Task and Purpose, Christian Beekman
Security, North America
And super strange.
From the legendary M1 Garand to today’s M4 and M16 rifles, standard-issue infantry rifles have been the ubiquitous icons of the troops who carried them. But throughout America’s wars, some decidedly non-standard small arms have been put into service when a particular situation or circumstance calls for a unique weapon.
1. Stinger Machine Gun
This World War II weapon originated not from American arms designers or military ordnance boards, but from the creative minds of a few Marines from the 5th Marine Division. Using salvaged versions the aircraft mounted version of the Browning M1919 machine gun called the ANM2 (pictured above), the Stinger was constructed using an M1 carbine stock, a simple trigger, a Browning automatic rifle bipod, and an improvised 100-round box magazine. Because it was based off the ANM2, the Stinger’s rate of fire was over 1200 rounds per minute, three times that of the normal M1919. It was truly devastating firepower in a infantry-portable package. One Marine, Cpl. Tony Stein, would demonstrate the Stinger’s effectiveness during the Iwo Jima landings on Feb. 19, 1945.
During the initial amphibious assault, Stein single handedly used his Stinger to suppress and assault multiple enemy pillboxes. Shedding his boots and helmet to move faster, Stein made eight trips back and forth across the beach, retrieving more ammunition and evacuating the wounded. For his actions with the Stinger, Stein was award the Medal of Honor, which he received posthumously after being killed in action on Mar. 1.
The Stinger was a rare weapon; only six were ever made, and no surviving examples exist today. But is was a testament to the ingenuity of crafty and creative enlisted troops who wanted to get new capabilities out of their small arms. The Stinger also foreshadowed the concept of the medium or general purpose machine gun, exemplified today in weapons like the 7.62x51mm M240 machine gun.
2. M3 Carbine