• I’m not sure that things would go well today in this area. The whole war would still be planned on being over before cold weather set in. Of course cold weather would set in extra early. War seem to always be fought only when there are abnormal extremes in the weather.

      Taking the US as an example, the warm winter gear would be somewhere in Florida. In the big rush to ship by airplane, but the guy shipping it would mistakenly mark to ship it by boat and then by ox cart to the troops. During the time the they looking for oxen and cart, the gear will get lost in some warehouse.

      The GI’s families will complain to the congressman and there will be a hearing about it that will end in the DOD deciding to design and make all new cold weather gear. And 4 times more than will ever be needed.

      The 1st of the new gear will get to the troops during the summer when the war ends and be left there. The next war will be tropics and when the DOD find all it’s clothing warehouses full of winter gear it will all be sold to the surplus market to make room for the needed tropical that will be ready when the war is over.

        • A novel I read once, The Black Ship, about a USN PT squadron in England engaged in the “Channel War” had one chapter in which their supplies arrived from the States. They got things like tropical camouflage netting, insect repellent, tropical fatigues, a diesel generator and even a barber chair, all highly suitable for New Caledonia.

          One officer said, “You do realize that even now, a squadron somewhere in the Southwest Pacific is opening crates full of sheepskin coats and antifreeze.”

          One of my uncles commanded a PT in England in ’43 and ’44. He stated that things like that happened more often than you might think, because everyone in supply Stateside automatically assumed that all PT squadrons were in the PTO. In fact, his was one of four in England and there were six more in the Med.

          They say that amateurs study strategy and professionals study logistics. My uncles who served in WW2 (all eight of them) were of the unanimous opinion that things would work a lot better if the people responsible for logistics studied it once in a while.



          • So it was logistics to blame, but it was the logic behind it. WWI and WWII and even into Korea we relied on sheer production capability to supply our troops. We just made a crap ton of stuff, and then when there was a shortage we ujust increased production until we had a metric crap ton of stuff. In a nut shell, we just used sheer muscle of our production to produce enough to flood the theater with supplies. It worked ok, I mean heck, we only produced 50k Sherman tanks….. But it didnt really take into account getting the right stuff to the right troops at the right time. it was just sheer muscle power to move everything into theater but that then in turn overloaded the tactical delivery systems. But its what we had and we ended up making it work in the end.

  1. Holloman,
    Yep, he sure doesn’t look happy. I worked the Canadian arctic for some years but we had the benefit of surplus Canadian army gear. e.g. boots that looked almost normal but had 2 wire insouls with a centimetre of air between them. Definitely better than those huge straw filled galoshes which I have seen in some photos from the Russian front. There are many more tricks to hypothermic clothing and I have worked effectively down to -90F wind chill factor for days at a time.
    Ah crap, it is bloody awful and even dangerous which is why I shifted to sunny Australia about 30 years ago.
    For a softie in the southwest USA. Ian(or elsewhere), there is a big difference between ‘frozen’ and ‘frostbite’
    ‘Frozen’ ears, skin, fingers, whatever look white because the blood has been withdrawn from the skin. This can be restored by immersion in tepid water…and considerable pain. ‘Frostbitten’ is when the above turn black and fall off or are cut off by the nearest medic and can happen very fast.
    Actually Ian, we commonly read things like the PPD operated happily down to -30 degrees but have you ever heard of a weapon whose performance degraded due to air temperature?
    Not exactly on topic but inviting replies.

    • One of my HS teachers was a U.S. Army .50 HMG gunner in Korea. He stated that once air temps reached -40 F, anything lubricated with standard lubricants would freeze. Their solution was to first clean the M2 dry, using gasoline to eliminate any trace of lubricants, and once it had evaporated coat all moving/bearing surfaces with graphite.

      The M2 then worked reliably even at -60F, which with wind chill was not unknown there at night.



      • I knew a Korean War armorer who said the same thing, about pretty much everything in the US arsenal (and he said the problems were amplified by the very short supply of proper low-temp lubricants, which led a lot of guys to use motor oil). At a certain point they would just turn to goo, and become inoperable until thoroughly cleaned out.

        Also consider the arctic testing of the M14 and M16 prototypes – in both cases the severe cold produced malfunctions that hadn’t been seen in any other testing.

        • Some Canadians recommend not taking your rifle inside if you are operating in cold weather unless you intend to clean it right away. On coming into a warm building or tent the metal surfaces would immediately acquire a covering of condensed moisture which would either freeze to a covering of frost or ice when you took it back outside again, or else cause corrosion if you let it sit inside while wet. It’s the same problem you have when you come inside while wearing a pair of glasses in cold weather – you can’t see a damn thing until they warm up and you dry them off.

          The solution is to either keep the rifle in outside ambient conditions or to let it warm up and then clean it thoroughly. Taking it inside and outside repeatedly will cause problems.

          Some people say you can wrap the rifle up in air-tight plastic before you take it inside and then let it warm up that way, but I’ve no idea if that really works.

        • In the book Random Shots, one of the employees at Springfield Armory back in the day wrote that the winter trials in Alaska was where the FN-FAL fumbled and did not do as well as what became the M14. Had the FN passed the winter tests with flying colors it almost certainly would have been the issue rifle.

