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Old 06-06-2019, 08:28 AM
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US weapons in WWII


There is a picture of Ernie Pyle in Wikipedia captioned "Pyle shares a cigarette with soldiers on Okinawa". They are all carrying M-1 carbines. I thought infantry all carried the M-1 Garand. Artillerymen, drivers, radio guys carried the carbine. What are these guys? Here is a larger picture. There is a guy on a horse. The uniforms differ, one guy is wearing puttees.
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Old 06-06-2019, 08:32 AM
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These could be mortar men or some other heavy weapon troops who are technically part of the infantry but who aren't rifle men. Such guys were also issued M-1 Carbines for personal defense.
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Old 06-06-2019, 09:42 AM
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There is a picture of Ernie Pyle in Wikipedia captioned "Pyle shares a cigarette with soldiers on Okinawa". They are all carrying M-1 carbines. I thought infantry all carried the M-1 Garand. Artillerymen, drivers, radio guys carried the carbine. What are these guys? Here is a larger picture. There is a guy on a horse. The uniforms differ, one guy is wearing puttees.
I don't know of a reference to the picture saying what who the guys were other than member of the 77th Infantry Division.

The carbine was widely issued at every level of unit including infantry. The only thing you might infer from the guys having carbines is that they are not members of an infantry squad outfitted according to the official Table of Organization and Equipment, which said each man in infantry squad had a rifle except the BAR man (though there was often unofficially more than one BAR per squad by 1945, and the officially unassigned submachine guns would also often be in infantry squads). They could still be officially outfitted guys from an infantry company Hq or weapons platoon (eg machine gunners or mortar men); or from a battalion's Hq, weapons co etc, or some high level or attached artillery or rear echelon unit. Or...they could be members of an infantry squad nonetheless carrying carbines rather than rifles.

The downside to the carbine's reputation in terms of 'lack of stopping power' was a more widely held opinion in the Korean War, along with the bad impression of the weapon's reliability in extreme cold. In WWII it was sometimes favored for infantry combat in close and/or difficult terrain due to its smaller size and weight.
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Old 06-06-2019, 11:18 AM
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These could be mortar men or some other heavy weapon troops who are technically part of the infantry but who aren't rifle men. Such guys were also issued M-1 Carbines for personal defense.
This. We also have no idea where these guys are in relation to the 'front line'. They could be artillerymen or somesuch. M1 Carbines were popular for any soldier who had to carry something besides a rifle.
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Old 06-06-2019, 11:50 AM
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Kind of a stinker of a weapon though; feeble cartridge and tended to be jam-prone. Probably ok for someone who rarely had to use it.
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Old 06-06-2019, 11:56 AM
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This men are Marines. 1st Marine Division, fighting in Okinawa. They were going up against extensive tunnel networks, so having a carbine makes a lot of sense.
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Old 06-06-2019, 12:21 PM
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Kind of a stinker of a weapon though; feeble cartridge and tended to be jam-prone. Probably ok for someone who rarely had to use it.
I don't know - I still see them a lot here in Israel. They're popular among tour guides, volunteer police officers and the like. It's a pistol you shoot like a rifle.
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Old 06-06-2019, 03:12 PM
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In the Pacific, Sledge regularly trades off Carbine, Garand, and Thompson. It's just a TV show, but pretty high accuracy it seems.

Okinawa was also later in the war when M1 Carbine production was ramped up considerably. They cost about half as much to produce and if we create a metric for number produced / years produced, they made about 5 carbines for every Garand, despite the much shorter production period. There were also 3 wartime Garand manufacturers, vs. 11 or so for the Carbine.
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Kind of a stinker of a weapon though; feeble cartridge and tended to be jam-prone. Probably ok for someone who rarely had to use it.
It's not too terrible, you gotta be a little forceful. And having used both, I can imagine it being a dream to carry all day, the Garand not so much.
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Old 06-06-2019, 03:24 PM
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Kind of a stinker of a weapon though; feeble cartridge and tended to be jam-prone. Probably ok for someone who rarely had to use it.
Again that came to be a more common view by the US Army in Korea and has carried on down. Not as much in WWII. Generally popular weapon, not particularly known as jam prone, and 'lacks stopping power' in Korea was probably mainly the result of poorly controlled full auto fire with M2 carbines*, IOW enemy soldiers who weren't 'stopped' because they weren't actually hit.

On the photo, I've seen it labelled as both 1st Marine Division and 77th Infantry Division (which also fought in the Okinawa campaign). But at least one guy does have Marine style camouflage cover on his helmet.

