I posted much of the following information on BOCN last week, and had quite a few readers, but no replies and a single PM. I decided to try it here to see if I have better luck! The BNOC post was as follows:
I have been collecting 9mm Luger/Para ammunition for about 60 years. Very early on I noted the great headstamp variation in the detail content of the British WWII ammunition. I assumed that it was just a result of the production volume and a lack of standards on the content of the headstamps resulting in the headstamps varying over time as old bunters were worn out and new ones produced. This variation occurs at both Hirwaun and Blackpole, but the variation was noticably wider at Hirwaun. An example is that the caliber designation was shown as 9M.M. or 9MM or 9 MM or 9 M M or 9M/M or 9 M/M. There was also considerable variation in letter size, the shape of the number “9” and other variations.
A few months ago I picked up a sealed box of Hirwaun production of Mk II cartridges from 1944. When I opened it, I was amazed at the variations in the headstamps. Of the 48 cartridges, there were 26 distinctly different headstamps which were made from distinctly different bunters. My old assumption that this was just lack of headstamp standards over time seem unlikely. The cases loaded and packed into this one box had to be available at the loading machines and were likely mostly produced in roughly the same time-frame. I am working now to try to categorize the differences so I can document them in some kind of reasonably understandable manner.
The Hirwaun production must have been a massive operation. I have no idea how many case production lines were running at the same time producing cases, but likely there were quite a few. Other factories have have used the load code on the box, or other methods to identify the date of loading as well as such things as the Quality Inspector, the Crew doing the production and/or the production line.
It may be that each crew had a set of headstamp bunters that identified them and the line they worked on. They could have installed their bunters at the beginning of each shift and removed them at the end of the shift. I am not claiming this is what happened, just offering it as one explanation of the diversity of headstamps in the single Hirwaun box. Unfortunately the date stamped on the box is unreadable.
Does anyone know how many 9mmP case production lines were running at Hirwaun at any one time in 1944???
I doubt there will ever be an answer to this variation, but would appreciate the thoughts of other Forum members.
Looking forward to your comments.
Here are some examples of the variations:
From Left to Right.
- Large letters, 9M?M, Small Arrow (tail significantly longer than diagonal lines)
- Small letters, 9M.M.,
- Large letters, 9MM
- 9MM without top & bottom bars on IIZ
- 9MM small 9, small letters-small arrow
- 9MM (staggered Ms), small arrow
And it goes on and on!!!
This box contains the production of 26 headstamp bunters. Somebody must have an explanation for that.
I would appreciate all thoughts and comments! Any ideas are welcome.