.303 Brit 1941 by R.O.F. Radway Green


#1

Municion.org says it is made especially for RAF by Blackpool Arsenal. Why is there no letter arsenal identification? What’s the logic to have 2 arsenals with almost identically sounding names, Blackpole and Blackpool? To confuse me or the Germans?
image


#2

You are correct that this was done to hide the origin of the round from the Germans.

Also, be aware that it is Blackpole, not Blackpool. Blackpole is Worcestershire. Blackpool is Lancashire. There never was a Blackpool arsenal.

I hope this helps.


#3

Thanks, this is what is written in Municion.org
Royal Ordnance Factory de Blackpool. Fabricación especial para la R.A.F. Bala Mark VII. FOTO: DRON
I’ll write to Jordi with a possible mistake.


#4

The factories tended to be in rather obscure locations so names are not necessarily significant geographically. To flag up a location too strongly in 1941 was to get it bombed.

The nearest factory to where I live (and Falcon lives) was Yeading but it was only ever a collection of wooden huts from what I can ascertain. And feeders dotted around the area to decentralise them. Don’t imagine factory means a big plant.


#5

There are a number of points that need to be made about this.

First, as Falcon says, there was no ammunition facility at Blackpool, only Blackpole, originally set up in WWI as Government Cartridge Factory No.3, managed by the Kings Norton Metal Co. It was placed in mothballs during the 1930s and re-activated as Royal Ordnance Factory Blackpole in 1940 as part of the re-armament program.

Now for the important part. Your round was made at R.O.F. Radway Green (RG) and not R.O.F. Blackpole. Blackpole used the code “BE”. RG was a new factory that came on stream in 1940 and used the single Broad Arrow headstamp for security cover. R.O.F. Spennymoor was similar and used the double Broad Arrow as a headstamp. By late 1941/early 1942 they were using their normal headstamp of “RG” and “SR” respectively.

Originally, British .303 inch ammunition made to air service tolerances for the RFC/RAF was identified by a four digit date code, but with war approaching it was decided in 1939 that ALL .303 inch ammunition would be made to these higher tolerances. Your round could have been issued to the RAF, but just as easily could have been issued to the army for rifle use.

Incidentally, it is possible to identify the sources of the components used in Blackpole ammunition from the headstamp.

“BE” indicates cases made by R.O.F. Radway Green,
“B E” means the cases came from Kynoch. Yeading
"B^E" indicates cases from their own production.

The subtleties of British military headstamps is often lost on internet sites, so don’t believe all that you read!

Vince - Blackpole was a very large site, and unlike K4 was not a temporary structure of wooden huts. I went there when the buildings still existed and it still had a large “GCF3” bronze emblem over the main door. I wished i had got it when it was offered to me!

Regards
TonyE

PS I had to re-type this as the first attempt to post got lost in cyber space.


#6

Tony is too modest to mention it, but he has a great book on .303 ammunition (and several others). Perhaps he will list them on the Buy-Sell-Trade section of the forum so people will have a chance to buy them for their libraries… He sold out all he took to SLICS, but can ship them from the UK.


#7

I have looked at google maps before after reading some information on the internet about where the Yeading Factory was. I believe the site has long since been built over, and there is no land to get onto that could be gone over with a metal detector. According to a website I found once, just after the war there were piles of unfinished tracer bullets and .55 Boys cores around the site.


#8

Tony - What great information about BE headstamp content and spacing indicating case source! I had never heard that.

Can that, or the identification of other features, explain the myriad of Hirwan (HN) 9mm headstamps that exist, with different letter size, content, punctuation, letter spacing, etc? They almost rival the amount of Evansville Chrysler bunters on .45 from the same period.


#9

The Yeading site was roughly where the supermarket now stands. I can’t remember whether it is a Sainsbury’s or a Tesco. To the side of the supermarket, presumably built at the same time there is a housing development of “little boxes” type houses which is where I estimate the factory was. Because of the nature of the housing there is virtually no chance of getting in there with a metal detector.


#10

Hirwaun (Wales) was also used late in WWII as a repacking and Testing Facility.
Much of the .303 Mk7 and 7z sent to Greece during the Greek Civil war (1944-46) and subsequentlky surplussed in the 1980s was checked and repacked at Hirwaun. Steel chests are marked with “HN 31-12-44” type packing dates, whilst the internal Ammo may be from a number of makers (S.Africa), Canada, Australia); R^L also supplied "R^L 1945 7"
ammo in its own marked chests, maintaining the four digit date well after this was dropped in 1943 to two digits, in commonwealth/empire makers. Some of the crates are also marked “Not for Use in Synchronised Guns after dd.mm.yr.” ( in red print).

