rorkesdriftvc.com Forum Index


rorkesdriftvc.com
Discussions related to the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879
Reply to topic
303 Martini
paul mercer


Joined: 04 Jul 2006
Posts: 37
Location: Tavistock, Devon
Reply with quote
Gentlemen,
I realise this is a little after the initial AZ wars, but i wonder if some of your experts might be able to help.
Prior to the introduction of the Lee Metford a number of Martini Henry's were either rebarrelled or resleeved to fire the new 303 cartridge. However in Greener's book The Gun and its Development he makes the following statement.
' For the 303 barrel, if the Martini breech-loading mechanism is used, it must be fitted with a breech-block of special construction, or the extra strain caused by using cordite and similar explosives, will soon so alter the shape of the block that it will not work'.
I have a 450/577 Martini and to my inexpert eyes the block appears to be a fairly solid chunk of metal so I am surprised at this statement. I realise that cordite is more powerful than black powder but I would have thought that the recoil of a Martini fouled by black powder was probably equal or worse than the same rifle firing a 303 cordite cartridge. It also would seem to my inexpert eyes that the 303 case being smaller in size to the 577 would be pushing against a larger area of the block and therefore would exert less strain.
I know Greener was a recognised expert in weapons in his day so I would hesitate to doubt his word on the matter, but I do wonder if there were many cases of damaged blocks and if the Government did actually fit strengthened ones when they converted them?
View user's profileSend private message
GJ


Joined: 10 Apr 2007
Posts: 7
Reply with quote
The .577/.450 Martini cartridge was a black powder cartridge and generated much lesser chamber pressures than the .303, which was a nitro powder cartridge of much higher chamber pressure (about 19 tons per square inch)
The Martini breech block was strong enough but the firing pin point and hole were rather large. There was a possibility that the .303 primer would rupture and gas escape into the action and injure the firer. So the firing pin point was reduced and a steel strip with a smaller hole was dovetailed across the front of the breech block.

GJ
View user's profileSend private message
GJ


Joined: 10 Apr 2007
Posts: 7
Reply with quote
Further to my previous post. you might be interested in some of Ian Skennerton's Small Arms Identification Series of booklets. SAIS No 15 is on the .450 and .303 Martini. I got mine from Jeremy Tenniswood and the 48 page booklet cost 8. In the parts diagrams on pages 32 & 34 shows the converted breech blocks.
I also have SAIS No 16, Training and Cadet Rifles ( lot on the .310 Greeners and BSA) and SAIS No 20 Enfield Musket and Snider Enfield which I also collect.
GJ
View user's profileSend private message
303 Martini
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
All times are GMT  
Page 1 of 1  

  
  
 Reply to topic