XM144 Flechette


#1

Hi all,
I have 2 XM144 Flechette cartridges in my collection I cannot identify.
I tried to find the information in the SPIW book (SPIW the deadliest weapon that never was) but I couldn’t find it.

Is the cartridge with the red cap a tracer flechette? and what is the other round? is it also a flechette or a ball round with the bullet shaped as the cap of a flechette round?

Who can tell the hole story? what types XM144 flechettes do exist? and what about XM110 and XM645? first generation and second generation? Can anyone give me an overview?

thanks in advance…

Joost


#2

Joost

Great question and I eagerly await someone’s reply because I have the same cartridges and have never been sure what they were. And you’re correct, they are NOT in the book.

The XM110 and XM144 were the first generation SPIW flechette cartridges and the XM645 and XM216 the second generation.

But the two you show are definitely of a different breed. The best I understand is that they are XM144W series. The E1, E2, and E3 had cylindrical sabots and were between 40 and 43mm CL. The E4 (what we have) was 45mm and was loaded with both a flechette and a GM “bullet”. However, the “bullet” does not appear to be a normal GM bullet but appears to be more of a sabot or puller. I don’t have access to an x-ray facility to see what they might look like inside and I only have the two specimens and do not want to dissect them.

Mine are headstamped WCC 62 and have the tiny brass primer. How about yours.

I can photograph the 110, 144, 645, and 216 if you do not already have them.

Ray


#3

Hi Joost,
A bit of guesswork as I’m not absolutely certain but I think your red-lacquered round is a proof loading.
The other is a ball load intended for function-testing of the weapon - the idea being that the ball load was much cheaper to produce than the very complicated flechette. If yours has no headstamp then we both have the same cartridge!
As far as I’m aware tracer rounds in this series were not marked.
Jim


#4

I checked both cartridges and they have no headstamps… (both cartridges do have a red primer annulus.)
And Ray, I am interested in a photograph of the different XM types, I only have a Canadian made XM645 with the headstamp I V I 71.
BTW How are the canadians involved in an American developement of flechette cartridges? Wasn’t it classified for other countries?

thank you Jim and Ray for your responses…

Joost


#5

[quote=“Jim”]Hi Joost,
A bit of guesswork as I’m not absolutely certain but I think your red-lacquered round is a proof loading.
The other is a ball load intended for function-testing of the weapon - the idea being that the ball load was much cheaper to produce than the very complicated flechette. If yours has no headstamp then we both have the same cartridge!
As far as I’m aware tracer rounds in this series were not marked.
Jim[/quote]

Jim

Does your ball load have a normal looking GM bullet? On mine the bullet has what appears to be a lathe turned finish (circular tool marks) if you know what I mean. Because the cartridge is so tiny it’s impossible to tell if there is powder in the case by shaking it. I seem to remember reading somewhere that these bulleted rounds were for target practice but I find it hard to believe that an XM cartridge would be made for target practice. A function testing use would make much more sense.

Mine weighs 117.3 grains whereas the XM 216 weighs only 106.0 grains which would indicate that it either has a solid bullet or a powder charge, or both.

What’s the source of your information, BTW.

Ray


#6

Ray,

when I shake both cartridges (one at the time) I can hear the powder inside. On the GM coloured bullet there are some toolmarks visable indeed!! And also on the red laquered one as well. Isn’t it just sollid metal bullet and not a jacketed bullet?

Joost


#7

Joost

The “bullet” appears to be either a hollow die formed sabot like thing or a solid turned from GM. I really don’t know what it is. When I shake mine I “seem” to able to feel powder inside but I cannot say for certain. If there is powder, that would preclude it’s use as a function-test dummy.

Below is a photo of some of the others.

Left is the XM110 with the typical green sabot. HS is WCC 63

Next is the XM645, the second generation with the same green sabot. HS is IVI 71. This cartridge came with at least two other sabots, the aluminized and the cream colored one.

Third is the final iteration (I think) of the XM645 with a clear plastic sabot and a 4.32mm bullet. HS is IVI 69. This was a last attempt at saving the SPIW project.

