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Early WW2 bomber ammo box

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I know this is an early WW2 bomber .50 cal ammo box. What is throwing me is the paint. I know this is US Navy medum blue as seen on the tri colored aircraft flying in 42-43. A PB4Y or PBY would of had box's like this, but did the Navy paint them or is this some sort of post war garage job? Note the paint is sprayed and at one time the lid was also painted, but that has worn away. My first thought was to remove the paint, but I think I should wait for opinions.

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I would not touch it. From an Ordnance view, a few points. The blue looks like Fed Standard blue, which denotes target practice. Frangible ammo was used in aerial gunnery training. Frangible rounds may have had a different FS color, not sure. More likely, be aware blue tipped ammo denoted incendiary rounds. The assumption it is incendiary rounds has certain problems also, not sure if the Air Corps or Navy linked all incendiary, it usually was a blue, black, red mix ( incendiary, AP, tracer) depending on the mission. The Army rarely issued blue tip ammo to ground troops, it was solely Navy / Air Corp ammo. Finding Navy, Aerial gunnery TMs will lead you to a definitive answer.

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I would not touch it. From an Ordnance view, a few points. The blue looks like Fed Standard blue, which denotes target practice. Frangible ammo was used in aerial gunnery training. Frangible rounds may have had a different FS color, not sure. More likely, be aware blue tipped ammo denoted incendiary rounds. The assumption it is incendiary rounds has certain problems also, not sure if the Air Corps or Navy linked all incendiary, it usually was a blue, black, red mix ( incendiary, AP, tracer) depending on the mission. The Army rarely issued blue tip ammo to ground troops, it was solely Navy / Air Corp ammo. Finding Navy, Aerial gunnery TMs will lead you to a definitive answer.

That is interesting! I did not know that. Thanks!!

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I just started looking, but I think your on to something.

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The box would have looked like this before the repaint.

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It turns out I have another box like the one I posted except it has the roller feed. I still have no idea what its from.

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Typical Air Corp belt :

"Although it was always possible in the field to assemble the belts with any specific belting sequences, a few official belting sequences for airborne use were defined. Early in 1942, the standard belting sequence for the U.S. Army Air Corps was 3 Armor Piercing M2 + 2 Incendiaries M1 + 1 Tracer M1. From early 1943 on, the belting sequence was standardized with that for ground use with 2 Armor Piercing M2 + 2 Incendiaries M1 + 1 Tracer M1. At the end of 1943, in an attempt to fight against more heavily armored German planes, the belting sequence was modified to incorporate Armor Piercing Incendiary M8 while still keeping some Incendiary M1, which was better suited against fuel tanks. Belting sequence was then 1 Armor Piercing Incendiary M8 + 1 Incendiary M1 + 1 Armor Piercing Incendiary M8 + 1 Tracer M1. Early in 1944, for the feeding of the numerous Brownings onboard heavy bombers, the proportion of Incendiary M1 was increased with 1 Armor Piercing Incendiary M8 + 1 Incendiary M1 + 1 Armor Piercing Incendiary M8 + 1 Incendiary M1 + 1 Tracer M10. In July 1944, a specific belting sequence was adopted for ground strafing with 4 Armor Piercing Incendiary M8 + 1 tracer M21."

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That was along the lines of what I was thinking, but let me cover why this is an early bomber ammo box and why what I really think may be correct. Very early in the war ammo chute feeds didn't cover all areas as seen in this photo. Waist gunners and nose gunners had ammo box's with no adapters for chute feeds because they didn't have chute feeds. Ammo fed directly out of the box to the M-3. In the early days the box's only held 200-250 rounds. If you burned up your ammo you would pull out of another box and reload your main box. That is why the last box I posted has rollers to guide the link ammo out and the other box has nothing. As the war progressed the box's got bigger and bigger and ammo chute feeds were throughout the bomber. Later ammo box's had hook ups to connect the feed chute.

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By the end of 1942 this basic configuration was used. The ammo box's would get larger and ammo chutes were placed in different configurations depending on the location of the box's.

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Now back to the early box's. This only held 200 rounds. 200 rounds is gone in a flash. It seems to me during this period of time it would be prudent to have box's that held different types of ammo for different targets. Incendiary rounds as stated do a great job of causing fires. So if you are going to hit a fuel laden target this would be a good round. The line up of what rounds were placed in a belt was developed over time. I think it possible in the early days they may have been experimenting with what worked best and that blue box could be how they knew at a glance what they were shooting. I have no proof of this. I'm just looking for a reason why that box may be blue. If anyone has anything solid, please share.

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Early in the war bomber crews were getting hit hard. 25 missions was your ticket home and for a long time that was mission impossible. As a result most first hand accounts of the early air war years are not found. I have to look at early 8th USAAF B-17 photo's to see all the field modifications made in an attempt to get crews home. What we think of as a standard WW2 B-17 is but the last version of the bomber. The early years are the wild west of trial and error, trying everything to make a better bomber and they are different than what we ended the war with.

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Excellent photos of the gunners and interior. Thank you for taking time to,post. On a footnote, I remember my father ( 86th Infantry wounded vet and a Legion Commander for years) driving a bomber gunner to a meeting, us kids in back, and listening to his stories...most I remember him saying " God, it was awful cold up there"......

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Excellent photos of the gunners and interior. Thank you for taking time to,post. On a footnote, I remember my father ( 86th Infantry wounded vet and a Legion Commander for years) driving a bomber gunner to a meeting, us kids in back, and listening to his stories...most I remember him saying " God, it was awful cold up there"......

Even how they mastered the cold transformed fast. They started with the F-1 Blue Bunny suit and leather flight gear early on then went to the F-2 system mid war then to the F-3 by late war. Every thing changed just about every year.

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