WWII Machine Gun Belt/Ammunition Question


I normally collect WWII helmets, bayonets and fieldgear so i’m new to this field. With that said my question is could someone point me to some reference material regarding the standard configuration of ammunition belts during WWII for the 1919 type machine guns. I found what seems to be an original box of belted 30-06 ammo at a local gun show. It has 9 ball to 1 tracer, and my thinking was that most WWII linked MG ammo came 4 AP to 1 Tracer. I can’t find any good sites on the Internet to either confirm or deny this is original. Any help would be appreciated. I posted some pictures of it at the below:



4 ball to 1 tracer was more or less the standard loading from the factory or belting facility.
But there was no real specified standard as to the “Correct” mixture.
Still, a very nice find!


Gregg, then why or what purpose would they have for a loading like this? Is there a list or army document somewhere that show the loads for what purpose. For instance 4AP-1T for when facing armor and 9Ball-1T for when facing Infantry. Just trying to figure this out.


Shannon, what are the headstamps on your .30-06 rounds?


Shannon–I can’t answer your question, but I want to welcome you to the Forum. Also, if you are using Photobucket for your image hosting, I suggest you pick the bottom choice (IMG) to add pictures to your post. That way they will appear directly in the Forum.


Thanks for the suggestion, I am not using photobucket. Is it ok to post pics to another url like I did? Falcon, I put a close-up picture of the headstamps in the url on the first question. The ball is RA42 and the Tracer is LC42.


I’m trying to figure out the img function…


One possibility might be that these were linked for an aircraft version of the .30-cal Browning, like the .30 M2; these had a rate of fire substantially higher than the ground versions (up to 1300 rpm, versus ~600 rpm), so they may have figured that extra tracers simply weren’t needed. The problem with this is that the aircraft versions ran off of disintegrating links, not cloth belts.


SDC, I’m new to this and not trying to dispute what you are saying, actually I’m agreeing with you. When surfing last night I ran across a pic on the olive-drab site that showed belts being loaded into a Navy aircraft. I’m gonna try to post a pic. The only problem with the belt I have being for aircraft use is it is on a 250 round belt. From what I’ve been reading the aircraft ones are supposed to be longer, up to 1,000 rounds or more. Anyway thanks for the response.
Ordnancemen loading belted .30-06 cartridges into SBD-3 at Naval Air Station, Norfolk, VA, September 1942.


I didn’t even THINK about observer’s guns, but that’s definitely a possibility as well.


Thanks, I was just wondering where the rounds were made. In this case Remington Arms Co, Bridgeport, CT, and Lake City Ammunition Plant, Lake City, MO, if you didn’t already know. Thought this could help as you say you are new to collecting ammunition.


I have two .30 ammunition cans, one each of Model M1 and M1A1, both made by United (don’t know who they are - have no real interest in machinegun ammo boxes). I don’t have a clue why one is a “M1” and one is an “M1A1” since the two appear dimensionally and mechanically identical.
At any rate, both are marked for repacked ammunition by Twin Cities Arsenal (TW), the M1A1 box from August 1945. The M1 box has a repack lot number of TW B-82785. It is not dated, or in any way I can read. The M1 can is marked for 250 rounds belted 4 AP M2 to 1 Tracer T10. The M1A1 can date 8-45 is marked for 250 rounds belted 4 Ball M2 to 1 Tracer M1. Both of these cans have the locking latch on one end, I assume to attach to a vehicular mount.

I was in the Army in the late 1950s, and was, for a brief time, a mchinegunner using M1919A4’s in training, but once in a TO&E outfit, the guns were the 1919A6, although we had the tripods and traversing gear for the guns as well, of course. For training our ammunition was belted 250 ball rounds, often in cloth (white and OD-color) belts. Our tactical ammunition was linked 4 ball 1 tracer, although I don’t recall the model of the tracer rounds. The ball was Ball M2. I didn’t see the tactical ammunition much, being peacetime, but seem to recall it was all in metal links. don’t hold me to that. they didn’t like tracers for practice firing as at Fort Ord, Hunter Liggett and Camp Roberts, where all of our training was conducted, depending on the type of exercise, it was very dry in summer and tracers started grass fires. I also recall that there was a specific adminition in our FM on the guns not to fire AP ammo when tanks were involved in the demonstrations - I think they ricocheted like the devil off of tank armor. I suspect that the absence of AP in our belts at the time had to do with the armor of the day - not much in use that a .30-06 AP would worry, and ordinary ball and tracer would pretty well chew up standard automtice (jeeps, trucks, cars) metal. Conjecture on my part - the bujext never came up that I can recall, in any of our training. Of course, I can’t speak for any aerial use of the guns, with which I have zero knowledge and experience. I don’t recall, by the way, every having used one of the cans with the locking latch on the end. Also can’t recall any way they would have latched on to our tripods, or the sides of the guns we had. Haven’t had anything to do with MGs since 1957, so all this is from long ago memory, except the data on the two cans which I currently possess.


