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Machine guns on an old warbird?

Discussion in 'NFA Firearms and Accessories' started by Constrictor, Jul 30, 2018.

  1. Constrictor

    Constrictor Member

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    Just wondered what these airplane seekers and restorers do about legality when they find an old warbird and restore it like they did when they found Glacier girl. They showed shooting the gun off at the site in Greenland. Do they have to disable the guns or is there a way to make them legal?
     
  2. shoobe01

    shoobe01 Member

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    MGs on airplanes are MGs. Governments freak out over them. For example, this:
    https://m.outdoorrevival.com/old-wa...t-flt-sgt-dennis-copping-started-walking.html

    P40 crashed during WW2, discovered just a couple years ago. Egyptian government immediately grabbed the guns, and... that's it.

    Mostly they get removed or demilled. Sometimes replaced with propane guns.

    But some folks do the paperwork to get real guns. Like this guy:

    https://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/this-p-51-mustang-restoration-includes-operational-50c-1647964258

    They do tend to fire blank bursts at gun shows (wow that sounds expensive), but they are getting more and more restrictive. Like, if your gun dumps the shells overboard, 100% no go to many air shows these days.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 3, 2018
  3. Jenrick

    Jenrick Member

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    My understanding is that if you have the appropriate paperwork for the MG's, you are more than welcome to install them on the ground and shoot them on the ground. The second your plane leaves the ground however, the FAA goes nuts. From what I remember reading, basically if anything will exit the AC, you have all kinds of hoops to jump through and the FAA can just flat out tell you "NO." IIRC the Twilight Tear only flies with the guns removed.
     
  4. Constrictor

    Constrictor Member

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    I'm thinking more along the lines of no machine gun being legal unless it was registered before the 1968 NFA act.
     
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  5. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    That's 1968 Gun Control Act which in some parts elaborated on the 1935 NFA.
    There was a short amnesty at the end of the year when you could register a MG. Not before, not after.
    I had a classmate who registered a DEWAT Maxim gun in the hopes of being able to REWAT it. In the meanwhile, it sat on its bipod in the middle of his dorm room. Wonder what the housekeeper thought about that.

    I know a reenactor who has one of those propane MGs mounted on his Kubelwagen. Very sincere, the gas hose covered in what looks like a belt chute.
     
  6. AlexanderA
    • Contributing Member

    AlexanderA Member

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    The big barrier is the Hughes Amendment to the '86 FOPA. MG's had to be "on paper" by May 19, 1986, in order to be grandfathered.

    Prior to that, let's say if you found an old warbird with Browning guns, you could salvage all the parts except the registrable side plates, and rebuild the guns with newly manufactured side plates. (On Browning .30 and .50 cal. guns, the right side plate is the registrable part. Manufacture was open until May 19, 1986.)

    If you are restoring a warbird today, you can still equip it with guns, but they have to be pre-May 19, 1986, transferables. They can be found, but at a very high price. Aircraft restoration is for people with deep pockets anyway.
     
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  7. total recoil

    total recoil Member

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    You may be surprised at what the ATF will do for a museum or historical society in the way of licensing.
     
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  8. kimberkid

    kimberkid Member

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    A buddy of mine has a half-track with a ring on top, he finally built a 1919 from a parts kit and put spade grips and a semi side plate on it
     
  9. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    Pics or it didn't happen!
     
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  10. AlexanderA
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    AlexanderA Member

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    The ring mount ("pulpit") properly was for an M2HB .50 cal., for antiaircraft defense. The .30 cals (watercooled or aircooled) normally would be on trolley mounts on the rail running around the periphery of the body.

    I never owned a half track or scout car, but I did supply the MG's for a buddy's scout car when we were doing WW2 reenacting.
     
  11. MistWolf

    MistWolf Member

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    Real machineguns are pulled from Warbirds and replaced with ballast, or other equipment is moved, to meet weight & balance requirements.
     
