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January 05, 2007

The Whatziss from yesterday.

A British Wombat recoilless rifle at the RAF Duxford museum. 23 September 2006 Photographer Max Smith

Not too many takers on this one. Which is interesting, given that there is boatloads of data out there on this particular beast.

That said - only two takers, but #2, Pat - got it mostly correct when he identified them as rounds for the M8C Spotting Rifle. His only error (obliquely) was continuing on and tying it to the 106mm recoilless rifle.

These were used for the M8C rifles used on the British Wombat recoilless rifle - a quibble, certainly, except the red paint in the flutes indicates their Brit origin.

This website (the Armorer wants one of these guns) has a nice set of pictures of a before and after restoration of a 106RR.

The spotting rifle is used by the gunner to acquire his target, without wasting main gun ammo, and with a lessened signature to give away his position. The M8C is a gas-operated semi-auto, which means the gunner just pings away with it until he sees a hit on his target at which point he fires his main gun. The use of a special cartridge with the M8C, vice a regular .50 cal round, is because you want the ballistic performance of the round to be roughly equal to the trajectory of the main gun - speed of flight isn't as important as trajectory matching is.

Tanks can use their coaxial machine guns for the same purpose. The Israelis even mounted M2 .50s on their M109A1 155mm howitzers for the same purpose - to make it easier to use the guns in direct fire mode.

Now for the fun part - doing some research for this post, I found this very nice picture of an M50 Ontos - the USMC reckless rifle carrier of the Vietnam era.

M50 Ontos

And I found this website with a lot of great pictures of the Ontos, certainly one of the odder weapon systems we've developed over the years. A lot of firepower on that little tracked chassis - but all served from outside the vehicle, on a vehicle, by the very nature of the weapon, that is going to attract a *lot* of attention.


Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Jan 05, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

November 21, 2006

The Sunday Whatzis, revealed.

Confused? Click here.

That's a bullet for the Nordenfeldt 1-inch anti-torpedo boat gun. The Nordenfeldt guns were an early type of machine-gun. Like the Gatling gun, they used multiple barrels and mechanical power to operate. Unlike the Gatling, the didn't last very long in the grand scheme of things, much less enjoy a renaissance when someone realized what electricity might accomplish when applied to the concept.

Here's a group of Brit tars training with one (though no feed hopper has been loaded).
Brit Sailors practicing with a Nordenfeldt machine gun.

The Nordenfeldt guns were developed between 1873 and 1878 and were very popular in Europe, especially amongst the sailors. They generally had four barrels in line horizontally and were fed by gravity-feed hoppers. You can see them with 5 barrels or as few as two. One advantage the Nordenfeldts had over the Gatling was that the mechanism was much easier to get to for the purpose of clearing jams. Plus, if the jam was too complex and the situation dire, you could simply disconnect the barrel and keep firing with the remaining barrels. Unlike the Gatling, which used a rotating crank to cycle the gun, the Nordenfeldts used a lever that was moved back and forth. I've seen both a lever in the vertical plane, on the left side of the gun, or a handle that moved in the horizontal plane, on the right side of the gun. The sailor on the left right (sigh, I suppose, in the future, I'll just submit all posts to CAPT H for editing before publishing) in the picture has his hand on the lever for this particular gun. The cyclic rate of fire was about 350 rounds per minute.

Here we can see some more sailors getting it on for the camera. This gun has its feed-hopper mounted.

Sailors manning a 4-barrel Nordenfeldt 1-inch Machine Gun, Mark 1

All that flailing about did affect accuracy a bit, but heck, they weren't used as sniper weapons.

The Brit National Maritime Museum has a wonderful copyright protected (way too expensive to buy permission to use) photo of a 1-inch Nordenfeldt anti-torpedo boat gun right here.

The Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen Proving Grounds has a nice little four-barrel Nordenfeldt - which shows the lever nicely, too.

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Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Nov 21, 2006

November 15, 2006

The Whatziss, revealed!

The question is here, if you need to catch up.

Al and MajMike were correct, it's a linker-delinker for disintegrating link machine gun belts. The markings are frankly not conclusive as to origin. They are not Brit nor US.

The three-pronged side links:

Machinegun belt-linking tool

The two-pronged side de-links. It really doesn't make linking any faster, but it sure reduces the stress on arthritic hands... Werekitten noted that it was a spreader - it actually does both - part of what I like about the cleverness of the gizmo. It squeezes to link, but flip it over, and it spreads to de-link. I shudder to think where you all might go with this.

Regardless - Bragging rights to Al and MajMike (though MajMike has some scale issues, not unusual with guys who have spent time running about in panzers).

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Nov 15, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

October 07, 2006

Since only the hardcore show up...

...on Saturdays - here's a Whatzis for Mr. Bullet Encyclopedia, Chris:

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Post WWII.

You may begin. Anyone may play - but I'm hoping this one at least makes Chris pull a reference book off the shelf.

by John on Oct 07, 2006

October 05, 2006

Time for a whatzis!

Trias likes those, and I missed his birthday, and we haven't done one in a while...

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The first hint - post WWII.

by John on Oct 05, 2006

August 18, 2006

The Answer to the Whatzis.

Eric finally got it. It's the "glasflasche" or glass bottle, that contained the "clark" poison gas in a German WWI 77mm shell.

Like in this picture.

German 77mm Blaukreuz poison gas round

Congrats to working your way through the problem. Of course, it was an *easy* one for this collection of geeks!

And no, I am *not* the John who posted it on Gunboards.

For more information on the subject - read the document that finally pulled it together for Eric.

by John on Aug 18, 2006

August 08, 2006

Okay - enough teasing on the Whatzis from Sunday.

I just left you guys hanging yesterday, in order to give the "I only read Argghhh! from work" guys a chance at the Whatzis.

You really did pretty well. Owen got it quickly, and Captain H went a step further and emailed a link (chicken - won't post openly...) to a write up. They were the first to get it. And, speaking of that, CAPT H - upon further review, I withdraw my statement about this shell being Brit (as I was informed by the guy I bought it from) it *is* the French version of Armstrong's studded projectile.

Oh - and that *was* a shadow guys, not a notch, in the pic. That was just an artifact of taking the picture, not a deliberate attempt to mislead. This time. Owen - your size referent is... 3 inches. That's the nominal caliber. Some sources say 3.3, but that would include the studs, at least in my example.

Studded artillery projectile

Zinc, not a lead or copper stud - which strongly argues for it being french and not Brit.

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This was an early method of rifling artillery - if you notice, the studs are slightly offset, and the studs themselves actually have a direction - the shell was fitted into deep grooves and rammed home. It worked well enough when the guns were new, and not badly fouled from firing... but it also only worked well with black powder. When more powerful propellants were used, the friction inherent in this process was too great and the studs just sheared off, and the flight of the projectile was unpredictable.

But with the acquisition of this piece, the artillery collection has representative examples of most major varieties of imparting a spin to the projectile. Now if I could only find an affordable shell with an *intact* papier maché sabot...

by John on Aug 08, 2006

May 24, 2006

Whatziss, answered!

Old Fat Sailor - I name you Brainiac of Argghhh! You got it right.

If our Ozzie OFS hadn't gotten it, I would have offered up this as a clue today, followed quickly with this.

If that was insufficient (I'm thinking it would have been enough) - I'd have offered up this.

But I don't have to do that. Because OFS identified it - it's a stand of quilted grape.

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In this case, a replica of Revolutionary War-era stand of quilted grape, in the six-pounder version. An early form of "Improved Conventional Munitions," grape was used against attacking infantry at greater ranges. Comprised of a wooden base, or sabot, with a wood rod protruding from it, they were stacked round with iron balls, held in place by the cloth and twine wrapping, which was then doped. The wrapping and sabot kept it all together for easy loading, and the paint helped waterproof it, prevent rot of the cloth, and provided some more rigidity.

The ones you find in museums have usually been painted black or red. This one is au naturel, to show the basic construction better. Made this way to speed loading (that infantry is looking pretty determined), the twine and cloth gave way upon firing, turning the gun into a giant shotgun. Grape, with it's larger balls, had a greater range at the expense of fewer projectiles. Canister is grape's short-range cousin, being smaller balls, usually lead musket balls, loosely loaded into a container (canister) and fired when the infantry had gotten annoyingly close and looked like they were still interested in killing artillerymen. Of course, once you started shooting this at infantry, the infantry became notoriously uninterested in taking prisoners, either... infantry sucks that way.

Why is is called a Stand of Grape? In fortress use especially, but also in the field, you stood them up on the wooden sabot, so they wouldn't roll around. Larger guns oft times fired grape made of larger iron balls held together by iron plates and rings, like this stand of 12-pounder grapeshot.

by John on May 24, 2006

March 03, 2006

Since Owen's running around picking fights in the comments today...

...let's see if we can distract him with bright shiny objects.

Silly blog graphic and refrigerator magnet to the first person who gets this one.

What is it? Whose is it? When was it used? Bonus points for succinct dissertations!

So, what izzit?

Let's see if we can attract a lurker or two with this one.

by John on Mar 03, 2006

January 23, 2006

Time for a gun post...

...and not just because we've been nominated at Countertop Chronicles for "Best Gun Pron" in the Gunnies, either!

A topic covered in the gunblogs, I know by Murdoc and others, as well as me... Metalstorm gets closer to entering service. This is an ugly little spud.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Next month a new high-explosive munition will be fired in Singapore and then tested again by the U.S. Army, heralding what may be a sea change in weaponry: a gun that can fire 240,000 rounds per minute.

That's compared to 60 rounds per minute in a standard military machine gun.

Metal Storm Inc., a munitions company headquartered in Virginia but with its roots in Australia, has been developing a gun that can shoot at blistering speeds, albeit in short bursts as each barrel is reloaded.

Company website with video click here.

Speaking of Murdoc, I'll let him have at this story.

Speaking of machine guns... take a look at the durability (not to mention reliability) of the latest rendition of that venerable old pig, the M60. Do me a favor - right click and save as - don't stream it. Right-click and save-as here.

I'll close this post with a picture of a new Castle Armory acquisition - a M1886 German Shrapnel round - that has a very interesting (to the Armorer) time fuze. Subject of a future post.

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by John on Jan 23, 2006

January 17, 2006

Okay, let's put this baby to rest.

I should get a job as a consultant. Oh, wait! I already have one! (Though not for much longer, If I dork up a client engagement like I hosed this post- watch the melt-down of a cocky blogger as he gets deconstructed by his *friends*. I can't wait for the moonbats to show up).

This mystical missile/artillery projectile which the US has been blamed for. I've been in training for the last two days and haven't really been able to jump on this.

But I've got my answer.

This is the round in question:
Mystery Missile as reported by NYT and causing a tizzy

My conclusion?

