Weapons of the 801st Engineer Aviation Battalion in World War II

The men of the 801st were not just construction specialists, they were also infantrymen trained to use a variety of weapons.


The M-1 "Garand"

The standard U.S. Army rile from 1936 until 1957.

It was semiautomatic, requiring a trigger pull to fire a round but automatically chambering the next. This greatly increased the rate of fire over bolt-action rifles and made it easier to reacquire a target after each round.

The 801st carried 603 M-1 Garands in their Table of Organization.

Operation:   Semiautomatic, Gas Operated
Caliber:   .30
Muzzle Velocity:   2800 feet per second
Capacity:   8-round clip
Weight:   9.5 lbs..
Length:   43.6 in.
Effective Range:   440 yards
Ammunition:   .30-06 Cartridge, Ball, caliber 30, M2, 150 gr, 50 gr charge
Magazine:   8 round internal box, clip loaded, clip ejected after last round fired
Total production:   Approx. 4,040,000

The M-1 Carbine

Half the weight of the Garand and with a less powerful cartridge, the M-1 Carbine was intended for support troops and others not primarily involved in infantry combat. It was more effective than hand guns such as the M1911A1 pistol, but did not interfere as much with their primary duties as the M-1 Garand.

The 801st carried 156 M-1 Carbines in their Table of Organization.

 

Operation:   Semiautomatic
Caliber:   .30
Muzzle Velocity:   1990 feet per second
Capacity:   8-round clip
Weight:   5 lb 7 oz lbs..
Length:   35.65 in.
Effective Range:   300 yards

Ammunition:
  108 gr bullet, 13 gr charge,
US Service M1
Magazine:   15 or 30 round detachable box

Submachine gun Caliber .45, M3/M3A1
"Grease gun"

The .45 caliber M3/M3A1 were far easier to manufacture than the better-known Thompson. The low cyclical rate of fire also made the gun easier to control, and it was more reliable to operate under adverse conditions.

The 801st was allotted 27 of these weapons.

Operation:   Fully Automatic, Blowback
Caliber:   .45
Muzzle Velocity:   920 feet per second
Capacity:   8-round clip
Weight:   5 lb 7 oz lbs..
Length:   35.65 in.
Effective Range:   55 yards
Ammunition:   .45 ACP, 230 gr bullet, 5 gr charge
Magazine:   30-round detachable box

M1911A1 .45 Caliber Pistol

The .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol M1911A1 is a magazine-fed semiautomatic weapon. It fires one round each time the trigger is squeezed, once the hammer is cocked by action of the slide or thumb.

The three field officers of the 801st each had one of these weapons.
 

Operation:   Semiautomatic
Caliber:   .45
Muzzle Velocity:   830 feet per second
Capacity:   7 rounds
Weight:   2.5 pounds (empty)
3.0 pounds (loaded)
Length:   8.625 inches (overall)
5.03 inches (barrel)
Effective Range:   82 feet
Ammunition:   bullet wt 230 gr, charge 5 gr

M2 60 mm mortar

The 60 mm mortar provided close support artillery for the battalion. It was crewed by two men, with ammunition being carried by supporting troops.

The 801st had eight of these weapons.

Weight:   42 lbs assembled; barrel 12.8 lbs; bipod 16.4 lbs; base plate 12.8 lbs.
Muzzle Velocity:   535 feet per second (HE)
439 feet per second (WP)
Length:   28.6 in
Effective Range:   1000 yards
Ammunition:
M49A2 HE
(High Explosive)
  Weight 3.07 lbs
range max 2,000 yds
effective range up to about 1,000 yds due to dispersion, produces over 200 fragments, with an effective bursting radius of 17 yards.
M302 WP (White Phosphorus)   Weight 4.02 lbs
both a smoke producer and a casualty-inducing weapon.
M83
illuminating round
 

Weight 3.7 lbs.
length 14.28 in.
range max 1,000 yds.
height about 800 feet
illuminate burned about 25 seconds, producing 110,000 candlepower and illuminating an area of about 100 yards diameter



Machine gun, .50 caliber

The 801st had 22 of these weapons.

Operation:   Selective Fire; Semiautomatic or Fully Automatic, recoil operated, air cooled
Caliber:   .50
Muzzle Velocity:   2930 feet per second
Capacity:   110-round metallic link belt
Weight:   128 lbs; barrel 81 lbs, tripod 44 lbs
Length:   65.1 in. barrel 45 in
Effective Range:   2500 yds
Ammunition:   710 gr, charge 235 gr
Rate of fire:   400 to 550 rounds per minute

 


M16 Multigun Carriage

The M16 Multigun Carriage was a variation of the M3 Halftrack fitted with a rotating quad mount for four .50 Caliber machine guns. These were intended as antiaircraft weapons, but also proved effective against light enemy vehicles or defensive positions such as caves. They were also major hits with the battalion's War Bond shows in 1945.

The 801st had four of these weapons.

 

Crew:   5: commander, driver, gunner and two canoneers, or ammunition loaders
Armament:   four .50 caliber machine guns (see above for specs.); 5,000 rounds ammunition
Maximum speed:   45 mph
Armor:   1/2" upper hull front
.24" remaining hull
.25" floor
Weight:   19,800 pounds
Length:   21' 4"
Width:   7' 1"
Height:   7' 8" not including guns
Ground clearance:   11.2"
Engine:   White 160 AX or
Red Diamond 6 cyl.
Total production:   Approx. 41,000