S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com ORDNANCE Continuation Page 4 keywords = ordnance Aberdeen Proving Ground Jarrett Churchill Yuma tank armor track history self-propelled artillery gun cannon rifle caliber calibre recoil HARP Maryland airplane bomb shell cartidge casing ammunition ammo FLZ Franz Langenhan Zella Mehlis Kropatschek Werndl Steyr Gras Lebel Colt Woodsman Comet Authenticast

Updated:  17 Mar 2020; 15:15  ET
[Page created 18 Dec 2006;

[original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
URL:  http://sbiii.com/ordnanc4.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/ordnance.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

S. Berliner, III's


ORDNANCE Continuation Page 4


INDEX (truncated):

On the main Ordnance page:

On the Ordnance Atomic Cannon Page:

On the Ordnance Continuation Page 0:

(combined here from the Main Page and Continuation Pages 1 and 2 on 18 Dec 2006).

On the Ordnance Continuation Page 1:
  MORE ORDNANCE APOCRYPHA (Moved from Ordnance Page 2 on 12 Feb 2002).

On the Continuation Page 2:

On the Continuation Page 3:
  CALIBER (Calibre).
  Anzio Annie.
  Russian Armor.

On this Ordnance Continuation Page 4:
  Drake Gun/Cannon
  Coastal Defense Guns at Fort Casey
  M274 Mechanical Mule (31 Oct 2008)
  M3 Medium Tank - Lee vs. Grant (01 Mar 2015)

On Ordnance Continuation Page 5:
  Arsenals (to follow)
  The Incredible M½ Ultralight Tank (06 Mar 2017).
  M3 Medium Tank Predecessor . new.gif (17 Mar 2020)
  Bow Machine Guns. new.gif (17 Mar 2020)

Ordnance Models Page:

Comet Metal Products Authenticast Models Page.


A correspondent asked on 18 Dec 2006 {edited}, "about how gun barrels were unjammed when misfires or shortfires occurred".  He had seen pictures of soldiers pounding wood/steel rods down the barrels, and hitting them with sledge hammers and wondered if there is "any history of whether anybody survived such events?" and "how does one unjam a 40mm thru 155mm or thereabouts?"  That's a very good question; I don't really remember much about it.  Let's start with what I DO remember:

A "MISFIRE" occurs when a piece is fired but the projectile fails to exit the barrel because the powder does not ignite.  A "HANGFIRE" occurs when the powder does ignite, but burns incompletely and the projectile still doesn't exit.  A "JAM" occurs when everything else happens properly but the round gets stuck somewhere in the barrel (assuming, of course, that the barrel doesn't simply explode from the overpressure).

1.  In the "olden days", when unrifled barrels fired round shot, a misfire could often be overcome by repriming and firing again.  If that failed, the muzzle of the tube could be tilted below the horizontal and, with luck, the ball would roll out and the tube could be tilted up and water poured in to soak the powder so it could be extracted with a scoop (which in itself could be a projectile if the powder still ignited).  Should that also fail, a weird double corkscrew (called a "WORM") on the end of a rammer was inserted into the barrel through the muzzle and rotated to bite on the outer hemisphere of the ball and pull it out.  The slightest spark, from friction or residual heat or embers, could ignite the charge.

2.  15-40mm and up (through 120mm) brass cartridge weapons use a centerfire primer.  In case of a misfire, one waits a long while (I forget just how long) and then ejects the cartridge and, assuming the round is still in place, loads another cartridge and tries again.  Up through 76mm (possibly 90mm), the base of the round is inside the neck of the brass cartridge (just like in a .22, .30, .45; or .50 cal.).  90s and 120s have a tompion (a plug) in the mouth of the brass (to hold and protect the powder) and load the round and then the brass separately.

3.  For 155mm and larger pieces, the round is rammed and a bag (or bags) of powder, in increments for rough ranging, are placed in the breech.  A primer very much like a 30-30 cartridge, is placed in the back of the breechblock and ignited manually or electrically to fire the piece.  In case of a misfire, the first recourse, after waiting the requisite (very long) time, is to eject the primer, insert a fresh one, and try again.

Hydraulic rammers can push a jammed round out of the barrel; one sure doesn't want to pound on a live, fused round from the muzzle end!

So much for my memory; who out there can provide authenticated detail beyond this?

DRAKE (the gun/cannon) - [I had this posted under "HELP" oj the preceding page but it has long-since ceased to be a matter for help - moved here on 19 Dec 2006).]

