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May 30, 2013

Solving an historical mistery - help required

By Zarax

Since WG introduced the uranium hartkern ammo for the 30mm MK 103 I started researching on the topic.
Trolling from SerB aside, it turns out to be a quite complex subject.


With tungsten imports getting more and more difficult germans started looking into alternatives and in the book "Inside the third reich" Speer himself states the following:

"In the summer of 1943, wolframite imports from Portugal were cut off, which created a critical situation for the production of solid-core ammunition. I thereupon ordered the use of uranium cores for this type of ammunition. 27 My release of our uranium stocks of about twelve hundred metric tons showed that we no longer had any thought of producing atom bombs."

The use of uranium cores in german ammunition was suspected for a long tome, during A-10's GAU 30 development we find the following:

In AFATL-TR-84-03 Historical Development Summary of Automatic Cannon Caliber Ammunition:20-30 Millimeter (ADA140367) Dale M. Davis in pgs 44-47 makes the point that he believes the Germans used Uranium-cored projectiles in the 30x184/30x185B aircraft cannon against Soviet tanks

In 1956 Aberdeen Proving Ground published the Handbook of German Aircraft Ammunition; on page 58-59is their drawing of 3 cm H-Panzergranatepatrone L'spur O. Zerl, a 350 gm projectile at 960 mps,at 300 m it would penetrate 100mm@0,70mm@30. O. Zerl=without fuze. 

Mr Davis gives 7 points why this is an uranium core. I won't give all 7, but some of them are: H-Panzergrenatpatrone (special armor grenade cartridge) with no explosives inside. 

Another note says special projectile with added incendiary effect, with no incendiaries inside. 100mm of penetration is more than any steel core would do. 

It was described "Exclusively for attacking medium and heavy tanks. Practice firing prohibited".

Deep digging on the internet also gave a 37mm round with very similar properties to those described:


This started my search for the experimental usage of uranium cores in other rounds.

This is the report from GAU development:

http://michel.romieu1.perso.sfr.fr/Historical_Development_Summary_of_Automatic_Cannon_Caliber_Ammunition_20-30mm__Pages_44-47.pdf
The holy grail of german WWII historical research "Germany and the second world war" mentioned tests with uranium cores in 1944 but sadly goes no further:






The referral is to a note in "Inside the Third Reich" which itself refers to Speer's Office diary citing his office journal in March 1944.
 Going from this, another deep session of internet search gave out a forum post with the following content:

""A document was from the German Army Ordnance Command (Heeresamt/Heereswaffenamt) about a experimental-commando (Versuchskommando 515) with a staff and two experimental-companies.
 
1. Company with 2 Tigers, 2 Kingtigers and 5 Panthers are used the uranium-cored ammunition and tested it against Soviet tanks near the town of Posen in Poland.

2. Company with guided anti-tank missiles called "Rotkäppchen" on Halftracks also fighted against Soviet breakthrough´s near Posen.
There was some infantry to accompany. 

In the document the uran-ammunition and the missiles performed very well and the leader of the Experimental-commando says in his statement that the ammunition was many times better than the tungsten-cored round PzGr.40.
"
 

Sadly I couldn't find the document but it must be accessible to the public in german archives.
Unfortunately as I'm not german (and sadly don't speak it either) this is the limit of my research.

We do know that uranium ammo testing is definitely real and the forum post above (plus some others claiming an uranium 5cm round was found in Belgium) might very well be based on a real document but proving this will need someone to do the final part of the digging.

With this I'm asking to anyone in germany that could potentially spend some times in the old archives if they are interested to try to dig the document and get a pic or a scan of it.
If successfull, this could unlock knowledge of one of the last "secret weapons" of WWII and potentially a way to ask WG to buff certain german guns.

I cannot offer any reward to this aside from my personal gratitude but whoever will succeed can be proud of having solved one of the last historical mysteries of WWII weaponry. 

More pointers

- Does anyone have "Truth about the Wunderwaffe" by Igor Witkowski?
I found a mention that on page 117 an area near Mieleck is still contaminated by Uranium from WW2 trials with Uranium core amunition.