    • I worked in northern Ontario and Quebec, not the arctic, but cold enough. However, the climate was usually sunny, so it was in many ways more pleasant working outdoors than in more southerly, cloudy, conditions.

      The temperature in the picture doesn’t look that cold. There’s no sign of frost from his breath on his collar around his face. The snow on the wagon and on the trees in the background looks like it’s been melting. Above all, the snow looks dense and packed, rather than light and fluffy (look at how he’s standing on top of the snow). We can see shadows, so the sun is out (which makes a big difference). I’m going to take a guess that this photo was taken in early spring, or that it’s somewhere in the south (e.g. Ukraine) and they’re having a winter thaw. If he’s just standing around, he’s still going to want a warm coat, although he may warm up too much if he were marching somewhere.

      I notice that he’s wearing two hats. The second hat might be just for show for the picture. On the other hand, it might be intended to help ID him to his fellows, since they can’t see his uniform when he’s muffled up in his sentry coat.

  2. Nothing wrong with a Mosin-Nagant. Rock-solid, reliable, and accurate enough for serious business. My youngest is 70 years old and they all go bang when I want them to. BTW, those ammo crates and that wagon in the background look like they would make a nice fire. I’m sure that crossed his mind.

  3. “Roses are red, violets are blue… I’m stuck on the Eastern Front-AND SO ARE #$^&$ YOU!!!”

    I imagine this is what Germans would have been tempted to say during both world wars…

  4. The Germans at least won in the Eastern Front 1917-1918. The battles in the east were cold but were not as deadlocked and mindless as the Western Front 1914-17. Reminds me of the Great War scenes from Dr. Zhivago. …”When the boots wore out…”

  5. >have you ever heard of a weapon whose performance degraded due to air temperature?

    I’ve read several military histories mentioning the troubles the German troops had when winter hit at Leningrad. The lubricant in their Mauser rifles stiffened until they couldn’t work the bolts; soldiers were keeping their rifles under their overcoats when they could to keep them warmer.

    The field expedient repair was to clean all the oil out with gasoline and run them dry.

  6. One also wants to avoid taking a gun indoors during cold weather. If you get condensation on the gun, it has to be taken apart and dried or left indoors until it dries. Don’t dry it and there is a good chance that it will freeze.

    During cold years where I grew up and still hunt, everyone normally leaves their rifles outside all deer hunting season.

  7. My late uncle carried a BAR with the Marines. He told me that they cleaned their weapons with gasoline, but used Vitalis hair oil in lieu of any other lubricants.

  8. Martin,I am 76 years young and still Deer hunt here in n.c. and I always leave my Deer rifle in my truck at night.Granted we don’t get as cold as in the picture, but it does fall below freezing a lot in Nov. and Dec. Looking forward to this Deer season!

  9. Another factor is optics. Even “non-fogging” scopes get condensation on the outside of the lenses if you take them from extreme (-20F or lower) cold into even moderately warm conditions with normal humidity. One trick for getting around this is to put the rubber or plastic scope caps on the ends before going in, “trapping” a layer of cold air next to the lenses which can then warm up gradually.

    Best solution is to leave the rifle in the entry “mud room”, which will generally always be colder than the rest of the lodge or whatever. You don’t want to leave it outside, partly from the danger of theft but mostly due to it staying cold enough that if you inadvertently touch your bare skin to the metal, there’s a very real chance of it freezing to it, which is not a good thing for you.

    Also, with changes in temperature and humidity, a wood stock can over time warp or even develop cracks. The old mountain man’s trick was to rub the stock with bear fat- no, really. Today, a synthetic stock rated for low temperatures is probably a better and less “EWWWW!” solution.



    • Even if one touches the metal when it’s that cold, worst case is just a little skin gets pulls off. I’m talking about some old enough to have a gun.

      FWIW, I did a lot experiments when I was 5 and 6 years old with freezing my tongue to cold metal. Time, temperature, what my tongue looked like after the test, etc. Pa seemed to understand and didn’t get excited. But Ma got mad after a few experiments and she wasn’t always included in hearing the results of the testing.

  10. There’s an apocryphal story that part of the preparations for a WWii British expedition to Norway, included latex rubber protectors for rifle muzzles, to prevent damp air entering when the rifles came in doors.

    The story has Churchill being shown some samples, and his face lighting up:

    “have the packages labelled “condoms, British issue, size medium: 12 inches” That’ll show them who the real master race is!”

  11. When it is really cold, the muzzle velocity drops significantly. So not only any oil may become very sticky, but at the same time the power that drives the gun mechanism also becomes much weaker. At minus 30 degrees centigrade, the mean point of impact at 600 m will drop more than 0.5 meters due to reduced muzzle velocity and increased air density.
    The mentioned rule never to take a weapon into a relatively warmer room is standard procedure in the Swiss army, for example.

  12. I’ve run a SKS in temperatures so cold the rifle wouldn’t cycle reliably even dry-prepped due to low gas pressure.

    Also, flat rear sight = pre 1908.

  13. One of my first plinkers was an 1895 MN rifle. Have to love it when you just take a rifle home from an auction in California without a wait period 🙂 But given its age, I always imagined what kind of history that rifle could have seen. Russo-Japanese war period, WWI, and WWII, until captured by the Finns of course. And the ammo was cheap at the time too.

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