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Dum-Dum Rounds and Modified Ordnance


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#1 Drew5233

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 11:16 PM

Anyone know how wide spread or common this was during WW2?

I had only heard of the usual smutterings of excuse associated with the Paradis Massacre as a rather weak excuse for executing British Soldiers.

However today I was reading a German Panzer Officer account of the fighting that took place around the Sedan and the River Meuse and he states that he was handed a some captured dum-dum rounds by his men.

Further reading suggests they were fighting elements of the French 51st, 61st, and 71st of the 2nd French Army.

The account was written by Oberst Koelitz.

As a side note I'm not even sure it is possible to do unless bullets back then had a softer jacket compared to more recent ammo. I'm aware that trying to split a 5.56 with a bayonet is virtually impossible - I've seen it attempted on several occasions on ranges to see what would happen to a Fig. 11 before anyone accuses me of war crimes ;)

Cheers
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#2 Drew5233

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 11:50 PM

I've just found this on Digger History - It explains where the Dum Dum got it's name from:


As most of this unpleasantness was going on in the Indian theatre, the problem was tackled in situ and was solved at a place whose name must rank as one of the most over-used, misquoted and poorly understood terms in the history of firearms in general and projectiles in particular. The place was Dum-Dum arsenal in India. It was here that the full metal jacketed .303 bullet was changed to one having a small amount of lead core exposed at the tip, creating in effect a soft-nosed bullet which would expand in flesh - as did the previously used Martini-Henry lead bullets - and thus greatly increase its effectiveness.

Any hunter having observed the differing terminal effects of solid bullets as compared to soft noses on lighter, thin skinned game will readily appreciate the difference. The .303 and the .450 Martini- Henry rounds were almost identical in their actual muzzle energies, but now the .303 could more effectively deliver that energy to the target. The infamous Dum-Dum bullet was born, and real-life fighting showed it to be far more effective than the old Mark 2 bullet. Troops engaged in savage warfare, but still equipped with the older Mark 2 ammunition, would sometimes file down the tips of the nully jacketed bullets to make them like the “Dum-Dum” projectiles.

The .303 Rifle including Lee Enfield
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#3 Drew5233

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 11:55 PM

Another site on War Crimes adds the following:

American refusal to ratify this convention meant, not only that the United States was free to continue using expanding (or dum-dum) bullets legally in all wars, but from the moment the United States entered any conflict, all other belligerents were free to use them as well.


[NOTE: Dum dum bullets, first manufactured by the British at Dum Dum, India, are of advantage only in jungle warfare against primitive tribes, where the danger is of sudden rushes of large numbers at close quarters. They are not used in European warfare because they are inaccurate and tend to foul guns. If they offered an advantage, they would be used regardless of any treaty.]


War Crimes Trials


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#4 Drew5233

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 11:56 PM

There doesn't seem to be any specific mentions of their use in WW2 though :unsure:
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#5 Steve G

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 12:30 AM

You enjoying this little chat with yeself, mate? ;)

So; Why were (are) these rounds so frowned upon then? I use them (" Ballistic Tips ", as we call them) as a matter of course now. (I'm a Pest Controller) So much more effective than the old Hollow Points. One of these BT's strikes? It's goodnight from him!

Hmm. I'm having extreme difficulty in advancing and elaborating on my question in any way. I don't want to be misunderstood or open any cans, simply through having somehow missed some ..... point :unsure:
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#6 phylo_roadking

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 12:57 AM

I wonder - noticing the French connection (sic!)...

The French 2nd Army on the Meuse was renowned for not exactly being 100% first-grade units ;) - would old roundnosed ammo possibly have been issued, alongside modern point-nosed spitzers?
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#7 Za Rodinu

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 05:18 AM

The only mention I recall of the use of dum-dum bulletd was in Sven Hassel books ;) The Eastern Front being what it was I'm not surprised it was in widespread use by both sides but I cannot substantiate. I dimly recall (my favourite accurate sourcing) that the main objection was to the high likelihood of bullet fragmentation, making for 'dirtier' wound channels more difficult to treat, not expansion necessarily.
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#8 ronald

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 01:16 PM

Talking about soft bullets, here you see a ''hard bullet', those were used
during the Battle of Arnhem(not much) and so quite rare.
You see a steel bullet and a normal one next to each other.
The steel one is dated 1942. Maybe they were common in that year?

http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=139&pictureid=1653

http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=139&pictureid=1652

Edited by ronald, 04 January 2010 - 01:35 PM.

