Who knows the history of the 50 bmg cartridge?


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CharlieDeltaJuliet
May 11, 2012, 04:54 PM
I have read in a few articles that the 50 bmg was a scaled up 30-06, I was wondering if anyone knows the definitive truth on the matter. Just curious. When I compare the 30-06 and the 50bmg, it seems the 30-06 is longer for its scale that the 50 is. here is a photo of a .308 168gr. A-Max and a 50 bmg 750gr. A-Max. they look more to scale. I know its a 12.7x99mm. I have searched and to be honest, just dont trust Wiki and the few places I find info on it. I thought some of the Military history buffs on here couls explain how J.M.B came up with the design. Thanks

http://i1237.photobucket.com/albums/ff464/ChadJohnson1976/IMG_5962.jpg

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Tex4426
May 11, 2012, 05:43 PM
About all i know about the history of berret is his first gun was built with a ruler and was extremelly ugly...he sold them to the military for 800 bucks to get the name out ther he lost almost 2million dollars before he started selling for a profit...now hes rich and working on if not already done a 50 bmg that has a secondary 308 barrel that is easily changed on the battlefield

Ron James
May 11, 2012, 07:16 PM
I don't think the 30-06 even entered into the picture, The army wanted a heavy machine gun and cartridge and he gave it to them. Let's face it , how many ways can you design a modern cartridge so that it doesn't ook like a relative of the 30-06?

sniper762
May 11, 2012, 07:47 PM
you cant get any more truer info than wiki

Vaarok
May 11, 2012, 08:08 PM
The BMG cartridge was first prototype tested using TuF Gew 1918 actions captured by the Germans, and may've been at least in part based on the 11mm antitank round the Germans were experimenting with at war's end.

Jim K
May 11, 2012, 08:36 PM
How about it was a scaled up .30-'06 round? What is so hard to understand about a designer, asked to produce a large caliber cartridge, simply taking a common round, having a known effectiveness, and scaling it up? (The .50 round shown by CJohnson does not have the standard military bullet and the shoulder angle looks too shallow.)

Jim

rcmodel
May 11, 2012, 08:41 PM
If it was based on anything American, it had to be the 30-06.

Notice the short case neck of the .308, that became a U.S. service cartridge about 50 years later.
Not even close to the design of the .50 BMG.

No doubt the German Mauser anti-tank round of WWI play into the design.
But I would tend to believe it was far simpler to scale up the 30-06 to .50 cal then change the Metric German Tankgewehr M1918 13.2 x 92mm (.525-inch) cartridge to U.S. .50 cal BMG.

rc

ApacheCoTodd
May 11, 2012, 09:51 PM
For what it's worth; In Melvin Johnson's "Automatic Arms..." He states:

the .50 MG round was ..."perfected from the German 13mm wartime antitank cartridge..."

Then - "The Colt company developed a enlargement of the regular Browning .30 caliber machine gun to take the .50 caliber cartridge..."

So, if Mel is correct (and being Johnson, he probably is) the mimicry is in the gun more than the cartridge while the cartridge takes its cues from the German 13mm. But of course the cartridge running through an enlarged 1917 would be an enlarged 30-06 round... Kinda gets all chicken and egg without dated drawings I guess.

And remember Johnson was at the forefront of machine gun design and development at the time and this was written in 1941 while some of the information had yet to be diluted by lore.

Jim Watson
May 11, 2012, 10:00 PM
An article - maybe Wiki - says the .50 was under development before the 13mm Mauser was much known. The German round is more tapered with a semi-rim. I think the .50 is based on the .30-06 even if not an exactly proportional scaleup.

CharlieDeltaJuliet
May 11, 2012, 11:02 PM
The 50 round in the photo is an A-Max Jim K, the brass is exactly the same but the projectile is a finer sharper design, mainly for co-efficent. I have a ton of 662gr ball ammo I can photograph, I was just mainly looking at the two A-Max rounds to compare the size and scale. The shoulder angle is exactly the same as the ball ammo though. I have been shooting the 50 bmg for years, just wanted a history lesson on J.M.B's design. I was mainly wondering if it was really a scaled up bersion of the 30-06 or if that was wiki crap. I was curious if it had more history.

