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Last Browning-Inglis Hi-Powers in service will have to tough it out another decade

browning-9-mm-01

Designed just before the outbreak of World War II by FN in Belgium, the factory that made the Hi-Power was repurposed in 1940 after the Germans occupied the country and production started back up to provide the handy 9mm pistols to Hitler’s legions.

However, the Allies soon started making the 13-shot semi-auto in Canada, manufactured in Toronto, by John Inglis and Company with a little help from Dieudonné Saive, the Belgian firearms engineer who helped design the gun in the first place.

The Canadian-made Browning-Inglis 9mm has been iconic to the country’s military since World War II, but they may soon get a much-needed replacement.

The Canadian forces have just 13,981 Hi-Powers left–of which  1,243 are parts guns, and are looking to replace the design by 2026.

More in my column at Guns.com

Just Jeepin’ around Geilenkirchen

vickers-a-go-go-jeep-manned-by-sergeant-a-schofield-and-trooper-o-jeavons-of-1-sas-near-geilenkirchen-in-germany-nov-1944

Click to big up 1920×1080

A jeep manned by Sergeant A Schofield and Trooper O Jeavons of 1 SAS near Geilenkirchen in Germany Nov 1944. The jeep is armed with three Vickers ‘K’ guns (2 double and 1 single mount), and fitted with armoured glass shields in place of a windscreen. The SAS were involved at this time in clearing snipers in the 43rd Wessex Division area. No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit Hewitt (Sgt)IWM Colourised by Paul Reynolds

NATO brushing up on tank obstacles

U.S. and Canadian combat engineers deployed to Lithuania recently pointed out that an ancient field obstacle invented by the Romans is still pretty good at stopping tanks today.

Members of the U.S. Army’s 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion and Canadian engineers from 1 Combat Engineer Regiment (1 CER), acting as part of a “blue force” during a recent exercise, helped stop a “red force” armored assault through the use of an abatis.

Also spelled abattis, or abbattis, the basic concept is a defensive obstacle formed by felled trees laced together. And it doesn’t take a lot of gear to pull off: chainsaws or a few rucks full of explosives.

While it sounds simple, if done right such as in the above video, it can block a road pretty solid.

Warship Wednesday January 18, 2017: Vasili and the Cuban Cony

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday January 18, 2017: Vasili and the Cuban Cony

Photo: Ed Zajkowski via Navsource.

Photo: Ed Zajkowski via Navsource.

Here we see the Fletcher-class destroyer USS Cony (DD/DDE-508) off  Norfolk in October 1963 as seen from the USS Keppler (DD-765). Though she earned 11 battle stars for World War II service, two for Korean War service and spent five months off Vietnam, it was a little-acknowledged day in 1962 that Cony witnessed what could have been the start of World War III.

One of the last pre-WWII destroyer designs of the U.S. Navy, the amazing 175 Fletchers proved the backbone of the fleet during the conflict. These expendable ‘tin cans’ saved Allied flyers, sank submarines, duked it out with shore batteries, torpedoed larger ships, screened the fleet, and shot down wave after wave of enemy aircraft, keeping the carriers and transports safe behind their hail of fire.

With the ability to float in just 17.5-feet of seawater, these ships crept in close to shore and supported amphibious landings, dropped off commandos as needed, and helped in evacuations when required. Small ships with long legs (5500-nm unrefueled at 15-knots) they could be dispatched to wave the flag in foreign ports, provide gunboat diplomacy in times of tension, and race just over the horizon at 36.5-knots to check out a contact.

The hero of our tale, laid down at Bath Iron Works on Christmas Eve 1941, was named after one Lt. Joseph Saville Cony, USN, notable for several successful small-boat expeditions along the Carolina coast during the Civil War before going down in a storm with the merchant vessel City of Bath in 1867 at age 33.

Commissioned 30 October 1942, LCDR H. D. Johnson in command, our warbaby was off to the Pacific.

