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                                      BELTS AND LINKS

 

The subject of ammunition feeding systems is largely overlooked by aficionados of the Browning Caliber .30 machine guns. 

"Its a cloth belt", or "I shoot links", is about as far as the conversation usually goes.  

Like most other things casually observed there is much more to this story, which we are about to relate. 

It is a story of trial and error, American ingenuity and the industrial might of the United States.

Dr. Richard Gatling, Hiram Maxim, John Browning and Benjamin  Hotchkiss, oddly enough all American born, designed their weapons on some particular system of ammunition supply. 

They did not develop the weapon and then get up one morning and decide how to supply ammunition.

The design and functionality of the weapon included the method by which they intended to supply the prodigious amount of ammunition these firearms required. 

The Gatling  design was not a true machine gun as it required turning a crank that loaded and fired each of the multiple barrels in turn, firing one shot at a time, albeit very rapidly

No belt was required because ammunition was loaded singly into a hopper and later drum and stick magazines were developed. 

 Hotchkiss gas operated air cooled machine guns were actually developed from an original design by an Austrian nobleman, Baron A. Odkolek a Captain in the Austrian Army. 

The Captain assigned his patents to the French firm Benjamin Hotchkiss. 

Hotchkiss produced many weapons including the M1909 Benet-Mercie Machine Rifle adopted by the U.S. Army in the early 20th century.

Hotchkiss designed weapons were usually supplied with ammunition usually in 30 round strips carried in a wooden box or some other container. 

The big problem here was the that the ammunition was prone to get dirty  and had a tendency to fall out of the strips. 

Then there was the problem that the strips could be inserted in the weapon upside down, that is, with the cartridges on the bottom side of the tray for some models or on the top for the M1909 Machine rifle if the operators did not pay attention to the task at hand, which when in the dark or under fire, they were not likely to do.

Maxim designed weapons used belts of various construction.  The most familiar one is made of two strips of fabric riveted together at intervals with brass strips featuring a stitched leading edge

 

John Manning photo.

The space between the riveted brass strips provided a pocket for the cartridge.  The extended brass strips every third cartridge are part of the feed system that advances the belt.

Maxim weapons also used metallic link belts of the non-disintegrating variety made of steel or sometimes aluminum.  Sometimes the metallic components of the belt were riveted onto a fabric backing.

Not everyone else went down this path.

John Browning decided early on, with the development of the M1895 "Potato Digger", that his designs were going to be based on a flexible cloth belt to supply ammunition. 

Browning described the attributes of the ideal machine gun feed belt in his Application for Patent number 660344 for a belt filling machine originally filed on November 15, 1899 and granted on October 23, 1900.

"It desirable that such feed belts should be light in weight, flexible, capable of holding the cartridges close together and inexpensive. The possession of these qualities renders it necessary to avoid the use of beaded edges and of metallic strips between the pockets...." .   So much for John Browning's view of the Maxim style belt.

This cut is from Sheet 4  of the illustrations accompanying  Browning's filing for patent 660244 October 23, 1900 for a  "Machine for loading feed-belts for machine guns".

The basic idea for Browning's patent was that his machine would force the cartridge pocket open and hold it open by clamping the belt in the proper position while pushing the cartridge into place.

It appears that the original Browning belts were two layers of fabric tape stitched together  to form pockets to hold the cartridges. 

The cartridges shown here appear to be either 7X57 mm Mauser adopted as a service cartridge by Spain in 1893 and also favored by many Latin American countries or possibly 7.92X57 "J" German service ammunition.

Keep in mind that at the time this patent for the belt filling machine was granted the U.S. Army service cartridge was the rimmed bottlenecked Caliber .30 U. S. Army, aka the .30-40 Krag, and Army Ordnance, under that impossible old fossil Chief of Ordnance Brigadier General William Crozier, was not much interested in any sort of modernization unless it was Crozier's idea. 

In Crozier's defense, he, prodded along by President Theodore Roosevelt who knew a superior firearm when he saw it or at least when he was shot at with it, oversaw the replacement of the M1892 Krag with the M1903 Springfield rifle, albeit without the original telescoping rod style bayonet that the President personally ordered replaced with a knife style. 

The powers that be finally concluded in 1918 that Crozier, who often opined that "the technician knows what is best for the troops", caused way more trouble with the other branches of the Army than he was worth as a "technician". 

Crozier was replaced with Major General Clarence C. Williams who took the view that "...if the troops want elephants we will get them elephants". 

It is not known if Williams was as good a "technician" as Crozier, however, his attitude likely made him much more popular with his peers and the troops.

The "J", or "Infanterie" (infantry) German service cartridge was developed for the German M1888 Commission rifle and featured a .318 round nosed projectile weighing 226 grains.  

This cartridge case, the 7.92X57 mm, is commonly called "8 mm Mauser", or "8X57 Mauser" however, it is neither 8 mm nor was it developed for a Mauser rifle. 

The M1888 Commission German service rifle was actually a modified Mannlicher design using a sheet steel clip as part of the feed system.

In 1898 the German Army adopted a new Mauser designed service rifle and in 1905 the German Army modified their service cartridge keeping the same 7.92X57 case but redesigning the cartridge to a 154 grain "Spitzer" or pointed projectile and increasing the diameter to .323 and called it the " Patrone JS". 

There is a persistent urban legend that the German Gothic script "I" in Infanterie was  misinterpreted as the English "J" and spawned never ending confusion. 

There is another equally persistent notion that the word "Infanterie" could be spelled with either an "I" or a "J"  in German.

It also might be worth noting here that the German switch to the spitzer projectile in 1905 was followed in 1906 by the U.S. redesigning their M1903 Ball cartridge to the M1906 Ball cartridge featuring a 150 grain pointed projectile. 

After adopting the German designed Mauser bolt action system and calling it the U. S. Rifle, Caliber .30, Model of 1903 it apparently became monkey see, monkey do. 

 John Browning's M1895 gas operated machine gun produced by Colt was the first commercially successful machine gun designed and produced in the U.S. 

The U.S. Army had little interest in machine guns prior to the Spanish-American War and not much more than that until our involvement in WWI.

The Navy, however, wanted machine guns for the Marine Corps and for use by naval landing forces and between the years 1895 and about 1912  purchased several hundred M1895's in 6mm Lee Navy, the U.S. Navy service cartridge.  These weapons were later converted to M1903 and even later to M1906 cartridges. 

