Vickers Machine gun ammo


#1

Hello all, I was scrounging around in the back room last night and found this box of ammo, can anyone tell me is this collectible in the sealed can or is it just shooting ammo, thanks…

Theguncellar




#2

Here’s what the ammo is worth without the can, or maybe not worth seeing as how there are no bids? http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.asp?Item=106448309 Ammo in belt worth probably $100 anyway, in a sealed can I’d guess not more than $250


#3

This post will point out how dumb I am in the .303 area.

  1. what is a stripless belt?
  2. who or what is A.F.V.?

I think that is a real interesting can, by the way!


#4

Vickers Stripless belt: a Mills Equipment Co. woven cloth belt, which eliminated the need for separate cotton tape, strips of brass and eyelets/rivets typical of a Maxim /Vickers type belt.

Developed in 1942-43, and in general use by 1944. it was “expendable” in the field (ie, use and throw away); the earlier Cotton tape and brass strip belts were NOT expendable, and even had a repair kit in the Battalion Armourer’s Kit for the Vickers Gun. (spare rivets, strips, and small sewing kit, and rivet pliers).
THis all-cloth belt saved tons of brass (rivets and strips) and speeded up belt production…so much so that ammo was factory belted (as here) and supplied direct to field MG gunners ( older, pre-WW II system was that MG gunners had to “fill” belts before combat, hoping to have sufficent available pre-filled in a Firefight. The stripless belt eliminated all the belt filling hassle.

AFV ( Armoured Fighting Vehicle) whilst the majority of WW II armour in British use were fitted either with BESA 7,92 guns (Czech ZB53 (Vz37) Model)
or US supplied M1919A4 guns(.30 cal), earlier British and some Commonwealth Armoured vehicles used a version of the Vickers made with mounts specific for fitting to the inside of Armoured vehicles…hence the “AFV” notation.

The “Ground & AFV” use label:

This was also to avoid the ammo being directed to RAF units, which didn’t use Vickers guns (of the Maxim design); as well, Ammo for the RAF was “Air Service Quality” (or “Red label”) selected for its regularity of primers etc.

On top of all this, this ammo is "Mark VIIIz (“8”), the boattailed bullet design, to be used ONLY in Vickers Guns with barrels specially marked for use of Mark VIIIz ( Nitrocellulose) loading…different Erosion pattern from Mark VII (Cordite)…different “beaten zone” and “danger area” when used in overhead fire applications.

Since the can is embossed 1944, and the label date is illegible, it is probably late 44 early 45 production.

A sealed tin is a collectible item in itself; probably $250 plus, given the connotations of the item and type of ammo. A better condition (intact label) example would fetch more.
Much more than “shooting ammo”.

BTW, ammo made by Kynock ( “K” in date stamp)

regards,
Doc AV
AV Ballistics


#5

Vickers Stripless belt:


#6

Having established that it is too valuable to shoot the second part of your question is redundant.
However, and just for anyone else who turns up any of this stuff loose. It was never intended for rifle use, I have seen it on the ranges and fired it myself years ago but it is basically unwise bordering on unsafe in a no4 and definitely not to be used in a SMLE. It is noticably more powerful than Mk7

In any case accuracy is poor and why risk it?


#7

[quote=“Vince Green”]Having established that it is too valuable to shoot the second part of your question is redundant.
However, and just for anyone else who turns up any of this stuff loose. It was never intended for rifle use, I have seen it on the ranges and fired it myself years ago but it is basically unwise bordering on unsafe in a no4 and definitely not to be used in a SMLE. It is noticably more powerful than Mk7

In any case accuracy is poor and why risk it?[/quote]

Vince,

One of the reasons for poor accuracy with Mark VIIIz (or the post war Mark 8z) ball cartridge in rifles is the short bearing surface compared to the flat based Mark VII (7). Lee-Enfield rifles have a generous freebore and, when worn, a huge freebore. The Mark 7 bullet “sets up” to seal the bore in its journey to the rifling, the Mark 8z does not. So gas leakage past the bullet and a degree of yaw before it meets any metal is the norm. This applies to modern BT bullets such as Sierras as well.
If Mark VIIIz ball was fired in a Vickers MG which had previously fired cordite loaded Mark VII then accuracy was poor and there were dangerous short falling shots. So such a barrel was forbidden to be used in overhead fire over friendly troops. The Mark 8 was only made in the 8z form, nitro cellulose loaded, which had less erosion of the bore. I don’t know what proportion of Vickers MG ammo was mark VIIIz, most belts I have seen were filled with Mark VII.

gravelbelly


#8

Vince, I have to disagree with you about the alleged dangers of firing Mark VIIIz in rifles (or Bren guns). Pressure in the Mark VII was about 19.5 tons and that of Mark VIIIz 20 to 21 tons psi. The pressure is slightly higher, but not enough to make it dangerous.