(DD-508) Photograph taken circa late 1942. Note her dark scheme. This view has been heavily retouched by wartime censors to hide radars atop her Mark 37 gun director and foremast, and the hull number on her bow. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 104873

(DD-508) Photograph taken circa late 1942. Note her dark scheme. This view has been heavily retouched by wartime censors to hide radars atop her Mark 37 gun director and foremast, and the hull number on her bow. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 104873

Cony soon arrived off Guadalcanal, where she served as Vice Adm. Theodore S. Wilkinson’s flagship for the landings on Vella Lavella. In October, over a two-night period, she and six other tin cans intercepted Japanese barges evacuating Kolombangara, sinking an enemy torpedo boat and 40 barges while chasing away a quartet of smaller destroyers of the Imperial Navy.

Cony took two bombs from Japanese dive bombers on 27 October 1943 which sent her back to California’s Mare Island Naval Shipyard for refit and repair after her crew fought fires for more than 20 hours– though she reportedly splashed 5 Japanese planes in the exchange.

The following are excerpts from the shipboard diary of the rear gunner, Stanley Baranowski:

“27 Oct – … at 3:oo PM got contact with a lot of planes – enemy… at 3:15 they came at us.  So many of them.  We started to fire everything we had… 3:25 we got 2 direct hits on port and starboard… Lots of men were hit.  Worked on fires.  Was up all night taking care of wounded.

“28 Oct – Still working on fires… we started to throw ammo over the side.  Ship was listing to port… 11:15 AM port engine gave out.  Tug came along and started to tow us.  12 PM fire was out.  1 PM moored to taker “Oragon” and took off wounded men.

“29 Oct – Got up at 6:30 AM.  Worked like hell and at 1:35 PM took off 2 dead fellows burned to death – what a horrible sight.  Admiral came on board to look things over, said it’s a State-side job and at 5:30 PM a show started named – ‘Accidents Will Happen.’”

When Cony emerged from Mare Island four months later it was with a new camo scheme: Measure 32, Design 21D.

(DD-508) Off San Francisco, California, 25 February 1944. NH 104497

(DD-508) Off San Francisco, California, 25 February 1944. NH 104497

(DD-508) Seen from almost directly ahead, while in San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944. NH 104877

(DD-508) Seen from almost directly ahead, while in San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944. NH 104877

(DD-508) Seen from almost directly astern, while in San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944.NH 104878

(DD-508) Seen from almost directly astern, while in San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944.NH 104878

Once repaired, she sailed again for the West Pac, arriving in time for pre-invasion bombardment on Tinian in July 1944 before moving on to supporting the landings on Peleliu.

By October 1944, she was involved in the toe-to-toe fleet engagement with the Japanese Imperial Navy that was the Battle of Surigao Strait, during which she traded salvos and broadsides with the IJN’s destroyer Asagumo (Morning Cloud) of some 2,408-tons.

USS Cony (DD-508) lays a smoke screen near USS West Virginia (BB-48), to protect shipping off Leyte from Japanese air attack, during the landings there on 20 October 1944. Note manned anti-aircraft batteries on board the battleship, including a Mark 51 director in the foreground, 20mm gun at left, 40mm quad gun mount in center and 5/38 twin gun mounts beyond. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-289679

USS Cony (DD-508) lays a smoke screen near USS West Virginia (BB-48), to protect shipping off Leyte from Japanese air attack, during the landings there on 20 October 1944. Note manned anti-aircraft batteries on board the battleship, including a Mark 51 director in the foreground, 20mm gun at left, 40mm quad gun mount in center and 5/38 twin gun mounts beyond. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-289679

She went on to support the Lingayen Gulf landings and ended the war in the approaches of the Yangtze River of China, calling on Shanghai. Cony performed occupation and repatriation service for a few months, then was promptly decommissioned and laid up at Charleston, S.C in 1946.

Her period in mothballs lasted just over three years and she was recommissioned (as DDE-508) on 17 November 1949, with much of her outdated armament removed and equipped for an emphasis in antisubmarine warfare.

Though she served in the Korean War zone for five months in 1951 providing naval gunfire support, she would spend most of the next decade in the Atlantic fleet supporting NATO operations in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and the Med.

