.50 BMG "B-52 use only"


#1

Why B-52 use only?


#2

I like those cans and have never been able to get a good reason why they were so marked. I have only seen a couple in 50+ years of collecting. A constant surprise in collecting ordnance is that something will be rare for decades and then a cache of it will come out of storage and it is everwhere. John Scott ( long time collector,dealer) told me many years ago that he never put much money in new experimental items just for that reason. It is a bit like playing musical chairs. Actually many of you youngens would not know what that means.

The B52 had automatic turrets and may need special lube or link.


#3

During the VietNam war B-52’s were credited with 3 air -to -air victories and the quad fifty was the armament. At Barkdale AF Base in Shreveport, LA there are a large number of B-52’s on static display some as I recall were armed with 20mm cannon also. Is it possible that high altitude deep cold might require a special load? Just a WAG. Some propellents are not cold friendly.


#4

Gauged and inspected to closer tolerances, akin to British “Red Label” Air Service ammunition?

After all, it’s not easy to clear a misfeed in an automatic turret at 50,000 feet.

Regards
TonyE


#5

Could it also have something to do with the fact that it is all API with no tracers mixed in? Don’t really need tracers on a radar-controlled gun mount…

AKMS


#6

The first thing that occurred to me was the previous comment. One wouldn’t need a mixture of different projectile types in that application, and at the time (1977) I don’t believe there was another manned high-altitude strategic bomber in USAF service that carried defensive armament of this kind. Use of API only would be indicated by the probable aggressor targets, and tracers would not be necessary. The purpose was probably to identify the containers as containing ammunition specific to the B-52 merely to discourage or prevent its use in other aircraft types.

I had a next-door neighbor at that time (late 1970s) who was a B-52 Squadron Commander at Carswell AFB in Fort Worth, and he would always give me a hint when there would be a readiness exercise so I could park off the end of the runway at Carswell to watch (I lived only about 10 miles away). There’s absolutely no experience like having several dozen B-52s taking off one right after the other and passing only a couple of hundred feet directly over your head.


#7

During the Gulf war conflict several claims of Iraqi air-to-air successes were made, including an Iraqi pilot, Khudai Hijab, who allegedly fired a Vympel R-27R missile from his MIG-29 and damaged a B-52G on the opening night of the Gulf War.[166] However, the United States Air Force disputes this claim, stating the bomber was actually hit by friendly fire, an AGM-88 High-speed, Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) that homed on the fire-control radar of the B-52’s tail gun; the jet was subsequently renamed “In HARM’s Way”.[167] Shortly following this incident, General George Lee Butler announced that the gunner position on B-52 crews was to be eliminated, and the gun turrets permanently deactivated, commencing on 1 October 1991.[168]

From Wikipedia for what it’s worth.


#8

What TonyE said…

Regular M8 API, but loaded to more careful tolerances due to the vulnerability of an aircraft gun system to jams. Cans marked to differentiate that lot from one for ordinary ground machine guns. The two different lots of ammo (Aircraft vs ground) can be fired in either system, just wanted to make sure the more dependable ends up aboard aircraft.


#9

Would these come from the manufacturer packed this way ?


#10

The ammunition was packed at Pueblo Army Depot, CO. Sept '77. Headstamp would identify manufacturer.

Ray


#11

So this ammo was made elsewhere and tested and repacked at Pueblo after some type of testing for quality ?


#12

There’s a lot of information in the Lot number - but not that much. ;)

Ray


#13

Even though it’s not 9mm, General Lew might know something about this.


#14

If I was to guess, I’d guess that the USAF ordered x-million rounds of Cal .50 manufactured to A-B-C specifications to be shipped to Pueblo Army Depot. Pueblo then packaged it as per USAF requirements and then stored it for eventual distribution.

But, just a SWAG by Ray.


#15

Looks like (from various on line sources) that Pueblo Ordnance Depot (about 24 miles east of Pueblo, CO) was built during WW2 for ordnance tasks, but quickly converted to a general purpose supply depot. After WW2 it was involved in storage and overhaul of a wide variety of material, including vehicles as well as conventional artillery and chemical munitions and aircraft missiles.

