Korean War infrared scope question....


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bainter1212
December 19, 2013, 11:42 PM
So here it is: my grandfather is 84 and a veteran of the Korean War. He saw some hard fighting in Korea and just started to open up about his experiences in the last few years. He was always a good shot and qualified as an expert marksman in the Army.

As a result of his qualifications he was assigned to night time sniper duty for two weeks at one point during the war. Many men performed this duty and he was one of them. He described a "night vision scope" mounted on a rifle equipped with a bipod. He claims to have killed many enemy soldiers with this setup.

I did not quite believe my grandfather's tale of a night vision scope until I began to research the subject on my own. As it turns out, the U.S. government did in fact employ an early infrared scope, commonly referred to as a "snooperscope" in Korea. I was able to find pictures of this setup. My grandfather is not proficient with the internet so I asked him to describe the scope setup in detail ( He doesn't even know what a "google" is so he cannot have possibly done the research to make this up). He accurately described the setup that I had seen pictures of online, down to the smallest detail. He described the battery in it's box, the big light and the scope itself. He described how the setup was very bulky and by it's very nature immobile. They had it setup in a sandbag bunker and he shot at night across a canyon. Whenever a Chinese soldier would pop their head up out of a trench he would pull the trigger. I began to believe his story........but here is the rub:

Every document I can find has this scope setup mounted on an M1 or "M3" carbine. My grandfather SWEARS that he was shooting a rifle chambered in .303 British. So here is my question -

Is there any documentation of any Commonwealth - particularly Aussie or Canadian - experimenting with this infrared scope? I just cannot find any proof with a Google search. My grandfather recollects fighting alongside Commonwealth troops. He is not a gun nut like you or I though so he cannot confirm the model of gun, he won't budge from saying that it was a .303 though, he seems quite adamant about that. He shrugs his shoulders when I ask him if the gun could've possibly belonged to Canadian or Aussie troops....he says they told him to do it and he did, he didn't ask a lot of questions.

Just a piece of history I am curious about.

pics:


http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj547/Bainter1212/400px-M3_carbine_zps566b5d0b.jpg (http://s1267.photobucket.com/user/Bainter1212/media/400px-M3_carbine_zps566b5d0b.jpg.html)


http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj547/Bainter1212/JWM1-Z-F1C-L_zps1a3c8af7.jpg (http://s1267.photobucket.com/user/Bainter1212/media/JWM1-Z-F1C-L_zps1a3c8af7.jpg.html)


http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj547/Bainter1212/night20khandheld_zps4e04d963.jpg (http://s1267.photobucket.com/user/Bainter1212/media/night20khandheld_zps4e04d963.jpg.html)

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Sam Cade
December 20, 2013, 12:18 AM
Does he remember the rifle being a self loader?

If it was, it most likely wasn't in .303 Brit.

Jim Watson
December 20, 2013, 12:23 AM
On an M3 carbine, it is a "Sniperscope," held separately for observation, as in your last picture, it is a "Snooperscope." No doubt the government had an official designation.

Agree with Sam, unless there was a real sharp armorer out there scrounging US secret weapons to adapt to Commonwealth gear, it was surely a carbine.

Memories shift around. My Uncle, who was in the Army between the World Wars, including a spell in the Philippines, including Corregidor, was in no doubt that he was issued a .30-30 Springfield.

4v50 Gary
December 20, 2013, 01:13 AM
Company of Military Historian member Clive Law has a book, Without Warning. It is about the only book I'm aware of about Canadian sniping in the era you are asking about. The Canadians had the VARO (very much like the infrared on the M-3 Carbine). There's an illustration of an FNC2 with it.

ETA: Forgot about Ian Skennerton's The British Sniper. The British had the IWS night vision scope mounted on the L42, a 7.62 mm updated version of the No 4 (T) and the L1A1. Neither of these weapons were the .303 caliber your GF remembered.

bainter1212
December 20, 2013, 06:59 AM
Well, it certainly wasn't an autoloader. My grandfather is also adamant that it was bolt action. He carried and frequently had to use an M2 carbine most of the rest of the time (as a radioman) with a short time spent as a recoiless rifle crew member.