Anyway the answer would be virtually the same as far as who carried carbines, Army or Marines at that time. In the Army official TO&E all infantry squad members had a rifle or BAR, in Marine TO&E the differently organized squad had a squad leader with a carbine besides three rifle/BAR equipped fire teams. Army platoon leaders had a carbine, officially, while the Marine platoon hq had 2. But there were plenty of other men in infantry co's and bn's in both Army and Marine TO&E who were officially allotted carbines, besides non-infantry units and higher level hq's. Moreover, photo's of both Army and Marines late in WWII sometimes appear to show line infantry squad members with carbines in actual practice.

*some of which were also used late in WWII including on Okinawa though the carbines in any given photo on Okinawa are likely M1's.
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Old 06-06-2019, 03:48 PM
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On the photo, I've seen it labelled as both 1st Marine Division and 77th Infantry Division (which also fought in the Okinawa campaign). But at least one guy does have Marine style camouflage cover on his helmet.
The National Archives lists it as 1st Marine Division, April 8, 1945.
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Old 06-06-2019, 03:52 PM
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In fact speaking of non-official issue M1 carbines, check out the guy furthest to the right in the iconic posed* photo of German soldiers taken at the site of an overrun US unit during the Battle of the Bulge. In the German Army official tables of organization and equipment meant pretty little by 1944. But such tables were not strictly adhered to even in the well equipped US Army/Marines of late war. Any statement that line US infantry didn't carry carbines is based on official tables.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped..._EQUIPMENT.jpg
*as seen in this uncropped version by the guy casually walking along on the left with no helment.
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Old 06-06-2019, 03:53 PM
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The National Archives lists it as 1st Marine Division, April 8, 1945.
OK then that seems right. But carbine v rifle in the Army and Marines wasn't much different in TO&E tables, nor apparently in practice.
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Old 06-06-2019, 04:09 PM
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It's a proto-personal defense weapon (PDW). A bit like the P90, MP7 or subcompact 5.56 carbines. They might be intended for rear area troops but the small size and weight can make them useful for troops that value mobility and wieldiness. If you're doing room/bunker/tunnel clearing or use cramped transportation vehicles, you might want a something that's light and handy but more substantial than a pistol. A carbine would probably have more flexibility than an SMG too while being cheaper and lighter than a Thompson.

As an example, I remember the Peruvian embassy siege in 1996 ending by Peruvian special forces storming the place. I think I saw one of them was carrying a P90; a PDW intended for defense of rear area troops but the Peruvian special forces evidently thought it was suitable for storming in a siege too.

Tl;dr: Yeah, carbines were intended for rear area self-defense but humans will sometimes show innovation when trying to kill each other.
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Old 06-07-2019, 08:32 AM
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In the Pacific, Sledge regularly trades off Carbine, Garand, and Thompson. It's just a TV show, but pretty high accuracy it seems.
.
It depended on what he was operating as. He was trained as a Mortar man, but circumstances required him to operate as an Infantryman at times. If he was carrying the mortar tube the Garand would have been very awkward to carry as well, while the Carbine was much better than a simple pistol for personal defense. When he operated as an an infantryman he would have wanted the stopping power of a rifle over a carbine.
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Old 06-07-2019, 10:03 AM
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It depended on what he was operating as. He was trained as a Mortar man, but circumstances required him to operate as an Infantryman at times. If he was carrying the mortar tube the Garand would have been very awkward to carry as well, while the Carbine was much better than a simple pistol for personal defense. When he operated as an an infantryman he would have wanted the stopping power of a rifle over a carbine.
In the book "With the Old Breed" Sledge normally carried a Thompson in Okinawa. But I am sure depending on the circumstances soldiers and marines carried what was available.
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Old 06-07-2019, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Bear_Nenno View Post
This men are Marines. 1st Marine Division, fighting in Okinawa. They were going up against extensive tunnel networks, so having a carbine makes a lot of sense.
Thanks, Bear.

I knew a guy who claimed he hit a North Korean twice with a carbine, "saw feathers fly out of his jacket", his buddy shot the Korean with a Garand, and he fell down. Keltner "lost" the carbine (he carried a radio) and picked up a Garand from a casualty.

Last edited by carnivorousplant; 06-07-2019 at 10:07 AM.
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Old 06-07-2019, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by carnivorousplant View Post
Thanks, Bear.

