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Trip to SA Museum and an interesting M1 Garand field mod


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#1 tsellati

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 07:26 AM

My daughter Becky and I went to the Springfield Armory Museum yesterday and I thought I would share some pictures.

I was particularly interested in the displays focusing on the M1 Garand rifle.

What I found particularly fascinating was an M1 Garand rifle with the "storied" field modification that made it a select fire weapon. I have read about this modification, IIRC in Ambrose's "Band of Brothers", but could not envision exactly what it looked like. Well, despite the somewhat blurry images (challenging lighting conditions and shooting through glass), here are some photos.

Does anyone know of the existence of one of these modified rifles in someone's collection? Obviously, it would be classified as an NFA weapon, I think. It would be neat to hear from someone that has one and could perhaps share better pictures than the ones I have. I also would love to hear how the rifle functions.

Tim

Edited by craig_pickrall, 17 December 2012 - 02:56 PM.


#2 Gil Sanow

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 09:54 AM

If I remember correctly, the field modification to make the Garand full auto was accomplished by filing off the safety sear. There was no exterior lever, rod, etc. There was no way to fire singly either, unless you were really quick with the trigger.

I am sure that any such examples which were returned to the armories for postwar rebuild would have had the modified parts removed -- and I suspect the burnt out barrels too.

How common the modification was we will ever know. I wonder if they kept records when rebuilds were done. I would also be the best source for examples would have been in the scrap parts bin -- probably long since recycled.

G

#3 Linedoggie

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 06:43 PM

That aint no field mod, looks to be the T20 Prototype

Connector/selector just like on the M14, what looks to be a Paddle mag release on the bottom of the stock.

#4 Linedoggie

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 06:45 PM

And Bingo, it's the T20

http://www.nps.gov/s...-variations.htm

#5 SGM (ret.)

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 08:45 PM

Here's an illustration from the published Technical Bulletin (TB) 9X-115, which was to be issued with the rifle when it was fielded for the invasion of Japan. IIRC, Springfield already had an order to manufacture thousands of these rifles in the spring of '45, but the war ended before more than a handful were actually produced.

The TB was based on the Infantry Board's testing. Ultimately, the T20 led to the development of the M14 (but only after a long and difficult struggle with ammunition and competion from the FN FAL and Eugene Stoner's proto-AR design).

I find it interesting that the T20 was to be fielded in '45 but that the M14 wasn't produced until 1959. It's a very interesting story.

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#6 tsellati

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 05:18 AM

That aint no field mod, looks to be the T20 Prototype

Connector/selector just like on the M14, what looks to be a Paddle mag release on the bottom of the stock.


Ah, yes you are correct. Reading the description on the little placard and what is listed on the website "A modified M1 rifle developed by John Garand in 1944-45. The T20 features selective semiautomatic or full automatic fire capabilities and feeds from a detachable twenty round magazine." I mistook this switch for the field modifications discussed in books and on the internet forums.

So, I wonder which came first, the idea for the T20 prototype or the field expedient mod (filing off the safety sear). Perhaps word of the field mod fueled John Garand's creative juices or word of his T-20 prototype fueled some battlefield ingenuity.

Either way its a fascinating piece of craftsmanship.

Tim

Edited by tsellati, 12 October 2009 - 05:23 AM.


#7 bob lamoreaux

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 11:18 AM

Does anyone know of the existence of one of these modified rifles in someone's collection?
Tim

I am not sure, but Winchester may have had a similar piece in its collection, subsequently donated to the Buffalo Bill Cody Museum in Wyoming. (Note: one of Collector Grade Publications titled "U.S. Rifle M14 -- From John Garand to the M21" might have more detailed info on this weapon.) Since the Museum sold a number of modern military arms at auction in the '70s (I believe), a similar model may have been sold and in the hands of a private collector. One of the successful bidders for numerous "Class III" pieces was R.J. Perry (or Parry), and Illinois machine gun dealer. He had a catalog, offering a number of the Museum pieces that he bought, but I have been unsuccessful in finding a copy. Additionally, the former curator (Houze, can't remember his first name) may have done book or manuscript on the pieces sold at that auction. This "publication" has escaped my greedy hands (and would probably be too pricey for me, anyway!)

Hope this helps. And IF anyone has a copy of the Perry/Parry catalog I mentioned, PLEASE contact me! ;)

#8 J_Andrews

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 11:31 AM

That would be BOB Perry and HERB Houze. Herb is retired but still lives in/near Cody.

#9 gpw_42

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 11:37 AM

What was the benefit/reason for fielding this new rifle (T20) when the BAR was already widely fielded? I'm clearly ignorant on this phase of small arms development!

Steve

#10 Blake_E

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 09:29 PM

Nice posting, great pics. Interesting, i wondered myself about that mod, i wonder how common it was. T20 huh? Interesting, i had never heard of one until now

#11 SGM (ret.)

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 04:55 AM

What was the benefit/reason for fielding this new rifle (T20) when the BAR was already widely fielded? I'm clearly ignorant on this phase of small arms development!

Steve


In short: 20-round box magazine (T-20) vice an 8-round clip (M1) and 11 lbs and change (T-20) vice nearly 20 lbs (BAR). The full-auto feature was controversial and caused a lot of problems when trying to develope the rifle. It was found to be too light to fire accurately on full auto even with the recoil-break / climb compensator. However, there were several "product improvements" to the M1 Garand which had been deferred in order to not disrupt production. (The roller bolt was a big one as was a box magazine, but there were others.) So, the decision was made to incorporate all of the recommended changes into a new design and field it for the anticipated invasion of Japan.

The T-20 was never, however, envisioned as a replacement for the BAR. It was intended as a "product improved" replacement / supplement for the M1 Garand. The full-auto feature was intended only for occasional use when an extra volumn of fire was needed. It wasn't supposed to be a new squad automatic weapon.

In any event, the invasion never took place, and the new rifle was shelved with only a couple hundred initial production rifles made. With millions of M1's already on-hand and the war over, there was no need for a new rifle. The continued manufacture of M1's during the '50's had more to do with the "military-industrial complex" spreading its footprint around the country to limit damage in the event of a nuclear war than any real need for new rifles.

The really interesting part of the story, IMO, is the development of the M14 which took almost 14 years. Very few people are aware anymore that the US military came exceedingly close to adopting the FN/FAL. (So close, in fact, that the Infantry School produced a Field Manual for that rifle too.) The proto-Stoner AR was also a contender, but really suffered from too many early teething problems at that time ('50's). In the end, the M14, really just the ultimate "product improvement" of the M1, was clearly the better rifle, but it was too late. Defense Secretary McNamera had the a** at Springfield Arms over the whole waste of time and money in fielding the new rifle (the M14). He's the one who pushed the M16 on to the military and canned the M14 (and closed Springfield Armory, too, BTW).

At any rate, there's more to the story than meets the eye.

Mike

#12 George

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 05:00 AM

Thank you for posting the pictures. I got to visit the museum in 1998. I took a German friend that traveled here to the States. We made special arrangements and ask to see the Prussian Needle Guns at the Museum. The museum staff organized a special viewing the their Needle Guns in the upper floor storage area.


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