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Thread: USCG in WWII

  1. #1
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    USCG in WWII

    I recently saw a painting depicting USCG sailors extracting Marines during the 2nd Battle of Matanikau. In the painting, there are two Coasties in open MG turrets on a small craft, laying down covering fire. The MGs appear to be Lewis guns in the painting.

    Did the USCG use Lewis guns? Were they common? What were they chambered for? How often were Coasties used in combat in WWII?
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    When the nation is at war, the Coast Guard becomes part of the Navy. In WWII, Coasties served in positions from anti-submarine patrol along the US coast to running landing craft onto Normandy during D-Day, and everything in between.

    Pretty much wherever our military goes, so does the Coast Guard.

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    No doubt the Coast Guard had to make do with hand-me-downs from WW I. Wiki says:

    "American forces used the Lewis gun (in .30-06 calibre) throughout World War II; The United States Navy used Lewis guns on armed merchant ships, small auxiliary ships, landing craft, submarines, and for ships' landing forces, and the United States Coast Guard also used the Lewis on their vessels."
    I have a few facts and a lot of opinions.

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    Lots of Coasties worked landing craft early in WW II in the Pacific.

    They were at Guadalcanal, Tulagi and Florida and on down the Solomons.

    I believe the battle you are speaking of was on Guadalcanal?

    There are a couple of paintings from that time period that show Coasties working LCVPs and Higgins Boats.

    I can't remember what, but SOMETHING in the coding of the letters and numbers on the small boats tells that they are operated by the Coast Guard. Remember that the Coast Guard has a LOT more experience in small boats in big water than the Navy does.

    Buckshot

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    I do not believe the Lewis Machine gun was a hand-me down from WWI. The Lewis gun was a very good MG in its day and had some qualities that the 1919 Browning did not. It was much more portable than the water cooled Browning and the ammunition was much more protected than the air cooled Browning. Both of these qualities would be desirable for Coastal Patrol Boats. More than one Coastie dismounted a disabled landing craft with his trusted Lewis gun and fought along side the infantry until he could return to his ship. You can not do that with a water cooled Browning nor with the Ma Duce of my day. The Coast Guard sailors are some of the unsung heros of WWII and of Viet Nam.

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    lewis

    the lewis was used by british and belguim as well as russia.303/7.65/7.62.the us finally took them in to the military.savage made many in WW1.they were used in the navy in china.and many were used in the phillipeans at battan?]
    I liked the lewis.it was not that heavy and had 47 or 97 rd drums.the japs also were licensed to make them.

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    Not mentioned here yet, bt I'm pretty certain you knew that the Lewis gun served as an aerial machie gun also.

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    Flavet,

    When you speak of the Lewis gun being an aerial gun, are you speaking of WW I or WW II?

    I can't come up with an aerial use of the Lewis in the mainstream of WW II aircraft. It MAY have been used early on interwar holdover aircraft, but I can't place it even then.

    How about some clarification?

    Buckshot

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    I know that the Lewis was an auxiliary weapon on the British S.E. 5, but apparently it was rather unsuitable for for fuselage mounting due to the fact that its mechanism could not me timed to shoot through the propeller like the Spandau MGs.

    I seem to recall that there were some torpedo bombers that used the Lewis as a rear-mount weapon that the radioman manned to keep enemy planes off the six.
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    Shiek Yerbouti,

    Don't remember any WW II torpedo bombers that used the Lewis Gun.

    I am fairly sure that the Avenger used .30 Browning Air Cooled for that, can't remember what the earlier torpedo/level bomber was, but think it had a Browning as a flex also.

    Buckshot

  11. #11
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    I may be thinking of Brit torpedo bombers. I think the Japs copied the design too.
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    Japanese not only used a copy of the Lewis in .303 as an aerial machinegun, they duplicated the ammunition and called it 7.7mm same caliber designation as the 7.7mm Arisaka bolt action rifle cartridge, but totally different, not interchangeable cartridges. A lot of obsolete weapons were used in WWII out of reserve stock when they were not standard issue and officially no longer in service.
    Cogito me cogitare; ergo, cogito me esse.

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    Among the more famous Coast Guardsmen of WWII was actor Eddie Albert of "Green Acres" fame.

    He was decorated for heroic action in the Pacific while landing Marines.

    Any Lewis guns used in WWII were guns made in WWI.
    The last Lewis guns made were in Japan starting in 1929, and a few in Norway before WWII.

    The British BSA made Lewis guns during WWI, Savage made them for the Brits in WWI and made the 30-06 for the Marines in 1917.
    The American Army bought a lot of 30-06 Lewis guns for the Air Corps.

    The Lewis gun was on-hand by units of the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard early in the war, but these were replaced by air cooled Brownings as soon as production allowed.

    The Lewis was not used as an aircraft gun in WWII except on very early war British and American obsolete aircraft for use by the rear gunner and on a "half too" basis.
    The Brits issued the WWI Lewis gun to Norwegian fishing boats making runs to Norway for British secret operations. The Lewis was effective on German aircraft strafing the boats.
    The guns were usually concealed in 55 gallon drums.
    The lid could be quickly pulled off, the guns slide up butt first and tilted upward to fire.

  14. #14
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    dfariswheel, thanks for that good info. I have always had a soft spot for Lewis guns, as they are my second favorite mg, the Maxim being my favorite. It's a lot easier to lug a Lewis around than it is a Maxim.
    "There is no lie too grotesque, too stupid, or too base for leftist extremists to retell." -- Standing Wolf

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