No nation or race had a sole claim to courage

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

Dunlap shares some miscellaneous thoughts on men, officers, and war:

Someone a long time ago said that no nation or race had a sole claim to courage, or words to that effect, and how right he was. As to soldiering, the Germans are probably the best, because they seem to enjoy the regimentation and cooperation necessary in most military endeavors. A German soldier remembered his training and used it, while most others kept their thoughts on home or the past until they were in the mill. They were inclined to pretend all military operations were on a high military plane, professionally, you know, and as a rule treated prisoners well enough. Many a wounded Allied soldier received the finest medical care from them. British Eighth Army men told of German medical corps men working side by side with their own during and after battles.

There was a little cruelty in German POW camps. Also, more than one British soldier, wounded badly, was booby-trapped by Afrika Korps men. American and British prisoners were sometimes shot (few soldiers feel angry about this — Americans probably killed more prisoners than all the rst of the others combined). Most of the atrocity stuff was confined to civilians and done more by the Nazi political SS political units than regular army men.

But do not fall for that “Good German-Bad Nazi” line — they were all for Hitler and his plans, whether they belonged to the Nazi party or not. SS men did not fly the bombers over Rotterdam or Coventry. The German leaders were not all screwballs, as our propagandists painted them. Goering was one of the most intelligent organizers and leaders they had, even if he acted like a clown and was not always backed up by the ground forces. Rommel was a top-notch field commander, and Guderian just about as good. Von Runstedt has been called the ablest army commander in the war by nonpartisan observers.

A Britisher once told me that they considered the Scots regiments the best fighting men in the world, because they were not only courageous, intelligent and cold-blooded fighters, but also because they seemed to actually enjoy combat. Next to them he rated the Ghurkas, saying they openly enjoyed fighting but were not as coldly calculating as the Scots. And he thought as a nation, the Germans produced the best armies.

I will go along with him, for with two wars to judge by, even I can see that it has been necessary to outnumber them and outweigh their equipment three to one, giving us the best of it. If they did not mix their military genius with a good percentage of stupidity, we would probably be speaking German now. They win the battles and lose the wars, always failing to see when they could win. Bad sense of timing, I guess. Their equipment and development work was of course very good, and production methods as good as ours in most cases. Item for item, their artillery was the best in use — but they did not have enough of it. Their tanks were better than ours in most respects. Their aircraft were good, but they did not have enough. Spread out and outnumbered in Russia, they lost millions of men, yet it was still a battle to take Germany. I can respect the German Army, but I do not like any part of it. It came so close to winning I hate to think about it.

As for the Japanese, he had just one strong point — he was not afraid to die. He was also patient and had plenty of physical endurance for his size. Many Nips were intelligent, but most were rather backward when it came to heads-up fighting. On a man-to-man basis in jungle work they were pretty good, but when equipment and large-scale teamwork entered the picture they did not have much or know what to do. They considered themselves better hand-to-hand fighters than Americans, which was the motivation behind most of their banzei charges (given up as a basic tactic about the middle of 1944). I will compliment them by saying I think they were about the ablest of all night prowlers, although they did not know enough about efficient exploitation of their training and ability. They seemed to think they could win the war if they could only scare us a little and a good deal of their effort went to that end rather than to real fighting. They were hard up for a lot of equipment. Good as they were at infiltration, they seldom had knives to fight with at night! What jobs of that kind turned up they had to use their long bayonets on. How they cut the grass and vegetation for their ever-present camouflage is beyond me. Once in awhile we would find one with a pocketknife. I saw one hara-kiri knife and one knife so oddly shaped it may have been a special equipment tool of some kind, and that is all the Jap cutting equipment I did see in a year in the Pacific fighting areas, excepting swords. Even in Japan in their army storehouses I found nothing at all in the way of machetes or sheath knives.

[...]

When they began their aggression against the U. S. they mistakenly tried frightfulness as a war tactic, on the childish assumption they could “dishearten” American soldiers. The result was for us to declare them out of bounds as humans and our combat soldiers destroyed Japs as they would vicious animals, exterminating divisions.

