Infantry squad fire power 1944 vs. 2004

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

  1. 17thfabn

    17thfabn New Member

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    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

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    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*

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    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*

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    Minn-eeee-sota, ya, sure, you bet!
    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

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    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. 17thfabn

    17thfabn New Member

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    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 New Member

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    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*

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    Minn-eeee-sota, ya, sure, you bet!
    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 at.....so 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. 17thfabn

    17thfabn New Member

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    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

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    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*

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    Minn-eeee-sota, ya, sure, you bet!
    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

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    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 Active Member

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    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*

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    Minn-eeee-sota, ya, sure, you bet!
    WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN POLISH????

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

    Seriously, nice to see ya back....how '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 Active Member

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    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
  16. stash247

    stash247 New Member

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    IMHO, you guys have raised some very cogent, though politically incorrect, points. Let me offer:
    At a range of 400-600 meters, I can kill at will with a .308; hammer your ass, 'til you die, and really not worry about the .223 you are shooting. Why else is the current sniper system, M42, so chambered???
    A TRAINED RIFLEMAN can hit anything he can see, given a couple of ranging shots. Hear any of this in your M-16 training? It was taught, as a matter of course, when the .45-70 was an Issue Arm!
    It is a fact that the M-16 Pattern rifles are sweeping the course, at Camp Perry, but these are far from the rifles given our front line troops, and the shooters are far from the training level of those same troops.
    At Perry, we need only to knock a hole thru a piece of paper; in Kabul, we need to knock a mofo down, so he doesn't want to get up, again; this requires, at 400 meters, considerable energy in excess of that to punch a target.

    Seems to me that between WWII, and VietNam, we have traded philosophies as to what a grunt should be able to do; and done it to our ultimate disdvantage.
    Given the current state of Marksmanship training, I would feel really good, as the moslems do, about going toe to toe, with a guy shooting an inferior weapon.
    Give me a single shot rifle, like the Ruger #1, in 7Mag, and how many of our troops would it take to bring me down, do you suppose?
    To the point, if we minimise, as we have, for so many years, marksmanship, in deference to logistics, which was the entire point of "downsizing" from .308 to .223, how many misses does it take to equal 1 kill?
    My position is, that "Personal Service", i.e. the job of the Infantry, is best served with training, not technology.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2005
  17. 17thfabn

    17thfabn New Member

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    Battle of Robert's Ridge // Operation Anaconda

    On the military channel the other night they had a documentary about the "Battle of Robert's Ridge". This occured in Afghanistan in the mountains bordering Pakistan on March 4th, 2002. A joint Afghan, U.S. operation was launched to capture Al Quada forces believed to be active in the area.

    During this operation a U.S. Navy S.E.A.L., Petty Officer Robert's (thus the name Robert's Ridge) fell out of a helocopter. A quick reaction force in two helos was to go and try and rescue him. These helos were delayed in responing until after sunrise.

    As the helos approached the mountain were Petty Officer Robert's was missing they recieved intense fire from the ground, one helo was forced to leave the scene due to damage, the other crash landed. After crashing the helo continued to recieve a heavy volume of automatic weapons fire and R.P.G. rounds. The Ranger team, helo crew, and three Air Force men (para rescue and close air support specialists) formed a defensive line. Many of the U.S. fighting men were killed or disabled quickly. They were hardest hit from fire coming from a well constructed bunker 50 meters and up the hill from them. Relief helocopters could not be sent in until after sunset due to the ground fire.

    The Airforce close support specialist radioed for help. The first arriving pair of aircraft (either F15 or 16s) had only their 20 mm vulcan cannons. They made repeated gun runs against the bunker. Firing from the bunker slowed but did not stop. A second pair of aircraft arrived (again either F15 or 16s) and they were carring bombs. One of these planes was piloted by the squadron commander. He did not want to bomb, because the bunker was so close the the Rangers, only 50 meters away! the Ranger commander insisted, that this was a dire emegency. The squadron commander agreed to bomb, but would not allow his wing man to. Two bombs were dropped, behind the bunker. Again firing from the bunker slowed, but did not stop. The aircraft were ordered to leave the area. Finaly an unmanned drone controled by the C.I.A. showed up. It carried a Hell Fire anti-tank missile. The hell fire was fired into the bunker destroying it. The greatest threat to the U.S. force had been neutralized, but they still continued to take heavy fire from terrorists forces surrounding them. And for the rest of the day they would be alone, with no air or artillery support. After sunset they were finaly relieved

