Jump to content


Photo

WWII Browning .303 MKII MGs - help with ID?


  • Please log in to reply
40 replies to this topic

#1 Caroline

Caroline

    New Member

  • Regular Group
  • 19 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Northern Territory, Australia
  • Interests:World War II armament

Posted 21 July 2015 - 11:10 PM

Hiya,

I'm an archaeologist working on a collection of dumped WWII materiel associated with a RAAF base in Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory.  We've recovered a couple of machine guns that I'm almost certain are aircraft version Browning .303 MKII.  My knowledge of machine guns is fairly limited though (!) and I'd love to be able to have ID confirmation from an expert.  (And please forgive any massively ignorant questions from me!).  I have managed to get serial numbers off both of them though - MK II / B 136.752 / B on one and MK II B 868.881 / B on other.

I'd also very much appreciate any thoughts or insight into these guns and whether there's any way to narrow down what type of aircraft they may have come from based on fittings and mounts.  One has been largely stripped, is missing back plate and breech cover and has had the barrel / cooling jacket bent, so doesn't give much info except for the mounting lugs and brackets, I'd guess.  The second has several fittings still attached, has a different cooling jacket arrangement and has spade grips (so I'm figuring it must be from a flexible mount?).  I'm also unfamiliar with some of the fittings; it seems to have a feed chute of some type that I've never seen before.

Unfortunately, both have been in the water for around 60 years and aren't in great condition.  They were also both heavily covered in marine growth and concretion and I've only been able to remove some areas of concretion without breaking things.

I've attached a few photos of both guns.  I'd very much appreciate any thoughts, advice or suggestions for research.

Thank you very much.

Best wishes,

Caroline.

Attached Files


  • 0

#2 RoscoeTurner

RoscoeTurner

    Respected Member

  • Moderator
  • 3088 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:WWII Military Thompsons
    WWII Browning Automatic Rifles
    Russian M1910 Maxims
    Vickers
    01/SOT

Posted 22 July 2015 - 07:29 AM

Caroline,

 

I will be glad to look these up for  you later today, I do not have my reference books handy.  In the mean time I have posted your question on a Browning specific forum with the hopes we can have an answer for you more quickly.


  • 0

#3 MG08

MG08

    RKI Member

  • Regular Group
  • 495 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 22 July 2015 - 08:00 AM

While I am not an "expert" - I do own one now and have had several . They all appear to to be MK II 303 Brownings and would have been mounted in the Spitfire, and Lancaster bombers in power turrets and multiple gun mounts.  Perhaps others as well, since these were the "standard" for turret and flex mounts.  There is not a lot of info on the guns but there are several books that have a little information.   Based on the photos, it would appear that the guns are all slightly different. Some appear to have parts removed prior to dumping, some have what appear to be spade grips (making them flexible mounted) and others were fixed mounted ini a wing type mount.  Serial numbers/ model  given are typical of these  guns.  If you want to contact me directly, I can provide more info  based on each photo, and reference photos of my gun for your information.

 

Brian

bblinde@DELETETHISfrontiernet.net


Edited by MG08, 22 July 2015 - 08:03 AM.

  • 0

#4 dalbert

dalbert

    Website Owner

  • Admin
  • 4847 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ohio

Posted 22 July 2015 - 10:10 AM

Those are Browning Mark II .303 Aircraft Machine Guns.  I'd bet they were mounted on Lancasters, based on the spade grips.  I have an original manual in my collection for this weapon, and also own a live U.S. version. (ANM2 .30)

 

What a coincidence about Darwin, Northern Territory.  I just spent 2.5 weeks in Vietnam working closely on a project with a retired RAAF member from Darwin...He told me many great stories about being from that area. 

 

 

David Albert

dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


  • 0

#5 Caroline

Caroline

    New Member

  • Regular Group
  • 19 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Northern Territory, Australia
  • Interests:World War II armament

Posted 22 July 2015 - 10:12 AM

Hi RoscoeTurner,

 

Thank you very much, and thank you also for forwarding my query onto a Browning specific forum :)

 

P.S. I have to say, I love the quotes you have in your signature.