Regards,
Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


#11

Doc, since you mention Greek Civil War, people around here talk about all the ammo and guns, (German, Italian and otherwise) which have been mothballed in Greece after Communist defeat, and how all that stuff will eventually end up on the world market. Considering recent Greek financial problems, wouldn’t NOW be a good time? Or all those stored MP44’s are just a wishful hope?


#12

Since Greece is part of Europe I doubt anything good will happen to surplus weapons they may have in storage.


#13

Talking of all the greek “stored” equipment, most of it has already been “dispersed”…the massive quantities of 7,9 ammo left by the germans in 1944 was exchanged in 1946 with Turkey for quantities of 6,5MS which Turkey had since the Greek-Turkish War of 1920-21; that 7,9 came onto the US Milsurp market in 2002-2006, most of it being pre-War German ( “P” codes, brass and coated steel), in “patronenkasten” and tragepak of cardboard; very good condition and surefire. External crate markings included German, Italian and English stamps; A lot had been “repacked” in Germany in late 39 and up to the Invasion of Greece in 1941.
As to Rifles etc, most of the MS M1903 types have been surplussed (Interarms, Century); 6,5MS ammo is scarce, as even FN made new Lots after 1945 for Greece; Italian calibre Weapons were used up during the Greek Civil war and in the Albanian-CIA Intervention ( 1945-1950).
The Later British Mil Aid ( SMLEs , No.4s etc) have mostly been surplussed ( 1980s) and the US supplied Garands etc, have been surplussed via CMP ( US Lend-Lease Take Back) in the USA. The MGs (Brens, Vickers,Brownings etc,) have also been Surplussed or “worn out and destroyed”) so, it is very optimistic to imagine anything of WWII and 1950s origin being still “Hidden away” in any viable quantities.

But stranger things have happened…Although Libya in 1950s used scrap metal dealers to clear the Western Desert of all the Tanks, Trucks and other relics of war (the Landmines are still there in the shifting sands) including the Italian Colonial Railways, the small arms were all stored, and occasionalyy parcelled out to nearby liberation groups (Chad etc) and now are surfacing in the current conflict…but without ammo. also quantities of HMG ammo ( 12,7 Breda etc,) is being used in old AA Guns etc. still in the Libyan Inventory.

In the 1970s-80s when Gheddafi sponsored the Oliver Reed -Anthony Quinn film about Graziani, Ali Muktar and the Libyan rebellion ( 1915-1926) all the numerous Extras were armed with proper Carcanos (the LMGs were FN Model D) and the Rebels were armed with a mishmash of Turkish and Italian rifles ( Muktar carried a Mauser Turkish carbine) as Italy had occupied Libya and took it from the Turks in 1911. “The Lion of the Desert” was the english title…pure apologia for the Libyan Independance struggle in the 20s (Unsuccessful).

Regards,
Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


#14

OK, sorry to resurrect this old post when it was resting comfortably. I picked up about 6 of these single broad arrow rounds in a bag of ammo on gunbroker. They are all 1941 with the single arrow.

So my question is; how rare is this Radway Green round with the single broad arrow? I had never heard of it until I found this thread.

Does someone have specific production period dates and approximately how many were made with the single arrow?

Thanks in advance as you guys are always so full of knowledge!

Michael


#15

I have no way of knowing how many were made, but the single arrow is a relatively common headstamp here in the UK, as it the double Broad Arrow for ROF Spennymoor. These secure headstamps were used from when the plants came on stream in early 1940 through 1941. The first headstamp using the “RG” code is 1942. The single arrow headstamp can be found on Ball Mark VII, AP W Mark I, Incendiary B Mark VIz and early B Mark VIIz (with a ball headstamp). Reject cases with any of these headstamps show up as Blank L Mark V as well. Given that this period covered the Battle of Britain and the plants were working 24/7, there must have been many millions produced.

Incidentally, ROF Steeton/Thorpe Arch used a secure headstamp of three Broad Arrows in the same period on 20mm Hispano rounds. They did not make any .303 inch.

REgards
TonyE