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Post Info TOPIC: Reversed Bullet Debate


Legend

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Reversed Bullet Debate
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As discussed here

A longer clip from Trench Detectives has been posted on Youtube. It certainly demonstrates that the idea could work, but does it establish that it was used?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zxdNlVABH8



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Legend

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Yes it does show the feasibility - and the fact, recoded by Stern, that British nickel-steel plate was tested in 1916 for resistance to penetration by both standard "Mauser" (8x57JS) rounds and reversed-projectile ones with significantly higher penetration at 10 yards by the latter, leading to the plate specification actually used, makes it conclusive that it worked, I would say. But you look for primary sources to say the Germans actually used/tried that trick against tanks specifically? Whether they did or they didn't, the efficacy of reversed projectiles in the standard rifle certainly raised the hurdle in the armour thickness stakes.

All I can add is that an inertia bullet-puller is a simple and cheap device, easily manufactured (even in field workshops) and readily usable in the field to quickly prepare small batches of primed cases with recovered propellant for loading with reversed projectile rounds "on the run". The only drawback is that such home-made rounds would not be amenable to ejection unfired since the reversed projectile would tend to bind in the rifling as it is chambered where it would tend to stay if the case is extracted (spilling propellant all through the action and magazine).

Has anyone recorded the archive.org online source for Tanks, 1914-1918; The log-book of a pioneer (1919) by General Sir Albert Stern by the way? It is:

http://www.archive.org/details/tankslogbookofpi00ster

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Legend

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Newspaper report on reversed bullets. Acc to this, they predated Tanks.

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F10614FB3E5C13738DDDA10A94D9405B858DF1D3

Confirmation or propaganda?



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Legend

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Short answer, I don't know. Longer follows.

Well, the NYT account early in the period of hostilities is certainly hyped-up a little, reversed rounds of course cannot "know" their "proper" orientation and all the laws of physics would prevent them from doing anything about it even if they did. But an entirely believable scenario if there were small formations with time on their hands then they might try such a thing. I don't think accident and defective quality control at the manufacturing end would explain it but perhaps it is possible at least. It wouldn't take much for the idea to catch on for deliberate local use - shooting is full of myths, eagerly pursued, a seeming paradox in what is fundamentally a highly technical matter but that is human nature for you - the more technical, the more myths.

If it is pure propaganda then of course it might indicate the French were doing it themselves, whether or not the Germans were doing it as well (transference/attribution - the worst motives or behaviours attributed to an imperfectly appreciated enemy are, by and large, informed by the worst motives or behaviours of which we ourselves are capable - or when you criticise the character of someone you don't know then you surely reveal your own character, far less reliably do you show theirs).

"Necessity is the mother of invention" and while we appreciate at an intellectual level just what a crucible of invention the Great War was I think we are always going to be surprised at the emerging detail. In the parlance of (the nearly worthless) "Mythbusters", I vote a definite "plausible" for the dum-dum use. All sorts of things were happening with the (fairly) newly-adopted pointed spitzer projectiles and (perhaps) the quest to combine ballistic efficiency with the requirement to enlarge the wound channels they caused without quite breaching the Hague conventions. The troops themselves desperately need confidence in their weapons and are certainly not above a little modification and improvisation if there is the slightest chance it will improve their chances of survival or of hurting the enemy or of victory (in that order, on the whole).

But it is intriguing - it is a huge leap of imagination to apply an (earlier) improvised dum-dum (perhaps) to an armour-piercing purpose. Though we didn't have to wait for the tank to see armoured targets. Intuitively, one is at the opposite end of the scale of penetrating efficiency to the other. A bit of a conundrum to resolve then. But there was enough metal floating through the air and, in addition to the real process of chance discovery enhanced by a great many opportunities for observation, a sufficient number of informed and subtle minds were working on it's "improvement" to drive the "evolutionary" process to white heat. And of course the informed and subtle minds of one side unwittingly give ideas to their opposite numbers on the other side. Anyway, I think we think that we know we know that the British knew about improved AP performance of reversed rifle projectiles at short range.