John, thanks for you input. This can has not been repacked or I assume it hasn’t because there is no yellow repacking stencil. I wonder if all or most ammo was repacked toward the end or after the war to better fit the needs of the army. I’m guessing here but, perhaps in the early stages of WWII it came packed like mine then toward the end of the war it was determined that the optimum load was 4AP to 1T so they repacked them to that configuration. I’m sure someone here can answer that.


The RA42s with heavy ring crimp are a contract for British aircraft guns. I assume that the other headstamp is the tracer. Tony Williams should know all about this.


Considering that, as mentioned, my box with date August 1945 is repacked 5 ball to one tracer, that would not square with the theory that the considered 5 AP to one tracer as the opitmum arraqngement and thus loaded them that way towards the end of the war. The War ended in August 1945, the month my box was repacked with ball and tracer.

The pictures of your “M1 Box” you added to your first posting on this thread is interesting, in that it is very different in construction from mine. It also doesn’t appear to have the latch on it. Unfortunately, it is the wrong side of the box for identifying the ammunition that was packed in it. What does it say on the other side. It should have some markings, even if not in yellow.

I just discovered that my box for ball and tracer has a wierd cloth belt in it, The belt is intended and marked for 110 rounds, and does not have the usual metal feeder tab on one end. It has a reduced-width square tab on the end that would be fed first into the gun. It is simply the web belt, but reduced there in width and with some coating on the tab to make that small bit of the belt stiffer. The other end of the belt has a square hole cut in it, also reinforced with a coating, with the hole the same width as the width of the tab at the other end. It almost looks like more than one belt was intended to be somehow tabbed together. There is nothing on the tab to hold them together, however (if there were two belts). The belt is olive drab and clearly marked “The Russell Mfg. Co,. 1943 AUG. …” There is a marking after “AUG” but I can’t read it; perhaps a day-date. Below that there are patent numbers . Stamped on the belt at the proper cartridge holes respetively are the numbers 1, 25, 50, 75, 100 and 110, I assume so the gunner could see how many rounds were left. It strikes me the belt is wider than the belts we used, but I don’t have any other for comparison, so that can be the product of a failing memory. Can nayone tell us about this belt?


CSAEOD, Thanks for that information, that fits in my thinking.

John, I’ve attached a pic of the other side.



Your description of your belt matches that of the .50 calibre cloth belt which was made to be joined to the next belt by a cartridge. I have never heard of a .30 cal belt like this. If it really is .30 then I would like more info and a picture please.



I came back to this thread because I discovered that you obviously linked two belts together with a round. I thought I would be the only one who discovered this startling fact! Hee! Hee! At least ny memory about the width of the .30 belts was good, This one is wider because, of course, it is for .50 cal. I just pushed a .30-06 round clear through it with ease. Thanks for educating me, Gravelbelly. Much to my regret, I never had anything to do with .50s in the service. In training, in a “mad-minute” when we fired most everything for familiarization, I got to shoot three rounds from Ma Deuce, my only trigger time with one. The bums had the belts loaded three ball one dummy, so none of us boots could get trigger happy, like I wanted to, with it.


I have no specific information about .30 belt loadings, but I can confirm what others have said - that one tracer to four or five other rounds was normal, in any calibre.

I doubt that the belt was intended for aircraft, partly because they generally used metal disintegrating link belts, and partly because ball was a waste of time; they used AP or incendiary bullets.

In fact, by the end of WW2 AP was the normal service loading for .30 MGs when used by infantry.

The only suggestion I can make is that the belt may have been loaded for training purposes, which could account for both the use of ball rounds and the small number of tracers - an economy measure.




Can you or anyone expand on the RA-42 with the heavy ring crimp being crontracted for british aircraft? Was this all this ammo was used for? Are there any websites I can research this?