Regulations for Army Ordnance Services, Part 7, Pamphlet 11 states:

"© Light machine Guns*
Mark 8z being Neonite loaded gives a small flash at night. When the Bren gun is being used for some special purpose at night, e.g. on a patrol, it may be desirable to make use of Mark 8z in order to lessen the flash.

(d) Rifles*
Mk.8z S.A.A. will not be used in rifles except as in the case of the Bren gun (see © above), if necessity should arise.

  • Although the use of Mk.7 and kindred types of cordite loaded, flat base, bulleted, ammunition reduces Mk.8z barrel life, the reverse is not the case. No deletrious effects will therefore be produced by the occasional and restricted use of Mk.8z ammunition in those weapons for the purpose indicated above."

Since rifles were proofed at 25 tons psi I cannot see that there is danger of over pressure. Also the phrase “no deletrious effects” would not have been used in the pamphlet.

Regards
TonyE


#9

You guys are AWESOME, I just asked if I should shoot it or save it and I am now more educated on the subject then the inventor of it, I love this site and thank you very much.

Theguncellar


#10

[quote=“TonyE”]Vince, I have to disagree with you about the alleged dangers of firing Mark VIIIz in rifles (or Bren guns). Pressure in the Mark VII was about 19.5 tons and that of Mark VIIIz 20 to 21 tons psi. The pressure is slightly higher, but not enough to make it dangerous.

Regulations for Army Ordnance Services, Part 7, Pamphlet 11 states:

"© Light machine Guns*
Mark 8z being Neonite loaded gives a small flash at night. When the Bren gun is being used for some special purpose at night, e.g. on a patrol, it may be desirable to make use of Mark 8z in order to lessen the flash.

(d) Rifles*
Mk.8z S.A.A. will not be used in rifles except as in the case of the Bren gun (see © above), if necessity should arise.

  • Although the use of Mk.7 and kindred types of cordite loaded, flat base, bulleted, ammunition reduces Mk.8z barrel life, the reverse is not the case. No deletrious effects will therefore be produced by the occasional and restricted use of Mk.8z ammunition in those weapons for the purpose indicated above."

Since rifles were proofed at 25 tons psi I cannot see that there is danger of over pressure. Also the phrase “no deletrious effects” would not have been used in the pamphlet.

Regards
TonyE[/quote]

Tony
I agree with you it should be safe with regard to proof pressure but I remember this ammunition in the 70s and it kicked like a mule.

My SMLE may have been proofed at 25 tons but that was 91 years ago. You have to give some allowance for age. Also any ammunition you turn up now, especially in Britain will be 60+ years old and has very probably spent a large part of that time cooking in some warehouse in India or Pakistan at high temperatures.

If I was given some today would I let my sixteen year old son shoot it in my SMLE? No I wouldn’t.

The SMLE has a weak action, that is a given. The No 4 action was strengthened but is still not any better than it needs to be. Bolts get swapped around etc , an ex-military rifle is an unknown quantity.

Also there is the question of accuracy. There is the old myth that MG ammo was deliberately made to give a degree of spread ie factory induced poor accuracy.
The reason, so the myth goes was so that in combat the firer did not shoot one enemy soldier several times while missing the enemy on either side.

I don’t think this is true but it probably has some origin in the tollerances that the bullets were allowed to be made to. In particular the jacket.

When a rifle bullet is fired at 2700fps through a barrel with a one in 10" twist the bullet ends up revolving at 194,400 rpm. Any imbalance in the concentricity of that bullet will set up a vibration that will prevent the bullet from flying true.
The main, but not the only, cause of poor concentricity lies in the jacket thickness. If the jacket is thicker one side than the other (even a thousandth of an inch) it will have an effect on accuracy.

Jackets are stamped out using hardenened steel dies which wear out quite quickly and cost a lot of money. The best jackets come off when the die is new and become less consistant as the die wears.

In a big over simplifaction this explains one of the differences between target grade and Milspec bullets.
The question for the bullet maker is when do they junk a die and fit a new one. This has implications on cost and downtime, The temptation would be to run them as long as possible .

