50 Vickers HV query


Howdy Folks, I have a .50 HV (12.7 X 120SR) round that is a little differant to those described in Huon, or Labbett , appears standard in all respects apart from this round having a Purpleish/Blue primer annulus ,a Green stripe on the base and a Green tip , Huon mentions an Incendiary with a Blue tip and primer annulus ,I have no info on an API round as such and why a Green stripe on the base ( Proof ? ) , the headstamp is K 32 .5D any info would be appreciated, thanks Randy


I don’t know this caliber, but a green stripe on the base usually signifies an AP round. So does a green bullet tip, when it is used. These may have been cases formed and primed for loading as ball rounds (purple primer seal), and then diverted to loading as AP. That may be the reason for the green stripe, to supercede the already applied purple primer seal. Just an educated guess and nothing more. Tony will probably let me know that I am all wet - if I am, I hope he does.

In my field, pistol ammo, a proof load is signified by a purple stripe on the base and a tracer by a red stripe on the base, for British rounds.


According to Labbett, the colour codes were as follows: red for tracer, green for AP, blue for incendiary. These were found in a bar across the base and sometimes with a matching bullet tip. The only exception was the APT bullet which had a green over red tip.

This system was usually used when a ball case was loaded with a different bullet (in which case the primer annulus retained the original purple colour). Cases designed for particular loadings had this stamped on the base: B for incendiary, G for tracer, W for AP and APT for, well, APT :).

Curiously (because the .5HV was not adopted by the UK) an order for a small quantity of rounds was placed in 1940; AP (green tip bullet) and ball (purple tip).

This now puzzles me because my example has a black bullet tip, which is not mentioned by Labbett…

You can read about the various .5V rounds in the article on my website, here: quarry.nildram.co.uk/Vickers.html


John is right that you have a Vickers V/664 (Class D) armour piercing round. It is not uncomon to find these with a purple annulus and then a stripe and/or tip to indicate a special load. I have a tracer with purple annulus and red tip and stripe across the head.

When they moved to the Class D* V/690, Kynoch started including the load letter in the headstamp, G for tracer, B for incendiary and W for AP. One exception to this is the armour piercing tracer which does not use the normal Btitish codes but has AP T in the headstamp, a green annulus and a red over green tip. The incendiary is often referred to as “Smoke Tracer” in Kynoch literature.

However, just to be difficult, I also have an early V/664 AP dated 1928 that has a W included in the headstamp.



Thanks for the help guys Randy


Are you sure your tip colour is black Tony? Kynoch also loaded some “Standard” ball rounds with a very dark purple tip. I have not seen a black tip, nor does it feature in the Kynoch literature or drawings.

The Woolwich order for .5D rounds in 1940 was not that surprising when one considers how desperate the UK was for weapons after Dunkirk. Vickers may well have had a few Class D guns in stock and the military may have had a couple from Ordnance Board trials. I have also been told that at least one Royal Navy auxiliary trawler was armed with a .5D, which again is not that surprising.



Further to my previous posts, I checked the drawings for the .5D and there were in fact several different service (i.e. Ball) bullets.

There was a mild steel cored, a lead/aluminium (a la .303), and streamlined versions of both. I wonder if the purple tip could perhaps identify the steel cored or streamlined type? I will check my examples and report back.



OK thanks Tony Randy