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Volume 8 Issue 86

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Orbis Publishino Ltd
@Aerospace P"ublishing Ltd 1985
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Rifles oI the
The introduction ofthe magazine-Ioading rtfle gavethe
infantryman more firepowet than ever befote, but the
appeafttnce of quick-frre artillery and machine-gtns
combined to produce a bloody stalemate.

The years from 1914 to 1918 were very much a perlod of purgatory for the
ordinary foot soldrer, He was confined to a miserable life of trench
warfare rnterspersed by periods when attacks were made through
barbed wire rn the face of massed machine-gun fire. The artillery ruled
his existence and his military skllls were few.
But every one of the unfortunates who led this odd lile had one thing in
common, He was equipped with a standard service rifle which was
supposed to be his main weapon, In the event the indivlduals rarely got
the chance to use these weapons, apart from the frantrc and frenzied
periods when an infantry attack actually reached the enemy's trenches,
There the rifle's bayonet could be more useful than its bullet, and if all Serbjan so/djers are seen inApril 19J,6, with the man laden with trophjes rn tlre
foregr-ound carrying his 7-mm (0.275-in) rifle carefully wrapped against the
else farled the nfle became a very effective club, This close-quarter mud. Partof his booty is aMannlicher-Carcanocarbine. ElAborate decoration
warfare was far from what the rrfle designers had envisaged, namely of rifles was a Balkan tradition dating back to the I 6th century.
accurate fire at long ranqes, What the soldiers wanted was something
that worked when required, very often at close ranges, and it was this sians carried what Mosin-Nagant Model 1891s they could prod::=
fact thal differentiated the true service rifle of World War I from the through the long series of campaigns against the Germans and Aus::-
target rJfles their designers thought they wanted, Under trench condi- Hungarlans, while the French had a varrety of weapons, some oi ie:-
tions the rlfles that were able to wlthstand the rough-and{umble of with colonial-warfare origins. Nearly all of these rifles used some fcri:- :-
service life were much more favoured than the designers' dreams, Thus
^-' ::
magazrne in which extra rounds could be carried ready to flre, and
rifles such as the German Gewehr 98 and the British No, I Mk III fared them carried long and wlcked bayonets that reduced the rifle :c _._=
much better than refined products such as the Canadian Ross or the more than a long-range prke as carried in warfare for hundreds of i.e-s
Brltish,/American No, 3 Mk I Nearly all the major types of rrfle used by both sides in World ,',-=r -
The Western Front was not the only battleground of World War L are mentioned rn this study, The men that carried them have nov,'ne-_;
Elsewhere the Austro-Hungarians and ltalians fought it out with Mann- all passed away, all of them remembering every last detarl and feei :- ::
licher modello 1895s and Mannlicher-Carcano modello 189ls, The Rus- weapons that they very often carried to their deaths, They are nc;.a:.
of history, but a surprising number of these rifles survive, not all c: -:-=::
in museums, for many are now collected by enthusiasts who treas-l:
The disparity between the length of the Lebel mle 1886/93 in the foreground
and the No. 1 Mark III held by the British soldier can be readily appreciated their desrgn and robust construction, Ifthey can fire them the enthusr;s-
here. The Lebel was typical of most World War I rifle lengths, while the much are often agreeably surprised by the hrgh degree of accuracy manr,. ar:
sfi orf eriVo. I M ar k I I I w as f ar eas ier to c arry and u s e in ac tion. still capable of producing,

Mauser Gewehr 1898

The first Mauser rifle approved for
German army service was the Mauser
Modell 1888, This used a Mauser bolt
action that has remained virtually un-
altered to thrs day, but with it a rather
dated B-mm (0.315-in) cartndge. Trials
led to the adoption of a new 7,92-mm
(0.312-in) cartndge, and a new rifle to
fire it became known as the Gewehr
1898 or Gew 98 (Rifle Model lB9B). This
new rifle was destined to be one of the
most widely used and successfui
weapons of its type, and it was pro-
duced in large numbers. Many later
rifles could trace their origins back to
the Gewehr 1898. It was the classic
Mauser rifle, handsome and rather
long, but well-balanced and with ev-
erything excellently desrgned and in
general nicely made. The term 1n
general' is used advisedly, for once
World War I was into its stride the
standards of manufacture had to be
relaxed and some comparatively
rough specimens were rssued to the
troops. But most were very well-made
with good qualrty wooden furniture
that was emphasized by the use of a
pistol-type grip behind the trigger to
assist holding and aiming. The oriQdnal Above: Not all the time spent out of The standing figurewatches the
rear-sigtht was a very elaborate affair the trenches waspassedin resf. Here target and shouts out the score to be
wrth slidrng ramps and olher nlceties three 'Frontschwein' are engaged in marked down by the seated soldier
that needed experience for effective rifle practice with their Gewehr 1898s. on the right. The date is May I I I 7.
use, but some larger vetsions were
simpler. The bolt action retained the Lef t : Ye ars of trench warf are Specification
usual Mauser front-lug lockinq sys- radicaily altered the appearance of MauserGewehr 1898
tems, with the addition of an extra lug the German soldier. Carrying the Calibre: 7,92 mm (0.312 in)
to make the number up to three for Gewehr 1898K, hewears the Length: overall L25 m(49,2 in); barrel
added safety with the new and more. distinctive 'coal scuttle' helmet. Note 0.74 m (29.1 in)
powerful cartridge, The bolt tsed a , thewirecutters tucked into the belt. Weight:4.2 kq (9,26 lb)
strgight-pull action whtch was and still Muzzle velocity: 640 m (2, 100 ft) per
1s rather awkward to use quickly and. second
smoothly but in servrce generated few Magazine: 5-round integral box
problems, The integral box magaztne al sight, and the weapon still has the
held five rounds loaded from a charger claim to fame that it was one of the very
clip, flrst, if not the first, anti-tank weapon The German army's Gewehr I 89 I
While the Gewehr 1B9Bwas pro- This came about by the chance discov- was one of the more important
duced primarily for the German ery that the armour of the fust Britrsh Mauser rifles, as itwas the standard
armed forces, it was also the starting them but usually this extended no tanks could be penetr^ted by the sim- German service rifle of World War I.
polnt for a multitude of rifle desigms further than keeping the bolt area co- ple expedient of reversing the bullets I t was very well made with a strong
that spread all over the world. Spatn vered with a cloth at all times when the used in the Gewehr 1B9B before they bolt action, and fired a7.92-mm
was an early user of the basic Mauser rifle was not in use. Some versions such were flred: the blunt end simply pu:r- (0.312-in) round using a tive-round
action and versions produced there as sniper rifles appeared with special ched a hole throuQth the armour before served as the modelfor
drffered little from the Gewehr 1898. sights, including varior:s forms of optic- the bullet could warp, many later rifles.
The output of Mauser models from
Germany and Spain were soon en-
countered all over the world in nations
as far apart as China and Costa Rica.
The Mauser action accrued an envi-
able reputation for reliabiltty, strength
and accuracy, and the arguments rage
even today as to whether or not the
Gewehr 1B9B and its various cousins
were the finest service rifles of their
time. Many still state that they were but
there are many other contenders to the
title. What is certain is that during the
years 1914 to 1918 the Gewehr 1B9B
served the German army well, The
fronlline soldrers had to take care of

m ffis' Rines
The first Ross rifle appeared during Thus although his products were su- was a long-barrelled rifle to provide 1914 were equipped with them, It was
1896 and was produced, Iike the later perb tarqtet weapons, they revealed accurate long-rifle fire, and used an not long before the Ross rifles were
models, at Sir Charles Ross's own arms themselves to be less than ideal under unusual straight-pull bolt system allied found wanting once they encountered
factory in Quebec, Canada. Ross was a the rough-and-tumble oi service con- to a box maqazine holding five rounds, the mud of the Western Front tren-
keen marksman of the old 'BisleY ditions. In common with other Commonwealth ches, for therr bolt actions clogqed
School', and lonqed for what he consi- The number of types of Ross'rifle armies of the day the Canadian army with remarkable ease once even small
dered to be the ideal service rifle: one runs to well over a dozen, Many of the adopted the British 0,303-in (7,7-mm) amount of debris had entered the sys-
that would consistentlY Provlde types produced were often mlnor cartridge, and this led to the British tem, In his search for accuracy Ross
accuracy, In pursuit of this ideal he modifications of the preceding model army taking numbers of Ross rifles in had overlooked that service rifles
concentrated on items such as barrels and to list them all would be unhelpful, 19 14-5, need to be tolerant of rough condi-
and srghting systems as opposed to the The main service model was known to The Canadian army adopted the tions, and the Ross rifle required dedr
more mundane aspects of design that the Canadran army as the Rifle, Ross, Ross after about i905, and the first cated maintenance and care in hand-
are essential to the true service rifle. Mk 3 and may be taken as typical. i1 Canadian troops to travel to France in Iinq, The bolt action frequently jam-

Ross Rifles (continued)

med and the resultant clearing re-

vealed another nasty drawback to the
design: the bolt had to be put together
rn a very precse manner, and if it was
re-assembled in the wrong way after
cleaning or reparr it could still fire the
rifle even though the locking lugs that
held its bolt in place were not en- cessfully as a snipingr rrfle, a role in Specification The Canadian Ross ritTe (lfiis is a
gaged, As the Ross used a straightpull which its accuracy was most pnzed. Rifle, Ross, Mk 3 Mk 2) was an excellent target rille.
bolt the part could fly back and hit the Trarned snipers could also provide the Calibre: 7,7 mm (0.303 in) buf Jesssuccessful in service, asmud
firer in the face. Thus the Ross soon fell weapon with the extra care it required. Length: overall 1.285 m (50,6 in); barrel and dirt tended to clog the straight-
from qrace and was replaced by the To this day the Ross rs still a much- 0,765 m (30. i5 rn) pull bolt action. Although used in
British No. I Mk IIL Quite apart from prized target rifle. Many were used Weiqht: 4,48 kq (9 875 lb) France, the Canadians later
the bolt problems, the length of the during World War II by varrous British Muzzlevelocity: 792 m (2,600 ft) per exchangeditfor theNo. I Mklll, and
Ross rifle was too greal for ease of use secondline units, including the Home seconci the Ross rifles were used Ior taininq.
1n the trenches. Guard but the Ross never overcame Magazine: S-round box
The Ross was not completely with- the reputation for problems that it
drawn from sewice use. Fitted with a gatned during its introduction to the
telescopic sight it was used very suc- trenches during 1914 and 1915,

Canadian armourers maintain their well as guns. Whenwell maintained, After the Ross riflewas withdrawn, some form of defence against
r?oss rifles on 5a lisbury Plain in the Ross was a formidably accurate some were usedfor training and German aircraft or even U -bats
S eptember I 9 1 4. The armourers had rifle and remained a prized sniper's some werer'ssued toBritish armed operating in the North Sea: the-r n"ere
the job of maintainingbicycles as weapon, trawler ctews toprovide themwith better than nothing.

