Ammunition damaged in transit?

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Chuck Marshall, Oct 30, 2020.

  1. Chuck Marshall

    Chuck Marshall New Member

    Some years ago I heard a story about something I think occurred during WW II. Soldiers were finding that some type of ammunition was jamming. I don't recall if it was bullets or shells. In any case, they had to go about finding why it was happening and they discovered that the ammunition was being stacked so high on the ships that it was warping the bullets/shells. The problem is I can't find anything about this online. Has anyone else heard of this? If so can you please direct me to where I find more information about this story? Thanks.
  2. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Hi, Chuck,
    I edited the thread title from 'History Question' to this hopefully more specific one so the right chaps might more likely notice it.
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  3. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Link to the story on another site

    The Mystery of the Misfiring Antitank Shells | Tradestops

    In the early 1940s, in the middle of World War II, the British military had a problem. American-made antitank ammunition designed to stop German tanks was jamming when fired from British guns.

    The problem was vexing, because the jamming happened at random with no explanation as to why. And the problem was serious, because jammed weaponry in the heat of battle is a matter of life and death.

    A British soldier named Povey was sent to America to investigate the problem. His first stop was the manufacturing plants in Detroit.

    Povey used precise measuring instruments, applied to batches of ammunition over the course of weeks, to determine all the specifications were being met by the Detroit plant. He found no problems; in theory, the shells should be firing perfectly.

    The plant was ruled out as a problem source. So Povey traveled with the ammunition on its trip back to Europe.

    First, he rode on the ammunition trains that transported the shells from Detroit to the East Coast. With his leather case of measuring equipment, he tested the shell batches at various points on the train trip.

    There was no problem there either, and still no explanation as to why some of the shells would jam. They should still, at least in theory, fit the British gun barrels perfectly.

    Then, Povey boarded the cargo ship that took the shells across the Atlantic. It was an awful trip. The ship broke down at one point, lost its convoy at another point — leaving them vulnerable to attack by German U-boats — and went through a hellish ocean storm that made the entire crew violently seasick.

    But this is where Povey discovered the problem. The rocking of the cargo ship, as it navigated intense storms at sea, was a source of damage for some of the shells.

    Some of the crates in the ship’s hold — not all, but those closest to the outer edge of the stacks — would crash into the walls of the hold as the ship rocked back and forth.

    This repeated bashing was causing damage to the shells, distorting the lip of the brass cartridge casing. But the level of distortion was only a fraction of an inch or so — too small to be detected by the human eye.

    This explained why only some of the shells were jamming; only the crates on the outer edges of the stacks were problematic. And it explained why the jams seemed to happen at random. To the human eye, the warped shells looked like good ones.

    The solution was simple: The manufacturing plant in Detroit was instructed to reinforce the cardboard and wood in the ammunition crates to better protect the shells from bruising in the ship’s cargo hold. Once that was done, the random jamming problem was solved.
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  4. Temujin

    Temujin Member

  5. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Here is more information on “Frank Povey” on Find a grave

    Frank Povey (1918-2001) - Find A Grave Memorial

    Retired international representative of the World Bank to Nigeria and other countries.

    Frank served in the British Army during WWII as an explosives expert in the North Africa Campaign. Frank was assigned as the 3rd technician to investigate the British Army's rare problem with anti-tank ammunition from America jamming in the British tank destroyers. His investigation was given the mandate to follow the ammo trail from manufacture to the field. Frank's trail began in Detroit where he measured several thousand rounds without finding any variation. The ammo was shipped by rail to Philadelphia where it was loaded on a merchant marine ship. That ship was part of a supply convoy across the Atlantic, but while at sea broke down and was left behind, alone in the Atlantic for 3 days while the ship's mechanics labored to repair the ship. During that time the ship was buffeted by rough seas. Throughout the trip, at every stop, Frank took many measurements of the ammo as he was ordered. While at sea, Frank finally found 'out of spec' rounds of ammo that had been poorly packed and whose crates were repeatedly slammed against the ship's steel cargo hold walls in the rough seas that caused the projectiles to be ever so slightly jammed farther back in the brass cases, causing them to bulge ever so slightly and thus causing the rounds to jam in the gun barrels during combat with Rommel's North Afrika Corps. His findings were reported to British officials who contacted the manufacturer and later shipments were better packed which alleviated the problem. Mission complete, Frank sought to leave the theater of war, was able to barter his case of whiskey, one bottle at a time to get him to Miami, Florida, where he received a train ticket to get him to Washington, DC where he worked with other British soldiers through the end of the war.

    An avid photographer and gardener, local Boy Scout merit badge councilor in Northern Virginia, Troop 628 (Arlington County, Virginia) committee member.

    Frank was preceded in death by his loving wife, Lucy Irene, nee: Blevins, whom he met while in Philadelphia, PA and married on 3 Oct 1943 while working as a liaison for the British Army to US manufacturers of munitions for British weapons during WWII. 'Irene' had been transferred from the partially built Pentagon to aid her War Department office coordinate munitions manufacturing efforts for both US and British needs. He is survived by their only child, Colin Frank Povey and his wife Marie, of Clearwater, Florida.
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  6. idler

    idler GeneralList

    I have the impression that British ammunition was generally packed in steel boxes while the Americans made greater use of lighter materials. Is that a fair statement?
  7. Temujin

    Temujin Member

  8. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    I think you are right about American bulk shipments. US used metal ammo cans in combat though.

    Just a random picture that I like:

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  9. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Brigadier Goad presenting MSM to WOI Povey, Materials Handling Trials Unit, Bicester.

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  10. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

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  11. Chuck Marshall

    Chuck Marshall New Member

    This is exactly the store I was looking for. Thank you.
  12. Chuck Marshall

    Chuck Marshall New Member

    Thank you for the additional information. I wasn't expecting this.

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