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.)

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(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.)

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(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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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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Guided missiles on Corsairs

Originally designed as a carrier-based gun dogfighter, the F4U Corsair, and it’s later attack variant, the AU-1, was used heavily as a ground attack plane during WWII, and almost exclusively in that role during the Korean War.

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(The first prototype Vought Corsair during WWII.)

A wide variety of weapons not originally envisioned were successfully used by the Corsair: air-to-ground rockets, napalm tanks, radar, depth charges, cluster munitions, and so on.

Easily the most unusual was something that could have never been envisioned by Vought’s engineers when they designed the plane; a guided missile.

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(French navy Corsair with SS.11 guided missiles aboard.)

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WWII CVEs into AKVs: Korean & Vietnam wars

cover2card

(USS Card departs San Francisco, CA with a load of F-102 Delta Dagger fighters on the wooden WWII flight deck. The supersonic F-102 was based at home, at overseas airbases in Japan, West Germany, and the Philippines; and during the Vietnam War in South Vietnam. It was also exported to Greece and Turkey.)

After WWII, some of the US Navy’s escort carriers were converted for aircraft ferry use. While not the most glamorous mission, they filled an important niche in the use of American airpower during the Cold War.

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The last Peashooters

Not all WWII fighter planes remained in use after WWII, and even fewer pre-WWII designs. One surprising exception was the 1930s-vintage P-26 Peashooter which was still in use in Guatemala as late as 1957.

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(The P-26 Peashooter fighter in the colors of the 1930s US Army, and the 1950s Guatemalan air force.)

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The Mustang in the ANG after WWII

The P-51 Mustang was one of the best, if not the best, single-engine fighter of WWII. It’s performance during WWII was legendary and is well-known even today in the general public. Less well known was the type’s use during the Korean War, and less known still, it’s overseas use after WWII.

Perhaps the least studied era of the Mustang was it’s use in Air National Guard (ANG) squadrons after WWII. These Mustang units filled an important niche in the American military system until sufficient jets were available. The Mustang’s service in the ANG was the last of it’s use in the USA, and was the end of the era overall for piston-engined fighters in American skies.

NMang

(A P-51 Mustang of the New Mexico National Guard after WWII, prior to the 1947 Army-Air Force split. The New Mexico state emblem is in place of the national insignia on the fuselage. In the mid-to-late 1940s, before peacetime organizational standards were made rigid, many state NG squadrons had unofficial emblems like this on the fuselage. The wing markings were left as the national insignia.)

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