Before the development of Browning's belt filling machine, it is assumed that belts were filled by hand, a tedious and slow process, fine for peacetime training but failing to make the grade during combat operations.

Browning's original design for the  "gas hammer" M1895 is shown on page 6 Figure 11 in Goldsmith's Browning Machine Gun, Volume 1.

A close examination of this photo reveals a partially expended belt and rimmed spent cases on the ground which appear to be Caliber .30 U.S. Army.

This fabric cartridge belt appears to have covered nearly all of the projectile, the cartridge neck, and a small portion of the cartridge body.

  

 Browning's later patent for the M1901 recoil operated machine gun, pictured above, shows in Fig. 19 what appears to be the same belt and cartridge.

It seems that this arrangement would not grip the cartridges very well and since it gripped the cartridges on only one end likely contributed to misalignment of the belt as it entered the feed way. 

Why this design of belt is shown on a later patent than the style that gripped the body and neck of the cartridge is unknown.

Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company needed a supply of belts for sales of the Browning M1895 and later versions and, since they were not in the textile business, looked around for someone to supply these belts.

It appears that this "someone" was the Russell Manufacturing Company located in Middletown CT about 25 miles south of Colt's Hartford factory. 

Photo of Frank H. Frissell from the September 13, 1932 issue of the Middletown Press courtesy of Cathy Ahern, Russell Library, Middletown CT.

On April 12, 1915 Frank H. Frissell, a Superintendent at Russell, filed an application for a patent covering a "new and useful improvement in beltlike cartridge-carrier for machine-guns".

 

  

Mr. Frissell's new and useful improvement describes the problems with the earlier stitched belt design, starting on line 32 of the patent, and continues on to denote how his reinforcing of the edges and crossing of the threads produce a sturdier and more uniform pocket for the cartridges. 

Photo from TB  23-45-1 July 1942 courtesy of 90th Infantry Division Association.

One of the considerations of fabric belts is the fact that before, during, and after WWI and into the opening stages of WWII, machine gun ammunition was loaded into belts by the troops in the field using a Browning designed, Colt built, hand cranked belt loading machine.

The belt loading machine pictured above is the shuttle type commonly used during and after WWII. 

The magazine, the U shaped vertical part, holds 20 rounds of ammunition.  During WWII there were several companies other than Colt that produced these machines.  

Originally, machine gun ammunition was shipped in 20 round pasteboard cartons in wooden crates with terne plate liners, a sort of boxes in a waterproof tin box inside a wooden crate arrangement.

Terne plating is a coating deposited on steel that allows lead based solder to bond to the steel for sealing.

After loading the cartridges into belts they were  transferred into the wooden ammunition chest and carried to the point of use.  The belts were intended to be reloaded many times. 

 

RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann 

Just after WWI ended this drawing appeared. 

From what information is available it appears that Ordnance proposed to belt ammunition at the factory using either the MK1 or MK2 expendable belts. 

Apparently the feeling was that they didn't want to tie up the expensive reusable fabric belts loaded and stored for decades and the possibility of the loaded belts becoming moldy.

These belts were made of two layers of kraft paper covering asphaltum coated muslin stapled together.  The MK 1 using one wire stitch near the junction of the cartridge neck and body while the MK2 used two staples near the case mouth and two stitches on the case body. 

These belts were probably not well liked by the troops especially in weather extremes.

Asphaltum is coal tar mixed with turpentine and the muslin fabric was likely a cheesecloth material. 

The author has seen similar material used to patch cracks and repair leaking flashings on built up tar/gravel roofs.

 Furnishing machine gun ammunition already belted  and packaged ready for field use was the subject of several inter-war meetings of the Ordnance Committee and much correspondence and haggling between the Ordnance department and the using branches. 

While the Cavalry and Infantry pressed for something resembling WWII functional lot ammunition the Ordnance Department was dragging its heels to avoid spending money, which was in very short supply due to economic conditions, a traditional isolationist mood in national politics, and longstanding public fear of militarism that bordered on clinical paranoia.

It wasn't until the development of the expendable M1 steel ammunition box and the concept of "Functional Lot" loading for ground troops adopted in the early stages of WWII that machine gun ammunition was factory belted, packaged in rugged, convenient, re-sealable, weatherproof containers that were easy to hand transport and could be opened without the use of tools with the contents ready to be fed directly into the weapon.

The steel ammunition box and fabric belts were considered to be "expendable" in combat operations.

It is believed with information now available that in machine gun training the belts were recovered and reloaded to save material and to instruct in the use of the belt loading machine.

The development of functional lot loading did not remove the need for spare belts and the hand operated belt loading machine as they were still necessary if ammunition became only available in cartons or clips had to be reloaded into belts in a supply emergency. 

This supply of spare belts and the belt loading machine was usually carried in the  Weapons Platoon's 4X4 Dodge weapons carrier or on some other vehicle.

 

Authors photo.

Pre-July 1940 pattern 250 round belt showing the Frissell patent method of weaving.  This belt is equipped with the long tab marked for the Model of 1917.  The belt is soiled from repeated use, the original color was natural cotton.

This belt has the belt buckle tab on one end black stitching like the picture below, no patent protection markings and no round count markings and the fabric portion was likely produced after the expiration of the Frissell patent in January 1933.

 

                           John Manning Photo.

The fabric portion of this 250 round belt, the standard number of rounds for infantry use, likely dates from WWI, or at least before January 18, 1933 the date when the Frissell patent expired. 

Note the marking "PAT, JAN 18, 1916. 

 U.S. Patent Law allowed the patent protection marking to be either the date the patent was granted or the patent number itself.

The Frissell patent belts seems to have always use the date for patent protection while those of the Hendley patent, which will be discussed later in this article, used the patent number.

While 250 rounds was the standard infantry belt capacity, in October, 1936 the M3 100 round belts were developed for tank and vehicle use.

The 1940 Basic Field Manual for the M1919A4, FM 23-15, also mentions a 150 round which we discovered to be the M2 belt.

As a purely technical matter the belt could be made any length desired because the belt material was woven in long lengths and cut to size when the metal belt ends were attached. 

However, there were practical considerations for packaging the belt and the weight of the loaded belt.

The belt pictured above was manufactured by the Russell Company and used Frissell's patented weaving process it lacks round count markings but is otherwise consistent with pre-1940 production. 