Gary, I will try to find some pictures of the weapons described in the books you mentioned. A picture would be the best way to identify the setup, as my grandpa only made it to the eighth grade and is semi-literate, model designations won't get me very far with him.
The way my grandpa describes it, many soldiers were shuttled from one weapon system to another. We had tons of weapons left over from WW2, even his C-rations were dated from that war.

You folks are right though, memory can be very fallible and my grandpa is no exception.

SDC
December 20, 2013, 03:58 PM
One of the problems with the M3 setup was a limited range (maybe 100-150 yards tops), so it wouldn't really make sense to put it on something with a greater effective range than that. But, I wouldn't put it past an enterprising armourer to at least try something like this. Because the scope only picks up the infrared light that is reflected back from a target, the limiting factor with these was the amount of power of the battery-powered infrared projector mounted under the forearm. If you could put a bunch of these scopes on long-range rifles arranged around something like a generator-powered infrared searchlight, I have no doubt it would be something like a shooting gallery, at least until the other side managed to take out that searchlight.

4v50 Gary
December 20, 2013, 05:39 PM
To take out infrared, you must be aware of it. Unless the opposition is equipped with it, they won't know it's there. I know the Germans also had infrared which I think they called the Vampire. They experimented with them on a Panther tank as well as mounting a light unit on a Sdkfz 251 halftrack.

ETA: I am trying to contact Clive Law. We both belong to The Company of Military Historians.

Ron James
December 20, 2013, 06:32 PM
During the Korean war there were many times the NKPA were entrenched less that two hundred yards from UN forces, many times they were almost within rock throwing distance. In the very rugged mountains of Korea , the good guys and the bad guys could be with in 50 yards of each other as the crow flies, but a mile or so by boots on the ground. I've seen those mountains, or at least the ones south of the 38Th. I've also read of the British using some type infrared scope mounted on the Enfield 303. Allied troops stationed close to one another will trade equipment. so your grandfathers story is very possible.

bainter1212
December 20, 2013, 09:13 PM
During the Korean war there were many times the NKPA were entrenched less that two hundred yards from UN forces, many times they were almost within rock throwing distance. In the very rugged mountains of Korea , the good guys and the bad guys could be with in 50 yards of each other as the crow flies, but a mile or so by boots on the ground. I've seen those mountains, or at least the ones south of the 38Th. I've also read of the British using some type infrared scope mounted on the Enfield 303. Allied troops stationed close to one another will trade equipment. so your grandfathers story is very possible.

This is exactly the situation my grandfather described. Steep mountain terrain and canyons, he said the terrain reminded him a lot of the Sierra foothills here at home....but colder in the winter.

Grandpa says he fought alongside troops of many different nations. The most memorable were the Turks, who carried great big scimitars.

Gary, my grandfather was a part of the 24th inf. Div. If that helps any. When I see him on sunday I will try to get some more details out of him, maybe show him pictures of an SMLE again and see if he remembers any more details.

bainter1212
December 20, 2013, 09:19 PM
Also, it may not have been "trading equipment" as much as it was manning a post. Grandpa told me every two weeks they would rotate a new guy in to take over night shooting, so he may have just been a qualified guy who was available.
Grandpa says there was a big pile of brass next to the rifle by the end of his two weeks.
There was an extended period of semi-stalemate as far as territory goes so it must have been during this period.

Once again, I will glean some more details come sunday.

Ron James
December 20, 2013, 09:38 PM
Little OT, First tour in Korea in 1960 I met a Turk soldier who could speak enough English that we could converse and get drunk together. They all carried a long knife, part of their uniform, I asked one day if I could examine his knife ( I was young and dumb ) no problem, he took out this wicket looking knife and let me examine it. when I handed it back, to my amazement he pricked his finger with it and rubbed the blood on the blade. In his words, he could never resheath it with out drawing blood, because we were friends, this time it was his, next time it would have to be mine. Needless to say, I never asked again.

bainter1212
December 20, 2013, 09:38 PM
I did some more searching tonight and found this page -

http://weaponsman.com/?p=4192

An interesting quote - " The British also developed an infrared scope, although we know little of it today" hints that there may have been a commonwealth weapon equipped with such a device.

