Post-wwii rifle development



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Fact Sheet #4

POST-WWII RIFLE DEVELOPMENT
During World War II, wartime experience with the M1 Rifle showed the need for a lighter rifle with a larger magazine capacity and "selective" fire (full or semi-automatic) capability. The search for these sometimes incompatible goals dominated the history of Springfield Armory during its final two decades.
Experiments to improve the Ml, designated the M1E series, began as early as December 1942. Modifications, such as the White, Ljungman, and short tappet systems, and the M1E5 "carbine" followed. All "E" series rifles were semi-automatic and retained the 8-round, Ml-type clip feed system. John Garand completed the T20 in October 1944. The first of the "T" series, it was equipped with a B.A.R.-style magazine and a "lengthened" Ml receiver and had selective fire capabilities. The T20E1 and T20E2 followed with further variations. In 1945, procurement of 100,000 T20E2's was ordered, but the atomic bombs brought an unexpectedly quick end to the war before any of the improved rifles were purchased.
Concurrently with Garand's T20, a competitive contract was awarded to Remington Arms Co. Remington's prototypes, T22E1, T22E2, T22E3 and the T27, were designed around a standard Ml receiver, with as little modification as possible. Like the T20, the T22's used a B.A.R.-style 20-round magazine.



T27 rifle
The T23 and T24 rifles were merely Ml's converted to selective fire, but retaining the 8 round capacity. These were the last of the "T" series to use the .30-06 cartridge.
German developments in late WWII with smaller cartridges and American advances in propellant technology allowed a shorter cartridge to be developed with about the same range and ballistics as the .30-06. As a result, the U.S. adopted a new cartridge, designated the T65. Earle Harvey's T25 was the first rifle designed around the new cartridge. Shorter and less powerful cartridges opened up additional design possibilities. Studies of WWII German weapons led to the development of the T28 chambered for the T65 round. This weapon used low-cost fabrication methods. The prototypes were tested by late 1948, but the design was discarded as a result of poor reliability in the 1950 Aberdeen and Fort Benning trials.
Following World War II, the Clarke Arms Co. of Boston, Mass., produced the T33 series. The design was rejected due to lack of reliability and the Clarke Arms Co. was dissolved in 1954.

In his last major project before retiring, John Garand developed the innovative T31. Using the T65 cartridge and having selective fire capability, the T31 project had been suspended by the time of Garand's retirement in 1953. The T31 magazine, however, was retained and eventually used in the T44 program.


Meanwhile, experiments were done to convert M1 rifles and B.A.R.'s to the new T65 cartridge. The first Ml's were converted in 1948 and designated T35, followed by the B.A.R. conversions, designated T34. While Ordnance officials continued to favor the Harvey T25 rifle, the T20 series, derived from Garand's Ml, was retained--possibly as a backup in case the T25 fell through. In its final form (October 1951) the Harvey rifle evolved into the T47. As problems persisted with the T47, the Garand types were given a new lease on life. The long receiver T20E2's were converted to the now-standard T65 cartridge around 1949 and designated the T36 and T37 series. These
led to the T44.
Trials held at Fort Benning in 1952 showed continuing trouble with the T47, and it was dropped the following year. Attention now shifted to the Belgian FN and the early T44, both of which had outperformed the T47 at Fort Benning.
The Summer of 1953 nearly brought an end to the T44 program. Tests conducted at Fort Benning revealed problems with the magazine design and the T20E2 receiver of the early T44's. By August it was recommended that the T44 be dropped and development of the FN continued. Later, these recommendations were modified only to permit the T44 to go to the Arctic tests later that year. Col. Roy Rayle, the new commander of Springfield's R&D division, viewed this as the last chance to save the Springfield design. Lacking time and funding to redesign the receiver, technicians at Springfield fine tuned the existing T44's and submitted them for the trials beginning Dec. 8, 1953, near Fairbanks, Alaska.
Unexpectedly severe problems with the FN during the Alaska tests granted the T44 a stay of execution. Nevertheless, by 1954, U.S. acceptance of the FN seemed almost assured. The Army decided to produce an "American" FN to test production methods. The High Standard Co. of New Haven, Conn., was given the task of converting the metric drawings to inch dimensions, making suggested changes, and producing the first 12 rifles from the drawings. Later, Harrington & Richardson was awarded the contract to produce 500 of these rifles, designated the T48.
Concurrently with the T48 project, the Army decided to produce 500 of the redesigned T44 (designated T44E4). In further rounds of testing, the T44E4 performed at least as well as the T48. Overriding objections of the NATO allies, the Secretary of the Army announced on May 1, 1957 that the T44E4 had been approved. Designated the M14, this weapon was slated to replace the M1 rifle, M2 carbine, and M3A1 submachine gun. Production did not begin until 1959.
Studies from combat injuries in several wars indicated that a wound is more likely to be inflicted by a piece of shrapnel or a stray bullet than from aimed rifle fire. Based on these findings, Project "Salvo", begun in 1952, for a rifle that would spray a deluge of small caliber, high velocity projectiles from multiple barrels. This project was underway at the same time the more conventional T44 and FN were competing.
Developed too late to be a competitor to the T44 and T48, the AR10, designed by Eugene Stoner, suffered from insufficient testing before being submitted. Withdrawn from trials in 1956 after a barrel blew up, it nevertheless impressed Gen. William G. Wyman, commanding officer of the Continental Army Command (CONARC). During 1957-58, working for the Armalite Division of Fairchild, Stoner began development of the AR15 to CONARC specifications. By scaling down the AR10 to .223 caliber, Stoner developed the prototype AR15 in less than nine months and turned it over to the Army for testing. Armalite's lack of a large engineering and test staff caused its prototypes to show poorly in testing in 1958. It was this rifle that later evolved into the M16.

Text & images: Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS


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