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  1. #1
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    British SAA code letters

    Over on the IAA Forum somebody asked what the letters "SPG" meant in the title of the .303 inch Mark VIIG tracer, "Ctge. S.A. Tracer SPG .303 inch (VIIG) Mark I" and one suggestion was that it meant "Special Purpose G".

    I know I am not the only .303 Anorak on this site so I thought I would post a copy of my reply to that thread here in the hope it may be of interest to others.


    To the best of my knowledge, no documentation has been unearthed so far to explain the British nomenclature for special pupose rounds such as "Tracer SPG".

    With regard to the suffix/prefix codes (B for incendiary, G for tracer etc.) I am fairly confident that the theory I put forward in my .303 inch headstamp books is more or less correct, i.e. the code was derived from the first letter of the name (e.g. B for Buckingham) but if that was already in use then the last letter was used (e.g. K for Brock as B already used). If both the first and last letter were already used then the second letter was adopted (e.g. L for blank as both B and K were already used).

    That is all very well, but it does not explain the "SPG" itself. It is very tempting to assume the explanation that it is "Special Purpose G", but the previous tracer was the Mark VIIT SPK. That cannot mean "Special Purpose K" because the "K" was the Brock round! Surely if the VIIG SPG was really "Special Purpose G" then the VIIT should have been "SPT"?

    When I originally published my thoughts on the full list of codes I said "W" for Armour piercing was unknown, but I am now sure it comes from "Woolwich" to distinguish it from the Kynoch KAP round. Simialrly I listed "Q" for Proof as unknown, but since "P,R,O" and "F" were already used for other types it is possible that they simply took the next letter to "P" in the alphabet and used "Q".

    I think a small prize should be offered for whoever finally finds the documentary proof of the origins of these codes!

    Regards
    TonyE

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyE[..

    I think a small prize should be offered for whoever finally finds the documentary proof of the origins of these codes!

    TonyE
    Don't you just hate that sort of challenge :-)
    N.


  3. #3
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    If anyone can find it you can Norman (but I didn't say how small the prize was going to be!)

    Cheers
    Tony

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    Blush, your confidence is flattering and I will now shatter it. I thought (books are presently inaccessible) SPK was Sparklets tracer and the SPG was Sparklets as interfered with (improved) by the Government's RL.

    ...or have I missed something? (given that you, Ian and Herbie taught me all I know!).


    ...and whatever happened to 'Y' for Pomeroy?
    N.


  5. #5
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    I must admit I thought the same as Bonnex, from information in your(TonyE) own good books!

    ATB

    Tony

  6. #6
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    Sorry, I am obviously not making my question clear.

    Yes, the SPG was an improved version of the SPK and "SPK" is a contraction of the manufacturer's trademark, "Sparklet". That is not in question. What IS in quextion is where does "SPG" come from and what does it mean?

    Logically, an inproved SPK would perhaps use the next alphabetic letter and be "SPL", but "G" comes before "K", so that does not make sense.

    The tracing compound was the same in both rounds. The difference was that the VIIT (SPK) was a solid bronze bullet with a central hole filled with the composition whilst the VIIG (SPG) was constructed in what is now the normal way with a lead forward core and copper container holding the tracer composition.

    This was much easier to manufacture and also overcame the difficulties of boring the hole in the VIIT exactly central which compromised accuracy.

    The pictures attached are from the hand written approvals ledger of the Woolwich Inspection Department. The first shows clearly that "SPK" was derived from "Sparklet", but the second gives no indication whatsoever where "SPG" comes from.

    In my experience there is always a logic behind British nomenclature, however obscure it may seem, and I would love to know the answer to this one.

    Regards
    TonyE

    PS - Yes, it is interesting why they never headstamped the Pomeroy rounds "VIIY", although all the drawings show it as such. I believe the "Y" was used as , in line with all the other codes, if the first letter of the name was already in use (In this case "P" was being used for for armour piercing) then the last letter was used.


    Image2.jpgImage1.jpg
    Last edited by TonyE; 23rd December 2011 at 11:21 AM.

  7. #7
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    TonyE,

    Deviating slightly, why are Inspectors' rounds 'U'?

    TimG

  8. #8
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    As mentioned, I believe the system was to use the first letter of the name/type, then if that was used take the last letter, and if that was used take the second letter and so on.

    The nomenclature for the Inspectors rounds was actually "Dummy", thus "U"for DUmmY, since "D" had been allocated to "Drill" and "Y" had already been allocated to "PomeroY" as "P" had been used for "Piercing" or "Penetrating" (I am not sure which).

    Convoluted I know, but it does fit.

    Regards
    TonyE

  9. #9
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    Tony,

    Thanks, I thought that might be the case, but my argument against it was that I thought the Dummy round would have predated the Pomeroy by several decades.

    Tim.

  10. #10
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    The dummy did preceed it by many years, but it was not until 1926 that they got around to allocating codes to all these different loads, and by that time the Y had already been allocated to Pomeroy.

    At the beginning of WWI there were only Ball, blank, drill, Dummy and MG Dummy plus proof, all of which were distinctively marked so there was not a problem. The introduction of tracer and incendiary rounds in 1915 that could be confused with ball called for some new system of identification and the problem only got worse as the war progressed and more and more special purpose rounds came into service. In 1926 it was decided to replace the old WWI system we have been discussing with the sytem of a code letter followed by a Mark number that we know and love. They appear to have taken the existing WWI codes, B, F, G, P etc and using those as a basis allocated codes to all the other loads that until then had not been coded,i.e.blank, dummy, proof etc.

    Regards
    Tony

 

 
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