German reversed bullet


#1

In a book called “Band of Brigands:The extraordinary story of the first men in tanks” (thanks, Orange, this really is an incredible book), on p.87, in the final British tank specifications, it says that “the armour at the front should be 10mm thick - capable of stopping the German reversed bullet fired from 10 yards range”. Would anyone have visuals of this German reversed bullet and any other extra info about it?


#2

On a TV documentary I was watching recently this priciple was actually demonstrated using a lead-cored .303 Mk VII Ball bullet. A rifle fired a normal bullet at a piece of armour plate and the effect on the armour was minimal.
The same ammunition was again used but this time the bullet was pulled and simply reinserted backwards. This time the armour was penetrated.


#3

Have a look at the Great War Forum where this topic has been discussed ad nauseum.

Go to 1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forum … wforum=151 and search on “reversed bullets”.

There seems no doubt that the technique worked, and that the reversed flat base of the bullet either penetrated or caused scabbing of the inside of the plate in the manner of a modern Hesh round. I have actually handled the armour plates Jim talks about in the above post and spoken with the people involved. They were certainly penetrated as described!

Others have argued that the energy delivered by a bullet is the same whichever way it is pointed so the technique should not work, but apparently it does.

Of course, accuracy is limited to short range and reversal more easily accomplished with German rounds loaded with flake propellant. Unless the .303 rounds were Mark VIIz loaded with NC it would not be possible to reverse the bullet of a cordite loaded round.

Regards
TonyE


#4

I had also heard of these stories before, but also remember that the Germans also had their SmK bullet by this stage.


#5

Tony,
Now that you mention it I believe the demonstration was indeed carried out with German 7.92mm and not .303. My mistake.


#6

“Armi e Tiro” magazine contributors wrote an article recently about 6.5 mm Carcano and 7.92 mm Mauser reversed bullets.

When a spitzer bullet is involved, it has to be pushed a lot inside the case to be hold by case neck.
This causes higher velocities but also very dangerous pressure peaks that can ruin or even destroy the rifle within very few shots


#7

This is nothing I have any first-hand knowledge about, but remember reading something at one time that bullet reversal was what might be called a field expedient, in which the German troops pulled out the normally-oriented bullet (maybe with pliers), reversed it, and jammed it back in the case, with nothing like precision. I would think the 98 Mauser would be plenty strong enough to withstand any pressure excursions resulting from this action indefinitely.

That story may have been from Hatcher’s Notebook, but my copy is packed away somewhere unknown, so I can’t check it. I do remember Gen. Hatcher relating some story about reversing bullets. That’s the interesting thing about his notebook, as he has lots of entertaining stories about doing fun stuff like that, such as firing .45 ACP in an '03 Springfield (it did not blow up the rifle). I would have liked to have had his job.


#8

The only thing I can add to this discussion is a picture I grabbed somewhere.
As far I remember it was found on a WW1 battlefield in the northern part of France.


#9

If I can talk Phil Butler into bringing his Armour plate back up to the range, (the one used for SmK-H testing) we can test this theory against reality. We will use actual WW1 German ammo both standard configuration and with reversed bullets. Both ball & SmK. We can also chronograph the muzzle speeds as well. Might be interesting. JH


#10

I can rationalize that reversing the bullet may work this way. Back in the late 1970s, as I recollect, the Canadians (I think) developed a runway penetrating rocket. To aid the warhead penetration the tip of the rocket has a sharp 90 degree shoulder. If the rocket impacted at an angle the sharp edge would engage first and turn the rocket more directly into the runway so it would penetrate more vertical. Reportedly that part of the design worked well.

When the US invaded Panama to throw out Noriega, the AC-130s has a problem with the effectiveness of their 105mm weapon. They were targeting specific offices in some tall buildings which were made of fairly thick concrete. Given the geometer of the engagement, the 105mm projectiles were impacting the concrete wall at a pretty steep angle and bouncing off and exploding outside the building at little effect, or the projectiles were breaking up and not exploding at all. The fire was only effective if it went through the window.

To prevent this in the future, the Armament Lab developed a new steel tip and skirt that screwed into the nose fuse well and extended about a third of the way down the shell body to strengthen it. The tip of the shell had the same sharp shoulder of the Canadian rocket so that when it hit the wall at a sharp angle it would turn the round in to penetrate the wall. These were tested and proved very effective. I have no idea is they have ever been used operationally.

I can see where a reversed bullet would have some of the same effect of turning the projectile into the target is it impacts at an angle. This would only work if the angle was not too steep.

Another target effect could be the duration of energy transfer. A pointed bullet would begin to crumble as the tip hit armor and the effect would build as the length of the bullet smashed into the armor of the target. The deformation of the bullet would actually absorb some of the energy of the impact-a minor amount I suspect. A reversed bullet would mean the majority of the weight of the bullet would impact in a shorter length of time so the energy per unit of time should be greater, perhaps significantly greater. I don’t know what this would do for penetration, but it should increase the likelihood of a scab coming off the back of the armor.

I look forward to the results of the test.

