Re: .50 caliber shells

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Posted by Harold Ericsson on August 29, 2001 at 22:24:03:

In Reply to: Re: .50 caliber shells posted by Tumbleweed on August 29, 2001 at 18:21:17:

I was in the first or one of the first B-29 gunnery class at Las Vegas. We fire .50 caliber machine guns at ground targets in the Frenchman Flat area of what was to become the National Test Site (Nuclear devices). At high altitude we fire compressed carbon frangible bullets at attacking P-39s (see Operation Pnball by Ivan Hickman, ISBN O-87938-472-7). What and where the B-17 and B-24s fired their guns I don't know. Anything is possible, but I would not expect any bomber type aircraft to fire outside the very large range north of Las Vegas. Of course, anything is possible, a buddy of mine put a burst of frangibles into the oil cooler of a P-39 bringing the plane down. Pilot bailed and broke a leg in the process (sorry for the war story, goes with age I reckon).
I have visited Drinkwater Lake in the north part of Fort Irwin, not too far south of Death Valley, and noticed a great many .50 caliber shells scattered on the desert floor; gunnery targets firmly impaled in the ground like giant arrows, hundreds of yards of tow wire plus the occasional unexploded 90 mm antiaircrft shell. The artillery shells were from the WW 2 era, the Fort Irwin (Camp Irwin?) area was an antiaircraft training ground at that time. From the relatively high-tech appperance of the aerial targets I assumed that they were gunnery targets for jet fighters of a later day and many of the earlier jet were still armed with 50s. With multiple guns firing at high rate a great many rounds can be expended. At jet speed maybe someone got a bit farther north than the law allows and let fly with a burst or two.

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