Russian 122mm HE Hosting provided by FotoTime

Update:Originally I thought the 152mm HE. Then I found the pic of the 122mm HE (left) and let myself get target fixated on the markings match. Just like that one. Then, on my own and outed in the comments before I could post it - I found the 155mm version (on the right).

The Pakis make a 155mm round, with the same general marking scheme, though I haven't been able to get good dimensional data (though they call it an M107, the dimensions of the round in the picture don't quite match the M107 dimension I was measuring (which I chose because it was self-referent and didn't require an external reference.) but some of that is accounted for in distortion in the photographs, as well as the fact that the rotating band on the NYT is squashed a bit from firing.

As Tobias notes in the comments (he caught me before I was done with this update), you can make a case the contours are different from the 122mm pictured, I concede that and won't deny perhaps a little target fixation on my part. Heck, when I really think about it - 122mm in comparison is really rather smaller - further reinforcing the 152/155 idea - and with no evidence (thus far) of Pakistani 152mm production... That said - the markings match Pakistani practice, and while I haven't slugged through the deployments - I don't believe we ever sent 155mm guns to Afghanistan, and we don't drop artillery munitions from aircraft. We have dropped artillery cannon barrels from aircraft... as ordnance. The Gulf War GBU-28 bunker busters.

Updated updated updates. Fark it. I quit. I'm too stupid for this job. This is turning into a Wiki where I'm the secretary...

"we don't drop artillery munitions from aircraft."

Weeeeellll, actually, we do. 105mm Rounds, precision fired at a rate of about 9 per minute, handfed, from about 5-10K feet up. But that round's too small for a 105, right?

I'll just leave it alone from here on out, and quit trying to be newsy and current. I suck at it. At least today. To hell with the voices in my head. Feh.

He's right of course. The flipping AC-130. No I don't think it's a 105. But nonetheless, I give up. I'm tired of all the edits and editors. (It's *my* fault, I'm the dolt who typed this drivel and then put it up).

Here - look for yourself. From left to right (the two center are *roughly* in scale to each other, the two outer are larger in relative terms to the center projos): 152mm, 155mm Pakistani, 155mm US, the NYT projectile.

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The Pakistanis also make a 130mm round, which follows the same marking conventions, but the rotating band is so dissimilar as to not be in contention.

BTW - guess who makes and uses these rounds? With these markings? Pakistan Ordnance Factory. Click on products, ordnance, artillery. Take a look at the wares offered - and how they are marked.

Okay, that's the dull and boring stuff. See the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry for How I Reached That (partly wrong before the update) Conclusion.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jan 17, 2006
» CDR Salamander links with: NTY doesn't know beans about things that go boom
» Murdoc Online links with: John the Armorer on the NYT's "missile"

January 12, 2006

Little tiny additions.

Not to the Castle, but to the Armory Holdings. As noted, large, expensive additions to the collection are on hold, so the Armorer indulges his collecting jones with smaller stuff, in price, if not always in size. Yesterday's mail delivered a case in point. The Armorer is a Rotarian - and one of the fun things about my particular club is that they are very tolerant of their more eccentric members (among whom the Armorer, of course, is numbered). Rotary sponsors several forms of international exchange programs, both hosting international students and small groups of Rotary-sponsored people doing research, projects, etc. We are probably one of the few clubs that takes visiting foreigners out shooting, usually themed shoots, such as the US Civil War for the Japanese group last year (using member's Civil War era firearms), the South American Mauser shoot for the Argentines, etc. The Armorer has hauled some of the Castle Holdings to meetings, and we've had guest speakers bring their own Kewl and Needful Things to illustrate their talks.

Then there's my usual table and the two other geeks who sit there, Beau and Charley. Charley is a groupie. He got into collecting late, whereas Beau has been collecting for 50 years, and I, 33. We sometimes look like drug dealers or gun runners out in the parking lot, open the trunk and admiring some wondrous new acquisition. We do have some discretion - we don't routinely stroll in with pistols and rifles. But we do stroll in with pocket-sized stuff. I went home yesterday to let the Exterior Guard assume their duties, and the mail had arrived.

Which contained this wonderful bounty from France:

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Lefaucheux pinfire rounds, in 5, 7, 9, and 12mm caliber, and 5 (only one shown) 6mm Longue cartidges. The Longue was interesting to me as it is another transitional cartridge (as discussed in this post some time ago) reflecting the state of manufacturing at the time - using a copper case and a brass base, because they hadn't worked out all the kinks of producing drawn brass cartridges with primer pockets in their bases. The Longue is a rimfire cartridge, meaning the primer composition is in the rim of the base of the cartridge, rather than in the center of the base - just as .22 ammunition is today.

The pinfires represent a different form of transition - that of figuring out just where the heck the primer goes. You may be surprised to learn this system was was developed by a Frenchman named Casimir Lefaucheux possibly as early as 1828, and it was certainly established on the Continent by 1840, though it was slower to jump the Channel, reaching England at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, and making it to the US just prior to the Civil War. These rounds represent the attempt to apply percussion primers with self-obturating (sealing) cartridge cases, to produce effective, reliable self-contained breech-loading ammunition.

This is how they worked - the primer was either glued to the side of the cartridge on the inside, or was embedded in molded powder compound, and the pin runs through the cartridge and protrudes from the side, as this diagram from an old book shows.

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It worked fairly well, all things considered - the drawbacks being complicated assembly and the fact that there would be some blow-by around the pin - which was okay in a black powder weapon, which generates relatively low, slow-building pressure, but wasn't going to work for the new nitro-based smokeless powders.

The Arsenal does not yet contain (but will, but will) any pinfire weapons. A pinfire pistol looks pretty much like any other, with two exceptions.

And if you want to see those - hit the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry!

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jan 12, 2006

December 12, 2005

Castle Artillery Pr0n

And now for something completely different, (ok, not really for longtime visitors), from the stocks of the Castle Armory. Since people who hide behind things but still want to sneak up on you (or even jump up, run at you and stick you with long pointy-things-with-sharp-edges really suck, people (i.e., artillerymen) thought up Shrapnel. In this case, a very specific artillerist, Major General Henry Shrapnel (though he invented it, I believe, when he was a mere Lieutenant).

So - from the Armory Holdings, a used WWI French Time/Impact Fuze. Of a type originally developed in 1889, this particular version is the 24/31mm Modele 1915, sitting in the nose of a 75mm Shrapnel round, seen here disassembled (albeit an empty round with none of the cool fiddly-bits).

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This is how you normally find them... with the nose of the projectile attached. In WWI, true shrapnel rounds (vice fragmenting HE now that the fact is that *all* fragments are called shrapnel) were essentially one-use mini-shotguns delivered over the target, where a small black powder charge in the base blew out a small plate, upon which were stacked lead or steel balls. The nose blew out, and the balls scattered like shot from a shotgun. Unlike the shrapnel rounds from the Civil War era, which suspended the balls in a matrix and then blew the whole round into pieces. Now when you read a WWI memoir that talks of the little puffs of white smoke from the shrapnel... you'll know what it means. It doesn't mean standard HE bursting in the air.

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Since you rarely see these old "beehive" fuzes intact, here are two - one ready for putting in the shell, the other with its lead foil protective cover. The cannoneer punched a hole at the appropriate time mark (there is a spiral powder train in the body of the fuze) so that when the round was fired, flame from firing would flash around the projectile as it left the muzzle, finding entry at the punch mark, igniting the powder train. Hence the lead foil cover - the flame exposure is very brief, so the powder has to catch quickly and must thus be protected from moisture. They also had an impact component, that series of pointy-things inside of springs running down the middle, as shown in this cutaway drawing:

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Here's a graphic cutaway from a Victorian-era Brit ammunition manual that shows what these rounds generally looked like. This particular round in the drawing didn't have a "blow-away nose" like the round in the Castle holdings - it just blew out the brass fuze, which being a softer metal, shears out before the threads on the baseplate of the projectile did. If it was a "burster" type round, the central tube would be filled with powder - here it's a flash-tube to convey the flame from the fuze-function down to the charge in the base.

Here is a photo of three Brit rounds from the 1890-1914 era. The two on the left have bursting charges in the base - you can clearly see the brass flash-tube running down the middle to the charge in the base. The one on the right has its bursting charge up top - meaning it probably blows out the base or shatters the round. Shattering the round is most likely, since the balls would not have near the velocity (and would have a much greater dispersion pattern, which can be good or bad depending on the way the target infantry is arrayed). I'm guessing that one didn't last long in service.

Lastly: Don't forget to Vote For Us!

To close this completely - you can see some of these fuzes larger cousins on the "ready rounds" in this engraving of French Artillery from WWI, with a 155mm on the left, and a 270mm Mortar on the right - the rounds for that monster are fitted with the Beehive fuze. The engraving is from a book published just after the war, and is in the Holdings of the Castle Library.

by John on Dec 12, 2005

November 29, 2005

Interesting tidbits.

Hmmm, it *isn't* the poor and disenfranchised who are joining the services. Just saying it's so doesn't make it so.

H/t, Ry.

Inventive minds at work... on eavesdropping... *this* one is going to annoy teens... if you watch Emeril, you know he's always telling you to hit on the cable company for smellivision, right? It's on the way... lastly, another competitor for space in the artillery's basic load - mine clearing rounds. Of course, now you have all those darts for the kids to hurt themselves with - or me to hurt myself with, given my track record...

Speaking of inventive minds... Snerk!

Heh. Ted Turner says Iraqis are not better off than before... Senator Joe Lieberman, just back from Iraq, has a slightly different view. Ted hasn't been there, has he? But - could they both be right? Just like the surgery patient at the moment isn't in the best of health... but is on the mend? Just sayin'.

I see Lex is back. Good.

For a change of pace: Anybody know what this is? A new addition to the Castle Munitions exhibit. It's a milestone piece of ordnance, albeit it had a brief life.

Hosting provided by FotoTime

So, research away! Unless you're a grognard and already know...

Update: Ken and Fred got it at pretty much the same time. But CAPT H got it first, and in detail:

A version of the Armour Piercing- Composite, Rigid projectile. In this case, the round is fired through a tapered bore barrel; the two flanges are squeezed into the main body, and the velocity of the round increases. "...was the squeezebore gun, of which there were two basic types; the Gerlich and the Littlejohn. In both, a projectile fitted with flanges to fit a large caliber barrel was squeezed down to a smaller caliber before it left the muzzle." Geek Warning!

Looks like yours is a 28/20mm for a Gerlich tapered bore gun (2.8cms PzB41?).

