9mm SMAW QUESTION


#1

1SFG has a 9mm Spotter for trade in the BUY/SELL/TRADE section. I was comparing his to mine and have a question. His have orange, smoothly rounded bullet tips. Mine has a red tip with a flat protrusion. Is this just a normal color variation and is the protrusion just the way the paint settled during the drying process or does it indicate a different type bullet?


#2

pbutler, I’m gonna SWAG it here, but your SMAW Spotter looks to be from when the Corps first adopted them and time and age, not to mention the beating they get in the magazine, could have flattened the paint. The paint comes off easy with those. I only remember the red painted ones, so the orange tips are new to me. Are they for the HEAT SMAW or for the Bunker Buster?


#3

I really have no idea what its use was. It IS in a magazine like the one shown in 1SFG’s post.


#4

My cup of tea (color tips)…these 9 m/m “SMAW” tracer rounds (are not spotters)…you can do a Forum search as I am confident we have beat this horse before.

But…these were made by Jim Bell in Bensonville, Illinois (Bell Brass Extrusion) and the red tips were dipped (he once showed us, a then Chicagoland “SLICS type” tour group his manf. process (w/ free samples !!!)…and your odd paint tip pattern is presumably from the dipping and drying rack. (yes made with UK “RG” blanks as a primer…and infact…the entire propellant is in that rose crimped blank…thus you can’t hear any powder “shake”)

The spotter round (I am starting to cover what the search will likely bring up) is a totally different bullet ogive, a longer profile with a taper (as opposed to this very “rounded” red tip) and is a yellow and red tip…I must stress…and make a point…the US made SMAW spotter rounds…those from Bell…are as I describe…I speak with no authority about those made/used in the UK !!!

It will drive us all to drink (those that care) that the US made red tipped round is called a “spotter”…it is merely a tracer.


#5

Thanks Pepper all I know is I got them in a trade with other stuff. I have data on the weapon. Somewher I a cross section diagram of the moounted rifle. My tips are orange.//


#6

welcome…(got to love the Forum !)

question begs…is it a color fade variance ?

lots of that w/ .308 dual color tips (dim tracer, etc.)…seen in frangibles too

bottom line…I don’t think it came out of “Bell” orange


#7

Thanks Bruce and Pepper. Were the red tipped tracers from Bell made for the military or for some other purpose? What type material is the lower silver colored portion of the bullets made from? Doesn’t appear to be magnetic? Lots of questions, huh.


#8

Just checked my References and NAVMC 3500.44 on testing MC personnel with the Mk153 SMAW refers to the round as a “spotter tracer” so that is why I hve always refered to them as spotters. I have a copy I can send if anyone wants it, it is a 66 pge doc.pdf reg dated Sep 08.//


#9

Pepper, bowing to your use of the correct vernacular, I will agree that the proper term for the round first discussed is a tracer. That said, I’m also in full agreement with 1SFG in that the only thing I had ever heard them called throughout my career was spotter/tracer, and knowing how us Jarheads like to simplify things, we shorten it to spotter. Also, the tactical use of the round is similar to the .50calx78mm though with a different application. When fired at the target the long burn time of the tracer acts as a spotter since the target for the SMAW was initially to be bunkers and fortifications. A flash would alert enemy personnel that they were going to be targeted a react accordingly. That said, during my entire time in EOD and also as a civilian UXO Tech, I have never seen a true spotter until seeing your display. Any info on the IM mixture used and the flash visibility? It’d be fun to see it used.

pbutler, the entire round is lead with a long tracer in the base (as seen in Peppers’ cut a ways) and the copper jacket for the tip.


#10

this is trial upload of a scan (scanned in as a jpg)

more to follow…but certainly at issue is the fact that the box for the “tracer” (in my collection…and “common”) is marked Cartridge, Spotting, Rifle, 9MM (SMAW) MK 217 MOD O

and the “spotter” box …(not in my collection) all the same except for MK 223

more later…will edit and add more

Pepper


#11

I was there on the tour of Jim Bell’s facilities when they were developing the 9mm SMAW for the Maine Corps. I can confirm what pepper said about the hand dipping of the rounds in red paint for the tip color. Also, I can confirm that the red tipped ones are just a Tracer. On the tour Jim clamped one in a vice and lit it for us to see. NO BANG, so no spotter function. As I recall they burned for about 5 seconds.

It is interesting that in the document Pepper posted it says the tip color for the Spotter/Tracer L3A1 is “Red over Yellow” but the round shown is “Yellow over Red”


#12

I recall that as well…needing to be lit with a torch…and burned like a road flare (certainly the closest I have been to a tracer…clamped in a vice)…I also recall him (Jim Bell) saying the copper housing (that he hand pressed the tracer compund in…some 2000 psi as I recall) was bought from Hornady and I don’t recall it’s original Hornady intent…I did not think as a tracer housing (???)


(see both the filled and unfilled tracer core to the right)

Also see our own IAA website Cartridge Of the Month (by Paul Smith)

cartridgecollectors.org/cmo/cmo05oct.htm


#13

What chemical composition was added to the projectile to make it a “spotter” round?


#14

No clue Rick…but might reachout to Jim Bell to ask (something that went “puff”) !!

