.30cal ammunition queries


#1

Gents,

I have a couple of questions relating to .30cal ammunition, specifically ammunition suitable for Browning use in M1919A4 and A5 MGs.

(1) Was .30 cal ammunition ever manufactured in Australia, and if so, where and what natures? I can find no references to ‘local’ manufacture of this type, only contract purchases from the USA (for M1, M25, M2, M1909, etc) and possibly the UK (but see Q’s 2 and 3 below!)
(2) Is ‘Cartridge, SA, Ball, .30 in, Mk4Z’ a British cartridge for the Browning MG, and during what period was it manufactured? I have only a ref to Mk2Z
(3) Is ‘Cartridge, SA, Tracer, .30 in, G, Mk.1Z’ a British cartridge for the Browning MG, and during what period was it manufactured? I have no ref to Brit manufactured tracer in .30cal.

Appreciate your guidance/comments/direction to sources on these questions.

Thanks

MikeC


#2

Footscray Ammunition factory (MF at the time) did do an experimental run of Boxer Primed .30/06 cases, and probably some Loaded ammo (Only cases seen so far) back in the 1960s, to supply the Armoured Corps (ONLY users of .30BMG). Nothing came of it, because (a) Australia still had Millions of rounds of WW II .30cal ammo in cartons in 30 cal tins, and (b) the US was supplying us with excess production fresh .30 cal ( LC 60s and TW 50s ) ammo during the Vietnam War.

WE bought FN (Berdan primed) .30/06 tracer from Belgium ( 1959 and 61 dates…W ine red labeled 100 round boxes…still have a couple of boxes(empty) and the remains of a sandbag full of FN cases ( I was Mounted Infantry). US made tracer ( orange tip) was also used.

AS the US supply dried up in the 1980s and 90s, Australia turned to AMA (Denmark) for crimped blanks (Previously used LC wadded M1909 Blanks) and then in 2000, bought 50 million rounds Ball of .30/06 by Igman Konjic of Bosnia (Boxer primed, Non corrosive) and a similar amount of Blank. Still being used today, in training. ( BMGs and APC M113A1 being retired to “Battalion Troop Transport” rather than “Recon” unit use. The new Bushmasters and Aslavs used by the Light Horse (my former unit) in ganistan use MAGs in 7,62.

The Footscray .30 cal cases were let out to “the trade” and are today rare as hensteeth.

British Made ( Kynoch, mostly) .30 ammo, post WW II…never seen or heard of any in Australia, officially or unofficially. None have shown up in collections, which would have happened if the Aust.Army had acquired any from UK.

Some Surplus Kynoch ball from Nigeria ( 500 round Double-canned MG Boxes, Tracer removed from canvas BMG belts prior to sale. Given the large number of British light armoured Vehicles fitted with M1919A4s around the British colonial world, Kynoch kept making .30 cal ammo into the 1970s, when they closed all production. Marked with Normal Kynock export headstamp. Don’t know of any export of British-marked HS .30 cal ammo.

Doc AV
Down Under, Ex 2/14 QMI ( now 2/14 LH)


#3

The Kynoch ammunition was made as Doc says for British AFV use of .30 Brownings which continued well into the post war period, and when supplies of US made wartime ammo were becoming unreliable.

Ball Mark 4z was approved in February 1956 (List of Changes Para. C8074, April 1957) to Design S1/12393/GF/1325. It had a 150 grn bullet at a velocity of 2,750 fps at 90 ft. It was declared obsolete in October 1993.

Tracer G Mark Iz was approved in the same LoC paragraph. The designation was odd, as this title had already been given to the Remington contract tracer of WW2 so one would expect it to have been G Mark 2z. Bullet weight and velocity were the same as the ball round. Design was S!/12394/GF/1347 and it was also declared obsolete in October 1993.

Headstamps of all Kynoch .30-06 rounds of this period were simply “K (date) .30” and tracer was identified by a red tip, but with a standard purple annulus.

After Kynoch stopped production purchases of ball and tracer were made from FN in the 1970s. These were designated Ball Mark 5z and Tracer Mark 2z respectively and were declared obsolete at the same time as the British rounds.

Regards
TonyE


#4

Mike,
Just to add to the replies so far here are pics of the two rounds you ask about

Tony, Mike mentions a Mk2z Ball…was there such a round?


