Tracer round standard availabilty. When and where?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by banjotrooper, Aug 24, 2008.

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  1. Hi Guys.
    I know the RFC/RAF used tracer and incendiary munitions when dealing with Zeppelins however, when did tracer become standard ammunition, especialy for all MG use?
    It has just dawned on me, I have seen many photo's of the Somme 1916 and Passchandaele 1917 battles however, I do not recall seeing any revealing tracer splash from MG fire. Some of these MG barrages were collossal! 1 x MG barrage at Passchandaele, involved a non stop 1,000,000+ round MG barrage involving 50 x Vickers HMG's in the semi indirect mode. 8O Captured POW's said it was most demoralising!!
    If tracer was in use then, can you imagine the firework display? When and where did tracer become standard MG ammunition? :?
     
  2. As I remember , Tracer (De Wilde? Buckingham?) ammunition was carried by aircraft for Zeppelin and Balloon busting. I dimly remember something about Pilots having to carry authorisation to use it, as it was contrary to the rules of war for anti-personnel use.

    I may have confused several things though
     
  3. De Wilde was the incendiary ammo issued to Fighter Command in WW2 PTP. Wasn't introduced until last 1939/early 1940 from memory. Not sure what the 'anti-zeppelin' ammunition was called though.
     
  4. Nice one guys! Any views on infantry or tank use in WW1 as standard spotting ammo?
     
  5. .303 Tracer was finalised for use just before the outbreak of WW1. It was not introduced into service until there was a demand for it. It was known as CARTRIDGE, S.A. , TRACER , MK 1 L. Due to it's short comings (it was shite at producing a trace) it was declared obsolete in 1917.

    Brock, Buckingham,Pomeroy and Threlfall all designed incendairy/ explosive ammuntition at the start of WW1 for use against Zeppelins non of it in .303 to begin with. 12 Bore (chain shot), .45-90 and .577-450 Martini Henry are some of the calibres experimented with.
     
  6. Right - I need to get out more!

    Buckinghm ammunition 0.303" - white tipped and filled WP

    Pomeroy/Brocks - hollow pointed and filled with a mixture of kieselguhr (for insensitivity) and Nitroglycerine

    The first anti-zeppelin ammo were simply arrow shaped jobbers with expanding tails - drop it on the zeppelin and it makes a hole. One pilot actually dropped his bomb load on a zeppelin - and it exploded!

    The ammo was fired in mixed links.

    http://www.richthofen.com/dark_autumn/
     
  7. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    I have a good book on service .303 ammo and variants, ask away for dates in service, headstamps etc.
     
  8. Biggles loaded his Lewis guns with Buckingham incendiary bullets when he went out after balloons. He had to carry a chit stating his mission because, had he become involved in a dog-fight, he would have been obliged to defend himself with ammunition that convention deemed was not very sporting for use against personnel. I understand that use against personnel was forbidden under threat of death if the pilot were captured.

    Biggles did, however, report the use of tracer as part of the standard fill of his drum magazines and reported that British tracer was red, while German tracer was green. So its use must have been fairly common in WW1, at least in aerial circles where reliance on sights was much less.

    Bibliography:
    Biggles of the Camel Squadron,
    Biggles of 266,
    Biggles, Pioneer Air Fighter.
     
  9. Au contraire my learned friend. Captain James Bigglesworth RFC flew a Sopwith Camel in the texts quoted. Armament of this aircraft was 2x belt fed vickers machine guns fitted with constantinesco synchronising mechanism. In the earlier part of his career he flew a two-seater FE2B pusher which may have been armed with the weapon you quoted.
    References:
    Biggles Learns To Fly.
     
  10. Not quite. Although you are correct with regard to the Vickers, you appear to have forgotten the Lewis guns which were mounted on a pantograph-style mount and which fired over the top plane. The advantage of this system was that it could moved through a vertical arc, thereby allowing the pilot to shoot at balloons above and thus avoid the risk of flying through several thousand cubic feet of exploding hydrogen.

    Thus:

    [​IMG]

    The disadvantage was that to change drums or clear stoppages, the pilot had to release his seatbelt, and stand up while holding the joystick between his knees. (Surely you remember this? ;) )
     
  11. Given the Camel's well-publicised lack of directional stability, isn't this likely to result in an impromptu display of HALO sans LO, followed by a practical demonstration of why speed doesn't kill, but acceleration can be a bitch? :skull: 8O
     
  12. Ah yes, but a picture of a model aircraft does not a convincing argument make. The modeller could have also glued sidewinders to the wings and said it flew in the Falklands. Also, the mount pictured is a fixed mount, and not one designed to allow the weapon to be fired upwards. Quote me one reference from the works of Captain W.E Johns where Bigglesworth uses a Lewis gun on a Sopwith Camel, I dare you.
     
  13. [quote="deSTABlised]Given the Camel's well-publicised lack of directional stability, isn't this likely to result in an impromptu display of HALO sans LO, followed by a practical demonstration of why speed doesn't kill, but acceleration can be a bitch? :skull: 8O[/quote]

    ....and there were recorded instances of exactly this happening....
     
  14. Don't think that is a model, I've seen that at the IWM. The focus of the picture may make it look like a model but I'm fairly sure it isn't.

    Not saying it couldn't be doctored, but it is definitley hanging off the roof at the IWM
     
  15. Is it really a model aircraft? That must be a model jagdpanther below it then. Funnily enough the jagdpanther was looking very real indeed this afternoon ;)

    [​IMG]