Infantry squad fire power 1944 vs. 2004

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by 17thfabn, Jan 27, 2004.

  1. Towards the end of WW II the Germans introduced the STG 44 rifle. There is much debate as to wheather this was the first assault rifle. One thing is for sure, it could put out more lead than any other World War II rifle, with it's slective fire of semi or full automatic modes. And it had a much more effective round than the sub-machine guns of the era.

    Imagine the amount of lead a WW II German infantry squad could put out with one MG 43, and all other troops in the squad armed with STG 43 rifles.

    Flash forward to 2004 to a U.S. infantry squad armed with M-249 squad automatic weapons and M-16 rifles. The volume of fire they could produce would be about the same as a late WW II German Infantry squad.

    In the almost 60 years since the end of WW II great strides have been made in military technology. But it seems like small arms technology has not realy had any great break throughs. True, the assault rifles carried by todays troops are lighter, as is the ammunition. But even a U.S. infantry squad of WW II armed with M-1 rifles and BAR squad automatic rifles could go toe to toe against a modern infantry squad. And if the fire fight was at ranges over 400 yds the WW II squad would have the advantage.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2005
  2. 1952Sniper

    1952Sniper New Member

    Aug 22, 2002
    The way I see it, no more advances in small arms were necessary. Our military doctrines have shifted from ground-based assaults to aerial bombardment. More firepower from foot soldiers is not always better. With today's smart bombs and other precision ordnance, I guarantee you today's military could decimate any WWII unit. There's much more to it than simply giving the guys better firearms.

  3. Marlin

    Marlin *TFF Admin Staff Chief Counselor*

    Very astute observation, Snipe, and so true. Not only in the aerial war but look at the differences/advances in the rolling armoured end of the fighting. With WWII armament in the air and on the ground, other than the infantryman, where would we be, yet, in the Iraqi campaign?
  4. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

    There's a heck of a lot more to an infantry squad's capabilities and effectivness than the amount of lead they can throw per minute.

    If you add in laser sighting, night sights, night viewing, modern grenade launchers, RPGs, body armor, and instant communications for mortar, artillery and air support (and the amount of support readily available), there's absolutely no comparison between "then" and "now".

    No Infantry squad from any nation during WWII would stand the slightest chance againist today's U.S. Army or Marine equivalent.
  5. DemonDesert

    DemonDesert New Member

    Sep 26, 2003
    West Texas
    Yeah, any WWII squad could do little more than you or I versus a modern squad--rear guard, snipe from the wings tactics. Until they inevitably smart bombed you.
  6. Xracer, I agree with you up to a point. The electronics that a U.S. infantry unit carries can bring much more fire power to bear, than the weapons it is carrying. A squad with a modern radio, GPS unit and a laser designator can have a 2,000 lb. bomb, or artillery barrage on top of an enimies heads with pin point accuracy.

    But you may not always have that heavy fire power available to you immedietly. Let me give you a scenerio:

    You're in a light infantry squad from the Tenth Mountain division. You've been sent to block a possible escape route for terrorists, as part of a major operation.

    The position you have been assigned to is a five mile hike from any road, at the top of large hill, blocking an old camel trail. But you got lucky, a black hawk helo dropped your unit off. Your ten man squad has two M249 saws, 2 M-203 assault rifle/grenade launchers, the rest of the squad is armed with M-16 assault rifles. You have radios, GPS, and a laser designator.

    Your superiors don't think any thing will happen in your area, but they want to block all possible escape routes. All available artillery, mortar, attack helos, and attack aircraft are commited to the main effort.

    You and your buddies are hunkered down on your hill top, taking turns keeping look out. You can here the sounds of the battle in the distance. Our fire power is really giving those bandits heck!

    Suddenly you see movment in the distance, coming your way. Fifteen scragly terrorists are coming your way, they are armed with old lee enfield .303 rifles, and one old soviet light machine gun of WW II vintage. The clumsy new guy (nfg) in your squad stands up and gives away your position. At a range of 300 yards the fire fight starts! Immediatly radio contact is made to H.Q. requesting fire support. They inform you that it will be a few minutes, but attack helos, and artillery support is on the way.

