Jump to content

Mixed use of Balloon guns and 303 Vickers


Recommended Posts

I just came across this picture:

450px-Eddie_Rickenbacker.gif

 

It seems to me that this is a mixed arrangement of Vickers 11 mm and (left) and a 303 caliber Vickers.

 

As I was looking for more details and higher resoultion of that picture, I came across Ian McCollum's youtube channel where he is talking about the Vickers 11 mm and he is also assuming that there is a mixed arrangement on Eddies SPAD.

Spoiler

 

 
Anyone has more info on that? Was this common? So far it was never an option neither in RoF or FC.
 
 
 
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

It’s fairly academic right now as the FC balloon guns don’t seem to have incendiary properties modelled, and aren’t any better at busting balloons. They seem to operate like a heavier AP round. I’d prefer the incendiary effect and see more flaming fuel tanks + burning balloons than a larger MG. You have to aim for the meat and metal for the Fokkers we have in game right now anyway as they’re insanely tough. Would be nice to see a few more cook.

  • Upvote 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, ZachariasX said:

Anyone has more info on that? Was this common? So far it was never an option neither in RoF or FC.

 

Yes, I have wartime notes somewhere on my PC about how the standard arrangement was 1x balloon gun and 1x .303. 2x balloon guns seem to have been the exception, though there is a SPAD 13 in an American museum that's equipped with 2x balloon guns. 

  • Thanks 1
  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, US93_Rummell said:

It’s fairly academic right now as the FC balloon guns don’t seem to have incendiary properties modelled, and aren’t any better at busting balloons. They seem to operate like a heavier AP round. I’d prefer the incendiary effect and see more flaming fuel tanks + burning balloons than a larger MG. You have to aim for the meat and metal for the Fokkers we have in game right now anyway as they’re insanely tough. Would be nice to see a few more cook.

 

I think that would be maybe something to add once we get incendaries for the BMG? But it was really more out of academic curiosity that made me ask.

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

It was common to arm one gun of balloon buster with incendiary rounds for balloon busting, other with standard rounds for air combat. Because using these incendiary rounds against aeroplanes would be war crime and all that (which is also reason why I hope too never see them modelled; I don't want this to be a war crime simulator, TYVM).

Edited by J2_Trupobaw
Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, J2_Trupobaw said:

It was common to arm one gun of balloon buster with incendiary rounds for balloon busting, other with standard rounds for air combat. Because using these incendiary rounds against aeroplanes would be war crime and all that (which is also reason why I hope too never see them modelled; I don't want this to be a war crime simulator, TYVM).

Technically it wouldn't be a war crime simulator if the SPADs armed with balloon guns were American, as we weren't invited by the rest of Europe to ratify the Saint Petersburg Declaration of 1868 that explicitly banned use of any projectile of a weight below 400 grams, which is either explosive or charged with fulminating or inflammable substances. 

In this case I would love to see the balloon guns model proper incendiary characteristics as long as they are only used by historically American groups, because they were allowed to.

Edited by RearCoomer
Weird text sizes idk why *shrug*
  • Thanks 1
  • Haha 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, J2_Trupobaw said:

Because using these incendiary rounds against aeroplanes would be war crime and all that 

 

10 minutes ago, RearCoomer said:

as long as they are only used by historically American groups, because they were allowed to.


Bring on the Incendiaries! 

The 11mm/7mm combo is a mod I always wished the SPAD XIII had, along with twin Marlins. It would be fun to bind the 11 and 7 separately for alternating between balloon busting and A2A fighting. There's no way that players wouldn't use the incendiaries against planes, though. 

They were historically used in A2A engagements (an incident springs to mind where a green pilot from the 22nd USAS brought down, IIRC, three Fokkers in flames within seconds of each other using incendiaries), but as the game currently stands (Somewhere caught between historical accuracy and gameplay balance) incendiaries vs aircraft might be a bit much...

Link to post
Share on other sites
40 minutes ago, RearCoomer said:

Technically it wouldn't be a war crime simulator if the SPADs armed with balloon guns were American, as we weren't invited by the rest of Europe to ratify the Saint Petersburg Declaration of 1868 that explicitly banned use of any projectile of a weight below 400 grams, which is either explosive or charged with fulminating or inflammable substances. 