Got it in one, John.

by John on Nov 29, 2005

September 15, 2005

Big Gun Pr0n

The Arsenal at Argghhh! is more than small arms. We have grenades, mines, maces for trench raiding, comfort items... etc. We also have a relatively decent assortment of artillery ammunition (it *is* after all, the ammunition that is the true weapon).

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We even know where we can get one of these:

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The dummy training projectile for the Iowa-class battleships. They're in Idaho, and at around 1800 pounds each, they'd be a tad expensive to ship.

More importantly, perhaps, we don't have the proper gear in the Arsenal to schlep 'em around, either (including the surly sailor!).

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But someday... someday, when the dream tower on the bluff overlooking the river is built... I'll get *two* to flank the driveway!

Oh, and I should caveat, all of this is in compliance with the Standard Disclaimers®.

And for all these reasons and more... the nomination of Judge Roberts is important to both sides of the debate. Why? Because things like the New Orleans rather arbitrary confiscation of firearms are going to end up before the court.

by John on Sep 15, 2005
» Alphecca links with: Hey, Big Boy...
» Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Democrats shift focus in court fight
» NIF links with: Another Today
» Don Surber links with: The First Katrina Lawsuit
» PatriotVoices links with: Farewell to most powerful ICBM

August 30, 2005

The way to the Armorer's Good Graces... via firepower.

Something SWWBO knows well, having bought me this for Christmas before we got married, and *this* after, and not being annoyed by this or this or this.

Now comes AFSis, fresh from New York. (Happy Anniversary, kiddo!)

And she sends this, a 24 pounder in Castle Clinton... who could ask for more?

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Heh. Mebbe cannon with a Cute Chick©? Like this?

by John on Aug 30, 2005

July 01, 2005

All right... since a lot of you are taking off early...

...for the holiday (and, since the Armorer's father has just had surgery (he's fine), Armorer-posting will be light... so perhaps Dusty and Bill will take up the slack (hint, hint).

Meantime - here are two relatively rare cartridges. Grognards - state your determination in a comment *then* check the comments and see what other people think. All six (maybe) of you who will try, anyway! 8^D

These cartridges are interesting in themselves, and represent special or rare applications.

This is the easy one (I think):

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This is harder, though I'm sure the Googler's will score it - there's enough info in that headstamp to lead you to the answer. Boq will probably get it without the assistance of Google.

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Here they are with a Win 32.20 for comparson.

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Since they've *both* been indentified - might as well give a shot of the bullet hiding in the depths of the Nagant round:

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Hmmm. I think there's a post in there somewhere... with pictures of Nagants, cartridges... and just how *does* a gas seal revolver work...

Trivia note: Actual fire command given in Soviet manual for the pistol:

At the fleeing deserter - Fire!

by John on Jul 01, 2005

June 09, 2005

Boquisucio - this one's for you!

Okay - aside from Boquisucio, who cannot play this round - can anyone identify this headstamp?

Okay, Boq - you can play for this one.

Who can identify this one? First right answer gets bragging rights! Rifle caliber casing...

Email responses only for this one. Just to give some guys a chance!

Update: Heh. One taker (who got it right in two tries). Okay, here's a hint that will ease the red herrings as you Google... rimmed casing, straight-sided, with a taper to it.

Obviously all the airplane guys check in around here, and the cartridge types have given up on me.

Update II: Okay. Here's another hint. Sheesh, only three takers... A reminder - this pic is larger than life - the thing is rifle caliber.

by John on Jun 09, 2005

January 19, 2005

Assault Rifle Ammunition

JMH sends along this link to an interesting article on 6.5 comparing and contrasting the developmental history and choices in choosing/designing ammunition for the assault rifle genus.

Perhaps of equal interest to me (and any other ammo collectors out there) is the homepage of the author of the article, Anthony Williams - CANNON, MACHINE GUNS AND AMMUNITION... looks like my kinda guy!

by John on Jan 19, 2005
» SayUncle links with: Les has more

January 12, 2005

The new 6.8mm Spec Ops round.

Before I launch into this discussion - I reload now and again, but it's vanilla, using standard data. I gunsmith, but I'm not a designer, I'm a repairer of milsurp (hell, anything, if you ask me to), nor do I do custom work. I'm looking at starting to build my own guns - but they will be older guns, originals of which are unobtainable with my projected lifetime income, and the ones available shouldn't be shot, anyway. I'm talking hand gonnes, wheelocks, matchlocks, etc. There are several manufacturers out there who will provide castings and forgings, rough finished stocks and (interior at least) finished barrels that the home crafstman will have to fit, temper, harden, polish and assemble. It's the only way I'm going to push the holdings of the Castle much farther back in time, as reproductions. But that oughta be cool, as well as fun - and since you can get all the pieces individually, if you screw it up, you can order a new part and start over and not go broke.

I bring that up because unlike at many other gun-related sites, I don't get into the technical bits about ballistics (I can write a nice treatise on interior, exterior, and terminal if you'd like) but I'm just not into it like that.

One reason for that is, I don't hunt, and I don't precision target shoot. My interest in shooting has always been from a practical perspective. I was more interested in being technically competent, and able to hit man-size targets from whatever position I was in, preferably behind cover, and knowing when to use area fire to reduce risk. Combat shooting. I've never been one of those guys who takes his shooting rest, sets up on the bench, shoots through his chronograph, and takes calipers downrange to measure his shot groups. If everything was center of mass at my aiming point, I was happy. Which is a good thing - my preferred weapon for recreation is a surplus military firearm... shooting surplus military ammo. I could lock that in a shooting vise and still have irregular groups, so if all my shots are in the center of mass at 100 yards and over, that usually is pretty competent shooting. I was also a paintball wizard in my day - that kind of snapshooting is a useful skill, if it doesn't truly give you a proper appreciation for cover versus concealment.

So, if you ever come across me on the range - I'm usually shooting faster than the other guy, unless he's just playing like I am. If I can, I'll have multiple targets at different ranges, and engage them in sequence, or randomly.

Because that's the kind of shooting that kept my ass intact, those very few time I needed it. I don't have a 10th the firefight exposure most combat troops in Iraq have.

So - I do collect cartridges, in that I like to have at least one to match each weapon in the arsenal here at the Castle, and there is much to learn (or to teach, when cracking open skulls and pouring in data) and having the artifacts makes it both easier to learn and to teach.

The parent cartridge for the 6.8mm Rem SPC is the old .30 Remington, which is essentially a rimless .30-30. Left to right: .30 Remington, 6.8mm Rem SPC, .308 Winchester, .223 Remington.

Where was I? Oh, yeah - the new 6.8mm round. CAPT H, my Canuckistanian Compadre, sent along a link to this article on the new round, written by one of the guys involved in its development.

Why develop a new round? There are actually lots you who read me who know more about it (or at least have stronger opinions, based on the comments) but the .223 round fired from the M4 just doesn't have the oomph, especially at range, we'd like. I hate it when I shoot someone and they get back up. That means I have to divert my attention from the other guy I'm shooting and re-engage a target that doesn't have the good sense to stay down. Never mind the fact I expected my soldiers to behave the same way if they (or I) got shot - the fight's not over just because you got unlucky...

I have never been a fan of the M16, though I found the M4 handy as a field grade officer, and vastly superior to the Beretta. Yeah, I'm one of those guys who would come into a division TOC with an M4. I'd still pack the M92, as well, or, if I was in a friendly environment for that sort of thing, I'd have my Remington-Rand M1911A1. I'm curmudgeonly that way. And I got in trouble now and then with more conventional bosses... Hell, when I was a battery commander, I traded my VTR (Vehicle Tracked, Recovery - a tracked tow truck) driver my .45 for his M3 Grease Gun. I figured if I needed to influence a fight personally, a subgun was going to do better at that than a .45, at greater range, and with less likelihood of sight problems with someone else's no-longer-needed, sighted-for-them M16. And yes, you really can shoot one of those things accurately enough - just don't hold down the trigger!

But I'm a big guy, and my favorite rifle continues to be the M14 - even though I know why it didn't last, except as a sniper weapon. But that's instructive, too - it survived as a sniper weapon because it was accurate, reliable - and the cartridge had good combat ballistics.

The new 6.8mm round seems to be the good compromise here. Virtually the same flight characteristics and lethality as the .308, yet still small enough for the M16 receiver, bolt, and gas system.

I'll look forward to getting a chance to pop a few caps. Too bad I don't know anyone in the MTU at Benning... I probably could have scored a shot at it when I was down there last November. And mebbe I'll hold off on getting a semi-auto M4 clone until they come out in 6.8mm for the civilian market.

by John on Jan 12, 2005

January 07, 2005

What is it?

This ain't a contest. I've been asked to help ID this bullet, and I haven't a clue, nor a reference that mentions anything remotely like it.

Anybody out there got some idea of what it is?

Another shot here.

From the email asking for help:

So now that I have the bullet in my hands I can tell you a few more things about it. The rear of the bullet is not solid copper like Tom told me. The "wires" are also not steel like he thought. They are not lead nor aluminum, they appear to be a stiff alloy that is not magnetic. I tried to scrape them with a knife blade and they are very hard. I also measured the bullet diameter with my calipers and took several readings at the base and about 1/4" from the base, I came up with three readings of .350, .351 and .352. The jacket is scored by the 5 groove rifling from the base to approx .365" forward of the base. By now you've noticed the "wires." This bullet consists of 7 "wires" forming the core which is spirally wrapped by 5 more "wires" that are the wire fingers you see sticking out, one of which is broken off. The bullet as you see it weighs 92 grains.

So, what about it smart guys? Got any ideas?

Update: Right now the working hypothesis is a Ballisticlean round.

Like this description.

If that holds up, SangerM wins the non-existent prize! Oh, heck, I've got the Arsenal Store - Sanger, pick a pic of something you like, mug or mousepad on the Castle!

Update 2. I think we can move beyond working hypothesis. The Sheepdog found this (and you should go there to see it - so he can have the traffic bump!)

Having gone the extra mile and found confirmatory photographs - I'll extend him the same offer I did SangerM.

by John on Jan 07, 2005
» Airborne Combat Engineer links with: Name that bullet 07JAN05
» links with: So John what do I win? ^_^
» Les Jones links with: Gun Links #29

October 21, 2004

The answer to the teaser...

Okay. The teaser I posted was pretty tough. A lot of thought went into most of the responses. If you're new to how I do this... *usually* not always, but usually, there are clues in the Arsenal photo album. In this case, the answer was there, as I had already uploaded all the photos while I was still doing a little research to flesh out the post.