  • 0

#6 dalbert

dalbert

    Website Owner

  • Admin
  • 4847 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ohio

Posted 22 July 2015 - 10:15 AM

One tidbit of trivia about these guns...In the first photo, the machine gun has a fluted muzzle booster.  These are very sought after parts today...Sought after by Star Wars fans.  In the original Star Wars movie, the light sabers used by Obi Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker were made using a Browning MK II muzzle booster.  I had 2 of the boosters in my spare parts, and sold them for $200 each several years ago.  There's even someone who makes an exact reproduction of the muzzle booster, because originals are scarce.

 

David Albert

dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


  • 0

#7 Caroline

Caroline

    New Member

  • Regular Group
  • 19 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Northern Territory, Australia
  • Interests:World War II armament

Posted 22 July 2015 - 10:26 AM

Hi Brian,

Thank you very much for your reply.  I'd say that definitely makes you an expert!  I would love to be able to have a close look at an intact (not falling apart) one.  This is the first time I've ever tried examining an MG and am on a very steep learning curve.  Finding WWII weapons is a very rare archaeologists dream over here :)  I would definitely love to pick your brain further on these and would love to see reference photos of your gun.  I'll send you an email - my address is crwilby@hotmail.com (in case you have filters).

Thanks again :)


  • 0

#8 Caroline

Caroline

    New Member

  • Regular Group
  • 19 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Northern Territory, Australia
  • Interests:World War II armament

Posted 22 July 2015 - 10:37 AM

Hi David,

I wish I'd found this site earlier!  I spent an evening reading "idiots guide" books trying to understand the difference between the British .303 and the US ANM2 and which one my guns were likely to be.  I was stuck on the US .30 cal as these were found outside a coastal base specifically devoted to PBY Cats; so it would've made more sense if these were .30 cal.  I would love to see a live ANM2! 

That is a coincidence re. Darwin!  What project were you working on in Vietnam, if I may ask?  I'm hoping to track down some retired RAAF members up here.  I found a taped interview in library with two ex servicemen who'd spent time at this base during the war and they had some fascinating (and also some very amusing!) stories.

Thanks again :)


  • 0

#9 Caroline

Caroline

    New Member

  • Regular Group
  • 19 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Northern Territory, Australia
  • Interests:World War II armament

Posted 22 July 2015 - 10:40 AM

Hi again David - I just read your second post re. the fluted muzzle booster and Star Wars!  Wow!  I'm going to endeavour to find a way to work that into my report.... :)


  • 0

#10 emmagee1917

emmagee1917

    Long Time RKI Member

  • Board Benefactor
  • 1957 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Yuma , Arizona
  • Interests:All USGI WW2 firearms and acc.

Posted 22 July 2015 - 12:00 PM

  I would love to see a live ANM2! 

 

I was given two out of the back seat of a US WW2 dive bomber , Not live , but on life support . Hope to semi them some day .

Here is the part-by-part breakdown.

http://1919a4.com/sh...&highlight=anm2

 

Here are some later pics after I modified them ala US Marine Corps style.

http://1919a4.com/sh...&highlight=anm2

 

Chris


  • 0

#11 dalbert

dalbert

    Website Owner

  • Admin
  • 4847 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ohio

Posted 22 July 2015 - 12:01 PM

Caroline,

 

The international logistics company that the fellow from Darwin and I both work for is supporting a large manufacturing operation in Vietnam, and we were both sent there to help with a system transition.

 

I'm glad you enjoyed my posts.  Here's a link to a photo of the Star Wars light saber...The British ANM2 (Browning MkII) muzzle booster is the second piece from the right on the light saber.

 

https://www.keyshot....saber-rendered/

 

Here's a link to a photo of a muzzle booster itself:

 

https://www.bing.com...48eA&ajaxhist=0

 

If you look at Star Wars discussions about the ANM2 boosters, originals are apparently going for very big bucks, and are extremely difficult to find now.  I guess that's why the guy kept on contacting me after I sold him the two that I had.  I had the first one already from a parts kit I had purchased in the 1980's, and then I found another one at a gun show for $30 back in 2007.  I think they might be $500 items now...

 

Here is a link to some photos of my live ANM2...