I beleve they were less fussy when they knew they were making MG bullets because they knew they didn’t have to achieve target accuracy.

However, whatever the reason my memory of this ammunition is that accuracy was poor on the range. [/u]


#11

I absolutely agree that it is always better to err on the side of safety, but that was not my point.

I was trying to say that the story about VIIIz being some kind of “very high pressure machine gun ammo” is a myth. Yes it is slightly higher than Mark VII, but it is well within the tolerances that the rifles were designed for.

The problem with some of the ammo today that has been badly stored is much more likely to be that the caps have deteriorated resulting in “click bang” than any over pressure issues. In fact the danger is that a bullet may be left in the barrel by a dud round.

Regards
TonyE


#12

[quote=“DocAV”]Vickers Stripless belt: a Mills Equipment Co. woven cloth belt, which eliminated the need for separate cotton tape, strips of brass and eyelets/rivets typical of a Maxim /Vickers type belt.

Developed in 1942-43, and in general use by 1944. it was “expendable” in the field (ie, use and throw away); the earlier Cotton tape and brass strip belts were NOT expendable, and even had a repair kit in the Battalion Armourer’s Kit for the Vickers Gun. (spare rivets, strips, and small sewing kit, and rivet pliers).
THis all-cloth belt saved tons of brass (rivets and strips) and speeded up belt production…so much so that ammo was factory belted (as here) and supplied direct to field MG gunners ( older, pre-WW II system was that MG gunners had to “fill” belts before combat, hoping to have sufficent available pre-filled in a Firefight. The stripless belt eliminated all the belt filling hassle.

regards,
Doc AV
AV Ballistics[/quote]

When the stripless belts were initially introduced it was hoped (by the War Office) that they would be a direct replacement for earlier belts and be re-useable and fillable via the various belt filling machines. This proved not to be the case as they just did not work through the filling machines. Then they were re-designated as “Hand Flling” belts before filling in the field was reluctantly abandoned. Herb Woodend had a large file of correspondence between the War Office and Thomas French & Sons (who made most of the belts) regarding the problems experienced with the stripless belts. Reading between the lines it seems that TF&S had some sort of hold over the War Office procurement as all attempts to test and introduce alternative designs came to nothing despite the many complaints from the field. It is significant that Australia never changed to these belts but retained the brass stripped design up until the Vickers gun was retired from service.

gravelbelly


#13

Whilst Australia did continue to use the original brass stripped belts for Vickers, it also used the stripelss belts in the 1960s and 70s, for Vickers used at the Land Warfare Centre (JTC) Canungra, till the end of service of the Vickers. These guns were used for overhead fire training of Infantry
(laid on fixed lines, and fixed elevation).
In the 70s, ammo came from Khirkee(India) and it was all in stripless belts.

During WW II, the Australians also used metal link belts (Prideaux design) for Vickers…I have a section of five links, all made by “MBO” (Marybyrnong Ordnance Factory (outside Melbourne ) These were preferentially for AFV guns, and possibly for the older Mark V Air Vickers.

Regards,
Doc AV
AV Ballistics


#14

Doc AV,

That is very useful information to a belt and clip fanatic like me. Did Australia ever manufacture stripless belts or always imported them with the ammo? Do you have any images of Khirkee belts? I have Australian Mark III* links marked MF III* and III MO (Australia dropped the * in the marking but they are III* design).

The Australian brass stripped belts were imported into the UK in quantity by Ryton arms. This gave an opportunity to some crooks to fake the rarer WW1 belts. New brass end tabs were fitted to the Aussie belts, stamped up as WW1 era makers such as Enfield and sold at a premium. Later they got greedier and simply removed the rivets, turned the two brass pieces over, re-riveted them to the belt and stamped on the backs of the original end tabs. These fakes are easier to detect as the Aussie marks can still be seen. I have Aussie belts marked:EYELETS 1941 MELB. 250 .303 DUNLOP and the other: 250 .303 1943 H^8 CARR.

gravelbelly


#15

Dear Gravelbelly,
I haven’t checked my supply of Movie stripless belts as yet, but since most of them came from British sources (TF&S etc) used in ammo for the Royal Greek Army in 1944-49, etc) as surplus in the 1980s and 90s, I have not seen a specifically Australian made stripless belt as yet…it would be marked “CGCF” (Commonwealth Government Clothing Factory) which was a Department of Supply entity concerned with the supply of ordnance textile equipment, from uniforms to webbing etc, in the Post-WW II years, up to the late 1980s, when it was closed and all the specialised machinery sold or destroyed.

