Subj:  BRAZILIAN COMBLAINS
Date: 00-01-05 16:07:25 EST
From: compsup@aircmd.af.mil.nz (Brad Dixon)
To: KeithDoyon@MilitaryRifles(.)com

Hi - My name is Brad Dixon and I am a Cartridge Collector and Historian. I have written two books on "European Sporting Cartrdiges" (the first published by Armory Publications in 1996 and the second due for publishing shortly. I have also written an article on Cartridges for Comblain weapons, (ed. note:  re-printed below). Several months ago I went into your excellent site and through information gained I have been corresponding with Snr Adler Homero F. de Castro and following my questions has provided new material on the Brazilian Comblains which should be of benefit to you.

    My article is obviously cartridge oriented but I do have quite a bit of correspondence on the features and identification of the various Brazilian Comblains - some of which has only just been established by Adler. Please reply if you want such details. I hope the article is of interest to you, all the best ... Brad Dixon
 
COMBLAIN DRAWN CASE CARTRIDGES 
WBD/1 : 11/99
Hubert Joseph Comblain, a Gunmaker of Liè ge (Belgium), designed Rifle loading mechanisms commencing in 1867 with a side lever action rifle (the Comblain No1 Rifle which was also evidently known as the "Reilly-Comblain"). In 1869 testing of the Comblain No2 Rifle begun in the Belgian military Rifle trials that had commenced in 1867. The No2 Rifle used the more well known Dropping/Sliding Block action now generally referred to as the ‘Comblain’ action. Rifles were originally produced by the Belgian company Lambin et Cie. In 1870 this rifle was adopted by the Belgian civil guard as the Comblain M70 Rifle and in 1871 a Comblain M71 Carbine was adopted by the Belgian Cavalry. Brazil and Chile adopted their own patterns of the Comblain No2 Rifle action (some with unique calibres) and evidently, Greece, Peru and evidently Argentina were supplied with standard Comblain No2 Rifles in the original 11x50R calibre.

All early 11mm Belgian military Rifles and Carbines used rolled brass foil cases. In 1875, drawn brass cases were first produced in Belgium by Charles Fusnot & Cie. In 1879, the Ecole de Pyrotechnie d’Anvers (EPA) took over production of such cases. All the Belgian Comblain Rifles used identical firing chambers, although successive adopted cartridges used different case profiles. The foil case type was also used in early Brazilian rifles and carbines. This article will concentrate on the drawn case types used in Comblain Rifles and Carbines, all of which (except perhaps CO7) used a case with 14.7-14.9mm base. 


 

                .

Comblain
12.8x50R

No1

CO1

11x50R

M76

CO2

11x50R

M81

CO3

11x42R

Carbine

CO4

11x53R

M89

CO5

11x50R

M84

CO6

11x57R

Expt

CO7

9.5x51R

Expt

CO8

Bullet
12.8
11.2
11.2
11.2
11.6
11.8
11.35
9.65
Case
50.4
50.3
50.3
42.5
53.5
49.5
56.80
51.0
Rim
17.3
17.3
17.3
17.3
17.3
17.3
16.10?
17.3
Base
14.8
14.8
14.8
14.8
14.8
14.8
13.15?
14.8
Neck
13.6
11.8
11.8
11.8
11.7
12.5
12.00
10.4
Foil from
1867
1872
n/a
1871
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
Drawn
c1882
1875
1877
1883
1889
c1877
c1883
c1884
To
c1900
1877
c1913
c1913
c1920
c1910
   
Lorenz #
293
 
270
 
410
407
 
314
Belgian
?
CF

(FUSNOT)

Ste

ANONYME

BREVETTE

EP,EPL,SA

FUSNOT

(C 79 ?)

C/R/B/12/

CB ?

EPL

SA 

C/R/B/*/

EP
 
 
 

?

 
SFM
   
SFM* GG* No HS
 
‘NORDENFELT 89’, GG 89

SFM* GG*

G/ /Mx/ /
?
 
Other
RWS

KYNOCH

 
Egestorff Brazilian? 

MAXIM 86

No HS
Brazilian?

no hs, WRA KYNOCH

‘SANTO CHILE 

4 78’

   
NKS
v ?
           
v ?

