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Old Yesterday, 05:53 AM   #1
Tessen
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Default Illegal WW2 modifications

In WW2 what modifications , against regulations did soldiers do to any of their weapons , equipment and uniforms?

Some German troops modifying their new M40 tunics with the olde M36 bottle green to cover up the standard field grey. Some used to swap their MP40's for Russian PPSh-41s but I'm sure there's a lot more.

Cutting down the barrel length of a weapon , a Bren Gun for instance.

Any other cunning , deadly mods that you've read or heard about?
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Old Yesterday, 08:43 AM   #2
Michele
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Udine, Italy
Default Re: Illegal WW2 modifications

Well, I've seen a photo of a British commando with a Sten gun, which had a crude pistol foregrip under the barrel. That had probably been hand-made and added in the field, as the original Mk I Stens which had had such a foregrip were produced in a pretty small batch, and that was probably a Mk II with a custom-made fixture.

In the Italian army, several of the most common hand grenade models had an impact fuse, not a timer. That meant they easily failed to explode when thrown in muddy or snowy weather. OTOH, they could be easily rigged as booby-traps even by the average soldier; just make sure that when something is disturbed (a door is opened, for instance), the readied grenade falls to the ground...

In emergencies, both the USMC and the British recycled MGs, built for use in aircraft mounts, for land use. They laid their hands on downed or unoperable aircraft, salvaged the MGs, modified them a bit, and put them to use. That happened on Crete for the British, I don't remember where in the Pacific for the Marines. The bad thing about those MGs was that they overheated quickly (they had been built for another environment, after all). The good thing was their superior RoF.
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Old Yesterday, 09:05 AM   #3
Anaraxes
 
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Default Re: Illegal WW2 modifications

Many US armored units would acquire (or "acquire") standard infantry field telephones and mount them to the backs of their tanks, often in an ammo container, then wire the phone to the crew intercom inside the tank. Friendly infantry could then just pick up the phone and talk to the tankers to coordinate or point out targets. Some units just trailed a wire behind their tank so that the infantrymen could just grab the wire from cover and plug in the phone they already had.

Many US infantry would improvise a crystal radio out of whatever they could make work (pencil lead, razor blades, etc). Crystal sets were useful because they need no additional power to operate. Troops could then listen to their "foxhole radios" for whatever morale value that would have.
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Old Yesterday, 11:52 AM   #4
sgtcallistan
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
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Default Re: Illegal WW2 modifications

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tessen View Post
In WW2 what modifications , against regulations did soldiers do to any of their weapons , equipment and uniforms?

Some German troops modifying their new M40 tunics with the olde M36 bottle green to cover up the standard field grey. Some used to swap their MP40's for Russian PPSh-41s but I'm sure there's a lot more.

Cutting down the barrel length of a weapon , a Bren Gun for instance.

Any other cunning , deadly mods that you've read or heard about?
The mods I heard of from my father who fought in Italy in WWII were for stealth:
a piece of burnt cork used to produce 'lampblack' that was put on your hands and face in a downward-smudging movement to 'darken the shiny bits',
no helmet, but a 'cap-comforter',
modified winter greatcoats with camouflage in the form of mud as well as fresh twigs and leaves (my father once crouched down 'sitting on his heels' while a German patrol passed not five feet from him with electric torches, this in the open at night),
a camouflage poncho made from German 'shelter halves'
- and 'creeper boots' with tyre-tread rubber added to the soles.
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Old Yesterday, 03:53 PM   #5
The Colonel
 
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Default Re: Illegal WW2 modifications

I recall that a number of Churchill tanks in North Africa found themselves fitted with 75mm Sherman guns a long time before any such modification was ever authorised. In the same vein the South Africans were (in)famous for up-arming their decidedly mediocre Marmon-Herrington armoured cars with ... pretty much anything they could find, usually captured Italian light guns bolted onto the cut-down remains of the turret or just jury mounted in place of the turret.
The North African desert was a place of terrible miscegenation amongst vehicles and all manner of things were bolted in places the designers never intended them...
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Old Yesterday, 03:54 PM   #6
Michele
 
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Default Re: Illegal WW2 modifications

Quote:
Originally Posted by sgtcallistan View Post
a camouflage poncho made from German 'shelter halves'
Those were used by the Germans in Italy, but were originally Italian materials. Camo tent parts made for the Italian army were used both as improvised ponchos by them, and as material for standard issue tunics for units serving or raised in Italy (the 29. Waffen SS Div., for instance).
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Old Today, 03:30 AM   #7
Michele
 
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Default Re: Illegal WW2 modifications

A common modification to standard-issue equipment was, in a specific way, actually "illegal" (rather than just contrary to regulations). It was transforming a bajonet by giving its back edge some teeth.

This was largely not done to make it a more lethal weapon; it was, rather, to make it useful as a saw for wood (also taking into account that actually bajonet charges were pretty unlikely). However, the customary reading of a clause in the Hague IV 1907 Convention was that "serrated blades" were an example of weapons causing "superfluous injury" - and therefore banned.

Thus, a soldier taken prisoner and having such a bajonet might be accused of a crime of war (which would in all likelihood mean death). Therefore, in most armies sergeants tried to prevent their soldiers from modifying their largely useless bajonets in this way.

Note that flamethrowers were not considered in violation of that clause.
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Old Today, 05:40 AM   #8
smurf
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Default Re: Illegal WW2 modifications

Not quite illegal

Many German troops, especially the Fallschirmjäger, would order field dress a few sizes bigger to get a 'baggy' look. It some sort of fashion to have a uniform larger than necessary but still functional.
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Old Today, 05:54 AM   #9
Tessen
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Default Re: Illegal WW2 modifications

I hear about a trooper 101st carrying a cowboy pistol and another carrying a sword.

What about carrying knuckle dusters or trench clubs?
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Old Today, 06:02 AM   #10
ericthered
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Default Re: Illegal WW2 modifications

Quote:
Originally Posted by smurf View Post
Not quite illegal

Many German troops, especially the Fallschirmjäger, would order field dress a few sizes bigger to get a 'baggy' look. It some sort of fashion to have a uniform larger than necessary but still functional.
Coats at least were probably MORE functional when issued too large.
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