Explosive austrian bullets in WWI


#1

I have found a book on explosive bullets in France’s National Library. It is titled Balles dum-dum, balles explosibles, balles explosibles autrichiennes 1914-1916, par le Docteur Émile Dutertre-Deléiéleuse, Paris, 1916, and is available in pdf format at ftp://ftp.bnf.fr/573/N5738630_PDF_1_-1DM.pdf

The book says that the accusations of french troops using dum-dum bullets against their enemies is false, because the solid Lebel bullet cannot be converted into a dum-dum. If some expansive bullets were found in the hands of french soldiers, they were belgian.
The jacketed bullets of german, austrian and russian origin, produce greater wounds because of the dissemination of fragments. The british trimetallic bullets, with lead and aluminum core, produce similar effects. But all these bullets may cause the gravest effects if individually modified. Austria, a german ally, is the only country barbaric enough to use actual explosive bullets.
The study of an austrian explosive bullet from the austrian sector in Serbia shows an ogival bullet with a steel jacket and an inner cylinder full of mercury fulminate. At the base of the bullet an inertia striker made of copper can be found.

The explosive cartridge was identified by a black band on the case. The case was copper and at the base it read “19-14” and “C R” intertwined (GR for G. Roth, surely).

According to this book, the austrian soldiers made prisoners during the austrian-serbian war carried a number of chargers with five explosive cartridges each, making a total of twenty to twenty five rounds for each soldier.

These cartridges should be of the spotting kind, and for use in machine guns, not issued to troopers. But it is documented the existence of these explosive cartridges identified by a black band on the case, or was it just french propaganda?


#2

[quote=“schneider”]
The study of an austrian explosive bullet from the austrian sector in Serbia shows an ogival bullet with a steel jacket and an inner cylinder full of mercury fulminate. At the base of the bullet an inertia striker made of copper can be found. [/quote]

In another book from the same French National Library, Les Armes déloyales des Allemands (the disloyal arms of the Germans), par Francis Marre, Paris, 1916, the author says:
These cartridges come in standard austrian army cartons, containing 2 chargers with 10 cartridges each. The labels read Einschusspatronen or 10 Stuck scharfe Uebungspatronen. The bullets come from the Wellersdorf factory near Wien. The rounds look like the ball ones but have a red or black band painted 30 mm from the case base. The explosive composition inside the bullet is black powder mixed with some aluminum power, a disk of mercury fulminate being used as a primer only.


#3

If the first illustration is to be believed, I wouldn’t fancy bumping into, or jumping off anything with that much Fulminate of Mercury about my person. It’s not the most stable of compounds.

The second with Fulminate as an initiator and hence, present in much smaller amounts, seems far more likely.

Peter


#4

It is interesting that the second round, which seems to be somewhat like a German B-Patrone, was referred to as “übungspatrone.” We think of these and the German ones as tactical ammunition, and they were used like that as an incendiary cartridge (they are not “explosive” rounds in the sense of an “HE” cartridge - at least the German one is not). Still, the cartridge appears along with other 7.9 training rounds on a WWII German Wall Chart I have titled "Übungspatronen…! So, both the Germans in WWII and the Austrians earlier seemed to initially consider these rounds as training cartridges.

John Moss


#5

Here is a 8x50mm Austrian Explosive/Incendiary. Possibly similar construction???
Note this one has a 52mm case length.
I need to dismantle this one to stop the corrosion of the steel jacket


#6

The principal reason for the development of explosive/incendiary bullets in WW1, as far as I’m aware, was to shoot at the hydrogen-filled balloons used for observation and artillery spotting. They were also used against airships, e.g. by British home defence fighter aircraft.


#7

I suspect there is an element of French propaganda in the suggestion that ammunition like that could be routinely issued to infantry. It would be too slow and expensive to manufacture. You can’t make it on a production line because every now and again you inevetably get jams and things get mashed up. That is not good with bullets full of fulminate and black powder. It would have to be a specialist operation to make the bullets and load them. To be done off off line by skilled workers( usually with slightly less than the regulation number of fingers)

What can happen though in times of war is that ammunition gets diverted because of shortages. I am personally convinced that true Dum Dum ammunition from the Dum Dum arsenal in India found its way into the trenches around Loos in 1915. In particular to the trenches north of the canal bridge, but I have never found a fired case or a live round to prove it.


#8

A lot of things written were propaganda.

For example, this written German flyer, about the dangerous “Dum Dum” French cartridges.
Well I think on top of the box is written something like short rage.
Jeanpierre is able better than me to translate it.

Most of these rounds were invented by Austria. See the book of J. Motz,
and sold to Germany to be loaded by the Gewehr Prufungs Commission on German 7,9 cases.

A few examples;



Dutch


#9

[quote=“dutch”]
For example, this written German flyer, about the dangerous “Dum Dum” French cartridges.
Well I think on top of the box is written something like short rage.
Jeanpierre is able better than me to translate it. Dutch[/quote]

Bullets in cartridges marked 1 and 2 look like the precedent for the “spoon tip” bullets developed by Gunther Voss at CETME and patented in 1976.


#10

[quote=“dutch”]Well I think on top of the box is written something like short rage.
Jeanpierre is able better than me to translate it.

Dutch[/quote]

Hello !
The label says they are “cartouches de stand Mle 1901”, which means, you are right, short range ctges
JP


#11

[quote=“jeanpierre”][
The label says they are “cartouches de stand Mle 1901”, which means, you are right, short range ctges
JP[/quote]

The Germans showed boxes of these “stand” cartridges found in abandoned french posts in 1916, and claimed that they were “dumdumized” bullets. They also told that the cartridges were made obviously at a government arsenal, and were not the product of some soldiers modifying them in the trenches. The french explained that the bullets were cut out about 1 cm above the case mouth so they would fly worse and have a reduced range. They also said that this kind of ammo was never delivered to troops in the front.


