Mexico’s cañoneros after WWII

Mexico’s WWII cañoneros had a very long run after WWII and after the concept had been forgotten elsewhere, stretching past the year 2000.

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(ARM Durango during WWII.) (photo from All Hands, the US Navy’s magazine)

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(ARM Durango late in the ship’s career, near the turn of the millennium.)

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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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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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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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sunset of naval netlaying after WWII

Some changes to the US Navy after WWII were both readily apparent and abrupt. The carrier-based warplane replaced battleship gunnery as the most potent offense at sea. Smokescreen-laying, an important art for destroyer captains in 1939, was more or less moot ten years later due to the near-universal fitting of radar on warships. And so on.

The decline of naval defensive nets after WWII was neither fast, nor with a simple explanation. In the US Navy the discipline sort of just quietly went away, slowly, over a period of about 15 – 20 years…yet, the decline was unmistakable even as soon as WWII’s end in 1945.

Little is said as to how or why naval nets vanished, or what happened to the US Navy’s many net warfare ships after WWII. So perhaps this will be of value.

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(USS Pinon (AN-66) hauls in a German anti-submarine net at Cherbourg, France following the city’s liberation during WWII.)

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(An inert Polaris ballistic missile being launched in 1963 from a buoyant test cylinder tended by USS Butternut (AN-9), a WWII veteran net ship.)

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(The Dominican Republic navy’s Separación, which had been USS Passaconaway (AN-86) during WWII, during the 1990s.)

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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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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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