 
 
 
 
 
 

CO1


 
 
 
 

12.8x50R Comblain No 1 
 
 

aka : 12.6x50R Comblain
 
 
 
 

 

This cartridge was used in the Comblain No1 Rifle of 1867, which was not officially adopted by Belgium or any other country. This has been identified from the Lorenz c1886 Export catalog (case #293 - c1883), where it is shown in the military section. The same cartridge is also shown in the c1898-1908 RWS catalog as a 12.6x50R Comblain and is also shown in a early c1882/84 Kynoch catalog. The original cartridges would have been of the rolled-foil case type but the Lorenz, Kynoch and RWS catalogs show drawn case types. No examples of either case type are confirmed as existing or have been identified as such !

The original military M70 Comblain Rifle used the same cartridge as used in the Albini-Braendlin M67, M73 and Tersen M68 rifles. This cartridge used a rolled brass foil case and exist in at least 8 variations from M67 to M72. All but the last had minor structural changes or different bullets but used a straight tapered cased. The M72 however had a definite bottleneck c10mm below the mouth but was still foil cased. At various times these cartridges have been known as the : 11mm Belgian Infantry, 11mm Tersen, 11mm Comblain M71, 11mm Albini M67. The excellent article by Francis LatoirThe 11mm Belgian Infantry Cartridge’ (The Cartridge Collector 237-2:9/84), discusses the foil types in detail.
 

 
 
 
 

CO2


 
 

11x50R Belgian M76 

aka : 11mm M76 Comblain

 

This is the first Belgian drawn case type, using the same case profile as the M72 rolled foil case type. Designated as the M76 and intended for use in the same Belgian rifles. Identified by the lower shoulder, no pp RN lead bullet. This was only produced in Belgium, originally by Charles Fusnot of Brussels from 1875 to 1877 (see note below ). 

Note : In 1884, the ‘Societe Anonyme pour la fabrication des Cartouchos et Projectiles’ of Anderlecht patented a ‘neck-ring’ sitting on the outside of the M76 case at the bottom of the neck. This allowed reloading of the case, as normally the M76 case was deformed on firing as it did not fit flush in the straight chambers. Some of these cartridges still exist and have a "Ste ANONYME BREVETTE (meaning ‘Patent’) hs.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

CO3


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

11x50R Belgian M81 

aka : 11mm Albini M81

11mm Comblain M82

11mm Comblain M71 (?)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

In 1877 Fusnot shortened the neck to c5mm to obtain better chamber sealing. This cartridge, reverting back to a pp bullet, was eventually adopted in 1881 as the M81 and was used in the other Belgian rifles as well as the M82 Comblain Rifle. EPA took over the production of one piece drawn cases from Fusnot in 1879. This was a popular cartridge, produced in Belgium until 1913 being made by EPA, EPL, CRB and SA. Known with several hs but typically the ‘EPL’ (88-90 dates) and ‘EP’ (02-13). Also known with "MAXIM 86" hs implying MG use. Lorenz case #270 (c1882 : NKS) was listed as the M71 Comblain and is most likely to use the M81 profile even though some catalogs show a longer neck, more like the M76. Egestorff catalogs show Lorenz case #270 with the shorter neck and Egestorff examples exist with no hs and the higher shoulder. Variations include; Blank, Gallery and Adaptor cartridges.

 
 
 
 
 
 

CO4


 
 

11x42R Comblain Carbine

aka : 11x43R Belgian 

11mm Comblain M76 (?)

11mm Albini-Comblain

 