I knew a guy who claimed he hit a North Korean twice with a carbine, "saw feathers fly out of his jacket", his buddy shot the Korean with a Garand, and he fell down. Keltner "lost" the carbine (he carried a radio) and picked up a Garand from a casualty.
And speaking of tunnel networks, you'll notice that the M1 Carbine was used quite a bit at Iwo Jima as well. In fact, several of the iconic flag raisers carried the Carbine.
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Old 06-07-2019, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by carnivorousplant View Post
Thanks, Bear.

I knew a guy who claimed he hit a North Korean twice with a carbine, "saw feathers fly out of his jacket", his buddy shot the Korean with a Garand, and he fell down. Keltner "lost" the carbine (he carried a radio) and picked up a Garand from a casualty.
Again that idea tended to be Korean War. Although his works of WWII analysis were later called into serious question, I found SLA Marshall's analysis of Korean infantry combat fairly compelling. In which he concluded 'lack of stopping power' was probably mainly enemy soldiers who weren't actually hit, which also had to do with the injudiciously used full auto setting on M2 carbines mainly used in Korea, in 'panic fire'. And 'not reliable' also cropped up mainly in the extreme cold of the 1950-51 winter campaign in Korea (in devastating defeats of the US Army by the Chinese mainly rather than the North Koreans).

There's much less anecdotal evidence let alone sound analytic basis to think the M1 carbine was at a huge disadvantage in WWII infantry combat in non severe cold in terrain that limited ranges more toward the maybe 100 yard average of infantry combat rather than say 300 yard relative extreme. Not only 'tunnel warfare'.

Today with peer combatants almost certainly wearing high performance body armor and maybe irregular combatants too, the original M1/M2 carbine/cartridge wouldn't be a workable military weapon. But against unarmored mid-20th century opponents at then typical infantry combat ranges in a lot of situations I think the 'lack of stopping power' argument has a lack of really good evidence. Even in Korea the Soviet WWII-style armament of the North Koreans throughout the war, and the Chinese once rearmed from 1951 or so, had most of a squad's firepower in SMG's firing 7.62x25mm Tokarev (v 7.62*33 carbine) and you don't read a lot of US anecdotes about how the enemy 'burp guns' weren't much to worry about because they 'lacked stopping power'.
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Old 06-07-2019, 03:58 PM
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In the "strove to be realistic and accurate" 1960s TV series Combat, the lieutenant had a carbine, and the sergeant had a submachine gun. I can't remember if anyone in the squad used a mortar or machine gun, but everyone else except the medic had a Garand.

Combat was set in post D-Day France, not the Pacific, if that makes any difference.
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Old 06-07-2019, 04:23 PM
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In the "strove to be realistic and accurate" 1960s TV series Combat, the lieutenant had a carbine, and the sergeant had a submachine gun. I can't remember if anyone in the squad used a mortar or machine gun, but everyone else except the medic had a Garand.

Combat was set in post D-Day France, not the Pacific, if that makes any difference.
They had a BAR guy.
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Old 06-07-2019, 04:25 PM
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Patton said of the Garand, “In my opinion, the M1 rifle is the greatest battle implement ever devised.”
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Old 06-07-2019, 04:38 PM
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Patton said of the Garand, “In my opinion, the M1 rifle is the greatest battle implement ever devised.”
Well, it probably wasn't as decisive as the deployment of the "pointy stick," but the Garand certainly is a sweet-shooting sucker. Heavier than student-loan debt, true. But even my Frankensteined M1 can blow the balls off a horse-fly at 400 yards, and a .30-06 loading means whatever you hit stays hit.
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Old 06-07-2019, 10:02 PM
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Well, it probably wasn't as decisive as the deployment of the "pointy stick," but the Garand certainly is a sweet-shooting sucker. Heavier than student-loan debt, true. But even my Frankensteined M1 can blow the balls off a horse-fly at 400 yards, and a .30-06 loading means whatever you hit stays hit.
Outstanding! How are your thumbs?
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Old 06-10-2019, 10:45 AM
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In the "strove to be realistic and accurate" 1960s TV series Combat, the lieutenant had a carbine, and the sergeant had a submachine gun. I can't remember if anyone in the squad used a mortar or machine gun, but everyone else except the medic had a Garand.

Combat was set in post D-Day France, not the Pacific, if that makes any difference.
I loved that show as a kid, not sure how realistic it would be viewed now compared to later generation 'realistic' WWII depictions (Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, The Pacific, etc,) But who is to say you can ever capture combat objectively realistically, even if the show or movie matches what veterans, decades later, say they experienced subjectively?.