303tom
May 11, 2012, 11:11 PM
I have read in a few articles that the 50 bmg was a scaled up 30-06, I was wondering if anyone knows the definitive truth on the matter. Just curious. When I compare the 30-06 and the 50bmg, it seems the 30-06 is longer for its scale that the 50 is. here is a photo of a .308 168gr. A-Max and a 50 bmg 750gr. A-Max. they look more to scale. I know its a 12.7x99mm. I have searched and to be honest, just dont trust Wiki and the few places I find info on it. I thought some of the Military history buffs on here couls explain how J.M.B came up with the design. Thanks

http://i1237.photobucket.com/albums/ff464/ChadJohnson1976/IMG_5962.jpg
Yes the .50 BMG round is a scaled up .30-06, just like the .308 is a scaled down .30-06.

Ditchtiger
May 11, 2012, 11:14 PM
Been a while but I think the main request was a round that would go 3/4" steel at 1000 yards, in that general caliber.

JRH6856
May 11, 2012, 11:19 PM
The JMB designed .380ACP and 25ACP are downscaled from the 45ACP and accurate within 1% in almost all dimensions. (~78% and ~59% respectively). The 50BMG does not have the same close scale relationship to the .30-06. The dimensions can be 4-10% off depending on dimension compared. The 50BMG may have been based on the .30-06, but if so, some dimensions were subsequently changed and the result is not just an upscaled cartridge.

In some dimensions, the .30-40 Krag seems a better candidate if made rimless.

CharlieDeltaJuliet
May 11, 2012, 11:21 PM
I knew they were used on aircraft and against the very early tanks, but thats about all of the history I knew. Thanks guys. Thanks ApacheCoTodd, that was the kind of info I was looking for. Now I have a platform to start with on some research.

303tom
May 11, 2012, 11:28 PM
I Looked it up.........

A Brief History of The .50 BMG Cartridge Development;
Initial Development :
Tradition has it that the cartridge that was to become the .50 BMG we know today, was initiated at the personal request of General John (Blackjack) Pershing. This request for a heavy machine gun cartridge came in light of American experiences with the large-caliber weapons employed by the European nations during WW1. The request, in April 1918, for a weapon with an effective range of 6,000 meters and a muzzle velocity of 2600 fps was contracted to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. The proposed cartridge was to have both machine gun and anti-tank capabilities.

Later that same month, Winchester began the fabrication of test cartridges to obtain ballistic data. Initially they used 16-gauge, brass shotshells, necked down to accept commercial 500-grain lead 45-70 projectiles. Propellant charges used varied from 120-150 grains, developing 2485 to 2944 fps muzzle velocity, and generated a (probably wildly overestimated) breech pressure of 90,000 psi !!

In late 1918, work on the cartridge was transferred from Winchester to Frankford Arsenal, where it remained (almost exclusively) until well into WW2. Design work on the weapon itself was performed by John Browning and Colt.

During the ensuing years of development, the cartridge case design went through a series of metamorphoses. Case lengths from 4.08 inches to 3.80 inches were tried. Rimmed, semi-rimmed, and rimless case designs were considered. Both the 13mm German anti-tank round and a scaled-up 30-06 cartridge design were copied, with the latter finally winning approval. Projectile weights from 800 to 508 grains were tested. And cartridge overall lengths from 5.51 to 5.00 inches were explored.

Eventually, advances in tank armor outpaced that of anti-tank rifles, so the .50 BMG became, exclusively, a heavy machine gun caliber cartridge. The first machine gun was standardized as the M1921 and, in 1924, the Caliber .50 Browning Machine Gun Cartridge was adopted in the form pretty much as we know it still today.

CharlieDeltaJuliet
May 11, 2012, 11:32 PM
Awesome

LeonCarr
May 11, 2012, 11:48 PM
I heard a story that when the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918 there were crates loaded with M2 Browning .50 Caliber Machine Guns and Thompson Submachine Guns sitting on the docks in New York City waiting to be shipped to Europe.

The Germans and Austro-Hungarians lucked out surrendering when they did.

Just my .02,
LeonCarr

Ron James
May 12, 2012, 12:13 AM
Seeing that both the Thompson and the .50 caliber Heavy machine gun were both developed after the war was over, I really don't think there were very many crates setting on the dock of the bay in 1918:)

Hacker15E
May 12, 2012, 08:11 AM
I heard a story that when the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918 there were crates loaded with M2 Browning .50 Caliber Machine Guns and Thompson Submachine Guns sitting on the docks in New York City waiting to be shipped to Europe.

There were also full troop ships moored off NY Harbor that were waiting to go, too.

J-Bar
May 12, 2012, 10:44 AM
I Looked it up.........

A Brief History of The .50 BMG Cartridge Development;
Initial Development :
Tradition has it that the cartridge that was to become the .50 BMG we know today, was initiated at the personal request of General John (Blackjack) Pershing. This request for a heavy machine gun cartridge came in light of American experiences with the large-caliber weapons employed by the European nations during WW1. The request, in April 1918, for a weapon with an effective range of 6,000 meters and a muzzle velocity of 2600 fps was contracted to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. The proposed cartridge was to have both machine gun and anti-tank capabilities.

