Wednesday, 20 December 2017

German Ammunition

There is a surprsing amount of interoperability between British and German hardware. The Sten gun could, famously, be fed with German ammunition, and slightly reworked German 75 mm shells went into 75 mm guns received from Americans, but other substitutions could be made in a pinch.




Canadian Military Headquarters, London (CMHQ), Files Block No. 55 - 5776

16 comments:

  1. The Sten having no trouble with German ammo is hardly surprising, given 9x19mm Parabellum was originally designed by one George Luger (and long classified as a strictly military caliber under German law), and later modifications have mostly involved fine-tuning the propellant charge and bullet design rather than anything very relevant to feeding.

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    1. The same thing about german and czech 7.92mm being usable in BESAs, considering the BESA was based on a Czech MG without modifying it for british ammunition, and Czeck essentially used the same caliber as the germans.

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  2. The BESA was a virtually unchanged Czech weapon used by the Germans and Brits....of course the 7.92mm Mauser ammo worked.

    What amazes me is how many different types of small arms ammo one needed in a British armored division:

    US .30-06 (belted) for all the Browning M1919 machineguns in the Shermans and Stuarts

    US .45 for the Thompson SMGs in those vehicles.

    British/German 9mm for the Sten guns and Browning pistols

    British .303 (belted) for the Vickers HMGs

    British .303 (clipped) for the rifles

    British .303 (?) for the Brens

    Mauser 7.92mm (belted) for the BESAs in the Cromwells

    That's four types of MG ammo.

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    1. There was actually some pushback in 1940 against using Brownings in Canadian Valentines, so they cared about having lots of different types of ammo at least a little bit.

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    2. ??? AFAIK .303 British was fundamentally the same stuff in every application - not like it made a difference whether the round were in a stripper clip, box magazine or belt. They did have a longer-ranged design intended primarily for MGs, the Mark VIII, with boat tail and larger propellant charge but that worked fine in other guns too. (Apparently caused added barrel wear though.) And that's hardly different from the plethora of relatively specialised variants everybody had of their service round.

      They weren't the Japanese who derped their LMG design hard enough to require ammunition distinct from the default service round...

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    3. Yes, all .303 ammo is the same just as all .30-06 ammo is the same, but packaged differently. it is another major item to handle in the supply chain. Getting a resupply of thousands of rounds of clipped rifle ammo and no machinegun ammo (even assuming the exact same round) is a problem.

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    4. That'd be a matter of the supply chain screwing up and failing to send the belts, not anything to do with the rounds themselves. And as I understand soldiers even today spend a certain amount of time in the tedious chore of refilling the damn things.

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    5. The point is that the different packaging makes it logistically equivalent to an entirely different type of ammo.

      If you're in combat and the machineguns go dry, it's very little consolation that you have 10,000 rounds of the correct cartridge on clips

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    6. You didn't ship tracer mix for the bolt-action rifles anyway so not like that makes much of a practical difference; even less so economically and industrially. And while refilling (plus reassembling, in the case of the disintegrating types) a belt in combat doesn't sound very viable Bren box magazines would be a different story entirely.

      OUT of combat it's a simple enough matter of detailing a few hapless troopers to the task.

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    7. Thank you Seth Lewis. That is indeed the point.

      Kellomies - it makes a GIANT practical difference how the ammo is packaged when it arrives. That is, for example, why the US Army would ship M1 rifle ammo already in clips and bandoleers so riflemen could simply grab a few bandoleers out of a box and off they go. The same exact practice was followed with 5.56mm rifle ammo in my day because it was a great idea.

      Machinegun ammo doesn't come as a box of ammo plus separate belts to be loaded. It comes from the factory belted, in the boxes ready to be attached to an MG mount or laid alongside the gun. Do you think soldiers sit around putting bullets into ammo belts? Those troopers would indeed be "hapless" if that's how they got resupplied in mid-firefight.

      Disintegrating-link belts are assembled as they're filled - the ammo holds the belt together - it's not a separate task, at least not with 7.62mm NATO ammo.

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    8. ...I never implied different? The point was that the MGs are normally fed with different bullet designs in the first place, namely tracer mix (and I think some militaries preferred using AP in them, too, for better cover penetration), than the infantry small arms. At which point it makes scant difference from a logistical point of view to also have them in belts, they're already a separate shipping article anyway.

      Was under the impression the general preference is to not store box magazines loaded though, to avoid spring fatigue? Not an issue with stripper clips and belts obviously.

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    9. Kellomies, you not only 'implied' different, you flat out wrote it.

      Infantry machineguns ARE normally fed with bullet designs that are exactly the same as other small arms. Tank machineguns are normally fed with the same ammo as the infantry's MGs. To do otherwise is supply madness.

      I never wrote anything about box magazines. US ammo, and Russian/Soviet small arms ammo, is supplied in stripper clips. Has been since WW1.

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    10. Never did, kindly directly quote the part where you hallucinated such a claim.

      And as already mentioned the British for one had a variant of the service bullet specifically intended for MG use - and as was noted in the same post, it was quite interchangeable with the general-issue Mark VII if need be. Pretty much any cartridge that sees any larger-scale use comes in a wide variety of different bullet designs for different purposes; militaries alone routinely have *at least* AP, tracer, incendiary and practice variants (plus various combinations thereof) in service alongside whatever they consider the "default" standard-issue one.

      And unless the designers seriously fucked up somewhere, and were for some reason allowed to get away with it, all of that stuff cheerfully feeds in any relevant service weapon.

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  3. American 75mm rounds could be fired out of German guns as well.

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  4. On the topic, is the old story about 81mm mortar shells in 82mm mortars true?

    I see it repeated by a lot of books about WW2 armaments but it always made me wonder if it was just folklore that got repeated.

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    1. Yeah I am still curious about that too, especially since nominal calibers are often not the actual bore measurement.

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