- Apparently there is a document from 04.03.1945 about the use of uranium-cored
armor piercing rounds  in the German Army history center in Koblenz

- There are also mentions of a pre-WWII Rheinmetall patent on the use of uranium cores.

66 comments:

  1. I have found exactly the same info, by searching internet.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I believe it to be true but at the same time it's not good without solid proof.

      Delete
  2. the last puzzle needed...come on germans!!

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  3. Well, thats quite thrilling what you found there. I'd really like to help here, but I'm mostly limited to writing letters to various archives, as my time and money supply is very limited. Any suggestions where or with what I could start? You can also e-mail me, dopingman@arcor.de

    Greetings, Dopingman

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    Replies
    1. The field of research should be pretty limited, Heereswaffenamt archives in March 1944, likely reports related to festung Posen.

      Delete
  4. Hey zarax, is there a way to contact you in private, since i am very uncomfortable with posting my private email on the internet. As my time and money supply is rather unlimited, i am very sure there could be something i could do for you.
    Greetings
    Stahlchirurg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. add 999@hotmail.com to my username.

      Delete
    2. Email sent. Please double check if you rechieved anything since my phone was making some trouble

      Delete
  5. Though DU, or non-depleted Uranium (U), is less dense than tungsten and less hard than tungsten carbide, it is prophetic property which gives it an enhanced penetration ability and it acts like a HEAT round on steroids.



    From: http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/focus/depleteduranium/properties.pdf


    "In the early 1970s, the US Army began researching the use of depleted uranium
    metal in kinetic energy penetrators and tank armor. High-density materials such as
    tungsten (density 19.3 g/cm3) and DU (density 19 g/cm3) were considered. DU was
    ultimately selected due to its availability, price and pyrophoricity (Danesi, 1990;
    Anderson et al., 1997). Tungsten has a much higher melting point (3410 °C) than
    uranium (1132 °C) and lacks pyrophoricity*. Therefore, a tungsten projectile becomes
    blunt on impact and is less effective in piercing armor (Peterson, 1999). During
    processing DU penetrators are hardened by reducing the carbon content and by
    alloying with 0.75% by weight of titanium (Bukowski et al., 1993). The surface of
    a DU penetrator ignites on impact (especially with steel), due to the high temperature
    generated by the impact and the relatively low melting point of uranium (1132 °C).
    In addition, the projectile sharpens as it melts and pierces heavy armor (Rostker,
    1998). DU projectile impacts are often characterized by a small, round entry hole
    (US-ACS, 1995)."

    pyrophoricity* = Ignites in certain conditions, eg high temperature.

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  6. Very interesting.

    I was aware that Speer got uranium from the German atom bomb project to repace the tungsten that they couldn't get anymore through Portugal.

    Interesting fact is that this uranium was given to Speer because Germany wasn't committed to making a atom bomb! This was because both scientists and higher ups weren't motivated to do so. Especially since Hitler declared that everything that took more than 4 years to develop shouldn't be developed at all because by that time Germany would have won the war allready anyway!

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    Replies
    1. Speer himself stated that if germany committed all its resources to it a bomb wouldn't be ready until 1947 and that only if all other research projects were drastically cut in funding and manpower.

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    2. I always end up building an atom bomb before allies when I play Germany in hearts of iron. Hah

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    3. Because you use cheats to get additional manpower, money etc. ;-)

      Steiner011

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  7. i'm strictly against the introduction of Uranium ammunition even it is a Game!
    To use it is a war crime (in rl) and wg should not introduce questionable material! If they do is so they can also ad SS-Totenkopf patches

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTRaf23TCUI

    https://www.google.de/search?q=deadly+dust&client=firefox-a&hs=VYh&rls=org.mozilla:de:official&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=1jOnUbeBPYTHtAaQwYDIDg&ved=0CAoQ_AUoAQ&biw=1920&bih=910

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    Replies
    1. It is already in game, MK 103 premium ammo.

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    2. Using Uranium ammunition is war crime? Then what are those APFSDS rounds that are being fired by M1 Abrams tanks of US army?

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    3. I think there is quite a difference in radioactivity between natural uranium and depleted one.

      Both are still quite toxic even not taking radioactivity into though, you don't want to live anywhere nearby such ammo is live tested.