The Moisin-Nagant is distinctly third-rate

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Dunlap gets around to describing Russian small arms:

In the rifle line, the U.S.S.R. used Moisin-Nagants, and M95 Winchesters in 7.62mm (.30 caliber); Pattern ‘14 Enfields and 1905 Ross rifles in .303 British caliber, and Mauser 98’s and M29’s in 7.9mm. The English arms were taken from Latvia in 1939 (England had given them to Latvia in 1918) and the Mausers were captured when Russia and Germany split Poland in 1939. The Winchester 95’s and a large percentage of the Moisin-Nagants were made in the U.S. during World War I. The Winchester is, I believe, the only lever-action rifle used in either War I or II as a military arm by any of the belligerents.

[...]

The Moisin-Nagant is distinctly third-rate — meaning not as good as the Mauser or Mannlicher systems, but it was apparently a cheap weapon to make, for Europe was flooded with them; also parts of Wisconsin.

[...]

Back in the old days in Russia, the peasant conscripts were usually completely illiterate and ignorant of the metric system, so their weapons were sighted on the old Russian system based on paces. Since the U.S.S.R. has worked up a fair education program in the past 25 years, they began marking their gun sights in the more efficient meters.

[...]

To explain, the Old Russian distance measuring method is based on the “arshin” (meaning “pace,” or step, equaling 28″ or .71 meters). Three arshins make one “sazhen” and 500 sazhens equal one “verst”; now you know what a verst is.

[...]

The Russians really concentrated on the autoloaders and they had some good ones — the Simonev 36 using the curved 15-round magazine, and the Tokarev 38 and 40 models, 10-shot repeaters.

[...]

That carbine is really an infantry weapon — only seven pounds. These guns of course use box magazines and can be clip-loaded as can Mauser and Lee-type rifles. They are gas-operated, as explained in the section of German semi-automatic rifles.

[...]

Several submachine guns, including .45 caliber lend-leased U.S. Reisings were used, the best being the M41 described under German guns. The Models 34 and 38 (Federofs) were simple blowback types, using 25-round straight magazines, and all were for the 7.63mm Russian pistol cartridge which is approximately the same as the Mauser 7.63 pistol cartridge in dimensions and ballistics.

[...]

The Nagant 7.62mm revolver was seven-shot, and used a cartridge case longer than the cylinder, with the bullet seated below the mouth of the case. When the cylinder revolved it moved back and then forward, placing the protruding end of the cartridge case in the rear of the barrel, the idea being to keep gas from escaping. The gun was smallbore and not very effective, but fairly reliable, and, as previously indicated, popular enough to be used by several other nations.

[...]

Personally, I think the diameter too small, though, of course, I would hate to be shot with a .30 caliber pistol.

[...]

The greatest asset of the Degtyarov is its ability to operate with an absolute minimum of lubrication, an important point in a cold country, and a point which caused the Germans to send quite a few of the guns to Africa in an effort to test them in desert conditions, where oil meant picking up sand and grit and dry guns were desirable.

The Norwegians are riflemen

Monday, May 20th, 2019

The Norwegians are riflemen, Dunlap notes:

Both the 1912 and 1895 models [of Norway's service rifle, the Krag-Jorgensen] are very well-built guns, with excellent stocks. The Norwegians are riflemen and know what stocks should be like for accurate shooting. All their rifles excepting the old Remington “Lund” have full pistol grips and high-comb buttstocks.

The payoff comes on the 1930 Model, probably the highest development in European military bolt-action rifles. It corresponds to our old DCM Springfield Sporter, though longer and undoubtedly a target model. This rifle was made for accurate shooting, with its semi-heavy barrel and aperture sights. The stock was true sporter length, with short forend, but it did have finger grooves. A full pistol grip buttstock with scant drop made for ease of sighting and American-type loop slings were used. The rear sight was a receiver aperture type, appearing very like our target sights, and very close to the eye. Elevation was from 100 to 1,100 meters, and provision was made for windage adjustment. Overall length of this 6.5mm deluxe job was 47.5″; barrel 30″; weight 11 pounds. No mention was made of its use with telescopic sights.

This was the only metallic-sighted rifle the Germans rated effective at 600 meters. They considered 400 meters the effective range of all other rifles used against them (including our Springfields), rating the telescopic-sighted sniper rifles good to 600 meters.