    For three minutes shots are traded at 300 yards between you and the bandits accross the rocky terrain. That three minutes seems like three hours. But three minutes after you called for support the first 155mm artillery rounds crash down, and in the distance you here the Apache attack helocopters coming in! And then the fight is over, as quickly as it began. The terrorists just seemed to have vanished!

    Your squad is lucky. Your vests and helmets have protected your vital regions. There are numerous minor wounds from the fragments thrown up when the old .303 bullets strike rock, splinter and hit exposed legs, arms and faces. One of your guys has some rock fragments to his eyes, but the medics think he will be O.K., but they medi-vac him out to be safe.

    Once reinforcements arrive you go down to investigate the position vacated by the fleeing terrorists. One is found down, dead with a single 5.56mm bullet through his throat. There are a couple of blood trails going back into the rocks, indicating possible two other enimies wounded. Nothing else is found.

    After a three minute fire fight, the score is USA 1 bad guys Zero. Not a great day for the home team considering fourteen bad guys have gotten away to fight and snipe and road side bomb another day. For three minutes bandits armed with WW II era weapons have gone toe to toe with a U.S. infantry squad. Not until heavy fire power arrived was the stalemate broken!
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2004
  7. inplanotx

    inplanotx Active Member

    Jan 28, 2002
    17thfabn, you forgot to frag the FNG!!!

    :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2004
  8. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

    Well 17, I'll also agree with you....up to a point.

    I think that arming our forces with a varmint cartridge was a move in the wrong direction.

    I really think that the five-sided puzzle factory in Washington came to the conclusion that they were never going to be able to teach conscripts to hit what they aim the way to go was to lay down a "volume of fire"....which required every man to have a machine gun.....which required less recoil, smaller rounds....etc., etc., etc. (you know the drill).

    I also remember a line in Robert A. Heinlein's "Starship Troopers"....something to the effect of "while you're fooling around with all of that high-tech gagetry, some caveman can come up behind you and kill you by hitting you over the head with a rock!" :D

    I don't necessarily disagree with ya.....sometimes I just like to play "Devil's Advocate"......and nothin's more fun than to argue Military History! ;)
  9. Fire arms engineers agains sniper 1952

    Hey 1952, if I were a fire arms engineer I don't think I'd like your threat to my job! With no new innovations needed in small arms you are going to put a lot of designers out of work.
  10. islenos

    islenos New Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    West Texas
    When you get down to it, all the new little gismos in the world won't help you when the .30, shot by the little guy 900 meters away, enters your brain cavity. Technology is nice but It's not going to make you a better soldier.
  11. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

    Agreed, islenos.

    There have been numerous complaints coming out of Eastern Afganistan (near the Pakistani border) about just that thing.

    Seems to be a standard tactic by the BGs to engage at 400-500 meters with WWII bolt Moisin-Nagents & Enfields........effectively beyond the range of our pipsqueek M-16s....and then boogie out of there before backup arrives.

    Modern technology isn't always the answer. Sorta reminds me of the problems the Brits ran into in the Falklands. Their ships couldn't support their infantry.

    The Brit Destroyers carried only missles....too expensive and not enough of 'em to take out Argentine hard points, machine gun nests, etc.

    The Brits would've killed for a couple of WWII Sullivan Class destroyers with their 5"/38 turrets.
  12. jsmarriner

    jsmarriner New Member

    May 13, 2004
    Um guys
    Hate to break it to you. They have better stuff than that. alot of the long range baddies have Soviet SVD sniper rifles, thanks to the fall of the soviet union and ZERO economy there. SVD is a superb rifle and id stack it against almost anything.
  13. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Ah, I've missed this!

    Do doctine, and tactics dictate weapons or weapons tactics and doctrine?

    In WWII, US Doctrine was still essentially pre-WWI, but with the best weapon for it, the M1 Garand. The RIFLEMAN with AIMED fire was the OFFENSIVE backbone, everything else was support, Which is WHY the BAR complemented the M1 so WELL, but actually sucked as an SAW if you are objective about it. The Brits were similar, with the best battle BA rifle ever, and a better SAW. (What would US firepower have been like if we had a BREN in '06?) (or THEIRS if they adopted the Garand?)

