Ground Dug, To 200 Round WW2 Dated MG belt – Another 303 Restoration Project!

With no opportunity to get out and dig WW2 relics, what else can you do during the lockdown other than think up crazy projects with what you already have!

My previous blog post showed the results of my attempts at restoring some ground dug 303 cartridge cases, (303 cartridge restoration). The results were so good that I decided to take it a step further. Only problem was, I was short of some of the components. So, a quick search on the internet found suppliers right here in the UK, and I soon had some FMJ 303 bullets winging their way to me, along with a bag full of suitable disintegrating links. I had decided to put together an MG belt, with the intention of eventually having a 300 round belt, so that I could use it to show people to amount loaded into each of the Brownings of Hurricanes and Spitfires during WW2.

The method of cleaning followed the same process as my previous blog, but this time, instead of a Brillo pad, I used my pillar drill with a wire wheel attachment. This worked out considerably faster than the Brillo pad method!

All the 303 cartridge cases started out the same way…….

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Cartridges in the same condition as those used in this project. Aged patina, lots of mud and clay stuck to them.

I had soon got the cartridge cases shiny, so the next task was to put the bullets in place. Even though every single cartridge had a clear indent in the blast cap, I wanted to make it even more obvious that the completed cartridges were inert. As a result, I ensure every single one of them had a a metal object placed inside before the bullet was glued in place. I used small carpet tacks in these cartridge cases.

Once I had completed all 200 that I needed for the project, the glue was left to cure overnight and, the next evening, assembly began.

Easiest to show it in a video…..

 

After a little bit of assembly, I eventually had a new addition to my display. A 200 (and ten…..see the below), round .303 inch cartridge (all WW2 dated and ground dug), disintegrating belt.

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The completed belt, showing the total length
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Completed belt gathered up into a smaller space
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Base of cartridges, showing the indented blast caps, and the odd Bren firing pin mark
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Base of cartridges, showing the indented blast caps, and the odd Bren firing pin mark
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Base of cartridges, showing the indented blast caps, and the odd Bren firing pin mark
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Base of cartridges, showing the indented blast caps

After completing the belt I realised the company that supplied the links had sent 10 too many, so I ended up with a belt of 210 rounds instead of 200.

And just to be super geeky, I arranged the belt in order of manufacturer code on the headstamp, (apart from the last 10 which threw my system out of whack…..I’ll sort it at a later date). For those of you interested, the headstamps of all 210 cartridges were as follows, listed in order they appear in the belt (yep……I’m THAT much of a geek!).

Manufacturer Stamp Year
(as shown on headstamp)
Cartridge type (Headstamp code) Number in belt
CP 1942 VII 43
CP 43 VII 24
GB 1940 VII 1
GB 1941 VII 6
GB 1942 VII 17
GB 1943 VII 21
RG 1941 WI 2
RG 1942 WI 3
RG 1942 VII 1
RG 1943 WI 4
RG 43 WI 6
RG 44 WI 13
MF 36 VII 6
MF 39 VII 11
K5 1942 VII 9
K5 43 BVIIZ 1
K5 44 BVIIZ 1
K2 1941 WI 2
K2 1942 VII 4
K2 1943 WI 1
R /|\ L 1936 WI 1
R /|\ L 1938 WI 1
R /|\ L 1939 VII 1
R /|\ L 1940 VII 2
C-P 1942 WI 3
C-P 43 WI 2
/|\ 1941 BVIZ 1
/|\ 1941 VII 3
K 1941 WI 1
K 1942 WI 3
SR 43 BVII 1
WCC 1940 303 1
WRA 1943 303 1
K4 44 GII 1
DAC 1940 VII 1
Unknown ? ? 1
/|\ 1941 VII 2
GB 1941 VII 1
GB 1942 VII 1
CP 1942 VII 1
K5 1942 VII 1
K 43 BVIIZ 1
RG 43 WI 1
RG 44 WI 1
CP 43 VII 1

 

I won’t list the meaning of the headstamps in this blog, as there are plenty of websites out there that show what the headstamps on 303s mean!

Not a bad project……

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