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Breakability: CE-399 and the Diminishing Velocity Theory


John Hunt

Excellent work as always, John. Thanks. In discussing Sturdivan's testimony and its inconsistencies, you left off a point which I believe is pertinent. You may want to add it to this article if you ever do an update. It' s made in the last lines of this passage from my presentation:

"The Warren Commission hired Dr. Alfred Olivier of Edgewood Arsenal to see if this could be. He had Mannlicher-Carcano bullets fired through simulated necks, simulated chests, and cadavers’ wrists, and concluded the single-bullet theory was viable. He failed to simulate the wounds all at once, however. In 1967, CBS hired him to conduct a more thorough test. On the CBS program The Warren Report a bullet was shown passing through a simulated neck, a simulated chest, and a simulated wrist only to bounce off a simulated thigh. CBS declared the test a success anyhow, however, insisting that the bullet would only have needed a little more velocity to penetrate the thigh, while overlooking that Olivier had failed to simulate the damage to Connally’s rib. In 2003, the Discovery Channel created a similar simulation, with similar results. Once again the bullet bounced off the thigh and the program declared the simulation a success. Which was far from surprising.

Another one of Olivier’s tests ran into similar trouble. In order to “simulate” Connally’s chest wounds and the proposed glancing blow off his rib, Olivier arranged for thirteen sedated goats to be shot. In only one of these attempts did the bullet glance off the bone as proposed. The recovered bullet from this attempt, furthermore, was far more damaged than the magic bullet, even though it had struck a smaller bone. After Dr. Cyril Wecht brought this up before the HSCA, HSCA special counsel I. Charles Mathews asked their ballistics expert Larry Sturdivan for an explanation. Sturdivan testified: “Exhibit 853 was a bullet that has ricocheted from the rib of a goat carcass, as Dr. Wecht indicated. However, let’s remember that the goat, which is roughly 100 pounds, is much, much smaller than Governor Connally and, therefore, the bullet passed through a relatively small amount of tissue before it hit the bone, and therefore, lost correspondingly less velocity. So we would have to say that the striking velocity on that bullet, CE 853, was much in excess of the striking velocity on Governor Connally, even if the bullet had passed through nothing before it hit Governor Connally.” That Sturdivan was spinning in order to shut down speculation was made clear by his statements moments later. After being asked for the difference in velocity between a bullet striking Kennedy and then Connally versus one directly striking Connally, he replied: “this bullet if only encountering a few inches of soft tissue would go through losing almost no velocity, 100 feet per second or thereabouts.” Thus, in Sturdivan’s expert opinion, the inch or less of flesh in Connally’s armpit overlying his rib would do more to slow a bullet’s velocity than the 5 ½ inches of muscle and tissue in Kennedy’s back and throat! The wounds are seemingly from different worlds. And at war with one another."

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  • 7 years later...

Brilliant article, John. Thank you for bumping this, Pat, and bringing it to our attention. I might never have seen this, if not for you.

Something that no one seems to take into consideration is that the 2004 Carcano firing tests were done with Western Cartridge Co. ammunition that was, at the time of these tests, 50-60 year old ammunition; depending upon which manufacture date story one subscribes to. Not only would its reliability be suspect by this time, SA Robert Frazier's own testimony to the Warren Commission tells us that these cartridges were not loaded with the .268" diameter bullets required to make the Carcano accurate but, rather, were likely loaded with the more common bullet for 6.5mm rifles that was .264" in diameter.

I think it is no coincidence that these shooting tests were performed in 2004. In that very same year, a bullet manufacturing company by the name of Hornady issued the first commercial bullets ever made for 6.5mm Carcano rifles that were the proper diameter of .268". Up until this point, people handloading cartridges for their Carcanos were forced to use the smaller .264" bullets, and the accuracy of their rifles suffered for it. The only .268" diameter ammunition that had been available to this point had been surplus Italian military ammo. In other words, if you were not shooting Italian milsurp ammo before 2004, you were shooting bullets too small in diameter. This is why I believe C2766 never wounded or killed anyone on 22.11.63.

If I was the person coordinating these 2004 tests, I would have shot the WCC cartridges and saved the brass casings. Using nothing more than hobby handloading tools, I would have re-sized the casings, installed a new primer (putting a little red lacquer on the primer to seal it, as per the original), very carefully measured new gunpowder to 1/10th of a grain and loaded it into each casing and finally, seated a brand new .268" Hornady bullet into the cartridge.

The TV public is SO easy to fool.

Edited by Robert Prudhomme
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