Cheers,

Lew


#11

The reversing of bullets was a a battlefield dodge employed by British soldiers to “dum dum” them against close attacking enemy forces in WW1. Rather a part of battlefield mythology than a documented fact. Any actual examples would be interesting in the extreme but it was an Anti Personnel issue rather than than anything more sophisticated.


#12

Here is a film about WW1 archeology.

I try to find the English version. Interesting is the part starting an minute 4

youtube.com/watch?v=7M0OVmqSaQE

Rgds
Dutch


#13

Vince I was going to ask if by “AP” you meant anti personnel, with which I agree. Though I have no doubt what the results will be, it seems like a good excuse to get Phil out for some shooting. I have already pulled and reversed a group of 7,9 “S” & s.S. ball cartridges. I seated to the original crimping groove and used a 6 point segment crimp to secure the bullets. There was no interference with the rifling lead in a service rifle with a like new bore. the “S” cartridges feed poorly as expected but the s.S. feed like butter. JH


#14

[quote=“dutch”]Here is a film about WW1 archeology.

I try to find the English version. Interesting is the part starting an minute 4

youtube.com/watch?v=7M0OVmqSaQE

Rgds
Dutch[/quote]
We will place paper behind the plate to test for any steel being blown off as well. JH


#15

[quote=“dutch”]Here is a film about WW1 archeology.

I try to find the English version. Interesting is the part starting an minute 4

youtube.com/watch?v=7M0OVmqSaQE

Rgds
Dutch[/quote]

There was enough English in to to be able to follow what was going on. Notice also the “actors” playing the part of German and British soldiers. All their uniforms equipment etc would almost certainly be the work of a man called Taff Gillingham. A bit eccentric but very knowledgable. His search for realism includes living and sleeping in actual trenches for extented periods of time to find out what it was like and getting into the minds of the soldiers.


#16

The fact that the Germans used reversed bullets is documented, even if it was only in a minority of cases. For example Hesketh-Pritchard shows a photograph in “Sniping in France”. I know that is not conclusive but there are references to the practice in contemporary documentation on both sides.

However, I must disagree with you with reference to the .303. How does one reverese the bullet of a .303 cartridge loaded with cordite with an over powder wad? Even if the bullet is removed (difficult given the heavy British crimp, unlike the German round) it would have to be loaded seperately as it will not fit back in the case. Remove wad and the centre strands of the cordite so the bullet will fit? I think not.

…and meanwhile the Germans are getting closer!

Regards
TonyE


#17

Haak48:

If you’re going to try this, be sure to check the bore after every shot. I remember reading the comments of a German soldier who saw this done (I wish I could find the reference now) and he stated that sooner or later every rifle used with reversed-bullet ammuntion wound up with a ringed bore. Apparently, the core squirted out of the jacket and left the jacket lodged in the bore to become an obstruction for the following shot. If wartime German and 1940’s Turkish Type S ball are similar in construction, there’s not very much holding the core in the jacket.

Definitely post the results of the tests if you do them.


#18

If that did happen, could you simply pull the bullet from another round, discard it, load the case and powder and fire it to remove the blackage?


#19

No, because this is what happens! It was my weapon but I did not do it.

Fortunately I had another barrel.

Regards
TonyE


#20

The fact that the Germans used reversed bullets is documented, even if it was only in a minority of cases. For example Hesketh-Pritchard shows a photograph in “Sniping in France”. I know that is not conclusive but there are references to the practice in contemporary documentation on both sides.

However, I must disagree with you with reference to the .303. How does one reverese the bullet of a .303 cartridge loaded with cordite with an over powder wad? Even if the bullet is removed (difficult given the heavy British crimp, unlike the German round) it would have to be loaded seperately as it will not fit back in the case. Remove wad and the centre strands of the cordite so the bullet will fit? I think not.

…and meanwhile the Germans are getting closer!

Regards
TonyE[/quote]
Thats why I said it was a part of the mythology. I was aware of the problems with the cordite when I wrote that, they would have had to cut some of the cordite away to do it.
However, soldiers had much idle time on their hands, months of it on occasions and other battlefield improvisations like making bombs out of old jam tins and rusty nails are well known. They certainly liked to tinker. Lt Col Graham Parker (WFA) used to talk about it on his tours round the battlefields.
The “dum dum” bullet has always been high in the folklore of the British soldier, rather illogically so really.There has to be some reason for it.
You are a digger Tony, find us some and put it to rest. Or next time you are over there ask the curator of the Cloth Hall Museum about it, if anyone has ever seen any he will have.

There is another possibility that comes to mind. Soldiers on the firing step in the trenches would not use their own rifles, preferring to keep them oiled up and clean for future inspection. Instead they would use “trench rifles” ie the rifles of fallen soldiers left leaning permanently up against the fire step which didn’t have to be cleaned after use. A near impossible task in a wet muddy trench in winter and no way of heating the water. Not always British rifles either, the Tommy was quick to appreciate the german rifle’s qualities. Perhaps there is some milage in that, who knows?

There is one comment I would make about reversed bullets with regard to sniping. Reversing the bullet would harm accuracy. So the question remains not what effect would it have against an enemy’s steel plate but rather, how the heck could you hit it?