It is simultaneously both a collector’s wildest dream and worst nightmare. After the war is over and the smoke has cleared from the battlefield, what becomes of the millions of weapons left behind?
After WWII millions of weapons were dumped or destroyed, but hundreds of thousands of them saw continued use and additional service in the armies of developing countries and other conflicts. The weapons used in the European and Pacific Theatres of WWII also saw action in Korea and the jungles of Vietnam. Further, many of these same weapons were also bore by the armies of nations throughout Latin America, Asian and Africa through the 1950s.
Munitions, on the other hand, were a different story. Unfit for recycling due to their difficult, dangerous and expensive nature, many were dumped despite brass being a high-value scrap metal. Up through the late 1960s, U.S. weapons dealers were able to provide ammunitions for WWII era weapons strictly from stocks on hand without the need to manufacture new ammunitions.
Most illustrative of the market for surplus weapons is the lead photo in this video which shows a pile of 2,426 assorted and illicit small arms and light weapons ready to be set ablaze at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi, Kenya. Many of these are WWII weapons.
Here is a collection of images that will make collectors cry!