Rifle No. 3 Mk I
Desprte their eventual success, when known as the Bisley School of rifle No I Mk llls were to hano. only to be dragged out aga,:-:- _:i_
first introduced the No. I Mk III rifles thought, To the Bisley School long- The No. 3 Mk I dld have one saving and sold lo the Unued Kr:;5:: -: :::-
were deemed to lack the features re- range accuracy was the touchstone of grace; it was as accurate as the Bisley the new Home Guard.
quired by some military pundits. In all combat rifle worth. Soldiers were Schooi had intended, Thus the No, 3
case the new SMLE did not meet re- expected to hit man-sized targets at was used marnly for rhe snLprng role in Specification
quirements a 'back-up' design was put ranges of over 914 m (1,000 yards), and which it was very successful. Rifle No. 3 Mk I
forward, one chambered for a new 7- if a rifle could not attain these stan- The No, 3 Mk I had one more task to Calibre: 7.7 mm (0,303 Ln)
mm (0.276-in) cartrrdge and em- dards it was reviled, It was exactlv this perform in World War I and that came Length: overall 1,175 m (46 25 -:'
ploying a Mauser bolt action. Being factor that drew so much criticism to when the Americans entered the war barrel 0.66 m (26 in)
only a back-up design at first, this rifle the SMLE when it was fust issued in in 19 17, They were even more desper- Weight:4.35 ks (9,6 lb)
did not appear until 1913 under the 1907, for the SMLE was never a perfect ate for service rifles than the British Muzzle velocity: 762 m (2.500 i) :e:
general title P.I3, At the time the de- targret rifle. With the No. 3 the Bisley and as the productron lines were still second
sign was taken no further and work on School had been given full rein and the producing No. 3s for the British they Magazine: S-round box
the new 7-mm cartridge ceased, Thus result was not unlike the ill-fated Cana- were chanqed to manufacture the
things were in abeyance just as the dian Ross rifles. The No. 3 was quire same rifles chambered for the Amer- TheP.l4was aMauserilfle
war began in 1914, and by then the simply not a good service rifle: it was ican 7.62-mm (0,3-in) cartridge. Thus produced in case lieiVo. I Mk III
P, 13 had become the P.14. long and awkward to use under com- the No, 3 became the MI9I7, known to failed to comeup to specification. A
In 1915 the overall shortage ofrifles bat conditions, encumbered by a long most Americans to this dav as the 0.303-in (7.7 -mm) ver s ion w as
for the expanding Brrttsh and Com- bayonet rt was rll balanced and even 'Enfield', In American hands tiie M1917 orderedfrom theUSA, and thrs was
monwealth armies was such that at one less handy, and the bolt action took (or P.I7 to some) fared no better than it later adopted by theUS Army as the
point rifles were berng ordered from considerable maintenance lt was had with the British, and in 1919 the Model I917. It was an excellent and
places as far away as Japan, It was withdrawn from servtce when enough entire output was placed rnto slore, accurateweapon.
accordingly decided that the P,14
could be ordered from the United
States, but chambered for the standard
7.7-mm (0.303-in) cartridge. Several
flrms, includinq Winchester and Re-
mington, became involved in produc-
tion of the P, 14, which was known to the
British army as the Rifle No. 3 Mk I, and
the results were shipped eastwards
across the Atlantic.
When they arrived they were hur-
riedly issued and rushecl into combat,
They did not fare very well, for the No.
3rifle was a product of what became
llons-the lYlaking of rable steel cupolas shattered by the plunging

c legend
fire of huge siege weapons, the largest and
heaviest guns so far used in warfare, the garri-
Germans swunq huge armies in a wide arc sons dazed and drsonented by shock and
along the traditional military routes through the deafened by explosion, To the south the battles
Low Countries, in an endeavour to ouiflank of the irontrer were being iought and won by
Before thewar, the tiny size of the British their main enemy and eventually entrap the armies under Crown Prince Wilhelm and the
hostile armies against their own frontier de- Duke of Wurtemberg, and once Lidge had fal-
Armywas asource of amusementtoour len General von Buiow's Znd and General von
enemies and anxiety to our allies. But Hausen's 3rd Armies drove on down the
However uncertain von Moltke's grasp
when the G erman armies swept through might eventually prove to be, during those Meuse, taking Huy, Namur and Dtnant, press-
Belgium in 1914, it fell to the British opening weeks of the war all movements were ing back the French armies along the whole
Expeditionary Force to stem the flood. strrctly controlled by the firm precepts laid length of the assault, drsrupttng the desperate
Every man a volunteer, the BEF dug itself down years before by hls predecessor in attempt oithe French Sth Army under General
in around thelittletownof Mons and office, the omnipotent Graf von Schlieffen, Lanrezac to drive northwards and block or at
awaited the G erman on slaugh t. Those precepts dtctated not only the overall least cut off von Kluck's implacable advance,
pattern ol movement, but also the distribution For rt was the German Ist Army which was
At the outbreak of World War I, two qtgantic of forces necessary to carry it out; Schlteffen's making the most spectacular and impressive
mrlitary plans were put into actiont Plan 17 by dying words had been 'Make the right wing sains, To this army had fallen first Louvain and
the French armies under command of General strongl' and so, despite von Moltke's doubts, then Brussels ltseli and by the end of 18 days'
Joffre, and the Schhelfen Plan by the Germans the German Ist Army (under the coldly campaiqning the 200 000 men and 40,000
under the sliqhtly hesrtant command of the efficrent General von Kluck) smashed forward horses had advanced 160 km (99 miles), drag-
younger General von Moltke, hke a gigantic hammerhead through Belgtum ging their thousand-odd pieces of artillery and
Plan 17 collapsed almost immediateiy, the and northern France, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th other military impedimenta wrth them, They
61an and 'spirit of the Offensive' of the French Armies to lts left acttng as the shaft, the whole marched all the way, fiqhtinq qurte a lot of it
troops upon which it was to such a great extent weapon pivoting on the French fortress of Ver- through countryside peopled sometimes by
based proving ineffective tn the face of the dun, actively hostile troops, mostly by sullenly hos-
realities of rifle and machine-gun flre, plus the So during those long, hot August days of 19 14 trle crvilians and on occasion by groups of insi-
refusal of the German commanders to act in it appeared to the eyes of an astonished world dious treacherous francs tireurs, despite the
strateglc accordance with French pre-con- that the battle was indeed progressrng in immediate and severe punishment meted out
ceptions. Instead of driving forward into the accordance with the plans ofthe deceased von
grgantic trap set by the French in the Trou6e Schiieffen, The huge iortress of Lldge fell with- The superbly disciplined troops of the BEF were
des Charmes, between Nancy and Belfort, the in the first few days, its supposedly impenet- trained to fite I5 aimed rounds per minute, and
when the Germans attacked, their close
formations were swept away in a hail of hullets.
Many Germans were convinced that they were
facing a line of machine-guns.

Rifles of the Great War
on the spot to them and their associates when with a flat-topped cloth cap, Could this be a The Londoners, Scots, Irish and Welsh, riie
caught. soldier?' men from Surrey, Suffolk, Lincolnshire, W-1.:-
But success and the sense of victory were Surely notl shire, Kent, Cornwall and South Staffordshte
enough to sweep away all doubt and fear, to But it was, It was an officer from A Squadron, the Guardsmen, the Fusiliers, the privates a_-,d
revivrfy tired muscles and aching bones; the lst I9th Hussars, the cavalry regiment attached to troopers, the NCOs and officers were nov; ::
Army consisted, after all, of young soldiers, the Sth Drvisron of the British Expeditronary and relaxed, settled into their allocated ms--
well-trarned and hardened in wilhng sewlce to Force (BEF), and behlnd thls reconnaissance tions, some dug in along the flank or around --:re
the Fatherland, and on the morning of 23 Au- patrol on the far side of the 20-m (66-ft) wrde Mons salient, most of them lying easily beh:.:-:
gnrst they were further heartened by the repeti- canal, waited the infantry of one of the Sth Divl- the,bank of the canal or hidden in the barns ard
tronof an old joke which made its way along the sion's brigades, the l4th, Other bngades flank- outhouses close to the 16 brrdges that crossed
columns, There had been rumours for the last ed this on either side: on the west to just past it, their Lee-Enfield rifles, their Vickers
24 hours that there were Britlsh troops (possl- Conde sur l'Escaut, and on the east to the Mons machine-guns (two per battalion) and the:
ble the whole British army) in front of them, and salient, where they linked with the left-hand Webley revolvers all cleaned, checked anci:c
von Kluck was said to have repeated Bis- brigade of the 3rd Division, these two divisrons hand,
marck's remark made so many years before: comprising the British II Corps under com- And they waited for what 23 Augnrst rn-c:;-:
the German soldiers need not concern them- mand of General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, bring,
selves with the English, for he was sending the The divisions of I Corps under General Slr It brought at first ln the early momlng -:e
police to arrest theml Douglas Haig then continued the Iine east- sights of ordrnary small{own and vlltage -:e
The Britrsh army was, oi course, a joke. Ger- wards towards the left flank of Lanrezac's army, continuing unconcernedly among the narr:-r,
man comic papers had long portrayed rts sol- streets and'lanes, between the numberiess
diers as figures of fun in their short scarlet The British advance slag heaps and pit heads of this small cc--
tunics with small caps set at an angle on thelr The Britrsh Expedrtionary Force of two infan- mining community, Church bells raag. sc:-,
heads or with bearskins with the chin-straps try corps and a cavalry drvision under Major- bre-coated villagers responded to theu sr=--
under their lip, and the first sight of them on that General Sir Edmund Allenby had begun mons, a small train filled wlth hohday-makers
fateful drorning did little to dispel the impress- embarkation from Dubhn and Southampton on chuffed away towards the coast, the scen: ::
ron, Hauptmann Walter Bloem, commandng a 12 August, crossed the Channel that nlght, newly-ground coffee was everywhere: a-ci
fusilier company of the l2th Brandenburger spent a few days in tented reception camps sudden explosion of a shell rn the outskrs== ::
Grenadiers, was approaching a group of farm near Boulogne, Le Havre and Rouen, travelled Mons itsell among the Royal Fusrliers. r,ras sl
buildings on the outskirts of Tertre, just north of by train as far as Le Cateau and then spent the unexpectgd that the whole worid seerned ::
the canal which runs from Cond6 sur l'Escaut next flve days marchrng into Belgium along hold lts breath in astonishment.
eastwards to the small town of Mons, when he rough pav6 roads and in sweltering tempera-
h:rned a corner and saw in front of him a group tures, It was a journey which had at first ex- If the AIIied armies were to extricate fhemselves
of fine-looking horses, all saddled up, acted a price in blistered feet and sweating from theGerman tfap, theBEF had tohold otr
von Kluck's First Army for at least 24 hours. The
He had hardly given orders for their capture exhaustion (especially among the newly- Germans along the British front were soon pinned
when 'a man appeared not five paces away recalled reservists) but which by the prevlous down by withering rifle fire, but it was not fong
from behind the horses - a man rn a grey- evening (22 August) had brought them to a before theybegan towork theirway around the
brown uniform, no, in a grey-brown golfrng-suit satisfactory state of physical and morale fitness, flanks of the B EF's pos ition.