    One thing I found interesting was how lightly the Rangers were armed. This may not be true, I am only basing it on the documentary on the military channel, but the Rangers seemed to only have rifles, and m-240 machine guns (the rifles appeared to be CAR-15 carbines) . Our 40mm grenade launcher round is pretty weak, but it could easily hit a bunker 50 meters away, and a lucky shot might go through the slits. A L.A.W. rocket would also suppres fire from the bunker. Two or three hits by a javelin anti-tank missile, or Carl Gustof recoiless rifle would have destroyed the bunker.

    This team was on their own most of the day. Heavier weapons would have been useful. The force they faced was said to number over 100!

    Here is an example of our space age troopers having to rely on only the fire power they packed in with them for most of the day. They had three air support missions to help them, but for most of the day they were on their own. It is fortunate that they were elite troops, that were able to make the most of the weapons they had.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2005
  18. offeror

    offeror New Member

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    I agree with this. While aerial bombardment may not be instantly available, the precision of our squad-level capability and the survivability with our better armor would help assure the modern team would get back alive and the other guys would lose the fight.

    By the way, I'm not aware of any huge debate over whether the STG 44 was the first issued assault rifle. I think it's clear to most historians that it was; the debate is whether it should COUNT, since it came in so late and in such limited numbers, that it had no impact on the outcome. And besides, "fans" of other guns on the Internet will defend their favorite model in almost any situation, which doesn't mean a whole lot.

    But the STG 44 had all the key features of the assault weapon (carbine length, shortened rifle round, hi-cap boxes, etc.), and the name invented for it by the Nazis, Sturm-Gewehr, has been translated as "assault rifle" too. I'd say that covers it pretty thoroughly.

    But again, at the sqad level, the technologies have improved in so many ways to insure accurate kills and troop survivability that the use of an assault rifle (or the round being shot) is not the deciding factor.
  19. stash247

    stash247 New Member

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    Let me offer again, the magic words: Aimed fire.
    For twelve or thirteen years, the Russians continued to get their a***s kicked, in Afghanistan, by a bunch of old dudes on CAMELS.
    Yeah, the CIA gave them some Lee-Enfields, and even Stinger Missiles, but the point remains, AIMED FIRE. MARKSMANSHIP. PRECISION.
    The SEALS are among, if not, the best, at what they do, but it's not technology, but PRACTICE, that makes them so.
    Let me re-phrase my prior post. A good man, with an accurate .308 bolt gun, is well the master of a ten man squad spraying and praying, with AK's, m-16's, or anything of the like. He can shoot, move, and shoot again, well outside the range of any but a chance connection, on their part. It only takes one bullet to make one less opponent.
    This was taught in WWII: it was not, in Viet Nam.
    My vote goes to the '44 team!
  20. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

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    Minn-eeee-sota, ya, sure, you bet!
    Well let me weigh in again and take this discussion on a 45 degree angle.

    IMO, the greatest advantage today's U.S. Infantry (or Mud Marine) squad has over WWII, is in four areas.....none of them in the firepower area.

    Communications....the ability of each squad member to communicate with each other squad member during battle. Everybody knows where everybody else is, and what they're seeing.

    Body armor.....survivibility of today's Doggie or Grunt is up 300 to 400% over his WWII equivalent. This leads to higher confidence and a more agressive squad.

    Rapid Medivac and Modern Medicine...the ability to evacuate and more effectively treat the wounded. Again, leads to higher confidence, a more aggressive squad....and is able to more quickly return experienced men back to active squad duty.

    Night vision devices....allows today squad the ability to "own the night" in a way never dreamed of in WWII. Gives today's squad 24-hour-a-day attack capability, and a more secure defensive cabability.

    Again, IMO.....today's mouse guns (5.56mm and 9mm) are a step backwards, but in these other areas, we're light years ahead of WWII.
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