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Thompson Ammo In Ww2


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#1 Roland, Headless Thompson Gunner

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 12:42 PM

How was Thompson ammo distributed to the troops during WW2? Were magazines pre-loaded? Did they issue boxes/cases of cartridges to the troops for re-loading/ Once expended, did they bother to pick up the empty mags (circumstances willing)?
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#2 TSMGguy

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 02:43 PM

Magazines issued to the troops were not issued loaded. The magazines came empty in preservative grease in the same waxed cloth or paper wrappers still encountered at gun shows today. They were considered expendable in the combat zones, but were accounted for stateside.

Ball .45 ammo came in 600 round "Spam" cans containing 12 pasteboard boxes of 50 rounds, or resealable steel boxes (the same sized cans as .50 ammo) containing 20 boxes each for a total of 1000 rounds. Two cans made up a wire bound wooden case. These cans were then broken down from the wooden shipping cases from the ammunition pallats provided by the arsenal or contractor. They were then carried forward by trucks or jeeps, and finally by supply details or even mules (in Italy), generally by night if enemy observation was likely.

Wire bound wooden cases were the norm during WWII for almost all American- produced supplies. The wire cutters issued to most troops saw a great deal more action opening cases of ammunition and rations than they ever did on enemy barbed wire!

Expended magazines were refilled by the individual soldier from boxes taken from the cans. Most troops would carry extra 50 round boxes in their pockets or musette bags for topping off as necessary. There were no loaders; single rounds were pressed into the magazines one by one, just as we do it today. Magazines were not thrown away unless damaged but many were dropped and lost during combat.

The .45 ammunition expended by the British and other allies was all made in the USA and was provided under Lend-Lease or direct military assistance. By the way, some 5.1 billion rounds of .45 ball ammo were produced during WWII. If one round were fired per second, it would take 1,616 years (give or take) to fire up that much .45 ammo!

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#3 Z3BigDaddy

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 05:53 PM

Where did you find this info? I was under the impression that they were shipped filled, but since surplus mags come in wrappers empty, I guess that wouldn't make sense.....
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#4 ecky the scot

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Posted 05 February 2005 - 12:40 PM

The reason for not supplying magazines full was that they may take a while to get to the troops in teh front line, and with uncertain stock rotation etc you may receive mags that had been sitting loaded for several years - if the spring is left under tension for that long it could get damaged and so may stop working. I imagine even once you had loaded your mags you would unload them when you were back out of action to ease the spring - on a programme I was watching about a week ago about British troops in the Gulf they were unloading their magazines when they came in from a patrol so it looked like they didnt want their magazines compressed for even a matter of days.

I recently bough this ammo tin http://cgi.ebay.com/...item=2293902910 would this have been the type used for Thompson ammo? or is pistol ammo in some way different?

Thanks

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#5 LSU Tiger

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 11:23 AM

Philohio, I've got the same thing in .30-06 M-2 Ball for the M-1 Rifle packed in 8 round clips and bandolieers. Great stuff! As an interesting side note, in the appendix of One Last Look, there's a table listing fuel and ammunition usage for the Eighth Air Force during the bombing of Germany in WW II. It's amazing how much .50 caliber was used! It also covers gasoline used by grade.
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#6 Supershooter

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 12:12 PM

Those of you with the better resource libraries may want to dig into the subject of loaded 30rd. Thompson stick magazine resupply during WWII. I had assumed that the GI loaded his own mags before seeing an opened spam can of preloaded magazines at a gun show a year ago. The owner had been shooting them up in his 1927 WH. It was an OD can with perhaps 12 mags.

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#7 faabala

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 11:23 AM

On the same subject....

Speaking with T-5 Tony Tamburino an WWII 82nd Airborne Military Police Plt. motorcycle rider, he stated he was only ever issued two magazines for the Thompson he carried on his 1942 Harley. He told me they just taped the two together. I assumed they were 30 rd mags; he did not remember.
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#8 TSMGguy

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 02:34 PM

The reason we (US Army Cavalry) always unloaded magazines when returning from the field didn't have anything to do with magazine spring compression. Magazines were issued with the weapon, and were turned in when the weapon was. Ammunition was (and is) accounted for, and was not kept at the unit level in excess of that required for guard duty. That, and we didn't want anyone doing anything stupid!

In many years of collecting and research, I've never come across references to .45 ball TSMG ammo being issued in factory sealed cans containing loaded magazines, and have never seen a .45 can marked, "in magazines". All cans have been marked, "in cartons". Every cardboard box of .45 I've ever seen was marked "pistol, ball" (or with the subtype), meaning that it was for use with the M1917, M1911 or M1911A1 pistols. This is all that was issued for TSMGs; there was no seperate supply of TSMG ammo.

Ecky's photo is of a typical Russian can, full of repacked WWII era .45. This was not the type of can that the ammo was originally packed in. I've shot a great deal of this Russian re-pack, and have found only commercially produced lend-lease ammunition in it from Winchester, Western Cartridge Company, and Remington. It has contained no arsenal made ammuniton that I've seen. This has been great ammunition, by the way.

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#9 rjb1

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 03:10 PM

That idea that springs (or any other metal) take a "set" or get "tired" under load is an urban-legend (of sorts). Materials just don't work that way. If you compress a spring and don't exceed the yield stress it will return to its original length. If you do exceed that stress it will take a permanent set and it will do it the first time it is loaded. (So, unloading won't do any good, since the first time the spring was overstressed - if it was - was sufficient to damage it.)

A good spring - properly designed - will not be damaged by deflection within its design parameters.

Joel

(Actually, you could make the case that loading and unloading is more potentially damaging, since each time you do that you get a cycle of alternating stress which could lead to fatigue failure - a different failure mode. However, to head off another urban legend, you would probably wear out your fingers before you could put enough stress cycles on it to cause a Thompson (or other) magazine spring to break.)

(For completeness, there is a very high-temperature phenomenon called "creep", which as its name implies, is a change in deflection at constant stress. That would not apply here.)

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#10 ecky the scot

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 03:41 PM

I stand corrected, its just something I have heard many times from many sources so took it to be correct - but I am always happy to be corrected.

Ta

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#11 giantpanda4

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Posted 08 February 2005 - 07:21 AM

Rjb1,
You are right about fatigue... you may need probably tens of million cycles to fail a spring.
Creep is not only a high temp thing - just more noticable at high temp. Hang a weight on a piece of solder - it will show creep..
Slip is what you forgot, a reduction of stress under constant deflection. Similar to creep. Over time the springs could experience slip and not return to their original length. FWIW.
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