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#9 Drew5233

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 04:12 PM

You enjoying this little chat with yeself, mate? ;)

So; Why were (are) these rounds so frowned upon then? I use them (" Ballistic Tips ", as we call them) as a matter of course now. (I'm a Pest Controller) So much more effective than the old Hollow Points. One of these BT's strikes? It's goodnight from him!

Hmm. I'm having extreme difficulty in advancing and elaborating on my question in any way. I don't want to be misunderstood or open any cans, simply through having somehow missed some ..... point :unsure:


Because the wound they caused was far more severe than a un-modified round.

Quite a few countires signed up to outlaw them under the Geneva Convention.
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#10 Steve G

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 06:04 PM

:unsure: No. This is getting no where here. I feel there's something about this subject one doesn't discuss. So I shan't pursue it here.

I'm off to Google.

Cheers ;)
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#11 idler

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 08:21 PM

GunZone's Dum-Dum article expands on certain aspects. Seems it was largely a political decision stirred up by the Germans.
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#12 Drew5233

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 09:32 PM

Many thanks to Brian (ADM199) for this account detailing the use of Dum-Dum rounds:
Posted Image
Posted Image


Anyone know of any more?

Edited by Drew5233, 04 January 2010 - 09:38 PM.

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#13 idler

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 10:22 PM

If I'm right in thinking that dum-dums, hollow points etc are not illegal for law enforcement purposes - being more efficient 'man-stoppers' - I would imagine the Italian defence would be that the Carabibieri weren't a military force, simply a para-military law enforcement force (I suppose that would be 'service' now, cf Hot Fuzz).

The Americans did experiment post-war with multi-bullet rounds, 'duplex' and 'flechette' spring to mind. Unconventional isn't the same as illegal, though the clinching argument may have been 'Charlie don't sign the Geneva Convention'.

Does anyone categorically know if the aluminium tip in .303" ball was engineered to create dum-dum-like terminal effects from a fully-jacketed bullet, or did it serve some other purpose and the tumbling was just a 'bonus'?
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#14 Drew5233

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 10:48 PM

It's funny as I always thought of Dum-Dums being made by a 'Squaddie' siting down with a bayonet and scaring a cross in the tip of the round. I've seen this attempted for real and in a MoD training video on the Geneva Convention before going to war but it seems that the ammunition was more likely to be manufactured rather than modified.
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#15 Heimbrent

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 11:42 PM

If I'm right in thinking that dum-dums, hollow points etc are not illegal for law enforcement purposes - being more efficient 'man-stoppers'


Dum-dum and man-stopp ammo isn't the same.
Man-stopping ammo is intended to expand. The energy of the bullet is absorbed by the body, that way the bullet will not go through. Police use it for apparent reasons.
Dum-dum ammo behaves uncontrolledly, it doesn't expand like the man-stopper but gets unstable, i.e. spins over as soon as it hits and causes great damage.

Edited by Heimbrent, 04 January 2010 - 11:44 PM.
Sloppy English and worse explanation

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#16 idler

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 12:00 AM

I resent being referred to as Sloppy English, even if it is accurate ;)

It's a fair point on the different types and mechanics of modified and manufactured bullets. I suppose I really meant 'non-fully-jacketed' bullets but that sounded worse.
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#17 Heimbrent

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 12:08 AM

I resent being referred to as Sloppy English, even if it is accurate ;)

It's a fair point on the different types and mechanics of modified and manufactured bullets. I suppose I really meant 'non-fully-jacketed' bullets but that sounded worse.


