The Pacific War 2: U.S. Marine Corps Infantry Weapons -1 reply

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#1 10 years ago

So here's the second installment. I plan to cover all Pacific War armies in time (US Army, Australia, Britain, China, Russia, Netherlands-KNIL, etc).

Springfield M1903


Before the Garand, there was the Springfield. Based on the ubiquitous Mauser designs of the latter part of the 19th century, the M1903 was being phased out in favor of the M1 Garand by 1941. However, in December 1941 the Springfield was still the primary weapon of the US Marine Corps, and would remain so until late 1942, seeing service from Wake Island to Guadalcanal. Despite being phased out of service, Remington manufactured 350,000 new rifles in 1941. Many of these would be passed on to Free French and Brazilian forces.

The gun was chambered in .30-06 Springfield ammunition with a 5-round box magazine loaded by a stripper clip. Like most rifles of its day, it could be fitted with a spigot-type grenade launcher. Most guns manufactured after 1941 were of the M1903A3 variety with a different rear sight.

m1903ss-1.jpgM1903A1 on the left, M1903A3 on the right.

The M1903A4 sniper variant with 2.2x scope saw heavy use throughout the war with sniper and scout units in the Army. The Marine Corps refused to field the weapon, preferring the M1903A1 with an Unertl 8x scope. The Marine Corps did not adopt the sniper variant of the M1 Garand until the early 1950s.

1903A1sn.gifM1903A1 with 8x Unertl scope

M1 Garand

Marines_at_Tarawa.jpgMarines carry the M1 Garand into battle at Tarawa, Nov. 1943

We all know what it looks like. We all know what it did. We all know how it was the first semi-automatic rifle fielded by an army as its standard infantry weapon, how its ammo system worked, how you had to fire the entire clip before reloading, etc.

The Marine Corps adopted the rifle completely by late 1942. Its high rate of fire proved crucial in close quarters jungle fighting, being far superior to bolt action weapons.

KIT_GARAND_BAYONET.jpgThe M1 could be fitted with a variety of bayonets.

The M1 could fire rifle grenades using a special ammunition round and a special spigot attachment which diverted the gas used to cycle the bolt so that the grenade could still be launched. Some pictures from - A Varied and Detailed Display of Collectable Military Ordnance will demonstrate:

spigots2s.jpgM1 Garand grenade launcher attachments

rgen.jpgFrom Left to Right, M11 practice round, M17 fragmentation round using a MkII frag grenade as a warhead, M9 High Explosive Antitank Round (penetrated 2 inches of armor), M11A3 practice round, M19A1 green parachute flare, M22 smoke round, M29 practice round (Korean War era, not used during WW2) m31set.jpgKorean War era picture showing an M1 Garand ready to fire a grenade.

M1 Carbine

USMC_M1_Carbine.jpgMarine with an M1 Carbine on Guam, 1944

First fielded in July 1942, the M1 Carbine was issued primarily to infantry officers, NCOs, ammunition bearers, artillery spotters, and other men needing a compact weapon. Around 6 million were manufactured from 1942 to 1945.

The M1 carbine fired a 7.62x33mm cartridge in semi-automatic mode from a 15 or 30 rd box magazine. Late in the war, the M2 Carbine with select semi-auto/full auto fire appeared, but it was only used in small numbers.

m2car.jpgM2 Carbine

M1941 Johnson


A semi-automatic rifle which loaded from the side, the M1941 lost out to the M1 Garand in the contest to become the Army's next rifle. However, in 1941 the Dutch government ordered 70,000 Johnson rifles for the Dutch East Indies Army. The Dutch East Indies were occupied before the guns could be delivered, and they were taken over by the US Marine Corps. About 30,000 rifles would be produced during the war.

