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Journal of a graduate student in military history and the American Civil War

Technology in U.S. Military History – 2

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This post continues on the theme introduced in post 1 here.

The growth in technological firepower was certainly evident in the Korean War. Roy Appleton in his fascinating work, East of Chosin (see previous post here) brings to life the murderous effect of mobile artillery including the M19 full-track (dual-40) below as used by trained American soldiers in their desperate defense of positions east of the Chosin Reservoir in 1950.

M-19 full-track (dual 40)

M-19 full-track (dual 40)

The two 40-mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns which were mounted on revolving turret wreaked havoc among attacking Chinese soldiers as long as ammunition held out as did quad-50s.

Chinese Soldiers - Korean War Casualites

Chinese soldiers in Korea.

 

That said, the effects of the extreme cold and lack of fuel also showed the weapon’s vulnerability as a mobile gun platform. Tanks were used by the American’s as well although Appleman covers well their limitations on icy terrain in Korea. The American’s use of 75-mm recoilless rifle (below) was also deadly, especially when in the hands of trained gunners. Likewise, the use by Chinese soldiers of American-made Thompson submachine guns showed the destructive power of automatic small arms against U.S. forces.

75-mm. Recoilless Rifle in Action

75-mm. Recoilless Rifle in Action

More in part 3.

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  1. Technically, the 40mm guns on the M19 are in a “mount”, not a “turret”. A turret provides all around (top and sides) protection for the gun and crew and supports traversing and elevation of the gun(s). A mount provides either limited or no protection but does support traversing and elevation. As the M19 (and its Bofors guns) was designed as an antiaircraft weapon, the mount is appropriate. Many of the guys who manned the M19 and its successor the M42 (known as “Dusters” in Vietnam) in the direct fire role would have appreciated the additional protection of a turret.

    John Shepherd

    December 20, 2010 at 12:26 pm


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