The belt has the triangular riveted on 4.5 inch "long tab" brass "CLIP, end" drawing A140962 commonly called the starter tab. 

This tab may have been used earlier than the original date on the letter prefix drawing, April 20, 1934, however earlier dated drawings have not as yet been located.

The purpose of the starter tab is to aid in loading the Browning without raising the top cover. 

The tab was inserted through the left side of the feed way with the projectiles pointing toward the muzzle and pulled by the tab from the right side until the first cartridge depresses and passes over the spring loaded belt holding pawl which keeps the belt from falling out of the weapon while it is cycling.   The first cartridge ends up against the extractor.

Next the operator pulls and releases the bolt handle which advances the belt and places a cartridge under the extractor.  This operation is known as the "half load".

The bolt handle is pulled and released again which advances the belt and places the first cartridge in the chamber, the second cartridge under the extractor and the weapon is ready to fire.  This second operation of the bolt is called the 'full load".

The long tab was used on what is believed to be a redesign of the 250 round M1917  ammunition belt which was likely the M1 and on the original 1936 design of the M2 150 round and  M3 100 round belt .  

The terms "long tab", "short tab", "starter tab" and "belt buckle" are not standard Army nomenclature but rather descriptive terms applied and more easily understood by civilian owners.

RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann

While most period pictures from 1895 to 1918 show both short and long tabs on Browning belts drawing 15-18-137 dated July 25 1918 shows the original configuration of the belt for the M1917 having no starter tab on either end. 

Using a belt of this design the operator would have to raise the top cover to load a belt.  This operation would expose personnel to fire.

RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann

Several revisions were made to the drawing, the most obvious is the addition of a short starter tab with an oval hole and a different style belt buckle clip by Revision 3, June 20, 1923.

Revision 4 June 27, 1924. added a third rivet near the tip to help keep the starter tab from separating. 

The correct nomenclature for the belts shown above was "Browning Machine Gun Ammunition Belt, Model of 1917". 

Finally Revision 7, July 22, 1940 converted this Class and Division drawing to letter prefix drawing C3951.

 RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann

This drawing of the 250 round M1917 .30 caliber belt is the letter prefix conversion of the original Class & Division drawing 15-18-137 with an original date of July 22, 1940. 

This belt, like the weapons it was intended for, retained its original year of adoption style of nomenclature until its obsolescence because it existed prior to 1934 and the Army was not about to rename everything in existence and rewrite every document that mentioned anything by the year of adoption naming convention . 

There is no mention of the Hendley patent, and from the "Enlarged Section of Pockets" detail it appears to be the original Frissell design the patent for which had expired.

No mention is made in the "DWG PERTAINS TO" block of the M1919A4 or any other of the air cooled ground .30 Calibers.

RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann.

This belt design features a short brass oval hole "starter tab"  which no longer has the third rivet to keep the tab closed which appeared on the M1917 belt in 1923. 

The tab is now spot welded together just in front of the hole.

This tab was first called Clip, End, A187145.

After Revision 1 (10-10-40) to the drawing this part's nomenclature changed to TIP, Ammunition Belt.   

The tip was on the end closest to the 25 round count marking and a blackened brass "belt buckle" clip, which resembles the tab one would find on a trouser belt, at the far end 250 round mark.

It also has the black marking threads indicating the cartridge entrance edge of the belt, round count markings every 25th cartridge pocket and the C3951 piece mark for the belt assembly on the starter tab which features an oval hole, the purpose of which is not clear.

RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann

The belt pictured above in drawing C3951 Revision 2, 7-25-41 looks pretty much like the previous belt.  References to the 1919A4 have been added.

RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann

By Revision 6 many changes had occurred. 

Revision 3, 11-5-41, added an oval hole short brass starter tab to both ends. 

Revision 4, 12-6-41, added information about the Hendley weaving process as an alternate method of manufacture. 

Revision 5, 12-27-42 added the warning that the US government did not have manufacturing rights under the Hendley patent.

Revision 6, 1-12-42, showed the new design of the brass starter tabs lacking the oval holes and the spot weld to hold the tab closed. 

The holes and spot welding were eliminated to speed production.

RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann

By Revision 13 5-15-43 the belt under went more changes. 

Revision 9, 3-20-42, changed the starter tabs to riveted on phosphate coated steel as a brass conservation measure. 

Revision 10, 7-10-42, added the illustration of the cartridge depth for the extraction test. 

Photo courtesy of Clare Sheridan,  American Textile History Museum. 

The caption typed on the back of this pictures states that this tab design was developed  by the Russell Company with the purpose of eliminating the belt end preparation steps of splitting, tapering and stapling the belt fabric and drilling the rivet holes and placing and riveting the tabs in place. 

The picture above was not dated however it was likely taken after the 10-27-42 date shown on drawing A187145 for the redesign of the tab.  

Russell always referred to this design as the "prong type tip"

The machine operator, a WOW (Women Ordnance Worker), has the two ends of the belt in the right hand, a tab in the machine and another tab at the ready in her left hand. 

The Russell workforce producing ammunition belts consisted mostly of women.

RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann

Revision 5 to the Tip drawing and Revision 11 to C5931, the belt assembly drawing, dated  10-27-42, completely changed the design of the brass/steel starter tab eliminating the taper cutting, by making the tab slightly wider, along with stapling and hole punching for the rivets, making the tab self attaching by means of prongs punched through the fabric and crimped over.

The punching process that created prongs and their receptacles also created a stop for the insertion of the belt fabric.  

This TIP, Ammunition Belt was the U.S. standard at least through 12-6-50 and likely on to the obsolescence of the fabric belts.

Revision 12 to drawing C3951, 11-25-42, removed the note regarding the Hendley patent rights as Russell had licensed the patent to the US government on November 21, 1942 and by all accounts waived royalty payments.

Drawing C3951 Revision 13,  5-15-43, removed one of the starter tabs, again as a material conservation issue.  In place of the missing starter tab and the earlier belt buckle clip the end of the belt was just stitched together to prevent unraveling.

 

Author's photo

This is possibly the "M1" Post WWI and Pre-1934 production belts intended for the M1917 Brownings it is equipped with the A140962  long starter tab stamped BROWNING Machinegun- Belt Model of 1917 on one side of the tab and 250 rounds Cal-30 on the other. 