In this case I would love to see the balloon guns model proper incendiary characteristics as long as they are only used by historically American groups, because they were allowed to.


They were banned by Hague Convention as " Bullets which can Easily Expand or Change their Form inside the Human Body" (duh!), since until 1920s firing on aeroplane was considered same as firing on personnel inside. Which US ratified in 1907. But even if US were not signatory to laws and customs of war and even if historical US troops were committing war crimes left right and center, a war crime is still a war crime and should not be recreatable in game. Same as I wouldn't want option of player involvement in slavery or rape even if game is set in times when they were considered perfectly ok.

The round we fire in game magically transfer into  incendiary when they hit a balloon anyway (puncturing a balloon with fmj bullets had zero effect, you had to ignite the hydrogen rather count on itto escape by few tiny holes). So, the current situation is a win-win. 

The thing that really bothers me in the photo is, it illustrated how the double synchronised guns were used as two separate weapons - second gun was introduced as backup in case of jam - rather than way to double lead density in air. Unlike current game where you can't choose to fire just one of them.

Edited by J2_Trupobaw
  • Haha 2
  • Upvote 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey man, 

 

You realize that this is not WWI right? I mean, walk outside and see it's not 1918 and you're not an actual WWI fighter ace. 

 

[edited] 

 

I think you need to step away from the front...

Edited by SYN_Haashashin
Language
  • Thanks 1
  • Upvote 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
38 minutes ago, J2_Trupobaw said:


They were banned by Hague Convention as " Bullets which can Easily Expand or Change their Form inside the Human Body" (duh!), since until 1920s firing on aeroplane was considered same as firing on personnel inside. Which US ratified in 1907. 

 

This declaration as part of the 1899 Hague Convention actually was not ratified by the United States, although it would not matter because 11mm Gras was not a form changing bullet in the first place. This declaration specifically banned "soft-point" and "cross-point" bullets.
Along with the US not contracting to this declaration, they are not required to abstain from the use of such projectiles. Which can be found in line 5 of the declaration as found here: https://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/dec99-03.asp
 


Here is a picture of an 11mm Gras round (Far right)  As you can clearly see, no partial jacket, no crossed tip. Just 95% lead 5% antimony alloy pressed into shape.
Chassepot-Gras cart.jpg

Not really sure if that qualifies as a "Duh!"
Thanks, partner.

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, US93_Rummell said:

It’s fairly academic right now as the FC balloon guns don’t seem to have incendiary properties modelled, and aren’t any better at busting balloons. They seem to operate like a heavier AP round. I’d prefer the incendiary effect and see more flaming fuel tanks + burning balloons than a larger MG. You have to aim for the meat and metal for the Fokkers we have in game right now anyway as they’re insanely tough. Would be nice to see a few more cook.


I do think some incendiary modeling is there. I recently came under attack from a particular SPAD pilot using balloon guns twice on two separate days. I got set afire both times. 🔥😬

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, ZachariasX said:

Anyone has more info on that? Was this common? So far it was never an option neither in RoF or FC.

 

Ok, here we go: it's an excerpt from the experiences of pilots assigned to the 27th Aero Squadron:

 

Capture1.JPG.3d00d965dc79ddc002927eb699e6dd9f.JPG

Capture2.thumb.JPG.1bec39a658b71a0c396502ecc7bb5d4e.JPG

Edited by LukeFF
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 3
  • Upvote 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

To the OP, it was very common.

13 minutes ago, JG1_Hotlead_J10 said:


I do think some incendiary modeling is there. I recently came under attack from a particular SPAD pilot using balloon guns twice on two separate days. I got set afire both times. 🔥😬

 

As someone who alternates balloon guns and .303 daily, it's hit or miss.

 

 

Screenshot_116.png

  • Haha 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, LukeFF said:

Ok, here we go: it's an excerpt from the experiences of pilots assigned to the 27th Aero Squadron:

Oh wow, thanks Luke!

 

There's indeed more to balloons than meets the eye. I wonder whether it might be worth the while giving the balloon a suitable DM. The balloon was after all the most important target of them.

