Sunday, February 11, 2007

Boomsticks: Historical Geekery.

1) Thanks to a comment of Oleg's, I stumbled across what appears to be the definitive Carcano site on the intarw3bz. From there, I learned that my Beretta-manufactured Japanese Type I was made in 1939, and that the correct nomenclature for my little Terni arsenal-manufactured carbine is "Mo. 91/38 Moschetto Cavalleria".

2) If one more person says "Be careful! Those Ross rifles can blow up!" I am going to scream. The Ross was made in three major marks (and a bewildering variety of variations) and only the Mark III, which uses a distinctive interrupted-thread locking system is vulnerable to this. All ex-Canadian military Mk.III rifles were modified at the depot level to prevent this, but the legend remains, much like the legend of cracking Beretta slides hitting you in the face. This is neither here nor there for me, since my Ross is a Mk.II and has an entirely different bolt, but I've been warned by the cognoscenti nonetheless. How many folks who run around repeating this on the internet are aware that the common German Gew.88 Commission Rifle and many of its derivatives, as well as most Mannlichers, can have the bolt inserted without the bolt-head being attached, and will pick up and fire a round in this condition, with predictably disastrous consequences? Anyhow...

Also, for what it's worth, the Mk.III gained its loathed status with Canadian troopies in the Great War for a different reason entirely: It was a jam-o-matic. This seems an odd accusation to hang on a manually-operated repeater, but allow me to explain. The Ross Mk.III was designed to be an extremely strong and accurate rifle, and it was. It used chrome-vanadium steel for the barrel and that, combined with the interrupted-thread lockup has allowed it to withstand chamber pressures up to 150,000 psi in proof tests without failing. The straight-pull bolt also made it very fast to operate. A combination of that fast bolt and the multiple-lug lockup was its Achilles' Heel, though. "Interrupted thread" translates into seven tiny lugs that need to fit into seven precisely machined mortises with no room for grit. Further, the rearmost of these precise little lugs would come into contact with the bolt stop when the bolt was worked vigorously. So imagine our Canadian soldier, shooting at the oncoming Boche, and every time he works the bolt on his rifle, one of the locking lugs is getting a little burr peened up on it by smacking into the bolt stop. He's firing faster, the metal's getting hotter, the burr's getting bigger, and pretty soon he's having to shove the bolt closed with his body weight and kick it open with his heel. The peening problem was eventually fixed with an oversize bolt stop, but the damage had been done, and the rifle was replaced by the eminently more battle-worthy SMLE.

In a bizarre twist that must have made the now-deceased Sir Charles Ross smile, twelve years after his death in 1942, the Soviet team used Lend-Lease Ross Mk.III's rechambered in 7.62x54R to win the running deer event at the '54 World Shooting Championship in Caracas, Venezuela.

7 comments:

Seamus said...

That was cool, Tam. Thanks for the read. What's your Ross chambered in, out of curiosity?

Anonymous said...

Be careful! Those Ross rifles can blow up! :)

Anonymous said...

I knew the Ross MKIII’s had the bolt issue and – being but a mere neophyte minnow of a cognoscente in the grand sea of historical collecting who wouldn’t know a Gewehr 88 if you butt-stroked me with one – always assumed the problem was endemic to all the models in this short-lived design. Learn something new every day . . . kitos!

Wild Bill (THR)

Matt G said...

Great post. Seriously.

Tam said...

1) .303 Brit.

2) Aaaarrrgghhh!!!!

3 & 4) Thank you! *blush*

Kristopher said...

So ... when does that vz-52 rifle oleg was photographing get to appear?

Those are dangerous to shoot as well. Send it to me for proper disposal.

Steve Skubinna said...

Actually, after the Ross was withdrawn from general issue, it achieved legendary status as a Canadian sniper rifle.