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Old April 20th, 2017, 09:04 PM   #1
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The GI: Changes from 1945 to 1950


I am a huge history buff (surprise surprise), and am most interested in the time period of 1500 - 1945, specifically the 19th and early 20th century. I am especially interested (at least in military history) in the uniforms, equipment, and life of the common soldier. However, I know very little about the specifics of the soldiers of WWII and post-war. I recently watched a video about the Korean War, and I thought of a question to ask here. My question is:

What were significant changes in the equipment, clothing, and weaponry of the American GI from WWII to the Korean War? If so, was the change influence by experience in WWII?
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Old April 20th, 2017, 10:30 PM   #2
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None, the equipment & arms of Korea were WW2 surplus. They were in the process of devolping the M14 from the M1 Garand (an evolutionary upgrade) but had not fielded it yet. The M14 was pretty much a M1 with a shortened cartridge, full auto (not controllable) & detachable magazine. It was supposed too replace the M1 rifle, the M1 carbine, the BAR, the Thompson, the grease gun & the 45 pistol, this of course was BS, it could only replace the M1 rifle. The desire was to put full auto in the hands of every GI. This was because of the Banzai charges of the Japs in WW2. China's human wave attacks in Korea only furthered this desire, ending up with the M16, which we still field a variant of today. The only change of note I can think of would be in Armour & anti Armour, lessons learned from the shock of encountering the Tiger.

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Old April 21st, 2017, 01:53 AM   #3

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The desegregation in the US military began during the Korean War.
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Old April 21st, 2017, 03:08 AM   #4

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M20 "Super-Bazooka" introduced just before the start of the Korean War:

Super Bazooka: M20 3.5in Rocket Launcher


Military Pay Charts and Military Rank


"After World War II, Congress authorized the Hook Commission to assess military compensation, leading to the Compensation Act of 1949. The act became the first major legislation in 40 years to dramatically change the military compensation system, increasing military pay 18.8 percent and matching the average for industrial wages. The act also introduced criteria based on rank, the amount of time served, special rewards, incentives, bonuses and reimbursements."

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Old April 21st, 2017, 03:09 AM   #5

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Quote:
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The desegregation in the US military began during the Korean War.
The desegregation of the U.S. military began on July 26th 1948 per Executive Order 9981.
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Old April 21st, 2017, 04:57 AM   #6

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-Also recoilless rifles came more into use.

-Eventually the US employed heavier tanks-Pershings and Pattons.

-Jet fighters above you.

but correct on whole the US employed the same equipment and tactics, but on a more shoestring level.
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Old April 21st, 2017, 05:17 AM   #7

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Wiki:

Type C-2 ration (19481951)

The C-2 ration was described in TB-QM-53, Department of the Army, dated March, 1948, as an individual ration which consisted of packaged pre-cooked foods which could be eaten hot or cold. It replaced the World War II C-Ration, and later, the E-Ration. It could be carried and prepared by the individual soldier. The revised C-Ration was now intended for feeding combat troops continuously up to three weeks (21 days). Due to the required individual portability of this ration, maximum nourishment had to be provided in the smallest physical unit. The components of this ration were prepared in five different menus.
Each menu included an accessory packet which consisted of essential toilet articles, tobacco, and confections.
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Old April 21st, 2017, 06:03 AM   #8
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The standard US Army infantryman of the Korean War was on average less trained then his WWII predecessor, often times really in war they were sent in as unit replacements for casualties without ever having test fired or zeroed their rifles, which while state of the art in the 30s was rapidly becoming obsolete due to low magazine capacity, recoil, lack of full auto capability.

The Korean war GI would make up for that shortcoming by having more m1919A4 light machine guns and M1918 BARs attached to his platoon, as well as the mass issuing of the M2 Carbine, which was full auto, lacking range and penetration (but still easily penetrating Chinese winter clothing), and having bad reliability with the new 30 rd curved magazines.

Most enemy tanks were gone by late '50, so the new super bazooka was rarely used against armor, mostly for bunker busting, as was the new recoiless rifle that were being issued to the antiarmor sections and platoons in the infantry companies and battalion.

While the Korean war GI was slightly better off with company and platoon organic weapons than those of WWII, he felt he was being out gunned at the individual level by both North Korean and Chinese, who tended to push high capacity, full auto submachine guns down to their infantry, specifically PPSh41, PPS43, as well as M1A1 Thompson machine guns captured from the Chinese nationalists. The Korean GI, being poorly trained on combat marksmanship, the effect of weapons, was apt to believe hia own weapon was inferior when the reality was most North Korean or Chinese infantry didn't have the firepower for an engagement past 50 meters, nor did they possess much in the way of extra ammo, forcing them to charge fast and hard in the face of enemy fire, which led to massive casualties.

Luckily there was one thing the Korean GI had that gave him a major tactical edge, the radio. Included were all the WWII versions plus some newer, more powerful, lighter weight models that allowed every American platoon to communicate with each other, with their company, battalion, regiment, with their supportimg tank units, with artillery forward observers in every platoon too.

The North Koreans and Chinese had almost no radios, ir even fields wire phones, below the regimental level, forcing them to rely on messengers that are slow and unreliable. This was the reasoning for the high casualty producing assaults that would occur, where units would get their orders and then proceed to attack with no way of changing a plan (due to a supposed weak point being heavily defended). So instead of altering a plan they had no option but to proceed as the original orders specified. And in that way they often got mowed down and stacked like cordwood.