 

What is also impressive is their stated distances. I mean a SPAD will go at 50 m/s in minimum when attacking a balloon. When the dive on the balloon, they open fire 2 sec. before impact (of the pilot) on said balloon. 1 sec before impact, he fires the 11 mm Vickers aiming for the same spot where he perforated the bag before with the ball rounds. This gives one sec. for firing and breaking off. I think that is all a bit close. all.

 

They mention that the hydrogen would be residing promarily in the upper part of the bag, indicating that they were not uniformly filled. Is there a technical reason for that? Or just more of a practical one to add some reserves for the troops in the field? Isolating hydrogen is not that hard. Filling the bag with a mixture of air and hydrogen just requires Ithe bag to be larger. Good for myoptic pilots.

 

In this sense, the bag should have two DM zones, one upper part that is potentially inflamable and a lower part that is largely immune to bullets, as bullet holes release only faint amounts of gas and you can always winch down the balloon before it "falls down".

 

But still, the DM for the upper part could have such logic. It primarily would have a low chance if getting on fire when just shot with any ammo. But the chances of setting it on fire would increase drastically in proportion to incendary hits next to previous hits of any type. The higher the number of previous hits, the higher the chance of a later hit to set it on fire.

Conversely, if you were to shoot at the balloon with just incendaries at a single location on the hydrogen filled upper part, the first round would have a very low chance of setting the bag on fire, while with every following bullet that hits the balloon in that location, chances of fire would drastically increase. As both 11 mm and 7 mm rounds make the same hole for practical purposes, being able to shoot twice the rounds with the 7 mm gun would actually give that a lot of purpose, even for balloon hunting in the game.

 

We get the DVD at some point. One should make a DTD, a dynamic terminal damage, for balloons. I really think that the most important target in WW1 air warfare would deserve some love in the DM department.

 

  • Upvote 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
43 minutes ago, ZachariasX said:

We get the DVD at some point. One should make a DTD, a dynamic terminal damage, for balloons. I really think that the most important target in WW1 air warfare would deserve some love in the DM department.

 

Too bloody right mate! The DM of the gasbags is, to be candid, crap.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd like the option to remove a Vickers from Camel, the Belgians flew with only one to increase overall performance. Plus there weren't that many available to begin with.

 

Coppens used 11mm Vickers on his Hanriot (🍺) whereas the rest used .303 — but he was obviously going after balloons. He also scored two air kills during his balloon busting career, and the unit as a whole was not in the habit of claiming kills scored behind enemy lines. Make of that what you will.

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, ZachariasX said:

Oh wow, thanks Luke!

 

There's indeed more to balloons than meets the eye. I wonder whether it might be worth the while giving the balloon a suitable DM. The balloon was after all the most important target of them.

 

What is also impressive is their stated distances. I mean a SPAD will go at 50 m/s in minimum when attacking a balloon. When the dive on the balloon, they open fire 2 sec. before impact (of the pilot) on said balloon. 1 sec before impact, he fires the 11 mm Vickers aiming for the same spot where he perforated the bag before with the ball rounds. This gives one sec. for firing and breaking off. I think that is all a bit close. 

 

 

I would not take those range estimates very seriously at all, especially if you are supposed to be aiming for the same points using two different guns in succession.  Much more likely that the pilot would open up with both guns as soon as he thought he could hit the balloon. If you cannot hit a target the size of a balloon at 300m you need your eyes tested. 
 

Of course we should have incendiary bullets - everyone used them by late 1917. Their alleged illegality was questionable even at the time and made moot by practise, as international law follows common law principles.   I am not sure if we will though: quite why incendiary effects seem to be so difficult to build in (see the .50 cal API controversy) I have no idea. Not sure if there is something deep in the GB code that only allows HE and AP categories, or what. I would pay for them as a DLC. 

 

If anyone thinks they are immoral, they do not have to use them.

 

  

  • Thanks 1
  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

My understanding was the RFC and maybe later the RAF did not regularly use incendiary ammunition for air to air combat.  One combat report from 46 Squadron in late April 1918 mentions D. R. MacLaren attacking two balloons during a patrol and being unable to destroy them since he wasn’t carrying Buckingham ammunition.  Winged Victory also mentions incendiary ammunition only being carried during attacks on balloons.

