Vickers Mk4 Ammunition Belt

One of the great strengths of the Vickers machine gun was its ability to fire rounds almost indefinitely, only needing its water jacket topping up periodically. In order to do this it needed an effective method of feeding ammunition and while others turned to box machines or clips, the Vickers (and its antecedent the Maxim) used cloth belts of 250 rounds. Tonight we have a late example of the Vickers machine gun belt, dating from 1957:imageThis is actually a MK 4 belt, as indicated by the stamp on the starter tab:imageThis indicates that the belt was manufactured by T F S Ltd, Thomas French and Sons.  The MK 4 belt was introduced in the mid to late war era and was known as a stripless belt as it did not have brass tabs between the rounds of .303 but rather was a simple piece of pre-shrunk webbing. This design was filled in the factory and unlike earlier belts was not designed to be reloadable in the field. A stiffened piece of webbing is sewn to the end to act as a starter tab:imageEach round of .303 fits into a little pocket on the belt:imageAs I need 250 rounds to fill the belt I have a way to go… The belts were packed into plywood ammunition boxes and all the packaging and belt were designed to be discarded after use. The belt is stamped every fifty rounds so the gunner can see how many rounds he has fired:imageLaid out the full 250 round belt is rather long:imageIn this image a soldier from the Canadian Saskatoon Light Infantry fires a Vickers from an infantry carrier in Italy- note the disposable MK 4 ammunition belt:image

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