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Technology in U.S. Military History – 2

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This post continues on the theme introduced in post 1 here.

The growth in technological firepower was certainly evident in the Korean War. Roy Appleton in his fascinating work, East of Chosin (see previous post here) brings to life the murderous effect of mobile artillery including the M19 full-track (dual-40) below as used by trained American soldiers in their desperate defense of positions east of the Chosin Reservoir in 1950.

M-19 full-track (dual 40)

M-19 full-track (dual 40)

The two 40-mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns which were mounted on revolving turret wreaked havoc among attacking Chinese soldiers as long as ammunition held out as did quad-50s.

Chinese Soldiers - Korean War Casualites

Chinese soldiers in Korea.

 

That said, the effects of the extreme cold and lack of fuel also showed the weapon’s vulnerability as a mobile gun platform. Tanks were used by the American’s as well although Appleman covers well their limitations on icy terrain in Korea. The American’s use of 75-mm recoilless rifle (below) was also deadly, especially when in the hands of trained gunners. Likewise, the use by Chinese soldiers of American-made Thompson submachine guns showed the destructive power of automatic small arms against U.S. forces.

75-mm. Recoilless Rifle in Action

75-mm. Recoilless Rifle in Action

More in part 3.

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East of Chosin

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This week I continue reading as a part of my class on Studies in U.S. Military History East of Chosin: Entrapment and Breakout in Korea, 1950 by Roy E. Appleman. In chronicles in great detail a little remembered event in the bone chilling winter of 1950 as a team of American infantry 3000 strong are caught by a surprise massing of Chinese and attacked in their position east of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. Only 385 survived.

The contrast between my comfortable holiday weekend in a mid-summer American suburb and the desperate events that took place east of Chosin that winter couldn’t be greater.

Entrapment and Breakout in Korea, 1950 (Texas a & M University Military History Series)

  • Author: Roy E. Appleman
  • ISBN-10: 0-89096-465-3
  • Published on: 1991-03
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 416 pages

A tip of my hat to Mr. Appleman (1904 – 1992) (see biography here and photo below) for an excellent piece of military history. His research and use of first person accounts is exemplary. The book is nothing short of spellbounding.

Roy E. Appleman

Roy E. Appleman (1904 – 1992)
Photo Credit: National Park Service

The 1st Marine Division fought on the west side of the Chosin Reservoir in equally desperate battle. I discovered a website that collects information about the conflicts that took place near the reservoir here. Available on the site is an essay by Patrick C. Roe (Major, USMC, Ret) about the destruction of the 31st Infantry east of Chosin. There is also a picture gallery.