Round count markings are not present and belt fabric produced after January, 1933 did not require patent protection marking.  We have found the drawings for the M2 150 round and two different drawing sets for the production of the M3 100 round belt, however, the 250 round M1 belt drawings, if they exist, have not surfaced as of yet.

SPDX1B, the belt buckle clip, is a "TAXI" drawing indicating that this particular piece of common hardware was used on more than one item and was procured from commercial sources. 

The purpose of the "belt buckle" clip is to prevent the belt from unraveling. 

RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann

This is the original long tab drawing marked for the M1917 and according to the Drg. Pertains To entry was intended for the M2 150 round belt. 

There was only one problem, by 1934 the M1919A2 and the idea of air cooled machine guns for  use by the Cavalry and Infantry were just about a given but ideas of how many rounds would be proper for this kind of use were in a state of flux. 

There may have been drawings of this tab in the C&D system possibly for use in aircraft weapons, however, we have not as yet located them.

RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann

Drawing C59721 the M2 150 round belt.

It was decided to change the marking on the tab to "Machine Gun Belt Cal .30" because the belt would work in the M1917 or the M1919A2 or any other weapon based on the M1917 design.  This change in wording on the tab caused the belt assembly drawing to be redrawn in June of 1934.

One thing is apparent from this drawing's Drg Pertains To block.  The 150 round belt was developed in conjunction with the development of the M2 tripod and the M1919A2.

This drawing was maintained until July 30, 1937 indicating that the M2 150 round belt was dropped in favor of either the standard M1917 250 round or the 100 round M3 belts at some point after that date. 

 

Author's photo courtesy of the RIA Museum

From what we know now, it appears that in addition to the M1917 250 round belt there was a parallel development of the M1 250 round, M2 150 round and M3 100 round belts. 

Apparently in July 1940, or thereabouts, it was decided to mark the M1917 belt tab with the drawing piece mark C3951 eliminating any reference to the weapon nomenclature or caliber, eliminate the M2 150 round belt, shown above,  and remove the tabs in favor of  eyelets or grommets on the C64943 M3 100 round belt. 

Between May and November 1944 the piece mark on the M1917 250 round belt was changed to    1-B-1479 which was a Stock (Item) number.  It is not known why this change was made since standard Ordnance practice required that drawing numbers controlled piece marks.  In November 1944 the piece mark reverted back to the original piece mark based on the drawing number.

Authors photo courtesy of the RIA Museum

This appears to be a factory made Russell  Hendley pattern 50 round belt from the RIA Museums collection it is not known why or when this was made but it does have the factory stitched end.

One of the things that amazes is the number of belts, out of the approximately 28,000,000 produced, that survived when they were  considered to be combat expendable and the number of non-standard belts that continue to surface. 

Authors photo courtesy of the RIA Museum

Another odd ball belt from the RIA Museum collection.

The maker is "F.F.S." or "T.F.S." it is dated 1942 and is of the Frissell pattern weave with what is probably an experimental method of attaching the starter tab.  If in fact the marking is T.F.S. it could be a Thomas French & Sons produced belt. 

The Museums records do not shed any light on the identification of maker or the reason it is in the collection.

This method, while a vast manufacturing improvement over the riveted on tab, likely went out the window with the self attaching style developed by Russell.

In all probability all of the piece parts of the belts of whatever vintage were used up in war time production regardless of how they were marked or what they were originally intended for.

John Manning photo.

Additionally there were belts made principally in Britain and likely Canada, that did not conform to US drawings. 

This belt, of the Hendley pattern, has a three rivet steel tab not seen in the Ordnance drawings examined so far.

The meaning of the stenciling is not known, however, this belt is likely British as they tended to mark ammunition lot numbers on the belts.

The British firm Kynoch produced large quantities of Caliber .30 ammunition in the early 1950's which was loaded into belts produced by Thomas French & Sons, Manchester, England who also produced belts during WWII.

Some of  these belts have the starter tabs marked with the French name and some marked with a "fleur de lis" symbol are also believed to have been manufactured by French.

This ammunition, in M1 ammunition boxes was sold in 2010 by the Civilian Marksmanship Program.

Depending on when the belts or tabs were produced and which of the  commercial Browning weapons they were intended for they can be marked in various ways. 

 

John Manning photo.

This 250 round belt was intended for the Model of 1918 Browning machine gun. 

The tabs are marked COLT-BROWNING Machine Gun Belt Model of 1918 on one side and 250 on the other side of the tab.  The fabric has round count markings and at the far left you can see the partial stamp of the Frissell patent date.

John Manning photo.

This 250 round belt may be a commercial belt that Colt's supplied as an accessory for commercial or foreign purchasers.

In 1920 Mr. Frissell, sans machine gun belt patent which he had assigned to the Russell Company, purchased some of Russell's manufacturing facilities in Higganum, CT just south of Middletown, and set out on his own forming a new company, The Frissell Fabric Company.  

In 1937 he became the co-founder of Frismar, Inc. a manufacturer of typewriter ribbon, carbon paper and other office supply items.  Frismar operated out of the Frissell Fabric Company facility.

From information provided by the Russell Library, Middletown, CT, the Russell Manufacturing Company, established in Middletown by Samuel Russell in 1834, had a history of producing military equipment dating at least back to the Spanish-American War when they produced cartridge belts for use with the M1892 Krag rifle and possibly cartridge belts for various state militia units equipped with M1873 trapdoor Springfield rifles. 

When WWI started the Russell Company was producing about 300 M1910 "BELT, Cartridge, Dismounted, Model of 1910" per week. 

The M1910 had 10 "eagle" snap and later lift-the-dot flap pockets each holding two 5 round stripper clips of M1906 .30 caliber ammunition. 

This belt was very similar to the M1923 cartridge belt used in WWII and Korea and served the army until it was phased out in 1957 with the advent of the M14 rifle which used a detachable 20 round box magazine.

As the country was preparing to celebrate the first post-WWI "Decoration Day", now known as Memorial Day honoring the U.S. WWI war dead, the Middletown Press, on May 29, 1919, ran a feature story highlighting the local manufacturers contributions to the war effort.  The cut below lists items that Russell Manufacturing produced for the WWI war effort.

Article courtesy of Cathy Ahern, Russell Library, Middletown CT

 

Due to WWI wartime demands Russell built new buildings, acquired more machinery hired more hands and upped cartridge/ammunition belt production to 3,000 per day.  

