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Military Guns and Ammunition

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This is intended for people interested in the subject of military guns and their ammunition, with emphasis on automatic weapons.

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For Your Amusement   General Army topics

Started 15/9/21 by stancrist; 14520 views.
schnuersi

From: schnuersi

19-Aug

EmericD said:

But according to the link provided by Stan, the m/41 ball was using only 2.4 g of propellant (a very light load given the case capacity), when the AP was using 3.0 g, so the numbers seems OK.

If the standard load was so light could they have shortened the cartridge? Could you make an educated guess what case length would have been possible?

EmericD

From: EmericD

19-Aug

schnuersi said:

If the standard load was so light could they have shortened the cartridge? Could you make an educated guess what case length would have been possible?

Depends on the powder they had available.

In our age where one company like Vithavuori could provide 12 grades of single base powder, it's easy to forget that before WWI (and in some case before WWII) it was a common practice to use extra case capacity to "regulate" the pressure of a powder that was too fast for the bullet weight / diameter.

For example, the lack of a powder slow enough doomed all the French "high velocity" 6 mm & 6.5 mm cartridge programs before WWI, as they needed very large case volume and relatively small powder load.

For example, the best results were achieved with a 6.5 mm cartridge nearly as large as the .270 Wby Magnum, but with a powder load of only 3.6 g, which is not even close to the 4.3 g "starting load" proposed by Vitha for this cartridge...

So, maybe they used this small load because the powder available was slightly too fast, anyway a ~2.4 g load is the maximum load of N540 and N550 that you can use in a 6.5x47 mm cartridge loaded with a 139 gr bullet.

Farmplinker

From: Farmplinker

20-Aug

Thanks for the info! In Sturmgewehr! the author implies Moltke was looking at a 7, possibly 6.5 cartridge that was less powerful than 8x57. Ah well, what could have been...

JPeelen

From: JPeelen

20-Aug

Thank you for mentioning the book "Sturmgewehr" by Dieter Handrich, so I could look up the source text (German edition).

In my view, Moltke's remark regarding reduced recoil of a self-loading rifle shows that he is not really familiar with the subject. The German 7.9 mm has a stiff recoil and any difference between self-loading and manual is theoretical, at least from from the conscript shooter's point of view. (Modern professional soldiers have been whining about the much less recoil of 7.62 NATO.)  

While Handrich does not elaborate, it is known from Morawietz that German engineers saw the power of the 7.9 mm as an obstacle to designing a practical self-loading rifle. But considerations of using a  less powerful cartridge did not at all go so far as the WW1 ideas of a real 300/400 m cartridge. German military considered caliber 6.5 mm as insufficient because lack of wounding power even much later (Deutsch, Waffenlehre, 1939).               

autogun

From: autogun

21-Aug

JPeelen said:

German military considered caliber 6.5 mm as insufficient because lack of wounding power even much later (Deutsch, Waffenlehre, 1939). 

One wonders how much testing took place in coming to that conclusion. During WW2 US medics treating US soldiers hit by small-arms fire were reportedly unable to identify whether the bullets which hit them were 6.5mm or 7.7mm. And of course, there were the "pig board" tests.

schnuersi

From: schnuersi

21-Aug

autogun said:

One wonders how much testing took place in coming to that conclusion.

To put it simple: none.
Its based on deduction and perception. Pre WW1 large parts of the German military have not been very technology or scientific oriented. These have been topics specifically associated with the artillery branch. To a lesser degree engineers and infantry. The cavalry corps outright rejected it.
For example the first machine guns have been introduced and tested because the Emperor himself was intrested in such things. He pruchased some out of his own pocked and equiped a unit of his life guard regiments with it. The infantry branch at this time (~1900) rejected the idea of such a weapon. Same with the first automotives for the military.
The last "real" war faught by pre WW1 has been the Franco-German war in 1870/71. At this point in time still with 15,4 mm black powder rifles. These had been replaced by the much smaller caliber 7,92x57 from 1888 onwards. Pre WW1 the main concern was the longe range stopping power against horses. It seemed obvious that a smaller less powerfull cartidge would perform less good in this regard. Which is most likely true.
Post WW1 the main concern was about long range MG fire. Since the MGs proved so important during WW1 and the rifle became a sidenote with the hand grenade, knifes and pistols usually being more important for the non MG crew infantry it didn't seem impoprtant enough to most. There had been a new school that argued for an intermediate cartridge to replace the full power cartridge for rifle use. Since the 9x19 was sufficient at short range any cartridge that would be more powerfull obviously would suffice according this line of tought. Work on intermediate cartidges was done starting in the '20. But not at a high pace. This allmost came to a halt after the Nazis came to power and the rearmament started. The priorities shifted to getting as much working equipment as possible now. Work continued at a low pace. Leading to the known Maschinenkarabiner and later MPi and Stg development. With the known anecdoted of Hitler dismissing it yet work and testing continued and the overwelming demand forcing the adoption and full scale production.

