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"When WW2 Ended Where Did all the 100s of Millions" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP10 Mar 2020 9:49 p.m. PST

… of Weapons Go?

"World War II ended 74 years ago so what happened to the hundreds of millions of weapons that were made for it?…"


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Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2020 7:45 a.m. PST

Funny how often folk get the swastika the wrong way around. Clearly not a reversed image.

Interesting the fate of much stuff supplied under Lease Lend. It had to be either immediately scrapped or returned to US, as the worry was the continued survival of the US military industrial complex post war.

Skarper11 Mar 2020 7:49 a.m. PST

Mostly sold as scrap metal. Very valuable material and in short supply.

mkenny11 Mar 2020 8:19 a.m. PST

The white mark on the TII is a Sauvastika rather than a Swastika but to all intents its the same symbol whichever way it faces. The Tiger 1 in Berlin also has a Sauwastika painted on it.

donlowry11 Mar 2020 8:47 a.m. PST

I think a good bit of it was sold to smaller countries.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Mar 2020 9:49 a.m. PST

They are still finding stuff to this day. People in Europe get blown up all the time.

Roderick Robertson Fezian11 Mar 2020 10:08 a.m. PST

I knew a guy who was on a ship dumping weapons into the Pacific after V-J Day.

mkenny11 Mar 2020 11:19 a.m. PST

In Normandy just collected and shipped to the Colombelles Steel Works.
Caen, August 1946


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2020 11:25 a.m. PST



Mark 111 Mar 2020 12:04 p.m. PST

Interesting the fate of much stuff supplied under Lease Lend. It had to be either immediately scrapped or returned to US, as the worry was the continued survival of the US military industrial complex post war.

I'm not quite sure about the claim about the military industrial complex …

Did you ever think about why the words "Lend-Lease" were used to describe the US program to provide weapons to allies in WW2? Notice the phrase was not "military aid" or "gifts to good guys"?

The law that FDR managed to get through Congress was NOT a gift giving program. The US LOANED weapons to allies, for their use in a war that was serving US interests. It was different prior to Lend-Lease. In 1938-1940 the British, French, Dutch and even Finnish governments had "purchasing missions" in the US who negotiated deals with US manufacturers to supply arms (subject to US government approval). With Lend-Lease it was the US Government itself who negotiated the deals and paid the manufacturers for the weapons, and then loaned them to the Lend-Lease recipients. The law stipulated that those weapons would be returned to the US after the recipients were done using them. If they were not returned, if they were kept after the US interest in prosecuting the war was over, then the recipients would have to pay for them.

It was kind of simple (well there was a lot of detail, of course, but the principle was simple): We buy all this stuff. You can borrow this stuff if you give it back when you're done with it. If you don't give it back, you have to buy it from us.

Except for one major proviso, since war stuff was often damaged or lost. If you lose it, if it is destroyed or even missing-in-action, or if it has no remaining value to us by the time you are done with it -- if it is so useless that you just throw it away, the "loan" on that item was to be forgiven.

So, at the end of the war, there was a great accounting among recipients of Lend-Lease. They had to return materials, or certify their loss. A lot of stuff got labelled as "not suitable for continued service" and then dumped into the ocean, so that there was a clear certification of loss. Thus the recipients avoided paying for their weapons.

Similar actions took place among US forces, but for entirely different reasons. As forces were reduced in Europe and the Far East, there was a question of what to do with all the materials. The problem was that there was not enough shipping available to ship both the men AND the materials back to the US in any sort of expeditious way. The shipping could have taken place over a longer time, except that there was a lot of pressure to get the men home, and if you don't have the manpower, how are you going to properly depot, secure, and eventually load up and transport the material? So you dump it over the side of the boats to make room for more men, and you scoot them home.

To suggest it was done to protect the military industrial complex seems to ignore that there was a massive reduction in the military industrial complex at that time. In fact it had already started in 1944. Far from protecting it, it seems to me that most policy was focused on converting it to civilian purposes. But that's a somewhat casual observation -- can't claim that I've put any time into a particular study of that process.

(aka: Mk 1)

Holdfast11 Mar 2020 1:54 p.m. PST

An attempt was made to turn tank chassis, minus the turret, into tractors. One of the schemes was the 'ground nuts scheme' in West Africa. Universal carriers were also sold very cheap as prime movers, but their fuel consumption was far in excess of a properly designed tractor.
And of course, everyone kept using all this stuff until it wore out. Halftracks were still in service in BAOR when I get there in 1966, just being replaced by the 432 Mark 1.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2020 1:56 p.m. PST

Very well thought out. I never thought it was unreasonable that the US wanted to protect its arms industry, after proving to be the "arsenal of democracy", but now can see a totally different aspect to it. Thanks indeed!

