a Gato under the Rising Sun

During WWII, the Imperial Japanese Navy’s submarine force was more advanced than it is often given credit for today – mostly, due to it being overshadowed by the successes of American and German subs during the war.

Japan’s submarine force ceased to exist with the end of WWII. That it was later resurrected during the Cold War was by no means a certain thing, nor was it easy. The rebirth of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (JMSDF) undersea wing is largely forgotten today, and even more so that it started with a submarine which itself had fought against the empire during WWII.

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(The US Navy’s Gato class of WWII.)

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(The JMSDF’s first submarine, the Gato class Kuroshio, ex-USS Mingo of WWII.)

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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?

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

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WWII weapons in Tanzania

Formerly one of Great Britain’s eastern African colonies, Tanzania used WWII-era equipment throughout the later 20th century including a late-1970s war against Uganda.

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(Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest point of Africa and the only part of Tanzania to receive snow. East Africa Railways continued in dwindling existence after WWII, including the wartime Garratt steam locomotives. The defunct company’s rail lines were a great logistics asset to Tanzania during the 1978-1979 Kagera war.) (photo via internationalsteam.co.uk website)

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(WWII-vintage PPSh-41 submachine gun of the Tanzanian army.)

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putting cruise missiles on WWII battleships

Photos of USS Missouri and USS Wisconsin firing 16″ rounds at Iraqi targets in 1991 are well-known as the last instances of battleships in combat. Less widely known is their operations with Tomahawks during that war, and even less, about how cruise missiles ended up on WWII battleships in the 1980s to begin with.

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(USS Wisconsin during WWII.)

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(USS Wisconsin firing a BGM-109 Tomahawk during operation “Desert Storm”, four and a half decades later.)

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1980s drug war: WWII gear used

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(The WWII-veteran USCGC Cherokee on a 1980s narcotics patrol.)

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(A demilitarized WWII-veteran C-46 Commando which crashed while in use as a smuggling plane during the 1980s.)

The US Coast Guard was formed (as the Revenue Cutter Service) on 4 August 1790. The Posse Comitatus law of 1878 restricts use of the American military in law enforcement. However the US Coast Guard is specifically exempted from any restrictions, and in fact law enforcement is one of it’s core missions.

During the Cold War the US Coast Guard’s funding came from the Department Of Transportation, not the Pentagon, and money just to buy fuel was at a premium, let alone new construction. The fleet during President Carter’s term was in a bottleneck; as all Prohibition-era cutters were gone, but new modern hulls were not being launched fast enough to replace them. Some aged WWII ships were pressed into service as cutters.

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