Two British infantrymen carrying full packs probe
forward along a Belgian hedgerow. When the
German cavalry patrols discovered the British
position they were driven otf by rapid and accurate
rifle fire. Before long the British outposts fell back
to the main position as the German attack began.
Elements of the Indian Army soon joined the BEF, soJdjers in the theatre.lndian troops later
But not for long, As the sound and smoke and the 129th Baluchis, seenhere atWytschaete in provided the bulk of British Imperial Forces
Cied away, the rifles came up and the appear- October 1 9 I 4, were some of the most experienced fighting the Turks in Mesopotamia.
ance of a German cavalry patrol opposite
caught no one unawares except themselves: of all warrant or non-commissioned ranks and of von Kluck's battalions were flooding down
first volley of the Fusillers emptied all their
'-jre the majorrty of the men. Walter Bioem and hrs the roads leading to the battle, widening the
saddles, and very shortly afterwards Oberleut- company were immediately pinned down in a fuont untrl it overlapped the British line and
rant von Arnim of the Death's Head Hussars water-meadow and decrmated, the survlvors tlrreatened the flanks,
-,' brought in swearing profusely with a held where they had dropped for the rest of the By 16 0O II Corps was being forced back, the
snashed knee, day, only saved from much htgher casualties by reargmards and engineers blowing the bridges
By now the whole of the Britlsh line was alert the fact that they had managed a concerted as they pulled out (two VCs and a DCM were
ard waiting, though hardly for what next hap- rush to the canal bank and lay tn tts shelier with won in the process) and then later rn the even-
pened, Before their astonished eyes, the rifle and machine-gun bullets stitching the air ing the true seriousness of the British position
-,';oods, hedges and buildings stretching be- just above them, Such was the rate and volume was revealed. On therr right the French Sth
iore them I 6 km (l mile) away across the canal of flre that swept the battlefield from one end to Army had had another disastrous day, Lanre-
and the flat water-meadows beyond, began the other that Bloem and those of his contem- zac had taken frrght and ordered a large-scale
erupting solid columns of grey-uniformed men, poraries who survived remained convinced to retirement without, however, informing his
noving unhurriedly towards them in a solid the end of their days that each British battalion al]ies, despite promises to Sir John French of
nass like a football crowd after a match, had at least 12 and probably 24 machrne-gmrs close liaison,
Watchrng the grey ocean lapping across the apiece, By 21 00 it was evident that the Britrsh had
relds, one British offrcer asked another to But there were only 24 machine-gmns to a been left on their own, and despite justifiable
puich hrm in case he was dreaming, and hts brigade, and only 7,500 men in the BEF feehngs of confldence throughout all ranks tn
-,''orrder was palpable as along 26 km ( i6 miles) altogether - and that number, however well- thelr ability to beat the enemy, they must now
oi dead straight canal the British tnfantry trained, cannot hold up 200 000 men indefinite- retreat, During that night the tired, frustrated
-,';aited while thousands of men waiked with ly except in circumstances of severe geo- and puzzled men of the BEF began the march
apparent innocence and unconcern towards graphrc confinement whlch drd not apply at back which would end on the Marne,
aimost certain death. At least 12,000 Lee- Mons, Inevltably, small groups of Germans But they had fought the Battle of Mons, and it
Enfield rifles, each held by a soldier expert in reached the bridges over the canal, in one would live in history for all trme, And they left
re lamous British 'rapid fire', waited behind case near Jemappes by driving in front of them behind them a confused and depressed
.':re a party of irttle Belgian schoolgirls; it was a ploy enemy, That night Walter Bloem wrote rn his
embankment of the canal, augmented by 24
','ickers machine-guns; and it would seem that which so disconcerted the Northumberland diary ' , . . the men all chl]]ed to the bone,
rardly one of them was fired until the German Fusiliers opposrte that they lost control of im- almost too exhausted to move and with the
ncnt ranks had come within 550 m (600 yards), portant lock gates and were thus eventually depressing consciousness of defeat weighing
-jre range over which the Lee-Enfield fired a forced out of their posttion. heavrly upon them, A bad defeat, there can be
:-lat trajectory, German artiilery brought up during the late no gainsaying it , , , we had been badly beaten,
When fire was opened, the slaughter was morning blew gaps rn the Bntish line, and the and by the English - by the English we had so
unmediate - and horrific, Royal Fusrliers and the 4th Middlesex holding laughed at a few hours belore,'
Within minutes whole German battalions the sldes of the narrow Mons salient were in an The combination of British rnfantry trarning
;;ere wiped out, junior off,cers found them- especially dangerous situation once the gnrns and the SMLE had shot them flat.
selves the only officers left to a regiment bereft regrstered on the town, And all the while, more
AfterMons theGerman army pressedon info
Royal Marines in Broderick caps carry No. I Mk IIIs the Royal Marine Light Infantry, who were used to France, where their great offensive was finally
during the campaign of open fighting that took defend the port facilities at Ostend but were later halted on the Marne. German infantry from a
place near Ostend in August 19 14. They are men of withdrawn from the area. Bavarian regiment lie in an extended line that
would have beenimpossible afewmonths later
when the armies had all moved to underground
shelter and trenches.
ffi iiin" No. I Mks III and III* Rifles of the Great War
Dwing the late 19th cenhry the British
army adopted the magazine and bolt
system developed by the American
engrineer James Lee, and through a
long process of in-house' improve-
ments and trials this led to a series of
what were known as Lee-Enfleld rifles,
the Enfield part of the name coming
from the Royal Small Arms Factory at
Enfield Lock, Middlesex, This series
led in 1907 to a new design known as
the Short Magazine Lee-Enfield
(SMLE) a rifle with a length between
those of a normal rifle and a carbine,
for the SMLE was another ol the
weapons intended for use by all arms fitting at the muzzle to accommodate a The No. I Mk III rifle was often known be fired at a rapid rate of over I 5
foom infantry to cavalry. At first SMLE long knife bayonet, The bolt action was as the SMLE (Short Magazine Lee- shots a minute as the bolt actionwas
had a rough rntroduction into servrce, of the turn-bolt variety and used rear Enfield) andwas one ofthe best easy to operate, and the magazine
but improvements and some modiflca- locking lugs as opposed to the front- service rifles of World War I . I t could could be quickly loaded.
tiors overcame these and in 1914 the locking lugs of the Mauser system, In
SMLE was taken to France with the theory this meant that the Lee system
BEF; by then it had been re- was less safe. than that of the Mauser,
designated the Rifle No. I Mk IIL but in service it caused no problems at
The No, 1 Mk ill is another of the all, and the smooth action of the Lee-
candidates for the accolade 'best ser- Enfield mechamsm made the British
vice rifle of the time'. It was a fully- rifle easy and extremely fast. The de-
stocked.weapon wrth a snub-shaped tachable box magazine in front of the
trigger gnoup held 10 rounds, whrch
was twice the capacity of many of its
The onset of winter in I 9 I 4 led to the contemporaries, There was also a cut-
appearance of an astonishing variety out device that held all the rounds in
of improvised fur coats.ln spite of ail the magazine while single rounds
the vagaries oI life in the l'renches, t were fed into the chamber by hand;
some Scottish rcgiments retained the this arranqement was supposed to re-
kiltuntiltheendof thewar. :' tain the magazine rounds for use only
when really needed, The main sights
were of the ramp type and calibrated
to well over 1,000 yards (9 i4 m), and on
the lelt-hand side of the rifle stock was Australian troops move up into the throughou t W orld W ar I I ; Aus lraii an
a peculiar long-range sight that was line near Fricourtin October lg I B, production of this rifle did not end
used to provide really long-range area carrying the No. I M k I I I s that their until 1955 at theLithgow arsenal-
fire to cover an area; it was used only descendants were to carry Note the mixture of headgear wom.
under careful control when vollev fire
would be employed,

Lbove: Two well-laden British Below:Acosy scene indicates the

so,ldjers are se en in action holding EntenteCordiale thatwas in heing in
the south bankof the River Aisne March I918. The picture was taken
duringthebattleof May 1918, inthe well behind the lines, for theNo. I Mk
aftermath of the series of German III" Iacks theusualwrappings that
breakthroughs that started during would have kept itcleaninthe dirt
M arch of that year. The rifle is a N o. l andmudof thetrenches.

Rifle No. I Mk III*
Calibre:7,7 mm (0,303 in)
Lengrth: overall 1. 133 m (44.6 in) ba::=-
0,64 m (25,2 in)
.,,..'-{.,,1i:l:,. Weisht:3.93 ks (8.656 lb)
Muzzle velocity: 634 m (2,080 it) per
Magazine: l0-roundbox
B{rtfle of fhe Fronfriers
Having trusted to defensive tactics in
i870, end bst, theFrenchwere
determined to attack at all costs in 1914.
But the batties on the frontier were to
prove that sheer bravery is not enough
io defeat modern weapons.
the French army wenl to war in l9l4 i:
f,lorled in its high morale, it considered ttself to
be superbly equrpped, and it was at long last
setiing out to avenge the defeats and indignt-
.res suilered at German hands in the Franco-
Prussian War of ]870. Ftnally 1t was setting out
.: regain the iost provinces of Alsace and Lor-
larne. ceded to the Germans in 1871, and as ihe infantry and the cavalry moved out of
:reir depots they advanced immediately to'
',',,ards these two 'lost' territories with eager
The.v were to be brtteriy disappointed, lor
.:ey -\rr'ere
moving rnto what history was to cali
::e Battle of the Frontiers, In fact there was not
-:.e ;a'tle buL d whole string ol them, al- ending
:: irench defeats. At the time the French army
::,uld do liitle tc analyse why thls should have
-.;:pened. blt tn lLme the reasons beca:ne cover it did, and in the years after 1871 the A FrenchCuirassier regiment moves through a
.:ear tc all who chose to look for them, French nation and economy entered one ol its French town during the very early stages of the
most prosperous periods, the army being re- war ieading up to the Battle of the Frontiers in
ln immeCiate terms the French were defe- August 1914.Note the breastplates and the
:'=d Lr€cause lheir niliiary leaders dtd exactly estabhshed to its former position of national incangruaus helmets of an era thatwas soon to be
.-;;rat the Cerman stall planners wanied them oride arrd posit,on. Colonial wars enabled -. to swept away by the Gern an machine-guns'
. -.. they advanced towards Alsace and Lorraine retrain and to regatn confidence, but all the
:r the eastern sector of the Franco-German :rme the shadow oi Sedan /vas stll- there and tt Thls philosophy went so far that anythtng thai
',vas would hold up an advance was simply not ac-
: :der. rvhrre the nrain Oerman moves were realized that wdr wi-h Getmany mLisl re
:eing made away to the west in the form cf the turn sooner or iater, But how could thls v'rar be quired, Weapons like heavy artillery were nol
:::w-famous Schheffen Plan. This entatled a louqht? even considered. Instead the French gunners
:iassive move by the chief werqht of the Ger- The answer in French eyes was io ignore were provided vrith li-ie famous'75', a llght 75-
---:.I irmy Lhrough Belgrum along rhe Chanr.i'l miiitary realitres and assume a philosophy tn mm (2.95-in) flelci gun capable of firing 15
. r;sL end down behind Paris to encounler the which the oniv reaction to anY tactical or rounds per mintite, Wtth this the army coulC
: rench army tI. -he rear 1o pen l* up agrLns' :he slralegrc sLlualion was to advance. The adv' cover any advance by srmply blastrng away
i:orders, When the French arrny moved to- ance became the only manoeuvre that .ru-as any opposrtlon, or so the philosophy again ran.
provinces it was thus Coing ex-
'.-;ards the tvro considered suitable foi the French army, and For the iniantry the bayonet was to be the
acily what the Cermans hoped and by so dotng in trme this philosophy of the oliensive became altacking weapon. Rifles were simply things on
considerably assisied the progress of the not just a mrlitary reaction to everythinq but a to whrch bayonets coulci be placed. The caval-
Schlielfun Plan. The French move was part.ol vrrtual religion, There appeared writings in ry would once agaln regain its place on the
:he much vaunted 'P1an l7', but to discover why which words ancl phrases like 'morale, 'deter- battlefield by advancing with the lance and
:tre French put thrs plan rnto eflect one has to go mination' and 'the wr1l to victory'were liberally sword, (The lessons of the Boer War in lhts
:ack Lo 1670 spattered, and in time thls approach to rn'arfare context were ignored, as too 1ps1s lla even
:n .gZO ;he PrussLan army deieared the became the accepted French norm, No fcrm ol more indrcative lessons of the American Civil
lrench in such a manner that the French army <iisagreement or deviation from the advance War evcn France's own experrences in
r,,;as al1 but destroyed In a series of battles was allowed in any shal:e or iorm, and the rBl0 )
',,nrch culmrnatecl in the Frer-cn debocre a' French army drilled arrd equrpped itsellior the As il thrs was not enouqh, the French army
::dan the Fren:h nilirary es'ao'ishment vras advance, if the army could will rtself to wtn by also did its cause no sood by dabblinq in polt-
iaid low and the nationai ego dealt such a blow advancing nothing could stand ln its way, or so tics, a prime example of which was the in-
ihat it seemed ri mlqht never recover. But re- ihe phricsophy v'/enl famous Dreyfus Case whrch caused no end oi
rrfts wlthin the army estabhshment ltsell In the
A French patrol at an observation outpost in rifles are Lebelmle I886/93s, then the standatd short term thrs led to a riqid adherence to
August I 9 1 4, complete with dog no doubt
a French service rifle but soon ta be suppiemented orthodoxy over and above the belref in the
intended far snifting out hidd.en skirmishers' The by Eerthier rifles, both mle 1907s and mle I916s. advance at all costs. The drill book and the
rnstruciion manual became bibles io the extent
thal on the rifle range it mattered not ii the
targel was mrssed, for what really mattered
was that ihe exact stance diciated by a cheir-
borne warrior in an olltce stated that only so
much ammunition was to be carrred into action
no deviation was tolerated Cespite the fact that
it was clearly insu{ficieril for rnore than a singie
Thus in Ausust 1914 all was not well vrith the
French army, bul a: the 'ime this unpalalable
fact was iqnored. At last the French were
advancing to Alsace and Lorraine, The bands
played as the infantry in their bright uniforms
!,i :'lrii-:r marched east, accompanied by the cavairy
some sti1l rn shiny breastplates as worn at
V/aterloo over a century before. The Germans
simpry waited
oi. tllr.,: fit;6t.i3.t ",ffa,r

