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.