      Delete
    4. Lies! USA would never commit a war crime! Oh, wait...
      I love how Germans still get so much shit for war crimes in one war while USA has been doing the same shit(and worse even) for decades now and none give a flying fuck.
      Talk about good PR.
      On topic if is historically correct that those rounds were used than they should be in game, period. Or did the shells declare themselves to be nazi members? Some people...

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    5. Well, take into account that it's doubtful that more than a few hundred rounds were manufactured and we should be thankful of that because the side effects of heavy usage of any kind of uranium on open air are quite nasty.

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    6. Agreed. Usage of radioactive elements should be banned even in power plants IMO.

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    7. "Agreed. Usage of radioactive elements should be banned even in power plants IMO."

      Someone doesn't know how nuclear power plants work...

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    8. Someone does not KNOW HOW BANNING works. Ban means there would NOT BE ANY WORKING NUCLEAR PLANTS LEFT, AS IN THEY WOULD BE SHUT DOWN. Please do not answer if you are unable to understand English language.

      Delete
    9. Coal-fired power plants release more radiation than nuclear power plants do. Pick one.

      (I supposed we could always go back to candles when it gets dark...)

      Delete
    10. Pollution not radiation... not the same.
      Or we could make new power plants. Safer and more powerful than any before.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbzKFGnFWr0

      Delete
    11. Or we could stop the off-topic...

      Delete
    12. guys u dont get its not the poverplats -
      Its the U235 and U238 Uranium ammonition - the Alpha radiation is verly low and cant go true the skin the problem is that 75% of the shell gets after the hit to dust - this dust hase a size of 0.000000001m (nanometer). this partikel go true your skin or go into your lung and kills u slowly destroys your genotype. its a genicide to all generations who got contakt to it!

      U235 has a half-life of 703 800 000 years!
      U238 4 468 000 000 years!!!

      It is a pollution FOREVER!

      Delete
    13. "I supposed we could always go back to candles when it gets dark..."

      Dude you are so retarded I swear it's you who emits radiation.

      Delete
  8. Is there evidence of other aircraft auto cannons being used on tanks?

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    Replies
    1. No but considering that german aircraft autocannons were adapted from the ground models, often firing the very same ammo it wouldn't be hard to fit the loading system into a tank.

      Depending on the autoloader the bulk of the system would require a casemate rather than a standard turret but still both 75 and 88mm tank auto-loaders were planned.

      Delete
    2. TD auto-loaders? I am definitely interested in playing that.
      Too bad that it will not(afaik?) come anytime soon(if it comes at all...).

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    3. Here's my research on the subject: http://forum.worldoftanks.eu/index.php?/topic/61796-increased-gun-selection-for-in-game-tanks/

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    4. Anon, check tier X Foch, or for example stock gun on AT 7.

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    5. 6 pounder is not a auto-loader. And I am aware of Foch, but that is one TD. And you have to grind the whole line(I have enough lines to grind ATM) to get to that one tank. 75 mm autoloader should be on tier VI? Much easier to obtain that.

      Delete
    6. I don't know if it is, but it sure works like one in game.

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    7. The 6 ounder on the AT7 has a 10 round clip that reloads pretty fast. The rate of fire within the clip is something like 1/second. It's quite a fun gun to play, except when there are too many higher tiers around.

      Delete
  9. Vistula-Oder Offensive started in January 1945 so this testing near Posen (Poznań) a year before must have been on wrecks/captured tanks, NOT battle-testing as this optimistic wording may suggest.

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  10. I am from Germany and therefore just did a quick search around the internet for german sources on this subject which you probably could not use during your research since you do not speak german.
    I am interested in these sorts of topics but I am not a military or history expert of any kind so please feel free to apply some criticism to what I say if you think you have found a weak spot.

    It just seems like I do not have any good news so far for you but I will keep searching.

    Basically you can find the forum post you have mentioned and references to Speer who claims to have got access to 1200 tons of uranium in summer 1943 and gave out the order to use it to manufacture ammunition due to the lack of tungsten.
    I do not have this book so I now refer to people posting on german forums who probably have the book or have read it. It allegedly says that these 1200 tons were seized in Belgium in 1940. It was not uranium but uranium ore instead. So basically it is unprocessed uranium which is still bound together with other materials.