.,:'i' .
ri 1&rtl- r:

:-:i:l l::
fr &oye;fr s*crl;*n ;'f,i.r-gne,',r ;-l::;:r'rl,T' riun;,:j: : ;;:rlaI
hank{Erthe:r''i. !ts,.!.;.: ? ' , ",,. .1..
arel,e$*/s. dr.i ..i:i!,t , -,1 !, :', ".,t . :, . :: n

was &y i.he* *l'er, ifte r.;fil!:r:r's:tij:,;i:.:ins jrjs

cdlidmclJa*e k6pi ; fft e soJr:;e.l::t;.irii're i/*lrs;
ta tane tlawn thfl odt*irle {.ri. tii*,]r",. .ta-, ,rs ii*i io jii{;n.tii

Above: The French began the war in uniforms litile

changed. from thase af 1870. Les pantalons rouges,
the baggy red trausers wern sinte the I 830s, were
soon exciangred for a less conspicuous,kit. ?ie
k6piitse/fwassoon replaced by a sfeeJhe/:nef
capie'1,from the type issued rc the Paris fiye

The Germans knew all about Plan 17 and had

arrangeC lhetr lorces accordrng]y' 'l]rey made
few .dv.rnces durrnq 'he early slage', i,,ut ,.n-
stead prepared a senes of carefully empiaced
defences at what they constdered to be the
right places, and they were not lar wronq. T'he
French army advanced on a broad fioni, and
by 2t) Augusr Ihe hrst tbrrtatrve etrc'otni^rs
were under way, The French soldiers usuaily
had to march all the way'Lo the borders, and by
the time they got there rrany were tired They
haC lo carry much ol rherr personai krr on herr
backs alorrg with therr heavy ril1es and at jeast
lCO rounds of ammunrtion, To thrs could be
added the Jong ano heavy irayone' a' ieas a
part of the day's rations and the long greatcoat,
usua.lywt rn wlth lne ironi nultoned cpen dl the dourri in their irack:;, j r: rii,: il snr-r i, rttr.ll,;;1i1y iltri l lt;.:ir- lt:,t.,;a:.a - -. I. -
botiom, Their enemies were already em- Much oi 11is.r cLarnugc wi-is i,lc;n$: ;tf, a resi.rir r:i; riltes poilrlinE tc iiie ea:li as ihe,,' :e-- -.-.-
piaced and reaCy, fresh and lust as eager as the, i) Ir,.".L..tri r " .:i.l- ' .. , .. :...,, i, i. - .:
French to start the forthcomrnq battles, rn.6'6 p'.- qu,.-* t.. ,, ... ...._i : livr:l.i supjllial:red tO bC tr:eCi. wCli ir-;i,',,:.:::
fhe :rench were arianqccl rn nve armres
positrons direclly inir-' thc aC-:alcilr-I tlrelr dlreci lir:e ;ilppcriutg th€j iiij-:n,i:ri:rr.
from Lrlle in the north to Mulhouse in the south. French rariks A.s iite itren,::i-i a(iiiiltceci 1)ve] -'r ".': I t..". .. i, ; . r.l ' ..
Each army had at least two corps, and such was oFtrniiFl.l.S.l t..v, ,. 1' r , , l-. l arllirouqh jl:re .llls cr-rLilii i.ire .15 ::ourrds c:t .,.-t--
the confrdence o{ rhe French that these corps 'ltC Ge1m.i , 1,,i lr .r.- .1_ :1 .. : i ,::l lr'. I i. - ;', 1, r,, aL :

usually advanced io the desrgnaleci frontier ofl easrJy lcr ltre brighiiy'.rcioir,:i](.i l i'e r ri:ii iuir- rete oionly, l.l.7l:i r,:uni:js; pL-: titntute Bul th.'- ::.
FrJsltrcns srde-by-srde They rtorc in loi .r forms stood out wcil aqainlf ihe l:,"1i:;lrl.r;id ri.irj havl: ihri.l; r.r:-rccc:;:r*:.;, fui ilie {ighitir.; '.'.'..
shock because, once tiie French scoulrrnet par- The unlor'LLrnate Frencir,;airalr,l irrrver gci ti'-)ai noi , ole sir:l*r:i. irr son:e irlaces rrnpa:i:-.:
tres haci disccvereo lhe rrJ-:r Cermor posr. e lnrt,Jh Ii .ie. lc. r ' -, i-ielnr,r oiiii:ers ie,-i rirelr unrls iotwirrcl-ili,:, : -.=
Lrons the masscd l-rencr iormalicrrs .,rr:.pjy anci Jebres, for a sincle riti-:.r-:ltiiri,-qr:r i,v;rs tt. l . ', i: '. . L :..i tL -:--.
ddvanccd Lo,ryards tirem and '.here 1o1low'ed enou-gh to reciLtce. a i.,eiieLiicrr i,J ..i 1a),,ri: ili:i:,rit j.. . .\J.:r,L i il ..1 f-lFr
what can only be termed a serles of massacres llflhenfrt,, i jii'f 't.:. t | .. :
l11r-r ii ci-;.fl::jei:j 'v1ri::l{-r itij ftiqh as i}icse i,j : ,_-
rather than batties as the French were cu1 l't,.r,..,i,'t j;: '.Ji::... - ]:,t-t,rlr:ir.
Battle of the Fromtiess


ccll head

rft iq rtcafan sm c(t<

5ti:i:ttf -tii 5-i-ril iTtl. ll6 aaflr d!lc

se:i l cartfrc!lc lrftrnq mciJrari sn

lr {laefquaril

'ne.w' conciitions, It aisc cost them the cream of

:ifhere the French were realry to suffer was fact lost in lhe inayhem of the advance oi
. ,.'"iio:r"?iitaiiliir,e*u;i;-tiiLr.riv lii"ir,.tp iiri- nro-.. nr
Gutt"ti ut*y throuqh Beisium therr arlnres, The men who feli in the Battle ol
,::ia,cte of things to come, arlrilery ancl actoss the nor-lhern French piains The rhe Frontiers uiere the best that the French
.,, --t'iri"tiit ;{"r; lgos cvet thr: advancrnQf S,:l|effen Fl;.lt was $inding.its way lovrards had. To thls day tire memorial plaque in the
: r :nch colurnns to tlirer.l il-ie fire oi the iieavier Palis and the natiori seeme d io be in Ereat Olficer Traininq College at St Cyr bears ihe
.:,,;;;;;;1;iiL *notp".iiiE lrr'ncti, uun" ilanqier Bul lhe Battle r:ilhe-Marne 1ay ahead' trtle ior the Cead of the flrst year of the war as
'The Class ol 1914'. Those officer,s could never
=le kilied erren befcre iney [ad lornecl liie ;rncl with rt the failure ol the German pians that
, .1... ft uios all trto Lnuch 'ihi French colonial letto yea-rs. o{ t.renc}r ."varfat-o be replaceci, and. wlth them perished tens oi
' :-s ,r'ere drrc,1'l rtr,^ .bis1 ic 1.,.'ak\ "-ii.+ lgur Bal:-i oi the [r;n::eli .s now c;enerally ihousands of the best regular troops ihat lhe
I = tlWaVS an:C;,g th-'.r, lq, 11g.,7c 1 ' .' fl;
'lit- Seei, d:j I pre,LiCli: t'l What W;S lO COme a['pr French army had tratned, F'rorn then on the war
. :h,ev accorCrngly s,-.iilerecj the wcrst il']at i9i4, but a.t tlie trme ii rruas a disasier lor the rnas to be fouqht with a iargelY conscript force
= i"t-unt .-cuJcl itir+c. i-r,Jclll:. " i-.rc. IIrc :relrclr 'Lh*ir to:g-hei.j Ileor;ps wcre Seen 10 :se d en masse Ln such a way lhat the casualties
-.. :nu ol the Battle ol the Frontrers wele later to be
. io;.niiri iitlops .;ioti,-c d ,.-cr)clirl ue of l:'llc ',r,otln and lhey n"rl to rcvlse their
= reat fron the frontiers, but et ihe time liirs slrategies anci taciics cirastlcally, Lc suLt the regardeci as ncthrng unusual,

i -.lo'w:Loakingalmostiikea scene from the Iffiffi

'|apoleanicWars. f/:jsco/umn olFrenchcavdry'ffiffiffiffi'.-
I i-'Wq
.3 i4. These saldiers are arnonglhe.besllra:ned cf
use |
a;: the French unjfs. i:uf ther tactics were of na ;
andr-fiac.hiPe-[ : j
aEainst magaziue-JoaCrngrlfles .'l #S.:.1 ,M .i ffiiF-
Tq i
Y-; &W i ?
_ ,l

i,"{,"{# $'
'l i' r$ .e 5 &d {. *
,r^ a: **1 ;} ." ki'6,",; l:4.'-i,'


Ahave: The Frenchaften used their eolanial RiEht: German troops mave up to the newly-
:"eerirnenfs as s hack traaps. T!u's squacl frorn flre eJtabjrsfied tren ches in November 19 I 4 and
Sdme Iirai?ieu rs AlE6riens onparade atArxftas shaulder theweight of their 4.L-kg (9'26-lh)
iebeJ rjJJes, a f a time when many aionial troops Gewehr lB9Bs. Eich soldier carried at least 20A
were issuedwith riftres dating back to 1874 to keep 7.9 ?-mm (0.3 1 2- in) cartridgespfus all trr's persona/
madernweapans for the frontline' kit, a greatcoat and at ieas! a day's combat rations.
Rifles of the Great Wa:

[ebel mle 1886

E irt"il Lebel mle 1886
By 1886 the French army was i.n a posl-
tion to introduce a new 'small' car-
tridge with a calibre of B mm (0.315 in)
to fire the new completely smokeless
propellant developed by Paul Vielle
With the new cartridqe came a new
rifle, the Fusil mle 1886, usually known
as the-.IJebel after the name of the
officer who led the commission that
recommended the adoption of the new
rifle and round,
The L,ebel was for its trme onlY a
tentative rmprovement of the existing
Gras mle 1874. The new rifle did in-
deed have the ability to fire the new
B-mm cartndge, but the bolt action of
Above : The long mle I 886 / 93 was
the Gras desigm was retatned and, in basically an 1874 Gras rifle
place of the by{hen accePtable box
modernizedby theuseof an eight-
magazine, the Lebel used a tubular round tubular nagazine, andwas
magazine in whrch the rounds were one of the standard French rifles of
loaded nose-to-tail, This magazine was
WorldWar L It used a straight-action
located under the fore-stock and con-
tained eight rounds, it was still possi- bolt system and fired an 9'mm
(0.31S-in) cartridge.
ble to load single rounds directly lnto
the chamber and, as loadinq the tubu-
Left : T aken on manoeuw e s in J u lY
lar maqazrne was a somewhat slow 1 9 1 4, this photograph gives an
process, the full loading uas usually
kept for use only when large amounts indication of the F rench attacking
tactics of the Batile of theFrontiers.
of fire were required.
Tft ese massed rushes were
The original mle 1886 underwent a
major modiflcation programme in 1893 supposed tocarry allbefore them,
but in the event the soldiers were
and the designation was accordingly
changed to mle 1886/93. Another revi-
mown down in heaps.

sion came in lB9B when the ammunl- magazine was the relatively long load- and there was always the chance of a
tion was updated, but the designation ing time that had already been men- magazine explosion when it was least
remained unaltered. tioned; another was the safety aspect, expected, Another drawbackwas the
The original mle 1896 has one major for as the rounds lay nose-to{ail in the two-piece bolt which took a degree of
clarm to fame, for it was the first service magazine there was always the chance maintenance and was prone to clog-
rifle to fire smokeless propellant car- that a sudden jolt would cause the nose ging with dirt and dust at the earliest
tridges. For a short while the French of one round to hit the primer of the opportunity, A special 5,5-mm (0,216-
army was thus ahead of all its contem- round in front wrth dire results. Thus in) trainins version was produced in
poraries, but this advantage dtd not there was a gradual move away from small numbers,
last long once the 'secrets' ofthe prop- the Lebel towards the Berthier rifles,
ellant became widely known. Within a but in 1914 the Lebel remained in ser-
few years all other major nations had vice in larqe numbers, and it was still Specification
converted to the new propellant and standard issue to most frontline units, Fusiltebelmle 1886/93
had also adopted the new 'small- it served throughout World War I and Calibre:B mm (0,315 in)
calibre'type ofcartrtdge, so the Lebel was still in larqe-scale use in World Length: overall 1,303 m (51.3 in); barrel
soon lost its earlY lead. In fact tt War IL 0.798m(3L4 in)
assumed somethinqt of a back place in The Lebel could mounl a long crucr Weisht:4,245 kg (9.35 lb)
rifle development as a result of its form bayonet, and was by all accounts Muzzlevelocity: 725 m (2,379 ft) Per
anachronistic tubular magazine. One a pleasant rifle to handle and aim, second
of the major disadvantages of such a However, the loading was awkward Magazine: B-round tubular

French troops are shown in action a short distance from the Turkish lines at Gallipoli. The rifile in the foregtound
;;;;;.;;i;ait ihe lAB6/ii by theintine bott;if impossible;hence
itwas aBerthier the bolthandlewouldbe turned down.The
iiiaii!" it tn" ground has made trench-building the barricades'

Above: A French Zouave is seen at

Vincennes, 19 17, standing gruard
with a mle I 8 8 6/ 9 3 fi tted with the
spike-Iike Ep6e-baj onette mle I 886'
fhis converted the rifle into a pike for
close combat, where itwas to Prove
verv effective, but it lacked the
geieral usefulness of the blade-type

t7 l2
Rifles of the Great War
French carbines
During World War I the carbine was a
widely-used weapon with most armies
other than those of the British and the
Americans who never favoured the
t1pe. As a gTeneral rule lhese carbines
-were cut-down versions of the stan-
dard service rifles ofthe day and were
orrginally intended for use by cavalry,
However, between 1914 and 1918 the
carbine was used by many more types
cf unit, usually rn the second line, by
srgmallers, drivers, military police and
many others who required some form
cf weapon but not the long and awk-
ward service rifle,
The carbines used by the French
army can be taken as typical of the Above: The Mousqueton Berthier
:ypes in use elsewhere, While the 1890 et 1 892 was the Iorerunner of
: rench front-line troops were equip- theBerthier rifles, andlsseen fiere
ped with the normal service r!fle, many with the S abre-Baj onette mle 92 / I 6
;ther French soldiers carried car-
used during World War I. The
At the top of this list inevitably magazine held only three rounds,
:ame the cavalry, but after 1914 the but the carbine handled well,
french cavalry had little to do and retaining, however, the violent recoil
:rany were used as rnfantry and were 'kick' of all carbines.
::',rs given the normal sewrce rifles.
Ither secondline troops used a varie- nasty drawbacks when' fired: exces-
-.- of weapon types, The oldest of
them sive flash combined with blast, and
r.'as the'Mousgueton Gras mle 1874, heavy recoil griving a pronounced
i<e its longrer relation a srnqle-shot 'kick'as the bullet left the muzzle. Both
;;eapon with no magazine, Sulprising- were produced by the fact that the
-_.'the mle Lebel and its deriva-.
1886 cartndges were designed for barrels
:;es were not produced in carbine of conventional length. In the carbine
::lm (other than trials models) and some of the flring gases were still un-
:::ost French carbines were based on expended as the bullet left the muzzle,
-^^ D^-+Li^- producing the flash and blast that in
Ihe first Berthier carbine was the tum produced the recoil, The carbines
Mousqueton Berthier mle 1890 pro- were thus not much liked as weapons A French the Dardenelles acarbinewould indicate thathe is
::,iced for the cavalry. The later mle but were simply carried rn lieu of the during 19 I 5 is seen here with a not a foot soldier but possibly some
i892 was for use by artillery units, and more awkward rifles, When they were Berthier mle 1892 carbine fitted with form of specialist such as a signaller.
-:ere was also a slightly different ver- used in action it was very much as a last a long knife bayonet. The use of such
:-cn for the Gendarmerie, a branch of resort and their performance was at
-:e French armed forces, The mle best indifferent when compared with
-392 was probably produced in gnea- rifles of orthodox size and length,
.:r numbers than the mle 1890, and
'.','3sprovrded wrth such accessones Specification
:-rch as a bayonet and cleaning rod. Mousqueton Berthier mle 1892
::cm.the mle 1892 evolved the mle Calibre: B mm (0.315 in)
-3C7 rrfle. By 1914 the mle iB92 was in Lengrth: overall 0,945 m (37,2 in); barrel
.:r-vice with many arms other than the 0.45 m (17.7 tn)
l:r.llery for which it was originally in- Weight: 3, I ks (6.83 lb)
::nded, and the mles 1890 and 1892 Muzzle velocity: 634 m (2,080 ft) per
::et most of the carbine regurrements second
-: the French armed forces during
Magrazine: 3-round box
War L In 1916 they were joined
:;,'the mle 19'16 (a carbrne version of
-:e Berthier mle 19i6 rifle with its five- French cavalrymen carrying Berthier
::und box magazine), but relatively carbines pass elements of the 58th
::w of these were produced. (London) D ivision during April I 9 I 8.
While carriage o[ these various car- At that stage of the wat the cavaw
.res was certainly eirsier than that of were still held in resewe in case of
re long servrce rifles, firing them was the breakthrough that never came,
urrpleasant experience. All the car- for by then their place had been
:ne versions of standardrifles had two taken by the tank.

Fusil Berthiei mle 1907

Soon after the Lebel had been China rn particular). The Berthier rifle rifle, The situation was changred by
:iopted for service it was appreciated was typical of the Berthier series for it i915, for by then the French forces
-rat the design had several draw- was a 1ong, slender weapon that used a were expanding rapidly in numbers
i:acks, the most lmpofiant being the box magazine and a bolt action based and weapons were in short supply.
of a tubular magazine, By the time
-e had on that already 1n use on the lJebel Accordingly the Berthier was rushed
-rLs been realized the Lebel was in While the change-over to the box into mass production the mle 1907
-arge-scale production so there was magazine was a belated but gtood being used as the baseline model.
-ttle chance of any immediate change- move, the Berthier magazine could Some chanqes had to be made to the
:ver to a new design, lnstead there hold only three rounds, a poor capacity finer desigm points (especially to the
regan a slow and gradual process of in comparison with those of rifles bolt and siqhts) and ihe resultant
rtroducing a new rifle design known already in use elsewhere, and there- weapon became the mle I907/I5, It
;enerally as the Berthier, This began fore something ofa disadvantage to the was soon in servlce alongside the
: lB90 with the introduction of a caval- firer, Lebel, and was used by the French
ry carbine and gradually as new re- The mle 1907 was widely used bY armed forces throughout World War I,
:uirements arose new Berthier French troops serving in the colonies, and was still in widespread use in 1939.
iieapons were introduced. and more were issued to colonial The mle 1907/15 stiil retained the
This culminated rn 1907 with the Ievies, Some were even issued to three-round box magazine, however,
adoption of a Fusil mle 1907 for use in troops on the mainland of France, but and this was clearly insufficient for the
r:re varrous French coionies (indo- in 1914 the Lebel was still the standard requirements of 1915. Accordingly the
Fusil Berthier mle 1907 (continued)

Berthiers were rather long for the con-

ditrons of trench warfare, but theY
were easy to handle when flrinq and
were usuaily preferred to the Lebel
The mle 1907/15 was manufactured in
Iarge quantrties, and at one point was
even placed in production by Reming-
ton in the United States, but only for
French use as the US ArmY never used
the type. The final development of the
type-ociurred in 1934, when mle 1907/
i5 weapons were modified to flre the
7 5-mrn(0 295-in) round developed for
liqht machine-guns, The revised de-
srlsnatron was mle 1907/15 M34, and the
Wpe had a five-round magazine
Soecification the original to take a five-round box
Firsil Berthier mle 190?/I5 Weiqht:3.8 kg (8,38 lb) Usually knownas theBerthier rifle,
Muzzle velocity: 725 m (2,379 ft) Per the mle 1907 was a rifle version of the magazine. This version was used bY
Calibre:8 mm (0.315 in) maiv armies after 1918, andwas still
tength: overall 1.306 m (5 1.4 in); barrel second mle I890 et 1892 carbine. This
Magazine: 3-round box example is a mle I 9 I 6 modified from in widespreaduse rn J 939.
0.797 m (3I.4 in)


