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Old June 6, 2013, 12:22 PM   #1
NH_Pilot
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M1 Garand Airborne Carriage

There was an attempt at a D-Day thread which inspired a question about the M1 Garand and how the airborne trooper deployed it.

The night of 6 June 1944 a some friends, now old and some gone, stepped out of C-47's into the night over St Mere Eglise. Last weekend I was standing in the atrium lobby of the Airborne and Special Ops museum in Fayettevill NC, outside Ft Bragg. There are two displays, the first of which is a mannequin hanging from the ceiling under a 1944 silk parachute in full 1944 jump gear. Behind that display there is a display of a present day trooper under an MC-4 with oxygen, ruck, and his M-16 strapped horizontally across his torso.

In 1944 the rifle was strapped to the upper right leg of the soldier in a canvas bag. My understanding, and looking at the display, is that the M1 breaks down into maybe 2 parts which are put back together after landing, and hopefully before having an immediate need for that weapon.

Can an M1 owner explain the breakdown and reassembly that these guys did?

Thanks!

Wes

P.S. The one place in France where they still love Americans is St Mere Eglise.
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Old June 6, 2013, 12:39 PM   #2
Dragline45
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I don't think they jumped with their rifles disassembled. They were jumping behind enemy lines, often while getting shot at. It wouldn't do you much good to jump into enemy territory and have to take the time to assemble your rifle while surrounded by the enemy in the open. Also not all WW2 paratroopers carried the M1. One thing I will add is that it was a common occurrence for those leg bags to get ripped off from the prop blast as they were jumping.

Last edited by Dragline45; June 6, 2013 at 09:09 PM. Reason: spelled prop wrong
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Old June 6, 2013, 02:24 PM   #3
4EVERM-14
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Often troops were issued a heavy,padded canvas case for their rifle. Most veterans discarded it or used it to carry other supplies. They new hitting the ground running was necessary. Carry methods varied with the individual. The Germans,on the other hand, routinely jumped without rifles. They were dropped in separate containers. Once on the ground the German soldier had to locate this container to acquire his equipment.
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Old June 6, 2013, 02:26 PM   #4
NH_Pilot
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Well, Google helped me answer the question.

The rifle case did indeed have the rifle broken into the barreled action and the stock. Photo at the link below.

The trooper hit the ground, unpacked and put the rifle together, and started moving towards the rest of the unit.

http://www.wwiiimpressions.com/image...tterncase3.JPG

I can fully appreciate that some individuals would rather find a way to land with the rifle ready to go.

Thanks,

Wes
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Old June 6, 2013, 04:02 PM   #5
Dragline45
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Man that's rough. I cant imagine having to jump into enemy territory without my rifle ready to go. Very interesting though and thanks for the bit of information. In retrospect, it probably would have been a better idea to issue paratroopers back then with a collapsible stock. Have to remember though that before WWII paratroopers did not exist, so I guess everything has a learning curve.
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Old June 6, 2013, 04:13 PM   #6
Mk VII
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The use of the Griswold Bag required the rifle to be broken down into the three main groups (actually you could put the trigger group back into the action).
Later the riggers sewed extension snouts onto them so that people could jump with it assembled.
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Old June 6, 2013, 04:47 PM   #7
Dfariswheel
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As was accurately shown in the TV series "Band Of Brothers" many paratroopers jumped with the M1 rifle assembled and secured under the parachute harness.
This is so when they landed they could immediately open fire.

This came out of the Normandy jump when many paratroopers lost their bagged rifles when all their equipment was torn off and lost when panicked pilots failed to reduce speed for the drop.
Second, many Normandy paratroopers came down in the midst of German troops, and a lot of them were killed or captured before they could assemble their weapon.
After Normandy, most paratroopers jumped with whatever weapon they were issued fully assembled and ready to fire, if necessary even before they landed.

In the "Band Of Brothers" you see preparations for the Market-Garden jump when the Normandy men started helping new replacements gear up.
They show the experienced men removing M1 rifles from the drop bags and showing the new men how to secure it in the harness fully assembled.

As a side note, a major reason Ordnance experimented with an M1 "Tanker" carbine was not from requests from the Pacific, most requests came from the European paratrooper commanders like General Gavin.
Gavin and the others hated the M1 Carbine and considered it to be under powered an unreliable.
They wanted a shorter M1 rifle that could be more easily jumped fully assembled and ready to use.
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Old June 6, 2013, 08:04 PM   #8
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I wasn't in WWII of course, but I've jumped with an M1, M14 and M16.

I never took them apart. The butt stock is secured to the chute harness and the muzzle end is tied to your leg with string. The string holds when you come out the door but brakes on landing.

Never had a problem

We had weapons carriers but the only gun I've seen jumped with a weapons carrier is the M-60. The barrel was separated from the gun, took a second to slip the barrel back on.
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Old June 8, 2013, 09:20 PM   #9
jrothWA
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Locate the book "CURAHEE!" written by

a member of the 501ST PIR.
REcall he indicated the assembled rifle in padded bag along right hand side of body , think he said the lower end was loosle restrained with length of rope to allow wallking and anyone could did obtain a sidearm.

The M! CArbine due to shorter length was no problem.
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Old June 8, 2013, 09:46 PM   #10
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The Airborne operations on Operation Neptune (the airborne invasion of Normandy) had a number of highly flawed "good ideas" gear-wise. One was having to jump into enemy territory with a disassembled rifle (modern paratroopers jump with a rifle ready to go when they hit the ground). It;s my understanding that by the time Market Garden rolled around, they'd mostly done away with the weapon case, and just wrapped their rifles for the jump (also my understanding that the M1 carbine was more for NCO's, RTO's, Scouts, etc, and everyone else got a Garand).
Another sweet [officer] idea was the Airborne Leg Bag which was basically a duffle bag with a length of rope and a cuff that attached to the poor sucker's leg. The idea was that you threw this bag out of the plane and then had to beat the slack out the door. It was finalized and actually issued something like 3 days before Neptune kicked off.... and wasn't used since.

It wasn't until the M1950 weapon case came out that there was a case designed for the entire fully assembled rifle to be jumped. The 82nd still uses it today (slightly modified to ensure it stays closed in the prop blast), it's major plus being that it is adjustable to the length of your weapon. Inside, a Paratrooper can place anything from an M-4 (fully assembled, with 203 and a couple magazines) to an M-240B (though the barrel and receiver are disconnected for the jump). The case clips to the right side of your parachute harness, and the bottom gets tied around your leg. The reason you didn't see this on the modern guy in the ASOM is that guy is a HALO jumper, and isn't rigged for a static line MASSTAC jump.

Hope this helped just a little.

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All The Way!

-insomni

Last edited by insomni; June 8, 2013 at 10:03 PM.
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