The French infantryman was considered a bayonet specialist

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

Dunlap can’t resist poking some fun at the French:

The French infantryman was considered a bayonet specialist rather than a rifleman and as such was equipped with long bayonets and lousy guns.

[...]

The Lebel was one of the better-known bayonet handles of its day.

[...]

There were modifications of stocks and sights on all, and at least some carbines had an unusual front sight, which was a double blade affair, with open center — the mark was caught between the blades rather than over a single sighting point. It simplified holding over on stationary targets, but I do not think it would be much good on moving ones, or in bad light.

Above the bolt rifles, France had a semi-automatic rifle left over from World War I, the M1918, which I suspect would have caused a furor in infantry tactics had they perfected it a year or so earlier and if they had had the sense to use it as a rifle rather than a supporting weapon. For 1918 it was good; for 1940, not so good. It was a gasoperated five-shot autoloader, caliber 8mm Lebel.

[...]

I do not believe either was ever made in numbers, and they were dropped after World War I because they were too expensive! The French have always been “thrifty” folk.

On submachine guns the French were hopeless.

[...]

French machine guns were quite sad.

Shooting in the army is discouraged

Saturday, May 18th, 2019

Dunlap shares some of his thoughts on pistols:

In the Pacific pistols were chiefly valuable against infiltrating Japs sneaking into our areas at night, and in foxholes or close-quarter fights handguns were easy to point and shoot in a hurry. I saw dozens of .45’s carried loaded and at full cock at all times in front areas of the 1st Cavalry Division, with the thumb safety in place. The men claimed that in a pinch it took too long to cock the hammer. It is a fact that the Colt type .45 is not too handy to cock with the thumb of the gun hand. For that reason I believe that the German P.38 was a desirable military arm because of its double-action feature.

My greatest objections to the U.S. .45 pistol were that it was both hard to shoot and inaccurate. For some reason — size of butt, psychology — I don’t know exactly what, it is much harder for the average man to hit a mark with a .45 autoloader than with almost any other handgun. He may take a .45 revolver and do fairly well, but give him the pistol and he is a lost ball in high weeds. With only a little practice (and some intelligent instruction) the pistol can be mastered well enough to be an effective short-range weapon, but as a rule, the soldier does not get practice. Shooting in the army is discouraged. Too much bother handling the range; use too much expensive ammunition; dangerous anyhow — may shoot somebody.

A lot of people will be insulted by my stating the gun is inaccurate. Most of them will probably be either target shots or ex-soldiers who had experience with good pistols. I am talking about service pistols, the kind of production-line tool issued to the military personnel, not a Colt commercial arm or a gunsmithed prewar Colt Army gun. The average issue .45 pistol will shoot about 20″ groups at 50 yards, and that is not good enough for me. Include the human error in the deal and the result is even worse.

None of the military pistols is perfect. The Polish Mod. 35 is probably the most rugged gun; the Luger the most accurate; the P.38 Walther the fastest to get into action; the Belgian GP the best-fitting and most effective for battle use because of its 13-round magazine; and the U. S. M1911 & 1911A1 the largest caliber, if you consider that an asset. I do not — I think .36 caliber big enough, which is a personal opinion only.

The Polish pistol should have a slightly smaller butt; the Luger is unreliable and the weakest of the 9mm high powered pistols; the P.38 has its butt proportions not so perfect, and its safety-hammer release is liable to breakage; the grip tang on the Browning is not large enough to protect large hands; the Colt has too many parts in the recoil system — link, floating guide, etc.

The .45-caliber 1911 now has a reputation as an extremely easy-to-shoot pistol with good accuracy — and carrying the gun loaded, with a round in the chamber, and cocked, with the safety on, is standard practice.

