The M2 Carbine,
In 1944 US Army Ordnance demanded an improved version of the standard M1 Carbine. The M1 Carbine was a semi-automatic firearm chambered for .30 caliber carbine, not as powerful as a rifle, but more powerful and accurate than a pistol. The weapon was often issued to light troops such as paratroopers, support troops, and commando’s, but saw much in the way of frontline service as well.
In 1944 the M2 Carbine was introduced, a much improved version of the M1 carbine. Originally the M1 was supposed to be a fully automatic weapon but remained a semi auto firearm. The M2 was upgraded to full auto, with a selector switch that toggled between full auto and semi-auto. With the increased firepower, designers also increased its magazine size from 15 rounds to 30 rounds. Finally the M2 was designed with a bayonet mount, a feature which the earlier M1 lacked. Kits were also produced which could convert older M1’s into M2 Carbines.
The M2 Carbine was only pressed into service in the waning months of World War II. Few would see combat in the war. However, the M2 would come of its own in the early 1950’s with the Korean War. The fully automatic feature with the 30 round magazine was especially valuable in Korea as the North Koreans and Chinese tended to use “human wave” tactics, a strategy in which they would attempt to overwhelm UN lines through superior numbers. Often the M1 Garand, which only had an eight round internal box magazine, was found wanting when facing a human wave assault consisting of thousands of Chinese soldiers. By the last year of the war the M2 Carbine was almost exclusively issued to American soldiers for combat in Korea.
After the Korean War many more carbines were manufactured and sold to US Allies as a part of the larger Cold War, especially to the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Today they can still be found among military, police, and guerrilla units around the world. Around 600,000 were produced.
Human distal femur shot with a 510-grain lead Minié ball fired from a .58 caliber Springfield Model 1862 rifle.
The minie ball, originally designed by Captain Claude-Etienne Minie of France and improved on by manufacturers in the United States, changed warfare. Since the minie ball was smaller than the diameter of the barrel, it could be loaded quickly by dropping the bullet down the barrel.These bullets could travel a half-mile or more, and the average soldier could hit a target at 300 yards.
Neither side anticipated the impact that the minie ball would have on the battlefield. The minie-ball forced commanders to fight defensive battles rather than traditional frontal assaults. Since the bullet was made from soft lead, when it entered the body and struck a bone, it would flatten out and shatter the bone thus inflicting more damage. There are even reports from Gettysburg of trees dying from lead poisoning from being shot so many times.
Source: Leg bone from the Ragsdale Gunshot Wound Study, 1984. National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, D.C. From exhibition “Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body” U.S. National Library of Medicine, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20894 Source: http://www.factasy.com/civil_war/forum/2008/07/11/lead_minie_ball