In 1951 Pueblo was given responsibility for distribution of Air Force Ammunition for an eight state area. At one time it had “an entire USAF ammunition squadron of about 230 officers and men” assigned there, probably as a more or less separate operation within the larger Depot organization. The storage and security of chemical munitions was a separate entity within the Depot, and that operation remains active today although all other functions were closed out when a 1988 base closure commission shut everything but the chemical operations down.


#16

[quote=“RayMeketa”]If I was to guess, I’d guess that the USAF ordered x-million rounds of Cal .50 manufactured to A-B-C specifications to be shipped to Pueblo Army Depot. Pueblo then packaged it as per USAF requirements and then stored it for eventual distribution.

But, just a SWAG by Ray.[/quote]

So Pueblo received ammo which was already made to different specs. for B52s in some way and packed them in these cans for distribution? Some of the .50 cal experts should be able to clear this up.


#17

John S - DOD lists Pueblo as “Pueblo Army Depot”.

Other John - I hate it when you start your posts with “so”. ;) ;)

And, those are ammunition boxes, not cans. And while I’m on my nit pick horse, they’re not .50 BMG, they’re Cal .50.

Ray


#18

Having worked on C & D model B-52’s (quad Cal. .50 mount the 20mm’s came later & the gunner then moved up front.) during my time as a SAC navigation radar & radio tech. (Glasgow, MT in the 91 AEMS) I’ve spent a few hours back in the turret. You had to put the back of the seat completely down & crawl across it to access the intercom or if you were a fire-control radar tech to access those bits, or the gunner. Also if you had to bail, the turret went first & then you followed. No ejection seat back there.

Very cramped & only two ways in, from the front, crawl through the wheel wells, bomb bay & 47 section (<-only place you could stand the rest was hands & knees on a narrow shelf), & through a hatch. Or directly in through the exterior hatch which was perhaps 15-20 feet off the ground.

Kieth & Tony are correct regarding the ammunition quality. There was no direct access to the weapons when in the air. (that I’m aware of, unless it was a very, very small panel)

I heard a story about one of the fire-control techs in the alert area turning on the radar & following an AP (A.F. Police at that time) around as he patrolled behind the aircraft. Locked on to his .30 M1 Carbine. No idea if the radar was that good or not. Just a story that the AP gave the guy a traffic ticket & he wanted payback.


#19

[quote=“RayMeketa”]John S - DOD lists Pueblo as “Pueblo Army Depot”.

Other John - I hate it when you start your posts with “so”. ;) ;)

And, those are ammunition boxes, not cans. And while I’m on my nit pick horse, they’re not .50 BMG, they’re Cal .50.

Ray[/quote]
So; Time of the month ?

Boxes are cardboard. Cans are metal.

The 50BMG is still the 50BMG.


#20

[quote=“PetedeCoux”]Having worked on C & D model B-52’s (quad Cal. .50 mount the 20mm’s came later & the gunner then moved up front.) during my time as a SAC navigation radar & radio tech. (Glasgow, MT in the 91 AEMS) I’ve spent a few hours back in the turret. You had to put the back of the seat completely down & crawl across it to access the intercom or if you were a fire-control radar tech to access those bits, or the gunner. Also if you had to bail, the turret went first & then you followed. No ejection seat back there.

Very cramped & only two ways in, from the front, crawl through the wheel wells, bomb bay & 47 section (<-only place you could stand the rest was hands & knees on a narrow shelf), & through a hatch. Or directly in through the exterior hatch which was perhaps 15-20 feet off the ground.

Kieth & Tony are correct regarding the ammunition quality. There was no direct access to the weapons when in the air. (that I’m aware of, unless it was a very, very small panel)

I heard a story about one of the fire-control techs in the alert area turning on the radar & following an AP (A.F. Police at that time) around as he patrolled behind the aircraft. Locked on to his .30 M1 Carbine. No idea if the radar was that good or not. Just a story that the AP gave the guy a traffic ticket & he wanted payback.[/quote]

Close quarters. Bathroom ?