The Makers of WW II brass strip belts you mentioned are Eyelets Ltd, a Melbourne company making brass eyelets for the Haberdashery and Canvas trades; Dunlop Rubber Co., (originally a subsidiary of the British company of the same name,) makers of all sorts of Rubber and rubberised canvas items;
and Carr Fasteners, which made all sorts of snap button fasteners in brass for Webbing, Clothing, Canvas etc,as well as Eyelets and so on.

These companies were furnished with “Annexes” specifically for the production of Munitions related goods, beyond their normal commercial production (most of which also went to other Munitions suppliers). When the war ended, these Annexes were shut down and the companies reverted to normal peacetime production.

After 1959, when Australia effectively ceased .303 mark VII production as a major calibre (there was some small lots in 1960 and 62, for the RAAF), Overseas sources were relied upon when stocks of MF-made ammo began to run down. Army Cadets still used .303 for annual range shoots and Bren practices up to about 1975( disbandment) and of course, Army infantry training establishments still used Vickers guns for Field Fire training of troops well into the 1990s. By 1980, ammunition was being imported from Indai, mostly K^F 1971 dates, in either 48 round boxes, or 250 round Vickers belts. These were repacked in Footscray into standard US M19 (.30 cal)ammo tins, and re-labeled in the usual way ( white stencil, “KF 31-12-71” and “Cal .303 Ball Mark 7” CTN ; The Belted ammo was left in its sealed soldered rip-top tins, as delivered.

Most of the belts (stripless) that I have, have a feed tab consisting of about 6 inches of 1 inch green webbing, doubled over and stitched heavily to stiffen it, and stitched onto the end of the belt; the other (finish) end was simply overstitched for an inch or so to prevent “unravelling”; some stripless belts simply have the actual belt itself folded over into a tab, the the folds stitched to make the stiff “tab”.

I remember when Ryton Arms(or their major suppliers) cleaned up the whole(or almost) of the Aussie Vickers inventory back in the 1980s…Guns, tripods, toolkits, transit boxes,clinometers,watercans etc,etc…we in Australia did get a limited number of guns, summarily deactivated; but the majority were “sold down the river” by the socialist government of the time.

We managed to get both VSM and Lithgow marked guns, some of which were pre-WW I and also Pre-WWII (Lithgow started making Vickers in 1928); of course, due to various FTRs, they carried a mixture of parts.

Please tell me, if you can, what type of belt did the Vickers Egypt contract convertible guns (“ET” serial numbers) use? ( .303 and 7,92mm); I have an “ET series” gun, still in working order, with both 7,9 and .303 barrels and Extractors. (Movie Gun)

Regards,
Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


#16

Doc AV,

You list three separate companies making the stripped belts: Eyelets Ltd, Dunlop Rubber Co., and Carr Fasteners. However, I only have two belts, one marked Carr and the other marked Eyelets on one side of the tab and Dunlop on the other side. Could this be a repaired belt or did the companies swap components around?

The 1 inch green webbing used to make starter tabs is the material used for making the 7.92x57mm BESA belts, Mark 2 onwards. This was probably offcuts.

Did they really disband the Army Cadets in 1975?

I can’t help you with the Vickers Egyptian contract guns. We need JFL, the belt expert, to jump in here.

gravelbelly


#17

In the early 1970s, a Socialist Labour Gov’t came to power in Australia (first time since the 1940s), and immediately started eliminating a lot of Defence expenditure; one of the first to suffer was the Australian Cadet Corps (Army, Airforce and Navy) which from the early 1900s (under a Kitchener proposed scheme) had been part of every High School (State and private) in Australia.
The scheme was funded by Defence Expenditure(mostly Army, but some schools also had Air cadets and even Naval cadets…some well-off private Schools had all three.)
The result was that most State schools dropped the Cadet system from their curriculum (it was “compulsory” as part of the School system, but no longer as part of Defence national service, as it had been before WW I under the Kitchener Scheme)
The Catholic schools immediately dropped it, given their widespread support for the Anti-war movement and general Socialist sympathies. Only a handfull of (protestant) private schools soldiered on with cadets, funded out of parent’s contributions, and being “adopted” by Military units, who furnished technical assistance where possible. At the time, all firearms (SMLE’s and Bren Guns) were withdrawn from the Cadet Units (unit armouries had up to several hundred SMLE rifles and up to twenty Bren Guns, all “Serviceable” and regularly used at Range shoots and exercises, and maintained by RAEME.)
Some schools only had Company strength units, others with big enrolments had up to “Half” battalion strength units ( 350-400 cadets), usually complemented with a 20 piece brass band, also Army trained and serviced.