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Have there been records about using Buckingham 7 mm incendary rounds against Balloons? Or did the general finding that 7 mm rounds are not all that effective against balloons include Brock, Pomeroy and Buckingham tracer/incendary rounds?

 

I mean, If they were effective, then why wouldn‘t you use a caliber that not only allows you to carry almost twice the rounds as well as being interchangable with standard ball rounds? Vickers just having surplus of these guns for not being able to deliver to Russia can‘t be a reason you‘d put dead weight on a plane if there was an alternative.

 

To me it seems that 7 mm incendaries were more effective on the moral of the shooter than on the victim. Buckingham made effort to hide the fact that his 7 mm rounds were incendaries, so they felt a bit bad about using them. But I have yet to see any significant change in the success quota of bringing down enemies.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Miners said:

My understanding was the RFC and maybe later the RAF did not regularly use incendiary ammunition for air to air combat.  One combat report from 46 Squadron in late April 1918 mentions D. R. MacLaren attacking two balloons during a patrol and being unable to destroy them since he wasn’t carrying Buckingham ammunition.  Winged Victory also mentions incendiary ammunition only being carried during attacks on balloons.

 

My understanding is that they did, although there might well have been occasions when they did not, or even some squadrons where practise varied.  Best source I have found supporting this is the official Australian history of WW1 as quoted in this Aerodrome thread, (I have been unable to get an original copy), which gives the the typical belt/drum mix, which differed by squadron.  If the Australian units were using it as a matter of routine, you can be sure that many if not all RAF units were too, since they shared the same command and logistics chain. 

 

http://www.theaerodrome.com/forum/showthread.php?t=49899 

2 hours ago, ZachariasX said:

Have there been records about using Buckingham 7 mm incendary rounds against Balloons? Or did the general finding that 7 mm rounds are not all that effective against balloons include Brock, Pomeroy and Buckingham tracer/incendary rounds?

 

I mean, If they were effective, then why wouldn‘t you use a caliber that not only allows you to carry almost twice the rounds as well as being interchangable with standard ball rounds? Vickers just having surplus of these guns for not being able to deliver to Russia can‘t be a reason you‘d put dead weight on a plane if there was an alternative.

 

To me it seems that 7 mm incendaries were more effective on the moral of the shooter than on the victim. Buckingham made effort to hide the fact that his 7 mm rounds were incendaries, so they felt a bit bad about using them. But I have yet to see any significant change in the success quota of bringing down enemies.

 

MvR's rounds per kill dropped sharply in the period after which he is known to have started using incendiary/explosive rounds, a large proportion of the later kills on fire. There may have been other factors: fewer pusher types with bullet absorbent engines, for example, but the over all trend is dramatic, as shown in my earlier thread. (See chart).

 

642227882_MvRRoundsUsed.thumb.JPG.8c9e84430d7905f983c7e75457612c7e.JPG


Incendiaries start fires in aircraft much more easily than ball rounds, that is just a fact amply demonstrated by extensive WW2 era experiment. If it was true then, it was even more true for unarmoured, doped linen and wood planes, without self sealing fuel tanks. 

Edited by unreasonable
  • Thanks 1
  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/31/2021 at 12:33 AM, J2_Trupobaw said:

They were banned by Hague Convention as " Bullets which can Easily Expand or Change their Form inside the Human Body" (duh!), since until 1920s firing on aeroplane was considered same as firing on personnel inside. Which US ratified in 1907. But even if US were not signatory to laws and customs of war and even if historical US troops were committing war crimes left right and center, a war crime is still a war crime and should not be recreatable in game. Same as I wouldn't want option of player involvement in slavery or rape even if game is set in times when they were considered perfectly ok.

 

Balloon guns on every SPAD are a crime against humanity. Parachutes in every Central plane are a crime against history.

  • Thanks 2
  • Haha 2
  • Upvote 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Is there an "enslavement and rape MOD," for FC? 

 

The big problem is you can't shoot either of your guns individually with their own triggers like in real life. 

