Weapons Of World War II: A Photographic Guide T...
The invention of a military firearm that could produce rapid, repeating fire to overwhelm and repel an attacking force or act as an offensive or defensive force multiplier had been sought for nearly 900 years. Early attempts to invent what today is known as the machine gun did not produce a fully automatic weapon but resulted in often bulky and semi-reliable guns consisting of single shot barrels gathered together and mounted on a gun carriage or tripod. Some of these multi-barreled weapons were hand-held as a pistol or shoulder-arm, and took a considerable time to reload. Though they could be deadly to an attacker, they could be nearly as dangerous to the gunners themselves. Those hand-held arms evolved into repeating arms such as revolvers, semi-automatic pistols and rifles, and fully automatic sub-machine guns and assault rifles. Those arms are not included in this guide.
Weapons of World War II: A Photographic Guide t...
The technological advances made during World War II and the advent of the Cold War (1947-1991) influenced further machine gun refinements throughout the world. The German MG-42 was the basis for modern-day versions made in Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Yugoslavia and influenced the design of such weapons as the American M-60 and the Belgian FN MAG. In the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries, Russian designs predominated. The best known of these were derivatives and copies of Mikhail Kalashnikov's (1919-2013) AK-47 assault rifle developed into modified versions to serve as light machine guns. The DP series of light machine guns were replaced with Kalashnikov's RPD light machine gun and later the RPK light machine gun. Kalashnikov also invented the PK machine gun. Kalashnikov's designs are still in use with the Russian armed forces and many other nations' armed forces, as well as many paramilitary groups.
Although nuclear weapons have only been used twice in warfare, about 13,080 reportedly remain in our world today and there have been over 2,000 nuclear tests conducted to date. Disarmament is the best protection against such dangers but achieving this goal has been a tremendously difficult challenge.
Biological weapons disseminate disease-causing organisms or toxins to harm or kill humans, animals, or plants. They can be deadly and highly contagious. Diseases caused by such weapons would not confine themselves to national borders and could spread rapidly around the world.
The Convention aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of chemical weapons; to prevent their re-emergence; to ensure the elimination of existing stocks of such weapons; and, in so doing, to make the world safe from the threat of chemical warfare.
Before the adoption of the ATT, there was no global set of legal rules governing the trade in conventional weapons. The Treaty sets robust international standards to help guide governments in deciding whether or not to authorize arms transfers. It provides for cooperation and assistance to help countries develop adequate regulatory systems and safe weapons stockpiles.
MissionThe A-10C Thunderbolt II is the first Air Force aircraft specially designed for close air support of ground forces. They are simple, effective and survivable twin-engine jet aircraft that can be used against light maritime attack aircraft and all ground targets, including tanks and other armored vehicles.FeaturesThe A-10C offers excellent maneuverability at low airspeeds and altitude while maintaining a highly accurate weapons-delivery platform. They can loiter near battle areas for extended periods of time, are capable of austere landings and operate under 1,000-foot ceilings (303.3 meters) with 1.5-mile (2.4 kilometers) visibility. Additionally, with the capability of carrying precision guided munitions and unguided munitions, they can employ above, below and in the weather. Their wide combat radius and short takeoff and landing capability permit operations in and out of locations near front lines. Using night vision goggles, A-10C pilots can conduct their missions during darkness.Thunderbolt IIs have Night Vision Imaging Systems (NVIS), goggle compatible single-seat cockpits forward of their wings, Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems, and a large bubble canopy which provides pilots all-around vision. The pilots are protected by titanium armor that also protects parts of the flight-control system. The redundant primary structural sections allow the aircraft to enjoy better survivability during close air support than previous aircraft.The aircraft can survive direct hits from armor-piercing and high explosive projectiles up to 23mm. Their self-sealing fuel cells are protected by internal and external foam. Manual systems back up their redundant hydraulic flight-control systems. This permits pilots to fly and land when hydraulic power is lost. An A-10 Thunderbolt II assigned to Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., prepares to land on a public highway in Alpena, Mich., Aug. 5, 2021. The highway landing was a part of exercise Northern Strike 21-2, a multi-component, multinational exercise hosted by the Michigan National Guard designed to build readiness and enhance interoperability with coalition forces to fight and win. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Scott Thompson)
Until the atomic bomb could be tested, doubt would remain about its effectiveness. The world had never seen a nuclear explosion before, and estimates varied widely on how much energy would be released. Some scientists at Los Alamos continued privately to have doubts that it would work at all. There was only enough weapons-grade uranium available for one bomb, and confidence in the gun-type design was high, so on July 14, 1945, most of the uranium bomb ("Little Boy") began its trip westward to the Pacific without its design having ever been fully tested. A test of the plutonium bomb seemed vital, however, both to confirm its novel implosion design and to gather data on nuclear explosions in general. Several plutonium bombs were now "in the pipeline" and would be available over the next few weeks and months. It was therefore decided to test one of these.
