50-Round Military .45 ACP Boxes - Introduced 1942, or 1943?


#1

All,

We’ve discussed a topic on another board that I thought would be of interest here, and I want to see if anyone has further insight. I think we’ve pretty well determined in the post link below that the transition of standardization from 20-round boxes to 50-round boxes of military .45 ACP ammunition began in 1942, rather than 1943, as stated in the 1978 History of Modern US Military Small Arms Ammunition Vol. II 1940-1945 , by Hackley , and the 2010 book, U.S. Military Automatic Pistols 1920 - 1945, by Meadows. Does anyone here know of a specification change order that might document a date for the changeover? Was the 1943 date stated in both aforementioned books based purely on collector observations?

machinegunboards.com/forums/ … opic=13851

We have 2 examples of 1942 Remington Arms .45 ACP packaged in 50-round boxes. An example from my collection is shown below. This appears to be a transitional box, as it uses the old 20-round box stencil.



(Above images David Albert Collection)

An example from another member is shown below. These cartridges have RA42 headstamps, and the lot number precedes the lot number on the example from my collection.


(Image courtesy “Inertord” on Machinegunboards.com)

For comparison, here is an example of the earlier, 20-round box, featuring the RA41 headstamp. Notice how the stencil closely resembles my later, 50-round box.


(Image courtesy “Inertord” on Machinegunboards.com)

So, I think the 50-round box transition began in 1942. Does anyone here have a different opinion?

David Albert
dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


#2

Hello David, I can’t find no mention of the 1943 date stated in “History of Modern US Military Small Arms Ammunition Vol. II 1940-1945”. Anyway, in my opinion the box you are showing doesn’t have any particularity of mention and is pretty common. I don’t know which was the first lot assigned by RA in 1942 but you will find that most, if not all 50 round boxes made that year by this company bears lot numbers in the 5000 range and cartridges are headstamped R A 42.


#3

The 43 date referenced was found in Meadows - US Military Automatic Pistols 1920-1945 on page 284 describing the change from 20 round boxes in the 2000 round wooden crate to 1800 rounds in 50 round boxes packed in 1800 round crates.


#4

Fede,

I don’t have the Hackley book, but I understand that the reference to the 1942 time period is made in that book on page 14, where it mentions an experimental lot of copper plated steel case ammunition being shipped from Remington to Frankford Arsenal beginning in August 1942 in standard military 50 round boxes without a lot number stamping. The ammunition headstamp was RA42, and was tested at Frankford in November 1942. This was the only reference in the book to 50-round boxes beginning to be used in 1942. The Meadows book specifically mentions 1943 as the start date for 50-round boxes, which it looks like we’ve pretty well disproven, at this point.

I disagree that this box type is common. I’m not saying it’s a very rare box, but I think an accurate assessment of the frequency with which it is encountered would be “uncommon,” or maybe “relatively scarce.” My ammunition interests are almost exclusively focused around the .45 ACP cartridge, specifically in regards to the Thompson Submachine Gun. I put together a pinned post (link listed below) on my TSMG website that covers .45 ACP ammunition used in the Thompson, and had many people submit their ammunition examples, which did not include this type of box, nor have I noted it previously. Meadows shows one example of the box in his book, along with 5 other types that are much more frequently encountered, in my opinion.

machinegunboards.com/forums/ … opic=12262

I definitely appreciate your input, and am still wondering if anyone here may be able to point to a publication, or some sort of change order that indicates when the changeover was directed.

Thanks!

David Albert
dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


#5

Whilst the USA may have only gone over to 50-round boxes in 1942-43, the
Commercial/Lend Lease supplies to Britain and the Commonwealth was mostly in 50 round packets, from 1940 onwards…probably because initial purchases of TSMGs had the “L” (50 round) Magazine ( The French order, Initial British order, re-directed French order to Australian troops in North Africa). Later orders of TSMGs by Britain used the 20 (XX) magazine,but by then, the 50 round packet was standard in both US and Lend-Lease supplies.

Ealy British ordered .45 ammo was packed in “White Box” style, with either Remington or Winchester Commercial Headstamps; Some of the Winchester boxes still used the “italic” Brand printing, ( as they did on the 9mm Packets); later packets used simple block printing of both Brand and Details.

