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Discussion Starter #1
Krag
Posted - 07/30/2004 : 2:00:18 PM
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I was recently speaking with Ian Skennerton who informed me that during WW2 Lightgow Arsenal rebarreled and modified Italian Carcanos and Breda LMGs to fire the .303 British cartridge. Some of the latter were supplied to the KNIL in the Dutch East Indies.



Atlpete
Posted - 07/30/2004 : 2:46:41 PM
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To quote Carson "I did not know that" I bet you Doc AV has one, maybe even our moderator? I'd be interested in how they contrast with standard 6.5x52 with regard to shooting characteristics as well as mechanism. Very interesting



Papa G
Posted - 07/30/2004 : 3:31:34 PM
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it was the Dutch M-95 Mannlicher that were converted.



Krag
Posted - 07/30/2004 : 4:14:09 PM
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Papa - yes they did those also. Ian said he examined samples of both rifles.



Papa G
Posted - 07/30/2004 : 7:47:55 PM
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if that is so how did the aussies over come the amount of 'smithing to make it work???

the M-95 Dutch was alot easier to convert.

i would like to know all the details how did they get to Australia from Italy to the final end use.



Krag
Posted - 07/30/2004 : 8:53:26 PM
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They were captured from Italian forces in Somalia and Ethiopia and the Brits sent them to Australia. The work was done at the Lithgow arsenal. Ian said he will be having a report on them on his website sometime in tnhe future.

I just finished reading (slowly, LOL) an article in the Dutch magazine SAM WAPENMAGAZINE in which they talked about the .303 Breda LMGs and even had photos of them in use with KNIL troops.



NebrHogger
Posted - 07/31/2004 : 12:50:54 PM
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The first question that comes to mind is the issue of clips. I'd very much like to see a pic of a Carcano so converted. SW



DocAV
Posted - 08/01/2004 : 4:53:29 PM
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With regard to the Italian rifle and LMG suypply to the Dutch: 10,000 Carcano rifles and carbines were supplied by the British via Australia in late 1941 after the collapse of AOI (Italian East Africa);These were in 6,5 Italian Calibre. I have a Indonesian re-stocked TERNI Long M91, using a handmade copy of the Dutch M95 Rifle stock, and still in 6,5 calibre.
The Documentation says (Australian External Affairs files dealing with Military Aid to KNIL) that the rifles simply transited Australia on their way to Batavia, and that the Italian Ammunition was supplied as well.
As to the Breda M1930 LMG, I have only come to the knowledge that these were supplied as well from AOI Captures, and probably North Africa as well.(The Dutch Web Page notes them as KNIL Weapons, but omits some of the Vickers suppled in .303 from the USA ( at the same time as the Johnson First delivery)

There was also mention( in this documentation) of the request by the Dutch Gov't in Exile (in Britain) for a complete factory from Australia to produce .303 Ammo, obviously for the KNIL Airforce and those weapons already in .303 ( the American Sourced Vickers) in NI.This was overtaken by the events of 1941, and the scarcity of cartridge machinery from Australia at the time.

Regarding Lithgow's involvement, the Aussie conversion of the M95(Dutch Mannlicher) Long Rifles to .303 is well documented (Base Ordnance Workshops in Sydney did the disassembly and re-assembly, and Lithgow did the boring re-rifling and re-chambering). These rifles were Lost at sea Nov-December 1941 ( Possible Japanese Submarine Action prior to Dec. 7th)

As to the "conversion" of the Carcanos and Breda guns, I would be of the opinion that Maybe some "prototype" work was done, but the difficulty in converting a "rimless" gun to a "Rimmed "Gun would be,
at that period of the War, an insurmountable obstacle for an already overworked SAF Lithgow...as was seen, the workload was already such that the Dutch Mannlichers were " contracted out" and only the barrel work was done at Lithgow.
The technical difficulty to convert the Breda, from a (relatively) Low Powered 6,5 Carcano cartridge, to the much more powerful .303 is in the realms of fantasy. The very nature of the hesitation Lock system used by the Breda gave difficulties of case separation and cook-offs with the 6,5 cartridge...imagine the disaster with a much more potent .303 round...also the technical problems of designing a completely new magazine with a large curve to accomodate the large diameter rim of the .303. Not for nothing the normal Italian LMG team carried FOUR (yes FOUR) spare barrels per gun into battle (Photos exist of Nth. African combat of Gun No.2 men carrying a back board with the four spare barrels... for cooling and the everpresent
ruptured case problem, due to (a) gritty chambers...the Breda used a Oil-squirt chamber lubrication and (b) the "unlocked" hesitation Lock, which allowed the chamber to open before the pressures had decreased sufficiently to allow the case body to "float" free and be extracted easily.(c) barreels also overheated easily, despite the fins, and this produced dangerous "cook-offs", usually before the bolt reached battery ( premature ignition).

