President Patton Small Arms
While most armies soldiered on with bolt action relics of World War One, World War Two America enjoyed the advantages and disadvantages of the M-1 Garand. The chief problem was in production quantity. America enlisted sixteen million into its armed forces in World War Two and did not complete five million M-1 rifles until 1955. M-1’s in .30-06 were supplemented by two million 1903-A3 bolt actions, six million M-1 Carbines (much smaller cartridge) and two million M1A1 Thompson submachine guns in .45 ACP. The US Ordnance department wanted a new design to replace the pistol, M-1 Carbine, Thompson, M-1 rifle and Browning automatic rifle. Ambitious?
General George Patton promotes the German assault rifle StG (Sturm Gewehr/Assault Rifle) 45 (1945) to replace the M1 Carbine, M1 rifle, Thompson submachinegun and light machinegun/Browning Automatic Rifle in infantry squads. StG 45(M) - Wikipedia The .280/7mm British cartridge gives adequate trajectory and impact past the 300-yard engagement range of the average infantryman. Because the .280 British is longer than the Nazi 8X33mm Kurz, the design must be modified, delaying mass deployment. .280 British - Wikipedia The assault rifle is easily mas produced with a pressed steel receiver and weighs eight pounds. The detachable magazine fed assault rifle accommodates an infrared (IR) Sniperscope and has the range to utilize post WWII advancements.
The Soviet Union ‘independently’ came up with the cartridge M-43 7.62X39mm after experiencing attack from a new German carbine in 1942. Eight-pound Simonov 45 carbines appeared in time for the battle of Berlin. The Simonov is a gas operated semi-automatic carbine with a fixed ten-round magazine. It is reloaded through the top of the action by ten round stripper clips. The Simonov’s had machined receivers and wooden stocks well within Soviet wartime technology.
The AK-47 was designed shortly after WWII with a stamped and riveted sheet metal receiver much like the MP-44/StG-45. The stamped receivers came apart under use until better Russian steel made the AKM possible in the 1960’s. A machined steel variant AK-49 worked okay and accompanied Soviet troops to Hungary in 1956.
Patton’s paratroops are armed with 5.5-pound M1 carbines. The M1 carbine weighs half as much as the World War Two M1 Garand rifle. The cartridge is far weaker with a 110 grain bullet at 2000 feet per second versus 150 grain at 2700 fps for the M-1 Garand rifle. The M1 carbine is loaded from the bottom with a ten or 15 round detachable box magazine. This means an infrared (light) Sniperscope can be placed over the action without hindering loading or overburdening the soldier. Nazi Germany fielded small numbers of the infra-red Vampyr device and used them to defend Tiger Tanks from Soviet sappers.
American infrared sniperscopes were notably effective in defense against Japanese night attacks on Okinawa where the effective range of the Carbine and sniperscope was 75-yards. Sniperscope/Snooperscope: Use During WWII - The Carbine Collector's Club (uscarbinecal30.com)
The 1,200 round per minute MG-42 was built for the 8X57mm Mauser cartridge and was not adapted to the longer .30-06 cartridge successfully. It was no problem to chamber the stamped metal MG-42 machinegun to .280 British. The MG-42 Machine Gun | The National WWII Museum | New Orleans (nationalww2museum.org) I have had the pleasure of firing the MG-3 descendent of the MG-42 from the prone position.
Army Ordnance is looking for a lighter pistol cartridge and pistol. The .45ACP cartridge weighs as much as the .30-06 rifle cartridge and has just 100-yards effective range in the Thompson SMG versus 500-yards for the .30-06 rifle. Odds on favorite is the 9X19mm Luger (now NATO) used by England, Canada and China as well as Nazi Germany. The 9mm weighs half as much as the .45 ACP.
Patton grew up with .45 caliber pistols that worked well in the Philippines’, World War One and World War Two. Patton advocates a compromise .40 caliber that will fit existing 9mm pistols and give adequate stopping power with a flat point bullet. The Canadian built P-35 is modified for the slightly larger caliber. The U.S. Army soldiers on with the .45 ACP 1911A1. The P-35 in 9X19mm Luger is adopted for airborne troops.
Soldiers in trenches are difficult to hit with rifle fire over their heads. Hand grenades can be tossed into foxholes by any soldier able to advance past machineguns. The mortar can drop bombs into trenches and machine gun nests from hundreds of yards away. Having mortars light enough to advance with the troops saves time and radio bandwidth. Not to mention that annoying short falling friendly fire.
The US Army experimented with a light 60mm mortar before World War Two that relied on the skill of the user to estimate range and angle of fire. That didn’t work well and adding a tripod and baseplate brought the weight up to sixty-pounds. Not so portable.
Before World War Two, both the French and Japanese invented 50mm mortars weighing ten pounds and using a fixed firing angle. The French relied on a leveled baseplate with the firing angle controlled by a chain. Okay, if you have time to level the baseplate. The Japanese knee mortar uses a concave baseplate that instantly adapts to varied terrain. One was issued to each infantry squad and carried along the thigh of the user. Angle was held constant with a built-in bubble level while range was controlled by screw-adjusting the barrel length. Okay, if you can see the bubble level. Good place for radium paint. The British used two-inch mortars on armored vehicles in World War Two and later to dispense smoke. Type 89 grenade discharger - Wikipedia
The 3.5-inch, 90mm, super bazooka M-20, was designed to defeat Nazi Tiger tanks in the waning days of WWII. The shaped charge warhead can penetrate eleven-inches of armor at any distance. Most users can hit a tank at 100-yards. The aluminum tube version weighs only eleven-pounds and the tube can be hinged for paratroop deployment. While the anti-tank artillery of WWII weighed several tons, the M-20 can be fitted to a Jeep or VW kubelwagen. The historic US Army dropped this weapon until needed in Korea against the T-34/85.
Recoilless rifles use a massive jet of propellant gas to the rear to counter the recoil of launching a shaped charge (HEAT) forward at 1,000 feet-per-second. Good shots can hit a sitting tank at 1,000 yards. The same rifling spin that stabilizes the shell in flight destabilizes the shaped-charge liquid metal stream on contact. Armor penetration of the 57mm M18 RR is about three-inches while the 75mm M20 will penetrate 4 to 5-inches and was effective versus the T-34/85 in historic Korea.
General Patton promotes shaped-charge High Explosive Anti-tank research to improve the 105mm howitzer performance to equal the 90mm tank gun.
Factors to try are standoff distance between contact fuse and shaped charge, explosive (TNT vs RDX, HMX), Cone angle, Cone/liner material (steel, copper, depleted uranium). Depleted uranium is used for tank sabot rounds, today. Experiments have found depleted uranium rock-drilling charges give three-to-five times the penetration of copper charge liners. Penetration of an optimal depleted uranium liner of a shaped charge: A numerical simulation method - Rongzheng Xu, Li Chen, Jinhua Zhang, Hengbo Xiang, Qin Fang, 2021 (sagepub.com)
A historic idea (1959) was to impress the liner of the 57mm recoilless with counter-rifling, increasing penetration to between four and five-inches. US3726224A - Fluted liners for shaped charges - Google Patents
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Rick Kester is a Viet Nam era veteran living in Northern California with his wife Nancy.