  12. John_R

    John_R Member

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    Besides, you'd want someone running beneath the plane collecting the shells to reload 'em for you.
     
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  13. smkummer

    smkummer Member

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    I remember reading a few years ago in a pilot magazine about a WW2 fighter returning to the US. With the FAA, it needs approval to be ferried back into the USA out of annual inspection, they also wont allow ejection seats for civilians and in this case, the ATF met the aircraft at its first stop on US soil to acquire the still active but unloaded machineguns.
     
  14. RedlegRick

    RedlegRick Member

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    Man, a P-51 with 6 M2s would do a number on a herd of boars, wouldn't it? On a more serious note, I wonder why the FAA won't allow ejection seats on a civvy plane.
     
  15. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I don’t think it counts in Greenland.

    If you wanted the looks and sound legally something like this would be the ticket.

    http://www.ww2steel.com/Gasguns/Gasguns.html
     
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  16. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    This. If memory serves, you have to have a permit (or waiver, whatever the FAA calls it...) to allow anything to leave the plane in flight (minus, I suppose, skydivers.)
     
  17. jono

    jono Member

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    Nope, it just can’t endanger anyone if you toss it out.

    We flour bomb from various warbirds all the time with or without an audience.

    At an organized airshow, the airboss and whoever is in charge from the FSDO set the rules, but lots of stuff still gets dropped.
     
  18. RedlegRick

    RedlegRick Member

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    On second thought, I'm not sure I'd want a sextet of M2s pounding away on a set of seventy year old wings.
     
  19. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    It the vibration of a couple machine guns would take it out of the air, I don’t want to be in it in the air at all.
     
  20. 25-20 WCF

    25-20 WCF Member

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    And ‘blue ice’ of course....


    .
     
  21. RedlegRick

    RedlegRick Member

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    It's not that, its metal fatigue after several decades of use I'd be worried about. Unless those wings were restored to factory new I'd be leery about touching them off.
    I know warbirds are restored to a safe flying condition, but not to the extent you could rearm them again. Maybe they are, but I don't see why anyone would bother.
     
  22. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    For those wings to be deemed airworthy they are going to need to absorb considerably more strain than even a full complement of .50 machine guns would dish out. Any "metal fatigue" that is not remedied would be a recipe for disaster, with or without machine guns.
     
  23. RedlegRick

    RedlegRick Member

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    But aren't aerodynamic forces more uniformly spread out along the wing, as opposed to a discrete point, or set of points? I know that as originally delivered, warbird wings are properly constructed to handle a brace of .50s, but as of now, those planes are the flying equivalent of hotrods, owing to the scarcity or lack of parts. I wouldn't be surprised if some creative mechanic figured out ways to exploit those now unused spaces for other purposes.

    Of course, I could be totally wrong on this, but anything is possible.
     
  24. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    I think that maybe you aren't aware of how aircraft are maintained. What gets you by for your car doesn't cut it with aircraft. I used to own a 1961 Cessna 172B, and the annual inspection each year kept it as good as new. I did "owner assisted" annuals, where I would do the tear down, the licensed A&P would inspect, and we would correct any deficiencies. I would then re-assemble under his supervision with his final sign-off. Even with a simple aircraft like the 172 this was a 3-day process.

    For example, one of the things checked was for any elongation of the holes for the locking points in the seat rails. It didn't take much for those rails to be discarded and new ones installed, as happened to me one year.

    All that said, if one of these old warbirds still passes annual it is as good as the day it left the factory with regards to functionality and safety.
     
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  25. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    Others gave comments regarding blank and gas firing mechanisms used for shows or movies.

    You said they fired them at the scene of the recovery in Greenland. I'm not sure of Greenland''s gun laws but I guarantee there was some rep from the Greenland government on scene. I'm sure they just didn't let these guys dig up their glacier or whatever on their own. Most likely they had an okay to see if the guns still worked. After that I'm sure the Greenland government took them and either destroyed them or dewatted them to give to some museum.
     
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