 

I think it would be rather easy for someone to MOD the .303 and 11mm configuration. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

As a point of interest, Talbot's been digging through the historical USAS reports while looking up some stuff on the 22nd Aero Squadron, and there is quite a lot of mentions of incendiaries being used VS. enemy aircraft. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, unreasonable said:

My understanding is that they did, although there might well have been occasions when they did not, or even some squadrons where practise varied.  Best source I have found supporting this is the official Australian history of WW1 as quoted in this Aerodrome thread, (I have been unable to get an original copy), which gives the the typical belt/drum mix, which differed by squadron.  If the Australian units were using it as a matter of routine, you can be sure that many if not all RAF units were too, since they shared the same command and logistics chain. 

 

Well, you'd expect that of uncivilised convicts and uncouth criminals with no idea of fair play and chivalry like the Oxford rowing eight and Lord Dudley.

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, ST_Catchov said:

 

Well, you'd expect that of uncivilised convicts and uncouth criminals with no idea of fair play and chivalry like the Oxford rowing eight and Lord Dudley.

 

The uncivilised behaviour in this case consisting of admitting, officially, to using the things against aircraft, rather than the fact of their use.  Civilised peoples understand the necessity of hypocrisy.

 

Tripadvisor is perhaps best placed to comment on Lord Dudley.     "Without fear of contradiction the worst Yorkshire puddings I have seen on a plate (was it cooked the day before and reheated?, a potato clearly baked not roasted (and I use the singular), beans given a rather brief introduction to hot water.... and what was a red pepper slice doing on a roast dinner??!!!"

 
About Oxford rowing eights, the less said the better.  
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, unreasonable said:

About Oxford rowing eights, the less said the better.  

 

Says the Cambridge man!

Btw; boat race is on the very scenic Great Ouse on Sunday 🤪

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/2/2021 at 5:50 PM, DD_Arthur said:

 

Says the Cambridge man!

Btw; boat race is on the very scenic Great Ouse on Sunday 🤪

 

Thanks for the reminder... two excellent races this year. Perhaps they should stay on the Great Ouse every year! 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Its a game. In other games you can chop off limps with a sword or shoot players to pieces with a tank round. You can shoot wounded soldiers calling for a medic in Squad/PS. I dropped tons of bombs on civilian buildings for practice in all combat simulation games I played so far. I am still shooting down the AAR-planes in DCS after the x-th try. Playing as a german/russian in ww2 games should be questionable aswell.

 

I would love to get them as an option. Mission-makers can exclude them id they want to.

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/6/2021 at 3:03 PM, J2_Oelmann said:

Its a game. In other games you can chop off limps with a sword or shoot players to pieces with a tank round. You can shoot wounded soldiers calling for a medic in Squad/PS. I dropped tons of bombs on civilian buildings for practice in all combat simulation games I played so far. I am still shooting down the AAR-planes in DCS after the x-th try. Playing as a german/russian in ww2 games should be questionable aswell.

 

I would love to get them as an option. Mission-makers can exclude them id they want to.

Couldn't agree more. I always find complaining about possible war crimes or violence etc. a bit of a moot point in a game of which a huge part consists of fighting for misters Hitler and Stalin.

 

Any weapon or combination of weapons that was historically used in some quantity is something I'd love to see. But I don't think I can remember any loadout option being added after a plane was already released, so I fear we'll have to do without...

Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Pilots of No. 87 Squadron, including Arthur Vigers, experimentally fitted some [Dolphins]with two forward firing, unsynchronized Lewis guns mounted on top of the lower wing, just inboard of the inner wing struts.[1] These guns could fire incendiary ammunition, which could not be used with the synchronized Vickers guns.[28] 

Quote


The various .303 HE/incendiary bullets used in WW1 were not in fact normally used in Vickers MGs because when gun stopped firing, a fresh round was left in the chamber. After a long burst of firing the chamber became so hot that the sensitive bullet might "cook off" and explode in the gun. So for this and other reasons, this type of ammo was normally used in top-wing mounted Lewis guns which left the chamber empty at the end of each burst.


@ZachariasX

If it's true that .303 Vickers were not used to fire incendiaries, this would explain use of balloon guns as, well, balloon guns, and explain all the bizzare Lewis mountings we see on British Home Defence planes. It would also explain the setup on photo - one gun for balloons, one for aeroplanes.