Soon shock and euphoria gave way to more sober reflections. Rabi reported that after the initial euphoria, a chill soon set in on those present. The test director, Kenneth Bainbridge, called the explosion a "foul and awesome display" and remarked to Oppenheimer, "Now we are all sons of bitches." Expressions of horror and remorse are especially common in the later writings of those who were present. Oppenheimer wrote that the experience called to his mind the legend of Prometheus, punished by Zeus for giving man fire, and said also that he thought fleetingly of Alfred Nobel's vain hope that dynamite would end wars. Most famously, Oppenheimer later recalled that the explosion had reminded him of a line from the Hindu holy text, the Bhagavad-Gita: "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." The terrifying destructive power of atomic weapons and the uses to which they might be put were to haunt many of the Manhattan Project scientists for the remainder of their lives.
Probably the best automatic cannon anti-aircraft weapon of World War II, Bofors guns of this type remained in service long after the war ended. This weapon was used on almost every major USA and UK warship of World War II and was a very potent AA gun.These guns are recoil operated and use a monobloc barrel with a detachable breech ring, breech casing and automatic loader. The barrel was attached to the breech ring via an interrupted screw design. The breech block was a vertical sliding type which was developed from the Finspong (Swedish arms manufacturer of the 1800s) 57mm Ssk M/89B. Although often listed as being 60 calibers long, all guns from all nations except Japan were actually 56.25 calibers in length.Development by BoforsThis weapon traces its roots back to a 1918 Krupp design - the Bofors Company was partly owned by German interests until 1930 - but the finished product was entirely a Bofors design owing little or nothing to Krupp influence. During the late 1920s the Swedish Royal Navy approached Bofors a few times with requests to design a new 40 mm AA gun to replace the British 2-pdr. guns currently in service. Bofors showed little interest in this project as the size of any order from the Swedish Navy would be small and they did not see much possibility in foreign orders. However, the Navy persisted and finally offered to help fund the development costs. With this money in hand, Bofors started to actively work on a new AA weapon. The first Bofors test-bed prototype was finished late in the summer of 1930 and this fired three rounds using the automatic loader on 17 October 1930. Design and manufacturing of the first gun followed and single shots with it were fired on 10 November 1931. By 25 November 1931 trials had progressed to firing eight rounds in 7.58 seconds. This showed that the autoloader design concept would work, but more effort was needed before the prototype could meet the 130 rpm requirement. Official trials for the Swedish Navy took place successfully on 21 March 1932. This design was modified into a submarine gun and adopted by the Swedish Navy as the 40 mm L/43 Model 1932.The basic design was further refined over the next two years, with 30,000 hours of drawing board work needed to produce 1,800 working drawings and 1,600 machine tool drawings that made up the improved 40 mm L/60 Model 1934. This model was exported to several countries but not adopted by the Swedish armed forces.It was not until 1936 that the Swedish Army and Navy placed orders for a very slightly modified version and this became the 40 mm L/60 Model 1936 whose basic design was used for most guns produced during World War II by Bofors, the UK and the USA. Although the UK and USA halted production with the end of the war, Bofors continued to manufacture the 40 mm L/60 until 1954 when production was halted in order to concentrate on the more powerful 40 mm L/70 and 57 mm L/60 guns.Use by BritainThe British Army first showed interestin these guns in 1933 and placed an order for 100 of them in 1937.First Royal Navy shipboard use of air-cooled guns was in late 1941 aboardthe battleships Prince of Wales and Nelson and on the cruisers Manchesterand Erebus, although some ships had earlier been temporarily armed withArmy air-cooled guns that had been "rescued" during the evacuation of theNorway invasion forces in 1940. The British water-cooled versionwas developed by copying the Dutch Hazemeyer mounting which had arrivedin Britain in 1940 aboard the Dutch