    The "new" German army of the 30s had a DIFFERENT perception of the role of infantry. The main Infantry weapon was the LMG, mosts SQUADS had 2 or 3, the riflemen were just support for the MG 13s then 34s then 42s. So it didn't matter if they had a sucky rifle, all they did was hump ammo for the mgs anyway. Plus more emphasis on DEFENSIVE use of small arms-- only to fix the enemy for artillery, armor, or Stukas to actually destroy, i.e., combined arms!

    It wasn't until the Soviet tank riding massive assault troops all armed with PPshs after Stalingrad covered by tracked assault artillery firing direct, that doctine and tactics actually changed for the Germans...spray and pray and get in close in order to throw the grenade or satchel charge or molotov. (supported by BATTALIONS of snayperskayas... :cool: )
    First they tried to overload with MP38/40s, then they came up with the MP 43s...low power rifle vs pistol, same idea, lots of ammo, with better range than the SMG, but capable of offensive or defensive use.

    Then of course the Soviets stole the "Assault rifle" idea...

    BUT along the way, US doctrine at least shifted from offensive to defensive - infantry was not intended as the main weapon, but to find and fix, and call in the arty or air, small arms just to defend the infantry. Actually started with Patton calling for "walking fire..." "Keep their heads down..."

    That's what we tried to do with the infantry from the 60s to the 90s...DEFENSIVE-FIND AND FIX-Call in support. Didn't always work as planned, and whenever AWAY from support...everyone wanted .30 calibers!

    But today? The wheel turns...

    Some of our 4-8 man Spec ops teams that were compromised in the first Gulf war got into 300 yd running gunfights with COMPANIES of Iraquis with AK47s, and slaughtered them, with 16s, many times complaining the damm BEDOUIN with .303s that stayed farther away and plinked at them were the MOST dangerous enemy they faced!

    Now, in Afghanistan? Spec ops teams are leaning more and more towards M1As and other .308s...not only because of the range. WITHOUT support, the rifle becomes the offensive weapon AGAIN. .30s are coming back! AGAIN.

    The Dragunov? NOT a "sniper rifle," actually, but actually a platoon level "support" weapon like MMGs, meant to "give rapid AIMED accurate fire at 300m+ against specific targets" like vehicles, support weapons, bunker slits, etc. What a concept....

    I.e., capability like WE had with the M1 Garand in WWII! What goes around...

    I'm with 17th... give a WWII style Marine platoon armed with M1s, M1 Carbines with grende launchers, and BARs (and OK, a shotgun or two :D ...modern body armor, optics, GPS, and Laser designators and a radio that WORKS with support on call and all the other goodies we have today......

    And they would give ANYBODY today a damn good fight.

    As an aside...the 6.8mm M16 round?

    The wheel turns.

    (I was always partial to the 6.5 Arisaka round... :) ) (Which was replaced by a .30... :) )

    Really, when I was a kid and was first reading of the .223 controversy during Vietnam, I actually wondered why they never mtried the Armalite in .243 Win.????
  14. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*


    You're listed as AWOL and the CO wants to see you right away! :eek:

    Seriously, nice to see ya 'bout staying for a while? :D

    BTW, just to be contrary......IMO, the 6.5 Swede was a better round than the 6.5 Arisaka (it just wouldn't be natural for me to agree with ya, Polish).
  15. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Hey X! Just like a bad penny...

    Yep, that 6.5 Swede and that pretty little mauser was quite a rifle and round, good thing the Swedes never used it in action or they would have ran screaming to a .30 like every OTHER country that had one when they actually had to USE it on other humans... ;) Let's see, the Japs, the Dutch, the Italians, who else...(?)

    ...Simo Haya had it about right...used a custom presentation grade 6.5 Swede for a couple of kills then threw it in the sh!tcan and went back to a good old Mosin Nagant, more powerful, reliable AND accurate than the Swede so he said.....MORE than once... :) Who's to argue with the greatest sniper probably ever?

    Just tryin' to get a rise, X, just like old times!

    Geez I need to edit the signature, that was a LONG time ago. Then again, he IS just going to trial!
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2004
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