WWII Artifacts

image-1Standard WWII Weapons

M1911 45 Automatic
The M1911 is a single-action, semi-automatic, magazine-fed, recoil-operated pistol, chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge, which served as the standard-issue sidearm for the United States Armed Forces from 1911 to 1985.  During WWII, about 1.9 million units were procured by the U.S. Government for all forces, production being undertaken by image-2several manufacturers.  In total, the United States procured around 2.7 million M1911 and M1911A1 pistols in military contracts during its service life.

After Pearl Harbor, the already high demand increased exponentially. The .45 pistol saw widespread service in all theaters of the war and further cemented its already stellar reputation as one of the finest military handguns of all time. The pistol was often criticized for being heavy and, like most handguns, required training and practice to be reasonably proficient while shooting at anything much beyond point-blank range. Regardless, the .45 was reliable and possessed potent short-range “stopping power.”  A handgun was essentially a supplemental sidearm and was generally employed in actual combat action only when the more effective rifles and automatic arms were unavailable, out of ammunition or damaged.

 image-3M-1 Garand
The M-1 Garand is a semi-automatic rifle chambered for the .30-06 Springfield rifle cartridge. It was the first standard-issue semi-automatic rifle. Called "the greatest battle implement ever devised" by General George S. Patton. During World War II, the M1 gave U.S. forces a distinct image-4advantage in firefights against their Axis enemies, as their standard-issue rifles were slower-firing bolt-action rifles.

The Garand's fire rate in the hands of a trained soldier, averaged out to 40–50 accurate shots per minute at a range of 300 yards, which made it the single fastest-firing service rifle during World War II until the Germans introduced the StG44 in 1944. In the short-range jungle fighting, where opposing image-5forces sometimes met each other in column formation on a narrow path, the penetration of the powerful .30-06 M2 cartridge enabled a single U.S. infantryman to kill up to three Japanese soldiers with a single round.

M1 Carbine
The M1 carbine (formally the United States Carbine, Caliber .30, M1)  was the most produced small arm in American history it's a lightweight, easy-to-use semi-automatic carbine that became a standard firearm for the U.S. military during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and was produced in several variants. During the period of 1942 to 1945 a total of 6 million of carbines were manufactured.  Unlike conventional carbines, which are generally a version of a parent rifle with a 


shorter barrel , the M1 carbine has only one minor part in common with the M1 rifle, a short butt plate screw.  It's effective range was about 200 meters.

The first M1 carbines were delivered in mid-1942, with initial priority given to troops in the European Theater of Operations.  The M1 carbine gained generally high praise for its small size, light weight and firepower, especially by those troops who were unable to use a full-size rifle as their primary weapon.  In the Pacific theater, soldiers and guerrilla forces operating in heavy jungle with only occasional enemy contact praised the carbine. The carbine's exclusive use of non-corrosive-primer ammunition was found to be a godsend by the troops and ordnance personnel serving in the Pacific, where barrel corrosion was a significant issue with the corrosive primers used in .30-06 caliber weapons.   While the .30 Carbine cartridge used in browning_leftthe M1 Carbine could not penetrate small trees and light cover as well as the standard U.S. .30-06 rifle cartridge, it was markedly superior to the .45-caliber Reising and Thompson sub-machine guns in both accuracy and penetration, while its lighter .30 cartridge allowed soldiers to carry more ammunition.

Browning 1917 Water Cooled Machine Gun
The M1917 Browning machine gun is a heavy machine gun used by the United States armed forces in World War I, World War II, Korea, and to a limited extent in Vietnam, and by other nations. The M1917's weight and bulk meant it was generally employed as a fixed defense, or battalion, or regimental support weapon. It was mainly used at the browning_rightbattalion level, and often mounted on vehicles.

There have been many modifications since it's inception  in 1895.  Each phase showed major improvements. In 1937 the M1917 became the M1917A1, and as such became the Military's Machine Gun of choice with continued up-grades, modifications, and rebuilds throughout WWII ending as an M1919A4.

WWII Pacific campaign, the armament of the Marines on Guadalcanal consisted of bolt-action Springfield rifles, Browning automatic rifles (BARs) and Browning water-cooled machine guns.  The 8 water-cooled Brownings in the machine gun platoon which supported each rifle company were spread very thinly, and carefully selected placement and determined action to keep them going at all costs were of paramount importance.  In the battles that followed, the Brownings and their Marine gunners had their "finest hour".

Museum Examples



M1911A1 Automatic
New M1911A1 pistols were given a parkerized metal finish instead of blueing, and the wood grip panels were replaced with panels made of brown plastic. The M1911A1 was a favored small arm of both US and allied military personnel during the war. The .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol M1911A1 (a.k.a. the "Colt .45") is a conventional semi-automatic pistol, holding seven rounds in a detachable magazine.