Another thing is that there is very Little (NO) indication that the Breda guns were ever used by anybody in Indonesia, either during the Japanese Invasion, or by the INA ( the Indonesian Puppet army under the occupation,) or during the "Political Actions" (Post WW-II War of Independance.) None have shown up in Indonesia since 1949 either.They may still be in store at Bandoeng or Soerabaya, or just have been melted down as so much scrap metal.

On the other hand, the Japanese used widely and appreciated the Short KNIL Model Madsen LMG, in 6,5 Dutch, and these were widely re-issued to Japanese troops as far afield as the Solomons, along with re-labelled Dutch Ammo ( I have a complete 500 round Dutch Tin, with Japanese script on one side, Dutch on the other.)

Another mystery coming out of the back-rooms of Lithgow.



Krag
Posted - 08/02/2004 : 08:37:53 AM
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Ian has the info on an updated bulletin: http://www.skennerton.com/bb.html
 

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Below is what is on the link (noted above) www.skennerton.com

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".303 converted Carcano M91 long rifles in a rack (6 of) noticed recently at the Lithgow SAF Museum along with an Italian M94 carbine with folding bayonet, similarly re-chambered and re-bored for .303 British. Contemporary Dutch 6.5mm Mannlichers converted to .303 at SAF Lithgow for the Dutch East Indies, were reportedly sunk by the Japanese en route to the Dutch East Indies. These were the subject of an article which is now posted on our Archives page. The .303 Carcanos and .303 Mannlichers, both previously in 6.5mm calibre, are quite possibly related."
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I don't believe a rimmed .303 British round would work as a repeater in a Carcano. They would have to make a special "clip" to load the .303, and I don't believe the wider "clip" would fit in the narrow Carcano magazine well. A .303 conversion Carcano would probably have to be single shot like the German "HK" conversions.
Also the Carcano bolt face would have to be opened up to fit the .303 rim, this wouldn't leave much material.
David Franchi
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Dutch source

John Wall
Posted - 03/06/2005 : 07:51:26 AM
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Also on the subject of the use of captured Carcanos in Asia, there is an interesting 2 page section on Carcanos sent to the Dutch East Indies Army (the KNIL) in 1941 in "Nederlandse Vuurwapens: KNIL en Militaire Luchtvaart, 1897-1942" by Drs. G. de Vries and B. J. Martens
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Austrian Mannlichers and Italian Carcano in the Far East

DocAV
Posted - 03/07/2005 : 7:51:55 PM
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The Demilled [sc. Mannlicher M 1888] Rifle probably came out of India...the cross hole demilling at the receiver-barrel junction is typical of the demilling done to Ross Rifles, P14s and other rifles of "nonstandard" designs in the Indian Army, so that they could be used for drill purposes only.
I have about 6 Ross Rifles (1915 acceptance from Butt dates), all in near new condition internally, with a 5/16th inch hole drilled through the barrel shank, cutting through the chamber, from side to side; the rifles are "DP" stamped, and have an added "Indian" serial Number of later application (Ross Mk III Rifles were not serialled.. they had a "store" number on the butt only. Similar details on P14s, in DP condition, with a "TD" roundel in place of the Butt disc (which is filled in) The P14s and Rosses are also painted with alternate cream and red (barber) stripes on foprestock and Butt.

I have already "re-activated" one of these Indian Rosses, by removing the barrel, boring out the .303 chamber, fitting a pressed in sleeve of barrel steel, and re-chambering it. The sleeve is locked in by both solder and two grubscrews fitted to the 5/16th hole ( I use 3/8x24 screws, sitting in dimples in the sleeve to "lock" the sleeve in, then sweat the solder in place, and finally fine grind the screws flush with the barrel surface. A reblue of the repair finishes the job ( and of course proper headspacing of the chamber, to suit "Good" (as in true to spec) .303 ammo. With the almost NEW Bore ( I doubt some of these were even fired in WW I...no signs of Cartridge wear inside the mechanism, only "drill wear" on the bolt and external surfaces.)

Getting back to the Mannlichers, I would say that they were used initially by African or Indian troops in Garrison/Guard duties in Abyssinia in the 1941-42 period, and then ended up (along with all the rest of the captured Equipment) in India, the more modern rifles (M95s and Carcanos) and MGs, going to front line training ( Burma Front) and the rest to straight training units and guard duty in the boonies of India.

