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Lancashire Fusilier

Von Richthofen's twin Spandau MGs - where are they ?

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scottmarchand

MvR's intended 81st Lt. Wilfred "Wop" May acquired a number of airframe pieces in the ensuing days after his brush with death. I worked in the Glenbow Museum Military History depatrment for few years at the start of my career. We had MvR's windscreen ( I have happily fondled it), rounds, fabric, parts of interplane strut and other misc. rigging. As well as some of Wops postar CAF kit and other items. Hos SOn, Denis, sprinkled things around to various Canadian Museums so it is possible other MvR items are elsewhere in Western Canada, certainly must be some in the Provincial Museum in Edmonton.

My feeling about the guns is that if anywhere they would be at one of the Ntional War Museums collections, however, it is also probable that they were destroyed around the time. Any purported weapon would be virtually impossible to verify. Alos, I think if you got all teh attributed MvR relics in once place you could build a squadron of Dr I's :glare:

Incidentally, and for what it is worth, I am not a believer in the ground fire hypothesis and over the years I have read all the conjecture and found the Aussie ground claims only weakly plausible. Attempts in the past decades to discredit Brown are all a stretch - it can never be truely known, so why bother trying? Keep in mind there was a lot of fire from everywhere. And note that MvR was recovering from a headwound still, suffered months earlier from a lucky grazing hit from an Australian Observors Lewis gun at over 350 yards distance. So a lot of dismissal of Browns probility hinges on 'out of range' conjecture. Even if he post mortem round was examined I don't think it would have occurred to anyone to check rifling etc. The Baron was dead, propaganda victory won, morale boosted. On with the war. :poppy:

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Lancashire Fusilier

As has been mentioned, parts from MvR's aircraft seem to have been distributed around the world. I did find this interesting article and photgraph relating to MvR's machine gun belt and ammo, which is in the Australian War Memorial :-

REL/00927 - Section of German MG08 Machine Gun ammunition belt with bullet : Baron Manfred von Richthofen, Geschwader 1, German Air Service

A section of German machine gun ammunition belt as used with Maxim MG08 and LMG08 guns and associated development models. The belt is of the Ersatz pattern believed to have been introduced to service from 1917, and has steel rather than brass fittings. It consists of two layers of khaki cotton webbing, joined with riveted steel dividers forming pockets for the cartridges. This section of belt comprises four such pockets, and is roughly cut off in the middle of the adjoining pocket at either end. The third of the steel dividers (each of which is held in place by three rivets) has a projection at the front, indicating the correct depth to which the bullet should be inserted into the pocket. A single 7.92mm bullet is fitted to one pocket, its impressed headstamp markings reading 'UN 6 17 S67'.

Summary

Section of cotton webbing ammunition belt from one of the two Luft Maschinen Gewehr (LMG) 08/15s fitted to Baron Manfred von Richthofen's Fokker Dr I aircraft. Frank Ronald Rawlinson, enlisted in the AIF in August 1916, and served as 424A 2nd Class Air Mechanic with 3 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps. Richthofen's body and the remains of his aircraft were brought to the airfield of 3 Sqn at Bertangles on the evening of 21 April 1918. Rawlinson together with 666 Sergeant Abner Gilchrist Dalzell and 569 Corporal Edward James McCarty assisted with the removal of clothing from the body and Rawlinson obtained a section of the overalls and part of a belt as souvenirs. He also obtained several items from the Fokker Triplane. These were all donated to the Memorial by him in 1960. A letter describing the circumstances is held on File 749/084/005. Apart from confirming the origin of these relics the letter also confirms that von Richthofen was wearing a parachute and harness when he was shot down over Australian positions near Corbie. A number of secondary sources questioned the use of a ground style ammunition belt rather than the Parabellum-type belt. Research to date does not support this position and Rawlinson's access to both the body and aircraft allowed him to collect a number of significant and uncontested relics this supports the provenance of the belt section. Another piece of this belt was collected by Pasquale Carisella in the USA during the 1960s. Further information can be found on File 07/2052

post-63666-0-92220800-1348449323_thumb.j

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Tom W.

Incidentally, and for what it is worth, I am not a believer in the ground fire hypothesis and over the years I have read all the conjecture and found the Aussie ground claims only weakly plausible. Attempts in the past decades to discredit Brown are all a stretch - it can never be truely known, so why bother trying?

The History Channel recreated the scene using recently discovered documents from the AWM and concluded that Aussie ground fire could easily have brought down the Baron. They used a laser rigged up so that the time lag between the trigger pull and the hit were equal to the flight time of bullets, and they compensated for deflection, wind, etc. It was all fed into a computer before the marksman--a Brit--fired. From all three known positions where ground gunners were located, he was able to score hits on a 'plane flying at the estimated speed and height of the Baron's ship.

Doesn't prove anything, but it was fascinating.

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TonyE

TonyE,

This case is definitely not for any British pistol, it is actually a replica of the Luger presentation case produced by Hans Tauscher in New York, who pre-WW1 was Deutsches Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) and Georg Luger's American Agent. Hans Tauscher produced his own Luger presentation cases, and this case is an exact copy of that case produced by Hans Tauscher, and it is perfect fit for my Luger. Although I have the original 42 leather holster for this P08, the storage case is a much better way of keeping it in mint condition.