Like all previous and later GIs, the Korea vet didn't take camouflage seriously while his enemy did, leading to the odten repeated line that they rarely saw the enemy until they were right on top of them. This was the result of the US having air superiority, while the enemy constantly had to worry about getting caught in the open by artillery spotter planes or napalm equipped strike aircraft.

Medicine improved greatly, as did the means of medevac. A Korea GI hit would be hauled away to the rear on a jeep while being stabilised by platoon and company medics, to be triaged at the battalion or regimental aid station, and then transported by truck ir helicopter to a local field hospital, a MASH, where they would receive prompt and often life saving surgeries. The Kireans and Chinese had neither available, at best a wounded communist might be moved to an underground aid station to receive substandard care with little supplies. So any serious wound likely was fatal, with the rest being crippled for life, to be invalid out and sent home to often beg on the streets in their communist utopias.
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Old April 21st, 2017, 06:31 AM   #9
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By no means were WW2 infantry weapons inadequate at this time. In fact I'd feel well armed even today. I don't think we have ever been as well armed. The concept of a universal infantry arm is a fallacy. The variety of weapons available in WW2 & Korea is better. The weakest arm was the GPMG. They had had extensive exposure to the MG 34 & MG 42 by this time, really no excuse in it taking untill the 60s to develop our own version. I don't think they practice this anymore but we used to practice a mad minute with our M16A1s.. The idea was to put a lethal wall of interlocking metal in front of our position which no Chinese human wave attack could hope to advance through. The M2 carbines & Thompson's can do this just as well. Quite a show at night with tracers. The Claymores are always worth their weight in gold for covering dead spots & cover our fire can't reach. Just think where would I take cover if I was receiving our fire, then put a couple of Claymores there. A very nasty surprise for anyone stupid enough to attack a US position in a human wave attack, as the VC would learn.

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Old April 21st, 2017, 08:01 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M9Powell View Post
By no means were WW2 infantry weapons inadequate at this time. In fact I'd feel well armed even today. I don't think we have ever been as well armed. The concept of a universal infantry arm is a fallacy. The variety of weapons available in WW2 & Korea is better. The weakest arm was the GPMG. They had had extensive exposure to the MG 34 & MG 42 by this time, really no excuse in it taking untill the 60s to develop our own version. I don't think they practice this anymore but we used to practice a mad minute with our M16A1s.. The idea was to put a lethal wall of interlocking metal in front of our position which no Chinese human wave attack could hope to advance through. The M2 carbines & Thompson's can do this just as well.
By all means were WWII American infantry weapons inadequate. The M1 Garand was identified as needing to be replaced even during WWII, especially when compared to contemporary weapons like the StG44. Especially in lieu of postwar studies of WWII infantry combat that showed full power rifle rounds weren't necessary, that ranges were shorter than previous thought (most fire under 300 meters), and that automatic fire and high magazine capacity were crucial for suppression. At the same time the Soviets were fielding the SKS and the AK47, the US military was still using the same rifle, with almost zero changes, as it was devised in 1930. Was this because the Garand was that awesome? No. It was because post WWII defense funding was slashed across the board, and the US Army and Marine infantry got hit the hardest (as many saw them as obsolete in the nuclear age). They barely got anything in terms of R&D, let alone training. Nearly all funding was directed to atomic bombs and the Air Force, with the Navy getting a large chunk, with most of the Army's funding going to new tanks and artillery.

The M2 Carbine was a joke as a full auto rifle. They took what was created as a weapon for support people, who would only have been issued a pistol back in the day, and then slapped a selector switch on it and extended the magazine from 20 to 30, and did that poorly. It jammed too much on full auto by a cyclic rate that couldn't come close to matching the crappy magazine springs, it lacked range, and the .30 Carbine caliber was anemic, being essentially a beefed up .357 magnum and not a full power rifle or real intermediate cartridge which is what was needed on a battlefield, which never even came about in the American military until 5.56x45 NATO was standardized.

Funny that you bring up Thompsons, since they weren't even issued to American GIs, the M3A1 Greasegun was standard issue to Army and Marines since '43-44. All Thompsons used by Americans in the Korean War were captured from Chinese communists, who themselves had captured them from Chinese Nationalists, who'd been given large numbers of Thompson's during WWII to fight the Japanese, especially once the M3 and M3A1 SMG went into mass production and issue to the US military. And SMGs are inadequate for infantry combat because they lack range and .45 ACP caliber is insufficient for penetrating cover or causing massive wounds common among high velocity rounds. .45 ACP isn't even going supersonic.

Don't even bring up the M14, that rifle was a hot mess of stinking garbage in basically every way shape and form.

The Army had been working on a new machine gun for more than a decade before the M60 went into service. Typical Army, they screwed the pouch in R&D, trying to be fancy and innovative instead of just improving already existing designs, like the MG42 (the MG34 was a turd), or the Soviet's RPD. The Browning .30 Caliber M1919A4 or A6 were a far call from what platoon machine gunners should have been carrying, they were unwieldy, heavy, firing an unnecessarily large caliber (heavy ammo, lots of recoil). Luckily the Army had the sense to made up for the lack of mobility and firepower at the platoon level by increasing the amount of BARs from one to two per squad.

Claymores weren't issued out till the Vietnam War. They were not used during the Korean War, only existing WWII antipersonnel mines were, as well as improvised explosives.
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