(It would also put most of in-game Entente balloon busting with .303 Vickers in realm of fantasy...)

Here's the discussion on incendiaries and guns that used them. The main appeal of 11mm round was that it could carry more incendiary material while encasing it better to make it less sensitive to cook off, punched bigger holes in the gasbag speeding up the hydrogen / oxygen mixture and ignition, and had better range (balloon is big stationary target). The round was developed for anti-balloon 11mm Hotchkiss guns, then 11mm Vickers was rechambered to use this round.

And oh, the rounds they called "incendiaries" back then were just tracers by todays standards;  incendiary rounds in modern sense were developed after the war. Apparently a tracer is enough to ignite hydrogen / oxygen mix (surprise).


http://www.theaerodrome.com/forum/showthread.php?t=40077

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/11×59mmR_Gras#"Balloon_buster"

Edited by J2_Trupobaw
Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, J2_Trupobaw said:

@ZachariasX

If it's true that .303 Vickers were not used to fire incendiaries, this would explain use of balloon guns as, well, balloon guns, and explain all the bizzare Lewis mountings we see on British Home Defence planes. It would also explain the setup on photo - one gun for balloons, one for aeroplanes.

 

They for sure were allowed and used. But I guess you allow things given what you have on hand as next best solution to your main problem.

 

I quote from here, page 42:

https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/documents/Research/RAF-Historical-Society-Journals/Journal_45_Seminar_conventional_weapons.pdf

 

[...] Initial work was in larger-calibre guns simply because the bullets were bigger, but this was soon replaced by ·303" ammunition. Some types of incendiary, such as the Buckingham which contained a phosphorous/aluminium mixture, were ignited on firing and burned slowly throughout their flight leaving a smoke trail, while others ignited on impact. The Pomeroy or PSA explosive bullet contained nitro-glycerine and was purely explosive, but the Brock, which contained potassium chlorate, and the RTS (Richard Threlfall and Sons) with both nitro-glycerine and phosphorous, had both explosive and incendiary effects, so were known as HEI bullets. Some of these bullets had Cordite propellant (so-called because it was extruded into cords), others had nitro powder. Use of these bullets was initially somewhat hazardous as the early versions had a reputation for

premature detonations, and elaborate handling precautions were required.
These bullets were at first reserved for home defence, partly because they were needed to combat the German airships attacking British cities and partly because of concerns that they were technically illegal (explosive/incendiary bullets were banned as inhumane by international agreement). However, they were used by both sides, and after the war it was recognised that they were acceptable as they were intended to be used against aircraft rather than people. [...]

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, J2_Trupobaw said:


@ZachariasX

If it's true that .303 Vickers were not used to fire incendiaries, this would explain use of balloon guns as, well, balloon guns, and explain all the bizzare Lewis mountings we see on British Home Defence planes. It would also explain the setup on photo - one gun for balloons, one for aeroplanes.

(It would also put most of in-game Entente balloon busting with .303 Vickers in realm of fantasy...)

Here's the discussion on incendiaries and guns that used them. The main appeal of 11mm round was that it could carry more incendiary material while encasing it better to make it less sensitive to cook off, punched bigger holes in the gasbag speeding up the hydrogen / oxygen mixture and ignition, and had better range (balloon is big stationary target). The round was developed for anti-balloon 11mm Hotchkiss guns, then 11mm Vickers was rechambered to use this round.

And oh, the rounds they called "incendiaries" back then were just tracers by todays standards;  incendiary rounds in modern sense were developed after the war. Apparently a tracer is enough to ignite hydrogen / oxygen mix (surprise).


http://www.theaerodrome.com/forum/showthread.php?t=40077

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/11×59mmR_Gras#"Balloon_buster"


Phosphorus rounds are not "just tracers".

 

The Vickers chambered for 11mm were purely a French order: the French already produced an 11mm round for their older model Gras rifle, still in some use in WW1, so it was relatively easy for them to produce an incendiary round in this calibre. The US used them since they were using unwanted French equipment. Contra wikipedia, It was never used by the British AFAIK, who did not produce this ammunition. If there is a source that says otherwise I would be happy to change my mind on that. But certainly the bigger the better for incendiary or HE use.