#5

Yes, as follows:

Ball Mark Iz - American M1 as purchased in 1940, standard US headstamps
Ball Mark IIz - Remington contract ball with .300z headstamp
Ball Mark IIIz - British designed round for Naval service, believed never to have been manufactured
Ball Mark 4z and 5z - as already discussed.

Cheers
TonyE


#6

I thought the US had discontinued the manufacture of M1 by early 1940?

Ray


#7

The Uk received a lot of US .30" M1 ammo with dates from 1933 onwards so it is possible that there was no fresh production to meet these orders. So the UK could refer to any date of .30" M1 as the Mk 1z.

gravelbelly


#8

Thanks, Gents, for your most comprehensive replies.

The Mk4Z Ball and Mk.1Z Tracer I referred to were officially declared obsolete in Australian service in March 1968. I expect that, given the British introduction dates noted above by TonyE (mid-1950s) that Australia possibly received a batch or batches in the late 50s or early 60s. Their official introduction into Australian service is dated in late 1966, but intro dates are notorious for lagging behind - sometimes years - the actual date of availability. My biggest problem was knowing if these were Aust or Brit supplied ammo: a question very well answered, thank you!

As far as the documents show, all .30cal ammunition supplied to Australian Force Vietnam (AFV) was from US sources, either as mixed belt (M2 and M25), Trace belt (all M25) or all Ball M2 belt. It was not included on the ‘Australian supply’ ammunition list, but overstamped with the notation ‘In-theatre-(US Supply)’

The later foreign/non-USA purchases for use in the M113A1 FOV are interesting, especially given my interest in this vehicle type. My current area of research, however, concludes in 1977 (withdrawal of Centurion FOV).

Wouldn’t Aust SA Ammunition logistics have been so much simpler if the Director of Armour’s recommendation to change to the M73 machine gun in 7.62mm had been agreed with in the early 1960s, rather than persevering with an ‘orphan’ (in the Australian sense) calibre for just the armoured corps?

Again, thanks for the replies: I have learnt much!

MikeC


#9

[quote=“DocAV”]Footscray Ammunition factory (MF at the time) did do an experimental run of Boxer Primed .30/06 cases, and probably some Loaded ammo (Only cases seen so far)

The Footscray .30 cal cases were let out to “the trade” and are today rare as hensteeth.
[/quote]

Here is a picture of a Footscray case/Headstamp

cheers
René


#10

If the Australian procurement system would have persevered with the acquisition of the M73 MG system, they would have confirmed the long term situation in which Aussie SA procurements have by and large, been Failures…even today.

The M73 system was discarded by the US even before it got off the ground, as was its similar design .50 calibre system. A few M73 were used (tested) by the US in Vietnam ( saw two in Saigon War Museum a couple of years ago)
but their Combat failures led to the whole Project being canned in the US. Good thing too…the feed system was too complicated and prone to failure. Which goes to show the old adage, “if the Thing ain’t Broke ( Browning M1919A4) don’t try to fix it (with the M73)”…is still valid as it ever was.

IN my period of 2/14th QMI Service,( '71-'74) I saw thousands of rounds of .30 cal. US-Made Ball, Tracer and AP from 1943 dates to the 1960s (SL, DEN, DM,LC, etc) and we had Belting Machines for Canvas Belts, but mostly we used Steel Link Belts, especially when making up 1 in 5 Tracer belts. Most of the ammo came in original WWII and Korean war Cans, some in the- later design Vietnam era cans; and some “re-packs” (In .50cal Cans). All ammo was either in 20 round packets, or pre-linked.(Steel).
The FN Tracer ammo came in 100 round cartons, (FN Factory export Label) and we “added” the Tracer cartridges to Ball belts. Occasionally, after spending a day at barracks adding the Tracer, we then, on Range, had to remove it (High Fire Risk day)…all by hand (No cartridge tools for belts).

The .30 cal Orange tip Tracer (?M25?) was also used for the SubCalibre device for the 106 RCL which we were also equipped with…we had two Cut-down Landrovers (SWB) with a “Portee” 106 on a wheeled Tripod. It could be fired on the Tray, or Hand off-loaded onto the ground for a more permanent position. The Tactic was basically “Shoot and Scoot”.