(DDE-508) In Hampton Roads, Virginia, 12 March 1957. Old Point Comfort, with the Chamberlain Hotel and Fort Monroe, is in the center and right background. Note bridge-tunnel construction work in the left background. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104882

(DDE-508) In Hampton Roads, Virginia, 12 March 1957. Old Point Comfort, with the Chamberlain Hotel and Fort Monroe, is in the center and right background. Note bridge-tunnel construction work in the left background. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104882

When Brigade 2506 (Brigada Asalto 2506) stormed ashore at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba on 17 April 1961, Cony was just offshore as part of the U.S. fleet that was ostensibly to support the landings by the 1,300 Cuban exiles looking to whack The Beard, but was under orders from Washington not to intervene.

Cuban exiles captured during the failed American-backed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion

Cuban exiles captured during the failed American-backed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion

Cony played a serious part in the op, carrying a large part of the force to the landing zone with her whaleboat serving as part of the invasion flotilla. They immediately received fire from the beach and later, a Cuban helicopter fired on the whaleboat returning to the beach to rescue survivors.

However, her involvement in Cuba was far from over.

When the Cuban Missile Crisis kicked off in October 1962, Cony– reverted back to her DD-508 designation in June– was part of an anti-submarine task force centered around the Essex-class ASW carrier USS Randolph (CVS-15) that included the destroyers Bache (DD-470), Beale (DD-471), Eaton (DD-510) and Murray (DD-576).

Task Force ALFA, an experimental group specializing in developing ASW tactics, during anti-submarine exercises in the Atlantic, 1959. The other ships present are (from left): USS Murray (DDE-576), USS Beale (DDE-471), USS Bache (DDE-470), USS Eaton (DDE-510), USS Conway (DDE-507), USS Cony (DDE-508), USS Waller (DDE-466) and USS Valley Forge (CVS-45). This force, changing out Randolph for Valley Forge, sailed together during the Cuban Missile crisis. Photograph was released for publication on 3 August 1959. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 96944

Task Force ALFA, an experimental group specializing in developing ASW tactics, during anti-submarine exercises in the Atlantic, 1959. The other ships present are (from left): USS Murray (DDE-576), USS Beale (DDE-471), USS Bache (DDE-470), USS Eaton (DDE-510), USS Conway (DDE-507), USS Cony (DDE-508), USS Waller (DDE-466) and USS Valley Forge (CVS-45). This force, changing out Randolph for Valley Forge, largely sailed together during the Cuban Missile crisis. Photograph was released for publication on 3 August 1959. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 96944

While enforcing the naval quarantine authorized by President Kennedy, the task force on 27 October came across the Soviet Foxtrot-class diesel-electric submarine B-59, which was heading from her White Sea base along with sister ships B-36, B-4 and B-130 to Havana with the mission “to strengthen the defense of the island of Cuba” and equipped with a total of 88 53-58 (T-5) nuclear-tipped torpedoes– 22 per submarine–just in case.

*Each T-5 carried an RDS-9 warhead with a 3-10 kiloton yield, enough to evaporate a carrier group if it got close enough*

Here is some footage of the first nuclear test fired at Novaya Zemlya of a RDS-9 equipped T-5 torpedo.

Notably, the deployment of the quartet of Foxtrots was the first documented deployment of their class to carry nuclear torpedoes as part of their magazine– and with the boat’s onboard leadership able to sign off directly on their use without asking Moscow for permission.

At 1659 on 27 October, Beale picked up B-59 on sonar and dropped practice depth charges on the Soviet smoke boat while pinging her with active sonar.

Then, at 1729, Cony upped the ante by dropping five hand grenades on top of the contact– one of the few documented instances of live ordnance being deployed in the crisis.

This, combined with the action of Beale, forced the sweltering Russki boat to the surface at 2050 where Cony‘s signalman established commo via blinker light with the submarine.

There, bathed in spotlights from the destroyers with their 5-inch guns trained on the Soviet submarine, one Second Captain Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov, executive officer of the 69th Torpedo Submarine Brigade, overruled B-59‘s Captain Valentin Savitskii and his deputy political officer Ivan Semenovich Maslenniko, who both wanted to fire off a salvo of atomic torpedoes at the American fleet upon surfacing. It should be noted that the effort to surface the B-59 was made just hours after Major Rudolf Anderson’s U-2 spy plane was shot down over Eastern Cuba, at the tensest moment of the crisis.

