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.50 Cal Information

The ammo round was conceptualized during WWI by John Browning in response to a requirement for an anti-aircraft weapon. The ammo round itself is based on a scaled-up .30-06 Springfield design, and the machine gun was based on a scaled-up M1919/M1917 design that Browning had initially developed around 1900 (but which was not adopted by the U.S. military until 1917, hence the model designation). The new heavy machine gun, the Browning M2 .50 caliber machine gun, was used heavily in aircraft, especially during World War II, though its airborne use is limited to helicopters at present. It was and still is used on the ground as well, both vehicle mounted, in fixed fortifications, and on occasion carried by infantry. The incendiary rounds were especially effective against aircraft, as were AP rounds for destroying concrete bunkers, structures, and lighter AFVs.

The development of the .50 BMG ammunition round is sometimes confused with the German 13.2 mm TuF, which was developed by Germany for an anti-tank rifle to combat British tanks during WWI. However, the development of the U.S. .50 ammo round was started before this later German project was completed or even known to the Allied countries. When word of the German anti-tank ammo round spread, there was some debate as to whether it should be copied and used as a base for the new machine gun cartridge. However, after some analysis the German ammunition was ruled out, both because performance was inferior to the modified Springfield .30-06 ammo round and because it was a semi-rimmed cartridge, making it sub-optimal for an automatic weapon. The ammo round's dimensions and ballistic traits are totally different. The M2 would, however, go on to function as an anti-armour machine gun, and decades later, be used in high-powered rifles. The concept of a .50 machine gun was not an invention of this era; this caliber (.50) had been used in Maxim machine guns and in a number of manual machine guns such as the Gatling.

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