#12

Here’s another of these explosive 8 x 50 (or 52)R Austrians, this one headstamped VII | 19 | Austrian eagle | 15 (or 13) |
Unfortunately, some previous owner thought it needed to be polished, so the headstamp is somewhat difficult to photograph. It also has an overstruck circle indicating it is a reload.


#13

Is there someone out there with access to J. Motz’s book who could say something about the red/black band on the case to indicate explosive bullet?


#14

[quote=“schneider”][quote=“schneider”]
The study of an austrian explosive bullet from the austrian sector in Serbia shows an ogival bullet with a steel jacket and an inner cylinder full of mercury fulminate. At the base of the bullet an inertia striker made of copper can be found. [/quote]

In another book from the same French National Library, Les Armes déloyales des Allemands (the disloyal arms of the Germans), par Francis Marre, Paris, 1916, the author says:
These cartridges come in standard austrian army cartons, containing 2 chargers with 10 cartridges each. The labels read Einschusspatronen or 10 Stuck scharfe Uebungspatronen. The bullets come from the Wellersdorf factory near Wien. The rounds look like the ball ones but have a red or black band painted 30 mm from the case base. The explosive composition inside the bullet is black powder mixed with some aluminum power, a disk of mercury fulminate being used as a primer only.

[/quote]

Schneider,

I can confirm that this cartridge is mention in J.Mötz book but not as a explosive bullet but a observation bullet.
The case was identify by a chemical made BROWN band between 5 - 7.5mm width and about 30mm from the bottom.

451kr.


#15

[quote=“dutch”]A lot of things written were propaganda.

For example, this written German flyer, about the dangerous “Dum Dum” French cartridges.
Well I think on top of the box is written something like short rage.
Jeanpierre is able better than me to translate it.

Most of these rounds were invented by Austria. See the book of J. Motz,
and sold to Germany to be loaded by the Gewehr Prufungs Commission on German 7,9 cases.

A few examples;



Dutch[/quote]

Hello dutch,
Maybe we can also had the LE patrone to the list even if it is a german design, I had pictures but It’s not mine, unfortunally, I haven’t got this cartridge and don’t remember where I take these pictures.




#16

[quote=“craigt”]

Here is a 8x50mm Austrian Explosive/Incendiary. Possibly similar construction???
Note this one has a 52mm case length.
I need to dismantle this one to stop the corrosion of the steel jacket[/quote]

Craig, your cartridge is suffering from chemical decomposition of it’s propellant. This is a very prominent problem of Austrian cartridges from this time period. Many collectors disassemble their Austrian cartridges and dump the powder to escape fatal case cracks and projectile corrosion. So who still has loaded Austrian cartridges will certainly make the same experience soon.


#17

[quote]Hello dutch,
Maybe we can also had the LE patrone to the list even if it is a german design, I had pictures but It’s not mine, unfortunally, I haven’t got this cartridge and don’t remember where I take these pictures.[/quote]

Laurent,

The LE bullet was also an Austrian design invented by the Alder firm.

451kr.


#18

If one researches the “Illustrated London News” and other contemporary news sources, Much propaganda use was made of the use of “Explosive” Bullets during the Serbian campaign ( 1914-15). It was intimated that the cartridges were general Infantry Issue, and the Horrendous wounds in Flesh were contrary to the 1866 St.Petersburg accords, and also the 1899 Hague Convention and the 1907 Geneva convention on SAA “fragmentation” munitions.
The Austro-Hingarians retorted that (a) They were Not general Infantry Issue, but used to locate machine gun Positions etc, and were meant to explode on the Shields and revetments of duly protected MG and Artillery Positions and (b) sometimes someone will be wounded or killed by such a bullets, just as soldiers are killed by Shell bursts etc… (Mis) Fortunes of War. The propaganda war continued on both sides( Captured French “Balle M” was also said to be “Dum-Dum” by the Germans, when it was just Flat Point FMJ (for use in Lebel Tubeloaders), and the “de Stand” ammo speaks for itself.
(Balle Sectione’e and Balle Fraise’e)

The “Balloon” justification is a bit early in the war( before 1915) as Balloons and Zeppelins only became a problem from late 1915 onwards; and anyway, it was an Allied development, first in 11mm Gras, etc, and then in rifle calibre cartridges.

Whether the Austrian cartridges should be called “Beobachtungs” or “Ubungs”-Patrone is a moot point…The One term (Observation) the second (Test or Trials) both describe the Function of the cartridge. They were definitely NOT an “Exercier” or “Platz” Patron (For training Purposes); Probably the term “Explosiv Gerat” patrone would have been more appropriate ( check my German Terminology), irrespective of its use. Certainly they were used later in the war as an Anti-Aircraft and Anti-Balloon ammunition, costly as it was to produce them.

A few Points to ponder… “The First Casualty of War is Truth”

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


#19

451kr,
After reading your post, I opened Motz’s book and constate my mistake! On this book, there’s an illustration of a clip loaded with only Alder’s ball. What let me thinking that this cartridge is not so rare. Is somebody have Alder or LE for sale?


#20

[quote]451kr,
After reading your post, I opened Motz’s book and constate my mistake! On this book, there’s an illustration of a clip loaded with only Alder’s ball. What let me thinking that this cartridge is not so rare.[/quote]

Laurent,
The clip that`s illustrated in Motz book is a Austrian clip loaded on Austrian 7,92x57 cases.
When I remember headstamp on cases is ///*/H

451kr.