.50 Cal

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Oscaratplay
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.50 Cal

Post by Oscaratplay »

I recently found a .50 copper jacketed bullet in a farmer's field. I know very little about military ordinance so
20190910_184225.jpg
I would like to hear other's theories based on the few facts surrounding this find.

I am trying to piece together likely reasons of how it came to be where it was and also any information that may actually be gleaned from the projectile itself from the attached picture.

I found it in a field overlooking Falmouth in Cornwall, within a few miles of St. Anthony Head where there was a wartime gun battery. (I have found AA timing rings in the same field) and I know that Falmouth was a target for German bombing from 1940. It is my belief that Battle of Britain era British fighters were armed with .303 machine guns and didn't get .5's until later in the war. I don't know what American aircraft with their .5's would have overflown the area for fear of friendly fire. Would a coastal AA battery have had .5s perhaps?

There are clear markings on the projectile, presumably from the rifling within the barrel are there any clues here? I have heard that fired at altitude (from a fighter?) may cause this due to cold..... is this fact or fiction.

I will be returning this and the cleaned timing ring fragments to the farmer and want to pass on any other information that I can.
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Pete E
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Re: .50 Cal

Post by Pete E »

I don't think there is much more that you can say other than it is a .50cal ball bullet. The rifling marks are "pressed" on the bullet as it pass down the barrel because, in lay mans terms, the bullet is designed to be a tightish fit...

While the .50cal machine gun was used on many Allied aircraft (not sure about the Germans), it was also used in various forms on the ground as well.

I would think it highly likely it came from an aircraft, but I am not sure that could said with 100% certainty...
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Re: .50 Cal

Post by Oscaratplay »

Yes, I am pretty certain that it would be from an aircraft. My thought would be when? As I said in 1940, I don't think British fighters were fitted with .5's, therefore, if it were from one engaged in warding off the enemy over Falmouth, it must have been later in the war. When exactly did we start putting Browning .5's on Spits and Hurries? Was it from the MkIV Spits on?
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Re: .50 Cal

Post by Oscaratplay »

A further thought.... in the form of a maths question for the genius's out there.... assuming someone out there knows the muzzle velocity of a .5, and assuming it was fired at 10k feet..... How far would the bullet travel before it hit the ground? Gravity being 10mtrs per second squared I believe. Could it have therefore been fired from an American aircraft returning from a sea patrol? Ooh I do like these theories! ;-)
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Re: .50 Cal

Post by greatchi »

I would say 8 Bloits

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Re: .50 Cal

Post by Pete E »

Oscaratplay wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:14 pm
Yes, I am pretty certain that it would be from an aircraft. My thought would be when? As I said in 1940, I don't think British fighters were fitted with .5's, therefore, if it were from one engaged in warding off the enemy over Falmouth, it must have been later in the war. When exactly did we start putting Browning .5's on Spits and Hurries? Was it from the MkIV Spits on?
As far as I am aware, Spits and Hurricanes were armed mostly with .303 and later 20mm cannon...some did have .50 cal but not sure how common they were? I would think the various Brit night-fighters were the same?

Have you weighed the bullet (in grains) yet? The specification for ammo often changed over time and sometimes between application, so a weight might help the more knowledgeable narrow things down a bit....
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Re: .50 Cal

Post by MilitaryMetalMagnut »

The RAF fitted .50 Browning machine guns on American made aircraft purchased from the states in 1940, so It ‘could’ still be from 1940. The best bet is to weigh it. Looking at the cannelure (the grove around the circumference), that indicates a M1 MkI ‘Ball’ round, as it is knurled. There were two variations of the MkI ‘Ball’ round, the M1 and M2, but is still a MkI (confusing, I know!). The M1 MkI for RAF use (manufactured from 1939) weighed 750 grains (48 Grammes), the M2 MkI weighed 710 grains (46 grammes). The later MkII made from 1942 weighs 759 (49 Grammes).
Even with this, it still wouldn’t be a clear cut answer, as the Americans used exactly the same rounds.

Oscaratplay wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:29 pm
A further thought.... in the form of a maths question for the genius's out there.... assuming someone out there knows the muzzle velocity of a .5, and assuming it was fired at 10k feet..... How far would the bullet travel before it hit the ground? Gravity being 10mtrs per second squared I believe. Could it have therefore been fired from an American aircraft returning from a sea patrol? Ooh I do like these theories! ;-)

The .50 had a muzzle velocity of 2500 fps (1704 mph), for the M1 type, 2800 fps (1909 mph), for the M2 type.
At, say, 1000 yards down range it would still be going at about 1900 - 2000 fps, and will drop 20ft from line of sight (assuming a flat and level of trajectory to begin with).
I’ll leave you with the maths! =)) ::g

Best regards,

Simon
Military Firearms and Ammunition Historian, and published author to that effect! 13 years experience of collecting, researching military ordnance and weaponry!

