Australian usage of .45ACP in WWII


#1

In the Australian movie Kokoda (2006) imdb.com/title/tt0481390/ a single Aussie is carrying a Thompson SMG, and he is shown many times with the gun jammed struggling to make it operational. Assuming that this is historically correct, why to have a totally alien .45 calibre in the battlefield where re-supply is extremely cumbersome? And one can’t get .45 by capturing enemy’s supplies!! Aussies, by the way, are fighting Imperial Japanese Army in New Guinea in this movie.


#2

Thompson Machine carbine was standard issue in the Australian Army. 45 ammo was made in Australia.
Owen and Austen MCs cal 9mm were made from late 1942.


#3

Sorry, did not know that. Municion.org has not a single example of Australian .45ACP. How rare is this ammo? Anybody has a picture?


#4

Would the Austrailians in New Guinea have been under British or US supreme Command? They fought under both ASFAIK


#5

Hello sksvlad, here you have a .45 ACP made of Australia.
We will add it to the collection of municion.org


#6

A Thompson jamming? Hollywood. I carried a M1 Thompson in Viet Nam and it never once did it not fire. Because of how well they work I own a M1928 SMG and it has fire thousands of rounds with no problem. Other than being full of heavy mud or wet sand and bad ammo, and this will stop most firearms I cannot see it not firing. Col Thompson was a war vet and knew the conditions of battle.


#7

More than likely, if the TSMG was jamming in the movie, it was a blank adapted movie gun.

For those with an interest in this subject, you should check out this very fun post on Machinegunboards.com, about the TV Show "“Combat!” from the 1960’s, revisited in the late 1990’s with blank cartridge recoveries.

“Hollywood Thompson Blanks In Fall 2011 GCA Journal Article”

machinegunboards.com/forums/ … opic=13327

David Albert
dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


#8

.45 ACP was made in Australia at the MG factory ( #2, Footscray) in 1943-44; and again in 1956 for the RAAF (MF, which by the 1950s, was the original MG factory rebadged). All other .45ACP was “White Box” Winchester and Remington , both pre-1942 Purchase, and Post 1942 Lend-lease. All was standard commercial headstamp ammo. Only in Combined Combat areas did Australian troops get cross-supplied with US-made Military .45 ammo. ( ie, RA 42 etc, including EC43 steel case ).
BY 1943, all the Thompsons had been withdrawn from Army Combat Use, and re-issued to the RAAF and RAN; in the 1950s, Lithgow did an FTR program and all the Thompsons were refurbished ( often mismatching top and bottom parts) and returning the sling swivels to their original factory positions ( underneath)…during WWII, the sling sviwels were placed on the top of the butt, and the side of the handguard, for ease of Jungle carry “at the ready”.

Many TSMGs were Torched by the RAAF in the late 1960s and dumped in old mineshafts and water reservoirs, and any still in store by 1975, were collected, and shipped (with any remaining ammo) to the Lon-Nol forces in Pnom-Penh; where they were almost immediately captured by the Khmer Rouge a couple of weeks later ( Fall of Cambodia).

Regards,
Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


#9

I thought I’d add that I obtained 2 boxes of the Australian .45 ACP ammunition earlier this year. Here are some photos. It’s interesting that this ammo was apparently produced in both FMJ and lead round nose versions. Mine have 1943 and 1944 headstamps.

David Albert
dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


#10

To round this thread out, here are the .45 rounds from Australian I have in my own collection. I do not know of any other serious variations, but there could be.

MG 43 IZ - This trinomial headstamp, without the caliber marking, was the first production. It exists in several variations of letter size.

MG 43 .45 IZ - The four place headstamp became the standard one later in 1943. It includes the caliber in the headstamp.

MG 44 .45 IZ - Production continued in 1944. Bunter-letter size variations are found with this headstamp also.

MF 46 .45 I - Post war production, iknown from 1946 only, with the change to the MF designation pointed out by Doc. Av. This cartridge does not have a case cannelure, which all those with the “MG” headstamp do have. This headstamp drops the “Z” from the Mark designation on the headstamp.

All of the above are ordinary ball cartridges with a 230 grain FMJ RN GM bullet, brass case, copper primer cup with a very dark purple primer seal. The primer seal, in poor light, can be mistaken for being black, but all I have ever seen are actually purple, quite plainly seen in strong light

Aside from the ball rounds, there are at least two forms of dummy round, both of which, I am told by the Australian collectors, are quite scarce. I have them both in my collection so I know the are not just a “rumor.”

MF 56 .45 I - Factory-made Dummy cartridge, empty Berdan primer pocket (two flash holes), no case cannelure, standard bullet and case materials, 4 small holes in case through which is viible the wood dowel bullet spcer, which is colored red.

E C 42 - Dummy with four holes in the case, and red wood-dowel spacer inside. Bullet is probably American since it GMCS, not GM as are all the Australian bullets. Steel case. Snapped primer. It seems to provide evidence that the Australians also got some Evansville Chrysler ammo from the US, either by direct shipment or “borrowed” from American forces on the scene, and why not? This ammo shows up in just about every country thaqt ever used a Tommy Gun. The holes are the same basic size and arrangement as those on the “MF 46” dummy, but spaced a little differently. I have no idea where it was converted to a dummy, but it was sent to me from Australia and its imperfect condition and syle of making it a dummy appears to be totally original - that is, not some home-made fantasy.