Later that same month, Winchester began the fabrication of test cartridges to obtain ballistic data. Initially they used 16-gauge, brass shotshells, necked down to accept commercial 500-grain lead 45-70 projectiles. Propellant charges used varied from 120-150 grains, developing 2485 to 2944 fps muzzle velocity, and generated a (probably wildly overestimated) breech pressure of 90,000 psi !!

In late 1918, work on the cartridge was transferred from Winchester to Frankford Arsenal, where it remained (almost exclusively) until well into WW2. Design work on the weapon itself was performed by John Browning and Colt.

During the ensuing years of development, the cartridge case design went through a series of metamorphoses. Case lengths from 4.08 inches to 3.80 inches were tried. Rimmed, semi-rimmed, and rimless case designs were considered. Both the 13mm German anti-tank round and a scaled-up 30-06 cartridge design were copied, with the latter finally winning approval. Projectile weights from 800 to 508 grains were tested. And cartridge overall lengths from 5.51 to 5.00 inches were explored.

Eventually, advances in tank armor outpaced that of anti-tank rifles, so the .50 BMG became, exclusively, a heavy machine gun caliber cartridge. The first machine gun was standardized as the M1921 and, in 1924, the Caliber .50 Browning Machine Gun Cartridge was adopted in the form pretty much as we know it still today.
thanks for this info; what is your source please?

Millwright
May 12, 2012, 07:28 PM
FWIW, all designers try to start from a known point. The .30-06 cartridge 's taper/shoulder taper evolved to work well in an MG. So why would JMB not copy it ? As for the rest of the cartridge, (i.e. base diameter, length, etc, ) it would have been dictated by available propellants and desired muzzle velocity, IMO.

Whatever the "engineering choices" selected, "Ma Deuce" has - and continues to create - a long and illustrious history and JMB's .50" BMG round continues to be a premier round 75 years after its introduction ! >MW

Shadow 7D
May 12, 2012, 07:41 PM
No, the correct story is that BAR's were stockpiled, they didn't ship them as the design was so advanced and 'secret' they didn't want any captured.

CharlieDeltaJuliet
May 12, 2012, 08:46 PM
I really do appriciate everyones input. It is nice to have a history lesson. Thanks everyone, for teaching me some very interresting facts.

alsaqr
May 12, 2012, 08:49 PM
The first .50 caliber machine gun adopted by the US Army was the model 1921 adopted in 1923 for use on aircraft. The air cooled .50 caliber M2 machinegun was adopted in 1933.

The M2 has one undesireable feature. Timing and headspace has to be set every time the barrel is changed out. Failure to set timing and headspace lead to numerous accidents, some fatal.

For years i was the senior firing range advisor the the Saudi National Guard. There were numerous accidents caused by failure to set timing and headspace; at least one of them was fatal. A fragment of the cartridge case hit the soldiers femoral artery and he quickly bled to death.

For the past 30 years FN Herstal has sold a quick change barrel kit that eliminates the need to set timing and headspace when the barrel is changed. The Saudis adopted the FN quick change barrel kit just prior to Desert Storm. The US Army adopted the kit much later.

Other companies also make quick change barrel kits.

http://kitup.military.com/2011/08/the-m2a1-50-cal-worth-the-wait.html

http://www.scribd.com/doc/31885208/FN-Herstal-Mitrailleuse-calibre-50-M2HB-QCB

CharlieDeltaJuliet
May 12, 2012, 09:00 PM
I had heard about the headspace issue with the Ma-Deuce. Had no idea about FN Herstals quick change barrel.

LJ-MosinFreak-Buck
May 12, 2012, 10:05 PM
Didn't the M1919 machine-gun need to be timed and head-spaced, too? I've heard stories that the M2 was just an up-scaled M1919.

newfalguy101
May 12, 2012, 10:13 PM
If I recall correctly, JMB designed the gun ( M2) BEFORE the cartridge was actually available for testing ( yes he had the specs for the chamber etc.. ).

alsaqr
May 12, 2012, 11:11 PM
Didn't the M1919 machine-gun need to be timed and head-spaced, too? I've heard stories that the M2 was just an up-scaled M1919.

Yes, it does need to be timed and headspaced.

