Sunday, April 11, 2010

Marine Corps Weapons World War Two

In Pacific we have seen the 1st MARDIV deploy to Guadalcanal with 1903 Springfield 03A3 in .30-06

The 30-06 was a .30 caliber round was a 150 grain bullet. Some experts from that era may chirp and say it was a 152 grain. Never the less the firing tables back then were out at 800 yards with iron sights. The 03A3 was a clip fed five round magazine bolt action rifle.

It was designed after the Spanish American War. The designs of the Krag and Mauser rifles were combined in a unique design for the time. It was first fielded along the Mexican border while Black Jack Pershing was chasing Pancho Villa. Teddy Roosevelt rejected the bayonet as it was a rod type. Having "seen the elephant" in Cuba he wanted a bayonet that was sturdy. The rifles had to be retooled. The bayonet was designated the m-1905 and was 16 inches in length.

Springfield was an accurate weapon. In WW1 the Germans thought they were under machine gun while facing the Marines. The fire was so accurate and at a distance of 800 yards the Germans were convinced they were up against Machine Guns. The deadliest infantrymen in the world. Marine Riflemen.

Hence the comment by one of the actors about going to war with his fathers rifle.

In 1936 the Army began looking for a new rifle and it began fielding the M-1 Garand. A gas operated piston rifle. More moving parts, but an 8 round ENBLOC clip made for a fast steady rate of fire. The Marines saw them when the US ARMY arrived on Guadalcanal. The Marines began seeing them in 1943 when they retrained in Australia.

Jerry remarked that he fired and trained with the M-1 at Parris Island. Much to his chagrin he complained that the sights were off and he was stuck with the score when he left boot camp. Upon arrival to Camp Lejuene he was issued an M-1 to take into combat. The usual load was about 120 round per man. (A Marine today in A-Stan carries up to twelve 30 round magazines for his M-16A4)
"Once I got to Hawaii and found out what my job was I got rid of it for an M-1 Carbine. I wanted a .45 Colt pistol but that didn't happen. I wanted to be able to carry more ammo and the Carbine was lighter but had a 15 round clip. Two magazines on the stock of the rifle and a couple more on my belt."

The .30 Caliber Carbine round was about 110 grains and was equivalent to something between a .38 Cal or .357 Magnum. Nothing real great for stopping power. When I asked Jerry about that he shrugged his shoulders and said:
"Well, we had a solution for that. We'd cut a cross in the top of the bullet. When it hit something it would expand like a hollow point."
Yeah, typical Marine solution. Adapt, Improvise and Overcome.

The Springfield was still a main stay with Scout snipers in the Marine Corps during World War II. Rangers in both the Pacific Theater Operations (PTO) and European Theater Operations (ETO) would carry the Springfield for certain operations.

The Carbine eventually was issued with an infra red scope and battery pack to the Marines when they hit Okinawa. It was the forerunner of Night Vision. Great weapon system for the time.

Today a Marine Rifleman can utilize an ACOG scope with a Night Vision Device and hit out to 800 meters with his M16A4. While out at Gunsite, I worked with two Marine Corps Warrant Officers. They just shake their heads in awe of guys like Jerry. However they did say, the 18 year old Marines of today are just as accurate and handy as their predecessors.

Last Sunday I hauled out an M1 Garand and an M1 Carbine. Jerry chuckled when he held the Garand he remarked
"Eight Rounds, nine pounds."
Hmm, where did that pop out from. Old habits die hard I suspect.
Jerry quickly gravitated to the Carbine and his eyes lit up. It's been some time but he handled it true fashion. Safe Direction, checked the safety and that the chamber was open. He popped it to his shoulder.
"My eyesight isn't what it used to be. I could fire this one handed if I had too back then. When are we going out to shoot?"
Well, we'll get out to the range. Let's see if Steve Sherlock can do another live feed!

Heading out to see Jerry later on today. Another great night to look forward too.

BTW I brought back a new cover and shirt for Jerry from the National Museum of the Marine Corps. I brought the same cover back for Steve Cileli. Reports so far is that Jerry and Steve have been wearing their new cover all week.

"The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle."
General John Pershing Commander American Forces in World War 1.

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