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.
AV Ballistics. Film ordnance Services & ex 2/14 QMI.