1980s drug war: WWII gear used

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

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(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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Tu-2 “Bat”: post-WWII service

The Tupolev Tu-2 “Bat” (it’s NATO reporting name) was one of the best warplanes of WWII, but is generally not well-known outside the USSR. A fast light bomber, it was remarkably agile, enough to out-maneuver lower tier fighters, and it’s closest comparison during WWII would probably be the German Ju-88. The Tu-2 also had a long and eventful career after WWII.

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(Top: A Soviet air force Tu-2 “Bat” in combat during WWII. Bottom: A Polish navy Tu-2 “Bat” with Warsaw Pact Northern Group exercise markings in 1956.)

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Breguet Br-482: post-WWII service

The Breguet 482 strategic bomber is a “what could have been” design of the French air force during WWII. Intended to serve in the same role as the B-17 Flying Fortress, the lone plane of the type which survived WWII went on to quietly serve in the postwar French military during the early years of NATO.

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B-32 Dominator: Terminal Inventory

The B-32 Dominator was probably the least famous of America’s WWII warplanes, and was completely irrelevant to the outcome of the war. It is more interesting as a study on the methods and economics of how the USA dismantled it’s mighty war machine in the immediate years after WWII.

b32a(A B-32 Dominator in flight.)

DavisMonthanMay1946

(Acres of surplus WWII bombers at Davis-Monthan AFB in 1946.)

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