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How did America end up with the only sem auto in ww2?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by The Exile, Apr 4, 2016.

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  1. The Exile

    The Exile Member

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    I'm not a mechanical engineer but was it really that complex to devise a semi auto rifle for the average soldier or was it just too expensive to feed them? Considering the Garand was called the finest battle implement ever devised I find it difficult to believe nobody just gave it a chance.
     
  2. M1key

    M1key Member

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    Nobody believed a guy who ice skated in his living room could possibly be smart enough to design one.

    M
     
  3. HankB

    HankB Member

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    Soviets fielded their SVT-38 and SVT-40 rifles in significant numbers - a million or so were produced - though their mainstay rifle was still the bolt action Mosin-Nagant.

    Germany fielded their G-41 and G-43 rifles, and late in the war the formidable StG-44. (certainly this latter inspired the Russian AK47, though mechanically it was quite different.)

    Japan tried copying the M1 garand as well late in the war, but by then their production capability was struggling to make bolt action Arisakas.

    All of these had "issues" to a greater or lesser degree.

    But only the production capacity & capability of the USA allowed manufacture of an excellent semi-auto in sufficient numbers for it to become the STANDARD infantry rifle.
     
  4. Mike C2

    Mike C2 Member

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    A lot of it was probably still with the mindset that soldiers in general would just burn though ammo. Same reason for the mag cutoff on the Springfield.
     
  5. Llama Bob

    Llama Bob Member

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    Which, of course, is precisely what happened. Something like 10,000 rounds were shipped to theater for every Axis soldier killed by any means (including those that involved no ammo, like aerial bombardment).

    It's been getting worse ever since.
     
  6. Warp

    Warp Member

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    What is the breakdown in terms of what the rounds were for and how they were used, though? I wouldn't expect a great ratio from a machine gun used for suppressing fire or quad .50's used against aircraft for example, eh?

    Plus why do we use killed for this? We don't measure self defense/defensive gun uses based solely on the attacker dying, eh? I imagine some enemy solders are shot and stop fighting without being killed.
     
  7. The Exile

    The Exile Member

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    Shipped or fired?
     
  8. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    Soviet SVT-40 rifle, German G-43, STG-44, and FG-42. Probably others. We weren't the one and only, we were first tho. Remember also that we had the most advanced manufacturing abilities required for this, and we weren't engaging in a war on our on soil at the same time. Also, many countries made extensive use of SMGs, which were cheaper and easier to slap together than ANY rifle.
     
  9. Big Al Mass

    Big Al Mass Member

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    A major obstacle was replacing the thousands, if not millions of perfectly sound bolt action rifles already in inventory. Another issue was the biggest war in human history up to that point had just happened, resulting in the aforementioned thousands if not millions of perfectly sound bolt action rifles being in inventory. In addition to that, because the semi-automatic infantry rifle was a new development at the time, designers were still trying to figure out the cheapest (money is always the big factor) way to make one that will be as robust, reliable, accurate, and light as possible while still firing the service cartridge.
     
  10. M-Cameron

    M-Cameron member

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    from everything ive gathered......

    most wars are usually fought( or at least started) with the technology that was available at the end of the previous war.......so most countries started WW2 with what was available at the end of WW1......so.....bolt actions.....

    so by the time many countries realized they needed semi-autos....they were in the thick of it, money and resources were tight.....and honestly had other things to worry about at the time.

    america was lucky.....we adopted the M1 early (1936)......and we entered the war late.......so we were fortunate to have enough time to impliment a semi in regular service.
     
  11. yugorpk

    yugorpk member

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    America got into the fight late in the European war and while we did a great job supporting the war from the air from somewhat early on we didnt do much ground fighting until very late in the war and even when America did enter the war it was more of a mop up and race to Berlin before the Soviets took the whole thing . A few skirmishes here and there but nothing like the carnage on the Eastern Front. The Garand or any of the other semi auto battle rifles probably didnt make much difference in Europe. If any firearm made the difference it was the pistol caliber carbines fielded by the Soviets. That fast attack short range doctrine carried the day after the war with the current crop of intermediate range assault rifles we have now. The Germans got themselves overwhelmed pretty early on and their asinine leadership could never standardize on much of anything and found it difficult to exploit the significant victories they did make against the poorly prepared adversaries they faced at the beginning of the war. In any case the war in Europe wasnt won by small arms. It was won by armored divisions.

    The Pacific war was an entirely different story. That war was won by intel and logistics.
     
  12. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Don't forget the M1 Carbine. Intended as a pistol replacement PDW, a lot of infantrymen thought it was powerful enough to fight with.

    I get the idea that other armies depended more on the SMG and LMG.

    Did we get as much use out of machine guns or did we just stretch the BAR?
     
  13. Captain O

    Captain O member

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    Yes we did. The TMSG was ready at the end of WW1 and was used in the Pacific Theater. The M2 was in use by 1943 in the Korean War and Vietnam. The M3A1 was in use in WW2, Korea and Vietnam. The M1 Carbine was a staple of the South Vietnamese Army Regulars from 1956 on to the end of the conflict (April 30, 1975). It is still used by the Taiwanese Army and Police to this day.
     
