.50 Browning cloth belt?

How common was the cloth belt for the .50 Browning machine gun during WW2? I just saw a pic dated 1944 of a U.S. soldier manning an M-2 BMG on a half track vehicle that has a cloth belt coming out of it.


These should have been standard belts for ground forces in WWII as the metal links were reserved for aircraft use back then.

Our friend Jean-Francois may elaborate on this better and in detail.


110-round fabric belts type M7 for cal. .50 were produced between April and September 1943 for delivery to ground troops only while metallic links productions were all issued to the air force during that period of time.
During these few months, 8.67 Millions fabric belts were produced by 7 different companies.

After September 1943, all 22 factories producing .50 cal. metal links reached full production which fulfilled the requirements for all services (ground, air, sea) and therefore the fabric belts became “limited standard”.

While surviving belts themselves are not rare (most of the time the survivors are in new unissued condition), WW2 photographs showing these fabric belts in use are much rarer. Therefore I would be most grateful to see the photo AKMS mentioned in his post.



The photo is in the current issue of the American Legion magazine. Not sure if they have an online version publication…


So then steel links were standard issue for all branches of the U.S. military pre-1941? Jack

Yes indeed, the standard feed for all US services M2 Brownings (air cooled and water-cooled) prior to WW2 was the M1 desintegrating link.

Sometimes pre-WW2 or early 1942 photographs with .50 Brownings are erroneously captioned as being fed with fabric belt when the belt looks like white : this is not the case : the belt is actually with the M1 desintegrating links which are zinc electro-plated and therefore have the distinctive white /light grey appearance.

I will publish early next year a thorough article on US service .50 Browning belts, links, crates and linkers in the US magazine Small Arms Review. Hopefully this subject will be clarified for all readers.



JFL: Thanks for the information on the pre-WW.2 links. I have seen pics of the prewar .30 links with the light-colored finish, and it’s interesting to know that similar .50 links exist. Jack