I cannot think of a better way to screw up a road junction

Friday, May 17th, 2019

Dunlap discusses .50-caliber Brownings:

For destroying thin-skins (unarmored vehicles) it was really the ticket, and often the boys used them on Nips in fairly open country, spraying tracers and the explosive incendiaries over the landscape at a great rate. Machine gunners told me that they could do phenomenal shooting at great ranges, using optical sights or firing indirectly, as do artillery pieces, but I do not know of any place in the Pacific where such use was made of these guns. Europe was much better suited to that sort of gun work, for I cannot think of a better way to screw up a road junction than to work a .50 up to within a couple or three miles, set it in a hollow, camouflaged, and every so often throw a few armor piercers or incendiaries over to the crossing. The blue-tipped incendiaries explode on contact, with flash, report and puff of smoke. All ground guns could fire single shots at choice and very accurate fire was possible. Even full auto-fire was not hard to control.

It can really mow things down

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Dunlap felt that the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was a good gun, but it required too much shop maintenance for use as a field weapon:

The BAR should not be considered a light machine gun, such as the Bren or the Breda 30 or the Degtyarov, but rather an automatic shoulder weapon, a flexible infantry arm only a half-step above the M1. I believe Browning intended it to be this kind of arm.

[...]

It fires from an open bolt and its strong spring jolts the gun enough to make accuracy rather a matter of hope than holding. Beyond 200 yards the BAR is mainly valuable as a harassing weapon; up to 200 it can really mow things down, in the hands of a good man. That is important, too; I think it takes longer to make a good BARman than a good rifleman. He needs plenty of practice with live ammunition.

[...]

One thing sure, if a man has any tendency to flinch, a Browning will intensify it. It took me two years to get used to shooting BARs, but I finally was able to master them, being able to completely control them.

There were times when real machine guns paid off:

Too, there were times in the early Pacific warfare when watercooled .30s paid dividends, but after the Nips woke up to the fact that nine out of 10 of their banzai charges ended with them running out of soldiers, business was not so booming.

[...]

For aircraft use, the faster a gun fires, the better.

The bazooka is a fine example of the Ordnance procedure

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

The bazooka is a fine example of the Ordnance procedure, Dunlap says:

In its original form it was light, cheap and simple. If it worked, fine. If it did not, you threw it away and forgot it. Then the modifications began; a tube let go somewhere so henceforth they were wire-wrapped for strength. I don’t think that would help much if a rocket did pop in the barrel, but the ammunition was bettered also, and they seldom did. That was not very bad, for an alteration (wire-wrapping, I mean!). Then the battery holes in the wooden stocks had to be drilled out for standard size flashlight batteries rather than make the boys carry smaller ones as originally specified. So after that batteries were always stuck in the wood. Then a plastic optical sight was put on, it becoming opaque in three days. Extra guards were put on the front to keep some of the rocket trail from the operator and several types of front sights appeared. Then it was redesigned completely, into a two-piece type, coupling in the middle and with a magneto-principle trigger mechanism doing away with batteries. And a strap-iron shoulder piece. By now it was so heavy and cumbersome no soldier could carry the damn thing more than 50 yards on level ground. The last I heard was that they were trying to make it out of aluminum in order to get the weight down to a reasonable one-man load again. The intervening one-piece jobs were useful though, and the cavalry appreciated them. When they short-circuited and became helpless, they still served until repaired; being just the right length for corner poles on pyramidal tents.

The one great fault of American ordnance is that it can never let well enough alone

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

As designed, the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) weighed less than 16 pounds, Dunlap notes, and was semi- as well as full-automatic. That was back in 1918:

When World War II broke, the gun weighed 19.4 pounds, was full-automatic only, and called the M1918A2 (between the two were three or four experiments in remodeling, including the 1922 machine rifle, one of the worse abortions). The one great fault of American ordnance is that it can never let well enough alone on any item. Rather than redesigning or adopting a new type, the original model is “modified” time and again. With each improvement the BAR got heavier and harder to handle, until even the boys up high began to blush (they got the weight below 20 pounds for the books by forgetting to count the adjustable butt rest, or monopod, a holdover from the machine-rifle job, and used for holding the guns nice and pretty for field inspections).

What if he stops running the instant the gun goes off?

Monday, May 13th, 2019

Dunlap didn’t have much faith in long-range rifle fire:

Beyond 450 or 500 yards effective rifle shooting at humans is at the very least half luck, and do not believe anything else. Slight mistakes in range calculation mean considerable variation in points of impact. If the guy is moving at all, he can move enough to make you miss him during the time the bullet is in the air! I know all about leading a running mark, etc.; what if he stops running the instant the gun goes off?