I agree totally with comments made about the jamming that Vlad described in his initial question. If the film was taken duing actual combat, and not as a theatrical production, you would not see that. Thompsons are heavy, awkward to handle in some situations, but they are accurate and extremely dependable. It is common to see jams being cleared in almost all movie productions (theatrical) involving TSMGs altered for blank firing. In fact, it is rare not to see at least one or two if one of the main characters of an hour and a half movie is using one and firing a lot.

The boxes shown by “Dalbert” are typical of the boxes for the Australian .45. I don’t recall seeing any other style of box for the ammo actually made in Australian. However, I would dispute that the ammo with lead bullets is original to the box, or to Australian military use. I would be very confident in guessing that this ammo is remanufactured. By who, and for what reason, is anyone’s guess. The fact the primers seem original, is puzzling, but this ammo and its history is so well-known I just don’t see the lead bullets, never before mentioned in anything about this ammo, as being original. Perhaps one of our Australian members knowledgeable about auto pistol rounds from there can chime in on this point.


#11

I agree with John. I have never seen or heard of lead bulleted Aussie .45ACP and it is not mentioned in the official ADI history of Australian military production which is otherwise comprehensive.

I am sure it is remanufactured/handloaded by someone.

Regards
TonyE


#12

The cartridges in both boxes do not show any evidence of being reloaded. All have the dark purple primer seal. It is my opinion that they were manufactured with lead bullets.

David Albert
dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


#13

[quote=“dalbert”]The cartridges in both boxes do not show any evidence of being reloaded. All have the dark purple primer seal. It is my opinion that they were manufactured with lead bullets.

David Albert
dalbert@sturmgewehr.com[/quote]

Most likely the original bullets were pulled and the lead bullets loaded. It is a common practice, especially when you cannot use FMJ bullets on indoor ranges.

It is also unlikely that the military would use lead bullets due to Geneva convention rules, let alone the failures that would be caused by soft deformed lead bullets in semi or fully automatic firearms.


#14

Dalbert
Another reason to suspect these as original factory / arsenal loads is that the bullets are cast. I can see the mold marks on some in your box photos. If arsenal or factory the lead would have been swagged. Casting bullets is time consuming while swagging forms them from lead wire in seconds (or less).

Probably put into new primed empty cases than someone came upon, to explain the original primers. A not uncommon happening.


#15

[quote=“MissingSomething”][quote=“dalbert”]The cartridges in both boxes do not show any evidence of being reloaded. All have the dark purple primer seal. It is my opinion that they were manufactured with lead bullets.

David Albert
dalbert@sturmgewehr.com[/quote]

Most likely the original bullets were pulled and the lead bullets loaded. It is a common practice, especially when you cannot use FMJ bullets on indoor ranges.

It is also unlikely that the military would use lead bullets due to Geneva convention rules, let alone the failures that would be caused by soft deformed lead bullets in semi or fully automatic firearms.[/quote]

MissingSomething,

Your supposition is not supported by the physical evidence. Allied forces used several lead bullets for sidearms. It is possible these were loaded particularly for Webley pistols that were converted to .45 ACP.

As a side note, I have shot at least 1000 lead bullets through my M1 Thompson. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre was also carried out with 70 rounds of lead .45 ACP through 2 Colt Thompsons.

[quote=“PetedeCoux”]Dalbert
Another reason to suspect these as original factory / arsenal loads is that the bullets are cast. I can see the mold marks on some in your box photos. If arsenal or factory the lead would have been swagged. Casting bullets is time consuming while swagging forms them from lead wire in seconds (or less).

Probably put into new primed empty cases than someone came upon, to explain the original primers. A not uncommon happening.[/quote]

PetedeCoux,

Keep in mind that these were made during a period in WWII when copper was scarce. Australia experienced raw material shortages, as did the U.S. In the U.S., we made steel pennies in 1943 so that we could save copper for bullets. In an application where copper bullets were not absolutely necessary, it makes sense that some would be made out of lead. Swaging bullets from a lead wire is not as easy to set up for manufacture as molded bullets can be.

Your hypothesis regarding use of new primed empty cases grants that these cartridges were not reloaded, evidenced by the correct primer seal. I believe the likelihood of someone later coming upon some unloaded, primed cases is remote, and in my opinion is conjecture.

Just because we have not seen these before does not mean they are not what they appear to be. In the firearm collecting genre, I have found using the terms “always,” and “never” can prove problematic. There were many “one-offs,” and exceptions driven by the needs of desperate struggles, or other tactical circumstances.

David Albert
dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


#16

We’re back to the problem, however, that in this time period, the use of lead bullets in military ammunition was prohibited by international convention. I do, however, agree that “never say never” likely applies at least 95% in cartridge collection, despite the fact that I firmly believe that these were NOT loaded with lead bullets by the Australian Government factory. Conjecture? Of course! It has to be conjecture since you can seldom, if ever, prove a negative 100 perrcent.


