Sunday, November 13, 2011

Browning Sure Knew How To Design 'Em

The Toronto Star: Spitfire gun crackles after 70 years in Irish bog

When the remains of a World War II Spitfire Mark II fighter plane — donated to the Royal Air Force by Canada’s Weston family — were plucked from an Irish bog earlier this year, there was another exciting discovery awaiting the crew that found it.

After 70 years of being buried deep in the highlands of Donegal, archeologists and an Irish army ordnance crew were stunned to find that six of the Spitfire’s eight Browning .303 machine guns were like new and rust-free because of a lack of oxygen in the peat bog.

The question was: would the guns ever fire again?

It was another piece in a story that has all the makings of a Hollywood movie. The fighter, one of 20 Spitfires donated by industrialist Willard Garfield Weston, was piloted by handsome 23-year-old American pilot Roland “Bud” Wolfe, who bailed out in December 1941 just before the plane crashed, only to be arrested by authorities in Ireland, which at that time was neutral.

After seventy years sitting in a bog all it took was
soaking the machine guns in lubricant for a few days and swapping some springs and straightening the barrel’s outer support tube on one of them, the crew was more than confident that one would fire.

And fire it did, repeatedly and as designed.

A testament to a great design and the preservative qualities of a bog.

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