  14. AlexanderA
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    AlexanderA Member

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    Each country had a different infantry doctrine. America was the only one that based the squad on individual riflemen. The Germans built their squads around the light machine gun (the MG34 and then the MG42), and likewise the British (the Bren gun). Therefore, to the British and Germans, bolt-action rifles were fine because they merely played a supporting role to the light machine guns (while economizing ammunition themselves). The riflemen basically carried ammunition for the machine gunners.

    For example, in the British Pattern 37 web equipment, the Basic Pouches (issued to every man) were designed to carry Bren magazines. It just happened that they could also carry bandoleers with Enfield rifle chargers. But even the riflemen were supposed to carry extra Bren magazines. Compare that to the standard American web equipment, which had individual pockets for Garand (or Springfield) clips.

    So, the answer is that these other countries (Britain, Germany, etc.) could have fielded semiauto standard rifles. They just didn't want to, and therefore they didn't put the resources into development and production of them.
     
  15. Mosin Bubba

    Mosin Bubba Member

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    To kind of add on to Alexander's post, it's worth remembering that WWII broke out barely 20 years after WWI. That conflict had very recently made it evident what machine guns could do, and building a squad around a portable machine gun probably seemed like a really good idea.
     
  16. Big Al Mass

    Big Al Mass Member

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    That is false. There was a prototype called the Persuader constructed in 1918. But, it was nowhere near ready for mass production, much less actual combat use. In regards to US use of the Thompson in WWII, it was used in every theater there were US troops present. It was the standard submachine gun of the US military beginning in 1938, when it was adopted as the M1928A1.
    The M2 Carbine saw no appreciable use during the war as production began too late for any guns to reach troops before the end of hostilities.
    That is incorrect. The M3 was in use during WWII. The M3A1 began production in 1945 with 15,469 manufactured before the contract was canceled due to the end of the war. It went on to be used in the Korean and later conflicts, with a further 33,000 manufactured by the Ithaca Gun Company
     
  17. AlexanderA
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    AlexanderA Member

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    I might add that the American BAR was clearly inferior to the British and German LMG's, with their greater ammunition capacity, quick-change barrels, etc. The BAR was not suitable to be the "base of fire" of the squad, as in those rival armies. The "base of fire" role was fulfilled by the M1 Garand.
     
  18. Captain O

    Captain O member

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    Sorry, Big Al. the TSMG was literally crated up and sitting on the dock in NYC prepared to be shipped over to the Western Front on November 11th, 1918. They never left.
     
  19. Big Al Mass

    Big Al Mass Member

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    My information comes from The Ultimate Thompson book, which quotes the writings of Theodore H. Eickhoff, chief engineer for Auto-Ordnance who actually designed the gun and was intimate with all the goings on surrounding the gun's development. From where do you get yours? That episode of Tales of the Gun?
     
  20. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    To add, the US started developing a semi-auto main battle rifle in the twenties and it took 10 or more years before it was accepted. Then, it took a few more years to sort out some more bugs.

    The Marine Corps stuck to the Springfield into the early days of fighting after the US declared war. The Marine leadership did not want the new fangled battle rifle.

    I've read that once the Army began to relieve the Marines on Guadalcanal, the Marines were picking up every unattended M1 they could lay their hands on.
     
  21. Llama Bob

    Llama Bob Member

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    See, the problem is it's a WAR. There's no squad bean counter to keep track.

    Rounds shipped vs. enemy killed is a pretty solid broad measure of marksmanship though. Sure, some rounds get shipped but not shot, and some people who are killed are killed by bombs and disease, and some people who are shot don't die. But in general, if you're shipping huge numbers of rounds and not killing anyone with them, it means your marksmanship has gone seriously south.
     
  22. Warp

    Warp Member

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    I'm sure the bean counters are very aware of the numbers of this cartridge vs that cartridge. It's not like a bunch of .50 BMG getting shipped over or even used up tells us anything about Rifle marksmanship for example.
     
  23. Llama Bob

    Llama Bob Member

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    Yes, they were quite aware. The US peak WWII production was about 1.8 Billion rounds/month, of which the most common caliber, making up about half of all rounds, was .30-06.

    www.dtic.mil/ndia/2004arms/sanville.ppt
     
  24. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    Note also our infrastructure wasn't bombed daily nor were we rebuilding an arms production capacity outlawed by treaty before the outbreak of hostilities.

    We had the means, manpower, and raw materials to produce a rifle that could fire standard ammunition shared by the BAR and Light 30 cal guns.

    Britain and France and The Soviets were sitting on mountains of WW1 bolt action rifles and were weary of a war that decimated generations. The US wasn't war weary. In fact while it can be argued we had an under funded military we certainly had some visionaries in imagining what the NEXT war might look like. A rapid firing rifle was sort of a compromise to the WW1 idea of 'walking fire' and aimed shots. The Garand was demonstrated doing a sort of walking fire drill.

    Strangely we KEPT RIGHT ON MAKING WW1 era bolt action rifles. My 1903-A3 is dated March of 43.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2016
  25. The Exile

    The Exile Member

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    So obviously we won the war but if it was the case that we were pretty much the only ones working with the soldier as the key part of our plans as compared to the squads weapon, did that work out? I gotta figure if you put too much investment into one system's design you can't really pull a 180 if it doesn't work out as well (so long as people aren't dropping like flies over it) so was that an innovation that added to the war or took away?
     
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