#17

JohnMoss,

Lead ammunition was not prohibited by international convention during this time period.

David Albert
dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


#18

David, I also share the opinion that these cartridges were remanufactured or handloaded, and are not original products made by MF, and for what it matters, I couldn’t find mention of the existence of such rounds in more than 50 years of research depicted in bulletins by the cartridge collectors associations of Australia and New Zealand. It is very hard to believe these are original without any documentation to support it.

Also, your information about the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre is not correct. I have copies of the forensic reports and inventory of the cartridges and bullets found in the crime scene and those 70 rounds you mention were of commercial USCCo manufacture loaded with 230 gr. FMJ bullets.


#19

[quote=“Fede”]David, I also share the opinion that these cartridges were remanufactured or handloaded, and are not original products made by MF, and for what it matters, I couldn’t find mention of the existence of such rounds in more than 50 years of research depicted in bulletins by the cartridge collectors associations of Australia and New Zealand. It is very hard to believe these are original without any documentation to support it.

Also, your information about the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre is not correct. I have copies of the forensic reports and inventory of the cartridges and bullets found in the crime scene and those 70 rounds you mention were of commercial USCCo manufacture loaded with 230 gr. FMJ bullets.[/quote]

Fede,

I retract my earlier statement about the composition of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (SVDM) bullets, and concede that you are correct that they were FMJ. My memory failed me on this one, and I remembered them as being lead. I’ve shot 50 rounds through the primary weapon used during the SVDM, Colt Thompson # 2347, and have participated in displays involving both Thompsons used in the massacre on several occasions, including the 2008 top award winning NRA Annual Meeting Collector Firearm display on Calvin Goddard, and the forensics of the SVDM. I own Dr. Goddard’s original, personal 1930 copy of the debut publication, “The American Journal of Police Science,” and when I read your comment, I went downstairs and referenced it, as well as my box of USCCO ammo of the same vintage. They were indeed FMJ. I believe the black and white photos in Dr. Goddard’s article, as well as the examples in my personal collection of lead .45 bullets of the SVDM time period led to my erroneous earlier statement about the SVDM bullets.

When I’m wrong, I will admit it openly.

However, my failed memory on the SVDM bullet composition does not take away from the compelling physical evidence of the subject at hand, which is the 2 boxes of lead .450 Australian ammunition that shows no signs of being reloaded, and has primer sealant consistent with known FMJ versions of this WWII ammunition.

I respect the opinions of members here in regards to these Australian lead bullets, but I disagree that they should be dismissed so quickly as reloads.

David Albert
dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


#20

The Loads in dispute are obviously “Remanufactured” or “Handloaded,” using Factory-original Primed cases ( MF/MG regularly sold primed cases to both Aussie Commercial Makers in the 1950s and 60s (Super and Riverbrand) and also supplied primed cases ( and projectiles and Loaded ammo) to State Police Departments as well.

The dates on the cases are immaterial in this context, as Ammo Factories sometimes store primed cases for several years before use ( back in the pre 60s period).

The other solution is that these were “Pulled” cases Reloaded with Lead Bullets ( also for Indoor short range use etc., by Police etc.).

The .450 case primer was a Berdan size, NOT available to the General Public, and only made in Australia by the Gov’t Factories (Tamworth and St.Mary’s) during WW II and 1956. The cases are NOT “Reprimed” in the reloading process.

AS to the use of lead Bullets, the Hague Convention of 1899 Banned the use of "Soft Point, exposed point or other Expanding Bullets “in European style” Warfare ( between sovereign states). This arose from the Boer War ( 1899-1902) where the British were initially using MkV (“dumdum” style) Hollow Point Bullets.

The peculiar wording of the clause (“European”) allowed Colonialist regimnes to still use any sort of bullet against Rebelling Natives (They were neither “European” nor Sovereign Armies; Certain nations (non-European) were assimilated to “European” status for the purposes of the Convention (Japan, Siam, etc); The Convention was silent on the use of lead bullets in purely Internal “Police” operations.

To note that when the British (in 1904-07) put down “the Mad Mullah” in the Somaliland Territory ( Horn of Africa) they ordered and issued large quantities of Mark V Hollowpoint .303 as effective “manstoppers” in this campaign…with nary a complaint from other Convention members.

The British kept the Mark II ( lead) projectile in .455 until the 1930s; As the Officer’s Pistol was more for “Officer Duties” ( shooting deserters, etc) than for active Combat Use in WW I, the Germans didn’t object too much (they used Lead in their M89 Reichs-revolver in WW I); but by the late 1930s, the British had adopted the Mark VI (FMJ) .455, and also the FMJ .380 revolver rounds.

The presentation of the Packets (original Factory packets/labels) indicates to me that it was Surplus .45 Auto ammo made available to Police etc, Post-War, the FMJ Bullets Pulled, and the lead projectiles loaded in their place.

Probably for Practice and Short Range shooting. Even by a private shooter.

Doc AV
Down Under.