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WWII Browning Machine Guns buried in peat for 70 years fire again!

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Calibre44, Nov 11, 2011.

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  1. Calibre44

    Calibre44 Member

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    Summary of story:
    In 1941, Roland "Bud" Wolfe, an American pilot flying a British RAF Spitfire, paid for by a wealthy Canadian industrialist, had experienced engine failure while flying over Ireland.

    After flying a sortie over the Atlantic, Wolfe was on his way back to his base in Northern Ireland when he was forced to bail out. He parachuted safely to the ground - his plane smashed into the boggy hillside.

    Despite hitting the ground at well over 300mph the Spitfire’s 6 .303 Browning Machine Gnn were incredibly well-preserved with belts containing hundreds of gleaming .303 rounds. After some cleaning and repairs the machine guns looked as good as new and fired without a hitch.

    Soil conditions were perfect for preservation. Beneath the peat there had been a layer of clay. Clay is anaerobic, it forms an airtight seal around all the parts, so there is no oxygen, which limits corrosion. Every part of the gun, to the tiniest pin, had been under a peat bog for 70 years.

    This Spitfire had seen service during Britain's darkest days and is reliably credited with shooting down a German bomber off the Norfolk coast in early 1941. The Irish had found large amounts of carbon inside the weapon, evidence of heavy use.

    During the course of the war, one firm, Birmingham Small Arms (BSA), produced nearly 500,000 Browning guns. All this was despite being targeted by the Luftwaffe. In November 1940, 53 employees were killed and 89 injured.

    ‘Least we forget’
    Full story and pictures here:
     
  2. BBDartCA

    BBDartCA Member

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    That's great thanks for sharing.
     
  3. Ignition Override

    Ignition Override Member

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    Thanks Calibre44.
    Some relatively well-preserved bodies were found in Danish bogs not long ago, i.e. "Tolund Man" etc.
    They were probably sacrifices to the ancient Celtic "gods", about 2,500 years ago.
     
  4. Bubba613

    Bubba613 member

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    What Hitler couldn't do Socialism can do.
     
  5. jad0110

    jad0110 Member

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    ^^^ I was thinking the exact same thing. I'm actually somewhat surprised that the gun phobic UK gov didn't order them destroyed immediately. :fire:
     
  6. ultradoc

    ultradoc Member

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    wow. awsome story
     
  7. 303tom

    303tom member

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    Thanks for sharing (Calibre44) Now that is news.
     
  8. mortablunt

    mortablunt Member

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    That's an impressive story and a testament to how tough the guns are.
     
  9. threefeathers

    threefeathers Member

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    That is fantastic, I wish an American firm wluld have brought them back and kept them in working condition.
     
  10. svtruth

    svtruth Member

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    Saw That Too

    and was going to post about it but you obviously beat me to it.
    I was wondering if the ammo was still good too.
     
  11. Ryanxia

    Ryanxia Member

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    It's a shame they're not going to be functioning anymore :(
     
  12. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    Most of the comments reflect pride in the Spitfire, British manufacturing, and spirit of defending Britain from Germany. Then some fudd butted in:
    The point that the weapons were useful from defending the homeland from the Hun, still worked as testimony to British workmanship of 70 years ago and that made it worth celebrating. That myopic vision of "killing people" ignoring saving people as well is what drives gun control.
     
  13. talldragon

    talldragon Member

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    Wow, that's incredible. Video is worth watching.
    Thanks for sharing Calibre44 :)
     
  14. bumm

    bumm Member

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    I'd suppose the term "made safe" means something like welding a rod into the barrels... Makes me sick to think about it. These guns saved the English during the Battle of Briton... Now they have to be "made safe."
     
  15. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    Reminds me of the Warren Zevon song.......Roland the headless Thompson Gunner.;)
     
  16. k-frame

    k-frame Member

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    I wish they had shown the groupings. :)
     
  17. General Geoff

    General Geoff Member

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    Incredible piece of history. :)
     
  18. p35

    p35 Member

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    As I read it the thing was found in the Republic of Ireland, not British territory. Anybody notice the Gaelic for (I think) "EOD" on the side of the truck?

    The Irish have very good reasons, based on recent history, for wanting machine guns to be secure. The terrorists have done crazier things than burglarize a museum to get their hands on weapons.
     
  19. Ohio Gun Guy

    Ohio Gun Guy Member

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    Its a good thing that being "unsafe" for 70 years, they didn't crawl out of the bog and go on a killing spree. (Sarcasm)
     
  20. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Well, dang! If he was going to crash, why couldn't he crash in Arkansas, on my farm? I'd have built a peat bog for him!
     
  21. Pilot

    Pilot Member

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    I forgot the early Spits used rifle caliber machine guns. Nice story.

    While .303 British is a pretty good round, I'd rather have something larger for aircraft.
     
  22. Vonderek

    Vonderek Member

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    I wish they had stayed buried rather than to be uprooted and neutered. Maybe in another 70 years a future society would have been more appreciative of what they had found.
     
  23. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    If they dug up Excalibur, would they dull the edges and break off the tip before putting it in the museum? Or do a buy back and melt it down for a manhole cover?
     
  24. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    I don't have a problem with it, so long as it's done in a way that doesn't permanently destroy the gun.

    My guess, though, is they'll drill and weld the bolts closed.
     
  25. TJ AK-74

    TJ AK-74 Member

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    Cool story! But the story also mentions the fact that they had to bend parts back and take parts from all 6 to make 1 functioning gun. Also they used modern ammo, not the 1941 head-stamped ammo that was with it. And yeah, "Making them safe" = :barf::mad::fire:
     
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