This shorter cased version was used in the Belgian M71,M71/83 and M71/83/88 Comblain Carbines, M73 Albini-BraendlinCarbine and also Brazilian Comblain M73 and M92 Carbines. Originally produced in foiled case form, the drawn case with high shoulder (following the M81 Rifle case profile) was likely to have been first used after 1881 probably in the M71/83 and later carbines. Drawn cases (11x50R) first appeared in Belgium c1876 and hence this drawn case is sometimes (incorrectly) referred to as the M76 Carbine cartridge. Typically found with "EPL" 84-88 or "EP 11" hs but examples with no hs are also known.
BRAZILIAN COMBLAIN WEAPONS AND CARTRIDGES
Prior to 1873, the Brazilian Government had purchased a wide range of weapons including : Enfield, Minié , Spencer M65 (Cavalry), Dreyse M41, Chassepot M66 (purchased 1872 - but not issued) and Winchester M66 (purchased 1872 - distributed 1874). The Brazilian Navy adopted 450 Westley-Richards Rifles and Carbines in 1873 and Brazil also used both the 45 Gatling Machine Guns (MG) and 37mm Hotchkiss cannon (M74 and M76). From 1873, Brazil adopted Comblain Rifles and Carbines which were supplied with foil cased cartridges produced by Belgium. Later in 1873, this foil cased ammunition was also produced by Brazilian Arsenals. To simplify ammunition production, from 1876 Brazil converted all soldier weapons to CF foil cartridges. This was not a complete success especially with regard to the Gatling Guns used by Brazil which incurred serious case extraction problems and so machinery to produce drawn case cartridges was purchased in the 1880’s and certainly by 1889 such ammunition was being produced in Brazil. Brazil had always tried to have its own independent ammunition production.

Brazil officially adopted nine different Comblain actioned weapons from 1873 until 1895 (see the table below). In 1873 Brazil adopted a Comblain Rifle generally referred to as the ‘Belgian Model’ which indicates that this was probably the Belgian Comblain No2 rifle, known in Brazil as the M73 Rifle. The Brazilian M74 Rifle and all later Brazilian Models have their own modifications of the Comblain action peculiar to Brazil. These used the standard foil-cased 11x50R Belgian cartridge as did the later M78 and M85 Rifles. Brazil also adopted a Comblain Carbine in 1873 (M73 Carbine) which used the shorter foil-cased 11x42R Belgian Carbine cartridge, also used in the later M92 Army Carbine and M92 Police Carbines. Imported Belgian foil cased cartridges were first used. From late 1873, Brazil evidently manufactured its own 11x50R and 11x42R foil cased ammunition, initially at the Laborató rio Piroté cnico de Campinho in Rio de Janeiro (these generally have a ‘C’ in either the hs or primer) and later both at the Laborató rio Piroté cnico Menino de Deus in Rio Grande do Sul and the Laborató rio Piroté cnico de Cuiabá in Mato Grosso do Sul (all State factories). All rifles were produced in either Belgium or Germany.

The Brazilian Comblain M89 Rifle however, used a longer drawn case 11x53R cartridge unique to Brazil. This cartridge did not prove to be popular, as many of the (10,000) original M89 Rifles were later transformed to use the earlier 11x50R case (M91 Rifle). The majority of drawn case ammunition of this calibre was imported from; Belgium, France, England, USA and Germany, as military drawn case manufacture did not commence in Brazil until c1889. The manufacture of drawn cases of both the 11x50R and 11x53R by the Brazilian arsenals is likely although such ammunition was imported from Europe in quantity during the Brazilian Naval Rebellion (1893-95). Note that the 11x53R was also used in Nordenfelt Machine Guns (MGs) adopted by Brazil as the M89 MG and examples with "NORDENFELT 89" hs are known (believed to have been produced by SFM). 

Other Brazilian Comblains were chambered in 7.7mm (M85 Cadet Rifle) and 7x57 Mauser (M95 Police Rifle). In 1892 the Brazilian military adopted the 8x57 M88 German Commission Rifle which proved unsuitable and was replaced in 1894 by a 7x57 M94 Mauser Rifle (modified Spanish M92 Mauser). Thus all the Comblains became obsolete, although these were still used as reserve weapons until c1900. Brazilian Police forces still used Comblains until as late as 1930. Even after the Brazilian Army centralised their ammunition manufacture at the Fábrica de Cartuchos e Artifí cos de Guerra in Rio de Janeiro in 1902, Comblain ammunition was still being made, possibly into the 1920’s, although stockpiling of these cartridges (as was fairly common practice by the Brazilian military) is likely to have satisfied such demands.


