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A question about WWII machine gun ammo belts


Old Marine
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Old Marine

What, if any difference is there between .30 and .50 caliber machine gun ammunition in cloth belts and the metal links.  Could those machine guns feed either belts?  Were the cloth belts just an older design and replaced by the metal links?  Or, were different belts required for use on specific models of the MGs?

 

I always thought they were interchangeable and the cloth belts were just older stock.  I have seen photos of the water cooled and air cooled versions of the .30 and .50 calibers with both the cloth and metal belts.  But I figured I would ask the experts.  Any information would be appreciated.

 

thanks

 

Dennis

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Brian Keith

Great question that I have wondered about myself. I've "assumed" the cloth were replaced by the disintegrating metal link belt because the metal was less likely to be affected by various climate conditions, cold, wet, etc. I've casually paged through some MG books and pages, but never really found a specific answer. I'm sure someone will have a better answer! I think that no matter what belt, the Browning MG (.30 or .50) could feed it.

BKW

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johnsonlmg41

Most beltfed guns started with cloth belts, then transitioned to metal links.  Both 30 cal and 50 cal.  Generally they are interchangeable with the metal links until some recent caliber conversions where the cloth belts would potentially work, but you need to get the cloth belt loader to load them properly.    Cloth belt loaders can be a "project" to get them to work and load belts correctly.  Length of a belt of ammo is infinite for metal links, vs only a couple sizes for 30.  I've only seen 50 round belt for 50 cal, but they do "link" together.  Loaders are common for 30 cal, but very rare for the .50.    Fact is I've been on the hunt for a .50 cal cloth belt loader for a decade, they are very rare.

I don't think cloth belts for the 50 made it very far into WW2, but the .30 cal belts were used fairly far in, and even made post war. thus they are plentiful today. 

Running and loading belts can be quite fun.  Have some strip loaders too for WWI guns.  Quite an experience running 100+ YO machines.  HTH

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Old Marine

Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge.  

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Doctorofwar

The book I’ve read that had the most information on different types of MG belts was the book “Kokalis on Machine Guns” by Peter Kokalis.  The book is really a large collection of articles he did for The Shotgun News dealing with Machine Guns but it gets deep into the mechanics- including belts of all types- cloth, non-disintegrating metal, disintegrating metal link, etc 

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