Most weapons that crash into the Earth at 300MPH amd sit at the bottom of a muddy bog for 70 years would no longer function. Not this Browning machine gun from a WWII-era Spitfire war bird, after a good cleaning this old gal fired like it just came off the assembly line.
From the BBC article about the remarkable project to hear the Spitfires .303 machine guns roar once more.
An excavation at the site of a 1941 Spitfire crash in a bog in the Irish Republic uncovered huge, remarkably preserved chunks of plane and six Browning machine guns. After 70 years buried in peat could they be made to fire? They certainly could, writes Dan Snow…Irish specialists had chosen the best preserved body and added parts from all six guns, like the breech block and the spring, to assemble one that they thought would fire. They made the decision to use modern bullets, to reduce the risk of jamming. Wearing helmet, ear protection and body armour I crouched in a trench a metre away from the Browning, which I would operate remotely. Every part of the gun, to the tiniest pin, had been under a peat bog for 70 years, to the month.
This Spitfire had seen service during Britain’s darkest days and is reliably credited with shooting down a German bomber off the Norfolk coast in early 1941. The Irish had found large amounts of carbon inside the weapon, evidence of heavy use. I turned the handle of the remote firing mechanism. The Browning roared, the belt of ammunition disappeared, the spent shell cases were spat out and the muzzle flash stood out sharply against a grey sky. It was elating.