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D Day Weapons Part 1; M1 Garand, Tommy Gun & Other American Guns in the Battle of Normandy

During the battle of Normandy there were many different weapons used. Many don’t know that the M1903 Springfield was in general use throughout the war. This bolt action rifle was the mainstay of the American infantryman for the first part of the war as there were insufficient quantities to outfit all the soldiers with the M1 Garand. So, the Springfield soldiered on. Many of these stayed active as sniper weapons, with the Marine Corps still using the Springfield in the sniping roll up to the early involvement in Vietnam.

M1 Garand D Day Rifle

The M1 Garand is legendary and synonymous with the American GI. Patton declared it “the greatest battle implement ever devised.” It’s detraction was it weighed 9lbs 8oz which made it a bit heavy. The ammo feed was an en bloc 8-round clip that was ejected with an audible ping when empty. Tipping of the German you were empty, a problem encountered in house to house fighting at various phases of the war. Also, the system made it difficult to top-off the ammo, “kinda all or nothin’”. 4 million where built during the previously and contemporary with WWII. Used in WWI the WWII production was 1.4 million. The M1 Garand also was the mainstay in the Korean War. We had the carbine, M1 was a small short very handy weapon. It used a short 30 caliber cartridge that pushed a 110-grain bullet to about 1800 fps. It was issued to officers and noncoms in lieu of a side arm. Paratroopers had a model with a folding stock, while the later M2 was a select fire capable of full-automatic fire. There 6.2 million from 1941 to 1945 produced.

Browning Automatic Rifle

Lastly, we have the BAR or Browning Automatic Rifle. This was a squad weapon, sometime up to three BARs and used to fix the enemy while the squad maneuvered to neutralize the enemy. Even with its slow cyclic rate of 500 rounds per minute, it didn’t take long to burn through the 20-round box magazine. It weighed 15.5 lbs. empty. The M1918A2 of WWII was full auto only meant to be fired in controlled bursts. The BAR operator toted 12 magazines as did the assistant gunner.

M1917 Browning Machine Gun

Our primary machine gun was the M1917 water cooled and belt fed Browning machinegun. Later the air cooled and lighter M1919 was introduce. Fed 30-06 ammo via 100 round or 250 round cloth belts. The venerable M2 fifty caliber made its debut during WWII and though they have tried to retire it, it seems it cannot be replaced and still today is the primary heavy machinegun of the US forces as well as many of our allies. Firing a 50 caliber or 12.7mm round it also armed most of the Army Airforce fighters and bombers. Weighing in at eighty pounds with the tripod being 44 lbs. it is definitely is a crew served weapon. Ammo weight is 35lbs for 110 rounds.

Tommy Gun, M1 & M3

The Chicago typewriter, also known as the ‘Tommy’ gun was the Thompson submachinegun, .45 caliber and the early 1921 model had muzzle breaks and was fed by 20 or 30 round ‘stick’ magazines or a 50 round drum magazine. Later production was the M1, that was limited to the 30 round box magazines or the 20 rounder. 1.7 million of the M1 was made during the war. Made from steel stamping of sheet metal the M3 ‘Grease Gun’ was a reduced weight and cost submachine gun introduced in 1943 because of the shortages of the Thompson. 450 rounds a minute and chambered in the same .45 Auto same as the 1911 pistol and the Thompson submachinegun there were about 620,000 were built. The M3 used thirty round magazines. Two million Colt M1911A1 pistols in .45 Auto were made with another 1.9 million from other manufacturers. Considered the most reliable sidearm of the war the venerable 1911 served up 1986, and even then, it is still carried by some special operations soldiers.

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