 

http://biggerhammer....anm2/pictorial/

 

 

David Albert

dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


  • 0

#12 dalbert

dalbert

    Website Owner

  • Admin
  • 4847 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ohio

Posted 22 July 2015 - 12:25 PM

Caroline,

 

Here is a photo of a fixed configuration Browning.303 MK II.  This is from a 1938 Air Ministry manual from my collection, which is titled "Browning .303 in. Mark II Gun Descriptive Handbook."  It is Air Publication 1641C, Volume I, 1st Edition, September 1938.

 

Attached File  MkII_Fixed.JPG   139.1K   7 downloads

 

David Albert

dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


  • 0

#13 RoscoeTurner

RoscoeTurner

    Respected Member

  • Moderator
  • 3088 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:WWII Military Thompsons
    WWII Browning Automatic Rifles
    Russian M1910 Maxims
    Vickers
    01/SOT

Posted 22 July 2015 - 01:03 PM

I doubt they were on Lancasters, that type did not operate in the Pacific Theater, most likely on any variety of patrol bombers operating out of the Darwin area such as the Lockheed Hudson or Consolidated PBY both types were fairly common in the RAAF.
  • 0

#14 dalbert

dalbert

    Website Owner

  • Admin
  • 4847 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ohio

Posted 22 July 2015 - 02:25 PM

I doubt they were on Lancasters, that type did not operate in the Pacific Theater, most likely on any variety of patrol bombers operating out of the Darwin area such as the Lockheed Hudson or Consolidated PBY both types were fairly common in the RAAF.

 

Good point...I've always associated these guns with Lancasters, but I guess they were a General Purpose MG for Commonwealth aircraft, and if Lancasters didn't serve in Australia, then that makes sense.

 

David


  • 0

#15 Black River Militaria CII

Black River Militaria CII

    Industry Expert

  • Regular Group
  • 862 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 22 July 2015 - 05:06 PM

Brittain initially contracted with Colt to buy half a dozen Colt MG40s in .303 in the middle 1930s. These guns had the distinctive spade grips common to all US AMN-2 coaxial LMGs as later also made by Brown-Lipe-Chapin and Buffalo Arms, etc in .30-06. Eventually Colt provided about 1600 plus further Mg40s to GB and then Vickers-Armstrong and BSA undertook production of the Brit version of the guns. The Brit guns were often used in a cradle in singles or twins when employed as co-axial MGs in non-fixed applications. The use of remote, fixed MKIIs was widespread early in fighters, arrayed In the wings providing exceptional firepower during the Battle of Brittain. It is said that this single aspect, the superior firepower of the Brit fighters using eight wing mounted MKIIs gave them an advantage and. allowed them to prevail over better trained and superior aircraft of the Luftwaffe. However, the Luftwaffe were comparatively less well equipped with fewer wing guns and a single 20mm cannon. Use in reconnaissance aircraft, light and heavy bombers, and many other aircraft applications, these Mgs were a cornerstone of Brit armament throughout the war. The Brit versions did not use the spade grips for co-axial use, but employed an add-on pistol grip with a distinctive adjustable trigger mechanism.
The gun in one of the pics of the six in the OP's array appears to be a Colt MG40 due to the spade grips evident from the tops of the grips of the frame that is showing. The others in this group appear to be Brit versions, but they are so corroded that it is very difficult to say.
I have downloaded the other post with the multiple pics and will look at these later to see what they have found. very interesting find.