It's a tround. From Triangular Round, seen here with a Brit WWI-era .303 MkVIIZ ball round. The Tround was developed by David Dardick, who developed a revolving pistol that could be magzine fed. Yep. A magazine fed revolver (see picture links below)

The tround uses a strong plastic (some sources also assert aluminum-reinforced) cartridge of triangular section. The gun is a revolver, but the chambers are open to the outside. The cylinder was wrapped in a casing (which is why in the picture below it doesn't look like a revolver), except where the cartridge was loaded and the case ejected, similar to the drawing here, from Chinn's series of books on machinegun development (ya want those books or CD if you are into machineguns). That's the innovation that makes it possible; the cartridge drops straight into the chamber through the gap in the casing, rotates in line with the barrel and when fired is supported by both the cylinder and the casing, which in combination act as the more traditional chamber.

Primer view. (click the link, you guys from Sixgunner - I do too know the bullet end from the primer end!)

The Dardick pistols and carbine were produced in Hamden CT, from around 1959-61 There were 3 different pistol models, and a carbine modification.

Model 1100: This came with two interchangeable barrels for the .38 Special and .22 Long Rifle. The barrel lengths were 3.0 inches. It could hold 11 trounds.

Model 1500: This also came with 2 interchangeable barrels for the .38 Special and .22 Long Rifle, but had 6 inch barrels and could hold 15 trounds. I have seen sources which also say the 1500 only carried 11 trounds.

Model 2000: The Model 2000 held 20 rounds.

Rifle Conversion: Remove the barrel and the pistol frame could be fitted into a stocked rifle.

Numrich/Gun Parts Corporation also produced Dardick pistols, but what little info I've found on that indicated they never worked reliably due to manufacturing flaws in cylinder timing.

There are three types of trounds, of which I have two. The first, and the kind I don't have, is really a carrier for the standard cartridge, which slipped into the tround. The second, of which the black one I used in the teaser is one, were purpose-built, with a primer, powder, and bullet integral to the tround. Tround are reloadable. Reloading would have been relatively easy, as there is no case expansion and thus no need for resizing or crimping. Simply replace the primer, load the powder and press the bullet in place. There is an internal cannelure in the case to hold the bullet and provide enough resistance for the initial pressure build to ensure a more complete powder burn and reliable tround-to-tround perfomance - though I have no idea how many times you could reload one.

The example in the Arsenal is a .50 caliber dummy, part of a bunch made for the development of a tround-loaded light machine gun in the late 80's early 90's.

The other tround in the collection is the one which had the most commercial success. It was developed for a drilling device for rock drilling. This is a salesmans sample. Sarco has 'em for sale I believe - they want $100 which is a heckuva lot more than I paid for mine at a gunshow.

Made of clear plastic, it has three ceramic 'bullets' in it, with a common powder charge and primer. To quote from Sarco's website:

Super rare 20mm rock drill cartridge - Dardik's only commercial success. This was a rock drill gun and if drilling hit a snag it shot three ceramic bullets in to the holes to pulverized [sic] the snag.

I think it was Gunner of No Quarters who asked me if I knew anything about trounds. Now you know pretty much all that I do. Sorry if I was a little slow, Gunner!

by John on Oct 21, 2004
» Quotulatiousness links with: If you read L. Neil Smith's books and wondered . . .

October 04, 2004

Extra-Super Serious Geek Alert!

WARNING-WARNING-WARNING-WARNING!!!! If you are easily bowled over by technogeeky jargon, just skip on down one. If high school physics broke your spirit, just keep on movin' on - if you think Superman comics are packed full of useful insights into how Newton's Laws and the Laws of Thermodynamics work... just keep on keepin' on!

Still here? You'll like this. The Instapilot will like this. Anybody wanna argue the math? [N.B. - it was sent to me, I didn't work this out]

We know the formula for kinetic energy is KE = ½mass x velocity2 . Now let's check in with the Movie Physics Guys.

So in their example, a small .45 caliber bullet weighing 15 grams and traveling at 288 meters per second yields is 619 joules of energy.

They further explain that if a man weighing 139 lbs (63.2 kg) were to fall off of a bed, it would yield roughly the same energy as being shot by that bullet; the difference being with a fall the energy is disbursed through the entire surface area of the man's body versus a bullet where the focal point is a tiny circle.
KE = ½mass x velocity2
KE = (.015kg / 2) x (288 m/s x 288 m/s)
KE = 619 joules of energy

Potential energy is defined to be PE = (mass) x (g) x (height), where the height is the vertical distance of the object from the ground and g stands for gravitational acceleration or acceleration due to gravity. Near the surface of the earth, g is a constant approximately equal to 9.8 meters per second per second (m/s2). You can use these formulas to calculate the total energy of the system by just adding up the forms.
PE = mass x gravity x height
PE = 63.2kg x 9.81 m/s x 1 meter
PE = 619 joules of energy

So taking this information, let's plug in the numbers of the Apache's M230 automatic gun ammunition. We have each 30mm round weighing 350 grams and traveling at 800 meters per second.
KE = (.3505kg / 2) x (800 m/s x 800 m/s)
KE = .175 x 640,000
KE = 112,160 joules

Now that's a little hard to wrap your army around... I mean just how much energy is 112,000 joules? Well, for starters it's 180 times the energy of the .45 caliber handgun bullet. So imagine 180 people all pointing .45 caliber handguns at this guy's body and everyone pulling the trigger all at the same time. Hmmm, yes...messy.

Furthermore, we can calculate just how high up this guy would have to plunge in order to release the same amount of energy as was released when he caught one of the Apache's 30mm rounds square in the chest...
112,160 = 63.2kg x 9.81 x height
height = 112,160 / (63.2 x 9.81)
height = 112,160 / 619.99
height = 180.9 meters (or 593 feet)

Now, taking our queue (sic) from the evolution of skyscrapers, I found an average 4.26 meters (13.96 feet) per floor. Thus this terrorist you see splattered all over Main Street in downtown Baghdad? He looks the same as if someone tossed his happy ass off a 42 story building.

And the best part? The Apache's 30mm gun is really a popgun compared to the 30mm gun of an A-10 -- same diameter slugs but they're much heavier and travel much faster. So should you be unlucky enough to eat one of the Warthog's tank killing depleted uranium slugs...
KE = (.91kg / 2) x (1500 m/s x 1500 m/s) = 1,023,750 joules of smack down
1,023,750 joules / 619 joules per .45 cal bullet = 1,626 people shooting you at once
1,023,750 joules = 63.2kg x 9.81 x height
height = 1,651 meters or 5,417 feet or a 1.02 mile freefall

But at a fire rate of 3,900 rounds per minute, the A-10's bullets will be more like Lays potato chips -- nobody's gonna eat just one. All you terrorist rats in Iraq and Iran better keep that in mind when you hear the whoop-whoop-whoop of helicopter blades, eh?

Hat tip to Cary!

by John on Oct 04, 2004
» There's One, Only! links with: Big Guns!

September 27, 2004

You know you wanted it.

...but you didn't want to dig through the archives or visit the Castle. But you knew you wanted to take another look at a french Chassepot Needle Gun with Cartridge inserted. If only for a firearms moment of Zen...

Besides, some of you are new, and haven't seen this stuff at all!

by John on Sep 27, 2004

August 28, 2004

The answer to the question...

If you need to refresh yourself on the question... go here.

Many good guesses, not just in the comments, but in email, from people who were afraid they might get ridiculed for being wrong... (this is *not* that kind of site - unless you get stupid and snarky first!). Lots of people (22 in all) played this time, and much good logic and knowledge was on display.

Pretty much everybody fell victim to what Douglas Adams spoke of in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: '.....where due to a tragic miscalculation of scale, the entire battlefleet was swallowed by a small dog.'

1. We had people guess this.

2. And one like this.

3. And this.

4. Mebbe one of these.

5. Possibly one of those.

6. Someone even suggested these.

7. Surprising me (as this would have been my guess a few months ago), no one guessed this.

The answer is in the Flash Traffic.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Aug 28, 2004

August 27, 2004

Castle Argghhh!'s newest acquisition.

Since the Castle is supporting 1.5 kids in college, high-end items remain on the wish list and not in the pipeline. While reasons of frugality (and, okay, debt service) have scaled back operations, the mailman or BBT (Big Brown Truck) does still make the occasional delivery.

This arrived yesterday.

Anybody out there know what it is? Click the pic for high res.

Another view is here.

by John on Aug 27, 2004

August 23, 2004

Maintenance day, continued.

As mentioned earlier, yesterday was Maintenance Day at Castle Argghhh!, with much dusting, checking of rust-proofing, some rearranging, and, perhaps most importantly, some poking in long-overlooked corners.

One of those corners was the Ordnance Closet, wherein the Armory's store of artillery and tank projectiles, rockets and bombs, which are not normally on display out of space considerations (should we ever remember to buy lottery tickets and those, winning ones... watch out! Sadly, I doubt the Arsenal numbers any sugar-daddies or -mommas among it's readers). We were mildly distressed to find this, buried in the far-more-damp-than-I-realized corner of the closet. Looks like I need to either add a, or re-site the existing, de-humidifier.

So, as I was gonna hafta deal with it anyway, I decided it was time y'all learned more than you wanted to know about Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions - DPICM - which I will punish you with in the Flash Traffic.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Aug 23, 2004

July 14, 2004

Answer to the "What is it"


The object in question is one of four darts contained in the bullet in this experimental bullet designed to improve the performance of what Kim du Toit calls the "9mm Euroweenie Pellet." The case is marked 9mm Luger. Well, actually, because it's cut in half, it's marked 9mm Lug. The darts are embedded in rubber.

Here is the cut-away with a standard Winchester 9mm, and here it is with an 8mm Mauser, just to keep you in scale.

So, those of you who argued for penetrator, or 'core' were correct, if you had a leetle teeny tiny scale problem.

In looking at everyday things since I posted the initial bit, I noted that the metal tip of a ball point pen looks very similar, and, so would a removable tip from a drawing compass, something one commenter got very close to.

Now - anybody know who made these? I don't. I got it off of Auction Arms some years ago and have no idea where it originated.

Oh! Yeah! The background - that's not pigskin. It's a really cheap blanket!

by John on Jul 14, 2004
» Les Jones Blog links with: Thursday Gun Links #25

July 09, 2004

Lets look at a cartridge, in detail, eh?

Click the picture for a hi-res view.

In this case, a Canadian-produced .577 cartridge for the Snider rifle. The Snider rifle is a transition rifle, the cartridge is a transition cartridge. The Sniders were the equivalent to the US Springfield Trapdoor or Austrian Werndl rifles, being a conversion of the muzzle-loading Enfield 3 Band musket and it's kin to a breech loading capability. The Snider had a 'flip-open' breechblock that opened to the side, the Trapdoor had a 'flip-up' action that opened upwards, the Werndl rolled to the side.

The cartridge represents the second generation of cartridges, when manufacturers were getting away from pin-fire and rim-fire to center-fire. This cartridge represents the bridge from the early systems to what we have today.

