View Full Version : Spring Cleaning Inspiration

March 10, 2008, 22:53
.The things some folks find in their cluttered basements...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008 12:01 PM CST
Blast from the past: Korean War-era weapon found at Chamberlain site
By JEFF REINITZ, Courier Staff Writer

WATERLOO --- Workers clearing out asbestos at the former Chamberlain Manufacturing building stumbled across a 50-year-old artillery weapon that had been left over from the plant's heyday as an ordinance factory.

"It doesn't look like much, but it looked like it might shoot some short of artillery shell of some sort," said Chris Western, an associate planner for the city, which owns the property.

"It was just leaning in the corner. We thought, what do we do with this? We need to not let this fall in the wrong hands," Western said.

Officers with the police bomb squad seized the weapon, which consisted of a 5-foot tube that was slathered in packing grease, and determined it was a 57 mm recoilless rifle, said Capt. Bruce Arends with the Waterloo Police Department.

The 57 mm recoilless rifles were heavier versions of the popular bazooka and had greater range.

Able to be fired from the shoulder or on a bipod, they were popular during the Korean War but are now obsolete.

"In the '50s, we developed some 57 mm, and then that particular weapon went out of favor," said Stan Smith of Cedar Falls, who had been Chamberlain's marketing manager.

The fate of the gun found last week isn't clear.

Police could have the weapon destroyed, but there is also interest in submitting it to a local museum or a military museum, Western said.

Chamberlain Manufacturing closed in 1994, and since then the building has been a frequent target for vandals and thieves.

"It's pretty well stripped," Western said.

He said it was amazing that burglars hadn't swiped the recoilless rifle, which until last week was locked in a 12-by-12-foot vault room with boxes of factory records.

"It looks like someone was trying to get in it for years," Western said. He said the vault door finally rusted through, and it fell off.


Generally, when weapons systems were provided to us by the military, they remained government property ... At the conclusion of the work, they were 'demilled' and taken apart," said Gary Wilcox of Waterloo, a former Chamberlain employee.

He doesn't recall the 57 mm recoilless but remembers packing up .45-caliber Thompson and M3 "grease gun" submachine guns and a Browning Automatic Rifle to return to the military when the plant closed.

Smith said the weapon uncovered last week was provided to Chamberlain in a demilled --- incapable of firing --- form.

"I am positive that recoilless rifle is demilitarized," Smith said. "All we were interested in was the barrel of it."

Chamberlain developed a high explosive round that could be fired from the weapon, and workers needed the barrel to line up rifling grooves with the round's rotating band.

Before the 57 mm round could go into production in Waterloo, the Army lost interest in the weapon because the larger 106 mm recoilless rifle packed more of a punch when it came to targeting tanks, Smith said.

Contact Jeff Reinitz at (319) 291-1578 or jeff.reinitz@wcfcourier.com

March 10, 2008, 23:07
but wait! there's more!

Military bazooka found at El Mirage repair shop
Lily Leung
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 4, 2008 02:00 PM

An El Mirage man checking on the status of his truck repair Monday evening found an inactive military-style rocket at the repair yard, police said.

El Mirage Assistant Police Chief Bill Louis said the rocket appeared inert and safe when the man brought the device to police headquarters.

The unidentified man told police he had left his truck at the repair yard for a few weeks, and had stopped by to check on it. That's when he found an M29A2, a shoulder-launch type rocket used by the military that is also known as a bazooka, said Louis, who has four years of military experience.


March 11, 2008, 16:03
SOLSBERRY, Ind. -- A Greene County man has nearly completed a five-year "labor of love" restoring a cannon from the Spanish-American War era.
Tim Kirsch bought the cannon at an antique shop in 1970 in Pennsylvania and used it as a lawn ornament until he began restoring it about five years ago with a friend.
"It's a lot of work, but it's a labor of love, and I get a lot of enjoyment out of it," he said.
The cannon weighs nearly a ton, and has a 7-foot-long barrel that can shoot a projectile up to three miles, Kirsch said. He said his research found the barrel was forged in 1898 at the Watervliet Arsenal in New York, and the carriage the gun sits on was made in 1899 at the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois.
He has not been able to determine whether the cannon, which was rusted out and had a misfired cartridge blocking the barrel when he bought it, was used in the Spanish-American War.
The retired father of seven began the restoration project after meeting Joe Christ, who became fascinated with the cannon and spent hours making carriage parts on an antique lathe. The two researched cannon blueprints on the Internet together before Christ's death last year.
"Every time that I work on it, I think of him," Kirsch said.
He said he planned to have the cannon tested at Camp Atterbury after final repairs to the barrel and carriage are complete.