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2000 Closed threads from 2000 (read only)

 
 
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Old 21 December 2000, 11:24 AM   #1
Terry_Crisp
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Forumites,
I do not recall ever having read mention of the colors of the tracers used by the the various participants in the Great War. I know that during WW II the german tracers were predominately white and the US red or orange. In Viet Nam ours were red and theirs were green. Does anyone know about WW I Tracer colors?
Best regards and the Merriest Christmas to all,
Terry
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Old 21 December 2000, 11:49 AM   #2
Barrett
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While I can't specifically answer the question, here's some observations.
Interesting thing about tracers: they don't always show where the other bullets are going because tracers become lighter as they burn, thus changing the projectile's ballistic properties. However, at most practical distances it doesn't matter enough to make a big difference.
Some excellent fighter pilots didn't like tracers. Gabby Gabreski is one, as he notes that if your first burst isn't on target, the tracers warn the intended victim with the unexpected light show.
WW II tracers came in many colors: I've seen US tracers that were white. More recently the Sov...er, Russian...variety includes blue.
On machine guns generally, saturating an area with high-volume fire does not guarantee hits. Recently I played with a tripod-mounted MG-42 complete with T&E. The owner dialed in a 300-meter berm on the metallic silhouette range which had two steel pigs. He fired several bursts that saturated the berm but scored only one hit on one pig.
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Old 21 December 2000, 12:41 PM   #3
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In WW-II, our red tracers left a trace from the gun's muzzle. The orange tracers were called "blind tracers" and they did not ignite for some 225 to 250 yards from the muzzle, making it impossible for those being shot at to pinpoint the gun. During the bright daylignt, tracers show a faint pencil line of smoke without a discernable coloration.
Not too many things in my lifetime have scared the crap out of me, but incoming tracers criss crossing against the snow...geez! I still have nightmares about those bouncing red lines.
 
Old 21 December 2000, 11:43 PM   #4
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Also, the burning phosphorous of tracer ammo had a negative effect on the bullet's aerodynamics, causing it to tumble in flight. That magnified the aforementioned problems with tracer accuracy as a tumbling bullet tends to stray and vary from the flight path of standard bullets.
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Old 22 December 2000, 01:36 AM   #5
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I can't give citations, but I seem to recall reading that both sides in WWI used plain, unpigmented phosphorus -- hence, white tracers.
 
Old 22 December 2000, 06:17 AM   #6
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In one of the few books available on balloon-busting, reference is made to the German "flaming onions" that vented a green flame from a hole in the base of each shell. I imagine that some copper impurity had got into the phosphorus.

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Old 22 December 2000, 10:33 AM   #7
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Graeme:
It was not an impurity, but an addative. Strontium nitrate for a red trace and boric acid for green.
 
Old 22 December 2000, 10:49 AM   #8
Graeme
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John

Thanks for the info. Any idea why the different additives were used?

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Old 22 December 2000, 11:59 AM   #9
Barrett
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Again, I can't comment about different colors but one use of tracers is to let the shooter know that he's nearing the end of his ammo. In WW II some pilots (and some squadrons) loaded 100% tracer for the last 50-100 rounds. While I infer that many/most German fighters of WW I had round counters, it still could have been useful to see 100% tracers when getting down to the end of the belts.
BTW: am having fun learning my way around the Browning M1917A1 watercooled MG (featured at the end of The Wild Bunch, which evidently was set in 1916 but what the heck?) The standard 250-round belt is maxed at 247 rounds 'cause you gotta leave the first loop and the last two vacant when using the belting machine. The belt is about 15 feet long and, fully loaded, weighs between 14-15 pounds.
Just in case anybody wondered!
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Old 22 December 2000, 12:21 PM   #10
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Now THAT was impressive.
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