Bob Naess
  • 0

#16 dalbert

dalbert

    Website Owner

  • Admin
  • 4847 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ohio

Posted 22 July 2015 - 07:12 PM

Brittain initially contracted with Colt to buy half a dozen Colt MG40s in .303 in the middle 1930s. These guns had the distinctive spade grips common to all US AMN-2 coaxial LMGs as later also made by Brown-Lipe-Chapin and Buffalo Arms, etc in .30-06. Eventually Colt provided about 1600 plus further Mg40s to GB and then Vickers-Armstrong and BSA undertook production of the Brit version of the guns. The Brit guns were often used in a cradle in singles or twins when employed as co-axial MGs in non-fixed applications. The use of remote, fixed MKIIs was widespread early in fighters, arrayed In the wings providing exceptional firepower during the Battle of Brittain. It is said that this single aspect, the superior firepower of the Brit fighters using eight wing mounted MKIIs gave them an advantage and. allowed them to prevail over better trained and superior aircraft of the Luftwaffe. However, the Luftwaffe were comparatively less well equipped with fewer wing guns and a single 20mm cannon. Use in reconnaissance aircraft, light and heavy bombers, and many other aircraft applications, these Mgs were a cornerstone of Brit armament throughout the war. The Brit versions did not use the spade grips for co-axial use, but employed an add-on pistol grip with a distinctive adjustable trigger mechanism.
The gun in one of the pics of the six in the OP's array appears to be a Colt MG40 due to the spade grips evident from the tops of the grips of the frame that is showing. The others in this group appear to be Brit versions, but they are so corroded that it is very difficult to say.
I have downloaded the other post with the multiple pics and will look at these later to see what they have found. very interesting find.

Bob Naess

 

Bob,

 

Very good historical information.  The only caveat is that based on Caroline having recovered the serial numbers off both guns, which are apparently Mk II serials, I don't believe either one is an MG40.  On my MG40, the spade grips are not as high as they are on this one.  This looks like it has a cradle attachment, which is consistent with a Mk II Browning, in order to activate its sear mechanism. 

 

The single gun cradle has grips, and the entire cradle is a separate piece that attaches to the Mk II.  I believe that is what is seen in the photo of the second gun above.  I have one of the cradles in my collection.  I'll take a photo of it and post it here.

 

David Albert

dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


  • 0

#17 APEXgunparts

APEXgunparts

    Long Time RKI Member

  • Regular Group
  • 174 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Colorado
  • Interests:Military history & martial arms.

Posted 22 July 2015 - 08:17 PM

For reference, taken from a .303 Browning I have examined:

 

MK. II*

BS. 195570

SD

 

Front trunnion has an inspectors marking dated '41

 

The British manufactured over 550,000 of these guns by the end of WWII

 

Richard

 

Wish I could upload the pictures directly!


Edited by APEXgunparts, 22 July 2015 - 08:20 PM.

  • 0

#18 Caroline

Caroline

    New Member

  • Regular Group
  • 19 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Northern Territory, Australia
  • Interests:World War II armament

Posted 22 July 2015 - 09:11 PM

Hi Chris,

Oh my, I'd love to see those!  I so live on the wrong side of the world.

Thank you very much for your photos.  Unfortunately I couldn't get your links to come up - it takes me to the 1919A4 site but then I get a message saying the administrator has blocked my IP address.  Is there anyway I could get around that?

Thanks again :)


  • 0

#19 Caroline

Caroline

    New Member

  • Regular Group
  • 19 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Northern Territory, Australia
  • Interests:World War II armament

Posted 22 July 2015 - 09:50 PM

Hi David,

You should've dropped by Darwin on your way through :)

I see what you mean now re. the Star Wars light saber.  We actually had a couple of guys working with us last year who were massive Star Wars fans and one actually owns a couple of light sabers.  I shall have to pass this onto him! 

Unfortunately, the muzzle booster I have is in rather bad shape - it's survived intact in shape but the metal itself is very soft.

Thank you very much for the photos of your ANM2.  They're beautiful photos and help me greatly with the explanations and descriptions.  I've a quick questions re. the detailed markings your gun has - do you think my guns will have similar markings somewhere?  I've only partially cleaned both of them as they're rather fragile and I'm having to remove the concretions with hammer and chisel, so I've tried to limit it in order to not destroy them completely!

I've also got a pair of aircraft turret twin mount Browning .50 cal M2s that I've just started cleaning but haven't found any markings on either yet.  Was wondering if I could target particular spots to look for.

Thank you also for the 1938 Air Ministry photo - that's a great shot!

Thanks again for all your help :)


  • 0

#20 Caroline

Caroline

    New Member

  • Regular Group
  • 19 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Northern Territory, Australia
  • Interests:World War II armament

Posted 22 July 2015 - 09:55 PM

Hi Richard,

Wow, I didn't realise so many were manufactured!

That's very interesting that yours had a dated inspectors stamp - I'm going to try to have another look on these to see if I can find anything similar.  Would be very nice to have a date.

Thank you :)


  • 0