The M1941 had good accuracy and less recoil than the Garand, however it had many intricate small parts that were easily lost. .30-06 ammunition was loaded into a fixed rotary magazine which held ten rounds. The magazine was loaded using M1903 stripper clips.

johnson1941mag_p.jpgLoading the M1941 magazine

The Johnson rifle was adopted as the primary weapon of the Paramarines of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Parachute Battalions. They would conduct landings at Gavutu in support of the Guadalcanal landings, as well as fighting on the ground in Guadalcanal and conducting raids on Choiseul before being assinged to Bougainville.

M1A1 / M1928 Thompson Submachine Gun

USMC_Okinawa_Thompson.jpgM1 Thompson in use on Okinawa

We all know it, we all love it. The Marines began using the M1928 Tommy Gun in Nicaragua in 1928. However, the Thompson was never a ubiquitous weapon with the US Marine Corps, as it was found that the jungle often stopped the low velocity .45cal rounds before they found their target. The Thompson also sounded similar to the Japanese Type 92 machine gun, running the risk of friendly fire incidents at night. It was used on a limited-issue basis.

tommy_m1928.jpgM1928 Tommy Gun


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#2 10 years ago

M50 Reising


The M50 Reising was rushed into service in 1942 as a stopgap measure for Marines in the Solomon Islands who found the Thompson unsuited for jungle combat but were in need of a submachine gun. The Reising was issued to many junior officers and NCOs before the M1 Carbine was fielded.

The Reising used .45 ACP ammo in a 20 round box magazine. The gun had a complex breech system involving a series of levers which easily rusted in the jungle. This led to frequent jams. The receiver easily took in dirt and the magazine jammed, exacerbating the problem.

The gun was hated and often gotten rid of at the quickest opportunity. Lt. Col. Merritt Edison of the Marine Raiders ordered his unit to throw their Reisings into a river and find better weapons. The weapon was quickly phased out in favor of the M1 Carbine. Many Reisings were sent home to equip police forces guarding strategic assets on the home front. Incidentally, outside of the jungle conditions the Reising's internal workings worked well, and this led to the weapon being used by police forces for many years after the war.

The M55 was a version with a folding stock was issued to Paramarines, however, the cheap stock folded under pressure and the guns were quickly withdrawn from service.

reising_m55-1.jpgM55 Reising

9912062a.jpgNavajo code talkers on Bougainville. Second man from the right has an M50 Reising.

M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle


Another ubiquitous weapon, the M1918 had a reputation as a "long range bullet sprayer" and it was heavily used in the Pacific for both its rate of fire and stopping power. The point and tail men of a jungle patrol were commonly equipped with the BAR. The Marine Corps typically issued two BARs for each infantry squad.

The M1918 fired .30-06 rounds from a 20 round box magazine. Fire was selectable between auto and semi-auto. The gun could be fitted with a bipod.

M1941 Johnson Light Machine Gun


Based on the M1941 Johnson Rifle, the Johnson LMG saw similar limited use, with only 9,500 being produced. The gun featured an adjustable rate of fire from 200 to 600 RPM. The weapon fired .30-06 rounds from a 20 round side feeding magazine. The weapon had a very low recoil due to the in-line stock design.

The gun was not widely adopted. The Dutch government had placed orders before the Japanese invasion that were never filled, and the surplus guns were delivered to the US Marine Corps, where they were used to equip Paramarines units, where they were used alongside the M1941 Johnson Rifle.

Machine_gun_M1941_Johnson_3.jpgMarine with the M1941 in 1943

Browning M1917 Machine Gun


Originally designed for use in World War 1, the M1917 water-cooled .30cal machine gun was still in use during the Second World War and into the Korean and Vietnam wars as well. The M1917 was a belt-fed gun, which was usually deployed in a sustainable-fire mode due to its weight (42 kg including tripod). The gun was crewed with four men: The gunner, assistant, and two men to carry water and ammunition.

Marines_Browning_M1917_Cape_Glouces.jpgMarines use the M1917 during the Battle of Cape Gloucester, Jan 1 1944

The M1917 could also be used as an anti-aircraft gun with a special sight.

