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How did anybody (British, American, Germans) paratroopers

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by Riter, Feb 16, 2020.

  1. Riter

    Riter Active Member

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    Jump with their sniper rifles? I think the German fallschirmjagers at Crete had them in those independently packed weapons containers, but what about the British and Americans? Optical devices are likely to get knocked about if the paratrooper jumped with them? I read one British memoir where the trooper didn't get his until a month or so after D-Day.
     
  2. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    All weapon need to be zeroed to be effective, not just sniper rifles. Iron sights as well as optical ones can be knocked out of line with a violent impact. it takes a little range time to check zero under ideal circumstances. I recall from a dim past that part of the preparation for fighting patrols was to zero weapons before the patrol.

    Military equipment is generally designed to be robust. Fragile things like optical sights for artillery (and sniper scopes?) have robust padded carrying cases. My guess is that optical sights would be dropped in a carrying case that protected the optics, either carried by a paratrooper or in weapons container.

    How was zeroing carried out in the field?
     
  3. Riter

    Riter Active Member

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    OK, found out they put it in the jump case, slung it over the right shoulder such that it was parallel to the body. More likely than not it was butt down, muzzle up. If they sulng the case over their chest, they can't exit the door.
     
  4. Class of '42

    Class of '42 Active Member

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    I would assume trying to zero in your sights after you hit the ground, would be fatal, as in giving your position away...but you know what they said about jumping out of a perfectly good airplane...aim high!
     
  5. Riter

    Riter Active Member

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    I'm not asking about sighting in rifles. I was asking how did they protect their scoped rifles during a jump? I know the Germans had huge weapons canisters they had to recover. I don't know what the Brits did. I now know our (American) jumped with their rifles in padded cases.
     
  6. harolds

    harolds Member

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    German scopes were quick-detachable and had their own case. It could be packed in the weapons container in a special padded "whatever".. Having said that, I have to wonder, during the early part of the war, when the Germans were still dropping their Fallschirmjager, did those troops even have snipers? German sniping had its WW2 origins in the SS under the patronage of Himmler. The Heer didn't get into sniping until after experience in the USSR showed them the hard way that they needed their own snipers. However, these troops were Luftwaffe and I can't think of any reference to snipers during the first half of the war. Same goes for the American paratroops.
     
  7. Riter

    Riter Active Member

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    There were German snipers with scoped rifles in Crete. The Germans had huge weapons containers though and yes, they could have detached the scope for the drop. The Redfield Jr. scope mount system used on the Springfield 03A4 could be detached, but as mentioned, you'd have to zero it to make sure it didn't shift.
     
  8. harolds

    harolds Member

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    This thread got me to look through my books on sniping. One had a picture of a German para carrying a K98 sniping rifle in Crete. Therefore, they were at least issued to them. I'm not sure if they Fallschirmjager actually had a sniping program or they were more like "dedicated marksmen" and not true snipers. So, I suspect that these weapons and scopes were in the weapons containers in specially padded surroundings.

    Were the American paratroops issued the A4 Springfield? As you noted, Americans jumped with their weapons. The Weaver scope could really have gotten banged up in a hard landing.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2020
  9. Riter

    Riter Active Member

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    I have accounts of American paratroopers with the 03A4 Springfield. I know the Americans had a heavy padded case and they would have had to pack them in them to jump with. Not ideal but the American Army of WW II didn't prioritize sniping like the Germans, British and Russians did.

    Turning to the Luftwaffe, they did have sniper training for their fallschirmjagers. Go to YouTube and you'll see the 30 or so minute instructional film on sniper training. It's not Heer but Luftwaffe.
     
  10. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ...by ''in the field'' you mean deployed on a mission/combat? I don't think they would do it then...?.I was never in combat, but we zeroed our weapons before exercises/etc...I would think they zeroed the weapons before dropping into the combat zone/forward deployed/etc...if I recall, we zeroed at a very ''close'' range....it was not 300 yards...it was much closer...like 50...? I'll have to look that up...it wasn't far though
    ...maybe the paras were different?
    ..zero or test before a patrol??
     
  11. Riter

    Riter Active Member

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    Generally rifle were zeroed in before combat. I did read of one American truck mechanic who was pressed into service as a rifleman during the Battle of the Bulge. During a lull in the firefight, he asked someone to spot for him while he sighted in the rifle. This impressed his fellow soldiers and later he was called upon to shoot a German officer. He carefully adjusted his sights and did. Days later he learned he had shot a chaplain and the Germans were hopping mad.

    BTW, sometimes ranges were set up by Americans somewhere near the front for soldiers to sight in their rifles. I know one was in Belgium right before the Battle of the Bulge and another at Anzio. Other times soldiers tried the best they could but the range (distance was limited).
     
  12. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    I was taught that part of the procedure for carrying out a fighting patrol was to zero weapons. In positional warfare it should be possible to set up a range behind the lines.
     
  13. Riter

    Riter Active Member

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    That is neither disputed nor at issue. How did paratroopers jump with scoped rifles? Any insights on how the Brit Paras did this? The only British airborne memoir I read mentioned he landed in Normandy (via glider) and didn't get his scoped rifle until a couple of weeks later.
     
  14. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    yes, behind the lines.....not every patrol though...and patrol units would not be behind the lines--they would usually be on the front, generally speaking--yes?
    ..in all my readings of WW2, Korea, and Vietnam, I've never even read much about zeroing weapons--especially for patrols/etc
    ..where were you taught that? I was never taught that in the USMC...we zeroed long before being deployed
     
  15. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    RMA Sandhurst 1979. Of course we were taught to zero weapons for the individual, but also that rough handling on a battlefield can knock the sight alignment out of the zeroed position. We were also taught to aim off, which is the default if the sights are out of alignment. Given the chance rezero
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2020
  16. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ty,,,,yes, I thought you had mentioned your service before
    ....if would be very surprising to me if combat troops zeroed their weapons ''a lot''/before a patrol/etc .....I've never read anything about it .....also, couldn't barrels burn out with too much sustained fire?-causing inaccuracy?
     
  17. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Zeroing the M1 Garand: Once a rifle's zero is established by a soldier, they would then turn the sight all the way to the left(?) and down, counting the clicks as they did so. They would then turn them back to the right and up the same number of clicks and confirm the zero. After that, if the soldier suspected that his zero was compromised or just wanted to check and make sure, then all he had to do was turn the rear sight all the way left and down. Then he would come back the required number of clicks that was established on the range and bingo, he had his rifle sighted in! Scopes, being much more fragile than iron sights would need to actually be zeroed. Perhaps, the paratroops didn't have snipers. The snipers being in the follow-up glider troops coming in after the paras secured the landing zone.
     
  18. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Which brings us to the pictures of German troops with the paratroop helmet carrying sniper rifles on Crete. Were they paratroops or glider troops?
     
  19. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Very clever design feature. I don't recall being taught a similar drill. This was more like my memory.
    03. Zeroing an Enfield (Updated 13/02/2018) - Lee Enfield Rifle Association

    Aha while searching for "how toi zero a Bren Gun" I found a reference to Zeroing in battle in
    Canadians Under Fire: Infantry Effectiveness in the Second World War By Robert Engen. He quotes Major A F Hamilton of the Stormont Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders (3 Canadian Div) as saying that "Even in the battle area zeroing was carried on in groups of two or three men. Made all the difference to the mans confidence in the weapon to know it was zeroed."
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2020
  20. Riter

    Riter Active Member

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    Sustained full automatic fire will burn out a barrel but a few sighting shots won't.
     

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