Guided missiles on Corsairs

Originally designed as a carrier-based gun dogfighter, the F4U Corsair, and it’s later attack variant, the AU-1, was used heavily as a ground attack plane during WWII, and almost exclusively in that role during the Korean War.

corsairprototype

(The first prototype Vought Corsair during WWII.)

A wide variety of weapons not originally envisioned were successfully used by the Corsair: air-to-ground rockets, napalm tanks, radar, depth charges, cluster munitions, and so on.

Easily the most unusual was something that could have never been envisioned by Vought’s engineers when they designed the plane; a guided missile.

F4U7SS-11

(French navy Corsair with SS.11 guided missiles aboard.)

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Cleaning up after WWII

Since starting wwiiafterwwii, I receive from time to time suggestions for topics. These are wide-ranging but two in particular seem very popular: WWII weapons in the Vietnam War, which has been touched on several times; and a general question of how the world “cleaned up” WWII battlefields after the war. For the latter, I was surprised at how very little is written about it so perhaps this will be of interest.

One of the reasons WWII battlefields did not remain littered with vehicles for long was that, with the lone exception of the USA, all of the major warring powers made some official level of combat usage of captured enemy arms during WWII. The most formal was Germany’s Beutewaffe (literally, ‘booty’ or ‘loot’ weapon) effort, which encompassed everything from handguns to fighter aircraft with an official code in the Waffenamt system; for example FK-288(r) (the Soviet ZiS-3 anti-tank gun), SIGew-251(a) (the American M1 Garand rifle), and Sd.Kfz 735(i) (the Italian Fiat M13/40 tank). Captured gear was assembled at points called Sammelstelle and then shipped back from the front lines for disposition.

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Breguet Br-482: post-WWII service

The Breguet 482 strategic bomber is a “what could have been” design of the French air force during WWII. Intended to serve in the same role as the B-17 Flying Fortress, the lone plane of the type which survived WWII went on to quietly serve in the postwar French military during the early years of NATO.

bre482c

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WWII weapons with Force Publique in the Belgian Congo

Force Publique was the local military force of the Belgian Congo, when it was still a colony of Belgium. It was a fairly unusual military force, not surprising as the Belgian Congo colony was itself unusual. The Belgian Congo was massively larger than Belgium itself. It existed solely for economic exploitation; the Belgians having no real strategic military interest in it and having no desire to develop it.

African people in the Belgian Congo were of course completely shut out of Belgium’s political process. Until the late 1950s, they could not even hold local elections in their own small villages. The colony was directly ruled from Brussels. Whereas most European powers began granting independence to African colonies in the late 1940s/early 1950s, Belgium had no intention of giving up the Congo and, like Portugal, foresaw it’s colonialist empire as permanent.

Force Publique was formed in 1908. The objective was to obtain security for the colony at a minimal cost to Belgium. The officers were all Europeans. Africans were prohibited from being promoted above junior enlisted NCO, and most were never advanced in rank at all. Little to no formal tactical training was given to the Africans, and quite frankly, they were basically regarded as inexpensive, replaceable cannon fodder to guard Belgian economic interests in the colony.

camp_charles_1955(Force Publique’s Camp Charles training facility in 1955. The troops are equipped with Mle. 89/36 rifles with bayonets mounted. After Congo became independent, Camp Charles was neglected and by the 1970s had decayed into uselessness.)

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