Legion 411 Mar 2020 2:47 p.m. PST

Sadly not enough of the weapons used in WWII went to museums, etc. And far too much was abandoned, dumped overboard, etc.

And bottom line is it always come down to money

No matter how bad it gets … someone makes a profit.

But by the end of WWII … many nations were bankrupt or totally devastated … or both …

mkenny11 Mar 2020 4:01 p.m. PST

Tractor link

Brian Smaller11 Mar 2020 6:54 p.m. PST

My Dad a Morris Quad that he converted to a flatbed and used it to spray herbicides on gorse and thistles on farms here in NZ.

whitejamest11 Mar 2020 7:02 p.m. PST

If you look at footage of the various sides fighting in Afghanistan from '78 into the early 80s, you can see tons of WW2 era small arms, from various countries. I've seen shots of weapons caches seized from early mujahedin groups, and there are mp40s, sten guns, svt40s, ppsh41s, dp27s and a smorgasbord of bolt action rifles. And there are lots of examples of burned out hulks of t34 tanks in the country.

All that stuff continued to float around and find its way into conflicts all over the world.

Patrick R12 Mar 2020 1:54 a.m. PST

A lot of equipment was picked up by various rebuilding armies after WWII and then passed on third parties and into stocks and reserves.

Very little lasted beyond the early 1950's when domestic armament and sales of a new generation of tanks like T54 and Centurion began and Enfields and Mausers were replaced by SKS, AK and FAL.

Some ended up in private hands, in Europe many companies were able to restart using military vehicles. Over here we had somebody snap up all the US towing trucks and starting a new business.

I also remember that some people still drove WWII vintage jeeps as their regular car, but most were out by late 70s and early 80s.

Of course one of the biggest contributions to the world were Liberty ships that provided post-war companies large modern ships to boost the economy.

Aircraft were mostly obsolete due to the new jets, so WWII propeller driven aircraft lasted a while in secondary roles before they were replaced.

Also a lot of it was simply abandoned and hauled away over the years and broken up.

Recycling metal has always been a fairly profitable business and it was inevitable that besides some reuse most of it would end up being scrapped no matter what.

Skarper12 Mar 2020 2:51 a.m. PST

There was also 'reverse lend lease'. Which somewhat offset the costs of lend-lease.

Legion 412 Mar 2020 6:48 a.m. PST

A lot of equipment was picked up by various rebuilding armies after WWII and then passed on third parties and into stocks and reserves.
Yes a lot ended up in the Arab and Israeli forces. As well as some in thru out Africa …

The French in Indo-China were using a lot of US equipment. Plus even some German and Japanese aircraft, etc. Albeit few …

Recycling metal has always been a fairly profitable business and it was inevitable that besides some reuse most of it would end up being scrapped no matter what.
Again it's all about the money

donlowry12 Mar 2020 8:34 a.m. PST

For smaller items, not weapons, there were lots or "Army Surplus" stores in the U.S. after the war. As a kid in the late '40s I had a pair of combat boots (must have been a really small size, which might be why it was surplus), and a wool-lined leather cap like bomber crews wore, and even an ammunition belt -- the kind with pockets for Garand clips (again, must have been the smallest size). And a canteen (aluminum) with cover, that hooked to the belt.

Those stores carried a lot of stuff useful to campers.

South American countries were using WW2 tanks, planes, etc. for years and years after the war, maybe even still today.

Legion 412 Mar 2020 8:42 a.m. PST

Yes, I thought I read Mexico was still using upgraded M5 Stuarts until fairly recently.

mildbill12 Mar 2020 3:26 p.m. PST

Part of the reason for the great depression is that France collapsed due to war surplus materials hitting the market. After WWII much of the material was destroyed to avoid that
very situation.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2020 10:21 p.m. PST

Quite interesting data… many thanks!.


Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2020 2:18 a.m. PST

The Norwegian army after the war used, Thomsons, MP40s, Stens, K98s, Garands, M1 Carbines etc. My step grandfather served with a k98 while my stepdad used Carbine. Only in 67 with the HK G3 did stuff get standardised.
Also as late as the 90s, after an old guy died, would their wives and family find the basement full of resistance weapons, sten guns and Bren guns being the most common, but also various rifles, grenades etc. Also as late as the 90s police would confiscate ww2 weapons from criminals. I think someone robbed a bank with a sten in the 80s.

ROUWetPatchBehindTheSofa13 Mar 2020 11:51 a.m. PST

I do recall watching a TV documentary, probably in the 90s, about the arms trade. One sequence featured the lockup of a dealer, possibly in Birmingham, which had pallets of WWII and v. early Cold War small arms just sitting around. Goodness only knows who he sold it to, probably film prop Companies….