“We’re gonna blast them now! We will die, but we will sink them all – we will not become the shame of the fleet,” Savitskii reportedly said, according to a journal kept by Captain Third Rank Anatoly Andreev.

Soviet submarine B-59, forced to the surface by U.S. Naval forces in the Caribbean near Cuba. U.S. National Archives, Still Pictures Branch, Record Group 428, Item 428-N-711200

Soviet submarine B-59, forced to the surface by U.S. Naval forces in the Caribbean near Cuba. U.S. National Archives, Still Pictures Branch, Record Group 428, Item 428-N-711200

By refusing to sign off on the engagement, Arkhipov became one of the unsung heroes of the Cold War who exercised enough restraint to keep the conflict from turning into a real live shooting war with mutually assured destruction as the third act.

Anyway, the Rudolph ASW task force allowed B-59 to charge her depleted batteries overnight on the surface, submerge the next morning and continue on its way Cuba.

Cony resumed her peacetime training and patrol operations, which included participating in the NASA recovery fleets for MR-IA, MR-4, GT-3, MA-4 and AS-204, and conducting Midshipmen cruises to Europe.

Good overhead recruiting poster shot of DDE-508 in her Cold War haze scheme, Photograph dated 12 March 1967, which would put her just before her Vietnam deployment. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104499

Good overhead recruiting poster shot of DDE-508 in her Cold War haze scheme, Photograph dated 12 March 1967, which would put her just before her Vietnam deployment. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104499

Then came Vietnam, where she sailed for in the summer of 1967.

From 28 August to 24 September, she provided gunfire support first for the 1st Cav Div’s operations in the II Corps area then for SEAL units operating in the Mekong Delta. She later was assigned to Task Group 77.8 on Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin, Cony provided plane guard duty for the carrier Oriskany (CVA‑34). From 14 August 1967 to Christmas 1967, she patrolled the Taiwan Straits and was on gunfire support and plane guard duty in Cam Ranh Bay, Cape Saint Jacques, Vung Ganh Rai, the Saigon River, and Mui Ba Kiem, RVN.

Not bad looking for a 25 year old tin can that had fought in three wars. (DD-508) Underway in the Atlantic, 12 March 1968, the year before she was pulled from the line. Photographed by Lieutenant D.V. Orgill, USN. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. #: NH 104498

Not bad looking for a 25 year old tin can that had fought in three wars. (DD-508) Underway in the Atlantic, 12 March 1968, the year before she was pulled from the line. Photographed by Lieutenant D.V. Orgill, USN. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. #: NH 104498

Upon return to the states, she was decommissioned and stricken 2 July  1969.

Cony was sunk as a target off Puerto Rico 20 March 1970 via naval gunfire.

Most of her sisters met a similar fate with the last in U.S. Naval service, USS Stoddard (DD-566), being stricken 1 June 1975, and sunk in an exercise by Navy Seals of Seal Team One, 22 July 1997 off the coast of Hawaii in 2,550 fathoms of cool Pacific water.

A number of oral history interviews with members of Cony‘s crew are in the Library of Congress and her plans are in the National Archives.

To do your part to remember the old girl, you can visit one of the four Fletcher sisterships have been preserved as museum ships, although only USS Kidd was never modernized and retains her WWII configuration:

USS Cassin Young, in Boston, Massachusetts
USS The Sullivans, in Buffalo, New York
USS Kidd, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
AT Velos, former USS Charrette in Palaio Faliro, Greece

As for Arkhipov, the Soviet staff officer who prohibited the firing of the nuclear-tipped torpedoes, in 2002 then-director of the US National Security Archive, Thomas Blanton, said that “Vasili Arkhipov saved the world.”

vasili_arkhipov

The Soviet submariner– who incidentally was XO of the “widow maker” K-19 and retired as a Vice Admiral in the 1980s–  died 19 August 1998 at age 72.