The details are in the Flash Traffic. Click on the thumbnails to open the slides and links - and I recommend you right-click and open them in a new window, so you can go back and forth.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jul 09, 2004
» Les Jones Blog links with: Thursday Gun Links #25
» Les Jones Blog links with: Thursday Gun Links #25

July 06, 2004

Answer to the last challenge.

Well, hats off to Captain H of Her Majesty's Canadian Forces, who, using all the tools at his disposal, and while in the midst of a move, got the right answer, correct in all details.

Gunner, with a little coaching, got there too.

The fact that I set this up for a tanker, well, so some of ya don't need to feel bad ya didn't get it.

Guesses ranged from tripods to rifle bolts. Good guesses all.

Oh, yeah. The answer.

76mm TP-T HEAT round for the US M41 Walker Bulldog tank.

TP-T HEAT = Training Practice-Tracer High Explosive Anti-Tank. Guessing the weapon system (not a requirement, extra credit to CPT H) was made easy because the M41 tank was the only tank we had in service after Korea with a 76mm gun.

Here's a shot of the markings.

by John on Jul 06, 2004
» Les Jones Blog links with: Thursday Gun Links #25

July 02, 2004

Viven-Bessiere Rifle grenade and launchers. Part 1

Nota Bene: this is a long one, and I've chopped it up into four parts.

Okay, as I have said before, people who are trying to kill you while you are trying to kill them suck. They’re supposed to just surrender, right? I mean, why can’t we all just get along – especially if you’ll do what I tell you! Anyway, once this whole blackpowder/gun thing got going, especially as the guns got better, people started doing things like hiding. And that sucks. Besides, they rarely come at you alone, and if you’ve got a single-shot rifle and all, well, gee, it would be nice to be able to get more’n one guy at a time, if you could, and ya know the penny-pinching bean counters who don’t ever *have* to do any of this fighting stuff, well, they think fancy guns are an extravagance, but they’re willing to spend some bucks on grenades.

But then that means you have to throw them, right? And back in the day, pretty much only Americans played baseball, a game that teaches you how to throw a long way. So the namby-pamby Europeans, decided to find ways to loft grenades without having to stand up and throw ‘em like a man, yet were cheaper than mortars, artillery and such. First they started out with stick grenades . Then they moved on with rod grenades, that you stuck in the barrel of your rifle, fired a special blank, and off it went. Of course, this required you to carry blanks AND remember to use them. If you didn’t, well, it ruined the rifle, and caused annoyance to yourself and those around you.

Of course, then we discovered that it ruined the rifle anyway, splitting stocks and such, as well as bulging the barrels, which required that stocks be reinforced, and barrels replaced. The Brits carried that the furthest, by wrapping ‘EY” (grenade launcher, so designated from rifles no longer accurate enough for issue use) rifles with copper wire, so when the stock split the grenadier didn’t get a faceful of splinters. The Indian Army, who carried forward the WWI Enfield rifle design into the 1970’s, went so far as to wrap their rifles with sheet metal. Well, the rod grenades are a different post, so to heck with them. Let’s move on to grenade discharger cups, and in particular, the French WWI version.

To save eyestrain on the main blog, I've broken this into four parts.

Part II, the story, con't.

Part III. The Launchers.

Part IV. The Grenades.

by John on Jul 02, 2004

I'm finishing up the VB post...'s an easy challenge for ya to tide you over.

So, what is it?

Here's a hint, for those of you who have to play it safe.

This one is so easy, no answers in the comments. Email your responses (all four of you who ever play these things) to:


removing the asterisks and capped letters, natch.

by John on Jul 02, 2004

June 28, 2004

The answer to the question...

Which only one of you guys bit on, anyway. The question is here.

Gunner - you were really very close. It's the cartridge (not the primer) that goes in a PIAT round. Which isn't recoilless, but ya still got pretty close, all things considered!

Here's the cartridge in context (in service it was all the way up inside the tube and not visible).

My PIAT round is actually one of the more complete 'in the wild' outside of big time museums. I have the cartridge, the fuze holder (battlefield recovery from Oosterbeek Heights, Arnhem), and a fuze. Since it was an inert trainer not intended to be fired, it disassembles to show the forcing cone of the shaped charge and the shape of the charge itself.

So, take this post, add to the other PIAT post, and you've got a pretty good idea of what the PIAT was and how it worked.

by John on Jun 28, 2004

June 26, 2004


...and the crowd goes wild! Woo-woo! Am I excited!

Looky what I just got! One of the Holy Grails!

Wanna guess what it is? Something more specfic than the d-uh comments, now!

by John on Jun 26, 2004

June 14, 2004

You know you always wondered...

...why it was called cordite, didn't you?

You know you did. Now, you know. Look at the propellant in the cartridge case.

Corded. Ergo, cordite.

As in this bit, from this warrior turned peace protestor in Canada (I felt it rude to just snip his bit and not let you read the rest of his message...)

Mostly the memories which came back to me are not the sounds and the sights, but the smells: the smell of diesel exhaust from the tanks as we made our way up the spine of Italy is one smell that stays with me; the smell of cordite as we passed near heavy artillery sites soon after a barrage; the choking sweet-sickly smell of dead tank crews in burnt-out tanks in Italy; the distinctive smell of dead farm animals and tote-mules in the river valleys of Italy; the offensive odour of dead soldiers in Okinawa as I followed a truck of casualties being transported to the US embalming unit in the rear area. I had shoved these deep into my dead files. However, I'm afraid they've all come up again.

First off, I agree with him completely on the smell issue. The smell of burning powder, diesel exhaust on a crisp cold morning, ripe roadkill - those will all trigger memories, some good, some rather nasty. I know I sometimes attract looks on a cold morning if I'm anywhere near a running diesel and I stand there and take a good sniff... though every now and then someone standing near me will say something like, "Just like the DMZ, ain't it?" Or Graf, or Hohenfels, or Hof, or fill-in-the-blank, where-ever they spent a cold military morning with idling diesels. For aviators it's kerosene.

"The smell of cordite" has worked it's way into the vernacular, even though cordite is no longer routinely used as a propellant - unless you, like me, are shooting surplus ammo. It's a cliche'.

And now ya know what it looks like - at least in a WWI-era .303 Brit bullet. In tech jargon:

CORDITE, the name given to the smokeless propellant in use in the British army and navy. The material is produced in the form of cylindrical rods or strings of varying thicknesses by pressing the material, whilst in a soft and pasty state, through dies or perforations in a steel plate by hydraulic or screw pressure, hence the name cordite. The thickness or size of the rods varies from about I mm. diameter to 5 or more mm. according to the nature of the charge for which it is intended. The smallest diameter is used for revolver cartridge and the largest for heavy guns. When first devised by the Ordnance Committee, presided over by Sir Frederick Abel, in 1891, this explosive consisted of 58% of nitro-glycerin, 37 % of gun-cotton, and 5% of mineral jelly. This variety is now known as Cordite Mark I. At the present time a modification is made which contains gun-cotton 65%, nitro-glycerin 30%, and mineral jelly 5 %. This is known as Cordite M.D. The advantages of Cordite M.D. over Mark I are slightly reduced rate of burning, higher velocities~ and more iegular pressure in the gun, and lower temperature.

If you'd like to read more, go here.

If the picture above is too small for you, then hie ye here!

by John on Jun 14, 2004

June 02, 2004

Viven-Bessiere Rifle grenade and launchers. Part IV

The Grenades.

There were at least three types of grenade made for the V-B system. First, was the standard HE grenade, which US industry produced over 20 million of for the war. Next was a message grenade that was used by the French, but rejected by the US. Lastly (that I’m aware of) was a pyrotechnic grenade, used as a carrier for flares, star clusters, and smoke.

Like the launchers, the US V-B grenades were essentially the same as their French forbears. The main difference between the two versions of the HE grenade is that the US grenade was made out of malleable iron instead of cast (brittle) iron. Both grenades were serrated internally to assist fragmentation – and because external serration would increase gas loss (and matching range loss) during launching. As John Heinrichs noted in comments to the earlier post on the subject – many grenades were serrated externally to improve the soldiers grip, and that the serration was for that purpose – it being known that external serration was ineffective in assisting controlled fragmentation. The historical record is mixed. There are US records dating to WWII where it came as a surprise that external serration was ineffective – perhaps simply because if anyone had tested prior to that, it was unknown to the then-serving officers on the Board.

I suspect it’s all correct. Some people and manufacturers knew, some didn’t, and most didn’t care in any big way.

Anyway, back to the story… The grenades are about 2.5 inches long and 2 inches in diameter (you metric-types can do your own conversion…) and weighed 17 ounces or so, just over a pound. They had a range of about 200 yards when fired at 47 degrees, and a ‘danger zone’ of 75 yards from the point of burst. Since the range exceeded the bursting radius, the grenade was considered both ‘offensive’ and ‘defensive’. The distinction being that an offensive grenade has a smaller bursting radius than its average throwing distance – i.e., it can be used by a soldier in the open, whereas a defensive (generally more powerful) assumes the user is under cover.

The pyrotechnic grenade (cylinder in the middle) was simply a carrier for combustable material, whether phosphorus or some other incendiary compound. They weren’t very effective and didn’t see much use.

Last, but not least, is the ‘message grenade’. Intended for use by cut-off units, it contained a tube into which a message could be inserted, and the grenade then fired. Upon landing, a small smoke charge would go off to make the grenade more visible. Several problems arose. The smoke charge was too small, consequently, it was hard to see. The fuze failed to function in soft ground. Until the somewhat mobile battles of late 1918, pretty much all the ground people were fighting over was soft ground from years of pounding. Lastly, if you were cut off, you couldn’t tell anyone you were going to be sending messages, so they wouldn’t be looking for them when they landed. If they were trying to get to you – same problem, exacerbated by the fact that cut-off and surrounded units are many times closer together as individuals on the battlefield… and getting hit with one of these things, well, sucked.

Here endeth the tale.

by John on Jun 02, 2004

Viven-Bessiere Rifle grenade and launchers. Part III

The Launchers.

There were essentially 5 types of V-B launchers in US service. To minimize the time between adoption, production, and issuance, the V-B launcher and grenades were adopted as-is. The only initial changes needed were the dimensional changes required to adapt to US rifle barrel/front sight profiles. When US production caught up there were 4 US- specific Marks of launcher adopted, though the Mark II was never manufactured.

