Mukden Arsenal after WWII

arsenalgate

(Zhang’s Gate, the old entrance to Mukden Arsenal)

For people interested in Japanese firearms of WWII, the name Mukden Arsenal is familiar. The history of the facility after Japan’s defeat is less well known. Under various names, it did survive for some time, producing an odd mix of WWII weapons after the war’s end.

mukden

(Mukden Arsenal proofmark during WWII)

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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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WWII weapons in the Ayatollah’s Iran

The war between Iran and Iraq started in 1980 when Saddam Hussein sought to take advantage of Iran’s chaos by conquering and annexing Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province, and in the larger sense, destroying the Iranian islamic regime’s military. In turn, the Iranians sought to first repulse the Iraqi attack and then knock Hussein out of power and replace him with an Iraqi theocratic government modeled on Iran’s.

The war ended up lasting eight years and was one of the worst of the 20th century. For the most part, Iran employed high-tech systems like the MIM-23 Hawk SAM and AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter, but there were some WWII weapons in Iran’s use as well.

shermanjackson

(Iranian WWII-vintage M4 Sherman and M36 Jackson on the front lines of the 1980-1988 war.)

m115iran4

(Iranian WWII-era M115 artillery during the 1980-1988 war against Iraq.)

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German 98k rifle in Israeli service

The 98k was the most common firearm of Germany during WWII. It was used by all branches of the German military, in all theaters on all fronts, from the start of the war to the very end. It was in production for all of WWII and a total of 14.6 million were built.

After Germany’s surrender in 1945, numerous countries ranging from Norway to Vietnam employed the 98k for varying peiods of time. The most surprising, and one of the most prolific, users of the 98k after WWII was Israel.

orig98k

(The Karabiner 98K in the form it was issued to the Wehrmacht during WWII.)

cover

(Receiver of an IDF 98k showing WWII waffenamt, or proofmarking, and partially-defaced reichsadler (eagle-holding-swastika) alongside Israeli proofmarks.)

98KIsrael1967

(Perhaps nothing better illustrates the ultimate total failure of nazi ideology than this 1967 photo of an IDF infantryman praying at the Western Wall with a 98k.)

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The S-92: Czechoslovakia’s Me-262

The Messerschmitt Me-262 was the world’s first jet fighter to enter production, the first to enter full squadron service, the first to score an air-to-air victory, and is easily one of the WWII Luftwaffe’s most famous planes.

During WWII, Germany used the facilities of Avia in occupied Czechoslovakia to sub-contract parts for the Me-262 and planned to start full production of the fighter there. The western part of Czechoslovakia was liberated by Soviet troops in the last battle of WWII in Europe, in the conflict’s final 96 hours, and the commandeered aviation production facilities were captured intact.

me262

S92_1

(A Messerschmitt Me-262 with the Luftwaffe during WWII, and an Avia S-92 with the Czechoslovak air force after the war.)

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