For anyone interested, the case is produced by CMR International, here is the interesting link :-

http://cmrfirearms.c...&products_id=73

Regards,

LF

I apologise for my error in identifying the case, so let me re-phrase my remark. Why would you put a German WW2 service pistol in a fake pre-WWI British made pistol case, even if it is a copy of one originally made for a commercial Parabellum pistol?

I fully accept that it is your pistol and you are perfectly entitled to do what you like with it, but equally I am entitled to my opinion. Your pistol is a very desirable weapon in its own right, but to put it in a reproduction case with reproduction accessories that have nothing to do with the pistol is to place it totally out of context. I think it actually detracts from the pistol but that is just my opinion, and I did apologise for being blunt in my original post!

As an aside, I owned and shot a broadly similar pistol for years. It was a 1938 S/42 Mauser, but had wood butt plates and being pre-war had a commercial finish (S/N 7901a IIRC).

Regards

TonyE

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Lancashire Fusilier

I apologise for my error in identifying the case, so let me re-phrase my remark.

Your pistol is a very desirable weapon in its own right, but to put it in a reproduction case with reproduction accessories that have nothing to do with the pistol is to place it totally out of context. I think it actually detracts from the pistol but that is just my opinion, and I did apologise for being blunt in my original post!

As an aside, I owned and shot a broadly similar pistol for years. It was a 1938 S/42 Mauser, but had wood butt plates and being pre-war had a commercial finish (S/N 7901a IIRC).

Regards

TonyE

TonyE,

Apology accepted,

The short answer is, that for a pistol of this quality and high value there are few storage options, as I said, I do have its original 42 dated leather holster, and as you know, holster storage is not the best option.

This particular case, which is extremely well made, was custom fitted for a ' Luger ' pistol, and whilst I know that it is not a match as it relates to period dates, it actually is a perfect storage option being baize lined and of solid wood construction, as over the years, I have found this to be the best storage method for a firearm. The cleaning rod is actually original.

Regards,

LF

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TonyE

It's a dreadful pity that the bullet, recovered by the Medical Orderly McCarty, is also lost. It would definitely have shown whether it came from a Vickers or a Lewis, and as (I believe) aircraft Vickers had a different rifling pitch to the standard gun, to cope with the Buckinghams and AP rounds which were loaded in the belts. Are there grounds for a conspiracy theory here ?

Oh goody ! :ph34r: RAF secret agents get rid of the fatal bullet, because it would prove that Brown could not have fired it ?

I reckon that at least one of those guns will turn up one day in Ontario. :whistle:

The bullet would certainly have told us whether it was fired from a Vickers (Left hand twist) or a Lewis (right hand twist) but the aircraft Vickers used exactly the same barrels as the ground guns. Air service Mark I* Vickers were all based on the ground gun and the first Vickers specifically made for aircraft, the Mark II, did not go into service until 1919.

Regards

TonyE

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Lancashire Fusilier

TonyE,

I think this is more what you had in mind, as to the correct presentation of the firearm.

Regards,

LF

post-63666-0-19190600-1348491751_thumb.j

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TonyE

Lovely!

Thank you.

Cheers

TonyE

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scottmarchand

Here is 'Mine' at work. We are just re-installing some of our armaments on display.

P1150189.jpg

P1150192.jpg

P1150198.jpg

P1150191.jpg

P1150199.jpg

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Lancashire Fusilier

Scott,

What a fantastic display, not usually seen outside of a Museum.

From your post #59, we can clearly see the origin of the term ' Spandau '.

Many thanks for posting them, and are you sure this is not one the missing MvR MGs were are urgently seeking !!

Regards,

LF

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scottmarchand

HI LF,

They are in a museum www.pimaair.org

I use 'mine' euphamistically. I am repsonisble for them but not owner of.

Cheers,

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MikB

What's the '11 M/M CALIBER' in the last pic? 450 Martini-Henry or something? Is this the same gun labelled as 303 Vickers in an earlier picture? Puzzled...

Regards,

MikB

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TonyE

It is the 11mm French Gras cartridge, Mik. The French adopted this for the Vickers in an attempt to deliver more incendiary compound in the larger bullet, much as we did with the .45 M-H and Gardner Gatling rounds in WWI.

The WWI version of the 11mm Gras used a jacketed bullet instead of the old paper patched lead bullet and ball, tracer and incendiary rounds were developed. The Americans also used the 11mm and after the war did a great deal of experimentation with 11mm ammunition in the US.

As I only collect British military I can't post a picture of the 11 Gras incendiary round but here are various British .45 G-G rounds from WWI, Tracer, Pomeroy, Buckingham, etc.

Regards

TonyE

post-8515-0-06384000-1348571277_thumb.jp

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MikB

It is the 11mm French Gras cartridge, Mik. The French adopted this for the Vickers in an attempt to deliver more incendiary compound in the larger bullet, much as we did with the .45 M-H and Gardner Gatling rounds in WWI.