Fusil FN-Mauser mle IB89

The Belgian Fusil FN-Mauser mle 1889
is something of an international
weapon, for although it was desiqned
rn Belgnum the action was a direct copy
of the Mauser bolt actron. It was
accepted as the standard Belgian ser-,
vice irfle in lBBg and although some of
them came from the Belgian state
arsenal, most were Produced bY an
entirelv new concern established spe-
cificaliy to manufacture the Model
1889, the Fabrique Nationale, now
more commonly known as FN and one
of the larqest arms manufacturing
establishments in the world, arrangement.) Another recognition
As was then usual the mle 1BB9 was The Belgian mle I 889 was a Mauser accordingly the Belgian positions re-
design builtunder licence, and had a mained static for much of World War pornt is the barel jacket, which ex-
accompanied in production by a car- iends to some way behind the muzzle
bine varrant. the Carabine FN-l\tauser distinctive muzzle surround and a IL
pronounced curve to the front of the The mle may be dlstrngnrished
1BB9 The usual Mauser cleaningt rod was
mle 1889, some of which were in- from other Mauser weapons bY the present and a lonqt bayonet cou.ld be
tended to be used in coniunction with a five-r ound m ag azine. I t w as
produced at the FN Plant atHerstal magazine, which had a drstrnctive fitted.
sword-like bayonet known as a 'Yata-
gan'; most of these were lssued to for- and remained the standard Belgian bulgre on its forward edge. This bulge
sewice rifle untilWorld War II. accommodated the hinge of the maga- Specification
tuess troops and some Gendarmerie Fusil FN-Mausermle 1889
zine platform that fed the rounds up-
units. In its rifle form the mle 1889 was a Calibre:7,65 mm (0.301 in)
verv well-made weapon with some un- were met by switchinq production to wards into lhe bolt mechanism under
Hophns & Allen in the United States, the control of a leaf spring, The box Lengrth: overall 1,295 m (5 I 0 in); barrel
usual features. One was that over its 0,78 m (30.6 in)
Foi much of the war the small Belgian magazine held five rounds fed rnto the
entire lengrth the barrel was encased Weisht:4,01 kq (B.B ]b)
armv was stationed on the far left of the box from a charger c1ip, and unlike the
in a metal tube, This was intended to practice in later Mauser maqaztnes the Muzzlevelocity: 6i0 m (2,001 ft) Per
enswe that the barrel would not come Alldd trench lines along the River Lys,
when conditions were not suitable for rounds were held in a vertlcal stack. second
into contact with any of the woodwork, (The later versions used a 'staggered' Magazine: 5-round box
which was prone to warping and could large-scale troop movements, and
thus impair accuracy. While this fea-
Lue had some advantaqes, such as the
abilitv to mount the sights on the tube
arid not on the barrel, it was rather
expensle to manu-facture and under
some conditions rust could accumulate
between the barrel and the tube. But
thrs was a long-term condrtion and dur-
ing World War I causedfewproblems
When it entered service, the mle
lB89 was set for a long llfe, for it re-
mained in use until 1940, and even after
that date the type was taken,in German
garrison use. Some examPles were
manuJactured for export to Abysstnia
and a few nations in South America, but
oenerally speakingr the mle 1889 was
kept in production for the Belgian
When the Germansoveffan
armv onlv,'Belqium
much of in I914 the require-
ments of the-remaining Belgian forces

Belgian trooPs armed with mle I 889

Maiser rifles set uP a roadblock
outside Louvain in avain attempt to
arr e s t the onrush of the G erman
armies through Belgium during
August 1914.

Rifles of the Great War

lnfo the
Before thewar itwas assumed th at the great increasesin
firepower produced by the magazine rifle and quick-fire
artillery would make battles more bloody but no less decisive.
But the new firepower simply drove the armies into theearth,
and machine-guns kept them there.

,'r nen war broke out in 19'14 there were few tacticians on either side who could
=rvisage the manner in which the machine-gun was to dominate infantry tactics
^ rhe years to come. That with the better appreciation was the German side, for
:^e Germans alone had taken the care to invest in numbers of these weapons
:requate to equip their infantry units, and in 1 91 4 the effect of these weapons
.',as profound. A single machine-gun is sufficient to arrest the movement of an
=:rire infantry or cavalry battalion at times, but in '1 914 this simple fact was a The firstshotof thiscinefihn sequence taken duringthe BatUe of fieSorn'ne:.::
-:velty and the tacticians of the time could think of nothing other than getting 1916 shows anofficer leading a sectionof Britishinfantry outof a trench. The
::rind some form of protection until a set-piece attack could be mounted. ln officerwears jodphurs and carrii>s acane, making him an obvious target.- jaier
:':ctice this meant the digging of trenches, but it was to be four years before the in the war they carried rifles andwore battledress.
-=antry could get out of them.
ln 1914 armies on all sides were prepared for a war with the usual man-
:eJVTes and marching warfare that would bring the two sides to battle. Accor-
: 'rgly the infantry trained to march over long distances and when the time came
'rr action the idea was for whole battalions to advance to positions where fire
'gnts would dictate the eventual result. This era did not last long, coming to an
:crupt halt with the Battle of the Frontlers for the French, and with Mons and
'pres for the small British Expeditionary Force (BEF). Away in the east the
irssian steamroller was annihilated in the vast wheeling battles of Tannenberg
.nd all the others, for on the Eastern Front the static conditions of trench warfare
-ever became f ully established and a form of mobile warfare prevailed right until
when the Russians withdrew from the unequal contest.
Once the trench lines were. set up on the Western Front, infantry tactics
:ecame moribund for some years. And when the 'Old Contemptibles' of the
3EF had vanished in the holocaust of Loos in 1 91 5, the greater part of the British
:rmy was made up of barely-trained conscripts led by junior officers who were
:nly marginally better trained. The French too had lost their best soldiers in the
:arly stages of the war and were content to base themselves on their trench
nes for what were essentially local offensives. For much of the war these
:perations were confined to local trench raids at night and perhaps the odd
:cmpany action against limited objectives.
ln all these actions apart from the raids the infantry tactics were much the
same. A prearranged artillery bombardment was directed against known enemy
:ositions, and at a pre-set t;me the infantry clambered out of the trenches and
,valked towards the enemy lines. ln the years since 1918 these simple tactics
iave come in for much criticism, but the fact remains that given the state of
'ranning and training in most armies the protagonists had little alternative. The
standard of training and understanding of military basics was such that con-
scrpts had to'be used en rnasse, with little finesse in the way of advancing with
"rutual fire support between units or the use of f lanking support moves. lt was Above:Theunfortunatemanonthe Below:Hiscomradesarealreadycn
:uite simply a case of massing enough men. attempting to destroy the enemy's rightappears tohave become one of theirway through the machine-ga:
3ositions and weapons with artillery, and then advancing in a straight line the many dead, anddid noteven fire,but-as so oiten in Ig j6 feww[
:cwards the enemy trenches where (if they arrived) the soldiers could engage in make it out of the start trench. actually reach their objective aczoss
^and-to-hand f ighting. no-man's land.
1"- i
. r, :ri{.-:t. : :!i

The tactics were for many years as crude as that, and as the world now knows If theGermanmachine-gunswere not enough of an obstacle inno-man's land,
n manv cases tne unlorlun;te in'antry never even tnaoe t beyono the m ddle o' thebarbedwire could always be relied on to slow down a rushed attack to a
tne 'nolrran's land' that divioed Lhe trench lines. Some o' tne enemv's machine- slowwalk. The standing infantry madeideal targets for enemymachine-
qJns always n'anaged to survive the artillery fire and oop out of tne dugoJ[s and gunners and riflemen, in their relatively safe trenches.
o-n<ers n t'me lo halt the adva'rcing 'nfantry.
However, for much of 19'1 5 the G-erman aimy was on the defenslve while tactics for use dunng the last major German offenstves, arranged to crush the
tacticians pondered on how to break the trench-warfare deadlock ln 1916 they Allies before the Americans could arrive on the scene in vast numbers. ln a
came up with the dreadful philosophy of the'killrng ground', which they put.into series of set-piece battles the German lnfantrywere used in smallsquads that
actlon dt Verdun. This philcisophy was meant to make'the-French army defend moved forward, taking advantage of cover and ground where poss ble, to
an area chosen by the Germans ih such a manner that the German war machine sweep past rather than into the Allied trenches to create mayhem in the rear
would simply grind away the strength of its foe. But in orderto make the French areas. These new tactrcs worked wonderf ully. Allied formations, conditioned by
iefend Verdu"n the Geimans had-first to attack and this they did in a more years of stat c trench warfare, were suddenly faced with swaTms of small
manner. lnstead of the exrended lnes of walking nlantry, the infantry squads moving through their lines while gas, artillery and even_tanks
'oonisticated kept them occupied and seeking what cover there might be to hand. These
.le'mans atlacKed with srrall sections oI in'antry supporled by lght'rachine-
runs. movino forward not in an extended line but tn short unco-ordinated rushes German tactrcs created great holes in the Allied lines, and the Germans were
-inat divertecl'tne defenders and dispersed defensive fire. The attack was still halted only when final reserves had been brought up f rom the rear areas. But it
creceded by the usual masslve artlllery action that tore up the ground, but in the had been a near-run thing, especially for the British forces in f ront of Amiens.
marn thls favoured the attackers. Although the Verdun battles were eventually Eventuaily the German offens ve petered but. By the mlddle of the year the
ost by the Germans, in that their oi'lgin;l objectives were not achieved, the Allies were ieady for their flnaloffenslve, and this time it was to be different. The
novel tactics were noted for future use. years srnce 1914 had not all been spent ln carrying out the same mistakes over
Thev were certalnly not adopted by the British in 1916 when the Somme and over again, and with the advent of the tank new tactics could be used. The
o*fenlives went aneab in exactty the 6ame manner as tnose ol 1915 Lines of early conscript armies had grown not only in numbers but in skills, and the long
nfantry rose out of their trenches at the appolnted time and walked forward in series of attacks that finally defeated the Germans on their own terms were
extend'ed lines. The only changes from 1915 was that the prel minary artillery made not bythe od set-piece attacks but bytactics based on a high degree of
oarTaoe was mrch heav er and"tnat more use was made ol chern'calwarfare ln inter-arm co-operation. No longer did the artiilery simply blast a way through the
rne lr"ti"r stages of the offensive the tank appeared on the scene, but only in trench lines: instead it provided a Iift ng barrage of defenstve fire as the infantry
small numbeis that did not make a material contrrbution and tank advanced in mutual support. Overhead the new Royal Air Force,
The tank was nevertheless to have the greatest effect on infantry tactics of corrected artillery fire and flew ground-attack sorties. Some units were even
ihe trme, but'1 918 started wlth the Germtns once more refining theirVerdun supplied at trmes f rom the air using parachuted stores and ammunitlon. No one
arm moved forward by itself. lt was a balanced and co-operative effort using
This is the type of terrain over which the infantry of both sides had to advance tactics that were to see their f u ll f ruition in World War ll. No longer was the f oot
during the-iany battles of thewar.The open, pock-marked landscapewas soldier simply a rifle-carrier. lnstead he moved forward with fire supp,ort from
domiiated by irtitlery and themachine-gun, andmen could only survive tanks and ariillery to occupy terrrtory and winkle out the enemy from his
underground or behind protection such as that supplied by tank armour' positions. lt was a very long way from the early days of August 1914.
Rifles of the Great War


-' | econd Naval Brigade practise an attack on Imbros,June 191 5. The dense rush ofnen provided an excellent
.';:"::or thoseTurkswho had survived the British barrage. On theWesternFrontfluid small-unit tactics were
' ::' :ally intraduced, and contributed greatly to the Geman breakthrough in March 1918.

Above: After its disaslrous

performance in the Balkanwars of
I912-3, the Turkish atmy was once
againwritten off as an effective force
But to the surprise of their enemies.
the Turks fought with dogged
tenacity when the British and French
attacked at Gallipoli. This Turk
carries a Mauser rifle and a packed
cartridge belt. The cloth hat shaped
Iike a solar topee butwithout a peak
replaced the traditional fez in I908.
:.::','e:The tactics thatwere to be used by the German stormtroopers of Below:Taken from theGerman trench lines, this photograph shows troops
' : : : it J9 1formulated during I I I 7 when small squads of infantry
8 we re advancing across open tefiain. The troops in the foreground still have their
. ::ied usrng hand grenades as their main weapons. This picture was taken rifles slung, perhaps indicating that they are about to nove forwatd to a
: :.:e German training area at Sedan. Note how rifles were carried slung. support position that cannot be seen from the camera posjtjon used.