    Now we dive into chemics and this is not really my area of expertise. I will keep it brief though but maybe someone with more knowledge on this topic can weigh in on it.
    To get uranium out of the uranium ore you have to process it through various steps in which you basically get rid of all the unwanted material. This involes, for example, the use of sulfuric acid. I cannot give you all the details because, as I have said, I am not really an expert nor do I know the right terms in english.
    But I think I do unterstand that the process of dissolving uranium ore to get uranium was developed in the USA and eventually patented in 1947.

    I think by the time the supply of tungsten began to run out and Speer ordered to start using uranium instead - we are talking about 1943/1944 - this technology probably was not available in Germany.
    And even if it was you would end up with uranium which is neither enriched nor depleted and therefore is not good for use as a penetrator in ammunition.

    Unfortunately I could not find any material regarding the Versuchskommando 515 apart from this post on this blog and the aforementioned forum post.

    From what I understand as of now there is surely no sign of the usage of depleted uranium ammunition which kills the solid core ammunition theory with uranium from the start.
    Maybe they tried using uranium in ammunition but that would not have been very effective since it is a rather soft material.

    As I said this probably is not what you would have hoped for when it comes to convincing WG that the germans were using uranium ammunition so that they will implement it in World of Tanks.

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    Replies
    1. Just a quick note:

      IF the document you are looking for exists somewhere in the archives it could probably been found in the Bundesarchiv in Freiburg. Their main office is located in Koblenz but in Freiburg they have a branch office known as the Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv which keeps all military related documents back to 1867.
      Sadly I do not live in that area but if someone does and is willing to give them a visit: http://www.bundesarchiv.de/bundesarchiv/dienstorte/freiburg/index.html.de

      Delete
    2. You guys do know that when speaking about 1200 tons from Belgium you are speaking about Uranium Oxide IE Yellow Cake and RAW Ore. At least, a majority of the material was UO and RAW Ore and not some solid material suitable for shot cores.

      NEMO.

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    3. A few side notes...

      You mentioned that it was not enriched or depleted. This is somewhat irrelevant, as the use of depleted uranium is due to its status as a byproduct of the enrichment cycle. If the Germans were no longer interested in building a bomb, they could forgo the enrichment and simple refine it, which is far easier and cheaper. True, you would have slightly more radioactive ammo, but even metallic uranium isn't that radioactive. The "hot" stuff comes after the actual reaction, the byproducts like cesium and cobalt. They actually use uranium as a shield for other more radioactive products, it works better than lead because its more dense.

      And, secondly, pyrophoric means that it burns on contact with air. This is the property which makes DU rounds so awful, they contaminate the battlefield with uranium smoke, which settles and gets into the ecosystem.

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    4. The fact that germans used some uranium core rounds for smaller calibers is confirmed, what we're discussing here are the experiments for the larger calibers.

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    5. As of now there is no reason to believe that there were notable experiments with uranium core ammunition for large caliber tank guns. That's as far as my understanding of this subject goes.

      But don't get me wrong. If the aforementioned report is real, which it might be, then there might also be a chance to find the apropriate documents in the Bundesarchiv in Freiburg.

      Their service is mostly provided free of charge. Freiburg is a bit far away for me to just go there and have a look, but you can also send them an email with your request. If you cannot find someone from that area who can just go there I will gladly send them an email if you want.

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    6. Well, I suspect someone will actually need to dig through the notes, what would be good to know is if they have Speer's office journal and/or the minutes of meetings with Hitler.

      Somewhere in those documents there might be a referral to the experiments (which we do know were conducted from a 100% reliable sources) and hopefully a solid direction to the detailed report.

      Delete
    7. I have no doubt about the reliability of "Germany and the second world war" but they only mention the testing of uranium cored rounds in small caliber guns. That does not match with the 75 and 88 mm rounds needed for Panther, Tiger I and Tiger II.

      I have big doubts though about that old forum post which refers to some document from the Heereswaffenamt about testing of the Versuchskommando 515 near Posen. The inconsistency of the claims made seems to be huge.
      As I am sure you know you cannot find any more information regarding these claims. That is usually a bad sign. I could not even find the original source. The only thing I found out about it:
      It was probably first posted in the year 2000. That is what someone has claimed when quoting this text.