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Legend

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Hi this extract is from "War surgery" (1915) by Delorme which can be found here and is very informative on many aspects of the physical effects of bullets....

http://www.archive.org/details/warsurgery00delorich

To my mind this refers to deliberately reversed bullets as well but there is no way of telling as a tumbling bullet would cause the same explosive effect...

Page 12

"The So-called Humanitarian Bullets.The modern
S and D bullets cause a considerable immediate mortality,
a fact often too little remembered by the surgeon who treats
the wounded in the rear. The fortunate influence exercised
by their pointed form and their small diameter is counter-
balanced by the frequency of their turning over ; this
widens the bullet's track from its aperture of entry to its
deep resting-place, and gives rise to contamination of the
wound by the foreign bodies carried in by the bullet.
Therefore S and D projectiles are not humanitarian."

Page14

"Explosive Bullets or Dum-Dum Bullets. At the
outbreak of every war there are always questions raised
with regard to the employment of dum-dum bullets. It
is so to-day. We have seen wounded men in the present
campaign concerning whom this old error has been brought
forward. The terrible injuries that have given rise to this
mistake differ so greatly in character from those usually
observed that it seems impossible to attribute them to the
action of a bullet which causes but very small apertures of
entry and of exit. This, however, is not so. In such cases
it is a question of explosive shots due to projectiles of very
high velocity becoming more or less broken up in their
course through the tissues. The fury with which our
soldiers have many times fallen on the enemy, and the fact
of their being hit by bullets from very short distances,
sufficiently account for these wounds that need no further
explanation.
Systematic use of explosive bullets would show a want of
common sense, because we rely on the effects of ricochetted
bullets, a ricochet occurring in the proportion of1 in 3 of
bullets discharged ; besides, an explosive bullet can no
longer hit a man if it has touched the ground, however
slightly."

some ofthismay be relevant as well...

http://landships.activeboard.com/t35817052/rifle-calibers/

http://landships.activeboard.com/t33385809/body-armour-and-helmets1920-book/

from "Military surgery of the zone of the advance 1918" can be found on the archive...

http://www.archive.org/details/militarysurgeryo00tarn

page65

"In other instances, due to faulty construction and other
causes, the component parts of the bullet may separate, the
jacket remaining in the wound while the core passes through
or the jacket may pass through and the lead core break up
into fragments or even fine lead dust. The German bullet,
having its base uncovered by the copper shell is frequently
wilfully reversed by the soldiers, so that it enters the body
base first.
About 33 per cent, of bullet wounds are caused by ricochet
or deformed bullets. Wounds caused by ricochet and
deformed bullets are less deep but always lacerated and hence
more serious as a rule than those made by a direct hit."

Its also the case that German papers reported the use of dum dums or reversed bullets by the British, I do believeI have read a personal account where this was case (reversed bullets)but am unable to locate it at the moment, in any case I have no dought that unsanctioneduse of reversed bullets was done and was certainly frowned upon by some, however its quite possible that this was in response to the belief that the other side did it first and probarbly because the effects of a richochet or tumbling bullet would be much the same to the ordinary soldier ... but this is mostly a personal view...

Cheers



-- Edited by Ironsides on Saturday 17th of December 2011 02:39:55 PM

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Legend

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Excellent stuff Ivor. Of course there was little point in reversing the Mk VII projectile for the British .303. it was particularly tail-heavy (due to its composite construction with an aluminium nose under the jacket and tended to "upset" (tumble) very readily on impact. Turn it around and you're undoing the designed-in bastardy. But try telling that to the troops once they've hit on a contrary notion. With or without a light nose, any relatively long projectile is only (barely) stable in flight.

Greater bullet length requires more stabilising spin which is a bit inefficient but boy, do those various round-nosed 6.5mm military types ever tumble when they hit at fairly close range! Docteur Delorme would have lost his monocle if not his lunch had he seen the effects of those up close. Well, I'm extrapolating from the Carcano (but I think it would be typical), having used one for hunting once upon a time and it was a far messier killer than any of the "full bore" military calibres with full jacket projectiles I also played around with at odd times.

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