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November 8, 2023

Marines With Gigantic Training Guns at Camp Pendleton, California, 1956

These gigantic fake weapons were used to help the soldier better understand the parts and the mechanics of a weapon.

Marines with three M23 and one M24 training guns.

Two Marines demonstrate the size difference between an M1 Garand and the M24 training gun.

During World War II, the U.S. military needed to train as many men as quickly as they could. In those demanding circumstances, many new training methods were born, and most of those ideas focused on providing information using over-sized graphic presentations. 

Posters, training films, and film strips were created for many topics — and particularly for small arms. The concept of the double-size training aids took this idea one step further, providing a tactile, and instantly self-explanatory educational tool.

The visible operational features in the sectional training aid were color-treated to look like the real thing. The device is hollow and constructed of a light aluminum, so although massive, it is not heavy. 

Simulated ammunition, made of plastic, was used to demonstrate how the magazine was loaded. A transportation/storage case was provided, and the plywood top of the case could be removed and used as a display base.

These types of training weapons were used from the mid-1940s to the late 1950s. With the introduction of new weapons like the M14, the old training aids were no longer applicable. Many of these oversized guns were transferred to museums and military surplus stores.


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