1. The original was the French launcher. While US producers were tooling up to the new specs, the French produced 50.000 launchers for issuance made to the French specs, with the problems alluded to in the report above.
2. Mark I. Between the time the specs were determined and US producers were tooled up, the French produced another 50.000 launchers to the US spec.
3. Mark II. Not much is known about this one. It was spec’d but never adopted or produced.
4. Mark III. These launchers were stamped on the outside for which rifle they were intended to be used, and the launchers intended for the M1917 had a knurled band on them so that a soldier could assure himself he had the right launcher in darkness. (Trivia- the US issued more M1917 rifles during the war than M1903s). The Mark IIIs were like the original French launchers in that they had a straight slot milled in the stem and they slipped over the barrel and were shimmed in place.
5. The Mark IV had a spiral groove that hooked around the front sight and gave a more positive lock. The version for the M1917 rifle maintained the knurled band. My example is a M1917 version. The knurled band is eroded away by years of being buried on the battlefield, but it fits the M1917 easily, and will not fit the M1903. At least not with the effort I’m willing to put forth!

Part IV. The Grenades.

by John on Jun 02, 2004

Viven-Bessiere Rifle grenade and launchers. Part II

The French led the way with the ‘cup discharger” (as the Brits called them) style of grenade launching. The Brits, Germans, Russians, and the US followed them in close order. When US forces arrived in theater in France in 1917, we discovered that while it looked cool and impressed the ladies that you could stand up and toss a grenade 50 yards, the veritable sheet of lead the Germans were sending about 1 inch over the top of whatever cover you were behind tended to spoil your aim. So the US simply adopted the French version in-situ and over time made some minor changes in light of experience. The Brits, Germans, and Russians all developed their own launchers and grenades. I’ll cover the German discharger in a later post – and I’ll cover the Russian, too, if I ever score a launcher. I can cover the Russian grenades.

The British version (also a post for a later time) used standard grenades, with or without a special baseplate, and launched the grenades using the special blanks (in this case, Austrian) already developed for the rod grenades. The French, German, and Russian models were all bullet-through’ grenades, designed to be launched using standard ball ammunition, with the bullet passing through a tube in the center of the grenade. In the French version adopted by the US, the bullet also initiated the fuze, which is kinda cool. You could also load two grenades into the launcher and launch them together, with a concomitant decrease in range, but more fun in the target area (as long as you weren’t the poor dumb b*st*rd in it)

The upside of this type of launcher is that it used standard ball (‘ball’ being the technical term for regular bullets, being a holdover from when bullets were balls) ammunition and didn’t damage the bore of the rifle in the way rodded grenades did. On the debit side, in addition to putting all that weight on the end of the barrel (affecting accuracy should the soldier have to do some shooting beyond grenades) the god of recoil still demanded payment, sometimes in the coin of broken stocks. This is reportedly the primary reason the second recoil lug was added to the stock of the M1903 rifle in 1917.

The normal firing mode was to place the butt of the rifle on the ground, align the rifle to the target, and adjust for range by raising or lowering the barrel (pivoting on the butt for you snarky purists). The French went so far as to make special racks that you could load multiple rifles into and salvo fire. These racks had vernier adjustments and simple range tables, enabling more accurate (and comparative saturation) fires than individual soldiers firing their rifles, though obviously not terribly practical in the assault.

The US adopted the V-B system in July 1917 for use with the M1903 and M1917 rifles. Until production was established for US rifles, some number of Lebel and Berthier rifles with launchers was issued to US units, and came with some french trainers. Despite the usual grumblings from the Ordnance establishment regarding non-standard ammunition and weapons, the field commanders said “Tough shit, I want something, and all you offer is nothing, so suck it up, bub!” and took the rifles and went out and killed Germans with ‘em.

As is ever the case when you leave the troops alone for a minute, clever (but not necessarily technically competent) troops started adapting the Lebel V-B launchers to the US rifles. A surviving report from the 42nd Division covers the topic:

“Someone at the Ordnance Base re-designed the base of the French tromblon to that it would fit the muzzle of the Springfield rifle, but they failed to take into consideration the great difference in pressure developed by the propelling charge of the American cartridge. It seems that the Rainbow (nickname of the 42nd Div) was the first to receive this new brainchild and they were promptly issued to the infantry squads in the divisions. The next day many of the men were in the hospital and their rifles were beyond repair.”

Part III. The Launchers.

by John on Jun 02, 2004

May 27, 2004

Another little agent of nastiness.

Oddly enough, there really isn't a whole lot of info about the German Glasmine 43 out on the web. Not that I spent a huge amount of time or effort (I'm sure someone will) but what's here may be the most complete set of pictures out there on this ugly little spud.

From the Army Medical Activity website talking about fragment producing weapons (for doctors) I did find this:

In an attempt to reduce the metallic content of the antipersonnel mine and increase the difficulty in its detection, a glass mine (Glasmine 43 (f)) was developed. This consisted of an outer glass casing 4.2 inches in height, from 4½ to 6 inches in diameter, and from 0.25 to 0.40 inch in thickness. Approximately 40 pounds of direct pressure was required to break the glass shear plate and activate either a chemical or a mechanized ignitor

It was developed to be hard to detect by having as little metal as possible (the mine detectors back then weren't near as sensitive as your average Wal-Mart metal detector is now), using no strategic materials, and able to be produced by an industry not already overwhelmed with war work. I guess the germans were just boarding over the broken windows...

Here is a picture of the basic components, though you can't see the (inert) charge (original waxed paper, block of wood inside). A glass bowl, made of tempered glass so it will shatter jaggedly, into which sits the explosive, a detonator (lower right), the thin glass plate (usually missing from these) leaning up against the bowl, and the top cover, another piece of thick glass to add to the fragmentation effect. Obviously, with the very thin glass plate, these were not intended for long-term minefilelds in front of defensive positions, but were for hasty delaying and harassing minefields. This top cover is a relatively rare color, brown. Most are that greenish-blue tinged color of the bowl. Mines this complete are rare, because, well, they're glass! The effort the seller went to to ship it to me from Scotland made unpacking a 20 minute process - but the thin glass plate survived!

This is a shot of the charge, with a 8mm Mauser rifle cartridge for scale. Wrapped in paper and waxed to waterproof it, it's just big enough to blow off your foot - like the Elsie I covered yesterday. This one at least has a secondary use - the glass bowl is a glass bowl, after all...

Next is a picture of the detonator - called a 'saukopf' or pigs-head by the Germans, for obvious reasons. Remove the cotter pin on the left, and the initiator is armed. It took roughly 40 pounds of pressure to set it off. The real purpose of the brown piece of glass was to make sure that when stepping on the mine the something went deep enough into the bowl to hit the fuze.

by John on May 27, 2004
» No Quarters links with: Esoteric items of war

May 26, 2004

Last but not least on Canadian stuff today: Elsie

The Canadians have signed on to the Landmine Treaty, known as the Ottawa Convention in recognition of their strong support, and in my experience in planning sessions, they are pretty up front and aggressive about it (though they are willing to position themselves behind minefields provided by us... because we are Bad People and didn't sign on. It's all Bush's fault, of course. Even if Clinton was in office.

Perhaps this is one reason they are so into it. They developed a pretty nasty little bugger of their own, the Elsie.

I have two, shown with a rifle bullet for scale:

Not large at all, just big enough to blow off your foot. Exactly the kind of thing that so annoyed the people who wrote the treaty. Small, hard-to-detect, easy to emplace mines that look a lot like toys to small children (though service mines (vice the training ones shown here) are not quite as attractive a color!

Before any Canadians get huffy - they are/were also produced by the US and Japan as the M25 and Type 67 respectively. They are very simple.

The C3A2 (Elsie) is a plastic bodied cone shaped A pers mine which is designed to wound or kill by blast effect. The mine has two components; the body and charge. The body resembles an arrow head, it has a smooth finish and contains the firing mechanism. The charge is a seperate component which fits inside the body, it contains a shaped explosive charge and has camouflage material on its exterior. When delivered, the body has a dust cover to protect the internal cocked striker mechanism/detonator. After the body is placed in the ground, the dust cover is removed and replaced by the charge. The mine is water resistant and it can be laid in wet ground. The C3A2 contains 7.8 g of Comp A5 while the older C3A1 version contained Tetryl. The mine is difficult to locate using metal detectors under most field conditions. Due to its small surface area the C3A2 has limited resistance to blast overpressure from explosive breaching systems like the Giant Viper and MICLIC. The Elsie is also produced in the US as the M25, and in Japan as the Type 67.

The designers were curiously respectful of the victims buddies:

The C3A2 "Elsie" is difficult to locate using metal detectors in areas that have high metal content in the ground such as artillery shell fragments. On detonation the mine will cause immediate blast injury to the victim as well as hearing damage to anyone within a 5 meter radius. Due to its shaped charge the mine concentrates all of its explosive force upward. The secondary fragmentation hazard is thus greatly reduced.

Wouldn't want to hurt anyone with that secondary fragmentation hazard...

Here's a picture of the mines and their component parts, less the safety clip. I haven't found a clip yet... The mine on the left has the shipping plug with it. The little black bit in the center is the explosive charge (inert trainer in this case) that is inserted into the mine to make it live. In this photo, you can see that it is in fact a shaped charge, albeit a wee one.

If you'd like all the dirty details, they're all laid out here.

Still to come: The german glass and shuh mines.

by John on May 26, 2004

May 25, 2004

Ammunition, Part the 4th. Closing out the muzzle-loading ammunition piece.

G'day, everybody! While I certainly haven't exhausted the muzzle-loading era and may return to it, I'm going to close it out for now with a post about 'cleaner' bullets and what to do when your weapon misfires. Then I can move on to black powder primer fired cartridges and beyond - at a later date, at a later date, keep your shirt on!

If you need a refresher, here are parts I, II, and III.

As I mentioned in earlier discussions about black powder, a major problem with those guns and that ammunition was the residue, or fouling, from firing. It doesn't take long before it starts to get hard to load your weapon. Instead of the bullet dropping down onto the powder, you have to exert more and more force to ram the bullet down the bore. That takes time, meaning you reduce your rate of fire, and the distortion of the soft lead bullet can significantly reduce accuracy, and even range, if you distort the skirt of a minie' ball sufficiently. Most Civil War engagements were fought at distances where range wasn't a question, but accuracy, and most importantly, rate of fire, were important.

The most common kind of 'cleaner bullet was the Williams. It came as a Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3. In this photo, they are 1, 3, 2, something I didn't notice until after I took the picture last night. You'll have to excuse me, I was in the basement right after the tornado warning sirens had gone off. Have you ever tried to snag 7 cats and get 'em to the basement - quickly? And I expected Beth's new car to be a dimpled wreck from hail, too. In the event, nothing happened.

Shown with an 8mm Mauser round for comparison. Hi-speed (or patient) version here.

