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.30 Mark I expendable boxes


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#1 jdmcomp

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 03:11 PM

I have come across an aluminum ammo can labeled as containing ammo for a Browning Machine Gun Caliber of 1906. It is shaped like the wood ammo cans of the First WW and Early WWII with the cutaway foot. Even has the groves for mounting on the tripod of 1917 or 1928. Cannot find a date as yet and do not know when or how this was used. I am looking for help in IDing this can. I have uploaded a picture as an attachment to this posting.

Can anyone help with an ID? Thanks in advance, John McP

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#2 robinb

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 04:07 PM

It's an experimental ammo can from 1918. Called the "expendable" can, it was meant to be used just once and discarded. The can was sealed with solder, so once the top was torn open, it couldn't be resealed. If it needs a new home, I have room for it.

#3 jdmcomp

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 04:42 PM

It's an experimental ammo can from 1918. Called the "expendable" can, it was meant to be used just once and discarded. The can was sealed with solder, so once the top was torn open, it couldn't be resealed. If it needs a new home, I have room for it.


Thanks, you may have something. On examination, what I thought was aluminum turns out to be steel, but must be coated with zink since there is no rust on the bare spots and the metal has the color of aluminum. The magnet test tells me that it is not AL. There does seem to be a trail of what would be a solder join around the top opening. The can is in very good shape with most of the lettering readable including the fact that it contained Remington ammo. Can you give me a source for you info? I would like to learn more about this can.

#4 robinb

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 05:23 PM

America's Munitions

#5 jdmcomp

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 02:11 PM

America's Munitions

Yep, that is the can. The picture is not too good but it is good enough. Pretty advanced work for 1918. Thanks for the lead and if anyone else is interested the book America's Munitions is available as a pdf download for free. Interesting read and no I have not read it all as it is long.

#6 ordnance

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 05:09 PM

Ammunition in the Mark I expendable boxes was loaded in 300-rd expendable belts. These were made from asphalt coated paper with a gauze covering and steel staples between the loops. Here's a photo of a pair of slightly different boxes and a belt with wire starter tab.

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More information can be found in some early Training Regulations, some of which was condensed in an article by Norm Hower and Frank Hackley in issue #456 of the International Ammunition Association Journal. TR1350-A, Infantry and Aircraft Ammunition, dated October 5, 1926, notes that 4 types of expendable boxes were made. The Mark I and Mark II were made of pressed steel and the Marks III and IV were made of wood. Each was made with provisions to attach it to the M1917 and M1918 tripods and all types were packed 4 to an expendable wooden crate. The only types of boxes I've ever seen or heard of surviving to today are the Mark I packages so I presume this was the most produced variety.

The ammunition packed in these disposable belts was classified as C-1, intended only for ground use and not aircraft. It is unknown if it was all ball loaded or if tracer was sometimes interspersed.

The purpose of all this development was to help preserve manpower and materiel in combat. The WWI period was a much less disposable era than we are used to today. The wooden chests and cloth belts were accountable items of issue in the TO and E of machine gun units. When belts were emptied at the front lines shooting at the enemy, they had to be returned to the rear to be reloaded by hand-cranked loaders fed from 20-rd paper boxes of ammo, then carried back up to the guns. All this effort took manpower off the battlefield and these belts and boxes were the first serious attempt by the Army to change this.

They really didn't work out that well and it wasn't until the middle of WWII that the convenience and superior logistics of disposable ammo cans and belts won out. Eventually though, the minor amount of steel and cloth lost in disposed belts and ammo cans became insignificant in the greater war effort.


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