The following are scans/copies of items I have from the internet. etc., in my files

I recall thinking the acronym “SMAW” as meaning (wrongly)…Shouldered Mobile Anti-tank Weapon


Sorry was over exposed when I took it (spotter box not in my collection)


Common box


#15

I don’t have time to read every word in this thread so I’ll ask - are all “spotter” cartridges also tracers? Or, are there, tracers, spotters, and spotter-tracers?

It would seem to me that the tracer alone should be an adequate spotter. Isn’t that what tracers are? Seems to me like a redundant redundantcy.

ray


#16

My spontaneous thought is that “different”…and “depends” (not the diaper)

My understanding of tracers is that they have a “lit” (flame/smoke) burn life span and burn out depending on design. Thus if fired at long range…and “burned out”…they strike their target as a “chunk of lead” (you know what I mean)

A “spotter” (smoke, “flame” or both) would not “do its thing” until impact/detonation (unless it too was so terminally slow it just ground to a halt).

And we know there are both…as the SMAW “spotter” has both a tracer core and an un-fuzed (? impact friendly) nose load. 9see my collection with the sectioned rounds)

I think there are lots of examples of all three and I can only give my opinion. (tracer, spotter, tracer/spotter)

The only “spotter” round I have had the privilege to shoot was the Raufoss style .50 cal multipurpose round…that let us “see” were we hit.

Oh well…smarter people than I will chime in

Thanks for reading…


#17

Pepper, we didn’t get the HEAT rocket and it’s anti-armor capabilities until about 10 years after the thing was fielded. The HEDP round is for attacks against bunkers and fortifications. The fuze discriminates between hard target hits (Instantaneous) and soft target (delay). I always wondered how the Corps got saddled with a weapon that was 30 lbs without the rocket with just the express purpose of bunker busting. IMHO we should have bought the Carl Gustav 84mm recoilless (new model @ 17 lbs) and it’s family of ammo. The backblast from both is hellacious but we could have had an anti-armor capability from the get go. It was already in the system in use with the SF, so we could have bought it for decent price.


#18

I am going to ask 2 very basic questions which will indicate that I know nothing about this system. Please, answer in a simplest language possible.

  1. The spotter, I think, is a smoke indicator to where the real HE payload needs to go. If there were 2 separate soldiers, one spotter, another rocket launcher, I see a need for the spotter to indicate a target by putting smoke into it. Since this system combines spotter and rocket launcher in one weapon and has only one person firing, why does he need spotting capability? Just fire at the target you deem worthy.
  2. The spotter cartridge is a combination of 2 separate cartridges. Why the need for Hornet to reload? Other guns self reload using only one cartridge.

#19

[quote=“sksvlad”]I am going to ask 2 very basic questions which will indicate that I know nothing about this system. Please, answer in a simplest language possible.

  1. The spotter, I think, is a smoke indicator to where the real HE payload needs to go. If there were 2 separate soldiers, one spotter, another rocket launcher, I see a need for the spotter to indicate a target by putting smoke into it. Since this system combines spotter and rocket launcher in one weapon and has only one person firing, why does he need spotting capability? Just fire at the target you deem worthy.
  2. The spotter cartridge is a combination of 2 separate cartridges. Why the need for Hornet to reload? Other guns self reload using only one cartridge.[/quote]

I can answer the first one. Low-velocity weapons like the SMAW have a long flight time and a curved trajectory, so it is difficult to score a hit at longer ranges. The spotting rifle is fixed to the SMAW (a similar system is used with various other weapons) and the cartridge for it is designed to match the trajectory and flight time of the main round. So the user keeps firing the spotting rifle and adjusting his aim until a hit is scored on the target, at which point he fires the main round which should then score a hit.

These spotting rifle systems may also have the possibility of permitting cheap target practice, without needing to fire the main gun. So when used like this they are similar to sub-calibre practice weapons.

I suspect that the name “spotter ammunition” came simply from the fact that the gun which fired them is known as a “spotting rifle”.

Systems like this are on the way out, with the introduction of electronic sights containing laser rangefinders and ballistic computers which enable the user to score a first-round hit.

Some spotter/tracer/subcalibre rounds from my small collection of this type, with tentative identifications underneath (corrections and additions welcomed!):

7.65x21 (Erika Pak 75), 7.92x24.5 (Portuguese), 7.62x25 (Instalaza), 7.62x27 (Swiss), 7.62x33 (Argentine), 7.5x55R (Swiss), 7.62x24 (Portuguese), 9x51 (SMAW Mk 217), 10x43B (US XM75), 12.7x76 (.50 Spotter), 12.7x99 (British .50 BMG for use in Centurion tank), 14.5x21R (artillery trainer), 14.5x51R (artillery trainer), 15x99 (USA), 15.2x120 (15mm XM122 USA), 20x22R (Netherlands), 20x45R (USA), 20x126 case (XM101 for Davy Crockett)


#20

The answer to your second question Vlad is that there is only one cartridge in the sense of propellant and that is the Hornet. There is no propellant in the main case and the round works on the High-low pressure system. This means the high pressure gas from the Hornet blank expands into the main case and lowers the pressure, giving a longer flatter time/pressure curve. It also supplies the recoil energy to opereste and reload the weapon.

Regards
TonyE