|Multiple .50 Caliber Machine Gun trailer Mount M55 (WWII)
The multiple machine gun mount is power driven and mounts four standard Browning .50 caliber M2 heavy barrel, turret type machine guns.
The mount is operated by a single gunner who occupies an adjustable seat within the mount and controls it with handles located directly in front of him. the guns, which are fired electrically, at a combined rate of 1600 rounds per minute, and the ammo boxes are mounted outboard of the trunions.
The multiple .50 caliber machine gun mount is fielded for antiaircraft purposes in three different configurations as follows: Mounted on a M16A1 halftrack, 2.5 ton truck, or on the M20 trailer which is towed by a 1/4 ton jeep (museum example less jeep).
Historical information about this display:
The mount was manufactured during WWII in the United States by Landers, Frary & Clark, a wartime contractor. The original mount design and patent was held by a company called Maxon. The original data plate, dated 1945, can be found on the cross member behind the gunners' seat.
Several thousand of these units were shipped to our allies overseas via the "Lend Lease" program. This particular unit was issued to the Belgian Army near the end of WWII, and remained in service for several years to follow.
Subsequently the mount was replaced by newer, more modern equipment, at which point it was mothballed at an Army storage facility in Belgium.
During 1960, John H. Kinney purchased the mount from the Belgian Army via an international military equipment dealer, who imported it via ship to the Port of Long Beach, California. After clearing customs, the mount was delivered to Mr. Kinney in Santa Maria where the restoration took place.
About the Guns:
The .50 caliber machine guns displayed with this mount are non-operational. The two guns that are located on the gunners' left side are from a P-38 fighter aircraft that crashed in the local area during WWII. The two guns located on the gunners' right side are professionally manufactured models that were never designed to function as actual weapons. The .50 caliber ammunition used in this display is original in inert condition.
In referring back to the guns recovered from the P-38 fighter aircraft, allow me to describe historical events as I know them, relative to their recovery and restoration.
During WWII, a P-38 fighter aircraft from the Santa Maria Army Airbase was on a training flight east of Santa Maria over a mountainous undeveloped region, used mainly for cattle grazing. While executing training maneuvers, the aircraft crashed, and the pilot was killed. Due to the remote inaccessible area of the crash, no attempt was made to recover the plane. The pilot, who was killed in the crash was subsequently recovered by cowboys on horseback from a nearby ranch.
The pilot was turned over to military officials.
Several years later, local residents found the crash site, noting the damaged aircraft to be more or less in tact. The guns, four .50 caliber Browning machine guns and one 20 mm cannon which were severely damaged in the crash, were subsequently removed for future restoration. Unfortunately, the 20 mm cannon was too heavy to carry by members of the recovery party, so it was left adjacent to the trail to be recovered at a later time. The cannon was never recovered.
The four machine guns were subsequently stored in an old garage with the intent that they were to be restored at some future time. As time and events passed, the guns were never restored, instead left to deteriorate.
Discovering the machine guns approximately 12 years ago, Mr. Kinney managed to acquire them in an effort to preserve their history. Notably two of the guns were restorable, the other two were damaged beyond the possibility of restoration and subsequently disposed of.
To comply with BATF regulations, the guns were completely stripped of all internal parts. A solid steel block was welded into the forward receiver area of each gun, and the right side plates were cut in two places, rendering the guns non-operational, and non-rebuild able. The guns essentially became non-guns, reconfigured for historical display purposes only.
The restoration process required that some of the damaged, original exterior parts be replaced with NOS (new original surplus) parts to maintain the original appearance of the guns. Also the metal surfaces were refinished by a process known as Parkerizing.
Hundreds of hours were devoted to this project in an effort to preserve WWII historical equipment for the benefit of all those who will visit this display.
John H. Kinney
Santa Maria, California