Mosin-Nagant Model 189I
By the late lBB0s the Russtan army was
in the process of converting its massive
forces away from the use of the obso-
Iete Berdan rifles, The army carried
out a series of investigations, tn the
course of which it was attracted by a
number of nfles produced by the Bel-
gian Nagant brothers, but it also had on
its doorstep a desiqn produced bY a
tsarist officer known as Sergei Mosin.
The planners decided to amalgamate
the best features of the two desiqns
and the result was the Mosin-Nagant
rifle which was introduced into service
in 1891; its full Russian title was Russ-
kaya 3-lineinaye vintovka obrazets
1891g (Russian 3-llne rifle model 1B9l)
The term '3-[ne' in the designation
denotes that the calibre was gauqred in
an old Russian linear measurement
known as a line, equal to 2,54-mm
(0. I in). This was later changed in 1908
when a new cartridge was introduced
Above: These Russian troops are the sights were usually adjusted
and the calibre became 7,62 mm permanently to compensate for their
(0.3 in), The original sigrhts were cali- armed with M osin-N agant M odel
brated rn the equally o1d arshins (l rifles, all with the long spike
I 89 1 weight. The bayonets used ffie
: :
arshin 0,71 m 27,95 in), but these bayonets thatwere such afixturc that ancient socket method olfixing.
too were changed to metres after 1908,
Overall the Model l89l was a sound
and rugged rifle design but it drd have
a few unusual features. One was found
in the five-cartridge magazine, for with
the system employed the top cartridge
was always kept iree of magaztne
spring pressure for the actual bolt-
loading process, which had the advan-
tage that feeding jams were less fre-
quent than they might otherwise have
been, But this was balanced bY the
introduction of some complexity in the
mechanism, The two-piece bolt was
also qenerally judged to be more com-
plicated than was really necessary,
though it gave little enough trouble in
use, One other unusual feature was that
the nlle was lssued with a long bayonet
wrth a screwdrlver point that could be
used to dismantle parts of the rifle, This
bayonet was of the socket type, and
duing World War I it was a virtual Above: The Russian armY went to
fixhrre on the rifle at all times. war in the Slavic uniforms adoPted
Overall the Model 1B9l was a rug- after I 877 and armed with the
sed weapon that could take hard rugged Mosin-Nagant series of rifles'
Lack of competent comm ander s Part of the Russian contingent is seen the Herculean offensive launched by
krocks and was generallY undeman-
dmg of care and attention. A Dragoon rather thanashortage of moden J uly I I I 6. This was the
at S alonika in GeneralBrusilov dealt a savage blow
equipmentwas to lead to the heavY Iastyear inwhich theRussian armY to Austria-Hungary but could not
Rille Model l89l carbine version was
produced for use by cavalrY and the defeats of 1914. could adequately sustain combat; save the tottering Tsarist empire.
ubiquitous Russian mounted infantry,
but this variant was only slightly shor- ties were overstretched. Those that The Model lB91 played 1ts Part in Specification
existed had to make the rifles virtually the revolutions of 1917 and was again tn Mosin-Nagant Model 189 I
ter than the rifle and much lonqer than
other carbines produced at the time; a bv hand as the concePt of mass Pro- action durinq the civil war that fol- Calibre:7.62 mm (0,3 in)
genuine Carbine Model l9l0 variant duction was far from Russian thoughts lowed in I9lB. Between the wars the Lenqth: overall 1,305 m (5L38 in);
before 1914, Consequently, when ex- Model IB9I was replaced in Produc- barrel0.802 m(31,6 in)
was produced in 1910,
The main problem for the Russians tra Russian army units were formed tion by the shorter Model l89l/30, and Weiqht:4,37 kq (9,62 lb)
from the reserves ln l9l4 there were it was with this that the Red Army was Muzzlevelocity:810 m (2,657 ft) per
was that they had selected a good ser-
very often no rifles with which to arm armed rn World War I1, though some second
vice rifle, but there were never Magazine: S-round box
enough of them and production facili- them. Model 189]s survived after i941,

Fucile modello 9I This Mannlicher-Carcano carbine is

share therr enthusiasm, for the only 91s proved sound enough, but the the 6.5 - mm (0. 2 5 6 - in) M o s chetto
The ltalian sewice rifle of Worid War I
was the Fucile modello 91, and was of a sales made outside Italy before World amalgTamation of diverse features in modello 91 per cavalleria. As it was
War I were to Japan, and this batch the bolt and magazine areas resulted meant for use by cavalry troops it has
type known as the Mannlicher- fixed folding bayonet and the
Carcano. This was developed at Turin was made to accommodate the in a desigm that was rather more com- a
Arsenal between IB90 and lB91 and Japanese 6,5-mm (0.256-in) round plicated than it might have been, and magazineheld six rounds, butmanY
was an overall amalgamation of a which differed in dimensions from that in the field the modello 91 required were usedwith other special troops
in ltalian use, In sewice the modello consrderable attention, especially in suclr as gunners and sigmaller s.
Mauser bolt action taken from the Bel-
giian/German mle 1889, the box maga-
zine arrangement of the Mannlicher
system and a new bolt-sleeve safety
device produced by one Salvatore
Carcano. The Italians thought highly of
the resultant weapon and adopted it in
IB92; it remained the standard Italian
sewice rifle until World War IL
Unfortunately no else seemed to
lucile modello 9I (continued)

'.-.: :olonial territorres in Africa; in par- ish divisions being diverted from the
-rlar, the straight-pull bolt action was Western Front in an attempt to stabil-
;:::e to jamming when dirty, ize matters. The outcome of Caporetto
lire modello 91 sparmed a whole was not due entirely to the perform-
;:up of carbine types that were pro- ance of the modello 91, which was
:::ed in variants for use by cavalry, much the same as that of many of its
:-!:cial troops (including gunners and contemporaries, but even at the time it
and others, While these
=:=-grneers) was generally accepted that the Itahan
:.-bines were handy and easy to carry 6,5-mm cartridge was rather underpo-
::ey suffered from the usual shortcom- wered and the bullet it flred generally
:-Es inherent on firing short-barrelled lacked slriking power. But these pornts
Feaponsj even though the cartridge were marginal, for the modello 91
-ed was less powerful than many handled and flred quite well, The small
::lers then in use elsewhere, Some of cartndge produced less recoil than Troops of the 3 5 th I talian D iuision rifles at the trail. Known as the Fucile
-:ese carbines were provided with was usual among other designs march through Salonika during modello9l, this riflewas still in
5ked bayonets; the modello 91 rifle (though the carbine versrons kicked as August 1916, carrying their service in I 940 . I t differed from the
:sed a kmfe-type bayonet. nastily as other types) and the general Mannlicher-Carcano modello I I normal Mannlichet rifles only in detail.
-As the modello 9l was used only by lack ofprotrusions and items that could
--:: ltalians during World War I their catch on things made the modello 9l a standable enthusiasm for a national length:overall 1.285 m(50 6 rn) i:a::=-
-:::nce Lse was conflned to the border good weapon to use when moving product it was among the 'also rans' in 0,78 m (30,7 in)
:::rpaigns against Austro-Hungarian across rougth country. But even now the World War I rifle stakes. weisht:3.8 kq (8,4 lb)
:::ps, coming to a climax with the the overall impression left by the mod- Muzzle veclocity: 630 m (2 067 r:l p::
l;-:Je of Caporetto in 1917, During this ello 9l rs that it was a rather more com- Specification second
=-l--cn the ltalians lost heavrly and the plicated weapon than others of the FucilemodelloSl Magazine: 6-round box
:=s:ltant withdrawals led to some Brit- time, and desprte the ltahans' under- Calibre:6,5 mm (0,256 in)

t H ffi#liilher Modert tses

:_; ihe early 1890s the Austro-
-: -:-2anan army had in service a num-
:sr 3f Rpes of rifle based on the bolt
::-::n desigrned by Ferdinand von
l.l=--nhcher, Thrs employed a straight-
; .- bolt action of two-prece construc-
:::- and the first of the type was taken
service as early as iBB4. There
::--:,ved a number of models wrth va-
:r:'J modlfications, all of them finng
-::= :ld black-powder propellalt, and
*:iel iB90 before the fust'smokeless' Above : The M annlicher M odell I 895 B elow :Aus tr o-H ung arian troop s
appeared. It was not until 1895 was the standard service rifle of the ir
outs ide J aros I av car ry the
-:;: Jre desiqn was frnally 'frozen' and Austro-Hungarian army and fired a Mannlicher Modell I 895s. This rifle
,- T- thus that the Mannlicher Modell 6.5 -mm (0.2 5 6-in) cartridge. I t was a used a straight-pull bolt action and
-S5. also known as the 8-mm Repetier sound and strongweaponwith a was known as theRepetier-Gewehr
3ewehr Modell 1895 (B-mm repeating five-round box magazine and a trom its use of a tive-round box
:': model 1895) became the standard straight-pull bolt action. The magazine compared with earlier
::: of the Austro-Hungarian army. projection under the muzzle is a Mannlicher rifles, suchas the Modell
-ie Modell lB95 was a sound and cleaningrod. t890.
--ghtforward weapon that proved
:=-able in servrce, Like so many other
:':s of the period the Modell iBg5 was
:.:er long but the straight-pull bolt
::_-1n appears to have produced few
;::blems, It flred the B-mm (0,31S-in)
Ii:iell 1890 round-nosed cartndge
:::: was the first Austro-Hungarran
::-d with smokeless propellant, and
:-:se were introduced into the flve-
::-d integral box magazine by using
= :"rtridge clip and a charger guide on
:= receiver, in itself somethinq of an
::-:vation for the time.
-: was the Modell 1895 that the Au-
carried when
went to war in 1914. By then the
:-':s had been joined by a carbine
''-=-ant known as the Modell 1895 8-
;nm Repetier-Stutzen-Gewehr and
jsled to troops such as engineers
--vers, signallers and gunners, For
::-3e the usual proliferation of carbine
.,,-pes did not occur in the Austro-
:-:egarian armres and the Stutzen be- retained therr fami[ar weapons. Weisht: 3.78 ks (8.3 lb)
::me a familiar sight throughout Cen- Both the Modell 1895 and the Stutzen Muzzlevelocity: 619 m (2,031 ft) per
::1 Europe, during World War I and are now collector's pieces but for a second
=er it, for the Modell lB95 rifle and very long period they were the stan- Magazine: S-round box
:arbine became virtual fixtures for dard service weapons for much of
::any armies. One of the first to adopt Central Europe, They were sound if
:e Modell lB95 was Bulgaria, After unspectacular weapons that provided Recruited trom a bewildering variety
- j 1B the type was taken over by Italy in good service for over half a century. of nationali ties, the Au s tro-
-,';ar reparations and the rifle became Hungarian army provedtobe a
::ie of the standard Italian weapons. Specification deceptively fragile instrument. As
Ithers ended up in Creece and
-rgoslavia, Repetier-Gewehr Modell i895 thewar dragged on theEmpirewas
and of course once the Au- Calibre: B mm (0.315 in) forced to rely on the sort of hapless
Empire had been split Lengrth: overall 1,27 m (50 in); barrel conscripts epitomized by the Good,.-
-p after 19lB botlr.Austria and Hunqary 0,765 m (30.1 in) SoldierSvEjk.
iffoaet 1903 Sprinsfield
At the turn of the century the US Army
was equrpped with a rifle known as the
Krao-Torqensen which had been
aao6t6A iri 1892, It was not long before
the'Americans realized that in the
raoid developments of the late 1800s
tha Krag-iorg'ensen left a lot to be de-
sired and accordinglY decided to
adopt a better rifle, They cast around
for rdeas and were soon imPressed
su-fficiently with the baslc Mauser sys-
tem to neqtotiate a licence to manufac-
twe Mauser-based rifles in the USA
The Mauser sYstem was modrfled to
produce a rifle built around a new Above : The American M I 9 0 3
American cartridge known as the Car- Springtield was a Mauser-based rifle
tridge, Ball, Caliber ,30 in M1903 This first introduced in 1903 and still in
had a btunt nose but when the Ger- service during the Korean War. It
mars rntroduced their 'spltzer' sharp- was an excellentweaPon and this is
nosed bullet with better all-round per- the originalversion, shownwith a
rormance the Americans were qutck to bayonet from the earlier Krag-
follow surt and the rifle was accordingt- lorgensen Model 1896 service rifle'
]y modifled to what was to be its classic
iorm. in fact the rifle was ready in 1903,
and was first manufactured at the
SprLngifreld Arsenal in Illinois, whence
rt-too[ its generally-accepted name of
the Springfield rifle. In appearance it
was obviously a Mamer but the length
was something new, the US Army took to France in 1917 but
The new rifle was officially the it was soon overtaken on the produc-
Maqazine Rifle, Caliber '30, Model of tion lines by later variants rncluding
1905, fut this was usually abbreviated the M1903 Mk L This was basicallY a
to Model 1903 or simplv MI903. It dif- model 1903 adaPted to accommodate
fered from most of its contemporares the ill-fated Pedersen Device, a
by being an interim lenqth behveen a gadget that was supposed to turn the
6olt-action rifle into a form of automatic The first contingent of American 'Rainbow Division' formed from all
fr:1l{engrth rifle and a carbine, for it was
assault rifle by removinq the bolt and tr oops that ar r ived in E ngJand in the states of the Union and the first to
rntended to be the sewice rifle for all
replacingt it with a new recelver firingt I 9 1 7 are seen here with M I 903 be sent toEurope, where their fresh
arms from cavalry to infantry This numbers would have ensured an
comnromise between lengrths resulted speciaL 7,62-mm (0,3-in) Pjstol Springrfields piled. TheY are
ammunition fed from an overhead probably men from the famous eventu al Allied vic tory.
m an extremely attractive and well-
baianced rifle that was and still is a joy magazinei the rounds were fired usingt
to handle, The bolt action was of the the normal rifle barrel. Although this er modified rnto various forms, usually Specification
tum-dornm design with a well-placed devrce was issued, it was produced too with a view to easier production, and it Mr903
bolt handle that was easy to operate Iate for widespread issue and was held was still in US Army service as a sniper Calibre:7.62 mm (0.3 in)
in reserve for the expected offensives rifle as late as the Korean War, By any Lengrth: overall 1,097 m (43 2 in); barrel
rapidly when required; the overall flne
of 1919, After the war it was withdrawn standards lt rs stlll regarded as one of 0,61 m (24 in)
stindard of flnish and detail design
made the weapon extremely accurate, ftom use altogether, the Mk rifles I the best service rifles ofits period, and Weiqht:3.94 kg (8 69 lb)
being converted back to normal Mod- qurte apart from tts continuing use as a Muzzle velocity: 853 m (2.800 ft) per
and the MI903 and its later verslons
are still much prized as target rifles el 1903 standards, tarqet rifle, the type is now retained as second
Model 1903 was furth- a collector's item. Magazine: 5-round integral box
The ongrnal Model 1903 was the rifle After 1918 the

