January 2017 — Hampton, VA – International Replica Arms Company (IRAC), now known as ThreatWerk™ under Threat Tec ownership, performed an experiment on its M1919A3 to determine whether a simulated fire system could operate successfully in a high-wind environment. The M1919A3 is a stand-in for World War I German Spandau machine gun intended to be affixed to a World War I era triplane for a customer.
IRAC has been a leader in building and supplying replica weapons to museums and private collectors. The current test will help the company refine its practices for using sim-fire weapons in an operational environment. Command Sergeant Major Dennis Woods (Retired), veteran of America’s Longest War, author of Black Flag Journals, and R&D Manager of IRAC, led the team in designing and conducting the experiment. The primary purpose of this exercise was to test the capability of the M1919A3 at high winds.
The experiment was based on two considerations:
- As airflow under pressure compresses into the tube (barrel of the gun), can the gun overcome it?
- How much of a factor is wind shear to the simulated fire system?
Woods’ concern was whether the wind shear would create a vacuum and pull the fuel out of the M1919A3 barrel so it could not fire. Wind shear, a difference in wind speed and/or direction, is a major factor in aircraft-mounted weaponry. As the aircraft banks hard to the left or right in a dogfight, an eddy current, or wind shear, will cross the gun barrel, potentially rendering a gas-powered system useless.
Neighboring company ViGYAN, a small aerospace research firm located near NASA Langley, volunteered their wind tunnel for the experiment. The M1919A3 fired what Woods calls “a flame production” without fail in speeds of up to 120mph. The greater the wind speed, the longer the simulated fire flame as the oxygen combined with the fuel used in firing the weapon.
The experiment demonstrated that the M1919A3 is ideal for mounted aircraft use.