It is 8 ½ inches long and weights 2 ½ pounds.  It has a muzzle velocity of 860 fps and uses a .45 caliber ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) cartridge.  It has considerable "stopping power" in close-in fighting. Most have a lanyard loop attached to the pistol grip's base for attaching either the 1918 or 1943 lanyards.

M-1 Garand
The M1 is an air-cooled, gas-operated, clip-fed, semi-automatic, shoulder-fired weapon. This means that the air cools the barrel; that the power to m1_garandcock the rifle and chamber the succeeding round comes from the expanding gas of the round fired previously; that it is loaded by inserting an en-bloc metal clip (containing eight rounds) into the receiver; and that the rifle fires one round each time the trigger is pulled. After the eight rounds have been shot, the empty clip automatically ejects with an audible "ping" noise. Reports arose in which German and Japanese infantry were making use of this noise in combat to alert them to an empty M1 rifle in order to 'get the drop' on their American enemies.

The M1 Garand was one of the first self-loading rifles to use stainless steel for its gas tube, in an effort to prevent corrosion. As the stainless metal could not be parkerized, the gas tubes were given a stove-blackening that frequently wore off in use. Unless the gas tube could be quickly repainted, the resultant gleaming muzzle could make the M1 Garand and its user more visible to the enemy in combat. The M1 Garand was designed for simple assembly and disassembly to facilitate field maintenance. It can be field stripped (broken down) without tools in just a few seconds. Approximately 5.4 million M1's have been built.

image-15image-16M1 Carbine
In general, the M1 Carbine was a really compact and handy weapon.  It was lightweight and short enough to be more suitable for jungle combat, than a full-sized battle rifle.  It also offered relatively high practical rate of fire due to large-capacity, detachable magazines and low recoil.  Technically, it is gas operated, magazine fed, semi-automatic short rifle.  It uses the short -piston stroke gas operated action.  When the gun is image-17fired,the powder gases are bled from the barrel into the gas chamber and propel the gas violently to the rear.  The gas piston thus gives a sharp blow to the operating slide which is located inside the stock and is linked to a rotating bolt.

 M1917A1 water cooled Machine Gun
This automatic weapon was water-cooled as it had a water jacket over the 24" long barrel, which had right-twisted rifling. The M1917A1 version had a rate of fire of 600 round per minute, was fed by a 250- round fabric belt, and shot .30-06  Springfield ammunition to a range of 2,000 m. With tripod and water cylinder, this machine gun weighed 93 lbs. Like most automatic weapons designed by John M Browning, the M1917 was extremely reliable and had no jamming problems, even in the worst terrain conditions.

When used on the ground it took a crew of 3 to assemble and disassemble.  Each member was trained in the other's actions so all three could operate independent of each other if the situation called for it.  One member handled the tripod while the other set the gun atop it. The 3rd crew member handled the water container and ammunition supply. They were fitted to the M18A1 Tripod.

The machine-gun used a wooden ammunition chest that carried the 250 round cloth belt.
The early M1917 model had an angled corner and a leather strap handle on top. The later M1917A1 model had a square corner and a cloth strap handle on top.images_18-22

Field Accessories


Radio Sets
The modern military is heavily dependent on electronics and computers. Although the telegraph and telephone had already revolutionized military communications, World War II started an explosion of applications of electronics to military needs. From crude crank telephones and heavyweight radios in the 1940s to today's Internet-enabled battlefield, the use of electronic devices has become embedded in warfare. These Radio Sets contain a portable, low power, frequency modulated Radio Receiver and Transmitter BC-620, communication over a range of approximately 5 miles. The set may be operated from a stationary position, such as on the ground or on some other stationary support. It obtains its power from dry batteries. Radio set SCR-510 may also be used in vehicular installations, obtaining power from the vehicular battery.




Museum Example


SCR-509 and SCR-510 /BC-620-A  /  Year 1942



The SCR-625 was the original portable mine detector, developed under a National Defense Research Council (NDRC) contract with Hazeltine Co. of New York in the early days of World War II.  It was fielded in 1942 and first saw combat use in North Africa. The detector was standardized and put into production by the Army's Services of Supply in September 1942 and was available for the American units that landed in Morocco in November. Overall, the new detector performed well and became one of the most popular pieces of Army equipment in North Africa.  It had two serious shortcomings: it was not waterproof and it was quite fragile.

Museum Example

bottom_imageThe SCR-625 Mine Detector has a characteristic shape that has become quite familiar. It had a six foot long exploring rod that the operator held. At the end of the rod was a pie shaped search coil, mounted under an 18 inch diameter wooden disk. Strapped to the operator’s side in a canvas haversack were the dry-cell batteries that induced a magnetic field around the search plate and amplifier. The resonator was attached to the operator’s shoulder. A set of earphones completed the instrument.