These were designed to clean the bore as the bullet traveled down the barrel. When fired, a zinc ring at the bottom of the bullet would expand to clean the debris and grease from the rifle. On the Type 1, the zinc ring is gone from years in the ground, leaving only the post. The Type 2 was only produced briefly, in favor of the Type 3. The differences are the Type 2 has a thicker ring than the Type 1, and in an attempt to contain costs, a smaller bullet. The Type 3 is basically a Type 1 bullet with the improved Type 2 disk. Depending on who you read, they ranged from really effective (Williams himself) to worthless. I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle - and had more to do with training of the soldier and intensity of the combat.

There's more in the extended post.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on May 25, 2004
» Les Jones Blog links with: Thursday Gun Links #18

May 23, 2004

Today, I may find time...

To bloviate a bit about these...

but first, another linkfest.

Matt weighs in on Abu Ghraib, again, since the media won't turn down any of the volume. He also takes a shot at the Air Force. Not like that's hard or anything...

I added a blog to the Microbe Microscope. Slings and Arrows. Go here, then hit 'main' and read the rest. Nicely focused, unlike this place.

Eric, at Classical Values, tries to take on the "Invincibly Ignorant." Does a pretty good job, too.

Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain.

So, if the gods themselves find this exercise impossible, I may well be wasting my time.

But I am still pissed, and I have my blog, so where else can I go but here?

The rest is good, too.

Eric Aaron (Sorry!) at Pardon My English smacks on Kerry for his snarkiness. I find the press' angst over reportage amusing. I suspect the mission would be clear to them if the roles were reversed.

Been here. Done this.

The dogs like us!

Goldie has bloggerblahs. No worries, girl. We all go through it. More'n once, too.

My first linker, An Old Saab, are finally back at work. Lazy bums.

Over at Bastard Sword... an attack on Kerry! Whee!

Last, but not least, Aaron examines more tales of abuse in jail.

by John on May 23, 2004
» Pardon My English links with: Mountain Biking Towards Reelection

April 08, 2004

Ammunition, Part the 3rd

Welcome to Ammunition, part the 3rd. Yes, this one comes with another JDM Warning™ - excessive words, not enough pictures. Hey, when you guys pay for my bandwidth you can gripe about the lack of pictures.

We left off in Ammunition, Part the 2nd with the shift from flintlock to percussion ignition of the powder charge. I mentioned how governments liked it because it was a cheap and easy replacement to do with flintlocks, so you didn't have to completely rearm, you could retrofit. Cheaper and quicker. Here's an example, with a US M1842 (Springfield) conversion.

Note from a collector's perspective - many of these rifles were back-dated to flintlocks because the original flintlocks were so scarce (having been converted, eh?). They don't hold the same value as a true original configuration, so take a good hard look at one of these offered in a flintlock form. The parts usually don't match in overall age patina, especially ones made with more modern parts made from different steels than the originals. You can see in the picture - where there is brass, that is a filler for the old flintlock pan. Oh, yes, I did say rifle. Many of these were rifled when they were converted to percussion as well. Not a deep rifling, not really a very useful rifling, but they were rifled.

The simple expedient of putting fulminate of mercury in a copper (later brass) cap that fit on a nipple simplified the soldier's drill and the gun-makers workload - meaning more rifles could be made, and effectively more shots fired in a given amount of time by a given body of troops.

Here is an example of modern large rifle caps. Not very dissimilar from the originals. A little more stable/less sensitive (don't want it too stable or it won't work well as an ignition system) and a little less sensitive to environmental conditions. Plus the ignition compounds are safer, both for the producer and the consumer.

When you ally the percussion cap with paper cartridges, rifled barrels and the Minie' ball, you produce a virtual revolution in the armament of the individual soldier. The soldier now has a weapon which has a near equal reach to artillery on flat ground - making the life of the artilleryman suddenly very much more dangerous. The added range and accuracy give a murderous advantage to the defense which can only be overcome with numbers, as the Army of the Potomac found out numerous times to it's lasting regret, and as the Army of Northern Virginia, especially Pickett's Division, found out on the third day at Gettysburg.

So, what's a paper cartridge? Glad you asked. Here is a paper cartridge and a fired Minie' ball.

The paper cartridge is another innovation designed to reduce the number of steps required to load, thereby speeding up the loading process and upping the number of shots the soldier can get off in a given time.

(continued in the extended post)

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Apr 08, 2004
» Les Jones Blog links with: Thursday Gun Links #13

April 02, 2004

Ammunition, Part the Second.

Now for the JDM Warning™ - Excessively wordy post ahead!

In the first part, we met D’oh! who discovered and then lost the concept of attacking your enemy with a projectile weapon because Mean People Suck. While I postulated the idea lay dormant for another 10,000 years until rediscovered, once a guy used the trick and survived, the whole concept took off like gangbusters. You go from hand-thrown rocks , darts and spears to applying mechanical advantage to the process, with slings, bows, and atlaltls. From there you move to applying more mechanical advantage and produce catapults, onagers, ballistas and other engines of massy destruction.


But with the discovery of black powder things changed dramatically. For a long time, the western world held to the myth that black powder was discovered by a monk, Black Berthold. The Chinese have a claim, that they are still working on. This fellow in New Zealand has his own opinions, but offers no definitive answer... In short, it's still up for grabs - except for the adherents of the Chinese, Hindu, Greek, Arab, German, Spanish and English theories - though the english claim is really tied to Roger Bacon, who recorded the recipe, but never claimed to have been the inventor. At least, unlike the machine gun, you can't blame America for this.

What we do know is this - in the early to middle 1200's, gunpowder made it's debut in Europe. And the governing elites haven't been happy since, because, among other things, "God Created Man, but Sam Colt made 'em equal!" And if there is anything a governing elite dislikes, it's people with power to do something about it!

It didn't take people long to figure out that if you took a rocket, plugged it with something moveable, that the resultant activity of the moveable object might have interesting uses in hunting game and Mean People Who Suck.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Apr 02, 2004

March 26, 2004

How are we different from the Terrorists?

I've made this point before when arguing the silly argument that we drop more bombs than they detonate IED's, SIMP bombs (Self-Immolating Murderous Perps), and other explosive events.

We try to minimize the damage and confine it as much as possible to military targets. These asshats just define EVERYTHING as a military target.

Here's a nice article on the on-going research.

Working to Reduce Collateral Damage By Ralph Kinney Bennett Published 03/25/2004 at Tech Central Station.

One of the first "feedback" responses to my recent article on terrorist car bombs went on to the effect that the United States uses bombs, too, and that we have dropped more of them than all the car bombs combined thus far in Iraq.

This gentle reader missed the point entirely. American bombs have been directed by the military at military targets purely, and although there have been some accidental misses the efforts of U.S. forces to minimize civilian casualties are unparalleled in military history....

The whole article is here. Interesting stuff for an old Joint Targeteer.

by John on Mar 26, 2004

March 20, 2004

As proof I am working on another ammo post...'s a 'screen shot' of one of the pics I've taken for the series.


The breech end of a Chassepot needle-gun, with a genuine Chassepot cartridge in the tray.

by John on Mar 20, 2004

March 19, 2004

Ammunition, part the first.

Ammunition. What is it? The Webster's defines it thusly:

am·mu·ni·tion ( P ) Pronunciation Key (my-nshn) n.

1. Projectiles, such as bullets and shot, together with their fuses and primers, that can be fired from guns or otherwise propelled.

2. Nuclear, biological, chemical, or explosive material, such as rockets or grenades, that are used as weapons.

3. An object used as a missile in offense or defense: Rocks were my only ammunition against the bear.

4. A means of attacking or defending an argument, thesis, or point of view.

Okay, so I've been promising to discuss ammunition. Teased you with a picture.

Let's get started. At the beginning. JD - the above paragraph was for you, I'll be covering 1-3, and if you keep being grumpy about no gun pictures, 4.

As artillerymen have known forever - the weapon is what hits the target. The rest is a delivery system. Ammunition is consumed by delivery systems.

As the bumper sticker so fatuously notes, "Mean people suck." It's true now, it was true 160,000 years ago, too. Creationists who don't like dating like that - work with me - it's funnier this way. Bullies have been around as long as people have been around. Even before we climbed down out of the trees and tried that walking upright thing.

D'oh! was out doing a little gathering near the present day village of Herto, in what was to be known eventually as Ethiopia. He'd done pretty well, and had a nice little woven-grass baggie of nuts to his credit, that he looked forward to using to entice M'arg's father to let him do a little foolin' around with her tonight.

M'untz is out looking for food, too. But he prefers to harvest the harvester's harvest. Rather than actually bend over and pick all of the goodies himself, he prefers to bend over the prostrate body of his unconscious/dead victim and pick up the bag, once. Lazy b*st*rd.

So, D'oh!, happily anticipating the night's frolicsome promise, comes into a cleared area in the verge of the forest - and sees M'untz. M'untz has been waiting, knowing that D'oh! always comes this way, having slept through the anti-terrorist briefing - the part where they say vary your routes daily. M'untz, a hulking brute of early Homo Sapiens Sapiens, stood there, slapping his yet-to-be-named-thus knobkerry in the palm of his left hand, grinning evilly.

D'oh! realizes this in Not Good. Last time this happened, D'oh! had bruises that lasted weeks, and he still had a knot on his forehead from a previous encounter with M'untz's knobkerry. Running was no good. D'oh! was fat and slow. M'untz was a ponderous runner - but have seen how fast a rhino can go when it gets up to speed? D'oh! also knew that M'untz wouldn't just take the bag and leave. Some weird concept of honor drove M'untz to think of himself as a hunter, and he had to take down his prey, which meant D'oh! was going to get thunked on the head again. D'oh! really wished that M'untz would go hit something eatable, fresh meat was so much better than what was left after the hyenas left a carcass.

Necessity being the mother of invention, and with terror fueling an adrenaline rush, D'oh! had an idea. Since people who beat on you suck, and people who beat on you with a club REALLY suck, the thing to do was to try to get them before they could reach you with the club. Hmmmmm. Space. Distance. Range. Rock. Rock! There was a nice rock nearby. D'oh! reached down and picked it up, hefting it experimentally (though the concept of experimentation not being known yet, D'oh didn't recognize the pattern).

M'untz started across the clearing, again with that evil grin, this time the knobkerry held up and ready for the knock on the head.

D'oh seized the moment and hurled the rock. However, being the first human to ever throw a rock, he threw like a girl. [Hey! Baseball hadn't been invented yet - *everybody* threw like a girl] The rock went sailing harmlessly over M'untz's head, landing with a rattle and crash in the bushes behind him. M'untz wasn't sure what had just happened, but he knew there had been a Perturbation of the Force. And THAT pissed him off. So he knocked D'oh! on the head and killed him. Picking up the bag of nuts, M'untz went off munching happily with visions of a naked M'arg doing really interesting things by the fire tonight dancing in his head.

