WWII weapons in Liberia

Military history of Liberia is often covered only in the context of the civil wars fought between 1990 – 1997 and 1999 – 2003. Before those tragic conflicts, Liberia had an odd and unique army, mirroring the unusual story of the nation as a whole.

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(US Army soldiers in Liberia during WWII. They are armed with M1903 Springfields and a M1917, both of which would be used by the Liberian army after WWII.)

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(Liberian soldiers loading M1 Garands during the 1980 coup.)

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(A modified M1917A1 guarding a roadblock near Monrovia during 1992.)

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(A guerilla loyal to the warlord Charles Taylor during the 1990s, armed with a WWII Soviet PPS-43. Child soldiers were used by Taylor in outrageous numbers; at points more than half his force was under the international military age of 17.)

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the 98k in Iraq

When I began wwiiafterwwii almost seven years ago, this was one of the first subjects I intended to cover. At that time Iraq was still a current topic, and I thought it would be easy to document the 98k’s history there.

As it turns out, the WWII German 98k in Iraq is complex and full of caveats; poorly-covered by substantive sources. So it took a tad bit longer than planned to complete. Hopefully this subject is still of interest.

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(A 98k rifle captured by the US Marine Corps during the post-2003 occupation.)

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(A heavily-modified Mauser rifle captured by American troops.) (photo via Silah Report)

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(A 98k manufactured by Mauser Werke in 1940. This was a WWII German, post-WWII Czechoslovak-refurbished, then ex-East German gun – an indirect route not uncommon for Iraqi 98ks. The jeem marking on the receiver and barrel is Iraq’s property marking.) (photo via gunboards online forum)

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“jumboized” WWII warships

After WWII the US Navy modernized war-built vessels to various degrees for many reasons. Many options were available: new weapons, new radars and sonars, enlarged superstructures, new radios, adding or removing aircraft capability, replacement engines, layout changes, and so on.

Normally one thing that couldn’t be changed was the physical size of the hull. Things could be added, moved, replaced, altered, or rebuilt inside or atop the hull; but at the end of the day the WWII hull was what it was.

In the examples below, extremely dramatic “surgery” actually changed the length and size of the entire ship.

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(Not a case of seeing double: the bow and stern sections of USS Navasota (AO-106) pointed in opposite directions during the WWII warship’s 1960s “jumboization”.)

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(The WWII submarine tender USS Proteus (AS-19) cut completely in half during 1959. This “jumboization” was one of the most complex engineering jobs ever done prior to the computer age.)

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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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