 
 
BRAZILIAN COMBLAIN WEAPONS AND WEAPONS USING COMBLAIN CARTRIDGES
Weapons officially adopted 1873 - 1895
Calibre
Notes
11mm Brazilian Comblain Rifle No 1 M73
11x50R
"Belgian Model" = Belgian No2 Rifle
11mm Brazilian Comblain Rifle No 2 M74
11x50R
"Brazilian Model" : unique pattern
11mm Brazilian Comblain Rifle No 3 M78
11x50R
 
11mm Brazilian Comblain Rifle No 4 M85
11x50R
 
11mm Brazilian Comblain Rifle No 5 M89
11x53R
10,000 purchased
11mm Brazilian Comblain Rifle No 6 M91
11x50R
M89 rechambered to 11x50R
11mm Brazilian Comblain Carbine M73
11x42R
Probably = Belgian Carbine M73
11mm Brazilian Comblain Carbine M92
11x42R
aka : Comblain Carbine M88
11mm Brazilian Police Carbine M92
11x42R
aka : Bahia "Chuchu" Carbine
7mm Brazilian Police Comblain Carbine M95
7x57 
Comblain action with Mauser barrel
7.7mm Brazilian Cadet Rifle M85 (2 Types)
7.7mm 
actual calibre = 7.5mm . aka : .32
11mm Brazilian Nordenfelt MG : Infantry Model M89
11x53R
5 barrels
11mm Brazilian Nordenfelt MG : Cavalry Model M89
11x53R
3 barrels

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

CO5


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

11x53R Brazilian Comblain M89 

aka : 11.3x53R, 11x54R

11mm Nordenfelt MG M89

11.4x53R Comblain

11mm Comblain-Nordenfelt

 

This unique case type is identified by its 53mm case length, high shoulder and typically no pp (pp examples do exist). This cartridge was designed for the Brazilian M89 Comblain No5 Rifle (see notes below). SFM catalogs confirm this designation where this cartridge is listed as the M1889. SFM factory drawing dated 14 Dec 88 show the ‘GG 89’ hs and ‘Comblain Nordenfelt’ designation. Brazil adopted the Nordenfelt MG in 1889 (M89 Nordenfelt MG) which also used the 11x53R case - see the ‘NORDENFELT 89" hs. Lorenz produced this case as #410 (c1894) and it was also produced by Kynoch, EP, WRA and probably Brazilian arsenals. Adaptor cartridges of the SFM type (with a ball and separate propellant cartridge) were used by the Brazilian military for practise use prior to 1895 (VIEIRA) and were likely to have been supplied by Belgium (they exist with EP hs).

 

The 11x53R Brazilian Comblain cartridge was previously thought to have been used in all the Brazilian Comblain Rifles commencing with (and described as) the M74. Brazilian sources confirm however, that the only rifle that this case type was used in was the M89 Comblain Rifle. This cartridge should therefore no longer be referred to as the Brazilian Comblain M74. Speculation that some of the 53mm foil cases lengths of the 11mm Belgian may have been intended for early use by Brazil, now appears false. These rolled brass cases with c53-54mm case lengths appear to have been part of the original M67 Belgian production, before the case length was standardised at 50mm.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

CO6


 
 
 
 
 
 

11x50R Chilean Comblain M84 

aka : 11.6x50R Chilean Comblain

11mm Comblain M84

11mm Chile Gras-Comblain

 

Chile adopted a different pattern Comblain rifle (Belgian produced) c1877. This used a unique cartridge with a larger diameter bullet but still had a 50mm case. This was the official Chilean Rifle calibre until the adoption of a 7x57 Mauser in 1895. Lorenz case #407 (c1894) is listed as an 11mm Chile Gras-Comblain and is believed to be this calibre. Date of introduction is uncertain. A 1900 SFM catalog lists this as M1884 but typically Gevelot produced Chilean cartridges are found with a "G//Mx//" style hs with 1877-78 dates. These may have been made from 11x50R Belgian cases which could easily be adapted to a larger bullet. Also drawn cases with ‘SANTO CHILE 4 78’ hs (Chilean ?) are known. No foil cased equivalents are known.

 
 

 
 

CO7

11x57R Comblain Experimental

aka : 11.43x57R

Shown in Datig vol4 as an 11.43x57R, this cartridge has been identified as an experimental Comblain cartridge from an 1883 Belgian drawing. If this is a Comblain cartridge (which its appearance supports) and the Datig dimensions are correct, then it uses a different case diameter (?) than all the other Comblain types, which would be unusual !

