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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M24 Chaffee during the Vietnam War

The American M24 Chaffee light tank of WWII saw postwar combat in southeast Asia for a quarter-century starting in 1950, first with the French army, then the South Vietnamese army, and finally the South Vietnamese air force. 

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(A French army M24 Chaffee in combat during the Indochina War.)

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(A M24 Chaffee of the ARVN (South Vietnamese army) attacking Gia Long Palace during the 1963 coup.)

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(With a PanAm Boeing 707 in the background, a M24 Chaffee of the VNAF (South Vietnamese air force) guards Tan Son Nhut in Saigon. Even as the Vietnam War was being fought, the airport’s civilian side continued to handle commercial aviation. These air force tanks would be the last WWII Chaffees in Vietnam.)

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M3 Lee post-WWII service

The M3 Lee medium tank is usually thought of as a pre-war design of limited abilities during WWII, obsolete by the conflict’s midpoint and gone when WWII ended in 1945. For the most part these assumptions are correct, but surprisingly the Lee did serve on in a few places after WWII.

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(M3 Lees of the US Army 1st Armored Division in Louisiana during one of the huge “southern states exercises” in September 1941. These series of wargames were the last major exercises prior to the USA entering WWII in December. All of the equipment seen here; the M3 Lee tank, the A-20 Havoc bomber, the M3 37mm anti-tank gun, and M1917 helmet; equipped the American military when it entered the war and was later superseded by more modern kit.)

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(Brazilian M3 Lee which was retained in service after WWII, this one having the balancing counterweight fitted to the M2 75mm gun.) (photo by Gino Marcomini)

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(Australia’s post-WWII Yeramba SPA, the final offshoot of the Lee / Grant family.)

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AAC.1 Toucan: France’s post-WWII Ju-52

France restarted domestic production of the Junkers Ju-52 transport after WWII. Although intended as a quick, cheap stop-gap solution, the AAC.1 Toucan fought in three post-WWII conflicts and quietly served as long after WWII as the famous original Junkers did before and during WWII.

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(Junkers Ju-52s of the Luftwaffe training Fallschirmjäger during WWII.)

indochine1(A French air force AAC.1 Toucan – the post-WWII French copy of the Ju-52 – flies over a burning Vietnamese jungle during the Indochina War.)

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(A French air force AAC.1 Toucan in Africa during the 1950s Algerian War.)

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the M1 Garand in Vietnam

Since starting wwiiafterwwii, numerous people have contacted me requesting I write something on this topic. This is understandable as the M1 Garand remains one of the most popular rifles of all time, and there is a high degree of interest with American readers (and to my surprise, some readers in Vietnam as well) in the Vietnam War.

Other discussions on this topic usually end up in a fairly simplistic debate of “yes there were Garands used in Vietnam” or “no they were all gone by then” so hopefully this is of some value.

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(South Vietnamese soldiers with M1 Garands on patrol during 1963.)

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(A member of Vietnam’s DQTV militia takes aim with a M1 Garand in December 2018.)

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Mukden Arsenal after WWII

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(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.

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(Mukden Arsenal proofmark during WWII)

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F8F Bearcat post-WWII service

The F8F Bearcat was the last of a WWII family tree of Grumman carrier-based fighters which started with the Wildcat and led to the Hellcat. It was the fastest carrier-based plane of WWII, the fastest naval piston-powered fighter of the war, and one of the fastest propeller-driven planes of any type of all time.

bearcat2(US Navy F8F Bearcat)

The Bearcat barely entered service during WWII. Only one US Navy squadron, VF-19 aboard USS Langley (CVL-27), was fully operational with the type, beginning in July 1945, and it encountered no combat before Japan surrendered. The F8F was already on it’s way out of American service by the time the Korean War started and saw no combat there either. However the Bearcat did have a very long and successful career with other countries after WWII.

F8F2(French air force F8F Bearcat with drop tank and napalm bombs in Indochina.)

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