A message asked about a DRAKE as being a cannon, yet not found on an extensive Web search, to which I replied that it was a correct artillery usage but that "I am 'shot down' to discover that there is no such listing in the indices of either my 1961 Britannica nor my 1911 "Scholar's Edition"!  It's not even in my Webster's Collegiate (my 2nd Edition Unabridged was still packed away then) nor in Roget's Thesaurus as a synonym.  Natheless, the word, to my recollection, is from 'draaken' (dragon, i.e. - fire-breathing) and I seem to recall it being primarily applied to Naval guns although I could be dead wrong there.  Some models actually had a muzzle (mouth) shaped like a dragon's (like some gargoyles).  I am reasonably sure I saw one (a gun, not a dragon or gargoyle) in the park outside the White Tower at the Tower of London."  [Mirror of question on my Naval and Maritime page.}

Now, I fully expect to be "shot down" by some true expert but would really like to get provenance and have the noted references (save the 11th Edition) amended.  O.K.; I did it myself, digging out both my 2nd and 3rd editions of the Webster's "Unabridged", in both of which "1drake" ("1archaic: DRAGON"), has a second meaning, "2 : a small piece of artillery of the 17th and 18th centuries." (of course I could have long-since gone to the public library to have found this!).

More to the point, however, is this from the Librarian at Fort Nelson, who doesn't "know the derivation of the term drake, but it hasn't anything directly to do with dragon mouth guns.  We do indeed have a 'dragon gun' on show at Fort Nelson that used to be at the Tower.  It is Burmese.  Western late medieval guns sometimes had dragon muzzles.  But for the meaning of the term 'drake' as a technical identification for a distinct type of gun you might like to read the attached note.", which reads, "The term drake has confused many students of artillery.  This is largely because, like much of the old terminology of arms and armour, the same word could have different meanings in different circumstances or dates.  The first reference [quoted in Blackmore, H L 1976 The Ordnance, London, HMSO p228] is from 1622 in the army of Prince Maurice of Nassau, with the first being brought to England in 1625.  They were subsequently made here {England} and an example of a culverin drake (5 inch calibre) was acquired by the Royal Armouries in 1984.  This cast iron gun was probably lost at the battle of Scheveningen in 1653 near to where it was recovered.  It bears the arms of the Commonwealth and was probably on board the Oak, which was sunk.  The gun is now on show at Fort Nelson.  There is a detailed account of it by Guy Wilson in Guns from the Sea in the International Journal of Underwater Archaeology 1988 Vol. 17.  The chief characteristic of the drake was that it was lighter than its typical name version.  It could be shorter but not necessarily and it could be 'taper bored' but not necessarily.  Taper bored (the alternative was 'home bored' meaning that the bore was a cylinder) described a bore that ended in a taper or conical form.  This could be seen as a good thing in a gun that was lighter than a 'normal' gun in that it would give a thicker wall at the breech where the powder ignited.  Drakes generally though, had to be fired with smaller powder charges in view of their lighter weight.  The advantage of the drake was the reduction of weight on board ship while for most purposes the reduced range was acceptable.  Their main period of service seems to have been about 100 years from about 1625." [For which I must be exceedingly grateful!]

More on this on the Naval and Maritime page.

Coastal Defense Guns at Fort Casey -

On Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, at Fort Casey, a naval coastal installation from before World War I, there are gun emplacements from 1912.  My sister and brother-in-law were there in late Sep 2007 on their way back from a motor home trip to Alaska,  She reports that there are tunnels everywhere to move ammunition, that it was much like being on the beaches of Normandy and looking up at the German breastworks.  It is situated up on a high bluff and guarded Puget Sound.  Fort Casey is now a historic park and the barracks and other buildings are part of a local college and used as a conference center.

FtCasey2 FtCasey3 FtCasey5

FtCasey6 FtCasey7 FtCasey8
(Sep 2007 photos by P. B. Ottens - all rights reserved)
[Click on thumbnailed pictures for larger images]

Wouldn't you think my sister would have more sense than to look into the muzzle of a 1903 10" gun?  Of course, it has no breech block, so I guess I'll have to forgive her.

