This great display of inert munitions is part of a fifty year accumulation, graciously on loan from John Kinney of Santa Maria, We are pleased to have the display on permanent loan to the Estrella Warbirds Museum.
History According to John Kinney
I started the collection during my early childhood in the late 1950's as a result of some influence from my father and his friends. We lived in Santa Maria, Ca. My father was an avid outdoors man, interested in anything to do with hunting, fishing, and photography. He owned several firearms, and reloaded his own ammunition. He competed in various rifle and pistol matches, and later competed in trap and skeet events. As I grew older I became interested in his outdoors activities as well. I especially became interested in firearms, competition shooting, and reloading of ammunition. The first rifle that I owned was a 1903 A3 Springfield Army rifle that I purchased brand new from the DCM (Department of Civilian Marksmanship) for $14.95 plus shipping . I also purchased .30 cal. Military rifle ammunition from our local rifle club for $.02 a round , an unheard of price in today's market. With this rifle and an unlimited supply of ammo, I practiced shooting at every opportunity. I eventually became a pretty good shooter. On one Saturday afternoon while we were attending a Turkey Shoot sponsored by the Lompoc CA Sportsman´s Club, I actually won the rifle competition with the Springfield Rifle.
My father who was on the other side of the range shooting in the trap competition had no idea that I won. He thought I was at the rifle range just practicing. I was initially practicing until one of the men at the range noticed that I was pretty good with the Springfield, so he encouraged me to sign up for the next turkey shoot. I told the man that I did not have any money to pay the entrance fee ($2.00), so he paid it for me.
I subsequently signed up for the shoot, which was a running deer target at about 100 or 150 yards. When the range master blew his whistle and the target started to move quickly, I fired ten rounds into the vital front shoulder area of the target. It is important to note that the Springfield Rifle only holds five rounds, so in order to get ten rounds off, I had to reload the rifle with five more rounds during the course of firing. All I can remember was pulling the trigger, operating the bolt, and reloading with that five round stripper clip as fast as I could. I can remember that there was a lot of talk going on between the adults right after I finished shooting. Shortly, the range master came up to me and said that I had won the contest by shooting the best score in the shortest amount of time.
I subsequently picked up my Turkey at the winners stand, then went to find my Dad to tell him what I had done. Finding him on the trap range I showed him the turkey and told him about the shooting event I had just won. He was very surprised, and shook my hand several times.
Now you are probably wondering what this all has to do with an Ordnance Collection, well let me continue. Upon arriving home, my Dad took me out to our garage where all of our reloading equipment was, opened up one of those Army green ammo cans , reached inside and pulled out the largest rifle shell I had ever seen. It was a .50 cal. BMG round. He gave it to me, again congratulating me for winning my event. He told me the .50 cal. round was given to him by a soldier who was in the Army during WWII. So I guess I can say given the days events with the Springfield Army rifle, and my Dad giving my the .50cal. BMG round , all of this equated into a life long interest in Military Ordnance artifacts.
Oh, by the way, I was 12 years old when all of this took place.
Overview of Collection
Considering the fact that the Ordnance Collection is an accumulation of inert, obsolete munitions related artifacts, possibly never to be used or seen again, I felt that it was important to preserve this history and subsequently share it with current generations and those to come, via the museum process. Consideration was given to the Estrella Warbirds Museum because they are an excellent, forward looking museum, with attention given to all categories of military artifacts. Furthermore they already have on site a building dedicated at this time to the display of restored historic military vehicles, and aircraft related missiles. I might add that the aircraft missile display is one of the finest and complete as I have ever seen. To compliment the museums´ existing ordnance display, I offered and they accepted the loan of my collection to be placed on permanent display. My collection consists of obsolete, inert, ordnance artifacts, that were used in wartime by our armed services. The collection is displayed in six display cabinets and a floor display as follows: infantry weapons, anti-aircraft gun ammunition, field artillery ammunition (large and small caliber), tank gun ammunition, naval gun ammunition (medium caliber), grenades, mortar ammunition, and mines.
Infantry Weapons Cabinet contains a collection of US and Japanese infantry weapons that were used during WWII, along with additional weapons used during the Korean, Vietnam, and Iraqi Campaigns. Weapons on display are a Bazooka, two disposable light anti-tank weapons, and a Japanese Knee Mortar. Included also is an example of the rounds used in each.
Anti-Aircraft Guns and Field Artillery Cabinet contains a collection of US Anti-Aircraft and small caliber field artillery shells. Also included and of special interest is a WWII German “88” anti-aircraft shell.
The shells in this display are from the WWII through the Vietnam War periods. They were used in anti-aircraft guns, field guns, howitzers, and recoilless rifles.
The Floor Display consists of examples of major caliber naval gun ammunition in 12 inch, 14 inch and 16 inch.