Next is the XM144. First generation. HS WCC 63.

Finally is the XM216 second generation. HS RA 65. This case is a little larger than the XM144.

As far as I know, AAI was involved in the project from the beginning. I’ve never read that the project was SECRET.

Jim, the second photo attempts to show the “bullet” on the XM144WE4. May not be too clear.

CSAEOD has shown some other flechette cartridges in his posts. Maybe he’ll chime in here.

Ray


#8

[quote=“Jim”]Hi Joost,
A bit of guesswork as I’m not absolutely certain but I think your red-lacquered round is a proof loading.
The other is a ball load intended for function-testing of the weapon - the idea being that the ball load was much cheaper to produce than the very complicated flechette. If yours has no headstamp then we both have the same cartridge!
As far as I’m aware tracer rounds in this series were not marked.
Jim[/quote]

BINGO! - if you don’t play BINGO in the UK - that means you got it all correct.


#9

Lots of the AAI boxes of this time are marked “SPECIAL HANDLING” . I have never seen one marked as secret or classified but some of the stuff early on may have been so. AAI threw this out in public light early on and the development went on for quite some time until it became obvious that the weapons were not practical for a variety of reason not the least of which is medium and long range accuracy. Ray being a shooter will certainly understand that. Getting rid of the sabot without degrading the accuracy of the projectile was never really a success.

The later design used in the ACR tests was better but still no cigar given all the economic and tactical considerations.

The first 2 rounds on the left are the AAI flechette design for the ACR (advanced combat rifle) tests.


#10

[quote=“sir_joost”]I checked both cartridges and they have no headstamps… (both cartridges do have a red primer annulus.)
And Ray, I am interested in a photograph of the different XM types, I only have a Canadian made XM645 with the headstamp I V I 71.
BTW How are the canadians involved in an American developement of flechette cartridges? Wasn’t it classified for other countries?

thank you Jim and Ray for your responses…

Joost[/quote]

The short of it is that the Canadians got the piston primer to work better and faster than we did. Both IVI and DA headstamped and made the piston primer cartridges for us early on.


#11

Ray,
Perhaps I was wrong to use the term ‘function testing’ as you obviously perceived this to mean this to be a dummy round. I understand these to be ‘live’ rounds used for firing practice but primarily to confirm the functioning of the weapon rather than for target practice. My ball round also exhibits the same tool marks and I’m inclined to think it’s been turned on a lathe. I’ve gotta say your 4.32mm XM144WE4 is fantastic Ray, I didn’t know there was such an item so thank you for posting that one.
Jim


#12

[quote=“Jim”]Ray,
Perhaps I was wrong to use the term ‘function testing’ as you obviously perceived this to mean this to be a dummy round. I understand these to be ‘live’ rounds used for firing practice but primarily to confirm the functioning of the weapon rather than for target practice. My ball round also exhibits the same tool marks and I’m inclined to think it’s been turned on a lathe. I’ve gotta say your 4.32mm XM144WE4 is fantastic Ray, I didn’t know there was such an item so thank you for posting that one.
Jim[/quote]

There are a variety of dummy and live rounds of this design- tinned,blackened, 1/2 red. The live ones as you say are to shoot the weapon with less expense. Unfortunately they do not duplicate the actual firing of the weapon and so are of limited use as was the entire system.


#13

Jim

I think it’s all coming together now. I just wish i had another specimen to take apart and see what’s inside. Even then I’m not sure i would do it because they appear to be quite valuable. Several people say that Vol 3 of HWS may have info on them but i haven’t had a chance to ask Bill Woodin if that was true.

Now, here’s another one for you. Have you seen a 224 Springfield E5, or better yet, an E3 or E4 ??? I haven’t.

Ray


#14

Is Vol 3 of HWS out???


#15

No.

Ray


#16

too bad!


#17

My last visit with Frank Hackley about the subject: he said that vol. 4 was finished at his end but that vol. 3 was still unfinished at the additional steps needed prior to publication.


#18

I’m looking forward to #3 and #4


#19

We should all live that long ! Frank says he finished #3 10 years ago.


#20

So what is the problem?