[...]

The Springfield was considered the most accurate rifle we had, even though the average service rifle was no bargain as issued. Using M2 ball ammunition I was never able to make a Garand shoot better than 8″ groups at 200 yards, and, frankly, two-thirds of the Springfields would not do much better. I do believe, however, that if I had at least 10 new M1s to cross-check against each other, and switch parts here and there to change tolerances, it might be possible to get groups close to 4″, or two minutes of angle, although it might be necessary to experiment with handloaded ammunition or M1 ball service or National Match government loadings.

[...]

They all change their points of impact fast, as the thin barrel heats up, and the fact that the handguards and gas cylinder assembly are fastened to it and interfere with its vibration or whip, does not make for high accuracy.

Submachine guns did a lot of work in the jungles

Sunday, May 12th, 2019

The Thompson .45 submachine gun underwent three or four changes during the war, in the interests of production manufacture and simplification, but essentially remained the same, Dunlap explains:

Like the M1, it was a weapon I did not like but ended up respecting. Here again, weight was the drawback — the original M1928 model went 10.8 pounds without magazine and the simplified M1 and M1A1 models ran 10 pounds even, without clips (the M1A1 was the same as the M1 except that it had its firing pin machined on the face of the bolt, integral with it, while the M1 had the older style movable firing pin and “hammer”).

The stocks of all three had too much drop, which made accurate automatic fire from the shoulder almost impossible, since the guns could climb up an off the mark easily.

[...]

Effective range of these guns was about 75 yards in the hands of the average soldier. This because the trigger-pull on the gun was 14 pounds maximum, 10 pounds minimum, and it fires from an open bolt, making accurate semi-auto fire very difficult.

[...]

Submachine guns did a lot of work in the jungles where often only the approximate direction of an enemy would be known and it was desirable to rake an area with bullets. For investigating the tops of coconut palms it was a highly useful tool, and good for hosing dugouts or clearing bunkers at times, but grenades were smarter and safer for the latter jobs.

Insects ruined more carbine barrels than rust

Saturday, May 11th, 2019

The weight of the M1 Garand rifle was to a great extent responsible for the popularity of the .30-caliber carbine. The carbine had other strengths, too, Dunlap explains:

The carbines’ best feature was their non-corrosive ammunition. Because of it the barrels and gas pistons and cylinders could take a lot of neglect and still keep the arm operating perfectly. M1 rifle barrels were always pitted, but the carbines usually looked good inside.

Insects ruined more carbine barrels than rust or lack of cleaning did together. It is a fact! In the Pacific land areas lives a kind of wasp we called mud-daubers, and they love to set up an apartment in a .30 caliber barrel — they will take a .45 or .50, but prefer .30’s. By carrying in mud and secreting some sort of liquid they plug a barrel and if that plug is not discovered and removed within 12 hours, a ring starts to eat into the barrel steel at its top; in 36 hours it will be the depth of a land, cutting both lands and grooves equally, which meant classification as unserviceable by ordnance when inspected or reported. Oil in the barrel made no difference. If the plug was not discovered and the rifle or carbine fired, the barrel usually bulged and was unserviceable anyway.

[...]

In the Pacific the carbines were more reliable and gave less trouble than the M1’s, although in North Africa and in Italy they were not rated so highly.

[...]

The troopers often complained that it took all 15 shots to down a Jap, but I suspect that this was usually because they always shot the Nip 15 times anyway, whether he went down on the first or last round.

The non-expanding bullet would not do much damage unless it hit a vital spot, which was not always easy. Heck, you can kill a man with a .22 Short if you can shoot him in the brain, heart, or spine.

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A military load should render a man hors de combat with almost any hit.

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If our carbine cartridge had been the .38 Super Automatic Colt pistol case, using a .35 or rather, .36 caliber 125-grain bullet at about 1,500 FPS — the soldier would have been a lot better off in battle. Such a bullet would carry a great deal more shocking power than the 1,975 FPS 110-grain .30 caliber carbine bullet.