Legion 413 Mar 2020 2:24 p.m. PST

My older cousin told me after WWII and Korea. You could find piles of bolt action rifles stacked on tables in some department stores, etc. At very cheap prices ! He mentioned SMLE & Jungle Carbine and Mauser 98K, IIRC old fart

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP14 Mar 2020 12:20 p.m. PST



chironex14 Mar 2020 8:33 p.m. PST

This sort of thing could happen:

Others ended up as street decoration or part of a town's war memorial.
And, of course, many hundreds of pieces are laying around, lost and rusting to nothing where they fell.

chironex15 Mar 2020 10:06 p.m. PST

Also, there was the Landseaire yacht concept:
Many an airline or air charter service would use WW2 transports for years after the war; TAA didn't retire the last C-47 almost until the 80s.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2020 2:26 a.m. PST

So what was the basis for Chironex's vehicle?????

The suspension looked so Sherman, Grant like, but not enough wheels. So I figured some obscure Oz design, esp when it turns out Chironex is a Digger. But it isn't a Sentinel…again not enough rollers. A light tank…a Locust???

chironex16 Mar 2020 3:59 a.m. PST

Grant. Loads of these were used for various things after the war, as a base for mining, farming and plant equipment, and those retained by the military were used for new projects; there was one artillery piece made of one of these known as the Yeramba in the 1950s. That was the last time Australia bothered with SP artillery.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2020 4:05 a.m. PST

many thanks.

I guess the suspension is so obviously early Sherman/Grant/Priest I should have worked that out.

It was the reduced number of rollers that foxed me. Wonder why they changed that? great example of recycling though.

chironex16 Mar 2020 4:38 a.m. PST

Just to make it shorter, whatever that was intended to achieve.

AlexanderWood16 Mar 2020 4:57 a.m. PST

It was the boom years for the European scrap metal industry.


deephorse16 Mar 2020 6:43 a.m. PST

It was the boom years for the European scrap metal industry.

Thanks for that link. It's one of the most interesting links I've ever read here.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2020 7:19 a.m. PST

That is a link well worth following. I have just spent nearly an hour very enjoyably looking through it. Goes a long way to answer the question posed in the title of this thread.

There is a helmet puzzle. Someone later said Dutch. My guess was Russian. Certainly those 6 pdrs are not 17pdrs, but you would be hard put to find many errors here.

Even if you only scan the pictures…quite unique

donlowry16 Mar 2020 9:12 a.m. PST

When I was in the USAF stationed in Thailand in '66-'67, our base had some WW2-era planes: B-26 (originally A-26), and A-1D Skyraiders (originally made for the Navy, and probably didn't quite get into WW2, but were used in Korea).

Speaking of Korea, of course M4A3E8 Shermans soldiered on into that war, as did M24 Chafees, and M26 Pershings; and, in the air, F-51 (formerly P-51) Mustangs.

Legion 416 Mar 2020 10:33 a.m. PST

Speaking of Korea, of course M4A3E8 Shermans soldiered on into that war, as did M24 Chafees, and M26 Pershings;
Yes they did, only being about 5 years after WWII. And so did T-34/85s, SU-76s and some BA-20 ACs, IIRC … with the Norks …

A light tank…a Locust???
Maybe but the suspension just don't look quite right ? link

Keith Talent16 Mar 2020 3:37 p.m. PST

In the late 80's I used to drive big old canal barges in France. Most of the hulls were pre-war, as was the occasional engine, but 1 barge I drove had a big old GM twin diesel. It was cheap war surplus and they stuffed it into the barge. It was fabulous. It sounded exactly like a Sherman.
Which is what effectively, it was.
I loved reving that boat.

arealdeadone18 Mar 2020 2:30 a.m. PST

I remember reading a book by renowned aviation author, Bill Gunston, and he mentioned how thousands of new aircraft were blown up on the airfields, often with the only flight time being the delivery flight, and the remains sent for melting down.

It is why even today many types of aircraft barely exist despite being produced in the thousands.

arealdeadone18 Mar 2020 2:36 a.m. PST

Also T-34s and SU-100s are still being used in Yemen.


donlowry18 Mar 2020 10:17 a.m. PST

I have seen old Russian bolt-action rifles advertised as recently as a few years ago. Several years back saw British carbines advertised.

Didn't Oswald (allegedly) use a mail-order Italian rifle to (allegedly) shoot Kennedy?

Legion 418 Mar 2020 11:21 a.m. PST

Carcano Carbine IIRC …

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