I have so far never come across any information about any sort of serious stopping power or wounding testing done in Germany. Nothing similar to pig tests. They did measure penetration against different materials and the energy retention. I have not even found anything about shooting into dead animals and analysing wounds.
This has been done for civillian ammo for hunting though. Quite extensively actually. Since 7,92x57 and all other Mauser cartidges use to be very popular for hunting in Germany, to the point of being allmost exclusively used pre WW2, maybe this information was used. But usually in documents and articles from the past its about penetration. How many sandbags, wooden loggs, brick walls or lose dirt can be penetrated at what range.

hobbes154

From: hobbes154

22-Aug

autogun said...

As far as UK small arms are concerned, I would initially continue with production of the .303 Lee Enfield, Bren and Vickers, while developing .276 Pedersen weapons: a selective-fire rifle, a belt-fed GPMG and something like the FG 42.

Doesn't this risk overloading the Czechs if they have to do the OTL Bren .303 conversion + TFW .276 weapons? And a GPMG + FG42 clone is a big jump from the sort of weapons anyone but the Germans produced OTL. 

Tend to agree with Stan that just getting an existing LMG and self-loading rifle in .276 is enough to aim for - you want to have this stuff standard in less than a decade, right? A belt feed for the LMG could be a later add-on. 

If it's just a backup how about the Vickers-Berthier instead of the Bren in .303? Cheaper to build and can go into production right away (already selected for the Indian army), leaving the Czechs free to focus on the .276 (which if anything should be ready faster than the .303 since it's rimless).

However given these comments on the ZH-29 in .276 maybe you're better off with the Pedersen/Garand rifle? 

The ZH29 was always beautifully made by Ceshosolovenska Zbrojovka of Brno, Czechoslovakia, but was not suited to mass production, the locking mechanism, particularly, was difficult to machine accurately and prone to jamming in adverse conditions.

 

 

autogun

From: autogun

22-Aug

hobbes154 said:

autogun said... As far as UK small arms are concerned, I would initially continue with production of the .303 Lee Enfield, Bren and Vickers, while developing .276 Pedersen weapons: a selective-fire rifle, a belt-fed GPMG and something like the FG 42.

Doesn't this risk overloading the Czechs if they have to do the OTL Bren .303 conversion + TFW .276 weapons? And a GPMG + FG42 clone is a big jump from the sort of weapons anyone but the Germans produced OTL. 

Tend to agree with Stan that just getting an existing LMG and self-loading rifle in .276 is enough to aim for - you want to have this stuff standard in less than a decade, right? A belt feed for the LMG could be a later add-on. 

If it's just a backup how about the Vickers-Berthier instead of the Bren in .303? Cheaper to build and can go into production right away (already selected for the Indian army), leaving the Czechs free to focus on the .276 (which if anything should be ready faster than the .303 since it's rimless).

Don't forget the TFW timescale: in September 1934, when the "throwbacks" arrive, the .303 Bren (ZGB34) was already sorted and the final trials which led to its adoption took place in August. Production preparations commenced late in 1934 and by 1935 all of the manufacturing documentation had been converted from metric to Imperial.

By 1937 it had also been decided to replace the .303 Vickers with the ZB53/BESA, but this only saw use in AFV mountings.

So, given the extensive trials and testing which led to the selection of the .303 Bren, I don't think that anything comparable could have been available any sooner. Best to leave the Bren alone and put it into mass production as historically.

Certainly the British would have faced major headaches in developing and manufacturing such technically complex weapons, but the FG 42 wasn't that difficult for the Czechs or Belgians: all of its elements had appeared in other weapons. I think that choosing the low-recoiling .276 round should have simplified the design process.

hobbes154

From: hobbes154

22-Aug

I take your point that the basic .303 Bren design was largely ready by 1934, but production was still an issue. The final contract was only signed in May 1935 and

The preparation of the production of BREN machine guns at the Royal Small Arms Factory (RSAF) in Enfield was not without a number of problems ... For this reason, RSAF technicians still went to Brno at the beginning of 1938, as well as Václav Holek went to Enfield with the designers Dobremysl, Šolc and Pekárek, although the first machine gun was produced in RSAF in September 1937, but by the end of the year only 42 of them had been produced in Enfield. In the English Army, the BREN machine gun was introduced into service under the designation Mk. I only on August 4, 1938. 

So it's still using scarce small arms expertise when you want to be playing with multiple .276 designs. 

autogun said...

I don't think that anything comparable could have been available any sooner.

The Vickers-Berthier is fractionally heavier and longer but certainly comparable. And it is already available, adopted in India, and "The only major advantage the weapon had over the Bren was the far simpler design; it could be produced more efficiently.[7]"  

Fundamentally the Bren is a good but relatively complex and expensive weapon which doesn't make economic sense if it's only a backup (when the Brits wanted a backup in OTL they went with the Besal). Maybe if you were producing it in both .276 and .303 - I don't know how much that would add to the production difficulties? - but you want a totally different suite of .276 weapons.

(Sorry, this wasn't supposed to be a FW thread, I'll stop now! Looking forward to the reboot.)

  • Edited 22 August 2022 19:05  by  hobbes154
In reply toRe: msg 99
hobbes154

From: hobbes154

22-Aug

Back to OTL, I found this an interesting description of how the rimmed .303 ammo was loaded into Bren mags:

https://talesfromthesupplydepot.blog/2015/09/02/bren-gun-part-1-loading-the-magazine/

Especially this picture https://hatchfive.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/image60.jpg

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