Libya from Rommel to Quadaffi

The nation of Libya has seen a great deal of conflict, starting with WWII, then the 1980s skirmishes against the United States, and finally the terrible 10-year civil conflict of the 21st century.

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(Field Marshall Erwin Rommel in Libya during WWII; and Libyan dictator Muammar Quadaffi presenting a WWII Italian Carcano Modello 91 rifle to the Italian prime minister in 2002.)

Almost forgotten now is that the nation had a two-decade interlude as a pro-western kingdom and was host to a major American military base. The Libyan army of this era was equipped with WWII-surplus weaponry.

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(Soldiers of King Idris’s small army march with Enfield No.4 Mk.I rifles during the 1950s. This WWII British rifle became Libya’s first standard longarm after it achieved independence. During 2011, the old 1950s flag seen here was again made Libya’s official flag.)

WWII weapons would again play a small role during the fighting between 2011 – 2020.

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(A WWII American M1919A6 machine gun in action near a burned-out T-62 during the overthrow of Quadaffi.)

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(A WWII Soviet DP-28 light machine gun in use during the Libyan Civil War of the 2010s.)

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(A young Libyan irregular poses with a Carcano Moschetto da Cavalleria M-91 during 2011. He told the photographer that he believed it was “an old American gun” but none the less knew how to properly use it. This WWII Italian carbine was surprisingly represented during the 2010s civil war in Libya.) (photo via NPR)

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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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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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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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WWII warships still in Myanmar’s navy

The navy of Myanmar (formerly Burma) is not well studied and prior to the mid-2000s, did not really amount to much. Three warships from WWII served on for decades in the Burmese navy and as of 2020, two still were.

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(UMS Yan Gyi Aung – USS Creddock (MSF-356) during WWII – fires a gun salute in December 2019.)

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(UMS Yan Tuang Aung – USS Farmington (PCE-894) during WWII – in service in the late 2010s.) (photo via Radio Free Asia)

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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.

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(August 1983 American intelligence photo of a Tokagypt.)

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Philippines pt.2: WWII weapons used 1946-2018

(part 2 of a 2-part series)

After achieving independence from the United States ten months after the end of WWII, the military of the Philippines was infused with a variety of WWII American weapons, some of which are still in use in 2018.

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(Recruits train with a mix of M16s and M1 Garands in 2018.)

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(Philippines army soldiers display weapons captured from Abu Sayyaf in 2017 including a pair of M1 Garands, one of which has been spray-painted glossy black.)

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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.

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

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

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