The U.S. Army’s Failed Quest to Create Floating Tank Divisions
This story originally appeared on Feb. 1, 2016. Amphibious assaults are the domain of the U.S. Marines, not the Army. But there was a period in history when the Army tried to out-do the Marines in hitting the beach — including planning how to deploy entire divisions of amphibious... Read more
What’s the Democratic Republic of Congo Doing With These Ukrainian Tanks?
Three years ago, Ukraine announced it would sell 50 of its T-64BV-1 tanks to an unspecified foreign customer, rumored to be the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This became official in 2016 with the delivery of 25 of the tanks to the country, according to information just released by Ukraine... Read more
The XM174 Grenade-Launcher Was Too Fragile for Vietnam
In the early 1960s, American advisers in Vietnam asked the U.S. Army to supply them an automatic grenade launcher. In September 1963, the Army asked industry to submit designs for a low-velocity 40-millimeter automatic grenade launcher. The new launcher had to weight less than 12 pounds — half the... Read more
Haiti Is Bringing Back Its Army
This article originally appeared at InSight Crime. Haiti is reconstituting its previously disbanded army after more than two decades, amid concerns about growing insecurity as a United Nations peacekeeping force is set to withdraw later this year. And while politicians have justified the move as a step toward combating contraband trafficking,... Read more
The Baker Rifle Transformed Soldiers Into Long-Distance Killers
Originally published on June 16, 2015. On a freezing January day in 1809, rifleman Thomas Plunkett of the British 95th Rifles was flat on his back in the snow outside of the Spanish town of Cacabelos. Some might say that was no place for an Irishman, but this was... Read more
Airborne Fighting Vehicles Rolled Through Hell in Eastern Ukraine
In April 2014, a few months after Russian troops seized Crimea, a pro-Russian uprising broke out in Eastern Ukraine centered on Donetsk Oblast. The province had a substantial ethnic Russian population which supported the pro-Moscow government of Pres. Viktor Yanukovych, who fled the country that February after the Euromaidan... Read more
The USSR’s Air-Dropped Fighting Vehicles Tore Through Cold War Conflicts
Since the 1970s, the Russian military has possessed a diverse fleet of armored vehicles it can drop out of airplanes … with parachutes, of course. The BMD family of infantry fighting vehicles is armed to the teeth with autocannons, machine guns and anti-tank missiles. And despite being very much a... Read more
France’s FAMAS Rifle Is Simple and Compact
In 1967 the French army requested a new infantry weapon to replace both the MAS 49/56 rifle and MAT-49 submachine gun. Three years later, the French military standardized on the new 5.56-by-45-millimeter cartridge. With requirement and cartridge in hand, Paul Tellie, Manufacture d’Armes de Saint-Étienne — MAS — began... Read more
The Soviet DP-28 Was a Brute-Simple Machine Gun
In the mid-1920s the Soviet military realized it needed a new, locally-produced light machine gun. Vasily Degtyaryov had anticipated the demand. He began developing the DP-27 light machine gun in the early 1920s. Following trials and some modifications, the Soviet army adopted Degtyaryov’s gun in 1928 as the DP-28.... Read more
The French Army Has a Passion for Rifle Grenades
More than four years ago, French troops dropped into Mali to fight back Islamic militants. While in combat, the French soldiers with their bullpup FAMAS rifles lobbed rifle grenades — a relatively rare weapon in the 21st century and distinguished from modern grenade launchers by being launched from a rifle’s... Read more
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