Videos:

Timing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh2C2InBWb4

Headspacing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNZQpX43_OE

BHP FAN
May 12, 2012, 11:27 PM
''The JMB designed .380ACP and 25ACP are downscaled from the 45ACP and accurate within 1% in almost all dimensions. (~78% and ~59% respectively). The 50BMG does not have the same close scale relationship to the .30-06. The dimensions can be 4-10% off depending on dimension compared. The 50BMG may have been based on the .30-06, but if so, some dimensions were subsequently changed and the result is not just an upscaled cartridge..''

except it was the other way around... .25, .32, and .380 came before the .45.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.32_ACP

See also the Colt 1903.

LeonCarr
May 12, 2012, 11:42 PM
I read that the BAR was actually tested in the war zone and JMBs son, who was a 2LT in the Army, fired the first shots.

From Wikipedia:

By July 1918, the BAR began to arrive in France and the first unit to receive them was the U.S. Army's 79th Infantry Division, which took them into action for the first time on 13 September 1918.[7] The weapon was personally demonstrated against the enemy by 2nd Lieutenant Val Allen Browning, the inventor's son.[7] Despite being introduced very late in the war, the BAR made an impact disproportionate to its numbers; it was used extensively during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and made a significant impression on the Allies (France alone requested 15,000 automatic rifles to replace their notoriously unreliable Chauchat machine rifle).[7]

I stand corrected on the story I read about the M2 .50s and the Thompsons on the docks, both were developed after the war, so the story is BS.

Just my .02,
LeonCarr

303tom
May 13, 2012, 12:19 AM
thanks for this info; what is your source please?
http://ammoguide.com/?article=kpagel0507

Shadow 7D
May 13, 2012, 12:47 AM
Every M2 gunner in my old unit was REQUIRED to have their gauges physically attached to them, part of their pre-mission duties was to PMCS their gun, and that included checking headspace.

CharlieDeltaJuliet
May 13, 2012, 08:13 AM
There is only one thing I would argue with on that site, the usefull range is stated as 2000yds. When we were told it was 2500 meters with the M82A1. Please note this was hard targets( vehicles, missle batteries, etc). Back then we were told 1800 meters was top for soft targets. Who knows though. I love that site though, very interresting. Thanks Tom for the link.

mavracer
May 13, 2012, 08:55 AM
The JMB designed .380ACP and 25ACP are downscaled from the 45ACP and accurate within 1% in almost all dimensions. (~78% and ~59% respectively). The 50BMG does not have the same close scale relationship to the .30-06. The dimensions can be 4-10% off depending on dimension compared. The 50BMG may have been based on the .30-06, but if so, some dimensions were subsequently changed and the result is not just an upscaled cartridge
throwing some logical reasoning in here JMB designed the 25acp,380acp and 45 acp so it would stand to reason hed have diminisioned drawings of them. He didn't design the 30/06 and may have just had a piece of fired brass or for that matter just a picture. Heck knowing the genius of JMB he may have just scaled it from memory.

alsaqr
May 13, 2012, 09:12 AM
My WWI Doughboy friend was named Jack. i hunted with Jack for about 25 years and learned a lot from him; he talked freely about his combat experience in the "war to end all wars". Sadly, Jack died in 1985.

Jack went to France as a second lieutenant in the first shipment of US troops. He was a platoon leader in a machinegun company and later the company commander. Their first machinegun was the British Vickers and their automatic rifle was the Chauchat. The Chauchat soon went away and they were issued the Lewis gun. The Browning Model 1917 machine gun replaced the Vickers. The BAR came to Jacks unit about one month before the war ended.

Somewhere in my junk i have the indirect fire tables for the Vickers and Browning model 1917 machineguns that Jack gave me. Jacks unit had the distinction of bringing indirect machine gun fire on a German regiment that was assembling for an attack.

Vern Humphrey
May 13, 2012, 05:04 PM
Being an old Mechanized Infantry Company Commander, I have a soft spot for the M2 and the .50 Cal. I know from experience that if you can get an M113 into position, the old Ma Deuce will turn NVA bunkers into swimming holes. Defensively, it will cut down big teak trees faster than any chainsaw you ever saw.

One of my favorite tricks in a night defensive position was to dig machinegun pits, mount the M2s on tripods, and run the M113s over then to provide overhead cover. After one action near the Laotian border, we had RPG-7 holes in everhthing topsides -- hatches, vision blocks, antennas blown off and so on -- apparently a person on the receiving end of .50 caliber fire can't tell where it's coming from, and they assumed we still had the guns mounted on the commanders hatches.

ClayInTX
May 13, 2012, 06:48 PM
Some things are just intuitively correct. Even if the wheel had never been invented those on the first car would probably have been round.
.

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