minelayer Willem van der Zaan.The first issue of locally produced water-cooled Bofors guns was to theBlack Swan class sloop HMS Whimbrel in November 1942.The total number of air-cooled gunsbuilt by Australia, Britain and Canada is not accurately known but wassomewhere between 2,100 and 2,800 plus about 200 to 400 guns supplied fromthe United States. Water-cooled guns are better documented with 442Mark IV and 342 Mark XI in service at the end of the war plus 786 water-cooledguns supplied by the USA. These USA weapons had been sent to Britainas a part of Lend-Lease or else were installed on ships refitted in USAshipyards.Use by USAThe US Army was also interested in this weapon and tested a single air-cooled model in 1937. In 1940 the Chrysler Corporation agreed to begin manufacturing air-cooled guns utilizing British blueprints. The USN acquired many of these air-cooled guns during the war, although the quantity used was far less than that of the water-cooled guns.The US Navy had a good deal of pre-war interest in this weapon and BuOrd purchased a sample of an air-cooled twin version from Bofors in early 1940. This arrived in New York from Sweden on 28 August 1940. During the same month, the Dutch escort vessel van Kinsbergen demonstrated these weapons to USN observers in a test off Trinidad. BuOrd formally obtained Swedish licenses in June 1941, although some manufacturing actually started prior to that time. Terms of the license included $500,000 for the manufacturing rights plus $100,000 for two Bofors engineers to help set up production. The two engineers were never sent, so as a result this $100,000 was not paid. Bofors delivered a complete set of metric drawings as part of their end of this contract.It should be noted that the USN considered the original Bofors Model 1936 design to be completely unsuitable for the mass production techniques required for the vast number of guns needed to equip the ships of the US Navy. First, the Swedish guns were designed using metric measurement units, a system all but unknown in the USA at that time. Worse still, the dimensioning on the Swedish drawings often did not match the actual measurements taken of the weapons. Secondly, the Swedish guns required a great deal of hand work in order to make the finished weapon. For example, Swedish blueprints had many notes on them such as "file to fit at assembly" and "drill to fit at assembly," all of which took much production time in order to implement - there is a story that one USA production engineer remarked that the Bofors gun had been designed so as to eliminate the unemployment problems of the Great Depression. Third, the Swedish mountings were manually worked, while the USN required power-worked mountings in order to attain the fast elevation and training speeds necessary to engage modern aircraft. Fourth, the Swedish twin gun mounting supplied to the USA for evaluation was air-cooled, limiting its ability to fire long bursts, a necessity for most naval AA engagements. Finally, the USN rejected the Swedish ammunition design, as it was not boresafe, the fuze was found to be too sensitive for normal shipboard use and its overall design was determined to be unsuitable for mass production.US manufacturers made radical changes to the Swedish design in order to minimize these problems and as a result the guns and mountings produced in the USA bore little resemblance their Swedish ancestors. For example, all but the earliest US guns were built to English measurement units rather than to metric units. To give one additional example of the design differences made for USA produced weapons; the Chrysler Corporation redesigned ten components to suit mass production techniques and this was claimed to have saved some 7,500,000 pounds (3,402,000 kg) of material and 1,896,750 man hours during a year's production, as well as freeing up 30 machine tools for the production of other components.One firm rule adopted early in the redesign process was that any new Allied munition for these weapons needed to be completely interchangeable with existing designs. This allowed ammunition produced by any American or British ordnance manufacturer to be used with any weapon produced by either country, thus greatly simplifying the logistics problems of a world-wide war. In accordance with this rule, the USA originally adopted the British design with the understanding that both the US Army and Navy "would be free to substitute components of proven