Specs:

(DD-508) In San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944. The ship is painted in Camouflage Measure 32, Design 21D. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104876

(DD-508) In San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944. The ship is painted in Camouflage Measure 32, Design 21D. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104876

(As commissioned, 1942)
Displacement: 2924 tons (full load)
Length: 376.5 ft. (114.8 m)
Beam: 39.5 ft. (12.0 m)
Draft: 17.5 ft. (5.3 m)
Propulsion: 60,000 shp (45 MW); 4 oil-fired boilers; 2 Allis Chalmers geared steam turbines; 2 screws
Speed: 36.5 knots (67.6 km/h; 42.0 mph)
Range: 5,500 miles at 15 knots
(8,850 km at 28 km/h)
Complement: 329 officers and men
Armament: 5 × single 5 inch (127 mm)/38 caliber guns
4 × 40 mm Bofors AA guns, 10 × 20 mm Oerlikon cannons
10 × 21 inch (533 mm) antiship torpedo tubes (2 × 5; Mark 15 torpedoes)
6 × K-gun depth charge projectors (later Hedgehog)
2 × depth charge racks

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Museum ships don’t age well

Constructed of steel by the lowest bidder, warships have a finite lifespan, especially when semi-preserved as museum ships.

In Florida, Palm Beach County Commissioners voted to use $1 million in funds to jump-start a project to sink the Balao-class submarine USS Clamagore (SS-343) about a mile off the coast of Juno Beach. She is the only known surviving example of a GUPPY type submarine

According to the Sun Sentinel, the WWII submarine has been at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum near Charleston, S.C. since 1981 and needs a $6 million refirb to keep her there, and annual upkeep of $250,000. Turning her into a reef is cheaper.

In South Korea, the Gearing-class destroyer ex-USS William R. Rush (DD-714), transferred in 1978 under the terms of the Security Assistance Program as ROKS Kang Won (DD-922), arrived at Busan Dadaepo port for dismantling last month after 16 years as a pier-side museum ship.

Rush

Rush, soon to be recycled.

This leaves Eversole, Everett Larson, Sarsfield, Rogers, Orleck, and J. P. Kennedy of that class still afloat.

Meanwhile, in Bremerton, the museum ship USS Turner Joy (DD-951) is set to get an $800,000 spruce up in dry dock. A Forrest Sherman-class destroyer decommissioned in 1982, Turner Joy gave a lot of hard service in Vietnam and can use the TLC. (Photo: Meegan M. Reid / Kitsap Sun)

(Photo: Meegan M. Reid / Kitsap Sun)

Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Franz Schmidt

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sundays (when I feel like working), I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, photographers and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Franz Schmidt

Franz Schmidt was a German postcard artist probably best known for his series of city cards published from 1910-14 showing buildings and sites around his hometown of Nuremberg.

Nassauer Haus Nurnberg Germany, Franz Schmidt 1910.

Nassauer Haus Nurnberg Germany, Franz Schmidt 1910.

However, when the Great War popped off, Schmidt was commissioned to produce a series of “fighting man” style postcards for Trautmann & von Seggern of Hamburg (T&S) showing German troops in action in 1914-15.

While I cannot find much information on Schmidt’s background or how he obtained the study for the martial series (i.e. whether he used models, traveled to the front, relied on newspaper imagery) they are very well done and mostly correct, even if they are clearly propaganda. Each shows a good example of early war uniforms including piping, brass buttons and covered Pickelhaube and Czapka.

The below come from The Rare Book Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library has a massive collection of WWI postcards (nearly 10,000!)

Battle of St. Quentin. German soldiers on horseback, carrying swords, are riding toward English and Scottish infantry.

Battle of St. Quentin. German soldiers on horseback, carrying swords, are riding toward English and Scottish infantry.

Color image on a postcard showing a German infantryman holding his rifle, standing in the woods.

Color image on a postcard showing a German infantryman holding his rifle, standing in the woods.

Color image on a postcard showing a German Marine on a beach, carrying a rifle over his shoulder.

Color image on a postcard showing a German Marine on a beach, carrying a rifle over his shoulder.

German 77mm field artillery defend from French cavalry in battle near the Aisne

German 77mm field artillery defend from French cavalry in battle near the Aisne

German gunner at a gun park. He is standing in front of cannons, holding an artillery short sword

German gunner at a gun park. He is standing in front of cannons, holding an artillery short sword

German troops attacking Indian troops at Ypres, in West Flanders. Througout the war the Germans made a big deal of the fact that both France and Britain utilized colonial troops who the German media characterized as savages-- while they played up their own native Askari troops in Africa.

