the infantry during the war?

Also, Red Dog when you spoke about artillery, what about the legendary German 88?
The M1919 Browning .30 cal weighs 31 pounds  
Greg from LI : 6/18/2019 12:42 am : link
So pretty heavy.

They were used as support for ordinary riflemen. Every American line company had a weapons platoon which included 2 .30 cal teams of two men each. Ordinary rifle platoons did not have M1919s. The BAR was the automatic weapon at the squad level. Earlier in the war there was one BAR team (automatic riflemen, who used it, and the assistant automatic riflemen who carried ammo and assisted with reloading). Since the BAR only had a 20 round magazine, and had to be reloaded frequently, later in the war infantry squad started using 2 BAR teams. The idea was they would alternate firing - when the first reloaded, the second would start firing, so continuous fire would be possible.

Paratroopers were structured a little differently. Since they were created to fight behind enemy lines without much support, they were given more firepower than line companies. Each platoon in an airborne company included an M1919 .30, in addition to the 2 in the weapons platoon.
German rifle squads were structured very differently  
Greg from LI : 6/18/2019 12:55 am : link
They were smaller - officially 10 but often in practice 8 or 9 men instead of the American 12) but every German infantry squad included a machine gun. Generally, there were four squads per platoon and 3 or 4 platoons per company, meaning German rifle companies had between 12 and 16 machine guns. American companies had two M1919 .30s and 4-8 BARs.
RE: One reason the Germans and other countries did not use semi-automatic  
Peter from NH (formerly CT) : 6/18/2019 7:15 am : link
In comment 14474863 Marty in Albany said:
Quote:
rifles like the M-1 was the mis-guided ideas that a single shot rifle would 1. conserve ammo, and 2. make the soldier aim more carefully before pulling the trigger.
It was the same idea why the War Office was resistant to rolling out repeating rifles like the Spencer and Henry Rifles in the American Civil War. They were only given to small specialized groups. Seeing their effectiveness, soldiers would often buy them for themselves.
FG-42, MG-42, and M-60  
Mike From Brielle : 6/18/2019 8:29 am : link
The feed mechanism for the M-60 is based on the MG-42 but I believe the rest of the M-60 is very similar to another German weapon of WWII called the Fallschinjammergewehr (SP) 42 (FG-42)or paratrooper rifle 1942.
one of my fave scenes in Kelly's Heroes  
fkap : 6/18/2019 8:55 am : link
was Don Rickles trying to get someone to carry his rifle.

Has little to do with the thread....
BBB  
Red Dog : 6/18/2019 12:58 pm : link
The German 88 was an excellent weapon and unusually versatile. Originally engineered as a high-level anti-aircraft weapon, it was also used as an anti-tank gun and carried as the main weapon on Tiger tanks and some self-propelled guns. One drawback was that the wheels of the carriage for towed guns had to be removed to set it up for action, a time-consuming extra step that was not necessary for most American artillery.

However, it was only one gun in one caliber. Most of the other German artillery weapons, land and sea, were really pretty average. That doesn't preclude them from being deadly weapons, though. The PAK 75 anti-tank gun, a pretty good weapon on its own merits, was probably the best of the rest.

In contrast, the American 155mm gun, popularly called the Long Tom, and the 105mm howitzer were two of the very best land artillery weapons of the war. It would take me a couple hours to explain all the reasons why, and some of it gets pretty technical or pretty boring. The 155mm howitzer was another very good weapon. Note that these are all bigger guns than the 88, too. Even a King Tiger could not stand up to a direct hit from a 155mm shell, and this did happen.

At sea, German naval guns were anywhere from mis-matched to the ship (some of their destroyers were over-gunned which led to poor performance for the ship type) to pretty good.

But they were definitely not in the same league as American naval guns, particularly the 5-inch 38-caliber dual purpose which is universally regarded as the best seagoing artillery weapon of the war, and the awesome 16-inch 50-caliber that had basically the same performance as the Japanese 18.1-inch gun. The limited use 12-inch gun on the Alaska class large cruisers was another really outstanding naval weapon, but only two ships were completed with it and they arrived late in the war.

Again, it would take me a long time to explain all the reasons why, but briefly they include better trainability, higher rates of fire, better fire control, heavier shells in most newer guns of 6-inches or larger, the American exclusive VT proximity fuse which was light years ahead of anything anybody else had, and other factors.

The VT fuse was also used on some land guns, notably the Long Tom, and it absolutely crushed the German infantry at El Guettar in North Africa and in defense of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.
Nice write up  
section125 : 6/18/2019 1:03 pm : link
Dog.
Forgotten Weapons did a great series on the Thompson  
Gary from The East End : Admin : 6/18/2019 1:13 pm : link
There were four videos covering the creation and different models over the years.

It was a tremendously expensive weapon to make and it cost the Army a lot of money. There were changes over the course of the war to make it simpler and cheaper. Even after all that, it's successor, M3, was half the price.

I'm not a gun guy, but I love this guy's channel.
Thompson 1921: The Original Chicago Typewriter - ( New Window )
It used to drive my Dad crazy watching war...  
Crispino : 6/18/2019 6:06 pm : link
movies where a guy would pick up .50 caliber machine gun fire it with his front hand on the barrel. My father said that barrel would be white hot, and that you could never fire it that way.
It used to drive my Dad crazy watching war...  
Crispino : 6/18/2019 6:12 pm : link
movies where a guy would pick up .50 caliber machine gun fire it with his front hand on the barrel. My father said that barrel would be white hot, and that you could never fire it that way.
Sorry for...  
Crispino : 6/18/2019 6:12 pm : link
the double post.
My Father Was Issued a ,30 Cal Carbine,  
clatterbuck : 6/18/2019 7:28 pm : link
he was in quartermaster, gasoline supply, landed D-Day +6. He carried it through France, Belgium, Germany but never fired it in combat.
My Father Was Issued a ,30 Cal Carbine,  
clatterbuck : 6/18/2019 7:30 pm : link
he was in quartermaster, gasoline supply, landed D-Day +6. He carried it through France, Belgium, Germany but never fired it in combat.
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