What you want with a tracer is light with minimum smoke, which is why modern tracers use a magnesium base plus a colouring salt. The amount used is the absolute minimum required to give the light for a desired flight time. The Buckingham round used phosphorus, still used as an incendiary today in bombs etc, but not as a tracer: too much smoke. WW1 phosphorus rounds were most definitely an incendiary and designed as such. I have not yet found a description of the 11mm incendiary round, but I expect that was phosphorus as well.

 

For air use, thermite  is certainly better as an incendiary, as the entire payload is delivered on target rather than burning up in flight, but only on a target hard enough to splat the nose to initiate the reaction, which linen covered aircraft and balloon covers might not have done. It was also harder to make the rounds. AFAIK the de Wilde bullet and similar were the first to use this reaction in rifle calibre bullets, the much longed for .50 cal API was the same construction.  

 

(Both the UK's Brock and Pomeroy bullets and the German composite HEI rounds (about which details are hard to find) contained  HE filler. The Brock's HE was potassium chlorate, the Pomeroy nitroglycerine. )

 

As for how they were used I refer you again to the extract from the Australian Official History in the previous link. My reading is that only the HE bullets were not used through the propeller by the RAF, but it is possible that using Buckingham in Vickers guns was restricted. We also know for a fact that the GAF used it's own phosphorus HEI rounds through the propeller: not only did MvR complain about the results when they malfunctioned, but combat reports from a US pilot clearly indicate being fired at by these rounds from a Fokker DVII. And of course the French/US balloon gun on a SPAD is also firing it's 11mm incendiaries through the propeller. 

 

Many German pilots shot down entente balloons firing incendiaries from standard MGs through the propeller. If they could do it, the idea that .303 Vickers armed planes could not have done the same is ludicrous.  Here from wiki an example. I am not vouching for its accuracy, but someone was shooting down entente balloons, they cannot all have been blue on blue!

 

Röth was assigned to command Jagdstaffel 16 on 8 April 1918, just four days after the previous Staffelführer, Heinrich Geigl, died in a midair collision with a Sopwith Camel.[6] During this assignment, he established a reputation as a modest idealist, pious and courageous.[4][6] By this time, he had begun scrupulous planning of his raids on balloons, spending hours studying potential target balloons through a telescope. He also loaded his guns to maximize effectiveness against balloons; his left-hand machine gun would be loaded with 80 percent incendiaries and 20 percent armor-piercing, and the right-hand gun vice versa. As his new unit used Pfalz D.IIIa fighters, Röth may have used one occasionally.[7] At this time, Röth was known to fly an Albatros D.V marked with his personal livery overlaying the standard markings.

 

Edited by unreasonable
  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, unreasonable said:

And of course many German pilots shot down entente balloons firing incendiaries from standard MGs through the propeller. If they could do it, the idea that .303 Vickers armed planes could not have done the same is ludicrous.

 

There is a Cross & Cockade article about James Glen in 9 Squadron RNAS that includes some quotes from someone's diary and one of these mentions Buckingham and Sparker tracer on their Camels.

 

image.png.15d136868b5330cd502e2d697edad0f5.png

Edited by Oliver88
  • Thanks 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, unreasonable said:

 

Many German pilots shot down entente balloons firing incendiaries from standard MGs through the propeller. If they could do it, the idea that .303 Vickers armed planes could not have done the same is ludicrous.  Here from wiki an example. I am not vouching for its accuracy, but someone was shooting down entente balloons, they cannot all have been blue on blue!

 

 

 


Germans were not using  Buckingham but their own 7.92 ammunition (and did mention problems with their incendiaries cooking off, but only in hot summer of 1918).  Buckingham was first developed in mid-1916 or earlier for fighting Zeppelins, back when British aviation MG of choice was still Lewis, and was finalised mid-1917 when synchronised Vickers just started seeing widespread use. IF Buckingham was designed with assumption it will be fired from open-bolt gun (a big if, but both round development timeline supports that), it could misbehave when used in closed bolt Vickers, leading to restrictions on its use. The Germans, OTOH, were using Maxim deriatives so their incendiaries had to be designed from ground up to use with closed bolt.

