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America and Britain – two nations separated by a common cartridge

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1 America and Britain – two nations separated by a common cartridge
America and Britain – two nations separated by a common cartridge* or how 7.62x51mm became the NATO standard * With apologies to Oscar Wilde, Bernard Shaw and others? Dave Sutton, Phoenixville, PA

2 The Western Allies at the End of WWII
Basic infantry weapons US M1 Garand firing cartridge Heavy Semi-automatic UK Lee Enfield firing .303 British Bolt action

3 US – Beyond the Garand Greater firepower, light weight
Convinced that this had to include a cartridge with comparable ballistics to the i.e. able to inflict a fatal wound at 2000 yards Desire for a new and improved cartridge Use of improved propellants from du Pont allowed a shorter cartridge case with similar ballistics to Shorter case Shorter breach = lighter rifle Less materials for manufacture More cartridges per unit weight i.e. soldiers can carry more

4 UK – Beyond the Lee Enfield
Need for a selective fire rifle Recognition that the .303 cartridge was overkill at normal combat ranges Willing to accept a less powerful cartridge using a bullet smaller than 0.303 Small Arms Ideal Caliber panel established in 1945 Aim for lightest rifle and cartridge acceptable for combat out to 600 yards

5 US Response March 1944 Mid 1944 to early 1945 January 1945
Initial request for shortened .30 cal cartridge based on 300 Savage Mid 1944 to early 1945 Testing of .300 Savage cartridges loaded with M2 bullets January 1945 Request for development of T65 cartridge case length, 2.49” .300 Savage - case length, 1.87”

6 US T65 Series .300 Savage 1944 T65 1945-1947 FAT1 1947-1948 FAT1E1
Increased body taper, decrease shoulder diameter and angle, 1.951” case .300 Savage 1944 T65 FAT1 FAT1E1 FAT1E2 ??? FAT1E3 30-06 head, decreased body taper, 1.871” case Increased neck length and extractor grove width, 1.951” case Increased rim thickness, decreased extractor groove width, 1.951” case Increased body taper, case length, base to shoulder, shoulder diameter, shoulder angle and neck length, 2.015” case No known examples Commercial 30-06 Case type

7 UK Response Small Arms Ideal Caliber Panel Formed 1945
Extensive theoretical and experimental work Final Report March 1947 The Choice of a Standard Round for Small Arms Caliber of about 0.27” if tungsten core unacceptable Caliber down to 0.25” if tungsten core acceptable Two cartridge designs approved mid-1947 October 1947 .303 British - case length, 2.21” case length, 1.81” case length, 1.70”

8 UK 7mm Series 280 Development of the .270 cartridge ceased in 1948 and future work focused on the .280 and .280/30 280/30 Extractor groove, rim and case head diameter modified to US .30 cal dimensions 270 280 Photo from Tony Edwards

9 The Political Scenario
Change in British Government from Conservative to Labour in 1945 US fears of Communist influence Talks initiated on 1946/1947 between US, Britain and Canada regarding standardization of war materials including SAA Apparent exclusion of the Soviet Union seen as the start of an alliance against Russia by certain factions in the Labour party who became openly critical of standardization Creation of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949 to counter the military threat of the USSR

10 US-British Interactions
1947 First face to face meeting US Ordnance flatly refused to consider the UK .280 cartridge on the grounds that certain bullet types could not be developed The British learned about the .30 cal T65 cartridge for the first time Convinced that the best light rifle could not be designed around the T65 cartridge Miniature arms race between US and UK Britain suggests that tests of the two nations cartridges should be scheduled – set for early 1950 1949 Early test results of the US T25 rifle are encouraging Britain, fearful that large-scale procurement of the T25 could kill off consideration of any British designs, requests that that the comparative trials now cover both rifle and cartridge

11 1950 Trials Aberdeen Proving Ground/Fort Benning
Head to head trials of US and British rifles that included evaluation of ammunition Rifles Ammunition US cal (FATE1/FAT1 cases) UK/Belgium Trials took place over 6 months Conducted with great fairness ensuring rifles and ammunition were compared under as near identical conditions as possible US Springfield T27 UK EM-2 Belgium FN FAL