It is not crystal clear from the article if the production figures apply to the M1910 cartridge belt for the M1903 and M1917 rifle equipped troops or ammunition belts for the M1917 Browning machine gun or both. 

The Russell Manufacturing Company was the exclusive supplier of ammunition belts for the M1917 Browning machine gun in WWI.

In 1936 another Russell employee, James A. Hendley, was granted a patent for improvements to the ammunition belt which built upon the Frissell patent which expired on January 18, 1933.  The term of patent at that time being 17 years.

 

Photo courtesy of Cathy Ahern, Russell Library, Middletown, CT

Its not often we can put a face to the name this long after the fact, but here's James A. Hendley who's patent number 2,061,072, assigned to the Russell Manufacturing Company, appeared on millions of Browning belts made by Russell and the other WWII era manufacturers of the M1917 .30 caliber 250 round, 100 round M3  and 110 round .50 caliber fabric belts that used his weaving method.

Apparently this patent application was filed in May 1933, likely as a result of the expiration of the Frissell patent that January, but the Hendley patent was not granted until November, 1936.

 

After 1936 the Russell Company had a stranglehold on what was arguably the best all fabric machine gun belt design on the planet and in late 1941, according to the publication U.S. Army in WWII Technical Services, The Ordnance Department Procurement and Supply published in 1959, Russell released their 1916 (Frissell) patent to the U.S. government. 

Why it would be necessary to release an expired patent was not explained.  

  Photo courtesy of Clare Sheridan, American Textile History Museum.

This photo dated August 21, 1943 shows Mr. Hendley receiving an award from the Ordnance Department.  Left to right  A.J. La Barge Union President, Mr. Hendley,  C.J. Sherer VP, Treasurer and General Manager of Russell, and  LT R. M. Gage, CAPT D.F. Lindley and and Dana C. Howard of the Springfield Ordnance District.

Photo courtesy of Clare Sheridan, American Textile History Museum.

The chief benefit of using the Hendley patent weaving process was the increased flexibility of the belt and superior cartridge gripping ability of the cartridge pockets which became more important with the advent of power driven turrets in aircraft and their cramped spaces. 

By the early 1940's the Army Air Corps had gradually come around to the view that the .30 caliber machine gun lacked sufficient power and range when used against modern aircraft and decided to standardize on the .50 caliber for both offensive and defensive aircraft armament.  

The better flexibility of the Hendley pattern was achieved by the hollow space woven between the cartridge pockets shown as item 14 in the patent drawing above.

Author's photo

C64943 M3 100 round belt woven with Hendley patent.  The hollow spaces between the cartridge pockets have been spread with a needle to better illustrate the construction.  This belt is unmarked, post April 1942 WWII style having grommets instead of eyelets or starter tabs.

 

RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann

This drawing is of the original M3 100 round belt assembly dated October 9, 1936, it has no approval signatures and nothing entered in the Drawing Pertains To block.

This belt design features the A140962 long tab on either end marked "Machine Gun Belt Cal .30" it is not piece marked. 

It shows what appears to be the Frissell patent weaving, and has a detail of the preparation of the fabric ends for attachment of the brass starter tab. 

To keep the fabric from fraying, the split halves are fastened together with a brass wire staple prior to attaching the tab with rivets. 

This is the standard attachment method for the long tab.

RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann

This belt underwent quite a few changes in appearance starting with Revision 4, 7-23-41 when the tabs disappeared.  To replace them a 3/8 inch eyelet and 5 of the cartridge pockets were stitched together to form a cloth starter tab.

 RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann

By revision 10, 4-5-42, the eyelet was replaced by a grommet and along the way information regarding the Hendley weaving process patent marking requirement and extraction testing information were added. 

The 100 round M3 belt pictured above is the most commonly encountered.  It is found in both natural white usually with the round count markings or green with and without round count markings and sometimes with "US" stamped one end. 

Nothing discovered so far in Ordnance records that we have examined explains the seemingly random application of Ordnance standards.

 RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann

To further confuse the issue of M3 100 round belts here's another one.

This belt design is drawing C93169 it is also called BELT, Ammunition Cal..30, M3 (100 round) and the piece mark on the tab is C93169. 

This drawing has an original date of October 27, 1942 and has the A187145 Revision 5 one piece self attaching steel starter tab on both ends.  The one piece self attaching tab drawing has the same October 27, 1942 original date.  

Both of these drawings C64943 and C93169 were maintained past the end of WWII so it is highly likely that both belts were in production at the same time.  Since they have different drawing numbers they would have had different stock numbers.

Apparently it was felt that there was a need for a style of 100 round belt both with and without the metal starter tabs.

The M and digit style naming convention designation complies with the policy initiated in 1934 when the old style nomenclature system using the year of adoption was abandoned in favor of using the upper case M, representing the words " Model or Model of" previously adopted in 1922, and numeral(s) indicating successive designs.

There appears to have been a M1 250 round belt, the drawings for which have not been discovered as of yet and a C59721 M2 150 round belt which appears to have a standard item from about April of 1934 until some time after July 30, 1937 when the last revision to the drawing was dated.

RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann

The short tab without the oval hole became standard with Revision 3, 1-12-42.  The removal of the oval hole, the original purpose of which is not documented, was intended to speed up production of the tabs. 

Spot welding the tab together was also dropped.

Less than 3 months later Revision 4, 3-20-42 changed the material of the A187145 tab from brass, a critical material, to phosphate coated steel with steel attaching rivets.

By October 10, 1942 Revision 5 completely redesigned the part eliminating the rivets and making it self attaching by means of  prongs stamped out of the body that penetrated the fabric and passed through holes on the other side of the tab where they were crimped over. 

It also changed the dimensions of the tab making it wider eliminating the need to trim the fabric and added a stop to control how far the fabric was inserted into the tab.

This design, developed by the Russell company, used on both the C3951 M1917 250 round and  the C93169 M3 100 round belt, was the final configuration extending at least through the conversion to 7 digit drawing 5187145 in December 1952.

 

Photo courtesy of John Manning 

This Israeli contract made 230 round belt clearly shows the advantages of the self attaching tabs designed by Russell Manufacturing. 

On the tab on the right you can see the prongs crimped over and the bent in portion of the punched rectangle acting as a stop for inserting the fabric during manufacturing. 