Killing the enemy is not always as desirable as merely making a casualty out of him. Even the Japs realized this, if a special military report I read is true. According to it, a non-com or two from a 24th Division unit on Leyte stated his outfit suffered many casualties at one location, encountering Japanese riflemen who shot them up. Most of the Americans were shot in the hip or upper leg with 6.5mm bullets, not a fatal wound but one which called for a minimum of two persons to evacuate, besides getting the shot-up soldier out of the battle for months, if not permanently. The opinion was that the enemy was deliberately attempting to cause such serious wounds in order to tie up the additional personnel necessary to care for the men, thereby delaying our advance. Each such hit removed from three to five men from the immediate opposing force, while a man killed was just one less.

[...]

Our officials scoffed for years at the Italians and Japs for putting bayonets on everything and claimed everyone else’s automatic weapons had too high a rate of fire (our carbine now can empty itself at about 850 to 900 RPM — is definitely much faster than the Thompson, comparing cyclic rates). The bayonet business is silly, except for guarding prisoners, for which a repeating shotgun with 00 Buckshot loads is better, and the regular military shotguns have bayonet studs themselves for full-size prodders.

So far as the automatic feature is concerned, I am for it. We really have something, but I am not sure what. The guns were a lot of fun to shoot and came out just a little too late for real use in combat. The full-automatic feature did not affect the ballistics of the cartridge any but did increase the effectiveness of the arm by allowing it to deliver three or four bullets close together on one squeeze of the trigger, rather than one. I think these models would have been ideal for jungle fighting, where the heavier Thompsons were popular.

The cartridge remains a full-jacketed, fairly high-velocity .32-20, which has not been considered a suitable deer cartridge for years. I consider a man in the class of a white-tailed deer as a meat target, taking about the same amount of energy to stop. Except that deer usually get shot with expanding bullets which mess up more flesh. A man is tougher game physically than he thinks. I am no big-game hunter so maybe I will get a lot of argument. As in killing deer, men seldom suffer identical wounds and results always vary somewhat. I have two friends who received Jap bullets in their chests on Luzon; one recovered and went back to his outfit in a very few weeks and the other was discharged after spending about eight months as a sick boy. Just 1″ or 2″ or a change of angle made the difference, though both were uncomplicated lung punctures so far a simple description goes.

One of the clumsiest singleshot arms since muzzleloading days

Friday, May 10th, 2019

“In my opinion,” General Patton once said, “the M1 rifle is the greatest battle implement ever devised.” Roy Dunlap did not share the General’s opinion:

I do not like the M1 rifle and never have, but it proved a much better weapon than I thought it would.

Any gas-operated arm must be kept reasonably clean to reliably operate and the majority of malfunctions in the field proved due to either worn gas cylinders or worn (undersize) pistons on the end of the operating rods. The cylinders are rust-proof, but the pistons rusted if not cleaned daily, wearing undersize rapidly and allowing gas to leak so that the operating rod would not move far enough to the rear to correctly function the action. Barrels did not last long. Noncorrosive ammunition would have been a godsend in the Pacific War. I never saw an M1 barrel shot out but saw thousands rusted out.

The Garand has two faults, to my mind — it is too heavy and it must be loaded with the eight-round charger clip. The latter means you either load it with a full eight-round clip or you have one of the clumsiest singleshot arms since muzzleloading days. I admit that with the complete dropping of our bolt-action rifles using the fiveround Mauser clip and the issue of all U. S. rifle ammunition in the M1 clip this objection is practically nullified, but the fact remains that it is very difficult to keep the M1 rifle fully loaded when firing sporadically. If, say five cartridges of a clip are fired, three remain in the gun, and the five expended ones are well-nigh impossible to replace in the rifle. In action, soldiers simply released and ejected partially-emptied clips and reloaded with full ones in an attempt to keep full effectiveness as long as they could. In some outfits it was customary to empty the rifle — blazing away the remaining cartridges — after the sixth round was fired. It is of course easier and faster to empty the rifle by firing than by stopping to use two hands to hold the bolt back and press the clip release. Infantry fighting is not always correctly pictured, and a lot of people have very little understanding of some phases. Often it was almost man-to-man scale on a life and death basis game of hide-and-seek. In jungle warfare visibility usually was limited and sound played an important part. Japs on Guadalcanal learned that the “ping” of an ejecting M1 clip meant a momentarily-empty rifle and American infantrymen died because of it. Aberdeen was in a slight furor for awhile, trying to silence the noise, make plastic clips, etc.

