Sunday, May 2, 2010

Marine Corps Weapons


1917 Revolver

Colt 1911A1

Reising M55

Wold War II saw the defense industry playing a big catch up game with weapons for the War effort.
My grandfather who was a a National Guard officer told me of picking up weapons all over New England and shipping them to England for Lend Lease. People donated rifles, shotguns and pistols of every make. Meanwhile the War Department was scrambling to mass produce weapons for the US Army and Marine Corps.

We have already profiled some weapons here. Several manufacturers such as Harrington and Richardson in Worcester and United Defense in New Haven began jumping in with all makes of submachine guns. The Reising Model 55 with a folding stock was adopted by the Fleet Marine Force (FMF), Raiders and ParaMarines. Marines carried them into Guadalcanal with some dismal results. It was a .45 Auto Caliber closed bolt SMG. (The Thompson SMG fired from an open bolt.) It contained more moving parts. Like the Reising, it was also hand fitted. Meaning that the parts were not interchangeable. The Reising was designed for Law Enforcment where hand fitted parts might not make a difference. However, in a combat environment where field maintenance was everyday, it became a problem. Eventually the Resing was pulled from the FMF.
When Jerry got to Hawaii he qualified with an M1 Carbine. He wanted the Colt .45 1911A1, it had great stopping power but I think he was glad to have the Carbine.

He " Fam" ( familiarization) fired the Thompson SMG, 1911A1, 1919a1 Light Machinegun, Browning Automatic Rifle and the MA DEUCE. Browning .50 Cal Heavy Machine gun.

"I wanted the Thompson SMG. I thought I was qualifying with it at Hawaii and I'd be able to get issued. Apparently, the course didn't conform to Marine Corps standards. I ended up with the Carbine. I didn't like the BAR. Heavy and it recoiled pretty hard. We had to fam fire all the weapons in case something happened, we knew how to operate everything."

Other weapons we've seen are the M1917 Revolver. Manufactured by Colt and Smith & Wesson. It required half moon clips that you'd put the .45 ACP rounds into and then load into the cylinder. It was a manstopper. Eugene Sledge's character is seen sporting one with a lanyard and the 1917 Cavalry holster. Standard fair back in the day when carrying the 1917 Revolver.

Jerry's fellow Marine, Jones carried a Colt Single Action Army in a western rig. I asked Jerry about Marines carrying various pistols.

"It was personal thing if guys had them they carried them. No one said anything because we were in combat. You wouldn't get away with it Stateside. In combat it was different. It was nice to have a pistol when Jones and I had to clear caves."

The Thompson enjoyed much fame. Carried by gangsters in the Roaring Twenties. Anyone could buy them back them. John Dillinger and Machine Gun Kelly made them famous. Designed by Col. John Thompson for Trench warfare, it was a heavy but dependable weapon. Several models were fielded. It came with a 20 round box or stick magazine. The Tommy gun fired from an open bolt. You can use the magazine to repel boarders if required. Fully loaded it is pretty heavy. A fifty round drum magazine was issued early in the war but it proved cumbersome.

See you tonight after "The Pacific".

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