Now, the French. I admit I have no idea what they used in their Vickers (was it .303 rounds, and if so, did they get these from Britain or were they producing them just for aeroplanes?, or these Vickers rechambered for their 8mm Lebel round that are supposedly have existed?). But for whatever reasons, they decided that 11mm round developed for Hotchkiss married to a Vickers gun is a good combination for balloon busting weapon, and it did work as intended.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, J2_Trupobaw said:


Germans were not using  Buckingham but their own 7.92 ammunition (and did mention problems with their incendiaries cooking off, but only in hot summer of 1918).  Buckingham was first developed in mid-1916 or earlier for fighting Zeppelins, back when British aviation MG of choice was still Lewis, and was finalised mid-1917 when synchronised Vickers just started seeing widespread use. IF Buckingham was designed with assumption it will be fired from open-bolt gun (a big if, but both round development timeline supports that), it could misbehave when used in closed bolt Vickers, leading to restrictions on its use. The Germans, OTOH, were using Maxim deriatives so their incendiaries had to be designed from ground up to use with closed bolt.

Now, the French. I admit I have no idea what they used in their Vickers (was it .303 rounds, and if so, did they get these from Britain or were they producing them just for aeroplanes?, or these Vickers rechambered for their 8mm Lebel round that are supposedly have existed?). But for whatever reasons, they decided that 11mm round developed for Hotchkiss married to a Vickers gun is a good combination for balloon busting weapon, and it did work as intended.

 

I agree that the 11mm mod for the Vickers firing an incendiary round is a good gun for anti-balloon work: that is not in dispute. The issue is the suggestion that Buckingham incendiaries could not be, or were not, fired from .303 British Vickers, in which case the only RFC/RAF gun useful for anti-balloon work would be the overwing Lewis.

 

This is pure supposition, for which no evidence whatever has been presented.  In contrast, Oliver88 has just posted a diary extract giving details of the belting for Camels, including Buckingham and "sparklets" which was the contemporary jargon for tracers. From an Armaments Officer, no less. What more evidence do you want that Vickers .303 could and did fire Buckingham?

 

Here is a British balloon "ace" destroying balloons with Vickers.   

 

Woollett returned to combat in France in March 1918 with No. 43 Squadron, flying a Sopwith Camel. He achieved ten victories in March and was a triple ace by month's end. Beginning on 24 March, he began a series of 22 victories with Camel number D6402, making it one of the more successful airframes in the war.[1][12] Victories 14 and 15 were over observation balloons, considered highly dangerous targets due to their heavy anti-aircraft protection and fighter cover.[1]

Edited by unreasonable
Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course Vickers could and did fire .303 Buckingham, the ammunition was interchangable and the information on Buckingham misfiring in Vickers came from somewhere, so it had at least been tried. And of course, if the plane has only Vickers available and you want to go after the balloon, you used what you have, safe or not.

However, there's plenty of mentions it was considered unsafe and alternatives - such as 11mm Vickers, or improvised Lewis mounts - were explored whenever possible. 

Edited by J2_Trupobaw
Link to post
Share on other sites

I am glad we agree on the first part. 

 

Buckingham had not just "been tried" - by 1918 at the latest it was loaded as a standard part of the mix when available, including for Camel squadrons. 

 

I have not seen mention of Buckingham being particularly considered dangerous to use, let alone plenty of mentions, certainly by the time the design had matured and was in front line use in mixed loadouts. If someone has sources saying this, fine, let's see them. 

 

What was certainly dangerous, according to the Australian History, were the bullets with HE content, which the RFC/RAF did restrict to use only from guns not firing through the propeller. The danger is from prop strikes, not so much cooking off in the breech.  Why would a .303 Vickers firing incendiaries through the propeller be less safe than an 11mm Vickers firing incendiaries through the propeller? 

 

I have not seen primary source mentions of the RFC/RAF using 11mm Vickers either, although there may have been experiments with a borrowed gun and ammunition. If there were this would have been nothing to do with safety, more to see if a heavier round did make much difference.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...