.50 Cal links on WW2 ammo used in Iraq


The earlier thread on .50 cal boxes included the quote:-

[i]At Blue Grass, Darryl Brewer, a combat medic in Vietnam, is chief of logistics for the ammunition depot. Recently, he started pulling out .50 cal. crates marked 1945. He opened some up and peered inside.

“Pristine,” Brewer reported. “It’s in lead-sealed cans, like sardines. Just like it was made yesterday.”

The 1945 ammunition was opened and test rounds fired to check for reliability and accuracy, standard testing done for all aging ammunition. “They find anything wrong, they’ll do a suspension,” Brewer said, adding with some pride, “Very seldom you see that in a fiddy-cal.”

Fifty-cal rounds are linked into belts that are fed from steel ammo boxes into the side of the weapon. At Blue Grass, technicians have to replace the World War II links, using a “delinker-linker” machine so old they had to make parts for it before it would work. The relinked rounds are sealed back in ammo boxes, like sardines, and shipped. [/i]

I can understand why some needed to be re-linked into M85 links, which didn’t exist in WW2 but presumable the ammo was already in Browning links. Could it be that it was in the earlier, and inherently weak, M1 or M2 links and needed re-linking in M9 links?



Just a wild unsubstantiated guess, but…

In WW2, 50 Ammo was bulk packed, in the 10 round boxes, then sealed in tins & placed in wooden crates, or sealed into tin lined wooden crates. It was intended to be linked up only in theatre as different services, even different units, required different mixtures of AP, Tracer, API, APIT, etc. Discussions with WW2 fighter pilots revealed that they were allowed to decide what mixture of rounds would be loaded into their fighter. Current practice is for units to select the mixture based on a specific set of predetermined combos. It arrives in ammo cans already linked.

There are some wooden crates that are bulk packed linked with a specific mix ratio though.

So it’s possible the article is a bit confused. The WW2 vintage ammo crates were opened and the loose ammo then linked using the old linker/delinker for shipment to Iraq.

If you look at the WW2 vintage .50 ammo cans (M2), they don’t have any stencilling on them. Just an embossed note .50 Cal Ammo. Because the can just held the ammo, any combo of ammo, and were reused in theatre. Current ammo cans (M2A1), have yellow stencilling. There are some WW2 vintage ammo cans with markings, but they all are from late war lot numbers, many are actually recycled cans containing Korean Era Ammo.