Welcome to 20thCenturyPlatoons.com, a website dedicated to small-unit tactics and military history. Translating primary source material from four different languages into English, this website aims to give a historical overview of squad, platoon, and company level units of various nations, using the very same manuals commanders of the era would have used.

How useful were the tactics employed by Dutch troops fighting in Indonesia between 1945 and 1949? What impact did World War I have on the German Schützenkompanie, and how did its 1906 structure differ from 1922? How did the French infantry platoon change from 1972 to 1999? To what degree has American doctrine influenced NATO-partners?

In trying to answer these questions and explore modern military history, I will be using a number of "pillars", if you will.

These include lengthy articles based on multiple primary and secondary sources, scans of rare postcards and images with a military theme, entire manuals uploaded to the archive, and brief discussions of material already available online.

This website will - for the most part - focus on the militaries of continental Europe. The reason for this is two-fold:
In the first place, there is comparatively little English-language information out there on for example the Dutch, Belgian, or Austrian military. Secondly, my own interests and collection simply focus on European armies.

None of that is to say, however, that the American or Commonwealth militaries are entirely ignored. They are interesting in and of themselves, and they provide both context and comparison.

AC-58, 1987

The Grenade à Fusil antichar de 58 mm avec piège à balle modèle F1 is a French antitank rifle grenade designed in the late 70s, to be fired from the FAMAS F1 by using a standard ball cartridge. Equipped with a bullet trap, this may be balle O (Ordinaire, ball) or T (Traçeuse, tracer), US M193 or FN SS92.

Click here to continue reading.

Dutch FN Browning Technical Manual (1990/1991) and Parts List (1989)

Adopted in 1946, the FN Browning High Power has been the longest-serving weapon in the Dutch military in recent times, outlasting the M.95 Mannlicher by 3 years as a main service weapon.

Following an initial order of 10,000 pistols placed with Inglis of Canada, further pistols were procurred from FN.

By 1967, some 72,000 High Power pistols were in use, of five different varieties: John Inglis models, as well as 1947, 1949, 1955 and 1967 contract models.

Both the Inglis model (Pistool Browning Aanmaak Inglis Canada) as well as the three earliest FN models (Pistool Browning Aanmaak F.N. België (oud model)) were collectively designated the Pistool, 9 mm Browning, FN, GP, or more briefly, pistool oud model.

The 1967 contract pistols, designated Pistool, 9 mm, FN, GP, M68, were easily recognized by their external extractor.

As a complete issued item including magazine pouches, cleaning kit and holster this led to four different "models" due to Marechaussee specific equipment :

- Pistool, 9 millimeter: Browning, F.N., G.P., cpl (NSN 1005-17-640-0022)
- Pistool, 9 millimeter: Browning, F.N., G.P., M 68, cpl (NSN 1005-17-622-2426)
- Pistool, 9 millimeter: Browning, F.N., G.P., cpl v/Kon Marechaussee (NSN 1005-17-039-0292)
- Pistool, 9 millimeter: Browning, F.N., G.P., M 68, cpl v/Kon Marechaussee (NSN 1005-17-039-0293)

Although multiple editions of the Materieellijst (1996, 1997 and 2003) speak of a 1987 introduction date for the Glock 17, the FN Browning was only gradually replaced: first by the Marechaussee, which selected the Glock in May of 1990. Deliveries were however delayed, as the other services sought a new handgun as well. By February of 1992, the Ministry of Defence had signed a contract for some 31250 Glock 17s for all services, with an option for a further 7800 pistols. This latter option was quite possibly intended for the Royal Netherlands Air Force: it is noted that the Air Force intended to keep its Browning High Powers somewhat longer. As late as 1997, some FN pistols remained in inventory, intended for mobilisational units of the Army.

The technical manual can be downloaded here, with the parts list available here.

The archive of manuals can be found here.


Dutch C8 1st echelon technical manual, 1997

Following up on last week's post, we have a 1st echelon technical manual for the C8 carbine dated 1997.
One of three C8 carbine variants adopted (C8, C8A1, C8A1GD), the C8 was adopted to replace select FN Browning High-Power pistols, M1 carbines and M61 Uzis, especially for support troops.
A more thorough description of the Diemaco in Dutch service can be found in the aforementioned post, with more technical documentation and field manuals soon to be added to this website.

The C8 manual can be downloaded here

The archive of manuals can be found here.

Dutch C7 and C7A1 1st echelon technical manual, 1997

Adopted in 1995, the Geweer, 5,56MM, C7 and C7A1 replaced the FN FAL and M61 Uzi, and to a lesser extent the M1 Garand and M1 Carbine in use with territorial and reservist units. The C8 carbine and C7 LSW (termed LOAW) replaced select FN Browning High-Power pistols, M1 carbines and M61 Uzis, and the FN FALO respectively.

The initial contract called for a total of 52,285 weapons to delivered, with the Army receiving 39,500 C7s, the Airforce and Royal Marechaussee receiving 7,500 C8 carbines, and the Navy receiving 4,750 C7A1s and 535 LOAWs respectively, the latter for the Korps Mariniers. This leaves out the C8A1 and C8A1GD (Geluidsdemper), which appear to be later modifications of the C8.

It was, however, not to be so. As the Army (and other services) downsized following the Cold War's end, the number of rifles required was adjusted accordingly.

Even more so, the Army's initial plan of only adopting the iron-sighted C7 was quickly thrown out the window, with additional C7A1s being procured. The choice of foregoing the scoped C7A1 was driven by the initial requirement for a rifle capable out to 300 metres, as opposed to the Navy's (Korps Mariniers) requirement of 500 metres. In the end, the Army procured C7 for its non-combat troops, issuing the C7A1 to airmobile and mechanized infantry.
This also explains the chapter dedicated to the bayonet in the C7A1 manual, which is absent from the C7 manual.

The C7 manual can be downloaded here, with the C7A1 manual available here.

The archive of manuals can be found here.


M1953 Scope (APX-L 806), 1976

The Lunette de Tir Modèle 1953 - designated the APX-L 806 by its manufacturer - was the French Army's scope for the MAS49 and 49/56 as issued to the squad designated marksman. It was replaced in 1966 by the FR F1, a purpose-built marksman's rifle.

The French Army has had one of the most consistent marksman doctrines, issuing a single-scoped rifle per platoon in 1940 (typically a Lebel with APX 1921) , increasing the number of scoped rifles post-war to three.

Technical specifications are as follows:

Magnification 3.85×
Length without rubber eye-cup 159 mm
Weight with mount 500 g
Sight graduated in 50 m increments to 800 m
Horizontal adjustment 8 increments of 0.7 mills
Vertical adjustment 14 increments of 0.5 mills

The iron sights can be used out to 400 m with the scope mounted. The M1953 scope equipment also includes a cheek piece and two different sizes of rubber shoulder pads, increasing length of pull by 2 and 3.5 cm respectively.

The manual can be downloaded here.

The archive of manuals can be found here.



  • 23rd of June, 2018
  • The third and final article concerning the Dutch Marine Corps has been published.
  • 14th of June, 2018
  • The second article - the Dutch Marine Corps 1978 - has been published.
    Images now open as a pop-up.
  • 7th of June, 2018
  • The first resource - concerning the Vietnamese sappers - is added.
  • 5th of June, 2018
  • Interactive footnotes are added to the Dutch 1963 Marines Corps article.
    The first manual is added.
  • 4th of June, 2018
  • The first scanned postcard is added.
  • 3rd of June, 2018
  • The first article - concerning the Dutch Marine Corps 1963 - is created.
  • 2nd of June, 2018
  • The website is created and launched.