Part of the floor display is a collection of general purpose aircraft bombs, torpedoes, a sea mine with anchor, and a complete Quad .50 cal. anti-aircraft gun mount. It should be noted that in no way is this collection a complete display of all munitions in the respective categories, the items are merely representative of the various categories.
The floor display includes various examples of aircraft bombs from the MK80 class of general purpose bombs. This is a complete collection from 250 lbs to 4000 lb. The bombs include examples of "high drag" folding fins to "low drag" fixed fins.
The floor display presents one of the most comprehensive displays of major caliber naval gun projectiles you will see anywhere. The display includes a 12 inch high capacity projectile dated 1938, a 12 inch coastal piece designed to impact 50 miles from the firing point.
Other floor artifacts include a MK6 sea mine and anchor, a practice submarine launched torpedo, a WWII Quad .50 caliber anti-aircraft machine gun mount that has a story all of its own and a Vietnam era 81mm mortar mount with inert shells.
Naval Guns cabinet contains a collection of large and medium caliber shells from naval guns. Of special interest in this display is and example of the 8”/55 brass and projectile. This round was composed of the largest brass shell casing ever used in the US munitions arsenal. The casing, separate loaded with it’s high capacity explosive projectile constituted the largest round of ammunition ever used in an automatic naval gun system.
Of further special interest in this display is a cut-away example of a 6” high capacity projectile. This projectile was produced during WWII to be used in naval ordnance training classes.
You will also see various examples of fixed and semi-fixed naval rounds, along with examples of shrapnel derived from an exploded projectile. The shells are from the WWII period, with the exception of the 8”/55 which was developed during the 1950’s and used into the late 1960’s.
Field Artillery Cabinet contains a display of Large Caliber Field Artillery projectiles. All of these examples are considered separate loading, consisting of a projectile and bags of propellant (propellant bags not shown in this display).
The projectiles in this display are from the Vietnam War period through the early 1990´s.
The examples represent projectiles in the high explosive, rocket assist, mine dispensing, smoke and illumination and practice categories. Of particular interest in this display is a WW2 vintage 155mm loader training dummy projectile. These are very rare and seldom seen in collections. All projectiles in this display are used in field howitzers, with the exception of the 175mm projectile which would have been used in a field gun system.
Tank Guns & Ammunition Display contains a collection of tank gun ammunition examples that were used in US tanks from WWII to the present. There are several interesting examples to be noted in this collection. The 90mm HVAP (High Velocity Armor Piercing) round was an experimental shell that was used in an experimental tank gun system that was never placed in production. The shell is extremely rare and only exists in a few collections. Another round of significant interest is the 120mm separate loading tank shell. This round was derived from an WWII anti-aircraft gun system. The gun system was reconfigured and installed on M103 Main Battle Tank during the 1950´s. The tank and gun system were the largest ever produced by the US to date. Because of issues with weight and operations of the gun system the tank was declared obsolete in a rather short period of time. The anti-aircraft version of this shell can be found displayed in cabinet #2 of this collection. Of further interest in the Tank Gun Ammunition collection are examples of modern 120mm, 152MM, and 105mm tank gun ammunition.
There are example of rounds with steel or combustible material shell casings, with kinetic energy projectiles attached. Kinetic energy projectiles and combustible casings represent current advances in tank gun ammunition. Also represented in this display are examples of ammunition used in early tank gun systems of the WWII period, i.e., M4 Sherman, M5 Stuart Tanks.
Grenades, Mortars & Mines Cabinet contains a collection of grenades, mortar shells and anti-personnel mines. These examples are from the WWII period through the Vietnam conflict. In the grenade category are examples of hand and rifle launched grenades. Items of interest includes a display of WWII hand grenades that were converted into booby traps that utilized trip wire or pressure fuses.
There is an excellent example of a German "Potato Masher" grenade from WWII, along with a Japanese fragmentation grenade, and a French concussion grenade.
The mortar shells are of the 60mm and 81mm category which include: dummy, training, and illumination shells.
The anti-personnel mines are the bounding type commonly known as "Bouncing Betty," plus there is an example of a modern Claymore mine that was introduced during the Vietnam conflict.
Russian Munitions Cabinet contains some rarely seen (in the United States) munitions used by the former Soviet Union.
Generally, this mine type is set to float just below the surface of the water or as deep as 16 feet. A steel cable connecting the mine to an anchor on the seabed prevents it from drifting away. The explosive and detonating mechanism is contained in a buoyant metal or plastic shell. The depth below the surface at which the mine floats can be set so that only deep draft vessels such as aircraft carriers, battleships or large cargo ships are at risk, saving the mine from being used on a less valuable target. In littoral waters it is important to ensure that the mine does not become visible when the sea level falls at low tide, so the cable length is adjusted to take account of tides. Even during the Second World War, there were mines that could be moored in 300 meter (just under 1,000 feet) deep water (such as the Mark 6 sea mine) shown on display at Estrella Warbirds Museum.