During World War II, the Japanese Imperial Navy put to sea with a torpedo, the Type 93 known as the Long Lance, that was both hazardous to handle but extremely effective when put in the water. The nearly three ton torpedo sunk many an allied ship in the Pacific over the course of the war.
By late in the war, the Type 93 was proving its worth, but Japan was failing the…Continue
Light, man portable anti-tank weapons remain a constantly changing, evolving and eagerly sought infantry weapon development. These handheld munitions, used for not only tanks but also lightly armored vehicles as well as structures, are always being refined to squeeze the maximum punch out of a minimal envelope.
World War II saw several anti-tank weapons, but arguably…Continue
Today, look at any firearms website or magazine and there are dozens of visible and invisible aiming devices for weapons. From visible flashlights to IR lasers, rifles and pistols have received lavish technological attention in the name accuracy. However, this idea of attaching a light to a weapon is far from new.
Wherever the spot of light was, the bullet would…Continue
Foreign object damage is the scourge of aviation. Anything that can foul, collide, obscure or damage an aircraft can potentially bring it down. Whether its a bird strike or a bit of rock thrown up from an airfield into an engine, FOD can cripple or even destroy an aircraft.
During World War II, Germany aviation designers looked to something simple in order to halt the…Continue
Small-arms designers have from day one sought innovative or just plain different ways to create a a light, efficient weapons design. Reliable, a must. Light weight, whenever possible. Interoperability with other weapons systems, the Holy Grail. During World War II, Japanese forces possessed a light machine gun that attempted such a combination, the Type 11.
As Germany collapsed upon itself in the closing months of World War II, Allied units raced forward, each nation jockeying the first to cross the Rhine. To do this with rapidity, it sometimes meant that forces were ahead of their support, both logistically and martially. Bad weather grounding close air support, or lagging artillery meant that infantry and mechanized units…Continue
Arming guerrillas and insurgents, especially during World War II, was accomplished in two fashions. One was to bundle up any recent front-line weapons and get them to the fighters of an occupied nation. The other was design simple, easily mass produced weapon that were more disposable than maintainable. It also had a significant psychilogical impact on both the occupied and…Continue
When U.S. forces battled from island to island in the Pacific theater of World War II, Marines and soldiers came upon a small, portable mortar left behind by retreating Japanese forces. At first glance, to American eyes, the baseplate looked like mount for placement on a bent knee, earning it the knickname the knee mortar (see below.)
However, firing the compact tube…Continue
During World War II, the fighting forces that were Allied and Axis paratroopers were the cutting edge of warfare. Today, special operations have the cache, but 70 years ago, the swagger and elite belonged to the paratroopers. And along with that stature, came a series of special weapons designed specifically for them.
One such weapon was the unique FG-42, the…Continue
Last summer we featured the Fairbairn combat smatchet, a fat bladed weapon that was one part axe, another part short sword. Designed by William E. Fairbairn it became a little known weapon in the inventory of British soldiers during World War II. Fairbairn would also design the now ubiquitous double edged dagger now synonymous of English commandos.
A barrage weapon, the UP (Unrifled Projectile) rocket was a barrage weapon system fielded on ships of the British navy as well as put into field emplacements- Z batteries- around England as part of the Home Guard defense…Continue
Added by Jake Holman Jr. on September 21, 2011 at 2:00pm — No Comments
Last week we featured the Brandt compressed gas mortar, a surprisingly effective quirky weapon of World War I. Jump forward to World War II and we'll examine another odd mortar, this one fielded by the Japanese throughout the Pacific theater.
It was the Barrage Mortar, an uncomplicated piece of tube artillery with devastating aspirations beyond its…Continue
The basic muzzle loaded mortar has been around for centuries, with few tweaks here and there. But it was during World War I when an unusual mortar was fielded by…Continue
Finding new uses for obsolete or old munitions have been a part of warfare for centuries. But during World War II, Axis powers found new uses for explosives in ways that proved devastatingly effective.
On the morning of December 7, an anonymous Nakajima B5N "Kate" flew over Pearl Harbor amid the flak, flame and destruction with the majestic American…Continue
Added by Jake Holman Jr. on August 31, 2011 at 2:00pm — No Comments
Wallis Barnes, inventor of the famous bouncing bomb, turned his attention to more conventional gravity bombs, but of tremendous size. The results were the Tallboy and Grand Slam (above) penetrators, the Earthquake bombs of World War II.
Conventional air dropped ordnance, both bombs were distinguished by their size and potential destructive power. The Tallboy,…Continue
Added by Jake Holman Jr. on August 24, 2011 at 2:00pm — No Comments
The Allies needed to strike at the industrial heart of Germany. The Ruhr River Valley was a main artery for the Nazi war machine, keeping it alive in part by harnessing the power of the river through a series of dams. Take out those dams, the Allies wondered, and the blood would stop flowing?
But how to destroy massive dams? UK aeronautical engineer Barnes…Continue
One-shot weapons didn't seem to have a place on the battlefields of World War II, except in German aircraft. As Luftwaffe designers sought out more efficient ways of destroying targets, specifically on the ground, they began a program of vertically mounted one-shot weapon systems.
The SG-113 Forstersonde was a down-ward facing cluster of recoiless weapons…Continue
Vasily Zaytsev, the prolific Soviet sniper of World War II, liked the rapid-fire ability of the SVT-40. Even with his beloved Mosin-Nagant racking up most of his enemy kills, the Hero of the Soviet Union believed in the rapid follow-up shots of the semi-automatic rival of the M1 Garand.
It, the SVT-40, a refined version of the SVT-38 was to be the standard…Continue
When the United States entered the Soviet war with Afghanistan, they did so from the shadows. They helped arm and fund the Mujahadin fighters that would ultimately expel the Soviet bear. One of the more important arrow in the quiver of the Afghan fighters was the American supplied Stinger, surface to air missile. The man-portable SAM was a key piece in knocking down low…Continue
When machine guns were first mounted to aircraft at the dawn of aviation, tacticians quickly realized that in order to score kills any weapon needed to get the maximum number of rounds on target as fast as possible. High rates of fire were the natural solution, but they also proved to be bullet hogs.
One German designer, however, found a different approach to…Continue