      The biggest inconsistency from my point of view:

      There was certainly no big chance to fight soviet tanks around Poznan in March 1944 when the testing should have taken place. By the end (30th) of April 1944, 4 to 8 weeks later, the front line on the eastern front on the latitude of Poznan was still east of Brest in Belarus. That is still more than 200 miles away from Poznan. By mid-August 1944 the soviet attack still got only as far as Warsaw, a good 100 or 150 miles east of Poznan.
      You could say that 1.) in this forum post refers to testing with captured soviet tanks. But 2.) clearly claims fighting back soviet tanks which surely did not take place until the end of 1944 in this area. Maybe there is no temporal link between 1.) and 2.) but we do not know. In the way this is written it seems there is a temporal link so these actions were taking place late 1944 or early 1945. So there is no match with the claims of testing of uranium ammunition in "Germany and the second world war".

      To be honest, it has some characteristics of a conspiracy theory.

      Anyway, I might have a chat with the guys from the Bundesarchiv or send them an email. I do not know if the people there are "only" archivists or if they also have experts with detailed knowledge of certain areas. We will see.
      I will surely ask them about notes of Speer from that period

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    8. Yes, finding Speer's notes could be of great help.
      I wonder if Bundesarchiv would answer to e-mails in english, I might try to query them myself.

      Delete
    9. I do not know if they do. But I think you should try.
      Leave me a note if you encounter problems and I will see what I can do.

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    10. I added a few more pointers, unverified claims though

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    11. I believe the city would be Mielec not Mieleck and timewise it would be early summer '44 - if it's true of course...

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    12. Where did you find the clue about the existence of this document from 04.03.1945? What sort of document should this be? Do you have any more details?

      I think the German Army History Center is the "Wehrtechnische Studiensammlung". That is not an archive but a museum. It is open to the public for 3€ entrance fee. They mostly have military hardware on display but they also collect literature, specifically on the development of military technology (which is their overall focus) so it may very well be that they have such a document somewhere in their collection.

      They say they have a specialised library with literature about military development and history with more than 15.000 Books and 60.000 documents like technical manuals and so on. It seems not to be available to the public during their usual day to day business but they say it is open for everyone who is interested after making an appointment in advance.

      Their website: https://www.baain.de/portal/poc/baain?uri=ci%3Abw.baain.ueberun.dasbaain.wehrtec

      You can switch the language to english with the button in the top right corner but once again I do not know if they reply to requests in english. I will get in touch with them if you want, preferably after you gave me some more details about this document, if you have some.

      Delete
    13. I have also done a quick search for patents filed by Rheinmetall with the DPMA (Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt) which is the German Patent and Trademark Office. They have 952 entries for my search pattern "Rheinmetall" and "pre 1945".
      I will take the search results and search for clues on uranium cores.

      Delete
    14. It is someone claiming on a forum the document exists, they asked about document number but the poster never bothered to provide it.

      I'm sorry if the referrals appears to be unclear but I'm trying to sort conspiracy theories from data that could lead somewhere, something that requires me to sift through hundreds of internet links in 3 languages.

      This particular claim came from WHQ forum in a thread called "Uranmunition während des 2. WK", along with the Posen one.

      BTW, I might be missing some subtlety but german wikipedia gives referrals to "uranmunition" on both Panzer III and IV pages.

      I'm pretty sure it refers to the page from "germany and the second world war" I took a picture of (although in the german edition) but you may never know...

      Delete
    15. You are right, they are referring to the book.
      What both pages say is basically that there were successful testing of uranium ammunition in early 1944 but because of the uranium shortage these rounds never went into mass production.