Probably in Europe such ammunition and loading troubles were not so important, for conditions were different and supplies more plentiful and accessible. The boys could burn out a clip whenever they saw something move, and have another always handy. In the Pacific a lot of the island fighting was in patrol activity where combat conditions could be likened to nothing except big-game hunting — with the game liable to shoot first. Engagements were often short skirmishes or ambushes — exchanges of a few shots, where rifles were used to back up automatic weapons, reversing the usual roles of the weapons. Against a number of scattered, camouflaged targets the Thompsons and BARs were uneconomical, but they could drive the enemy to cover or make him reveal himself getting cover, to be eliminated by riflemen. Where automatic arms in numbers existed, it was of course possible to simply spray the landscape with bullets and relegate the rifle to mopping up on running Nips, or distant shots.

The weight of the blasted rifle got me down — 10 pounds is about two and a half too much for an army rifle if the soldier is to carry it under his own power. Gun writers are always harping on the subject of keeping hunting rifles light in weight, but nobody ever seems to worry about the infantry rifle avoirdupois. The average deer hunter lives a life of ease compared to a combat soldier, yet he wants seven-pound rifles and would be aghast at the thought of going out wearing heavy boots, a three-pound hat, a belt loaded with assorted pouches and 80 rounds of ammunition, and probably a 30-pound pack.

[...]

The Garand’s sights and stock are in my opinion better than those on any other standard military rifle in existence. One of its best points is that it is very easy to teach a man to shoot with; far easier than with the 1903 Springfield.

[...]

Garands did not like the desert, but no other arms did either.

[...]

In the Pacific islands it was naturally necessary to keep the sand out of M1’s around the beaches, but inshore in the jungles and mountains they did OK.

The flying Ginsu doesn’t explode

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon have used a modified version of the well-known Hellfire missile with an inert warhead:

Instead of exploding, it is designed to plunge more than 100 pounds of metal through the tops of cars and buildings to kill its target without harming individuals and property close by.

To the targeted person, it is as if a speeding anvil fell from the sky, the officials said. But this variant of the Hellfire missile, designated as the R9X, also comes equipped with a different kind of payload: a halo of six long blades that are stowed inside and then deploy through the skin of the missile seconds before impact, shredding anything in its tracks.

[...]

The R9X is known colloquially to the small community of individuals who are familiar with its use as “the flying Ginsu,” for the blades that can cut through buildings, car roofs or other targets. The nickname is a reference to the popular knives sold on TV infomercials in the late 1970s and early 1980s that showed them cutting through both tree branches and tomatoes. The weapon has also been referred to as the Ninja bomb.

Back in 2003, RAF Tornadoes were armed with laser-guided concrete bombs, and back in Vietnam the USAF used “lazy dog” bombs — two-inch chunks of steel with fins — which inspired the THOR system of tungsten rods dropped from cheap satellites.

They never really learned how to use what they had anyway

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Dunlap periodically dips back into the alleged topic of his book:

The 1930’s were a period of great research in small arms all over the world, resulting in the U. S. of the adoption of the M1 or Garand rifle; in Germany of the Walther development of the double-action pistol and of the Spandau or roller-bearing machine gun bolt locking by the rotating collar systems; in Italy of the Breda machine guns and Beretta pistols; in England of the Mk. IV or No. 4 rifle and the Bren gun; and in Japan of their gas-operated machine weapons and their 7.7mm rifles.

[...]

Where [the Japanese] cut their own throats on small arms was when they allowed their national poverty to influence them. They would make good ammunition, and pack it in flimsy crates, which dissolved under rough transportation and bad weather. They made fair ammunition, but tried to avoid waterproofing it, so a lot of it went bad in the jungle, as happened often with grenades and mortar shells. The brass in their small-arms ammunition was poor, and in my opinion is the reason why they had a different case for machine guns than for rifles.

