Shooting Kennedy twice


Shot by a Carcano Model 1891/38

In a recent posting (here,) I briefly touched upon the shooting of United States President John F. Kennedy on November 22nd, 2013, referencing a two PBS TV programs and a previous posting by myself, discussing the ballistics of the single bullet theory.

One of the PBS program, a Nova Segment that applies new new ballistic and forensic methodologies to the assassination (you can view the segment here,) is very interesting, highlighting three fundamentally new facts.

The copper-jacketed, lead-core 6.5-millimeter rifle bullets fired with the Carcano Model 1891/38 short rifle would:

  • consistently achieve at a muzzle velocity of 2,100 feet per second, more than two times the speed of sound;
  • consistently penetrate 46 pieces of wood stacked up behind each others;
  • and

  • consistently yaw after exiting ballistic gelatine.

While the speed and power of the fired rounds provide interesting answers to several questions raised by the shooting, the yawing is probably more interesting in that it explains the elliptical wound that Texas Governor Mr. John Connally suffered when the bullet exited Mr. Kennedy’s neck and traversed the 25.5 inches of space between Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Connally. As I wrote (here):

Having entered and exited Mr. Connally’s back, where, among other things, it obliterated Mr. Connally’s fifth right rib bone, the bullet would now have spent a tremendous amount of energy and have become subsonic, traveling at an estimated 900 feet per second as it reached Mr. Connally’s wrist.

Once the bullet had exited Mr. Connally’s hand, it is estimated that its speed would be around 400 feet per second, and, therefore, it is conceivably that the it buried itself only shallowly into Mr. Connally’s thigh, and, so, it is perfectly possible that the bullet would simply drop out when Mr. Connally was being man-handled at the hospital.

Shot by a Model 414 PD Bell & Howell Zoomatic Director Series

Kennedy was, of course, hit several times in the shooting by Mr. Lee Harvey Oswald using the Italian rifle, but he was also shot by Mr. Abraham Zapruder with a home-movie camera, a Model 414 PD Bell & Howell Zoomatic Director Series camera.

The Nova segment also shows the digitally enhanced Zapruder film, which is remarkable for its clarity (view it here.)

To better understand ballistics and the power of firearms you can read one of my previous postings in which I discussed the Smith and Wesson 29 firearm, as made famous by Mr. Clint Eastwood’s Harry Callahan character in the Dirty Harry movie (here.)