happy Independence Day 2022 / Andrews Barracks in Berlin

For readers of wwiiafterwwii in the United States, I would like to extend wishes for a happy July 4th, our nation’s 246th birthday.

Below is a quite unusual Independence Day scene, taken in Berlin on 4 July 1945 – the first Independence Day after the European part of WWII ended and while combat in the Pacific was still underway.

The damaged building which both the Stars & Stripes and Hammer & Sickle are flying above, was the WWII headquarters of the 1st Waffen-SS Panzer Division, the LSSAH  (Liebstandarte SS Adolf Hitler) as can be seen on the cornice of the building atop the four columns.

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the Mosin-Nagant in Romania after WWII

During WWII the Mosin-Nagant was the Soviet army’s standard longarm. After WWII, all of the client communist nations in eastern Europe used it. The case of Romania is interesting in that its run predated WWII itself, and continued right to the end of the Cold War in 1989.

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(Mosin-Nagant M44 carbine of Romania’s brief post-WWII production run.) (photo via National Rifle Association)

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(“Instructie” stamp on a Romanian Mosin-Nagant.)

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(Members of Romania’s Gărzile Patriotice (Patriotic Guards) march with WWII Mosin-Nagants during the 1970s.)

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MANPADS vs WWII C-47 Skytrain

The use of man-portable air defense systems, or MANPADS, against WWII-era aircraft was not totally unique to the 1986 story of the plane below; nor even against the particular plane involved, the C-47 Skytrain.

What sets this incident apart is that the plane and crew survived allowing the event to be fully documented after the fact, and also that another aircraft was able to photograph it in flight.

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(The South African C-47 Skytrain which was hit by a SA-7 “Grail” in 1986 making an emergency landing with its tail blown off.)

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(South African soldier with a captured SA-7 “Grail” during the 1981 “Protea” operation against SWAPO inside Angola.)

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MG 151: post-WWII use

The guns arming WWII warplanes were usually of limited general interest, just a component of the overall aircraft and leaving service with the planes they were installed in. Germany’s MG 151 on the other hand, had an extremely long and varied career after WWII, being used in any number of roles in the air, on the ground, and even on the sea; all around the world for many decades.

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(MG 151 being serviced on a Luftwaffe fighter during WWII.)

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(French MG 151 crew on a “Pirate”, or up-gunned H-34 Choctaw, during the Algerian War.) (photo via tenes.info website)

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(Image from a 1980s South African VHS video promoting Vektor’s helicopter mount of the MG 151.)

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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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fate of the last Skytrain built

Through remarkable circumstances, the last C-47 Skytrain built during WWII ended up in the Congo where it lingered on into the 21st Century.

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(C-47 Skytrain. The stripes are an identification marking used during the 1944 “Overlord” D-Day landings.)

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(The last C-47 Skytrain built during WWII, in Goma, D.R. Congo during December 2014. This had been Mobutu’s DC-3.) (photo by Abel Kavanagh)

As a background to the astonishing story and unfortunate fate of this one Skytrain, it is perhaps worthwhile to look at the very long and varied history of the C-47 / DC-3 in the country. The plane is somewhat unique in aviation in that it became almost symbolic of a new nation’s struggles.

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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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Wu Chin III: Taiwan’s remarkable rebuilt WWII destroyers

Some warships which survived WWII were given updates during the late 1940s or 1950s, for the most part modest changes to keep them current a while longer. In terms of being the most dramatically altered, a few examples stand out including the two WWII Baltimore class gun cruisers transformed into the US Navy’s first guided missile cruisers; USS Boston (CAG-1) and USS Canberra (CAG-2).

Of all WWII warships later rebuilt, Taiwan’s Wu Chin III modifications to Gearing class destroyers may be the most amazing. Unlike the cruisers above, the Taiwanese were packing more technology into smaller hulls; they did not have the Pentagon’s budget to play with; and most amazingly this was done not just years after WWII ended, but almost a half-century later.

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(The Gearing class destroyer USS Power (DD-839) at the end of WWII.)

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(The Wu Chin III-rebuilt destroyer ROCS Shen Yang – the former USS Power of WWII – in the 21st century.)

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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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scrapping the warships of WWII

I debated writing on this topic as it really doesn’t fit the theme of WWII weaponry being used after WWII. However in the past I have described how WWII warships were preserved, how they were modernized, and how they were transferred between countries. So maybe this will be of interest.

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(The ex-USS Franklin (CV-13) being scrapped in 1966. This aircraft carrier had been terribly damaged in 1945, repaired at great expense, but never again used. Cut metal from other WWII warships fills the property of Portsmouth Salvage.)

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(A Mk15 triple 8″ gun turret yanked off a WWII cruiser by Zidell during the 1970s. Zidell scrapped hundreds of WWII warships.)

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(The ex-USS Sphinx (ARL-24), a WWII repair ship, being scrapped in 2007 by Bay Bridge Enterprises. The original shipbreaker for this job went bankrupt, which happened with increased frequency in the 1990s and 2000s.) (photo by Robert Hurst)

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