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Aluminum Instead of Lead

Discussion in 'Information Requests' started by White Flight, Apr 23, 2007.

  1. White Flight

    White Flight Member

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    I spoke to a P-47 pilot recently who showed me a spent sniper round they plucked from his parachute pack after a mission over France. The round was made of aluminum instead of lead. His theory, with shortages and transportation issues, the Germans resorted to aluminum from downed aircraft. Is that the case?
     
  2. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    I had never heard of projectiles made of light metals before. They may have increased muzzle velocity for same size charge, but must lose speed quickly along the trajectory. This is very strange. Why sniper round?
     
  3. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    I too have never heard of such a thing.

    The Germans used various alternatives for bullets ( eg sintered iron ore ) and scrap aluminium from downed aircraft was certainly used - to make more aircraft ! It was far too valuable to use as munitions.....
     
  4. White Flight

    White Flight Member

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    Sniper round, because he suspected the source was a sniper. Certainly is an oddity. I’ll get a photo of it if I can schedule to see him again.
     
  5. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Sounds to me more like the stray piece of fragment from the aircraft that lodged there as a result of some hit on it.
     
  6. White Flight

    White Flight Member

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    It's definitely a spent shell. He also has some shrapnel they dug out of the instrument panel that had pierced the canopy.
     
  7. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    Yes a photo would be nice, try and get a photo with a ruler beside. It's a pity our resident ammunition expert Tony Williams does not visit as often as he used to.
     
  8. White Flight

    White Flight Member

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    I had the opportunity recently to visit with Charlie Mohrle again at the Frontiers of Flight Museum, Love Field, Dallas. I forgot the ruler.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  9. luketdrifter

    luketdrifter Ace

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    Strange...larger than I thought it would be, probably because it lodged where it did, someplace soft to stop. Thanks for sharing.
     
  10. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    Ask him how he thought it got there. Didn't they sit on their parachutes? Could he have been shot at before getting in the plane? In any case, tell us more! Maybe entice him to join the forum.:D
     
  11. White Flight

    White Flight Member

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    He spotted the sniper taking aim while in a low level bank turn over occupied France. Upon return, he told the ground crew to inspect for a sniper round as he thought he took a hit. They found the round in the parachute pack. I'm not sure about the configuration of the pack.

    Along the subject of German bullets, Charlie mentioned after being relocated to a facility south of Paris, he found a few German military items in an abandoned warehouse. He found a packed parachute that had been tested twice, confirmed by an enclosed log. He also found to clips with wood bullets. He recently donated one of the clips to the D-Day museum in New Orleans. Search revealed a number of discussions on the topic such as: Wooden Bullets

    After another sortie over occupied France, the ground crew plucked a flak fragment from the Charlie's Thunderbolt. It melted through the canopy and lodged into the instrument panel. Seen here above the sniper round:

    [​IMG]

    I attempted the invitation, but he doesn't use the web.
     
  12. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    That looks like an aluminum jacket over a standard lead core with a copper swag/sabot base. Looks like a machine gun round to me as any of the bolt action sniper type rifles would still function with unjacketed rounds. Automatic weapons have a tendency to foul quite badly when unjacketed rounds are used affecting both the functioning and accuracy.

    Using aluminum for projectiles makes no sense as the specific gravity of aluminum is less than silver (higher specific gravity equals better bullet). Try throwing a paper plate on a windy day and and then throw a frisbee. The cost of aluminum compared to lead makes even less sense.
     
  13. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    I was also curious if there are any "rifling marks"? Non-the-less, something like that bouncing around the cockpit! :eek: Do you know what group he was with? One of my Uncles was also a "Jug" and Mustang pilot flying with the 8th AAF .
     
  14. White Flight

    White Flight Member

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    Captain Charles D. Mohrle was assigned to the 510th Fighter Squadron of the 405th Fighter Group. The unit was deployed to the European Theater, entering combat from Christchurch, England in March, 1944.

    510th started their history flying bomber escort missions and progressed into area patrol and interdiction flights. Mohrle flew 13 escort missions. After the June 6,1944 Normandy invasion, the Group crossed the English Channel to a small tar-paper strip at Picauville, France. Their new duty was air support for General Patton's Third Army. Dive bombing, skip bombing and strafing attacks on German battle tanks, trucks, trains, artillery and infantry, destroyed enemy mobility and weaponry in front of the 3rd Army forces - across France and into Germany. The 405th Group received personal recognition from General Elwood Quesada, commander of the Ninth Tactical Air Command.

    Of the 24 pilots in the 510th squadron, eighteen were killed. Mohrle completed 97 combat missions. He was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross, an Air Medal with 16 Oak Leaf Clusters, European Theater Ribbon, 4 Battle Stars and is entitled to wear a Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon.
     
  15. White Flight

    White Flight Member

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    The theory is the sporadic rainfall of destroyed aircraft made aluminum more plentiful.
     
  16. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    Thats all fine and good; but, it doesn't change the fact that a bullet made from aluminum would be ballistically unstable and a very poor choice. To think that it was used in a sniper rifle is beyond belief.

    I did find this which refers to an aluminum core bullet that was used in an anti aircraft practice role:

    Rifle and Machine-Gun Ammunition (7.92-mm): German Infantry Weapons, WWII Military Intelligence Service, Special Series No. 14, May 25, 1943 (LoneSentry.com)

    From the above site with regard to "wooden bullets"

    [​IMG]
    Figure 113.—Blank cartridge (Platz-Patrone 88).
    Figure 114.—Cross section of ball cartridge (scharfe Patrone S.).
     
  17. White Flight

    White Flight Member

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    Mohrle presented it as a theory. Not fact. I understand your point. You have answered my question in my opening post. Thanks for the information.
     
  18. White Flight

    White Flight Member

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    What's your take on wooden bullets? Are they ballistically stable? What's the logistics of such an application? Apparently they were for short range only.
     
  19. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    The wooden bullets were used to propel rifle grenades:

    Lone Sentry: German Rifle-Grenade Equipment (WWII Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 36, October 21, 1943)
     
  20. Vinny Maru

    Vinny Maru Member

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    Found this comment on 98K ammunition. The lS(leichtes Spitzgeschoss meaning light pointed bullet) had an aluminum core and weighed only 85 grains which resulted in a higher speed of 3035 fps but its total range was limited.
     

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