 
 

 
 
 
 

CO8

9.5x51R Comblain Experimental

aka : 9.65x51R

The 9.5x51R was a c1884-85 calibre reduction experiment based on the 11x50R Belgian M81 case. This was very briefly used in Comblain rifles as part of the Belgian Military Rifle Trials of 1884-1889 that eventually led to the adoption of the 7.65x53 Belgian Mauser. This is Lorenz case #314 (c1885). Examples are not known to exist but are likely to have been made for the trials.
COMBLAIN HEADSTAMP GUIDE
Top row : Belgian hs that are known on Comblain cartridges (see table for exact calibres).
Bottom Row from left

No HS : known on : M81 (SFM, Egestorff confirmed), Carbine (Belgian?) and M89 (UMC speculated).

Three SFM : ‘SFM * GG *’ on M81 & M89, ‘GG 89’ on M89 made for Brazil, Mx style on 11mm Chilean.

Kynoch and WRA on Brazilian M89. 

Two MG HS : M81 case type for Maxim MG (?) and M89 Brazilian Nordenfelt MG (SFM made ?).


 
 
HS
Company/Government/Factory 
Etablissements Bachmann at Etterbeek-les-Bruxelles (Brussels) : Generally on early foil cases.
C
Most likely to be : Cartoucherie Fusnot (as found on ‘C 79’ hs, which should be EPL or Fusnot).

"C" was also used by the Brazilian Laborató rio Piroté cnico de Campinho on foil cases.

CB
Cartoucherie Belge, Liè ge (unconfirmed on Comblain but likely to exist).
CF
Cartoucherie Fusnot & Cie Cureghem-lez-Bruxelles (Brussels) : 1876-1878 dates known .
C/R/B
Cartoucherie Russo-Belge, Liè ge : (1890-1920) : Made Comblain M81 as late as 1912.
EP
Ecole de Pyrotechnie (School of Pyrotechnics) : EP hs used c1900-13.

Originally at Antwerp (Ecole de Pyrotechnie d’Anvers : aka EPA) : drawn cases from 1879 : hs ?

EPL
Ecole de Pyrotechnie Liè ge (School of Pyrotechnics, Liè ge, 1884) : hs used 1884-c1890s.
SA
Societe Anonyme d’Anderlecht, Brussels ( took over Fusnot before 1887) : 1900’s hs.

Also used "Ste ANONYME BRUXELLES" : pre 1900.

SANTO

CHILE

Possibly Chilean : Fabrica de Material de Guerra del Ejercito , Chile (too recent ??).

 

References/Additional Reading Guide

ALFA ARMS CATALOG (1911)
ANDERSEN. P.A. , ANDRESEN, V. ST0MSTAD,T : CARTRIDGE CASES
BRASIL - MINISTERIO DA GUERRA - ARSENAL DE GUERRA DO RIO DE JANEIRO (1870’s-1911)
BUTTWEILER, R. :. COLLECTORS AMMUNITION CATALOGS
DATIG, F.A : CARTRIDGES FOR COLLECTORS (Four Volumes)
DE CASTRO, ADLER H.F BREVE HISTORIA DO COMBLAIN NO BRASIL (JORNAL ARMARIA)
HOYEM, G.A : HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF SMALL ARMS AMMUNITION (VOL 2)
HUON, J : MILITARY RIFLES AND MACHINE GUN CARTRIDGES
LATOIR, F : THE 11MM BELGIAN INFANTRY CARTRIDGE’ (THE CARTRIDGE COLLECTOR : 237-2)
LATOIR, F : THE BELGIAN AMMUNITION TRIALS 1884-1889
LORENZ COMPANY CATALOGS (c1886-1904)
RWS/UTENDOERFFER COMPANY CATALOGS (c1898-c1908)
SFM COMPANY CATALOG (1900) and SFM FACTORY DRAWINGS
SOUSA, AGUSTO FAUSTO DE SOUZA : BRAZILIAN MUNITIONS MANUAL, RIO DE JANEIRO (1874)
VIEIRA, OLIVé RIO DE DEUS : OFFICERS MANUAL, RIO DE JANEIRO : IMPRENSA NACIONAL (1895)

http://www.users.skynet.be/HL-Editions/comblain
http://www.MilitaryRifles.com/ ... Belgium/BelgComb.htm ...Chile/ChilComb.htm ...Brazil/BrazComb.htm

A special thanks to Snr Adler Homero F de Castro from Brazil

for providing most of the details on the Brazilian Comblains.

Brad Dixon can be contacted at wb_dixon@yahoo.com