WWII weapons in Shanghai: VJ Day to 1949

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Shanghai was famous as China’s international city, a busy trade port with notorious underworld . During the latter part of the 20th century, the city languished through Mao’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, before once again becoming a world-class city leading in finance, technology, and culture at the turn of the millennium.

There was a very brief time after WWII, only four years, when the city was under the Kuomintang (KMT), or nationalist Chinese government. What makes this period interesting militarily, was the unusual combinations of WWII weaponry fielded there, and a now largely-forgotten American military presence in China.

1948antiUSprotest

(Officers of the Shanghai Police Department monitor a political protest in 1948. Equipment includes a stahlhelm M35 helmet and Arisaka Type 38 rifle.)

Ki21in1945

(An abandoned Mitsubishi Ki-21 “Sally” bomber sits opposite American C-46 Commando, C-54 Skymaster, and C-47 Skytrain transports at a former Japanese airbase near Shanghai after WWII.)

t26andm5stuart1949

(Soviet-made T-26 and American-made M3/M5 Stuart tanks of the nationalist army together in Shanghai during 1949. An irony of this last battle is that the nationalists were partially equipped with Soviet gear and the communists were partially equipped with American gear.)

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B-29 to “Bull”

I debated writing on this topic as the story of the Tu-4 “Bull”; the reverse-engineered B-29 Superfortress; is fairly well known. Numerous authors have covered it, and there was a TV documentary on it some years ago. None the less, the topic is apparently still of high interest, so perhaps the information below will be presented in a different way or otherwise still be of value.

b-29-superfortress

(A Boeing B-29 Superfortress during WWII.)

mosinnagant

(A Soviet soldier with WWII-era Mosin-Nagant marches in Red Square in the late 1940s as a Tu-4 “Bull” flies overhead.)

bombloading

(A RDS-4 atomic bomb is wheeled to a Tu-4 “Bull”.)

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Philippines pt. 1: “Mickey Mouse Money” after WWII

(part 1 of a 2-part series)

Every nation that participated in WWII had effects on it’s economy after the war ended. For the Philippines, an unfortunate combination of circumstances meant that these effects lasted longer than probably anywhere else, and most curiously the money itself (the physical printed cash) was an issue decades later.

rizalFeb1945reb1946

(American soldiers behind a M4 Sherman advance down the right field foul line of Rizal Stadium in February 1945. The ballpark had been converted into a HQ by Japanese forces. For the Philippines, the occupation was ending but the post-WWII monetary woes were just beginning.)

japwancapnotes

(A stack of old Japanese Invasion Money stamped by the failed JAPWANCAP scheme of the 1950s.)

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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?

interarmco

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

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the forgotten MiG-13

During WWII some long-standing military disciplines (biplane fighters, battleship duels) went extinct. Others (submarines, radar, jet engines) were in a basic state in 1939, then highly developed during WWII and important afterwards. Still others (ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons) were entirely developed during WWII and important thereafter. Many, many other technologies were experimented with during WWII, failed for whatever reason, and were abandoned.

There is a final category that might be considered. This is a very tiny number of technologies which were developed entirely during WWII, actually worked, but were already overtaken by the time WWII ended.

i250drawing

MiG’s unique late-war fighter project would fall into this final small category. This plane was originally called project “N”, then I-250, and finally MiG-13.

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1980s drug war: WWII gear used

USCGC-CHEROKEE-COLOR-500PIX

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

c46bahamas2

(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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Cleaning up after WWII

Since starting wwiiafterwwii, I receive from time to time suggestions for topics. These are wide-ranging but two in particular seem very popular: WWII weapons in the Vietnam War, which has been touched on several times; and a general question of how the world “cleaned up” WWII battlefields after the war. For the latter, I was surprised at how very little is written about it so perhaps this will be of interest.

One of the reasons WWII battlefields did not remain littered with vehicles for long was that, with the lone exception of the USA, all of the major warring powers made some official level of combat usage of captured enemy arms during WWII. The most formal was Germany’s Beutewaffe (literally, ‘booty’ or ‘loot’ weapon) effort, which encompassed everything from handguns to fighter aircraft with an official code in the Waffenamt system; for example FK-288(r) (the Soviet ZiS-3 anti-tank gun), SIGew-251(a) (the American M1 Garand rifle), and Sd.Kfz 735(i) (the Italian Fiat M13/40 tank). Captured gear was assembled at points called Sammelstelle and then shipped back from the front lines for disposition.

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