A little while back, I got my hands on a number of copies of Tactical and Technical Trends booklets – this was a bulletin published by the US Military Intelligence Service during WWII to keep soldiers apprised of new developments in equipment and tactics among the different combatants. A quick Google search will reveal that these documents are not difficult to find in electronic form, but I am going to post them anyway. Why? First off, because I suspect a lot of people are not aware of them. More importantly, because I think it is worth looking at them one at a time to actually take a close look at the information they contain. Takes as a whole batch, one tends to just skim over and miss a lot. And lastly, because my color scans are much nicer looking than the other copies available. 🙂
The first one I have is #49, from August 1944 (they were initially published biweekly, and later went to monthly).
Much of the information in these booklets covers armored vehicle, artillery, mines, and other war material not typically in line with this site (although certainly of interest to many people who would read this site). When we look at small arms content in this edition, we find a couple interesting articles:
- US Army testing on Japanese cartridges found on Bougainville with wooden bullets, and with normal projectiles loaded backwards into cartridges (the wooden bullets were found impractical for antipersonnel use, and concluded to be grenade launching rounds, while the backwards bullets were thought to be attempts to increase lethality).
- US Army testing of the protection afforded by Japanese armored shields for machine gun and pillbox use (they are proof against M2 ball, but could be perforated by AP out to 200 yards).
Bullets in 6.5 and 7.7mm Arisaka seated backward would have exposed lead at the base due to the way their cores were inserted into the jackets. Theoretically, they would behave like a softpoint hunting bullet, assuming the jacket wasn’t too thick. Considering the usual jacket web of such bullets, intended to be at least semi-armor piercing, I’d be surprised to see much if any expansion, at all.
I’m not sure how reliably they would feed through the rifle, let alone an LMG. The strip feed of the Type 92 HMG probably wouldn’t have too much trouble with them.
Accuracy would no doubt suffer, in fact I’d expect the bullet to begin yawing badly and possibly begin tumbling once V dropped below 1700 FPS, which should happen at about 250-300 yards due to increased air resistance and bullet instability (ballistic shape and mass distribution more suitable for a liquid medium than air). Of course, in combat in jungle terrain, most engagements would be at ranges much closer than that due to lack of clear fields of fire, so it probably would make very little practical difference.
Actually there’s a lot of doubt. Aerodynamically the military ball round is more streamlined base first. Inaccuracies mostly come from inconsistencies in the unjacketed base.
This can also be seen when something like a 7.62mm M80 ball round hits ballistic gelatin. The bullet cuts a caliber sized hole swaps ends and then resumes drilling a caliber sized hole (as shown here http://www.frfrogspad.com/terminal2.htm ).
Also see a practical demonstration of backward bullets
I would tend to put this down to good old fashioned tampering by bored soldiers. I understand that one of the reasons the Russians put such a fearsome crimp on their ammo is to try and deter this habit.
Eating propellent will affect your heart rate, dilate your blood vessels and give you headaches because of the NG content. It was a favourite trick to gain entry to the sick bay..
I cannot believe that turning round bullets was ever officially sanctioned.
Turning bullets around was used in WWI to punch through steel loophole plates used by snipers.
Yup, so they can pack more powder in the case.
This also gives you a risk of blowing up your receiver if your rifle has no emergency venting hole. Packing more powder sounds great until you realize that there is a likeliness that the cartridge may not be able to handle the stresses involved… In several cases where the bullet was reversed and extra propellant was used, the user was horrifically injured when the cartridge case ruptured as the bullet got STUCK.
There was no need for more powder in the case. In fact, with the bullet in backwards, there is less space for powder than with the bullet oriented forward. Also, bullets can be shot equally well backwards as they can be forwards.
Fascinating magazine, in that it shows not only what was being done, but how people at the time viewed it. For example, the “NOTES ON GERMAN ARTILLERY IN ITALY” give us something that could not be inferred in our time from examining the guns, that is, the impressions of those being shot at.
I’m looking forward to the discussions to ensue from posting these reports, for I’m sure they will be interesting.
I wonder if your copy wasn’t owned by the same Charles H. Yust, Jr. that authored many articles for Gun Digest and other firearm publications. Several of these articles were assembled into the book “The Cartridge Collector’s Notebook.”
Thanks very much for posting this, Ian. I’m looking forward to the next one.
I found the entire issue interesting. For instance, I was unaware that the IJA “rounded up” the bore sizes of their artillery. I thought the 8 cm AAA was genuinely a 3.15 inch, not a “regular” 3″ bore.
The article on the “Puppchen” is interesting to me for another reason. I build models, notably armor in various scales, most recently 1/35 (3/8″= 1 foot). There are a couple of “white metal” (pewter) kits of the Puppchen around, but with the photo and drawings here, scratchbuilding one from styrene tube, etc., to go with my WW2 Fallschirmjager will be simpler and considerably cheaper. (Those pewter thingies ain’t cheap.)
For the same reason, the articles on the artillery ammunition are very useful, too.
Speaking of ammo, the hand-whittled wooden bullets in 7.7mm and 6.5mm Arisaka were almost certainly for grenade launching. The most likely reason being that there were more rifle grenades than they had blank launching rounds for. Even without the cutoff of supplies from the home islands by U.S. interdiction (i.e. submarines and air attack), the Japanese supply system was never all that good at “delivering the goods” to begin with. So not having enough GL rounds was probably far from a unique problem for the Japanese ground troops, especially by mid to late 1944.
“I found the entire issue interesting. For instance, I was unaware that the IJA “rounded up” the bore sizes of their artillery. I thought the 8 cm AAA was genuinely a 3.15 inch, not a “regular” 3″ bore.”
If you are interested in Japan naval artillery of WW2 I can recommend NavWeaps site for you: http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNJAP_Main.htm
I don’t have a source on this, but I remember reading a couple of years back that the wooden bullets were training rounds.
I heard this (wooden bullets) about the Soviet training rounds (in Poland there was no bullets – the trainig roudn had its nose simply cramped).