The variations of the early war period are an interesting area of research.

Regards,
Doc AV


#6

DocAV,

Excellent point. The British were not sent U.S. military ammunition for Lend-Lease, and the standard quantity for commercial packaging prior to WWII, and since WWII is 50 rounds.

Please tell me more about what you know about the “re-directed French order to Australian troops in North Africa.” The first French Thompson order (Colt Thompsons) was delivered to France, and the first British order (Savage Thompsons) began delivery in early 1940. The second French order was cancelled due to their situation in mid-1940, and the order was re-assigned to the British. I’m curious what information you may have that the redirected order went specifically to Australian troops.

Thanks!

David Albert
dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


#7

Several veterans of the 6th and 9th Australian Divisions in North Africa mentioned in their memoirs about being issued with Thompsons in Egypt,( late 1940) before going into action, and the Instruction booklets were all in French!
( Maj. Reg. Saunders, Indigenous Australian, veteran of North Africa, New Guinea and Korea…rose from the ranks to retire as a Major after the Korean War.)
Australians, being inquisitive soldiers, quickly mastered the TSMG without the use of English Language manuals, and even “improved” the firing,(in the sandy conditions) by removing the Blish Lock, and replacing it with a Hex Bolt and Nut, to hold the Cocking handle and bolt together, the the gun would still operate (even better)…the AF dimension of the Hex Bolt & Nut fit exactly in the slanted grooves of the Block. The other improvement was to the XX mags , by soldering shut the “view Holes” to cut down on sand getting in the mags, with subsequent jams.

Doc AV


#8

Maybe a companion question is at what date was the use of the 20 round box terminated as military packaging?


#9

[quote=“DocAV”]Several veterans of the 6th and 9th Australian Divisions in North Africa mentioned in their memoirs about being issued with Thompsons in Egypt,( late 1940) before going into action, and the Instruction booklets were all in French!
( Maj. Reg. Saunders, Indigenous Australian, veteran of North Africa, New Guinea and Korea…rose from the ranks to retire as a Major after the Korean War.)
Australians, being inquisitive soldiers, quickly mastered the TSMG without the use of English Language manuals, and even “improved” the firing,(in the sandy conditions) by removing the Blish Lock, and replacing it with a Hex Bolt and Nut, to hold the Cocking handle and bolt together, the the gun would still operate (even better)…the AF dimension of the Hex Bolt & Nut fit exactly in the slanted grooves of the Block. The other improvement was to the XX mags , by soldering shut the “view Holes” to cut down on sand getting in the mags, with subsequent jams.

Doc AV[/quote]

I’m very interested in learning more about this. I co-authored a collector guide titled “Thompson Manuals, Catalogs, and Other Paper Items” in 2005, and have 11 different French Thompson manuals in my collection. There was only one French Thompson manual in existence that I know of in 1940, and it was of early 1920’s vintage, and is extremely rare. There was one French Thompson manual published in Vichy France in 1941, which appears to be too late for these accounts. Could you provide any book titles that I could purchase to read the accounts that you mention?

The Thompson XX (20-round) magazines with the soldered holes are well known in the Thompson collector community. I have several in my collection.

DennisK,

Good companion question! I’m thinking probably mid to late 1942 was when the last 20-round packaging was used.

David Albert
dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


#10

This is a very interesting discussion. Like David, I am very interested in the time period of the switch for the US military from 20 to 50 round boxes. I believe Doc Av has broken some of the code with the references to the Lend Lease 50 round boxes.

Below is a box of 45 ACP in a 42 round box, which is an odd size to me. This box is a repackaged box by the Japanese and is thought to have been Lend Lease to the British however it could just simply be a commerical box captured from other sources. The label reads –

  • 42 happatsu or units.
  • Yoko-Ro-Shu #19, Yokosuka Navy Arsenal
  • Repaired/inspection June 1944.

Head stamp on all 42 rounds is W.R.A. CO. 45 A.C.

Photo of Japanese soldier with Thompson, supposedly photo taken in Burma.


#11

The Commercial Winchester Box is not “lend lease” but more likely “Commercial acquisition, paid in Gold” ( before the Lend Lease Act, which if I remember rightly, was late in 1941???).