Since M'untz was a self-absorbed bully, he never thought anymore about the rock. Since D'oh was dead because of no training in the use of rocks - his idea died with him, not to be raised again for another 10,000 years, when a distant descendant of his, B'art, would actually kill a distant descendant of M'untz, and the idea of launching weapons at your enemy/prey would be born, squalling and squealing, into the toolkit of people who wanted fresh meat, or were just mean and wanted other people's fresh meat, or who needed to defend themselves against people who wanted their fresh meat - even back then, the police didn't always get there in time, Constable B'arney being more common than Officer K'ojak.

In our next installment, we'll skip 150,300 years and get to gunpowder, since I currently don't collect any weapons that don't use chemical energy to hurl the rock. Suffice it to say that whole projectile thingy went through a lot of development, to include the application of mechanical advantage (a concept first introduced by B'art's pal M'artin, with the invention of the sling), through spears, atlatls, bows and arrows, catapults, and other such stuff.

So, here it is. The first projectile weapon, found near the village of Herto, in Ethiopia.

Ammunition 002.jpg

by John on Mar 19, 2004
» Who Tends the Fires links with: "News"! With 110% more Filler!

March 16, 2004

See? Ya didn't believe me, didja?

But I am too working on an ammo post! See? See?


Hiding in there are representative examples of just about all the small arms types of ammo. Not all, to be sure, the Gyro-jet is certainly missing, but it's a pretty good sample nonetheless. There's rim-fire, black powder, needle-gun, gas-seal, grenade launcher, blank, drawn brass, wrapped brass, paper/brass, etc. Enough to give you a pretty good feel for the development. Now, since people write whole books on the subject - this is a tough post to write!

by John on Mar 16, 2004

February 18, 2004

A little change of pace...

Okay - in hopes to inspire Mike the Bartender who is a very busy man these days, I offer a mix of militaria.

On the left, a cup-discharged grenade I believe to be Belgian. If anyone can provide more information, and, even better - pictures of the launcher, well, that would be too cool.

For the Bartender at Madfish Willies - a schnapps glass. Recovered from a collapsed german dugout in the Verdun sector. Whether by the heat of the blast, or the pressure it was under while buried - it's slightly deformed, and that dirt on it is resistant to gentle cleaning methods. Any glass restorers with advice on that would be appreciated - whether in the comments or via email. I'm not interested in restoring the shape or polishing it back to a shine - I just want to clean up the dirt a bit.

by John on Feb 18, 2004

January 06, 2004

Moonbats got you down? Need a Cluebat™?

But these are the smelly, nasty, stringy haired anti-globalization kinda vandal Moonbats? Ya just don't want to get close enough to whack 'em upside da haid to give 'em a Clue™?*

C'mon down to the Imperial Armory! We have a brand new Long-Range Cluebat™!

The LRC is designed to be launched from any 1.5 inch Cluebat™ Launcher! If you don't have your own riot grenade launcher, you can use any basic bullet launching device you have, just add our cup to it, insert the baton round (less casing, please, we have them available in bulk) and away you go! (The pistol is the Amorer's Walther PPK CO2 pistol he uses in the basement range to keep his aim true.)

For those of you who have arguments with multiple Moonbats and need to spray the room with Clues™, we have this option:

So, as you can see, the Armory is now equipped to add a whole new dimension to dealing with Moonbats!

*Irony, satire, humor. Don't go bashing Moonbats on your own unless you are being physically attacked. It pisses off the Police, cuz' the government has exclusive rights to violence initiation. Think about that for a minute.

by John on Jan 06, 2004

November 11, 2003

When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not your friend, Part 1.

All right, it's Veteran's Day. Veteran's Day started out as a commemoration of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The cessation of WWI armed hostilities. The war didn't officially end until the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, and the hostilities continued, breaking back into open warfare, into WWII. So, for all us Vets out there, it's WWI weapon day at Castle Arrgghhh! Even as we speak, I'm working on the Rifles of the Major Combatants! I'm going to keep this post at the top today, so if you check back to see the new stuff, just scroll down!

Update: Having had some time to think about it - I'm also going to include some of the little things in the life of the soldier. Today is about the warrior who puts life and limb on the line - and while I am going to showcase a lot of the weapons, I'm going to dig into the other boxes, and show you some of the other stuff of day-to-day life. So, start coming back mid-afternoon (got a business meeting to deal with first!) and see some more little bits and pieces of the life of the soldier.

Okay - what do all the things in this picture have in common?

Give up? They are all grenades, and they were all used during WWI. Many Nations went into WWI with grenades that required lit fuzes (though not the Germans). They came out with grenades we'd recognize today. I thought I would share a bit of my ordnance collection with y'all. Normal disclaimers apply - it's all legal where I live, which wouldn't be true if I lived in California - while they are all inert, they are not full of MT-5 epoxy filling. For the record, since I never intend to use them, if I was moving to California (I can't imagine why, I'd have to leave some guns behind) I wouldn't object to filling them - although persnickety collectors have a cow over that. Which is okay - they are allowed to have a cow. Or a moose. Anyway - let's lookit some engines of destruction!

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Nov 11, 2003
» Backcountry Conservative links with: Veterans Day
» AlphaPatriot links with: Ordinance Lovers
» The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler links with: Grenade Pr0n

November 08, 2003

This is just a tease...

While I work on the rest of the post...

Suffice it to say it's about grenades and WWI. Modified Gun Porn™ is back!

Update: I'm still working on it! Hadda get that military geek stuff done, first!

Last Update: It's done! Of course, unless you came here directly from a bookmark, you know that already, since it's the first post of Veteran's Day!

by John on Nov 08, 2003

October 16, 2003

More GunP0rn™

I was busy yesterday, and will be again today, so my commentary will be light again (not that most of you come here for that...). Oddly enough, Misha links to my post yesterday, everyone comes here to look at the pictures, and goes back there to comment. Weird the way it works. Like reading your local paper and sending your Letters to the Editor to Time.

Anyway - as the discussion ran it's usual meandering way into a discussion of the various merits of which arm, which caliber, etc, Ironbear broke in with a comment "But absolutely nothing says "I love you" like a Carl Gustav M2 M550 round through the window..."

I was inspired. So here she is, that stocky little Scandinavian number, the M2 Carl Gustav 84mm RCL! So here's to you, Ironbear, GustavPorn™!

So, there she is on stage, all her bits covered, and the strap dangling deliciously akimbo on her shoulder. This little sweetheart was born in Sweden, and later emigrated to Israel. She came to the US after the IDF dumped her for another woman! Talk about miffed! She was dumped for her younger sister! She's still proud of who she is, and doesn't hide her identity from anyone.

Want to know more? Then come behind the curtain... no cover charge, no tip to the maitre 'd blog....

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Oct 16, 2003
» Say Uncle links with: Gotta love it

October 02, 2003

Warning! Exteme Danger of Causing Nanny-Stater Heads to Explode.

Or, at least turn 'em into gibbering dolts with outrage. I like that.

This is a shot of my burgeoning grenade collection. I'm going to work up a photo essay on the subject that I'll link to on the sidebar, rather than punish dial-up visitors.

Most, not all, but most, of these grenades are from WWI, a fascinating era in grenades. Where you could find this, a Brit No 15, Mk 1, fuze lit by a match (Not Good, as the Brits found out at Loos), next to this, a No 5 Mk1, in the same trench.

Visible below are some other tools of the trade (which I like every bit as much as the guns) like a trench club, some submachine guns, wire cutters, and a stereo-optic rangefinder. As ever, if you are appalled, all grenades are inert, empty, no explosive and my Standard Disclaimer (SM) applies. If it doesn't display for you (some problem somewhere) it's listed on the sidebar under "Gun Pics" as Periodic Disclaimer.

If you'd like to see more WWI grenades, I recommend this excellent site, .Granaty WWI run by Greg. It is a polish site, but don't let that deter you - english speakers can glean a lot from it!

There is also this site, which specializes in Brit grenades. You'll find several of mine grenades in the pic discussed here.

by John on Oct 02, 2003

October 01, 2003

Scary Gratuitous Gun Pic

This is what happens when you let an Infantryman play with nukes. They develop the Davy Crockett. While it's not quite true that the blast radius exceeded the range - you didn't have a lot of area to work with! Yes, that little thing on the ground in the right rear is a nuke. Well, not that actual one,of course, since it's in the Watervliet Arsenal museum (well worth the visit if you can get there). So, no, I don't have one - but I wish I did (with an inert warhead, I'm not stoopid!)

by John on Oct 01, 2003

September 28, 2003

As a Redleg...

...and having a strong interest in the technology of war, I have a projectile collection, as well. I used these things when I was teaching tactics and military history to Field Artillery officers, and still lend bits and pieces of my kit for displays in the local area.

These are my older bits - civil war projectiles, all battlefield recoverys. I really like the sectioned shrapnel shells, showing the balls in the supporting matrix, and the details of how the fuzing operated (obviously not that well on these!).

The shells are Union. How to tell? The balls were generally all the same (though the south did have some odd side-loaders due to technical issues in small manufactorys) general design and shape and used the same fuzes. The discriminator right here is the supporting matrix is yellow - sulphur. As sulphur is a key ingredient in black powder, the south didn't have the luxury of using it in this manner. They used pitch, instead. So, if it's yellow, it's Union. Have fun with that, those of you who think the outcome of April, 1865 was a bad thing. I'm glad to be a Yankee, thanks - even though the only family I had fighting in the Civil War were on the losing side - one on staff with Bragg, the other a member of the Orphan Brigade.

by John on Sep 28, 2003

The Winchester Bullet Board

This piece has an interesting history. It's an early 1900's "Double W" board that shows all the ammunition products Winchester was producing at the time. As it was made at a point when the technology was shifting from black powder to smokeless powder, it's really a priceless asset in documenting the cartridge tech of the era. These are physical cartridges, not just embossed pictures as in the much more modern boards (though some companys still make 'em like this!). This is one of the better ones left - but it could have been one of the best, except... It came from the family hardware store in Paragould, Arkansas, after the last brother who ran the store died and no one else in the family wanted to continue operating it. It was complete at that point. A family member of mine was (and still is, behind the scenes) a politically connected fellow in Little Rock. He loaned it to the state, and it hung in the capital building for many years during Clinton's governorship. While I doubt Bill swiped any of the cartridges, someone stole several of the more expensive ones - which I've been replacing, bit by bit. What complicates the effort is these were purpose-built dummies, not just unloaded cartridges. Thus far, the real challenge has been finding the missing (and most expensive - why they were stolen!) shotgun shells.

Update: I should note that the board hangs in the living room - a testament to just how wonderful WonderWife (tm) v3.x is!

by John on Sep 28, 2003