The Israeli's apparently favored tabs on both ends of their belts something that the U.S. dropped on the 250 round M1917 belt in May of 1943.

The Israeli's adopted 225 and 230 round belts as they would fit more easily in the M19A1 metal ammunition box that replaced the slightly different shaped M1 box that would hold either the 250 round fabric or metallic link belts.

The M19A1 ammunition box would hold 250 rounds of either 7.62 X 51 NATO or Cal..30 in metal links.

 

Rollin Lofdahl photo

The 250 round belt pictured above has the Hendley patent number Russell's initials R.M.C.,  42 for the year of the fabric production, an factory inspector's "33" or "38" and the no hole A187145 brass riveted short tab .

From what we have determined so far, that while every belt likely received a visual inspection because of the prevalence of factory inspection stamps, it is not likely that every belt received the extraction test tested as described on C3951 Revision 6.

Photo courtesy of Clare Sheridan, American Textile History Museum

This photo shows initial inspection of the belt material for proper spacing of the cartridge pockets before fabrication begins.  The man on the left is using a belt loading machine for a function test and the two men on the right are using a machine designed by Russell to measure pocket spacing.

The two men on the left wearing suits are likely Russell supervisors who showed up for a photo-op.  I can't imagine wearing a dark suit for very long in a plant full of lint.

Photo courtesy of Clare Sheridan, American Textile History Museum.

The caption typed on the back of this photo describes the work pictured as " inspection,  stamping and cutting prior to tipping of 100 round .30 caliber machine gun belts". 

You can see the woman in the foreground about to stamp the company name and patent information and the self inking stamps for the round count markings spaced out on the table. 

The second, third and fourth women shown in this photo appear to be the same persons shown in the previous photograph.  Likely both photos were taken on the same day. 

Note the American flag in both photos with what appears to be battle damage.

When this operation was completed the belt was hung on the rod at the end of the table and loaded into baskets and sent to the next step in the manufacturing process.

 

Photo courtesy of Clare Sheridan, American Textile History Museum

The starter tabs or grommets are attached prior to final inspection.

Photo Courtesy of Clare Sheridan, American Textile History museum.

Hampers of 250 round belts.

 

Photo courtesy of Clare Sheridan, American Textile History Museum.

Final inspection of C64943 100 round M3 belts. 

The table and shelving in the background appears to hold various pieces of web gear or possibly 110 round .50 caliber fabric belts.

Photo courtesy of Clare Sheridan, American Textile History Museum

After final inspection the belts were blocked (shaped), rolled and tied with twine prior to being boxed and shipped.

The twine used to tie the rolled belts was odds and ends of the thread used to weave the belt.

Both of the ladies pictured here wear photo ID badges and appear to have been forewarned about having their pictures taken.

 

Photo courtesy of Clare Sheridan, American Textile History Museum

Counting and packing belts. 

The boxes on the floor with the steel banding are likely the type used to ship large quantities of belts to ammunition plants for functional lot loading.

Inspection of the belts was serious business.  Besides visual inspections extraction tests as outlined on the belt drawings were also preformed.

Photo courtesy of Clare Sheridan, American Textile History Museum

Extraction test on a 110  round .50 caliber belt.  The dummy cartridges pictured here have empty primer pockets.  The same method was used to perform extraction tests on the .30 caliber belts

Photo courtesy of Clare Sheridan, American Textile History Museum

The gentleman pictured here is identified only as a "government ordnance inspector" firing on the outside range "located some distance from the plant" before construction of an indoor testing facility. 

It appears that Russell was supplied with a M1919A4 Fixed model Browning for testing purposes.

Photo courtesy of Clare Sheridan, American Textile History Museum

This picture taken at the Russell indoor testing facility shows "Russell designer and technician Mr. Rasero" either testing some belts or just having a little quality time with the M1919A4.

Most probably belts were segregated into lots, and depending on the size of the lot, some number of  random samples from that lot were tested.  If the samples passed the extraction and firing test test the lot was approved for shipping.

Photo courtesy of Clare Sheridan, American Textile History Museum

Government Ordnance Inspector Mr. Cash stenciling accepted boxes of belts for shipment overseas via the Quartermaster, Ordnance Depot, Curtis Bay, MD. 

The bottom two lines on the stencil appear to be some sort of routing information.

 

John Manning photo

While Russell was the preeminent belt manufacturer, there were at least 10 other companies producing belts under Russell's Hendley patent or the expired Frissell patent. 

Schlegel Manufacturing Company located in Rochester, NY also produced belts.  This example C64943 M3 with a 1942 fabric manufacturing date has the short brass tab with the oval hole that was replaced by the brass tab without the hole after January 1942. 

Likely since the drawing number for all the short tabs never changed, belt manufacturers used up whatever tabs were on hand.

 

Authors photo courtesy of RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann

This 100 round  C64943 M3 belt was manufactured by Murdock Webbing Company, Central Falls, RI and has the short brass tab without the holes introduced in January, 1942.

However the tabs are piece marked C3951 for the 250 round M1917 belt, go figure.

Frank Iannamico in Hard Rain, lists these additional firms as belt makers.

International Braid Company

International Braid Company Hendley pattern 250 round belt.  This 70 year old belt still has the original thread tie holding it rolled for packing  Tyler Kuykendall photo.

P.F. Hesse Narrow Fabric Company

Krauss Trimming

Oehrle Brothers, Philadelphia, PA

Rose Manufacturing Co., Detroit, MI

Consolidated Trimming Corp., NY, NY

George C. More, Westerly, RI

Samson Cordage Works

Thomas French & Sons, Manchester, England

Warren Featherbone Co., Three Oaks, MI

Tyler Kuykendall photo.

This belt is also in new and unused condition and interesting just for the name and history of the manufacturer.  Edward Warren, a dry goods dealer in Three Oaks MI, developed a method of manufacturing ladies corsets using the shafts of feathers as a stiffner rather than whalebone hence the name "featherbone".  Warren later branched out into bustles, garter belts, and sewing notions such as woven bias tape, rick rack, lampshade binding and elastic sewing tape.  Like most firms during WWII Warren Featherbone entered war production and ended up making Browning machine gun belts.

None of these firms appear to be active today other than Warren Featherbone and the Ordnance Supply Bulletin dated April, 1945 only listed Russell, Schlegel, and Rose as active contractors.  