Huh? My sloppy English and bad explanation are the reason I edited my post (didn't help much, I admit) - or did I get something wrong altogether?
Besides my comment was more of an apropos than anything else :)
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#18 TonyE

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 09:32 AM

Heimbrent is incorrect about the action of the Dum Dum bullet. The reason it was introduced was because of complaints from troops that the "new" .303 bullet frequently passed strainght through a charging tribesman and did not dump its energy sufficiently to incapacitate him. Remember these were the old 215 grain round nosed bullets that did not have a aluminium tip filler and so were reasonablt stable.

Maj.Tweedie, working at Dum Dum arsenal came up with the design that had a small portion of the lead core exposed, similar to sporting bullets, that was designed to expand on hitting and deliver far more of its energy to the victim.

The tumbling effect that Heimbrent mentions was a feature of the .303 Mark VII spitzer buller (introduced in 1910) that had a aluminium tip filler. When this hit the rear part of the bullet with greater mass tried to overtake the front portion and so tumbled. This was actually a feature of all pointed bullets but it was more pronounced in the .303.

The original reason for the tip filler was to maintain the centre of gravity of the bullet as far to the rear as was practicable to maintain long range stability. During the trials for the new bullet in 1908/9, all sorts of tip fillers were tried as well as bullets with full lead cores. The tumbling was inherent in the spitzer design and the tip filler was not introduced to increase lethality.

Moving on to the sad story of the Italian PoW, the round in question was the 6.5mm Carcano multiball which was originally designed as an anti-riot cartridge but was also used for guard duties. It consisted of a number of lead half cylinders pressed together in a pre-fragmented brass foil container in the shape of the bullet. There were two models of this, and by WW2 the later model would have been in use which had a slightly shorter "bullet" and a short jacket over the bullet tip.

regards
TonyE
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#19 Heimbrent

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 01:53 PM

I was talking about the difference between what is now generally known as dum-dum ammunition and man-stopper.
Dum-dum ammo is forbidden by international law whereas man-stopper ammo is somewhat widely used by police forces and apparently not forbidden. Asking about the difference between the two I was told that basically the first tumbles, the second expands. Is that incorrect?
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#20 idler

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 02:51 PM

Yes - you've been given duff information. The dum-dum principle is the same as modern man-stoppers, though the detail is different. As for of pointy .303" bullets tumbling as the heavy back end tries to overtake the tip on impact, think of a lorry jack-knifing (not difficult in this weather).

Anyhow, the Germans made their case and got these ungentlemanly things declared illegal for 'civilised' warfare: Declaration III of the Hague Convention 1899. Pity they didn't put quite as much effort into respecting Declarations I & II...

Couple of things spring to mind:

The wording of the Hague Convention is open to interpretation, it prohibits "Bullets Which Expand or Flatten Easily in the Human Body" - how 'easily' and which bits of the body?

I don't know if you know but Eicke's dum-dum defence was not just an afterthought. Very near to Le Paradis, a German NCO justified his intention to shoot the wounded at the Royal Scots RAP on the grounds that the British had been using dum-dums. Fortunately, the Padre was on hand to persuade him otherwise.
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#21 phylo_roadking

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Posted 07 January 2010 - 09:56 PM

If I'm right in thinking that dum-dums, hollow points etc are not illegal for law enforcement purposes - being more efficient 'man-stoppers' - I would imagine the Italian defence would be that the Carabibieri weren't a military force, simply a para-military law enforcement force (I suppose that would be 'service' now, cf Hot Fuzz).


Funny that the Carabinieri should come up. The first time I ever saw "modified" munitions was in a Carabinieri's belt as a teenager on a skiing holiday! Three hollowpoints, three crossheads, and three with no copper sheathing on the crown. They left quite an "impact" on a young mind, even though growing up in NI and having servicefolk in the family I wasn't a stranger to ammunition. Even then though I did wonder...
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A great soldier once said -
“What? Oh, nonsense, Benton. I tell you that's a beach out there. It's probably Norfolk or somewhere like that… See that nobody wanders in. We can't have the place overrun with holiday makers. I'll nip out, find a phone and tell the authorities exactly where we are. I'm fairly sure that's Cromer. Back in a jiff.”




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