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what sort of bullet is this?

Discussion in 'Battlefield Relics' started by emu, Sep 14, 2011.

  1. emu

    emu Member

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    I found this yesterday at Holy Cross cathedral here in Honiara, Guadalcanal, which is built on a ridge that hosted Japanese machine guns covering the Mataniko River and artillery positions which fired on Henderson Field.

    Very superficially it looks like a .50 cal round but it is obviously something different. It is not solid like all the other spent .50 cal rounds I have seen, this one is mostly hollow and elongated. it is split in 5 places up to the point where the round is solid.

    Could it be an incendiary or something?
    View attachment 14199
    Thanks
     

    Attached Files:

  2. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    .50 cal tracer would be my guess, any paint left on the tip? Red/ orange would be tracer, white would be incindeary, and black would be AP (Armor Piercing)
     
  3. Ken The Kanuck

    Ken The Kanuck Member

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    The tracers I have seem to have the tracer material on the tip of the bullet.

    KTK
     
  4. emu

    emu Member

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    Thanks for the comments.
    Yes I have seen the tracer rounds and the paint / coloring is on the tip, apart from that they are the same as any other round.
    So if white tips are incendiary then this probably isn't.
    Normal .50 cal rounds I have seen are solid with a slight taper at the rear. At the end of the round is a concave which often still has white powder in it, saltpetre I think?
    This one is mostly hollow and elongated. it is split in 5 places up to the point where the round is solid near the point. I am not sure that the round always had those 5 splits and maybe they happened over the years the thing lay around
    I am going to find a standard .50 round and take another picture of the two side by side.
     
  5. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    That might be an AP or Armor Piercing round which had a steel core. The jacket could have split on impact causing the core to drop out....? maybe?

    Here is a link to a list of the various .50 Cal BMG rounds floating around out there, take your pick of what you think it might be:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.50_BMG#Military_cartridge_types
     
  6. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    I don't wish to sound foolish :eek: ( as there's no way one of these could show up in the Pacific ) but the projectile in the pic looks very similar indeed to a Boys .55 inch armour-piercing tracer round in my collection..........Did the Japanese use something similar ?
     
  7. emu

    emu Member

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    Thanks formerjughead. It could well be that is is an armour piercing round and the weighted core has separated at some point, that is pretty much what I think at the moment.

    Martin, it maybe possible that the Japanese captured some Boys anti-tank rifles in Singapore or in the NEI and brought them to Guadalcanal. The Japanese must have brought a lot of captured equipment and souvenirs. I have Dutch, American, English, Malay and Chinese coins recovered from Japanese positions. I even have a token to the public swimming baths on Batavia. Anything is possible, do you have a picture of the Boys round?

    I will hunt up a fired .50 round for a comparison picture
     
  8. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Loads of Boyes went out to Far East in early days didnt they Martin?
     
  9. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Martin Bull,

    You answer is not as foolish as you suppose.

    Marine Raider units were equipped with the Boys ATR, they were used at Makin Island and throughout the Solomons, albeit, in limited numbers. At the time, it was the only AT weapon that could be reasonably man-handled, and it could double as a sniper rifle.

    AFAIK, the Boys was used by the Marine Raider units on Guadalcanal.

    Google Boys anti-tank rifle, marine raiders for much more information.
     
    urqh likes this.
  10. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Then without going into dimensions etc I'm pretty certain that this is a Boys round. It appears identical in every respect with the one I have here - especially the distinctive parallel sides and slightly rounded tail ( AFAIK the US .50 rounds featured a 'boat-tail' tapering design ).

    If so, I'd think it a rare find.......
     
  11. emu

    emu Member

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    Thanks everyone.
    I googled as suggested by Takao and it seems entirely possible it is a Boys anti tank rifle round. Wonder when it got there.
    The Americans attacked across there on September 27 and October 8.
    The Japanese 1st Independent Tank Company made a supported attack across the mouth of the Mataniko river on 23 - 24 October which resulted in 9 tanks getting knocked out (One is still in the sea and visible at low tide and tank debris still litters the shore) There are famous pictures of the aftermath of this battle.
    I will still post a comparative picture as soon as I can find a spent .50 cal round. You can never find one when you want one
     
  12. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    I don't think that is foolish in the least; considering that the Japanese captured Singapore in the early days of the War, it would stand to reason that those rounds would have been present.
     
  13. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Sorry for the poor quality : I just took this snapshot here at my desk.

    .50 cal Browning ball on left, .55 Boys A/T on right : -

    [​IMG]
     
  14. emu

    emu Member

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    Outstanding !!

    Thank you all.

    Guadalcanal is an amazing place. One minute you will be sweating and struggling through town and the next you will find something reminds you this was a battlefield and I, for one, am still learning.

    The Boys AT round I have is not in as 'goodanick' as the one you posted martin but I am confident that it is a .55

    Thanks again
     
  15. Steve T

    Steve T Member

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    Guys

    Having been relic hunting for a great many years now, I am sorry to say that I have found more than 50 spent 50cal rounds, (out of about 1,000 in total), like the one you have with the 'blunt' base. Most were found on an old USAAF air gunnery range in Norfolk, (they blasted away with 50cals mounted on concrete plinths at a target dragged around a track on a kind of mini train layout), and are definitely 50cal incendiary rounds. I don't believe it is a .55 Boyes as these invariably had two rings around the base of the projectile. The single ring is typical of a 50cal, (although not 100% as some 50cals also had two of these bands !).

    Anyway, apologies but I think it is a straight up 50cal incendiary or possibly AP/incendiary.

    Steve T
     

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