(photo courtesy of T. Markarian - all rights reserved)

The M274 Mechanical Mule, a ½-ton 4x4 vehicle (the redoubtable Jeep was only a ¼-tonner) was really little more than a platform with a collapsible steering wheel and some pedals up front and a horizontally-opposed 4-cylinder pancake engine under the rear deck (originally).  It was one of my favorites when I was testing vehicles during a year's service ca. 1952-53 in the Automotive Section of the Ordnance Dept.'s Development & Proof Services at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland as a Certified Ordnance Proof Director.  A yarn about that appears on the main Ordnance page and I'm posting more here.   (31 Oct 2008)

Since the mule could be driven from alongside while the driver walked, I hit on the novel idea of showing a Congressional delegation how low the ground pressure was by driving a fully-loaded (half ton) mule over my own foot!  I wasn't even wearing safety shoes (a definite no-no!) and it wasn't in any way uncomfortable.

One of the Mule's features was that the steering wheel and column could be swung up and over such that the driver could lie on his belly and run the vehicle from the ground while being towed along, operating the accelerator, brake, and clutch by hand.  One guess who tested this odd method of conveyance (NOT on concrete and NOT in my own clothes, I assure you).

Terry Markarian, out in Hamilton, Montana, runs Mechanical Mules of America, Inc., where he has a collection of Mules and where he sells and services M274 Military and Army Mules.  A full history of the Mule is there and many pictures, some of which are reproduced here with Terry's kind permission; here. for example, is a view of three Army Mules, showing all four sides:

(photo courtesy of T. Markarian - all rights reserved)

Most of Terry's mules came from the U. S. Marine Corps's mothballed "fleet" of M274A5s and are equipped with a Hercules air-cooled opposed-twin (2-cylinder) engine that replaced the original Willys clunker (I had no trouble with the Willys engine under testing).  The Willys engine in the M274 and M274A1 developed problems in combat and was superseded, even to the point of retrofitting most of the Mules then in service.

There were several versions, the most basic only had a driver's seat; some had a passenger seat as well, and a Commander's version had FOUR seats, the rear two of which folded down for stowage:

MuleSnow MuleArmy2

CmdrMuleUp CmdrMuleDn
(photos courtesy of T. Markarian - all rights reserved)

The front seats had foot wells in the baskets up front but you couldn't really ride in the rear seats for more than five minutes before getting unbearably cramped (BELIEVE me)!

The snow isn't deep in the first picture above but the Mule really performed well in snow; it had 12" ground clearance and "portal" axles and could slog through most any terrain:

(photo courtesy of T. Markarian - all rights reserved)

Those portal axles are fixed to the chassis; there isn't any suspension, ground shock being absorbed in the 7.50x10 balloon tires (it says here!).  In addition, the wheels are all driven together (there's no slip differential) so it moves as long as any wheel has traction.

The undercarriage is simplicity itself and all models except the A5 had four-wheel steer (with a two-wheel-steering lockout):

ArmyMule Mule$WhlSteer
(photos courtesy of T. Markarian - all rights reserved)

There was a version that carried the BAT 106 (Battalion Anti-Tank 106mm) recoilless rifle and Terry has (and sells) same:

Mule106-10 Mule106-05
(photos courtesy of T. Markarian - all rights reserved)

You wouldn't really want to fire in the elevated position shown at right; you'd burn all the paint off the right front!

There is also rumored to have been a version carrying the TOW missile and Terry would dearly love to get photos, hardware, and documentation on this.

Lastly, here are Terry's shop with a Mule on its side, undergoing restoration; you can clearly see the "portal" axles, with their offset gearcases (like the final drive on a tank):

MuleRearAxle MuleUnderside MuleFrontAxle
(photos courtesy of T. Markarian - all rights reserved)

The engine and tranny are demounted from the rear axle (left); you are looking right into the transfer case.  The underside (center) shows the drivetrain and the front view (right) shows the front axle.

M2-M3-M4 MEDIUM TANK SUSPENSIONS - The M2-series of light tanks had a VVSS (Vertical Volute Spring Suspension).  Because of space limitations, the return rollers were mounted low and inboard of the bogie housing.  When the M2 Medium Tank was designed, it had a similar, if beefed-up, system but with one extra bogie set on each side.  Because there was more room, the return rollers were relocated above the bogies,  The M3 Medium Tank used a further-strengthened VVSS, still with centered return rollers (01 Mar 2015):

M2A4LightLeft M2Med M3Med
M2A4 Light Tank || M2 Medium Tank || M3 Medium Tank

When the prototype M4 Sherman (the T6) was developed on`the M3 chassis, it continued the M3 suspension.  However, when the M4 entered production, with even heavier springing, the rollers were moved back down and behind the bogie tops.  The final evolution of the volute spring suspension, the last version before torsion bars were adopted on the M26 Pershing, used a Horizontal Volute Spring Suspension (HVSS), the E8 model, best known for its application on the M4A3E8, dubbed the "Easy Eight":

