Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Archie’s Boolits

So ‘Archie’ my crotchety neighbor was asking me about the something called the .500 magnum. What the deal was. I told him it was a hunting or anti-bear revolver made by S&W that was just a bit more boomy than the .44 magnum. He managed to put together that the diameter of the bullet was the same as the .50 BMG he was more familiar with, but the cartridge was a bit smaller. S&W might have just wanted to have bragging rights of the ‘biggest production revolver’ back under their belt.

Why is Archie familiar with the .50 BMG? Well he was stationed on a Victory ship in WWII and he wanted to take up souvenirs. He has a couple .50s. And some 20mm and a 3 inch shell. He turned the 20mm’s into salt and pepper shakers and the shell is done up as a light house and sits on top of his cabinet hifi.

He really wanted one of the 5 inch shells, but he couldn’t figure out a way to steal it. You see, he wanted the whole thing. He probably could have gotten the brass casing, as after firing off a few dozen shells the ‘deck apes’ (his words) just pushed them over the side. This shocked Archie, at all the waste.

But, like I said, Archie wanted more than just the casing. So he got live rounds and removed the projectile and dumped the propellant. This was most difficult with the 3 inch shell, as the propellant was reminiscent of plaster of paris. To get this out he had to immerse the shell in a bucket of water and dig it all out with a spoon. Guys would come up behind him while he did this on the forecastle, and say, “Hey Archie what are you doing in that buck-OHMYGOD YOU’RE GONNA GET US ALL KILLED!” as they ran away from him. When the propellant was out he went up to a Gunner’s Mate when most of the officers were ashore on liberty and bribed him a few packs of smokes to put his souvenir into the cannon and fire off the primer. The primer alone was very loud.

When he tells me this story, and others like it, I always wonder how he saw his 25th birthday, much less his 80th.

But the lighthouse is handsome. He has a little 15 watt bulb in the place where the proximity fuse and charge used to be, and he turned ‘brickwork’ on the brass to make it look more lighthousey. Wait, maybe it's a 40mm shell? I'll have to check on top the hifi. Same difference, in the end. If it had gone off in that bucket...


Old NFO said...

Gotta love 'youngsters' making things happen :-) Obviously, he has some good memories!

Secesh said...

If you're talking about the picture, those are 40mm cartridges. The 5 in. of WW II fame was a 5"/38 and was a seperate case and projectile. I used to load them for the Navy.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Yeah, I checked with him again. He conceded it may have been lots of 20 and 40 mm brass he saw shovelled over the side