...

Regards

TonyE

Thanks, Tony - I'd never heard of such variants, so I guess they weren't fitted to large numbers of fighters?

Regards,

MikB

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TonyE

Thanks, Tony - I'd never heard of such variants, so I guess they weren't fitted to large numbers of fighters?

Regards,

MikB

No, they were not. Despite a great deal of work being carried out on .45 Maxims, only twenty five guns ever made it to France, and then they managed to send the wrong ammunition at first!

Some were trialled with the Home Defence squadrons but were little used. However, the concept did not die as the RAF in 1918 started trials with the .600/.500 round. This was developed by Eley Brothers from the .600 Nitro Express round by removing the rim and necking the case to.500 calibre. It was tested as both an observers gun and also an anti-tank cartridge in the Godsal rifle,

Although it never made it into service in WWI, development continued after the war and it was introduced as the .5 Vickers round in 1924. The WWI variants are very rare today, but I am fortunate to have one in the collection.

Regards

TonyE

post-8515-0-94649700-1348602634_thumb.jp

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MikB

The .50 Vickers was semi-rimmed, and lost the belt - but could otherwise have been very similar.

Regards,

MikB

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TonyE

The .5 Vickers round adopted for British service was rimless. The semi-rimmed case was the export version made for or by countries like Chile, Argentina, Hungary and others.

I will post pictures of the three variants later.

Regards

TonyE

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MikB

The .5 Vickers round adopted for British service was rimless. The semi-rimmed case was the export version made for or by countries like Chile, Argentina, Hungary and others.

I will post pictures of the three variants later.

Regards

TonyE

Ah, the only ones I can remember seeing were 2 belonging to a friend whose father once worked for Kynoch (IIRC), and I think they were semi-rimmed. That makes them more unusual than I thought. I'll see if I can get another look next time I see them. Thanks :-).

Regards,

MikB

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Dave G

A bit of trivia, the 11mm Colt made Vickers were lightly deactivated sometime between the wars and sold via magazine ads as being "perfect display for the rumpus room". I have an original ad somewhere around here. I've owned two of them over the years so at least a few people bought them for their "rumpus rooms". It was explained to me by the BATF that as originally deactivated, they are considered illegal (unless amnesty registered in 1968). In order to make them legal I had to remove one of the sideplates. They've been sold on but they did make an impressive display but were most inconvenient to hide when the insect exterminators came four our quarterly home treatments!

Dave

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Andrew Upton

A bit of trivia, the 11mm Colt made Vickers were lightly deactivated sometime between the wars and sold via magazine ads as being "perfect display for the rumpus room". I have an original ad somewhere around here.

Goldsmith, "Grand Old Lady", 1994, page 224:

http://postimage.org/image/rb821dzy5/full/

US_11mm_aircraft_Vickers.jpg

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NickM99

I spoke this afternoon to the Curator at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego, California, USA., and he stated that all Manfred Von Richthofen's original awards and decorations were donated to the San Diego Air & Space Museum directly by a member of the Von Richthofen family, his recollection is that it was Manfred Von Richthofen's Grand-daughter.

He confirmed they are the original set and are not duplicates or replicas, and they are undamaged and in excellent condition as Manfred Von Richthofen rarely wore them, and they were kept at his family home in Germany.

The set at the Museum also includes his ' Pour le Merit ' award.

He mentioned that the German Government, had previously asked the Museum if they would be willing to return the set back to Germany.

I am doubtful of the provenance of this, but it would only be possible if his "normal" wear had been private purchases.

Only on leave would he revert to civilian clothing, but more often than not he would remain in service dress, with the EK1 and Pilot's Badge and PLM attached.The Pour le Merite was ordered to be worn at all times, so to say he "rarely wore them" would be inaccurate. The vast majority of photos show him in service uniform, with medals, and there are not many photos of him in civilian clothing and without his medals.

"Recipients of the Blue Max were required to wear the award whenever in uniform."

http://en.wikipedia....Pour_le_Mérite

Further, he did not have any direct descendants. His younger brother Lothar I am unaware if he married and had children, but the youngest brother Bolko did, and so any such descendant would have to be his great-niece. Certainly not grand-daughter.

The likelihood of a member of the von Richthofen family giving away their most precious of the family heirlooms? Extremely slim, to no chance. But of course a museum would never state their medals are repros, due to a likely to lack of footfall as a result.

Odd, too, that the museum makes no mention of the "original Richthofen medals. " Surely if they were the real deal, they'd be your most prominent item in your collection list and you'd want it to be the first thing the site visitor knows about.

I couldn't tell from their website that they even have any MvR artifacts.

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green_acorn

I would not be at all surprised if these MG's aren't in the foyer of the office, or the office itself, of the CAS RAF or the Commander of Air Commander. Indeed if they were handed over to the RAF as stated in one of the posts, I would expect them to eventually end up at either of these two locations once the original squadron who had them in their souvenir collection was disbanded, not at the IWM.

Cheers,

Hendo

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