Garand Wwii

Posted in World War by admin on November 26, 2011

How do weapons today (handheld, not tanks, ships or aircraft) compare with those used in WWII?

Any sources or information/facts would be helpful. I've tried searching, but it's near impossible to find anything about weapons comparison that doesn't have to do with video games. Thanks.

If you are referring to small arms things have changed a great deal.

In the 1939-45 period many armies such as the British/Commonwealth, Soviet's and even the American's still employed revolvers (your classic "6-shooter") as a standard side arm. Today revolvers are unheard of as military issue, all armed forces today using some manner of magazine-fed semi-automatic pistol cabapble of shooting 13-15 times before reloading.

Sub-machine guns were used fairly extensively by nearly everybody during WWII. SMG's are individual weapons capable of fully-automatic fire that use pistol ammunition. Because of this the effective range is relatively low; between 50 and 100 meters. SMG's were most commonly issued to infantry squad leaders, the logic being that the SMG being essentially a self-defense weapon the squad leader would be less tempted to engage the enemy himself. This would leave him free to assess the tactical situation and direct his men. Vehicle crews such as tankers also were often issued SMG's. European armies who were more dependent on slow-firing infantry rifles tended to use them more than the American's. Popular models were the M1 Thompson, M3 "Grease Gun", MP40 and Sten. Today SMG's are rarely used by the military for reasons we will get to momentarily.

The standard rifle of most European countries and the Japanese during WWII was usually some form of bolt-action model such as the French MAS 36, British Lee Enfield (I have one of these and love it), Japanese Arisaka, Soviet Mosin-Nagant and German Mauser Gewehr Kar 98k. These would have a magazine holding 5 or 10 rounds but after firing each round the shooter would have to manually operate the bolt to eject the fired case and load the next round. The U.S. and Soviet Union adopted semi-automatic rifles prior to WWI - the M1 Garand and Tokarev SVT-40 - but only the American's were able to produce enough to make it standard. The M1 held 8 rounds and could fire them off as fast as you could pull the trigger. This gave an American infantry squad of 11-men substantially more firepower than an enemy unit of similar size armed with bolt-action rifles. All of these weapons fired large caliber (7 to 8mm or around 0.30-cal) high-velocity bullets (750-850 meters/second give or take) that were accurate to 1,000 meters or more. The guns were long (typically around 1,100mm) and heavy (4.5 to 5.0kg) to absorb the recoil of such powerful ammunition.

The German's were the first to figure out that infantry rarely shoot at anything more than 300 meters away so having a big heavy rifle firing a big powerful bullet like that was a waste. Thus the developed the Sturmgewehr (assault rifle) 44 (Stgw 44) which fired a 7.92x33mm bullet at 650m/s instead of the full-powered 7.92x57mm at 800m/s. This allowed for a shorter rifle that was easier to handle, larger magazine capacity (30 rounds instead of 10) and the option of controllable fully-automatic fire - effectively making each rifleman a machine-gunner at short range. Today all first-rank armies use something that follows that same basic concept. The American M16A2 fires a 5.56x45mm bullet instead of the M1's 7.62x63mm from a weapon that weighs little more than half as much. Such "assault rifles" effectively replace both the old full-powered battle rifles and the sub-machine gun.

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