German troops attacking Indian troops at Ypres, in West Flanders. Throughout the war the Germans made a big deal of the fact that both France and Britain utilized colonial troops who the German media often characterized as savages– while they played up their own native Askari troops in Africa.

German soldiers fighting French soldiers at Neufchâteau

German soldiers fighting French soldiers at Neufchâteau

Hussar standing with his horse in a city that has been bombed. In his hand is a lit cigar

Hussar standing with his horse in a city that has been bombed. In his hand is a lit cigar.

Landstrum soldier at a railway station. There is snow on the ground, and a train sits on a track in the background.

Landstrum soldier at a railway station. There is snow on the ground, and a train sits on a track in the background.

Postcard showing a member of the German uhlan cavalry on horseback with lance.

Postcard showing a member of the German uhlan cavalry on horseback with lance.

Schmidt’s cards from time to time pop up online on eBay and others, typically at low ($5-$10) prices.

Thank you for your work, sir.

The American FAL that could have been

Isn't it beautiful? The FN T48 rifle in (limited) U.S. Army service, May 1955. (Photo: National Archives)

Isn’t it beautiful? The FN T48 rifle in (limited) U.S. Army service, May 1955. Dig the strapped-down M1 helmet and olive drab fatigues(Photo: National Archives)

Springfield Armory was the nation’s clearing house for rifle designs dating from approving the contracted Model 1795 muskets, through the famous Trapdoor Springfield breechloader to the M1903 (which was more or less an unlicensed copy of the Mauser bolt gun) to the M1 Garand of the 1930s and dozens of prototypes and other rifles in between.

Their last design project to be adopted, the T44 rifle, became the M14, but the route that it took to get there was very complicated.

Competing against theT25/47 design of Earle Harvey (of Springfield Armory), was Garand’s own T20 design tweaked by Springfield’s Lloyd Corbett into the T44.

Soon, the T25/47 was dropped by the wayside and the T65 .30 light rifle cartridge (7.62x51mm) became the choice of the Army moving forward and the T44 would be the gun to use it.

The thing is, the European part of NATO had fallen in love with the Belgian-made FN FAL rifle and it looked like just about everyone except the French and Italians were going to adopt it. In short, a gentleman’s agreement was made in which Europe would adopt the U.S. Army’s T65 7.62x51mm round as the NATO standard, and the U.S. would pick the FN FAL to replace the M1 Garand, M3 Grease gun and M1918 BAR light machine gun.

With that, the Army duly ordered 3,103 7.62x51mm-chambered FAL rifles from Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre in 1952 and they were imported into the U.S. from Herstal over the next two years.

These rifles, classified as “Rifle, Cal.30 T48 FN” by the Army, were 21-inch four-groove, right-hand twist barrels that taped out to 47.25-inches overall. In addition, a small quantity (200) of FAL Heavy Barrel Rifles (HBAR) with bipods were ordered– which were classified as the T48E1.

All were the standard lightweight, air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed (20-round detachable) design. Though primarily intended for semiautomatic fire, they were select-fire and could stitch it up at a 600rpm cyclic for as long as the ammo held out.

Weight of the standard rifle was 9.43 lbs. empty and 10.2 lbs. with an attached muzzle-mounted rifle grenade launcher for NATO standard M29 (T42) grenades. The heavier T48E1/HBAR, with its hinged butt plate, went 12.43 lbs unloaded, and was intended to be used as a SAW or sorts.

In Jan. 1954, Harrington & Richardson Arms Company, Worcester, Ma, was awarded a contract “for the production of 500 T48 F.N. (Fabrique Nationale) Infantry Rifles required the expansion of activities in the Hand Arms & Equipment Unit. This action was necessary to prepare Ordnance drawings and provide manufacturing information and technical data to the Boston Ordnance District for use in administering the contract.”

H&R company officials visited the Canadian FAL works to observe their operations before they made their limited run.

High Standard Mfg. Co., Hamden, Ct. at the same time made 12 guns, serialed #HS1-#HS12.

This means a total of about 3,815 U.S. and Belgian-made T48s were delivered to the Army between 1952-55.

These guns were evaluated in field tests at Fort Benning, in the Arctic, and the desert.

