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  1. #1
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    The Whole Nine Yards

    I was watching an old TV series and heard them refer to "The whole nine yards" meaning that was the end of the discussion.

    I have always heard that this term came from bomber crews in WWII and I assume it is true. The ammunition belts were twenty seven feet long or nine yards. Supposedly, to let other bomber crews know that they were out of ammunition, they would say "That is the whole nine yards". Supposedly, the Germans did not know what this meant.

    I was surprised when I did the math. An ammunition belt of fifty caliber ammunition would contain less than five hundred rounds. That is less than one minute of firing for a single machine gun.
    Life is more fun, if you do not take it too seriously.

  2. #2
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    I found a reference and it said the belt contained 350 rounds. That makes sense. The round itself was a half inch in diameter, but the brass is much larger. They probably did not have much more than thirty seconds of ammunition.
    Life is more fun, if you do not take it too seriously.

  3. #3
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    According to various sources, the B-17 carried 5000 to 7000 rounds total for ten machine guns. So apparently, they used more than one belt for a machine gun. I suspect that it was difficult to store and load a new belt in a ball turret. Five thousand rounds weighs more than 1500 pounds or three five hundred pound bombs. It was a trade off between carrying defensive ammunition and bomb load.

    At any rate, they did not carry an unlimited amount of ammunition. It would only amount to less than a minute's worth for each gun. No wonder, we lost so many bomber crews. It was just about the most dangerous duty during WWII.

    Apparently fighter aircraft used the same nine yard belt and they obviously could not change belts.
    Life is more fun, if you do not take it too seriously.

  4. #4
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    Every thing I've looked at basically says that they don't know where the term originated.... Which is fine by me as long as we all understand what it means....
    If Zombies are chasing us, I'm tripping you.

  5. #5
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    I wasn't as interested in the origin of the term as how little ammunition they carried.
    Life is more fun, if you do not take it too seriously.

  6. #6
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    Well, in that case I'm not sure.... But I do know one guy who was Army Air corps.... If he can shed any light..... He didn't stay with them long though he hated it when they change to Air Force and retired as a CSM from the Army after a total of 43 years...
    If Zombies are chasing us, I'm tripping you.

  7. #7
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    Found this comment in another forum... Sounds credible.


    "I have a AFM-20 which is a gunners information file for training bomber gunners
    It list the ammo capacity for the Sperry turret in the B-17 as 1000 rounds, 500 for each gun. But reloadable only on the ground. Some models had outside of the turret ammo cans to increase room in the turret for the gunner, inflight reloadable.
    The upper ball, also a Sperry as 750 rounds total, in 6 cans that can be reloaded in flight.
    The Bendix chin turret holds 730 rounds, also inflight reloadable.

    My manual is incomplete so i'm not sure about the tailturret and free guns, but total rounds carried IMO would go well beyond 2000 rounds."
    If Zombies are chasing us, I'm tripping you.

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