.55 Boys

The .55 Boys (13.9×99mmB in metric) is an anti-tankcartridge used by the United Kingdom in World War II. It was designed for use with the Boys Anti-Tank Rifle.

Anti-tank rifle cartridge
.55 Boys
Type Anti-tank rifle cartridge
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1937–1945
Used by United Kingdom
Commonwealth of Nations
Finland, et al.
Winter War
Continuation War
Production history
Designed 1937
Manufacturer Kynoch
Parent case .50 BMG
Bullet diameter 14.30 mm (.565 in)
Neck diameter 15.392 mm (.606 in)
Shoulder diameter 15.34 mm (.604 in)
Base diameter 20.168 mm (.794 in)
Rim diameter 20.244 mm (.797 in)
Rim thickness 2.44 mm (.096 in)
Case length 97.79 mm (3.85 in)
Overall length 133.43 mm (5.253 in)
Ballistic performance
Bullet mass/type Velocity Energy
946 gr (61 g) Mark I 760 m/s (2,500 ft/s) 17,726 J (13,074 ft⋅lbf)
741 gr (48 g) APCR Tungsten 945 m/s (3,100 ft/s) 21,434 J (15,809 ft⋅lbf)
Test barrel length: 914.4 mm (36 inches)
Source(s): Ammo Encyclopedia, 2nd Edition by Michael Bussard

. . . .55 Boys . . .

The .55 Boys is a .50 BMG cartridge necked up to accept a .55 caliber bullet and with a belt added to its case. It performed poorly when compared to contemporary foreign anti-tank rounds, such as the German7.92×94mm Patronen[note 1] and the Soviet14.5×114mm rounds and, as a result, it was quickly deemed obsolete.[1]

.A 55 Boys cartridge (left) and a .50 BMG cartridge (right).

The concept of a small arm round for use against tanks began with the German13.2mm TuF round, designed during World War I for use against the first British tanks.

In the 1930s, the United Kingdom began designing an anti-tank rifle to counter enemy armoured vehicles in the event of a war.

Initially the gun design was trialled using .50 inch bullet with a belted case due to lack of armour-piercing performance the calibre was increased to .55 [2]

Development on what is known as the .55 Boys was started by Captain Henry C. Boys, the Assistant Superintendent of Design at the Royal Small Arms Factory, Enfield in 1934. Boys died before the rifle was officially adopted and it was named after him. The .55 Boys round was a modified .50 BMG round necked up to accept a larger, steel-cored bullet in order to increase its armour penetration. A belt was added to reinforce the case with the heavy propellant charge.[citation needed][note 2]

The .55 Boys was adopted and manufactured alongside the Boys Anti-Tank Rifle in 1937 throughout the Commonwealth of Nations by firms such as Kynoch. However, when the United Kingdom entered World War II, the .55 Boys round was soon found to be insufficient against even early war Axis tanks in late 1939 and 1940.[1] However, the United Kingdom had to rely on the .55 Boys round for because no better infantry anti-tank weapons were available. When the PIAT anti-tank weapon was introduced in 1943, the shaped charges it fired were far more effective against enemy armour than the .55 Boys round had been.[1] The Boys rifle was phased out of service on the frontline as the PIAT became the British military’s primary handheld anti-tank weapon. Despite its lack of effectiveness as an anti-tank weapon, the .55 Boys was used throughout World War II in both the Pacific and Atlantic theatre and also saw use during the Winter War and Continuation War by Finland. The Boys was issued to Home Guard units in the UK for use against “light armoured fighting vehicles…which the Home Guard are likely to have to deal with, certainly in the early stages of either an air-borne or sea-borne landing on our coasts.” A handbook for its use noted that as well as the expected penetration of armour at various distances and angles that it would penetrate 14 inches of brick wall and 10 inches of sandbags.[3]

By the conclusion of World War II, the .55 Boys was no longer used in any major capacity.

. . . .55 Boys . . .

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. . . .55 Boys . . .

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