I lost touch with what was used after I left for Europe in 1974; and by the 1990s, when I was into the Movie Business and recycling Military Spent Brass, there was only US LC 72-74-77 Dated brass, both ball and M1909 Wadded Blank. Never saw anything later than LC77, even in the late 1990s; IN 1990-92, we had Danish AMA Blank (NO ball),then in 2001 or so, the IK 2000 cases (Ball and Blank) began to appear…another shamozzle by Aust. Ordnance…They bought on Price, not checking that the Powder being used (whilst good) was Yugoslav 1985 vintage…already past the “15 year (Rule of fives)” cutoff point for shelf life of ammo. IN general for Training, the ammo was OK…I have tested samples (Live) which have come thru in the scrap range brass, and have had no Issues…and have not sighted any “Misfires” in the scrap, either, over several tons of .30 cal brass…Being only used by Armour, the .30 and .50 come together,( in the Bulki-bags); 7,62 and 5,56 come separately from them. (also mixed).

Once ( 2004) when I went to Sydney ( Penrith All-service Ammunition Store) to purchase 7,62 and 5,56 Blank for a large film, I was offered several million rounds of .30 cal IK, the Beaurocrats had deemed it “unusable” because of the Powder Age issue. I demurred, (Not enough finance to afford Millions of rounds, even at a cent-a-round prices…) and obviously the Army did use the stuff, as I kept getting spent IK 00 brass up to 2008. ( The availability dried up because they went soft and sucked up to the UN, and from 2008 on shredded all ( surplus) brass ( both Live and Spent).

I too would be interested in any info regarding .30/06 use in Australia.

During WW II ( Pacific campaigns) there are numerous photos of Australian Infantry using M1919A4s in ground use ( as well as AFV applications); I was even mooted in the immediate post war era to going over to the Browning for general Infantry use…but the problerms of ammo supply ( Australia was a “.303” Army) and the 7,62 Nato was on the Horizon…and so the idea lapsed, even after the Korean experience ( where a lot of Aussie units scrounged borrowed or purloined various US .30 cal equipment, not just MGs).

When the 7,62 was adopted, and concurrent with the GPMG M60, there was an attempt ( 1970s) to “convert” the .30 cal Browning to 7,62 Nato, but the Feed problems ( The Belt Links would have had to be of different construction ( ie, NO interchangeability with the Nato M13 Link, or even the European (German) DM-1 Link, and this project also never got past the drawing boards…even though IMI (Israel) and Denel (South Africa) succesfully converted Browning AND Vickers to 7,62 Nato with their own characteristic Links.
As prime users of the Browning, our Unit was asked about feasibility of conversion to 7,62…reply… “if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it”…also, the wider range capability of the .,30 in practical terms also won the day.

Although Australia did buy 7,62 and 5,56 from numerous other sources ( RG,FN,IMI,FNM,LC,PSD, Etc.), it never to my knowledge, acquired any .30 cal except for LC, FN and IK over the 1960-2000 period.

Regards,
Doc AV
AV Ballistics. Film ordnance Services & ex 2/14 QMI.
Brisbane Australia


#11

I thought the US had discontinued the manufacture of M1 by early 1940?

Ray[/quote]

Indeed Ray (and you are the main man in such things), but as gravelbelly says, the ammo the UK received from the US governmant was dated fro m FA 29 through to about FA 33.

Regards
TonyE


#12

Thanks, Doc AV, those personal experiences are valuable, especially the types of 30cal ammunition received by 2/14QMI in the early 70s. Contrasts somewhat with the audio interviews I have with former SOA and 1AR members, who only remember nice fresh 30cal in steel (I think, M19A1) liners being issued for use with Centurion in the 60s and 70s. Suppose the Regs got the newest issues, and reserve units got the rest.

To be fair to the DRAC’s comment, he actually said he wanted to convert to 7.62mm for AFVs, in line with the rest of the Army’s use of 7.62mm, and used the M73 as the example: ‘such as the M73’. This is a slightly different slant than the way I phrased it in my post. Mea culpa!

ADE trialed the 7.62mm conversions for the L3A3/L3A4, from Canada and the USA, in the early/mid 70s, but concluded that they were ‘not suitable for Australian conditions’, whatever that actually means! Bottom line was, as you say, the RAAC persevered with the .30cal until its recent demise along with the T50(Aust) turret.

Thanks again,

MikeC