Virginia National Guard Anti-Aircraft Guns Have a New Home

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 The 40mm Bofors at its original site at the Portsmouth Readiness Center.

The 40mm Bofors at its original site at the Portsmouth Readiness Center.

As part of the ongoing effort by the Virginia National Guard to preserve and protect its historical artifacts, soldiers from 2-183 Cavalry and the 157th Engineer Company recently moved a M-42 Duster and a 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun from Portsmouth, Virginia, to the VANG Joint Force Headquarters at Bellwood, Virginia. This move, part of a training exercise in recovering “battle-damaged” vehicles, freed space in front of the 183rd’s Readiness Center so that Cavalry-related historical artifacts can be displayed.

 The Bofors and Duster arrive at the VANG Joint Force Headquarters.

The Bofors and Duster arrive at the VANG Joint Force Headquarters.

Several Virginia National Guard units were issued M-42s and 40mm Bofors for their Air Defense Artillery (ADA) mission in the 1950s through the 1960s and even in to the early 1970s. In the 1974 National Guard-produced film “When the chips are down,” narrated by Bob Hope, the opening sequences feature Virginia-based ADA units from the Norfolk and Portsmouth area firing the twin 40mm guns on their M-42s at target drones.

 Using the M-42’s heavy weight as impetus, the vehicle is slowly winched down to the ground and to the area where it will be refurbished.

Using the M-42’s heavy weight as impetus, the vehicle is slowly winched down to the ground and to the area where it will be refurbished.

A team of volunteers will work on the Duster and the AA gun to refurbish and repaint them in appropriate colors and markings. On completion, the 1943–dated 40mm Bofors will be dedicated in honor of Virginia’s World War II veterans. The Duster will require significantly more work and on completion, it will be dedicated in honor of Virginia’s many Korean War and Vietnam War veterans. The guns will also serve as historic training devices as part of an education program for the VANG’s soldiers and airmen.