Norwegian_Army_Colt_heavy_machine_g.jpgNorwegian troops using the M1917 as an antiaircraft gun outside Narvik, 1940

Browning M1919 Machine Gun


The air-cooled variant of the M1917, the M1919 .30cal was used in aircraft, on vehicles and as a tripod mounted machine gun. It was served with a crew of two, a gunner and an ammo assistant. A highly effective weapon, the M1919 had a maximum range of 1500 yards and a rate of fire of 600 RPM.

m1919a4_2.jpgMarines use the M1919A4 on Roi-Namur Island, February 1944

AN/M2 Stinger


The M1919 was sometimes field modified to be bipod-portable with the stock of a BAR 1918. The gun was modified to an ROF of 1200-1400 RPM.

M1 Flamethrower


The M1 Flamethrower was first fielded in early 1942 by Army and Marine Corps units. Around 14,000 were manufactured. The weapon had enough fuel for around 10 seconds of continuous burn, or 5 2-second bursts.

The M1 was operated by two men, one who operated the device and another who opened the valves to allow the weapon to fire. The M1 had an electric ignition which sometimes failed to ignite.

Flamethrowers were heavily used by American forces during the Pacific War to clear Japanese pillboxes and defensive positions.


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#3 10 years ago

M2-2 Flamethrower M2FlamethrowerVWM02.jpg The M2-2 flamethrower was an improvement over the M1. The M2 weighed 68 lbs filled, carried 4 gallons of fuel and had a burn time of 10-20 seconds and a range of 20-40 yards. Ignition was provided by a system of blank cartridges firing in a cylinder. The M2-2 was introduced in 1944. It was extremely common, with each Marine infantry squad receiving one M2-2. Flamethrower-iwo-jima-194502.jpgM2-2 Flamethrower in use on Iwo Jima Winchester M12 "Trench Gun" Trench_Shotgun_win12_800.jpg For close-quarters jungle combat, many Marines took to using shotguns. Around 80,000 Winchester M12 12-gauge pump action shotguns were purchased by the US government for the Army and Marine Corps. They were largely used in the Pacific theater. The M12 carried 6 rounds in a tublar magazine plus an additional round in the chamber. Ithaca 37 shotgun ithaca37hs.jpg The Ithaca 37 was another model of 12-gauge pump action shotgun used in combat in the Pacific. It had a lesser capacity of only 4 rounds. Colt M1911 .45cal M1911_Pistol_US.jpgWe all know it we all love it...generally an officer or pilot's weapon. M1917 Revolver .45cal M1917rev.gif Smith & Wesson M10 Revolver .38 Special MPrevolver.jpgThese guns were pretty much THE handguns in the USA in the 1940s. No need to dwell on these six-shooters except to note that officers sometimes preferred them to the M1911. M1 Bazooka Bazookasmithsonian.jpg The famous M1 Bazooka was first used in the North Africa campaign in late 1942. The Bazooka was deployed in the Pacific against Japanese bunkers and tanks. Early Bazookas had problems with moisture and humidity, however these were overcome with the M1A1. Lack of enemy armor limited the deployment of the Bazooka in the Pacific. The Bazooka was crewed by two men, one to fire and one to load. bazooka_men_lg.jpgA Marine Bazooka team which has just knocked out two Japanese tanks on Saipan, June 16, 1944. Mk II Fragmentation Grenade MkII_06.jpgThe "Pineapple of Death" containing 2oz of TNT. Early models issued in the Pacific were painted yellow because they thought it would better camouflage them in a jungle environment. Other hand grenades such as smoke and white phosphorous were deployed as well. Mk2-HE.jpgKa-Bar Knife KA-BAR.jpgA knife famous for its use by the Marine Corps in World War 2. U.S. Marine Raider Stiletto US_Marine_Raider_Stiletto1.jpgThe Stiletto knife was not designed as an edged blade, the sole purpose of its slender blade was as a fighting knife. It was issued to Marine Corps Raider Battalion and Canadian Airborne units. A rare knife today, it is much sought after by collectors.