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As a Mauser military bolt-action, the Japanese Model 38 modification is one of the very best. The Nips improved a good many features of the original German bolt system, incorporating some ideas not found in any other arm. The bolt stop, for instance, does not contact and batter the rear of the left locking lug, as in other Mausers, including Springfields and Enfields. A second small lug is located directly behind the locking lug (11/16″ between rear surfaces) and this contacts the bolt stop.

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The ejector cut in the Arisaka’s left locking lug is angled so that it does not touch the rear surface therefore the full area of the lug remains unmarred, making for theoretically better locking and wear, since there are no grooves or burrs to carry grit or dirt into the locking recesses and cause undue wear.

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The Arisaka locking lugs are set back from the face of the bolt and rounded on their leading edges. As in the Mauser 98 bolt, this location is a claimed advantage in that the lugs being well back from the bolt face, they are less liable to break or crack diagonally from the face of bolt to rear of lugs.

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The design of bolt mechanism prevents rearward escape of gas, giving almost positive safety to the eyes and face.

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The bolt has the fastest and easiest takedown of any rifle yet encountered.

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Firing pin, striker and cocking piece are combined in one part, hollowed to receive the mainspring inside it. This principle is familiar in machine guns and other automatic weapons, but not seen in bolt rifles very often.

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Unless the rifle is rusted or otherwise out of good condition, it is possible to set and unset the safety by a simple rotating motion of the ball of the right thumb, and it can be operated in complete silence. I am inclined to give the Japs the blue ribbon on this feature, feeling it is the best safety of any military rifle in accessibility, reliability and ease of operation.

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When the Pacific jungle fighting proved that leather was poor stuff, they were ready with a really good substitute, rubberized canvas. Not only rifle and light machine gun slings were made of this material, but also belts, cartridge pouches, bayonet scabbard frogs and at the last, pistol holsters. Water, mold, mildew, bugs — nothing bothered the stuff.

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The famous Japanese no-smoke, no-flash sniper cartridge was their ordinary 6.5mm reduced charge, consisting of a pointed 137-grain cupro-nickel or gilding-metal jacketed bullet, pushed by a scant 30.0 grains of flake nitro-cellulose powder, which appears and acts very similar to that used in the German service cartridge.

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In the ordinary cartridge, either reduced or full load, the flash was practically eliminated by the long barrels which completely burned the powder of the charge. I know from experience that it was just about impossible to spot any smoke from a shot, even in pretty good light.

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The flake type of powder is a little less inclined to smoke than our own tubular-grain types, but most of the “smoke” from a modern rifle is really vapor caused from the meeting of the gases with colder air. In warm air, or especially in warm dry air, the smoke of any firearm is decreased appreciably.

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Now for the Model 94 (1934) pistol! Here the Japs got even for their good work on the preceding handguns; this is the only thing the Japs made that is as bad as the backslapping saps in this country said everything Japanese was. It does not have a single redeeming feature and is a good example of how a pistol should not be made.

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The little-known Japanese officer’s pistol, the 7mm Nambu, was a beautifully made junior-size true Nambu, with grip safety, the one off-set recoil spring, and the same locking system. The 7mm was originally intended to be an officer’s weapon, and the 8mm to be the enlisted men’s sidearm. This idea was too silly to last long even among the medieval-minded samurai worshippers, so did not get far.

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For practical field use in close-up infantry fighting such as went on in the jungles and mountains of the Pacific war where both sides could not park very long at any one spot because of mortar use, the Japanese machine gun was not so good. The gun itself weighed 61 pounds and the tripod 61 more — a total of 122 pounds which is about 90 too much, and is undoubtedly the reason the Japs liked to get our 1919A4 Brownings, weighing only 30 pounds and which one man could carry over his shoulder like a rifle.

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During the war the Japanese developed several nice items in the weapon line but did not get production on any of them to amount to anything. By the time they were able to build first-class equipment the B-29’s were over Japan and they could not even protect their factories. By the time they were able to build good enough antiaircraft guns and fighter planes to combat the bombers, there was not much left to protect or build them with. They never really learned how to use what they had anyway.