The KNIL (Dutch East Indies Army ) recieved some 10,000 Carcarno Rifles and Carbines, through Australia, in mid-1941; some Breda M30s were also delivered; Details of this shipment are to be found in collected Aussie Foreign Affairs documentation relating to contacts between KNIL and Civilian East Indies administration with Australia, on the supply of Rifles, Ammunition, conversion of M95 Dutch rifles to .303, and the supply of an entire .303 ammunition factory in 1941.

The Carcanos were delivered (I have a Terni M91 Long, in an Indonesian-made M95 Dutch-type stock, with a Blacksmith-made magazine...real Native Bubba Job). The .303 ammo was also delivered, but by the time things were in train to organise the .303 ammo factory, Pearl Harbour had intervened. This was also the cause of the loss of a Shipment of M95 Long rifles which had been rebored to .303 in Sydney and Lithgow in mid-1941, and were shipped in late November 1941...the ship NEVER arrived at Batavia, (Jakarta) its destination. (Victim of the Japanese 5th Column in Australia???).
Details of this conversion were found in the Lithgow and Army records, and the tooling found some 50 years later (chambering reamers and trial M95 barrels specially made for the project.)

So...maybe some of the last sources of Mannlichers (and maybe Carcanos) is India???? It is well known that the Austrian 247 grain Round Nose 8mm projectile lives on in the .315 Indian cartridge ( an 8mm/303 cartridge)...descendant of the original 8x50R ammo made by India to feed its (AOI) M95s during the bad days of 1942-43, when it looked like that Japanese would roll up India through Burma...

We can but hope...
Regards, Doc AV
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Asmara Ordnance Collection Point

Story
Posted - 03/02/2005 : 4:43:55 PM
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I don't know about the rebuilding in Italy after they were surrendered as war reparations by the Austro-Hungarians, but when the Italians surrendered A.O.I. the Commonwealth gathered up all the ordnance they could find for reissue to Allied units (one of the first U.S. unit, an ordnance company, helped run the Asmara facility).
The Indian Army received thousands of ex-Italian weapons for the units that were training up in 1941. You might want to check with the guys on the British board, see if any of the unit marks are Indian.



Story
Posted - 05/03/2005 : 09:48:39 AM
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PS - I know from researching US records that we sent an Ordnance Company (led by LTC Jarret, of Aberdeen Ordnance Museum fame) to Asmara after the fall of AOI. They were charged with invenitorying and reissuing all manner of Italian arms to Commonwealth units. The newer Indian units received Italian weapons for training.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
DocAV
Posted - 07/13/2005 : 9:54:00 PM

Tony and DMala: Labett in his "Cartridge Notes" (Guns Review- UK) published Photos of Indian-produced 8x50R, 6,5x52 and 8x59 Cartridges (Packet Labels) done by Khirkee Factory during WW II ( 43 and 44, I think).

This ammo was primarily for use by the Indian Army in training camps and for secondary use of the captured rifles around India, whilst all the available SMLEs etc, were directed to the Burma Front in 1942-44.
It is rumoured that during one of the initial Japanese advances into Northern Burma/Assam, even some M95 Mannlichers saw service against the Japanese, as Indian Units in training were caught up in the advance.

The Ammunition supply problems in India were immense, as the Several ammo factories were not only producing .303 and some captured calibres, but still making some older (& Obsolete) cartridges such as the .450 Martini and even .577 Snider, for the thousands of Border area native troops and guards.
US Signal Corps Photos of the Kachin and Karen Irregulars in Burma advised by British and US specialists, were mostly armed with Martini Henry Rifles, as well as the latest in M1 Carbines and Sten Guns.

As to the 7,35 calibre, except for a few "mistakes" in shipment of ammo ( 7,35 cartridges did show up in both North Africa and AOI, whether by "accident" or by deliberate sabotage intent is unknown), outside of some "field trials" in 1939-40, no issue of 7,35 calibre weaponry (Fucile Corto, Moschetto, Mitragliatrice Breda M38) was done south of the Mediterranean.



TonyE
Posted - 07/14/2005 : 10:30:27 AM

Thanks Doc. I have details and drawings of all the Indian produced Italian ammunition in a 1945 copy of "ammunition notes" from Kirkee. I was interested if anyone had ever seen examples. I posted that entry at work so could not remember if the 7.35 was included.

My real query was about the Indian marked Vetterli, as I remember a post about it and I need the information again if poss.

Regards
TonyE
 
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