When did the British Army start using tracer rounds for its machine guns?

#1
I have been reading about the First World War and I'm curious to find out when the British Army first began to use tracer rounds in the Vickers MG.

According to Wiki the tracer round was invented by the British in 1915, but I haven't found any details of the use of .303 tracer for the Vickers. Apparently the aircraft mounted version fired a larger 11mm calibre round in both ball and tracer versions.

Anyone know the answer?

TIA

Edited to add the correct calibre for the aircraft mounted Vickers... :oops:
 
Last edited:

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#2
I have been reading about the First World War and I'm curious to find out when the British Army first began to use tracer rounds in the Vickers MG.

According to Wiki the tracer round was invented by the British in 1915, but I haven't found any details of the use of .303 tracer for the Vickers. Apparently the aircraft mounted version fired a larger 1mm calibre round in both ball and tracer versions.

Anyone know the answer?

TIA
1" ? 10mm? Or very small calibre?
 
#3

Helm

MIA
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#4
I have been reading about the First World War and I'm curious to find out when the British Army first began to use tracer rounds in the Vickers MG.

According to Wiki the tracer round was invented by the British in 1915, but I haven't found any details of the use of .303 tracer for the Vickers. Apparently the aircraft mounted version fired a larger 1mm calibre round in both ball and tracer versions.

Anyone know the answer?

TIA
I believe, but prepared to be proved wrong they were originally an anti-Zeppelin round
 
#5
I believe, but prepared to be proved wrong they were originally an anti-Zeppelin round


This seems to show how they were developed, firstly in Lewis guns. Defeating the Zeppelins | The National Archives

snip "However, the situation was about to change. The introduction, in April 1916, of a new explosive .303 bullet – the Pomeroy – and a bullet with both explosive and incendiary attributes – the Brock – as well as the Buckingham incendiary bullet, all for use in the Lewis gun, proved a critical advance. Although an airship contained up to 2 million cubic feet of inflammable hydrogen, it only became flammable when mixed with oxygen. Although none of the bullets on their own appeared completely effective, when fired in combination they showed great promise. The theory being that the explosive bullet would blow a hole in the gas bag, letting the hydrogen escape to mix with oxygen, and the following incendiary bullet would then ignite the now volatile gas"
 
#6
According to the historically accurate in all respects "Biggles of the Camel Squadron" and "Biggles of 266" the incendiary rounds used for shooting balloons down was "Buckingham"
You'll remember when Biggles and Wilks had the competition to win a case of Pre War Lemonade* by shooting down balloons they had to get special orders signed to allow them to fly with Buckingham rounds.

*Cleaned up from the original story of cases of Whisky. Apparently repressed latent homosexuality and smoking like a chimney were fine in the 30s , drinking Scotch was a bad influence.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
#7
According to the historically accurate in all respects "Biggles of the Camel Squadron" and "Biggles of 266" the incendiary rounds used for shooting balloons down was "Buckingham"
You'll remember when Biggles and Wilks had the competition to win a case of Pre War Lemonade* by shooting down balloons they had to get special orders signed to allow them to fly with Buckingham rounds.

*Cleaned up from the original story of cases of Whisky. Apparently repressed latent homosexuality and smoking like a chimney were fine in the 30s , drinking Scotch was a bad influence.
Two very fine books.

I particularly enjoyed the story where Wilks was persuaded to machine gun his own pyjamas.
 
#8
#10
I think Pomeroy rounds were explosive and Buckingham were tracer. They were different to modern tracer in that the vent was on the side of the bullet and sealed with very low melting point solder. As they flew they left a spiral of smoke in their wake. Both were used for balloon busting to destroy the structure and ignite the hydrogen. This is from memory so caveats apply.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
#11
Virtual text book accounts of a front line combat squadron on the Western Front

Indeed, I would love to have sight of the bowdlerised manuscripts.
 
#13
The reversion to a larger calibre 11mm round was due mainly to the very small charge that could be contained within a .303 round (7.7mm) so the Martini_Henry round was pressed back into service.
 

old_fat_and_hairy

LE
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#15
I can say with veracity that tracer rounds were used in the Vickers in 1967, as I had to reach the bloody things to the Federal National Guard ( successor to the APL), despite a) not speaking any Arabic and b) never having seen said gun outside a museum.
 
#16
The reversion to a larger calibre 11mm round was due mainly to the very small charge that could be contained within a .303 round (7.7mm) so the Martini_Henry round was pressed back into service.
Not Martini Henry .455 but French Gras round chambering. the .455 Maxims were still around in the RN
 
#17
I have been reading about the First World War and I'm curious to find out when the British Army first began to use tracer rounds in the Vickers MG.

According to Wiki the tracer round was invented by the British in 1915, but I haven't found any details of the use of .303 tracer for the Vickers. Apparently the aircraft mounted version fired a larger 11mm calibre round in both ball and tracer versions.

Anyone know the answer?

TIA

Edited to add the correct calibre for the aircraft mounted Vickers... :oops:
At 39.10 in this documentary shows how the 303 Buckingham round was made and used


 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#19
Apologies for thread drift!
Plenty of 'Biggles' books available as free downloads here:

Biggles: free download. Ebooks library. On-line books store on Z-Library
Not a lot of people know that:

In August 1922, [T. E.] Lawrence [of Arabia] enlisted in the Royal Air Force as an aircraftman, under the name John Hume Ross. At the RAF recruiting centre in Covent Garden, London, he was interviewed by recruiting officer Flying Officer W. E. Johns, later known as the author of the Biggles series of novels.[115] Johns rejected Lawrence's application, as he suspected that "Ross" was a false name. Lawrence admitted that this was so and that he had provided false documents. He left, but returned some time later with an RAF messenger who carried a written order that Johns must accept Lawrence.[116]
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#20
.303
Buckingham was an incendiary round. Pomeroy was too. Tony Edwards did a TV documentary on bringing down the zeppelins, ok it was presented by some talking head but Tony was the technical expert. tracer was issued in WW1, you would need to find an MG manual from the period for tracer, air use was possibly the first for tracer.
Pomeroys headstamp suffix was AA, Buckinghams was B. There was also Brock incendiary (K) two explosive rounds by RTS and RTT and a further Pomeroy incendiary (Y).
Tracer was officially accepted for use in 1915 with the Mk1 which lasted a year and many further marks were accepted as the war went on!
Incendiary and explosive were also accepted in 1916.
 

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