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Re: .50 Cal

Post by WVAM »

Oscaratplay wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:29 pm
A further thought.... in the form of a maths question for the genius's out there.... assuming someone out there knows the muzzle velocity of a .5, and assuming it was fired at 10k feet..... How far would the bullet travel before it hit the ground? Gravity being 10mtrs per second squared I believe. Could it have therefore been fired from an American aircraft returning from a sea patrol? Ooh I do like these theories! ;-)
Too many variables but 5 miles (or 8 Bloits ::g greatchi) would be a reasonable guess. Or use some Youtube science


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Re: .50 Cal

Post by Pete E »

MilitaryMetalMagnut wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:17 pm
The RAF fitted .50 Browning machine guns on American made aircraft purchased from the states in 1940, so It ‘could’ still be from 1940.
Could I ask which types of aircraft you are talking about?

I know the RAF operated a number of B17s early in the war, but I am curious what other American made .50cal armed planes the RAF were using at that point?
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Re: .50 Cal

Post by ninja nige »

hi.
i dont know much about these, but we find them all over Norfolk.
we find a shell or bullet tip most days. i was told by an old farmer the planes used to fly over his farm when he was a boy on way to land at nearby airfield. they would throw out loads of shells which he could see falling from the planes.
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Re: .50 Cal

Post by MilitaryMetalMagnut »

Pete E wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:11 pm
MilitaryMetalMagnut wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:17 pm
The RAF fitted .50 Browning machine guns on American made aircraft purchased from the states in 1940, so It ‘could’ still be from 1940.
Could I ask which types of aircraft you are talking about?

I know the RAF operated a number of B17s early in the war, but I am curious what other American made .50cal armed planes the RAF were using at that point?
I know the RAF had the P40, which had .50 Brownings. Will need an aircraft buff to supply a list of U.S aircraft with the RAF, that had .50 Brownings in 1940! lol. ::g

Best regards,

Simon
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https://wartimedalditchcamp.wordpress.com/about/

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Re: .50 Cal

Post by Pete E »

MilitaryMetalMagnut wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:53 pm
Pete E wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:11 pm
MilitaryMetalMagnut wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:17 pm
The RAF fitted .50 Browning machine guns on American made aircraft purchased from the states in 1940, so It ‘could’ still be from 1940.
Could I ask which types of aircraft you are talking about?

I know the RAF operated a number of B17s early in the war, but I am curious what other American made .50cal armed planes the RAF were using at that point?
I know the RAF had the P40, which had .50 Brownings. Will need an aircraft buff to supply a list of U.S aircraft with the RAF, that had .50 Brownings in 1940! lol. ::g

Best regards,

Simon
The P40 was mostly used over seas, and particularly in North Africa. Some of the RCAF squadrons had them early on in the war but the ones that remained in the UK were hastily converted to Spits or Hurricanes as they became available so the again the P40 saw very little service over the UK...

The RAF had P51's from about 1942 onwards, but again I don't think they were used over UK by Fighter Command???

The only other US fighter I can think of was the P38 which wasn't really used operationally by the RAF although it was trialled/tested both officially and unofficially.....

So really I think the biggest users of .50s (aircraft wise) in the UK for WW2 would the various USAF Bombers?
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Re: .50 Cal

Post by HolzHammer »

crikey there is a lot of serious knowledge going on here - well done chaps I have found it enlightening!

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Re: .50 Cal

Post by stillair1 »

The USAFF flew P51's late in WW2 from RAF fighter base near Leiston Suffolk.
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Re: .50 Cal

Post by Red Fred »

My Uncle was travelling round the West Country in the Spring of 1942 as the first Mustangs were coming into service. He was an Air Ministry armaments boffin, looking at the latest German bombers shot down in the Baedecker Raids. While in the West, he visited 16Squadron at Weston Zoyland and took a photo of the new plane, which was just replacing their Army Co-op Lysanders., I believe these Mustangs was armed with .30 and .50 calibre guns. the .30s can be seen under the propeller. I would imagine the .50s in Cornwall could have come from one of these, .
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Re: .50 Cal

Post by GezFisher22 »

Some Lancasters had the rear turret 4x.303 Brownings replaced with twin .50 cals. I have fired .50 cals out in the desert at night with ball and tracer and they go for miles so up in the air with barrels at 45 degrees they would go for miles and miles.Lovely weapon to shoot and they are very effective.

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Re: .50 Cal

Post by DanTheMan »

Portreath and St Merryn Naval Air Station are well North of you but a huge number of planes flew on long missions from there. It was quite customary for the bomber gunners to test fire their weapons as they got over the sea so that's a very likely source, all the US bombers had .50cals. Here is a link to some WW2 history of your area:

http://www.historic-cornwall.org.uk/fly ... nsive.html

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