      Delete
  11. hey zarax . personally i think that when the americans captured most of the scientists, eg van braun and probably captured most of the german archives on the matter, as they developed it rather quickly after ww2 ended for them to have done so by themselves. was it deuterium /isotope of helium that the geramans were mainly missing in their project ? also why did Hitler not use chemical warfare , ( lots of chemical bombs were left over from ww1) on lets say England or moscow with his v2 rocket? he could have easily ruined it if he wanted.

    also another question, when the germans were taking it they bombed it first of all, heaviest bombing a city in ww2 ever got, when they were entering it they met stiff Resistance and eventually took the grain plant and communication office after a few days, some even joke saying that they conquered poland in 2 weeks but could only take 1 house a day in stalingrad. why did paulus not pull his men out and not bomb the artillary overlooking Stalingrad on the opposite side of the river, and even the ships used to transport the troops across the volga that was enough to keep them germans occupied. or was it because of hitler telling him not to pull out and keep on pushing? after all he gave paulus another 3 divisions on troops just to take Stalingrad and left the flanks to the weak Romanians.? so my question was why did they not bomb the other side of the Volga and the ships/carriers, and the artillery that could support the soviets?

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    Replies
    1. Hitler, rationally, feared that if he used chemical weapons openly that the allies would use them against him. Wisely, with a few exceptions, poison gas shells were, apart from some rumors, keep well under lock and key for the duration of the war despite the fact that the Germans kept producing the stuff right up tell the end of the war.

      A lot of chemical weapons from WW1 left over were buried in the fields of combat. Or dumped into many many ammo dumps and either buried or dumped into the sea. Compared to the normal shells in WW1 there were not that many poison gas shells. there were rumors on fitting a V2 with poison gas. ect. But I have not seen much on it.

      On the issue of Stalingrad... This is Hitler you are talking about who has a nasty habit of telling his generals what to do and ignoring their advice.

      NEMO.

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    2. Nemo is right. Additional Hitler himself got lightly wounded in his WW1 service in an chemical attack. That also adds and many historicans claim that some personal fear or dislike from that incident can be count to his desicion not to use chemical weapons by himself. Despite this, the germans always continued to develope and research chemical weapons through the war.

      Many of the later dumped chemical ammunition, was done on allied order after occupation. They ordered to dump alot of ammunition close to the coast of the north and east sea. Many of the internal chemicals in these shells leak out and becomes a huge problem nowerdays, as they get onto the beach from time to time. So ppl mistake it for amber and collect it with serious health problems as you can image.

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    3. You are not exactly right, chemical weapons are really good only in one thing - genocide. In case of using it against standing army its effectiveness will be mediocre at best, because means to counter chemical attack treats were developed well before WW2.

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  12. I am in the belgian army and live close to the base where the unexploded ordenance disposal service works. (Dovo /sedee) I can always try to ask about that 5cm shell. Would help a lot thoug if u have any idea about the year of discovery (eaven proximity) and the location (eaven north/south would help a lot as that determinates wich language)

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    Replies
    1. will try to find something, however there is next to mo info about it...

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    2. Unfortunately no data, in 2012 someone says that he found reports about a radioactive 5cm round found "a few years before", so that might be in 2000 or later.

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    3. hmmm that aint much indeed but i will try. if i find something i will send a mail to the ftr mail adress.

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    4. have quickly done a litte research on the web. acorindg to this site (http://www.mil.be/armycomp/units/index.asp?LAN=nl&FILE=&ID=559&MENU=0&PAGE=1) toxical amunition or ammo wich is of unknown type is sent to poelkapelle. Also last time toxical ammo types where dumped into the sea was 1980. Everything after that date wich is toxic or unknown should be stored at poelkapele aparantly. Also they try to dismantle the stock (since 1997). however i am unsure what would exactly hapen with a shell like this.

      poelkapelle isnt exactly near my home, (but meerdaal is wich is the hq from that unit) so it can take some time before i get there.

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    5. Well, anything would be great, thank you :)

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  13. Does anyone have "Truth about the Wunderwaffe" by Igor Witkowski?
    I found a mention that on page 117 an area near Mieleck is still contaminated by Uranium from WW2 trials with Uranium core amunition.

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    Replies
    1. Ask the source ;) : The best way to contact the author is through e-mail: contact@igorwitkowski.com
      or by phone: 0048 501 193 021

      From: http://igorwitkowski.com/english.html

      Maybe he can provide you origin of this information.

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    2. PS: but i doubt that it's worth trying as this author is not to be trusted anyway - he makes a living on stories...

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    3. Oh, I see...

      That's too bad, I guess finding reliable info will take a lot of time.

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