12 1950 Trials - Ammunition US .30 cal British .280 Ball, T104
Orange Black Silver Yellow Pink White Pale blue Red Tracer, T102 AP, T93 AP-I, T101 Observation, T103 Grenade, T116 Ball Tracer AP AP-I Observation Grenade

13 1950 Trials – Results .30 T65 .280 Accuracy Trajectory Penetration API ignition Tracer/observation function Ballistic coefficient Neither the rifles nor the ammunition was suitable for adoption without further modification Recommendation that ammunition be perfected prior to designing the weapon Need for agreement on a common cartridge before any further weapon comparison trials take place

14 US Army Issues with the .280 Cartridge
Trajectory Unacceptable “safety zone” Safety zone Performance in arctic conditions Unacceptable muzzle velocity under temperate conditions would lead to serious problems at sub-zero temperatures Difficulty in developing satisfactory special purpose rounds (tracer, AP, API etc)

15 Beyond the 1950 Trials Although the US trials effectively eliminated the .280 cartridge from further serious consideration, efforts were made to keep it alive April UK army adopts the EM-2 loaded with an improved .280/30 cartridge (7mm Mk1z) US Ordnance Protracted campaign to ensure demise of a 7mm cartridge with goal of ensuring that NATO adopt the T65 cartridge Reality begins to sink in UK and Belgium redesign EM-2 and FAL respectively for the US .30 cal cartridge Feasible for the FAL, but not EM-2

16 The Path to NATO Standardization
Mid 1951 Joint meeting between US, UK, Canada and France to discuss SAA standardization UK tries without success to sell the 7mm series US continue to hold to their decision to adopt the T65 cartridge France favor the T65 cartridges since the new 7.5mm semi-automatic rifle could more readily converted to the US cartridge Canada look for standardization of one caliber whatever it is This meeting effectively sounded the death knell for the .280/30 cartridge Sept 1951 NATO standing group agrees on set of military characteristics of required performance for any new SAA Tests showed UK’s 7mm Mk1z fell well short

17 The Path to NATO Standardization II
Late 1951 The US Army officially rejects the .280 cartridge “The Army is firmly opposed to the adoption of any less effective smaller caliber cartridge for use in either its present rifle or in new weapons” New UK government reverse earlier decision to adopt EM-2 and the 7mm Mk1z cartridge Reflected the reality of post-WWII Europe UK SA industry not strong or big enough to go it alone Need for cooperation and standardization in light of cold war Need for US help in rebuilding Europe The UK’s action effectively guaranteed the adoption of the .30 cal light rifle cartridge as the NATO standard 280 EM-2

18 The Path to NATO Standardization III
1952 onwards 1952 UK, Belgium and Canada form the Small Arms Development Committee (later referred to as the BBC) Aim is to develop a 7mm cartridge acceptable to NATO 7mm Optimum 7mm High Velocity 7mm Compromise 7mm 2nd Optimum

19 The Path to NATO Standardization IV
1952 onwards BBC holds a series of trials comparing the various 7mm cartridges with .30 cal cartridges Final trials held in mid-1953 compare various .30 cal loads against the 7mm 2nd optimum cartridge The US continues on with the T65 series regardless T25 rifle dropped and replaced by the T44 (Adopted in 1957 as the M14) Sept 1953 BBC recommends selection of a .30 cal bullet in the FAT1E3 case Springfield T44E4

20 NATO Standardization Dec 1953 Feb 1954 Aug 1954
NATO announces the T65E3 cartridge as the common NATO cartridge Feb 1954 Specifications agreed (finally ratified in 1957) Aug 1954 Formal adoption of the T65E3 cartridge as Case, NATO Cal. 7.62mm Cartridge, Cal. 7.62mm, NATO, [type] Belgium is the first country to use the new NATO design mark - USA UK Belgium Canada France

21 7.62mm NATO cartridges (US)
Regular OHF Ball, M59, M80 Tracer, M62 AP, M61 Dummy, M63 HPT, M60 Blank, M82 Grenade,M64

22 7.62x51mm Retrospective Since its adoption in 1954
Manufactured and/or used by 60+ countries Replaced by 5.56x45mm as the main infantry rifle cartridge, but remains in use for GPMG Intermediate range sniper cartridge Introduced to the civilian community by Winchester in 1952 as the 308 Winchester Still in production over 50 years later Excellent hunting cartridge Excellent accuracy Law enforcement role

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