Another one uncommon H headstamp on 303 British


#1

This cartridge was digged in Poltava region in Ukraine. It is loaded with AP-bullet 34,29 mm length and nitrocellulose powder with square flakes. Cartridge has black primer annullus. Headstamp is H26 V. As I know this headstamp is still don’t identified in related sources.


I have a supposition that this cartridge has Austrian origin. In the mid 1920-th Austria start trials for selection service aircraft MG. Weapon in cal. 303 British also took part in this trials. In 1930-th Austria adopted 303 British cartridge for aircraft use (official designation 7,7 mm M.32 Patrone) together with MG Lewis, Vickers and Breda-SAFAT, mainly delivered from Italy.

So, I can assume that Austria made cartridges cal. 303 British for aircraft MG. Also this cartridges could be made for export in Baltic countries.

Case construction and style of headstamps indirectly confirm for benefit of this theory. The case inner construction is not typical for Britain or USA made cases.

The style of headstamp (letter H, and digits 2 and 6) is rather like to Hirtenberger patronenfabric headstamps. Of course in 1926 Austria could produce 303 cartridges at Dordrecht Patronenfabric, Netherlands, which operated as a branch of Hirtenberger in 1926-1934. I have only late style headstamp of this factory and have no idea how early headstamps looks like.

The letter V could mean Vickers, I think

Another question is a powder, not typical for Austria in those time. Austrian cartridges was loaded with Gewehrpulver M.92, which had round flakes. But before and during WWI Austria also use German Troisdorfer Plattchenpulver with square flakes for loading special purpose cartridges, because German powder had better stability and, correspondingly - better ballistic characteristics. So we could assume that for aircraft ammunition Austrian can used better German powder.

Thanks for any info or criticism regarding this cartridge and my supposition


#2

Treshkin: I haven’t a clue who made the cartridge you ask about, but I would toss out the possibility it was made for aviation use, perhaps not in the country in which it was manufactured. A number of states between the world wars used aircraft MGs in .303 caliber even tho their standard rifle and MG caliber was not .303. The fact the pictured bullet is an AP type also might tie in to such a use. Most interesting, as your pics always are. Jack


#3

I have seen these on another forum and it was believed these are Lithuanian or possibly Latvian and this is the only known head stamp with both AP and ball bullets with no discernible exterior difference for bullet type.

Richard.


#4

The manufacture of .303 Special rounds for all the Baltic countries was mostly donbe by Kynoch in the 1920s. The layout of the Headstamp and type Font is typical of Kynoch export ammo to the Baltic at that time, although most were “K 26” etc or other dates.
The “V” mark is found on some Kynoch ammo as well.

Whether Kynoch also used the “H” headstamp is unknown.
The use of the British Copper .250" ( 6,35mm) Berdan primer also points to British manufacture, although SB Riga also loaded .303 Ball with this primer ( Late 1930s).

I would suggest that Hirtenberg cases in .303 would have used the Roth Priming system ( single flash hole through anvil) and not the “German” Double flash hole type…the Roth system was used during WW I ( .199 Primer in 8x50R ) and continued into the 1930s by both Austria and Czechoslovakia…in 1930, Austria adopted the .217 Berdan “German” twin-flashhole primer for the new M30 8x56R .

The finding of these cartridges in Ukraine fits in with the seizure of stocks in the Baltic States by the Soviet Annexation in 1940; arms and ammo from there were issued to Soviet Partisan forces during the German Barbarossa Invasion of 1941; Some of the rifles( P14s) and ammo were even issued for the Defence of Moscow to the Workers Militia. (Newsreel Photos) and for the Guards on the Lake Ladoga Ice Road ( Seige of Leningrad).
Lee Enfield rifles (MLEs) were seen in 1942-43 Partisan photos of the Northern Sector (Byelorussia and upper Ukraine).

SO .303 ammo was widespread in the North of the Russian Front.

Some is still coming out of Estonia and Lativa and Ukraine as “Mixed surplus” up to a couple of years ago. ( Dates from WWI thru to 1939 S- B-R, Kynoch, and old US WW I Contracts.)

I wonder how much is still in Ukrainian warehouses…along with .303 cal. Rifles (MLE, shortened MLE, and P14s (some with “M-N type stocks”)
Photos have shown them in warehouses, but none sold so far.

Regards, Doc A V
AV Ballistics.


#5

The English (Kynoch) origin of this cartridge is a very significant version. Really, diameter of the primer pocket, primer material and headstamp composition and location on the case base - all these features indicate Kynoch export .303 cartridges.

In the same time, the case construction is not typical for Kynoch, which made cases with flat iternal partition and parallel flash holes

The style of type on H26 V case is also differ from Kynoch, which use “wide” letters and digits. The digit “2” at Kynoch headstamp of 1928 is also not look like as those on H26.

Sellier and Bellot Riga also produced .303 cartridges from the end of 1920-th or, at least, from the 1931. SBR cases has the flat internal partition as a Kynoch specimens, but with small step between the partition and case wall.

In addition SBR case has a small “step” at the enter of primer pocket.

The style of SBR headstamp digits also differ from H26 V

Taking into account all above mentioned detailes, I will try to make a new supposition, that some company make this (H26 V) cartridge for clandestine export in Baltic countries. May be because of supervision of Allied Control Committee, this company made cartridges with headstamps and primers in “Kynoch style” for conspiracy.


#6

I have to agree with treshkin on this one Doc. Have you ever seen Kynoch cases with inclined fire holes? Also, as he says, the internal shaping of the web does not look like a Kynoch case.

The use of .250 inch caps is also a bit of a red herring, since Italy and Spain for example also used that size of cap when they copied UK rounds for their own domestic production.

I have both ball and AP rounds with black anulii and nothing I can see to distinguish them. My own view is that they were not a deliberate attempt to mimic Kynoch production, that was just the way .303 rounds were made. However, I still have no positive ideas to add with respect to who did actually make them.

Regards
TonyE