The source of the Japanese repack/relable ammo would be either HongKong or The Malaya-Singapore campaign, where the British and Australian Forces were equipped with Commercial contract Thompsons.

The “42 round” Box is a quandary…it is only a multiple of 6x M1911 Magazines for Pistol; not a perfect multiple for any of the Thompson magazines ( unless one “underloads” a 50 round drum, to prevent jams); And Britain, whilst it did have some .45cal M1911A1s in Inventory later in the war, did not have them at this early stage of the War.

It could be that Winchester used the Box ( a commercial one) just to “fill the order”, not having regard for the end-user’s requirements for a 50 round box.

The Shanghai Municipal Police did have .45 Colts on Issue back in the early 1930s; But for the ammo to have come from Shanghai, it would have to pre-date the 1937 Japanese takeover of the City ( although the Foreign Concession was not occupied til December 1941…so this is still a possibility.)

Nice example of Japanese naval re-use of Captured ordnance (The Japanese Navy (IJN) was a bit the “poor sister” with regards Small arms, having to rely on a lot of Captured and separately acquired equipment to partially arm its Naval Infantry; Most of which came from either China or the SE Asia Campaign of 1941-42 ( Chinese, British and Dutch SA).

regards, Doc AV


#12

[quote=“dalbert”][quote=“DocAV”]Several veterans of the 6th and 9th Australian Divisions in North Africa mentioned in their memoirs about being issued with Thompsons in Egypt,( late 1940) before going into action, and the Instruction booklets were all in French!
( Maj. Reg. Saunders, Indigenous Australian, veteran of North Africa, New Guinea and Korea…rose from the ranks to retire as a Major after the Korean War.)
Australians, being inquisitive soldiers, quickly mastered the TSMG without the use of English Language manuals, and even “improved” the firing,(in the sandy conditions) by removing the Blish Lock, and replacing it with a Hex Bolt and Nut, to hold the Cocking handle and bolt together, the the gun would still operate (even better)…the AF dimension of the Hex Bolt & Nut fit exactly in the slanted grooves of the Block. The other improvement was to the XX mags , by soldering shut the “view Holes” to cut down on sand getting in the mags, with subsequent jams.

Doc AV[/quote]

I’m very interested in learning more about this. I co-authored a collector guide titled “Thompson Manuals, Catalogs, and Other Paper Items” in 2005, and have 11 different French Thompson manuals in my collection. There was only one French Thompson manual in existence that I know of in 1940, and it was of early 1920’s vintage, and is extremely rare. There was one French Thompson manual published in Vichy France in 1941, which appears to be too late for these accounts. Could you provide any book titles that I could purchase to read the accounts that you mention?

The Thompson XX (20-round) magazines with the soldered holes are well known in the Thompson collector community. I have several in my collection.

DennisK,

Good companion question! I’m thinking probably mid to late 1942 was when the last 20-round packaging was used.

David Albert
dalbert@sturmgewehr.com[/quote]

DocAV,

Could you please point me towards the books you mentioned containing the accounts of Australian troops being issued Thompsons with French manuals? I’m very interested in following up on those accounts.

Thanks!

David Albert
dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


#13

FWIW from Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U … esignation

Group “T” Material (Small Arms Ammunition)

Sub-Group T2 (Ammunition for Revolver, Pistol and Submachinegun)

Class T2A (.45 ACP)

T2AAA = 2000 Cartridges, .45 ACP Ball M1911, in 20-round Cartons, 100 cartons per metal-lined M1917 Wooden Packing Box (2000 rounds). Pre-war 20-round packaging. Gross Weight: 110 lbs. Volume: 0.92 Cubic Feet.

T2AAA = 2000 Cartridges, .45 ACP Ball M1911, in 50-round Cartons, 40 cartons per metal-lined M1917 Wooden Packing Box (2000 rounds). Changed to 50-round packaging in 1942 to make it quicker to distribute ammunition. Gross Weight: 107 lbs. Volume: 0.92 Cubic Feet.


#14

DocAV and retarmyaviator,

The 42 round box looks to be the same size as the 64 round 9mm Para boxes being made by Winchester. They just may have used the same boxes with a new label printed on them.

Cheers,
Lew