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#4 10 years ago

Uniforms The Marine Corps began the war wearing simple olive drab uniforms. By mid 1942, the Corps had adopted the P42 two piece jungle suit with a reversible camouflage pattern, tan/brown on one side and green on the other. us_uni_usmc_P42Camo_jkt_main.jpgus_uni_usmc_P42Camo_jkt_brown_main.jpg It was discovered that olive drab actually provided better concealment than camo when moving. Camo provided better concealment when holding still. Because of this it was not uncommon to see the old HBT field uniform being worn alongside the P42 camo: us_uni_usmc_jkt_main.jpgUSMC-BAR.jpg The Marine Corps used the M1 steel helmet. From late 1943 onwards, the helmet was covered with a cloth camouflage color. The helmet cover also had the reversible brown/green coloration. The 1944 version had slits to allow foliage to be placed inside the helmet. Regardless of which uniform was worn, the camo cover on the helmet was almost universal. us_head_camo_helmet_cover_main.jpg Now for a bit of commentary on weapons. Most video games do a pretty good job with USMC weapons. They show lots of BARs and M1 Garands. Where they mess up is with the Thompson. There should be far fewer Thompsons and far more M1 Carbines given to Marines in video games. Early in the war (Guadalcanal) the M50 Reising should be used instead of the M1 Carbine. The most common weapons for Guadalcanal and earlier should be the M1903, M50 Reising and BAR 1918 with a few Thompsons and shotguns. For Tarawa and other campaigns after Guadalcanal, the M1 Carbine should replace the Reising and the Garand should replace the M1903. M2-2 flamethrowers should become common as well.

Also, if special units such as the Paramarines are portrayed, they should definitely receive their distinctive Johnson Rifles and light machine guns. Well that concludes tonight's presentation on the U.S. Marine Corps. Tune in tomorrow for the infantry weapons and uniforms of the United States Army in the Pacific Theater.

Spencer the Great

Posts are always rough drafts

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29th May 2005

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#5 10 years ago

What about the Winchester 1897 (M97) trench gun?

That guy posing in the uniform freaks me out. How he changes uniforms but remains in exactly the same place makes me wonder if it is shopped.

After performing some side to side comparisons I have reached the conclusion that they are indeed doctored. He does a good job though.


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#6 10 years ago

Glad to see you got the Johnson in there. I'm going to be anoyed if FH over-looks it once again.


Jimmy Paterson's disciple

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#7 10 years ago

You forgot some stuff :P

Thompson M1928 with horizontal grip. ThompsonM28.jpg

Boys anti tanks rifle: Boys1.jpeg

M9 bazooka m9.jpg

US M1917 usm1917.jpg


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#8 10 years ago

I'm not aware of the M1917 being used by the Marine Corps.

Does anyone have any more info on the use of the Boys Rifle by the USMC? I can't find much.


Requiescat in Pace

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#9 10 years ago

Not much results either. According to wikipedia they nicknamed it the Elephant Gun. But there are so many EG's =p This is a small text I found, not really clearing things up though.

The British Boys Anti-Tank Rifle has the distinction of being the only rifle of its type ever used by American forces, and was dubbed the 'Elephant Gun' by the US Marines who used it in the desperate, early days of fighting in the Pacific Theater of World War II. The Stanchion Gun, as it was originally known, was essentially a large bolt-action repeating rifle with a five-round, detachable-box magazine.


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#10 10 years ago

Spencer the Great;4742447What about the Winchester 1897 (M97) trench gun?

That guy posing in the uniform freaks me out. How he changes uniforms but remains in exactly the same place makes me wonder if it is shopped.

After performing some side to side comparisons I have reached the conclusion that they are indeed doctored. He does a good job though.

Yeah, um, it is photoshopped.