These are the “Cartridge, Caliber .45, Line Throwing M32.”
These use smokeless powder.
Details on this cartridge can be found in IAA Journal 334 page 3. All I have ever seen have been packed in the 10 round olive drab “peanut cans.”
The M32 was a newer version of the Caliber .45 Line Throwing Blank Cartridge Mark I shown in Hackley, Woodin & Scranton Volume 2, page 217.
The headstamp on these was typically “WCC 45-70 MK 1 -1943-”. These were loaded with 50 grains of black powder, the same load as specified for the line throwing ammunition procured by contract from Winchester in 1921, 1925 and 1931, although none of that ammunition has been positively identified. (HWS Volume 1, pp 210-211.)
I am not aware of any other .45 caliber military line throwing ammunition, although some was made by/for commercial vendors such as the Naval Company of Doylestown, PA, and probably Coston of Philadelphia. (See IAA Journal 345 pages 8-9 for Naval Company examples.)
Here is a link to a photo of one of the cans with the full markings, and one of the WW2 vintage Mark I boxes.
Has anyone seen any other .45 caliber line throwing cartridges? If so, I would really like to know about them to help with some research I am doing on the subject.
The canned cartridges are what I used during my stint as a Sailor Boy. We had both the H&R shotguns and the old converted Cal .45 trapdoors. One thing I do remember is that they kicked like heck. We would jostle each other to see who got to hold the line and who had to fire the thing.
John - One that I have is head stamped WCC 56 45 M32. My full can is Lot WCC 6083. Maybe you know, I always believed that the black powder cartridges had an “open” case mouth so that the projectile sat on the wad, whereas the smokeless loads had the roll crimp so the projectile sat on the case mouth.
I have what you fellows have pictured, plus “LOT WCC 6083” sealed can. Individual rounds headstamped:
WCC 45-70MKI -1942- (green primer annulus & domed brass primer)
WCC 45-70MKI -1943- (green primer annulus & domed brass primer)
WCC 45-70MKI -1944- (clear primer annulus & domed brass primer)
WCC 56 45 M32 (red primer annulus & flat brass primer)
No Hs same as WCC 56 above, but with flat nickel primer
Like Ray, I also remember them from my time as a sailor boy. Spring & summer, 1961. Went looking for mine. Could not find it, but headstamp was 45 M32. I do not remember the manufacturer or year, could have been the same. Will track it down if needed.
An interesting non-US variation of these cartridges was made by CBC for the Brazilian Navy and headstamped M CBC M 11.43.
Thanks to everyone for the added information.
Ray- Please confirm if you personally saw trapdoor line throwing guns being used by U.S. Navy, and if so, an approximate date and ship name would be greatly appreciated. Everything I have seen thus far indicates that the trapdoors were conversions done by Coston, likely for the commercial market.
My limited east coast experience was that everyone had the H&R made “.45 Caliber Line Throwing Gun Mark I Mod 1” in the mid-1960s and into the late 1970s, when they were replaced by the M14 rifles.
Fede- It is not surprising that CBC would make this ammunition. Brazil received many surplus ships from the U.S., as did many other countries. The practice was to turn the ship over fully equipped, including small arms and ammunition. Most western navies in the post WW2 era shared common tactics and policies, including for underway replenishment where line throwing guns would be used to get the first lines across for rigs to transfer “beans, bullets and black oil.”
Pete DeCoux also sent me a photo of a 20 round “white box” of the M32 line throwing cartridges by WCC dated September 1967.
Here is an older thread from the Forum where we discussed the subject with some interesting bits of information and related items:
Based on Ray’s descriptions of his time in service, I would guess he was on the USS Constitution though, based on his keen knowledge of more modern naval firepower, likely he also saw duty on steel ships… It still amazes me that the trapdoor lasted so long as a functional platform of any sort.
That leads me to wonder…Was the smokeless M32 (as the earlier MKI was black powder ) suited for use in the older Springfield action?
I cannot say that I personally used one or saw one being used. I do remember seeing one in the ship’s armory on the USS Coral Sea in the early 1950s. I was drawn to it because I had an interest in the Trapdoors which was my first grown-up rifle in the 1940s. My older brother, also US Navy, told me that he saw one on the USS Gladiator, a minesweeper, in the late1940s.
It was a very simple cut-off barrel (12" +/-)with the stock shortened. No other changes that I remember. After having fired the H&R, I had no desire to test my shoulder with the steel butt plate of the trapdoor, although I was tempted.
When I was stationed at the Mothball Fleet in San Diego, one of my jobs was taking small arms off the old ships and cutting them in two with a welding torch. I kept hoping to find one of the Trapdoors to liberate, but I never did.
20 or 30 years later, I saw an ad in the old Shotgun News by a guy who was selling one of the Trapdoor line-throwers. I immediately contacted him and bought it. It was part of a set that included a barrel bracket to hold a cannister, a cannister, 2 spools of line, about a dozen projectiles, and a re-winding machine. After I got it, I made the mistake of contacting the old BATF to make sure I was OK in having a short barrel rifle. They told me I had to provide documentation that it was a legitimate US Government alteration otherwise I’d have to remove the barrel. I was a friend of Frank Mallory of Springfield Research Service and I asked Frank if he knew of any provenance. He found a couple of references indicating that XXX number of Trapdoors had been converted during WW 2 for issue to both ships and shore installations. I sent this information to BATF but they declined to approve the line-thrower because the information did not contain specific dates and serial numbers. By then, I was completely soured on the entire episode so I told them I would remove the barrel. I did not do that but, instead, sold the entire outfit to a collector in New Mexico.
Frank Mallory is long gone but you might be able to find information in his later published SRS publications, assuming you can find copies.
And that’s all that I know about that. Old-man memory notwithstanding. :-)
And Dave, I wasn’t on the USS Constitution. I was too young at the time.
Ray- Thanks for the info. I am very familiar with the trapdoor line throwers, although others on the forum may not be. The info on seeing one (along with presumably some of the H&R types) on USS Coral Sea is very helpful, along the mention on one on USS Gladiator.
Now, who supplied cartridges with the Coston line throwers for civilian use? Has anyone ever seen any .45-70 blank cartridges marked in any with with Coston markings? I suspect they used commercially available cartridges.
The first U.S. Navy line throwing guns seem to have been the 497 Winchester Model 1886 rifles delivered in late 1918 with 14.5 inch smoothbore .45-70 caliber barrels to William Read & Sons of Boston, who reportedly had the Naval Company of Philadelphia assemble them into kits with wooden box, ammo, projectiles, line, etc. The Navy’s procurement of line throwing cartridges in 1921 cited in HWS was probably needed after the initial outfit of ammo from William Read was used up. Has anyone seen any .45-70 blanks marked for William Read & Sons of Boston?
These M1886 line throwers were still mentioned in Navy manuals as late as 1943.
I do not recall anything on line throwers in the SRS serial number books, but will review all the SRS Newsletters to see if Frank published anything there. Mallory was a good friend and we put his serial number database on line, although subsequent SRS management decided to pull it from public access.
Has anyone seen any commercial packing for .45-70 blanks specifically for line throwing, other than the Naval Company examples mentioned earlier, and in the previous thread?
Again, all help is appreciated as there is practically nothing in writing on the topic.