.351 SL Box reused by the french air forces

Here is a WRACo .351 SL box reused by the french air forces in 1918.

The complete text is :

AVIATION
Provenance Américaine
50 CARTOUCHES
POUR WINCHESTER 351
LOT 29
AVIS 9-18
AVIATION

chassepot

A little background from Wikipedia regarding the use of the Winchester 1907 rifle in .351 WSL during WWI. I knew about this, but have never read anything very detailed. I’d bet there’s some colorful history. It would be interesting to see the British and Russian ammunition boxes.

France

The French government initially ordered 300 Model 1907 rifles in October 1915 from Winchester, soon followed by an order for 2,500 more rifles. Ammunition orders for these rifles exceeded 1.5 million cartridges of .351SL before 1917. Subsequent orders in 1917 and 1918 totaled 2,200 Model 1907 rifles. According to factory records, these rifles were modified for fully automatic fire and fitted with Lee-Navy rifle bayonets . These rifles were designated by the name of Winchester Model 1907/17, they used either a 15 round magazine or 20 round magazine and fired from 600 to 700 rounds per minute .

Great Britain

According to a November 1, 1916 Winchester internal report, Great Britain’s London Armory was sent 120 Model 1907 rifles and 78,000 rounds of .351SL ammunition between December 1914 and April 1916 for use by the Royal Flying Corps. These rifles were specially modified for aerial use and intended to arm airplane rear seat observers.

Russia

The Imperial Russian government is recorded by Winchester as purchasing 500 Model 1907 rifles and 1.5 million rounds of .351SL ammunition through the J.P. Morgan Company in May 1916.

United States

According to factory records, the 1st Aero Squadron of the U.S. Army Signal Corps Air Service was shipped 19 Model 1907 rifles and 9000 cartridges of .351SL ammunition. The 1st Aero Squadron’s shipment was sent to Columbus, New Mexico and was presumably used in arming their aircraft while in support of General Pershing’s Punitive Expedition.

A great box chassepot & very interesting thread. A reused box, amazing that one would be around that late.

The French did eventually make their own military headstamped .351 (ART.W ECP & i have dates 2-16, 3-16, 4-17 & 1-18 & others as noted on the box!) & .401 WSL (one I need!) ammo. So apparently this .351 production overlapped the purchased before 1917, as noted in Wilipedia.

Also that both case types were made by Kynoch, with a full “Kynoch” headstamp & not just a military contract style “K” as far as I’m aware.

I’ve not seen (nor heard of) any Russian product, perhaps the purchased rounds were satisfactory?

An empty French packet.

Nice box / packet, gentlemen! Thank you for sharing those images.

Pete,

Does your 2-16 dated .351 WSL have primer crimps? I’m pretty sure all the pics I’ve seen of the .351’s have three or sometimes four square/rectangular crimps including those dated 2-16. That date is the only example of the series I have and it has no primer crimps (nor do any of the 1-16 and 2-16 dated .401 WSL’s I have seen pictures of). Wonder if crimps were an added precaution or if there were issues encountered at some early stage in the .351’s use by France?

Dave

all four dates have at least three short rectangular stab crimps to secure the primer.

Is the top box one that was “reused” or possibly just had a French label applied to the box with its original contents to make it intelligible to the users?

Pete,

Thank you very much for that information. It seems we both seek the rather elusive French .401 WSL! Here is an image of the 2-16 headstamped round without stab crimps on the primer:

There is a bit of a ring impression on the lower edge of the primer pocket, but I think that wouldn’t rate a “crimp” description. From the limited information I have found on these interesting WWI items, here is a listing of the headstamps that kind folks have reported or I have seen pictures or examples of:

.351 WSL French Headstamps

ART.W. 351 ECP 2-16
ART.W. 351 ECP 3-16
ART.W. 351 ECP 4-16

ART.W. 351 ECP 1-17
ART.W. 351 ECP 2-17
ART.W. 351 ECP 4-17

ART.W. 351 ECP 1-18
ART.W. 351 ECP 2-18

.401 WSL French Headstamps

ART.W. 401 ECP 1-16
ART.W. 401 ECP 2-16
ART.W. 401 ECP 3-16

Any additions or corrections would be appreciated.

JohnS,

As far as re-use of boxes goes, note the recent “Loaded In France” thread started by Fede. While there is no way of knowing the history of the particular Winchester .401 box shown, it is interesting to note that it did end up with French headstamped rounds at some point.

Dave

John & Dave, its original contents would be of Winchester manufacture, as the partially visible second paragraph reads “Provenance Américaine”.

Fede,

Ah! My “mono-lingual” brain had “Provenance Américaine” as a reference to the '07 rifle, not the ammunition. That would have made the “POUR WINCHESTER 351” rather redundant, though, eh?..So, as John suggested, the nice item Chassepot showed is an over labeled Winchester box of .351 WSL as delivered from the US. Does the “9-18” indicate September, 1918? As that would be later than the second quarter of 1918 headstamp, the latest I have found evidence of for domestically produced French rounds, perhaps the supply of Winchester made ammunition was sufficient and/or more practical by that date?

Thanks,
Dave

I just open a damaged french military box (“pour la bonne cause”)
Here is what I found : All have the same french military headstamp but 4 have 4 primer crimps et 6 have 3 primer crimps.

chassepot

DaveE
if I’m reading the two labels correctly you could add the date 10-17 from my empty packet & 9-18 from chasspot’s box to your list.
I could be wrong, & often am, so someone please agree or disagree.

Pete,

As far as headstamps go, I think the date is for quarter and year. The contents of your packet therefore might have been 4-17 dated? Fede pointed out that chassepot’s box indicates “from America” (if I got that right) and would likely have had Winchester headstamped cartridges inside. On the other hand, I’ll now start making note of packaging dates with these being the first clear images of any that I have seen! Thank you all!

Chassepot,

Thank you for showing the contents of that one. It is interesting to see the variation in crimp depth ranging from barely visible to crater-like. I have to wonder if the early dated one I showed simply got a very weak hit rather than being an earlier variety.

Thanks again to all for their input on the subject!

Dave

Chassepot - please email me. I’d like to get permission to use your photo of the box of French issue .351 WSL cartridges in an article I’m preparing for the 2017 Gun Digest.

pscarlata001@triad.rr.com