The Supply Bulletin does not state what items the contractors were producing.

As WWII in the Pacific and other tropical climates ground on, the problem of mildew became acute not only for machine gun belts, but for web gear, canvas and cloth goods of all sorts.

In July of 1944 Ordnance approved a specification for treatment of fabrics to address the problem.

This treatment, Type III Salicylic Aniline, was to be applied to all fabric machine gun belts.

Apparently some confusion ensued regarding which items were treated and which were not.  This resulted in a January 1946 directive to mark all the treated items with "MRT" and month and year of treatment.

MRT was the abbreviation for "Mildew Resistant Treatment" even though today some collectors assert that MRT was a manufacturer of the treated item.

One of the most puzzling aspects of the fabric belts is the large number of belts lacking any sort of marking on the fabric for either round count or the manufacturers markings.

Post WWII the Middletown Press published another article that discussed the fact that the Russell Company was almost completely given over to military production during the war and produced 260,000 miles of ammunition belt material for both .30 and .50 caliber ammunition.  

The article does not indicate if the belt material was all Hendley design or a mixture of Hendley and Frissell types.

This article also mentions the development of "an interlocking weave for machine gun belts" during WWI when, from the application date on the Frissell patent, it is obvious that the weaving technique was devised some time previous to April, 1915, the patent application date.

The wartime use of fabric belts relieved pressure on the production of steel and manufacturing machine time which several times during WWII reached critical proportions.

Fabric ammunition belts were the standard feeding device for the .30 Caliber Brownings used by ground forces through WWII and the Korean War.

Army National Guard and Reserve units equipped with .30 Caliber Brownings were still using WWII era fabric belted ammunition for training purposes well into the 1960's.

There were several reasons for this, the most prominent was the the fact that so much functional lot belted ammunition was produced in WWII that production actually slowed to a trickle at the end of December 1943 and and several ammunition plants converted from .30 caliber ammunition production to other ordnance materials. 

Likewise, fabric belt production halted in May of 1944 but resumed after the German winter offensive in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium better known as the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944/January 1945 concluded.

After the invasion of Europe in June of 1944 .30 Caliber ammunition production resumed but not at previous levels. 

When WWII ended huge quantities of ammunition remained on hand.

Korean War usage was a matter of using what was handy which was left over WWII ammunition.

Photo courtesy of Rick Shab, BMG Parts Co. Inc.

WWII steel supply conditions became so bad that between late 1942 and September 1943 that .50 Caliber ammunition was loaded in 110 round fabric belts that used an interlocking loop arrangement plasticized to hold its shape and allow reliable feeding.  

Russell developed the machinery and process to coat the belt ends and furnished both to other contractors to further the war effort.

The WWII use of .30 Caliber  M1 steel links was almost completely confined to ammunition loaded for use in aircraft until very late in WWII when ammunition loaded in AP/API/APIT (armor piercing/ armor piercing incendiary/armor piercing incendiary tracer) configuration began to show up on the battlefield.  

The author knows of one first hand account that dated the introduction of steel linked ammunition to the 69th Armored Field Artillery BN. to just after Operation Dragoon, the invasion of Southern France, in August, 1944.

The Army converted to the exclusive use of the M1 steel link with replacement ammunition produced during and after the Korean War. 

One of the reasons was that a 250 round fabric belt of Caliber .30 ammunition would not fit easily into the new M19A1 steel ammunition box but 250 rounds of linked would.

The increasing use of steel linked ammunition in ground type Brownings brought up several new problems, the most serious for the operator was stoppages caused by the links jamming against the fixed plate of the cover hold open device.

Ordnance solved this problem in 1951 by redesigning the short round stop to deflect the empty links.

By September, 1953 a Modification Work Order had been issued to install the improved short round stop on all weapons in the field.  

The other problem was that the floor of the M1919 feedway, which was also the top of the trunnion block where the rear barrel bearing surface passed through, began to show grooving from the friction wear of the links passing over. 

This problem was solved by removing the trunnion and chrome plating the surface to build it up to original dimensions and prevent further wear. 

With the WWII ammunition supply shrinking from training use or as military assistance items given or sold to "friendly" nations, the fabric ammunition belt, at least in U.S. service, began its decline into obscurity.

While linked ammunition in quantity did not appear in general use for ground units until the mid 1950's Ordnance actually began considering the development of some alternative to all fabric feed belts at least for aircraft shortly after the end of the of WWI. 

What brought this about was the use of machine guns in open cockpit aircraft.  As the belt emptied the free end was left to flap around in the slipstream striking the pilot or gunner or actually punching holes in the fabric skin of the aircraft. 

Empty belts that went overboard sometimes became tangled in the rear control surfaces with predictable results.  As aircraft performance increased the problem became worse.

The first solution was various methods of rolling the empty portion of the belt belt up automatically or otherwise confining as it was emptied.   With advances in aircraft armament such as machine guns installed in the wings and power driven turrets the fabric belt's days were numbered.

          Courtesy of the RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann.

This drawing of .30 Caliber cartridges in M1 links originated from the Ordnance Office its apparent function was to list all of the pertinent general information for link belts.  Note that only Aircraft type Brownings are mentioned in the Dwg. Pertains To box in the title block.  It is a redrawing and renumbering of  drawing B8702.

In February 1931 Ordnance finally settled on the basic design that would remain virtually unchanged despite a few hiccups until the end of the service life of of Caliber .30 Browning machine guns. 

This design was at the behest of the Army Air Corps, who's primary automatic weapon mounted on aircraft at the time were the Browning Aircraft guns.  

Belts of this design are often erroneously called "disintegrating link belts". 

The links do not disintegrate, the belt does. 

More properly stated, the links become disengaged from each other after the cartridge is extracted from the belt and are either pushed out the open side of the feedway or are directed into a chute that carries them to a bag or in the case of wing mounted weapons in WWII aircraft allowed to fall clear along with the empty cartridge case.

The links, while considered expendable just like the fabric belts, can be reused. 

The Rock Island Arsenal developed pilot production methods and was the sole producer of this seemingly simple and cheaply made piece of sheet metal until WWII.

Looks are often deceiving, especially in this case, as the links are neither simple nor cheaply made. 

The material that the links were fabricated from was carefully selected and the specifications were changed several times.   