T6/M4Prototype M4A1Med M4A3E8MedHVSS
T6/M4 Medium Prototype || M4A1 Medium Tank || M4A3E8 Medium Tank (HVSS)

M3 Medium Tank - Lee vs. Grant - The M3 Medium Tank, called the General Lee by the British, was fitted with a short-barrelled 75mm gun mounted in the right sponson, surmounted by a 37mm gun turret, atop of all of which sat a .50-cal. commander's cupola!  It had an abominably-high silhouette and so was a sitting duck out on the flat North African desert.  The Brits junked the American turrets and substituted a single 37mm gun turret with far more room; they called the new version of the M3 the General Grant.  Fortunately for us, a photographer caught one example of each sitting side by side in the sand: new.gif (01 Mar 2015)

(photo captioned by S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)

Now you know!  [Notice the British steel tracks vs. the American rubber-grousered tracks.]

By the way, there were two all-but-useless bow 30 cal. machine guns on the M2 Medium Tank which were carried over into the earliest M3s and even appeared on the prototype M4 Sherman; click here for more on Bow Machine Guns. new.gif (17 Mar 2020)new.gif (01 Mar 2015)

M2-M3-M5 LIGHT TANK SUSPENSIONS - As noted above, the M2-series of light tanks had a VVSS (Vertical Volute Spring Suspension).  Here's how it worked: new.gif (05 Jan 2017)

VVSSPatent T2E1-1934
1934 VVSS Patent (l.) || T2E1 in 1934 (r.)
[Click on thumbnailed pictures for larger images]

In common with the M1 Combat Car, the M2-series all had a VVSS and a high trailing idler wheel, some 1½ times larger than the road wheels.  One of the most obvious differences between the M2 lights and the M3/M5 lights is that the M3/M5-series, in order to carry the added weight of thicker armor and a heavier radial engine, had a larger trailing idler wheel, about 2 times larger than the road wheels.  In addition, the trailing idler wheel was supported in a horizontal bracket and was in contact (through the track links) with the ground.

HOWEVER, it turns out that the dropped trailing idler had been developed on an M2A2 model, the M2A2E3, thusly:

M2A4LightLeft M2A2E3Light M3LightSerNo1Revd
M2A4 Light Tank || M2A2E3 Light Tank || M3 Light Tank (Serial No. 1 - picture reversed)

It seems that an M2A2E3 survives, originally incorrectly placarded as a 1938 M2A3, at Aberdeen Proving Ground [possibly now at Ft. Lee, Virginia]:


Was this it before repainting?


But wait!  There is an M2A2E3 hulk in Russia!  One Yuri Pasholok documented it:

M2A2E3Front M2A2E3LFront M2A2E3LSide M2A2E3LRear M2A2E3Rear
[Click on thumbnailed pictures for larger images]
M2A2E3 Front / Left Front / Left Side / Left Rear / Rear

That's NOT in Russia; not with a "DANGER / HIGH VOLTAGE" sign (center)!  Perhaps it's at Ft. Benning, Georgia (the Georgia in the U.S.A., that is)?  Sure wish I could read Russian!  WHOA! Yuri also shows what HAS to be the same vehicle AFTER full restoration: rev.gif (05 Jan 2017)

[Click on thumbnailed pictures for larger images]
M2A2E3 Restored

Where IS this beast?  Could it be the APG/Ordnance Museum unit?

There was also a dropped trailing idler on an M2A3E3:


but I know nothing more about it.  Note, however, that the two inner return rollers were inboard on this tank and most others but both to the rear on the original M2A2E3, center above, which only had two.

Hey; look!  I never noticed before but, while all M2A2E3s and the M2A3E3 and the M3/M3A1s have rubber-tired road wheels, their trailing idlers do not have rubber tires.  Neither do the M5 or M5A1 (or the derivative M8 75mm HMC):

M5A1LightCFBBorden M8HMC75
M5A1 Light Tank || M8 75mm HMC

or even the derivative M4 or M5 High Speed Tractors:

M4Tractor M5Tractor
M4 High Speed Tractor || M5 High Speed Tractor

The ORDNANCE page has had to be split; this page is a continuation of the main ORDNANCE page, Ordnance Continuation Page 1, Ordnance Continuation Page 2, and Ordnance Continuation Page 3.

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