Thanks for visiting our website devoted to the technical history of the development of John Moses Browning's iconic air cooled Caliber .30 machine gun.
The photo at left is a 1944 production M1919A4 on an M2 tripod
RIA Museum, Jodie Creen Wesemann.
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I originally became interested in the M1919 history when I bought a M1919A4 semi-auto kit from Ohio Ordnance Works. This kit contained all U.S. manufactured parts from WWII and the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau of the U.S. Treasury Department approved modifications to make possession of this working firearm legal.
I noticed that many of the parts had markings which I presumed to be part numbers or some other identification.
There are several internet forums such as
1919a4.com where those interested in these weapons exchange information. Reading posts on this and other sites I became interested in how the numbers related to the era in which the parts were made.
I noticed that there were differing opinions on the markings and their meaning. Much of the information related was anecdotal with little of it attributable to any reliable source. This does not mean the information was wrong, it just meant that there was no sourcing.
One day on a whim, I decided to call the Rock Island Arsenal Museum to see if they had any archival information. It was my lucky day, Jodie Wesemann answered the phone and said yes we have drawings and other publications that may be of interest to you. They did and they were.
I decided to try to separate the wheat from the chaff and determine as far as possible how the weapon really developed, what the numbers on the parts really meant, and how the how the U.S Army Ordnance Department operated in WWII at least as far as the M1919's were concerned.
Its been like assembling one of those 1000 piece puzzles with 250 of the pieces scattered through the U.S. Everybody has a piece of the puzzle, its just finding them.
In any event, I would like to share the puzzle or at least what we have found so far.