4v50 Gary
December 21, 2013, 01:30 AM
Here's what Canadian researcher and writer Clive Law wrote:

I looked at the post, thank you.
I will not speak for the British Army as that is not my area of expertise. However, the Canadians did not use IR scopes in Korea and only took these into use in the 1960s and this was on the FNC1 and later the FNC1A1. In Korea Canada continued to use the No.4 SMLE with the Cdn No.67 telescopic sight and Cdn spotting scope.

In the early 1950s the Canadian Army purchased US small arms for the Brigade we were sending to Germany. Originally they were to be deployed as part of the US forces and it was felt that they needed to armed similarly to facilitate ammunition supplies, repairs and replacements. At the last minute the politicians decided to group the Canadians with the British Army on the Rhine and they left the US small arms behind and re-equipped with the standard (read Commonwealth) small arms.

I am often surprised at stories about weapons swaps between countries as this leads to continuing supply problems for ammunition when the supply system doesn't hold a 'foreign' caliber. However, I know that the Canadians in Korea had a preference for the M1 carbine for patrolling and there is ample photographic evidence of this. The same does not hold true for snipers and all photos that I have seen clearly show a No.4.

Although Canada and Britain have the same Queen we are more closely aligned with the US in tactics and doctrine and there is no doubt that Canadians complained long and loud about British rations when they formed part of the Commonwealth Division in Korea.
Cheers,
Clive

4v50 Gary
December 21, 2013, 02:25 AM
Author and researcher Ian Skennerton wrote stating he is unaware of infrared use but the British and Commonwealth forces in Korea. This however does not preclude the possibility that some had them.

Carl N. Brown
December 21, 2013, 05:03 AM
Back in the 1960s Edmund Scientific Co of Barrington NJ (from whom I ordered my telescope and microscope supplies) had the infrared Sniperscopes listed in their surplus section (along with military issue binoculars and giant military surplus recon camera lenses with plans to build a "richest field telescope" low-power but huge light gathering potential).

Suggested use for the Sniperscope was for night time wildlife observation, but I saw maintenance and spare parts problems. Shudda ordered one and kept it as a curio, looking at some of the auction prices posted on them today. Along with a Lahti 20mm which were still legal at that time ;) .

4v50 Gary
December 21, 2013, 11:53 PM
BTW, I am attempting to contact one more individual who is very knowledgeable about the British and the Commonwealth.

bainter1212
December 22, 2013, 11:28 AM
Thanks Gary. I contacted an Australian vintage sniper rifle collector yesterday and he says he has never seen what I am describing that was Korean War era. Will be talking to grandpa this afternoon.

bainter1212
December 22, 2013, 05:17 PM
Ok so I tried to pick my grandfather's brain a bit more today. He has the flu and wasn't on top of his game, but he told me all he remembered.

He says very clearly that the rifle was chambered in .303 British. He said it had a heavy, long barrel and was full-stocked. When I showed him a picture of an Australian No.1 Mk 3 he said it looked a lot like the rifle but he couldn't remember clearly enough after all these years. He said the rifle had a bipod close to the muzzle.

When I asked him if the rifle could've been the property of the Australians or British he said it sure could've been.....there were plenty of those troops around at times.

The way he described it, it seems to have been purpose-built for this. He says the gun was not meant for carrying and all shooting was done from the prone.
Oh yeah....he also said it was a single-shot. No magazine feeding, you would load each round one at a time as you shot. He stated that it was a time when the lines were static for a month or so, towards the beginning of the war.

Anyway, looks like this quest for information may prove to be nearly impossible. I am down to thinking that this was a one-off experiment possibly a Holland & Holland custom gun built for the Aussies......who knows.

Oh and BTW, I got his unit....

24th Inf. Div.
21st Regiment
G company
4th Platoon
He was designated as radioman/heavy weapons.

Steel Horse Rider
December 22, 2013, 05:45 PM
bainter1212: You should either start making tape recordings or a written record of your grandfather's stories of his past. Future generations will appreciate you greatly!

bainter1212
December 22, 2013, 06:38 PM
bainter1212: You should either start making tape recordings or a written record of your grandfather's stories of his past. Future generations will appreciate you greatly!