Caption: Quabbin Pictures Taken of T48. Rifle, Caliber .30, T48 - with Gunner (Majewski) - Firing M29 (T42) Grenade, via National Archives

Caption: Quabbin Pictures Taken of T48. Rifle, Caliber .30, T48 – with Gunner (Majewski) – Firing M29 (T42) Grenade from a “mortared” position, May 1955, via National Archives

T48, Rifle, Caliber .30, T48 - with Gunner - Off-Hand Firing May 1955

Caption: T48, Rifle, Caliber .30, T48 – with Gunner – Off-Hand Firing May 1955. Photo via National Archives

One of the problems was that the original FAL was crap in the desert (which the Israelis found out in their campaign in 1967, leading to the local design and production of the AK/Valmet-based Galil), and another was that it had suffered “early and violent extraction, violent ejection, and broken parts” during testing in the frozen north– though in the end the rifle was determined to be fit for arctic use.

Besides this, the T44 was a tad lighter, had fewer components, and was all-American rather than Belgian, which in the end (IMHO) was the chief reason it was adopted in 1957 as the M14.

This left the American FAL’s out in the cold and they have largely been scrapped over the years.

Springfield Armory has no less than 58 T48 rifles listed in their collection including 28 made by H&R, 5 of the extremely rare High Standard models and 25 assorted Belgian rifles from FN itself, all transferred to the museum between 1959-65 at a value of $150-250 each (the Springfield Armory price for M14s was $155.98 at the time).

Their lot includes FN-made T48E1 SN#1 complete with grenade launcher, at least two different rifles modified to run on .22LR ammo, High Standard SN#1 HS1 and FN T48 SN#2.

Early FN-made T48 SN#2. Photo: Springfield Armory

Early FN-made T48 SN#2. Photo: Springfield Armory, SPAR3673

T48E1 FN FAL HBAR SN#1 in Springfield Armory. Some 200 of these guns were acquired for testing. Note the forearm and bipod

T48E1 FN FAL HBAR SN#1 in Springfield Armory. Some 200 of these guns were acquired for testing. Note the forearm and bipod as well as the “32” rack number. Photo: Springfield Armory, SPAR 3652

FN-made T48 SN#1816 in .22LR caliber-- note thin barrel. Photo: Springfield Armory

FN-made T48 SN#1816 in .22LR caliber– note thin barrel. Photo: Springfield Armory, SPAR 3663

High Standard's first T48 FAL rifle, SN#HS1. Photo: Springfield Armory

High Standard’s first T48 FAL rifle, SN#HS1. Note the different style handguard from the FN guns above. Photo: Springfield Armory, SPAR3683

A great representation of Harrington and Richardson's (H&R's) T48 FAL, this one SN#4538. Note the grenade launcher attachment

A great representation of Harrington and Richardson’s (H&R’s) T48 FAL, this one SN#4538. Note the grenade launcher attachment. It is also one of the few T48s in the SPAR collection to retain a magazine and all of its small parts (sights, sling swivels, etc.– most are missing something) Photo: Springfield Armory, SPAR 3687.

Lucky FN-made T48 SN#13 is on public display with alongside the M14 and T44 (T65E3) SN# 1 with the following exhibit label:

“T48 – Despite American problems with the FN the British adopted the weapon over their own design increasing the pressure in the United States to conform. The Army contracted the High Standard Company of New Haven to produce an American version of the FN, designated the T48.”

Lucky FN T48 SN#13 represents the breed to the public

Lucky FN T48 SN#13, third down, represents the breed to the public. Photo: Springfield Armory.

Other guns are in private collections, public museums and the like, with at least one, H&R SN#4142, in the National Firearms Museum.

H&R SN4142 T48. Dig the beauty of those handguards

H&R SN#4142 T48. Dig the beauty of those handguards

Also, the Marine depot at Quantico as of 2008 had some 70 remaining H&R T48s, as noted in an extensive post here at FAL Files.com

After all, if anyone can appreciate a really nice select-fire 7.62x51mm battle rifle, it’s the USMC.

Captian Ben Grant with one of 70 H&R T48s via FAL Files, 2008

Captian Ben Grant, USMC with one of 70 H&R T48s in Marine Corps storage, photo via FAL Files, 2008

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