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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WWII equipment in Soviet nuclear tests: part 2

(part 2 of a 2-part series)

The “Snezhok” test (described in part 1) illustrated the effects of an atomic bomb on land and air systems of WWII vintage and the first generation of Cold War gear. A year later, a naval nuclear test involved WWII-era warships.

The Soviet Union’s 21 September 1955 nuclear test at Novaya Zemlya is sometimes compared to the USA’s 1946 “Crossroads Bravo” test at Bikini. There were similarities (both were the first underwater nuclear detonation by the respective countries) but also many differences.

Novaya Zemlya is a large island (it is actually two islands, split by a narrow channel) in the Russian arctic. It is cold, barren, and uninhabited.

map

(Novaya Zemlya with the naval test site marked in red.)

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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.

bull

(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.)

pak

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

plane

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

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Tokagypt: the Cold War Hungarian WWII Soviet-copy Egyptian pistol

The Tokagypt, Hungary’s odd Egyptian-contract post-WWII TT-33 half-clone, is somewhat known in the firearms community. It appears in any number of books from the relatively entry-level Small Arms Visual Guide up to professional-grade publications. Yet in either case, the level of information is often similar and very brief: it was a 9mm copy of the Tokarev, it was made for Egypt, they didn’t want them all, some were used by terrorists…..and little else is usually explained. So perhaps this will be of value to those interested.

august1983

(August 1983 American intelligence photo of a Tokagypt.)

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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.

1948antiUSprotest

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

Ki21in1945

(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.)

t26andm5stuart1949

(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.

ww2a

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

ww2b

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

liquidators

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

2018b

(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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B-29 to “Bull”

I debated writing on this topic as the story of the Tu-4 “Bull”; the reverse-engineered B-29 Superfortress; is fairly well known. Numerous authors have covered it, and there was a TV documentary on it some years ago. None the less, the topic is apparently still of high interest, so perhaps the information below will be presented in a different way or otherwise still be of value.

b-29-superfortress

(A Boeing B-29 Superfortress during WWII.)

mosinnagant

(A Soviet soldier with WWII-era Mosin-Nagant marches in Red Square in the late 1940s as a Tu-4 “Bull” flies overhead.)

bombloading

(A RDS-4 atomic bomb is wheeled to a Tu-4 “Bull”.)

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the M1 Garand in Vietnam

Since starting wwiiafterwwii, numerous people have contacted me requesting I write something on this topic. This is understandable as the M1 Garand remains one of the most popular rifles of all time, and there is a high degree of interest with American readers (and to my surprise, some readers in Vietnam as well) in the Vietnam War.

Other discussions on this topic usually end up in a fairly simplistic debate of “yes there were Garands used in Vietnam” or “no they were all gone by then” so hopefully this is of some value.

1963

(South Vietnamese soldiers with M1 Garands on patrol during 1963.)

dec2018

(A member of Vietnam’s DQTV militia takes aim with a M1 Garand in December 2018.)

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WWII weapons in Yemen’s civil war

The country of Yemen, currently (2018) in the midst of yet another civil war, has had a long involvement with guns of the WWII era. While the AK-47 is king of the battlefield, some old WWII weapons are still in use.

t34

(The now somewhat-famous Yemeni “ripcord T-34” in November 2016.)

houtenfield

(Houthi fighters brandishing weapons in 2015, including to the left a WWII British Enfield No4 Mk.I rifle.)

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flow of WWII weapons after the war

Since starting wwiiafterwwii, I have wanted to do something on this topic but was unsure how to approach it. I am interested in how WWII weapons performed in battle against Cold War replacements. But also, it is fascinating to consider how they ended up where they did after WWII……how did a Garand built to fight Imperial Japan end up in the Somali desert in the 1970s, or how did a Waffen-SS sturmgewehr end up in 21st century Damascus?

interarmco

(An ex-Wehrmacht NbW 42 Nebelwerfer with Interarms markings in the 1960s.)

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