My mom has been doing this kind of family research for years. I am just trying to focus on this narrow weapon related question.

From what I have read so far, the Brits and the French experimented with IR technology in WWII and after. Their programs, as well as the U.S. programs were highly classified at the time.

The only thing is, only the U.S. tech seems to have any documentation. There are records of the Brits employing an IR monocular in WWII but that is as far as I get. Any brief history of IR tech I have read mentions British experimentation with IR scopes but that is all we get.....a mention. I am betting that the U.S. technology became available to them during or after Korea and they subsequently abandoned their own efforts.

It looks like my grandpa may have been a part of an experiment with IR tech by the Aussies or Brits that is now lost to history. Maybe they went in a different direction after this.

PBR Streetgang
December 22, 2013, 10:15 PM
Stole this from another forum GUNHUB

The T3 was originally developed to be a carbine sniper rifle. Since the range and accuracy of the carbine leave a lot to be desired, it never got to the field. However at the same time the military was developing infrared technology and someone figured out that with the limited range of the infrared and the heavy weight of the units, the carbine was the perfect firearm for mounting the unit. The original T3 had the scope mount built diectly on the receiver. It was not removable as it is on the M3 It was brazed right on to the receiver and became integral with it. The M3 has a removable mounting bar that attaches to the barrel and the dovetail. As to the flat bottom stock configuation, this is an early T3/M3 feature. The early versions of the infrared units had the "lamp" mounted on the underside of the stock while the scope was mounted on top. The flat bottom was where the lamp was mounted. The later units had the lamp mounted on to of the scope. The reason for the change was because with the lamp mounted on the bottom, the operator often had to stand to use the unit so that the lamp was clear of the bush and grass. With the lamp mounted on top, the operator could stay down and under cover much better, avoiding random counter-fire.

Radagast
December 23, 2013, 06:05 AM
Link to an article with illustrations of the WWII German Vampyr, Korean era American Sniper Scope on an M1 with underslung IR, & a PVS2 from Vietnam.

http://www.nightvisionforumuk.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1295

ofitg
December 23, 2013, 02:09 PM
As I recall, the infrared Sniperscope attached to the .30 Carbine by means of the gun's rear sight dovetail, plus a clamp around the barrel - a bolt on top of the clamp protruded up through a hole in the wooden handguard.

I suppose it's possible that a lower-echelon armorer could have grafted the Sniperscope onto a .303 bolt-action rifle..... it might not have been feasible on the M1 Garand; the barrel clamp wouldn't fit because of the gas-op stuff slung under the barrel.

Another reason he wouldn't want to graft the Sniperscope onto the M1 Garand - how the heck would you reload?

4v50 Gary
December 23, 2013, 05:14 PM
i was going through Ian Skennerton's book, The Lee Enfield Rifle. I noticed that a few Canadian rifles were equipped with a Griffin & Howe detachable sight, much like the one used on the M1-C Garand. Ask Grandpa if the infrared was detachable. It would have been the easiest way for a field conversion.

bainter1212
December 23, 2013, 11:11 PM
i was going through Ian Skennerton's book, The Lee Enfield Rifle. I noticed that a few Canadian rifles were equipped with a Griffin & Howe detachable sight, much like the one used on the M1-C Garand. Ask Grandpa if the infrared was detachable. It would have been the easiest way for a field conversion.

I will, thanks.

bainter1212
December 23, 2013, 11:44 PM
In the course of my reading I realized there is a rifle we may be overlooking - the Pattern 14.

The P14 was used by the British and Aussies through WWII as a sniper rifle. It is concievable that one made it's way to Korea and was fitted with an IR device.

Just a thought.....

