M24 Chaffee during the Vietnam War

The American M24 Chaffee light tank of WWII saw postwar combat in southeast Asia for a quarter-century starting in 1950, first with the French army, then the South Vietnamese army, and finally the South Vietnamese air force. 

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(A French army M24 Chaffee in combat during the Indochina War.)

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(A M24 Chaffee of the ARVN (South Vietnamese army) attacking Gia Long Palace during the 1963 coup.)

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(With a PanAm Boeing 707 in the background, a M24 Chaffee of the VNAF (South Vietnamese air force) guards Tan Son Nhut in Saigon. Even as the Vietnam War was being fought, the airport’s civilian side continued to handle commercial aviation. These air force tanks would be the last WWII Chaffees in Vietnam.)

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the Krali Marko Line

One of the more remarkable re-uses of WWII tanks was Bulgaria’s Krali Marko defensive line along its southeast border during the Cold War.

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(Bulgarian Panzer IV and T-34 tanks.)

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(T-34 turret in the Krali Marko Line.) (photo via uniconbg website)

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(Panzer IV after being exhumed out of the Krali Marko Line during the 2010s.)

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M3 Lee post-WWII service

The M3 Lee medium tank is usually thought of as a pre-war design of limited abilities during WWII, obsolete by the conflict’s midpoint and gone when WWII ended in 1945. For the most part these assumptions are correct, but surprisingly the Lee did serve on in a few places after WWII.

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(M3 Lees of the US Army 1st Armored Division in Louisiana during one of the huge “southern states exercises” in September 1941. These series of wargames were the last major exercises prior to the USA entering WWII in December. All of the equipment seen here; the M3 Lee tank, the A-20 Havoc bomber, the M3 37mm anti-tank gun, and M1917 helmet; equipped the American military when it entered the war and was later superseded by more modern kit.)

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(Brazilian M3 Lee which was retained in service after WWII, this one having the balancing counterweight fitted to the M2 75mm gun.) (photo by Gino Marcomini)

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(Australia’s post-WWII Yeramba SPA, the final offshoot of the Lee / Grant family.)

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Albania & the last Mosin-Nagants made

The last country to produce new Mosin-Nagants was perhaps the most obscure player in Cold War-era Europe, Albania. There a small run of this rifle was made in the early 1960s, a decade and a half after WWII ended and the world (including Albania itself) had already moved on to more modern firearms.

(Albanian-manufactured Mosin-Nagant 91/30 rifle, the final production run of this legendary WWII rifle.) (photo via Armslist website)

(Enver Hoxha, the WWII guerilla who would become Albania’s dictator from 1944 – 1985.)

(Mosin-Nagant M44s being looted by an Albanian civilian during the 1997 chaos.) (Associated Press photo)

The Cold War-era Albanian military overall was a blend of different generations (including WWII) of weapons serving alongside one another.

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Israel’s radar-busting Shermans

The M4 Sherman was the main American tank type of WWII. After the war, it saw additional combat worldwide – first as a tank in its original WWII form, then in following decades through various upgrades, and in rebuilt form for non-tank uses.

One of the more remarkable of the latter was the Kilshon, an Israeli system to destroy the radars controlling and guiding enemy surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).

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(US Army M4 Sherman tank in action during WWII.)

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(The Israeli Kilshon ARM launch vehicle, which used a WWII Sherman as the lower portion.)

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WWII equipment in Soviet nuclear tests: part 1

(part 1 of a 2-part series)

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the Soviet Union conducted regular nuclear weapons tests. One of these was unique in that it was not just a test detonation of a weapon, but a full-scale military exercise which involved a blend of WWII-vintage systems and their Cold War-era replacements.

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(One of the two Tu-4 “Bull” strategic bombers involved in the 1954 exercise. There was a primary and alternate Tu-4 staged, of which only one dropped a bomb. The “Bull” was an unlicensed copy of the WWII American B-29 Superfortress.)

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(An ex-Wehrmacht PaK 40 anti-tank gun smashed and radioactive following the 1954 Soviet atomic test.)

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(A WWII Il-10 “Beast” burns after the exercise atomic detonation.)

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strange Stuarts of Brazil

The USA’s M3/M5 Stuart family is a fairly well-known tank used by numerous countries during and after WWII. In the case of Brazil, what makes the story interesting is the variety of modifications done to Stuarts decades after WWII had ended.

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(Brazilian M3 Stuarts on the Italian front during WWII. These are early-production tanks, still with the nearly-useless sponson machine guns and prewar hatch design.)

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(Brazilian X1A2 Carcara tank of the 1980s; the last member of the M3 family tree.)

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(The XLF-40 ballistic missile system of the 1970s.)

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WWII weapons in Shanghai: VJ Day to 1949

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Shanghai was famous as China’s international city, a busy trade port with notorious underworld . During the latter part of the 20th century, the city languished through Mao’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, before once again becoming a world-class city leading in finance, technology, and culture at the turn of the millennium.

There was a very brief time after WWII, only four years, when the city was under the Kuomintang (KMT), or nationalist Chinese government. What makes this period interesting militarily, was the unusual combinations of WWII weaponry fielded there, and a now largely-forgotten American military presence in China.

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(Officers of the Shanghai Police Department monitor a political protest in 1948. Equipment includes a stahlhelm M35 helmet and Arisaka Type 38 rifle.)

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(An abandoned Mitsubishi Ki-21 “Sally” bomber sits opposite American C-46 Commando, C-54 Skymaster, and C-47 Skytrain transports at a former Japanese airbase near Shanghai after WWII.)

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(Soviet-made T-26 and American-made M3/M5 Stuart tanks of the nationalist army together in Shanghai during 1949. An irony of this last battle is that the nationalists were partially equipped with Soviet gear and the communists were partially equipped with American gear.)

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why there is a WWII vehicle at Chernobyl

The 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was one of the worst man-made catastrophes ever, and the worst event in the history of the Soviet Union other than the 1941 German invasion during WWII.

Quite improbably, a vehicle of that war played a very minor role in the 1986 event.

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(ISU-152s of the Soviet army during WWII.)

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(A German road sign points east towards Chernobyl during the “Barbarossa” operation in 1941.)

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(Liquidators (cleanup workers) with a ISU-152 at the disaster in 1986.)

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(ISU-152 in Pripyat, Ukraine during 2018, with the New Safe Containment (NSC) structure of the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the background.)

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