reliability which would speed production." The fuze designed and produced in Britain was adopted as an interim measure by the USA, but this was considered to be of an unsafe design and unsuitable for mass production techniques. Fortunately, this fuze was almost immediately replaced by one designed by R.L. Graumann of the Naval Ordnance Laboratory. This fuze was simple in design and "ideally suited to mass production." Designated as the Mark 27, this new fuze was found to be 99.9 percent efficient in ballistic acceptance tests, a record not equaled by any other fuze of the time. Both the US Army and the British adopted this fuze for their own production lines. The USN estimated that the adoption of the Mark 27 saved some $250,000,000 during the war. Overall, the USA spent over $700,000,000 on 40 mm ammunition.The first USN pilot twin was completed in January 1942 and the first quad in April 1942. The first shipboard quad installation was on the gunnery-training ship (ex-battleship) USS Wyoming (AG-17) on 22 June 1942, and the first twin installation was on the destroyer USS Coghlan (DD-606) on 1 July 1942. The USA started a massive production program for these weapons and a monthly production rate of 1,600 Army guns and 135 Navy twin-barrel guns was achieved by December 1942. Production continued to ramp up in the following year, so much so that the Army found that they had more guns than they could field and production of air-cooled single guns fell from a peak of 13,485 in 1943 to 1,500 guns in 1944 and then halted with no guns for the Army being produced during the last year of the war.However, the needs of equipping Navy ships were not fully met until well into 1944. By that time, the pre-war 1.1" gun had been almost totally replaced by Bofors guns. During 1944, 6,644 single mountings and approximately 3,650 twin and 750 quad mountings were produced with production still ramping up with at least 796 single, 3,020 twin and 800 quad mountings being manufactured in 1945 until the end of the war halted production. To illustrate how many of these weapons were required by the USN, note that out of the more than 400 destroyers built for the USN between 1934 and 1946, only the four destroyers of the pre-war Gridley class (DD-380) and those destroyers sunk early in the war did not receive at least some Bofors guns.Part of this increasing demand was the late war program of replacing 20 mm Oerlikon guns with the Bofors 40 mm guns, as the smaller weapon was found to be ineffective against Japanese Kamikazes. However, by early 1945, even the Bofors was determined to be inadequate against suicide attacks. As a result, a crash program was started late in the war to develop a new rapid fire 3"/50 (7.62 cm) gun to replace the Bofors. It should be noted here that although the Bofors gun was probably the best anti-aircraft automatic cannon of World War II, the USN considered it to be a front-line weapon for only six years. It did remain in service in the USN until the 1970s on auxiliary and non-modernized ships, primarily because the 3"/50 RF (7.62 cm) replacement program was never fully funded. As late as 1977, the US Navy still had twenty-four Mark 3 Mod 0 air-cooled single guns and carriages on the active fleet list. In 1969, air-cooled Bofors guns provided from Naval depots were used to arm Air Force AC-130 "Spectre" gunships for use in Vietnam.As the USN decommissioned and transferred ships to other nations following the end of World War II, ex-US Bofors guns saw service under many flags with some still in active use as late as 2013. Early versions of the Bofors twin mounting used friction-coupled drives, which quickly wore out on naval ships due to salt contamination. Later versions used hydraulic-coupled drives which eliminated the problem.The development of the Mark 51 director system gave the USA weapons greatly improved accuracy. For example, half of all Japanese aircraft shot down between 1 October 1944 and 1 February 1945 were credited to the Bofors/Mark 51 combination. See the essay on the Mark 51 director on the History and Technology section for additional information.The USN 40 mm/56 Mark 1 and 40 mm/56 Mark 2 Bofors guns were both water-cooled and were used for all twin and quad mountings. The Mark 1 was a left-hand weapon while the Mark 2 was a right-hand weapon. Except for the barrel assemblies, the components were not interchangeable. These weapons could be fired in single-shot or automatic mode via a selecto