Anyway a summary of the Table of Organization for Army infantry companies at that time would be three rifle squads to a rifle platoon, three rifle platoons to a company with an additional weapons platoon plus hq. Presumably Sgt Saunders commanded an (understrength) squad and Lt. Hanley was the platoon commander (lowest position in the company filled by an officer). The TO&E did say the platoon commander had a carbine, but otherwise everyone else in the platoon, but the BAR man in each squad, had a rifle. Actually nobody in a rifle company in the TO&E in effect at that time was permanently assigned a submachine gun, although 6 were officially provided as unassigned weapons in the company hq for the company commander to distribute as he saw fit among his 3 rifle platoons/9 rifle squads. But from photo's and personal accounts, and the huge number of especially the later M1/M1A1 Thompson (Saunders had an M1928) and M3 'Grease Gun' produced, it's obvious those weapons were more common in reality.

Regular infantry companies had M1919 light machine guns and 60mm mortars in a weapons platoons so no such weapons permanently under rifle platoon commanders like Hanley, though again there were eventually additional light machine guns as unassigned weapons at company hq, and a light machine gun or 60mm mortar squad from the weapons platoon might be attached to a particular rifle platoon for a particular mission. Likewise heavy mg or 81mm mortar squads from the battalion weapons company might be attached to a rifle company or on down to a platoon.

And given the general rate of infantry casualties the small size of Saunders' command wasn't unrealistic for any given moment. The fact that it was never, that I recall, at full strength of 12 men was maybe a little less realistic and more about limiting the number of actors.

Last edited by Corry El; 06-10-2019 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 06-11-2019, 01:11 PM
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Kind of a stinker of a weapon though; feeble cartridge and tended to be jam-prone. Probably ok for someone who rarely had to use it.
Feeble? The .30 carbine has more energy at 100 yards then a .357 has at the muzzle.
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Old 06-11-2019, 01:52 PM
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Feeble? The .30 carbine has more energy at 100 yards then a .357 has at the muzzle.
Well, for an infantry weapon it is sort of feeble. 110 grains at under 2,000 fps isn't great. It's not quite 1,000 ft-lbs of energy at the muzzle. Ballistic coefficient is low enough that it's rapidly going to go down from there. Even near the muzzle, I doubt it'd frag when it hits, and I don't know if it appreciably tumbles in flesh. They weren't using soft-point or OTM bullets in WW2. So terminal performance was meh compared to its larger, much faster -'06 brethren. And meh compared to modern 5.56 x 45 loadings which will be around 1,250 ft-lbs of energy, and have much better terminal ballistic performance.

But the M1 carbine beat the snot out of the .45 pistol, Thompson or M3 SMG such people would otherwise be carrying. Ergonomically, it's a fantastically easy gun to shoot well---especially for people who didn't do a lot of shooting. Albeit the mag release and safety locations needed a bit of work, and it anecdotally wasn't the most reliable of semi-auto firearms.
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Old 06-11-2019, 03:08 PM
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Feeble? The .30 carbine has more energy at 100 yards then a .357 has at the muzzle.
The .30 carbine is something like 1/3 the energy as the .30-06 that the Garand fired, and roughly half the energy of today's 5.56 NATO round or the 7.62x39 intermediate round.

So yeah, feeble when compared to full-bore or intermediate rifle rounds, but pretty good for a pistol round.

I guess the question really comes down to what the point was- in close, you'd almost certainly prefer a Thompson to fire lots of wide, heavy bullets. At a longer range, a rifle would be better. The M1 Carbine seems to have been a sort of a compromise- lighter weight than either a Thompson or M1 Garand, and easier to handle, but not really good at either job.

Not incidentally, that question is a lot of why intermediate cartridges and smaller cartridges became so popular post-war. Research during the war and from WW1 indicated that the vast, vast majority of infantry combat takes place under 300 meters, and that the full-bore rifle rounds used in WW2 (.30-06, 8mm Mauser, .303 British) are drastic overkill, considering they're effective and accurate at 2-3x that distance. So they scaled back the cartridge and came up with something still effective at 300 meters, but that allowed for shorter and lighter rifles, and significantly lighter ammunition. This essentially obviated the need for a carbine of a different caliber- if anything, armies reverted to the original carbine concept- a shorter version of the standard rifle (M4 vs M16, for example).

As for me? Of all the US WWII weapons I've fired (all of them, including the BAR and the M1919A4, believe it or not), I'd want a Garand if my hide was on the line. (that said, I think I'd prefer a AR-15/M16 overall if era was no consideration, with the M14 coming in second, mostly due to the weight)
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