I served four years (Cadet, Sgt, Cadet-Under-Officer/Drum-major, CUO-Band Leader)…I still have my Queen’s Commission Certificate and “pips”, and later, in the CMF/National service, taught at Cadet Annual Promotion courses for several years.

When the Socialists got the boot in 1975 (PM sacked by Governor-general),
Cadets were re-introduced, but not a High-school level, but on a Regional scheme, again linked to Army districts, and without real guns; also Girls were admitted to the ranks, ( as they were being admitted to the “unified” Defence Forces, no longer with separate “Womens Army” postings.)

The ACC was degraded into a glorified “scouting” movement…the only time they handled real firearms was at annual camp, and then only on a one-to-one basis whilst actually firing at the Rifle range…None of the former (pre-75) type of Weapons safety training and caring for your rifle on a day to day basis, with regular weekend Bivouacs and range practices and exercises was even contemplated in the “new” touchy-feely Cadet Corps.

Somehow, those private schools which had maintained their own units (about a dozen throughout Australia) did manage to keep “Deact” L1A1s for parade drill till about 1996, and engage private operators (from the Movie industry) to supply Blank firing guns for annual Camps (I did this on two occasions (1994 & 95) much to the gratitude and enjoyment by Senior Cadets of one well known Anglican Church School, which had maintained all three cadet services throughout the 70s and 80s. These cadets got a thorough grounding in Weapons safety, use and cleaning procedures, as well as tactical use during various patrolling exercises (on a large cattle property supplied by an “Old Boy” of the School) during a 10 day annual camp. The Military assistance was also supplied by a couple of Academy graduates (one SAS) who were also “old Boys”…this particular school usually supplied from 3 to 6 entrants each year to the combined services Military Academy at Duntroon.

Now even this “private use” of BF weaponry is banned (after the 1996 confiscations etc) and cadet units( Regional or School) no longer have even deactivated rifles in store). The Litigation malaise has even permeated the cadet training to a degree that there is virtually no adventure training at all now.
The “gun awareness” of High school graduates is now so poor or non-existent, that the Army last year introduced a “Gap year” enlistment for High school graduates (“try before you buy”) to see if a person wants to undertake a Military career.
Such has been the poor quality and lack of suitable recruits to the defence forces in the last ten years, as a result of our namby-pamby school system and governments of both Political persuasions, that efficient levels of manpower and training performance have been very difficult to achieve, and most of Australia’s over-seas engagements (Timor, Solo0mon Islands,Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan) have been done by ultra-specialised career soldiers (SAS, Commandos, and Armoured regiments…even my old regiment, the 2/14 QMI (now 2/14 Light Horse), is a fully Regular Army unit; in my days we were a CMF (part timers) just like UK Territorial Yeomanry.

I hope this OT reply helps your understanding of the demise of the Australian Cadet Corps as an institution which gave high school students (Boys) a sense of Duty, Honour and Discipline, and furnished a significant number of entrants to both the OCTU units of the Reserves, and to the RMA for career officers, and generally made better citizens of all those who wore the “sword and torch” emblem of the ACC.

Regards,
Doc AV
AV Ballistics
Brisbane, Australia


#18

Doc - I’ll try to keep this short, since it is not about Vickers ammo. Our experience in parts of the US mirrors that of Australia. We have what we call Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) in High Schools and College level. The latter can earn commissions in the Armed Forces. San Francisco, a Socialist city bordering on Marxist, recently banned ROTC in the High Schools. When I was a member in the early 1950s, we had M21 Garands (about 300 of them as i recall) all in firing order, as well as .45 pistols, BARs, a couple of Browning .30 1919A4 MGs, a Bazooka and one M3 Grease Gun. The Cadet Officers carried M1 Carbines, of which there were may 20 or 15. In later years, they used toy rifles!

The program in San Francisco attracted a lot of good kids, many from financially-poor families, and gave them a real sense of accomplishment, including all of the traits you mentioned. For some, it was the only discipline in their lives.

It is a shame, but thisd trend seems to be world-wide, and it will not, and is not, making the world a better place to live in. So, mate, it is not just in the land of Oz this is happening.