Here is some good info on the P14 sniper (officially the No.3 mk 1* )

http://forums.gunboards.com/showthread.php?166290-P14-Enfield-as-Sniper-Rifle-in-WWI-and-WWII

Martin Pegler
December 27, 2013, 08:48 AM
Hello all.
At Gary Yee's request I've broken my usual rule of non-involvement with forums as he seems to think I can shed some specific light on this question. Optimistic as ever ! Well, for what it's worth, in all of my book research and talking to veterans, I have never come across reference to the use or existence of a British, or even Commonwealth rifle equipped with any form of infra-red optical device at this period. One specific point - the mention of a bipod - makes me believe that whatever he used was not British. The UK never adopted a bipod until the introduction of the L96 rifle - save the one fitted to the Bren gun.
As former curator of the Royal Armouries/ Pattern Room collection I obviously had access to all extant, and prototype arms used or trialled by the British and most other world armies, and there was nothing I can recollect that fits the account given. [An M14/XM21 would do, but it was seven years too late for Korea, and semi-auto. ] However, he clearly DID shoot something and I suspect the most likely candidate could have been a one-off rifle set up by unit armourers. Any bolt-action rifle could have been pressed into service, a US Sniperscope 'liberated' and a bipod made or modified [Bren bipods were plentiful]. One problem is that the range of these early IR scopes was very limited, around 130-150 yards, hence its adoption with the M1 Carbine, so the ranges he shot at must have been close. However, unless someone out there knows different I suspect exactly what he used will remain a puzzle.
All the best for 2014,
Martin Pegler, [Ex-curator and occasional author.]

bainter1212
December 27, 2013, 09:45 AM
Well Martin, I thank you for chiming in and will put this topic to rest for now, considering how multiple experts have contributed. Pending further info, looks like the mystery continues.

My grandfather says he took a ton of pictures in Korea but they were (allegedly) stolen by his brother along with a bunch of "old Confederate money" (this story just makes me chuckle).

Oh well, thanks for chiming in guys.

cpt-t
December 28, 2013, 01:01 AM
bainter1212: You know You have something very speical. The relationship You have with Your Granddad is something to be treasured. Spend all the time You can with Him,and encurage Him to tell You all His storys. It appears that this is a part of his life that He has kept just for Himself. And now He is encluding You into that part of his life. You must be very special to Him, enjoy His Storys and encurage Him to tell You all of them He is comfortable with shareing. You are experincing, a for real treasure enjoy it. Because sadly Your conversations with You Granddad will not last forever. Remember everything he shares with You, for He is letting You enter the most private and most guarded part of His Life. I envy You. I would be Honored to hear any of Your Granddads Stories You would be willing to share. Good Luck To You:
ken

Carl N. Brown
December 28, 2013, 10:04 AM
Units in the field tend to improvise as necessary. It is not beyond imagining that an armorer (or armourer) in the field would modify some one-off weapon for a local need.

My father served in the US Army 6th Division in New Guinea and the Philipines and mostly used the BAR. When in a fixed position he kept all the m1918A2 light machinegun add-ons--bipod, handle, etc but on foot patrol he stripped it down to 16 lbs, bare automatic rifle on a sling.

The idea I agree with is that, as Martin Pegler posted, it was not an as-issued item but could have been a field expedient lash-up.

(On the other hand I am tempted to think that an Aussie or Canadian used to shooting a man's rifle (Enfield) in a man's caliber (.303 Brit) might not want to admit using a .30 carbine M3 ;). )

4v50 Gary
December 28, 2013, 01:45 PM
BTW, the Carlisle Military History Institute has some online information about doing oral history. Suggest you peruse it and collect your GF's info NOW.

patsygonzalez
December 31, 2013, 08:00 AM
maybe it's too highly confidential so you can't search it on Google..

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Radagast
December 31, 2013, 09:00 AM
Unlikely. That is 50 year old technology, a generation behind the stuff that is sold as kids toys these days.

cpt-t
January 2, 2014, 07:04 PM
Don`t quoat me on this but some where in an old US ARMY field manual or teck manual. They had a picture of a M1 Carbine with the infar-red system mounted on it and they called it a ((( M4 CARBINE ))). This set up was used in WW11 some of the Old Timers that I had a chance to talk with, said they used this system and said it worked very well. But they also said that this system was very fragile and hard to keep it working. But that it was used in the islands campaines and they said that it produced a high body count.
ken

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