Aluminum was an early choice as a weight saving measure, but it was considered to be a "critical" material in war time.  Various steel alloys were considered, one alloy that was favored was rejected because it contained substantial amounts of manganese another "critical" material.

The M1 Caliber. 30 and the M1 .50 Caliber links were adopted as the standard links until the Air Corps began equip aircraft with power driven turrets with feed chutes. 

The M1 linked ammunition did not have sufficient flexibility and tended to jam so RIA began to experiment with changes to the M1 design which led to the Ordnance Technical Committee meeting of January 16, 1941 Item 16396 which recommended the adoption of the more flexible M2 link, both .30 and .50 Calibers, as the standard link and the M1 links to limited standard status. 

The Air Corps had the links it needed, except for a couple of problems. 

The M2 link functioned fine in all the .30 Caliber ground guns if fed in the standard manner i.e. double loop first, but did not work well in the linking machines and if fed into weapons backwards, that is with the single loop first the M2 Caliber .30 links caused jams which were politely referred to as "causing the gun to cease to function".

Between the time of the tests of the M2 links conducted by the Air Corps and the Ordnance Committee's rather hasty action, the Air Corps had reached the conclusion that the the .30 Caliber round lacked sufficient power and range to be effective against modern aircraft and would in the future use only .50 Caliber weapons to arm it's aircraft.

Unfortunately they failed to notify the Committee of this new development.

The Ordnance Technical Committee revisited the M1/M2 Caliber .30 link question in the meeting of May 1, 1941 as item 16669 and reversed course recommending declaring the M2 Caliber .30 link to be obsolete, after just 5 months, and the M1 .30 Caliber link to be the standard.

While all this was going on the Committee on 4-10-41 as Item 16619 recommended that experiments with plastic links be continued by RIA. 

This never amounted to much because the plastics of the time did not have the requisite properties in temperature extremes.

With the M1 Caliber .30 link now the standard and WWII just over the horizon two civilian manufacturers received contracts to produce links Jackes-Evans and Fort Pitt Bedding.

At various times during WWII there were about 30 different plants producing both .30 and .50 links.

Ordnance required that the links be identified both to production plant AND the die/machine that produced the individual link.  This allowed them to track down very quickly any defective links being produced before they got out of the plant.

This drawing, dated 12-14-42, courtesy of the RIA Museum is a sample of the variety of manufacturers producing both Caliber .30 and .50 links.  Not every manufacturer listed on these drawings produced both .30 and .50 links.

Here's a close up of the above drawing. 

Some of the identification of the manufacturers like Crown Cork and Seal which used a very fitting symbol, a bullseye, or the Firestone Atlanta, Fall River, MA and Wyandotte, MI  plants that used the stylized "F" in the Firestone trademarked name with an "S" on the shaft  and very small characters  to indicate the plant and machine or die would be very hard to read.  Firestone's Memphis plant omitted the "S" on the shaft of the F. 

The symbol for American Can Company and National Stamping Company also appeared on the M1 ammunition boxes they produced.

Owens-Illinois' symbol  changed after January, 1943 to an O with an I inside it.

M1 links were also produced in Canada by the Dominion Arsenal, Quebec and marked DAQ and possibly other Canadian firms.

 

 

          Courtesy of RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann.

Revision 12 (3-26-42) to the link drawing gives us a hint about the number of changes to the design and manufacturing methods RIA's engineers instituted between 1931 and early 1942. 

The upper left and lower right show function tests that did not require the links to actually fired. 

The links were "Parkerized", a patented manganese phosphate treatment and dipped in oil to prevent rust.

 

 

The last available drawing of the M1 Metallic Belt Link Caliber .30 Revision 31 dated 1-11-52 courtesy of the RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann.

This drawing lists all of the .30 Caliber ground Brownings as users of the M1 link.

Throughout  WWII RIA produced M1 links and with the end of the war production ceased. 

With the onset of the Korean War in July, 1950 link production at RIA resumed and by June 1954 RIA had produced just over 29,000,000 M1 links when production was once again halted.

 

 Photos Courtesy of RIA Museum Jodie Creen Wesemann

The above photos show a section of linked ammo and the starter tab for the M1 linked ammo.

From records available to the author it is not clear if any links were produced by contractors during this period.

Post Korea large quantities of M1 links were produced by Wells Marine Inc. and marked "WM".

M1 links both unused in the original cardboard containers and bulk left over from the de-linking and repackaging of millions of rounds of .30 Caliber M2 Ball machine gun ammunition sold by the Civilian Marksmanship Program and the de-militarizing of additional millions of rounds make up the bulk of links presently available to the public.

Photo courtesy of the RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann

As with the fabric belts some method of linking ammunition in the field was necessary.  The Ordnance Department developed the M3 linker for .30 Caliber ammunition.  

The M3 links 20 rounds at a time, the same number of rounds in each carton and number of links in each box.

The "Attachment, M8" is a plate that  when placed in the linker along with linked ammunition de-links it.  RIA produced about 25,000 of these plates during and just after the Korean War. 

With the change over to 7.62X51 NATO ammunition and the adoption of the M60GP machine gun in 1957 the .30 Caliber feed devices for the Browning machine gun, both fabric belts and steel links, began to fade into the distance. 

I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all who those kind folks that offered assistance in the preparation of this article.

 

 

                                      CREDITS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Well, its the usual suspects along with a few new ones.

The Rock Island Arsenal Museum staff and Jodie Creen Wesemann for their continued support and generous access to their extensive collection of all thing Ordnance.

John Manning for taking the time to photograph some of the belts from his collection.

Cathy Ahern, Librarian, Russell Library, Middletown, CT for her research on the Russell Company and steering me to the American Textile History Museum.

Clare Sheridan, Research Librarian, American Textile History Museum, Lowell, MA for locating the file containing the Russell factory photographs. 

When I opened the package of photos that Clare sent I was dumbstruck, you could almost hear the hum of the factory and the voices of the people.  I actually sat and stared at the pictures for over an hour.

These historic documents give all of us a unique and very personal view of  not only the process of manufacture but of the people that made the process work.

Rollin Lofdahl for his willingness to share his knowledge of the Browning .30 Caliber.

Rick Shab owner of BMG Parts Co. Inc. for his help and encouragement.

John Garlinghouse for his generous donation of a Russell marked belt to the Russell Library for display with their artifacts.

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

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