riiinctrester Model 1895

It may seem rather odd to have a rifle
more'usually regarded as being part of
the plains warfare of the American
for its well-known range of manually-
loaded rifles that used the loading lev-
er beneath the trigger, This was oper-
made it to Russia (some were lost as a
result of U-boat attacks) were sent
straight to the front, and into the hands
good account of itseli It was almost
certarnly the only lever-action rifle to
be used durinq World War I and on
ated by the flngers that gnpped the of rapidly{rarned recruits who had lit- that score alone it is worthy of mention
West included in a study of the rfles of
stock; a rapid downwards movement tle time for maintenance and cleaning,
World War I, but the fact remains that Specification
loaded a new round from the tubular In all 293,816 were actually delivered
the Winchester Model 1895 was for WinchesterModel
one nation an important Part of its maqazrne under the barrel. By World to Russia and those that survived the 1895
Wai I thrs type of rifle was militarily rigours of the fighting aqlainst German Calibre:7,62 mm (0,3 in)
World War I inventory. That nation
was Russia, which entered the war obsolescent but it suited the Russian and Austro-Hungarian armies later Length:overall 1.175 m(46,25 1n);
requirement and accordingly a'mllita- played their part in the revolutions of barrel0,7l m (28 in)
vnth a will in 1914 only to suffer a series
rized' version was churned out espe- 1917 and in the crvil war that followed. weight:4.2 ks (9.26 ]b)
of catastrophic defeats of which the Moreover, some were captured bY the Muzzle velocity: not known
Battle of Tannenburg was but one, The cially for the Russian armY.
basic problem for the Rr.rssian military This was the Model 1895, whtch was Germans in World War IL It was Magazine: 5-round tubular
planners was that although they had chambered br the Russians 7 62-mm noticed that some of these later'exam-
(0,3-in) cartridqe and had sights cali- ples had their sights marked in metres, O ne of the odde st r ifles of W orld W ar
almost bottomless resetves of men I was theWinchester Model 1895 that
they lacked the industrial base to brared in arshins, then the usual but when this was carried oui is uncer-
method of range measurement used in tain, still used the Winchester levet action
equlp them, The Russtan economy be- :
fore 1914 was indeed getting itself on Russia (l arshin :
0.71 m 27,95 in) By any standard the aPPearance of made famous on the American
The resultant rifle could still be recog- the Winchester Model iB95 on the Bat- Plains. They were ordered by Russia
an industrial footing, but it was as yet in arm the expanding Tsarist
rnsufficient to sustain wartime produc- nized as a descendant of the famous tleflelds of World War I was odd, but tt 1 9 14 to
Winchester 75 of plains fame, but over- happened nevertheless, Few records armies. 293,8 I 6 were Produced and
tion. Matters got to the point where senf toRussja, all in 7.62-mm (0.3-in)
soldiers were sent into battle without all it was longer, heavier and more aciually suwive of how the Model lB95
rugged, It needed to be, for all that fared in action but no doubt it gave a calibre.
rifles but were expected to obtain
them ftom amonq the fallen. Things
clearly could not continue for long like
The easy way out was to Purchase
weapons from abroad, The Americans
dulroblioed and in particular the Win-
fleoeatinq Arms Company of
che,ster Repeatlng
chester of
New Haven, Connecticut, took the
opportunity to use the assembly line

Armed Forces of the World

Sovief ArmgPa*,
The Tank Division
According to Western intelligence sources, the
Soviet army today has a total of 208 divisions. Of
these 50 are tank, '1 36 motorized rlfle, seven air-
borne and the remaining 15 artillery divisions. ln
addition there are a number of air assault. artillery,
tank, anti-tank, air-defence and engineer brigades.
as well as electronic warfare, NBC defence, slgnals
and heavy transport regiments. The first of four
parts of this study will deal with the overall com-
mand structure of the Soviet army and the tank
The commander-in-chief of the Soviet Ground
Forces is a Deputy Minister of Defence, and he is
responsible for technical matters, including re-
search and development, non-operational training
and overall supervision of admlnistration; he does
not have any d rect control over the troops. ln peace
the major operational commands are the 16 military
districts within the Soviet Union itself and the four
groups of forces in Eastern Europe. The latter are
the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSFG), the
Northern Group of Forces rn Poland, the Central
Group of Forces in Czechoslovakia and the Southern Operating the world's largest armoured Iorces case the army has the full a.'a,. a's-:::- --.-
Group of Forces in Hungary. Ai of these are drrectly since the 1930s, the Soviet Union currently deploys inclrding artillery, miss le. a '-:='=- -= =. :' --
subordinate to the Ministry of Defence in Moscow, over 51,000 tanks, including7,700 T-72s, seenhere chemical,signa, intelligence. e^j -.t - - =- j == : -j-
and the Group of Soviet Forces rn Germany is the in parade finish, and T-80s. Production of the T-72 port units.
continues at more than 2,500 a year, and the new
most powerful and issued with the latest equip- generation ofSoviet tanks has reduced NATO
ment. qualitative superiority to a dangerously slim Tank division organization
ln time of war the military districts and groups of margin. : -: - ^
A Soviet tank division has a div's c-: - :
forces will be organized into f ronts for military opera- company (245 officers and men), rn:a= .:-. '=: *-
trons, the military districts within the Soviet Union tween one and six) as well as air armies, airborne :a
enLs, one motor,zed rifle reginenr, o-: :'. '. -.
functioning as territorial commands and serving as divisions {or arr assault divisions as they are rnore 'ment, one anti-aircrafl reg;me1i a10 -:: :?-+
mobilization bases in addition to providing logistical common y cailed today), naval units, iong-range lions of FROG (Free Rocket Over Gro-:: s--:--
support. aviation, transport arrcraft, strategic rocket forces to-surface rocket, multiple rocket lalrcie' '=:.--
Soviet planners have divided the world into 13 and air-defence systems. naissance, engineer, signals, motoT .'a-s3:--
Theatres of Military Operations (TVDs) which will Each Front, whlch is roughly equivalent to a NATO maintenance, chemical defence anc i-.a::.
function only in time of war. Of these five are con- corps, wi I compr se a number of armies plus other troops. There is also an artillery command .a---:-.
tinental, four naval and four intercontinental. These forces attached depending on the actual misslon of and a mobile f ield bakery; quite recently a ne .::::'
TVDs not only cover the actual area of operations the Front. There are two basic types of Soviet army, squadron has been added to some divisrons.
but also the military districts that would support name y combined arms and tank. The former has a The iron f ist of the tank divisron is made up c':-=
these operations. Depending on their mlssion, larger number of motorized rifle divisions, while the three tank regiments which are normally eq..l otel
these TVDs will control a number of Fronts (be- latter has a larger number of tank divisions. ln each with T-64 or T-72 MBTs, although many tan< c,,
sions in the Soviet Unlon itself are equipped witn i-:
,: i,ti r::i +-:ft:d-r, til
older T-54lT-55 or T-62. Each tank regiment has :
;,: r}l1;:,':i total of 94 tanks, one at regimental HO and 31 ^
: iltlr&i each of the three tank battalions. Each tank battal c^
has a battalion HO, an HO and service platoon, anc
three tank companies. Recently each tank regimen:
has been strengthened by the addition of a battalro:^
of 122-mm {4.8-in) 2S1 self-propelled howitzers
The single motorized rifle regiment of the tan<
division is equipped with the full-tracked BMF
mechanized infantry combat vehicle, which has ex-
cellent cross-country mobility.and can easily keep
up with the tanks as part of the combined-arms
team. ln the motorized rifle divisions there is only
one tank regiment but three motorized rifle regim-
ents, one with the tracked BMP and the other two
with the BTF-60 or BTR-70 BxB wheeled armoured
personnel carrier. The latter have a much greater
range of operation and a higher road speed than the
BMP, but these are counterbalanced by inferior
armour protection, firepower and cross-country
WorldWar II experience convinced theRed Army
of the importance of using infantry in close
co-operationwith tanks, and tank divisions
include an infantry regiment in BMPs, seen here on
winter exercises. TheSovi'els have recently begun
to take an ominous intercst in Arctic combat.

? =t
.'.._. 4t
- r1- l'
: ::--:

The single motorized rifle regiment of the tank fire support. Their crews are provided with protec- Roaring out of blazing forest, thisT-62 keeps its
fully stabilized I 15-mm grun trained on the target.
division has a regimental HO, three motorized rifle tion from small arms fire, shell splinters and NBC
The contemporary of the US M60 series, the T-62
battalions, a single 122-mm 2S1 self-propelled attack. They can be brought into and taken out of
ftas seen m uch action in the Middle East. Although
howitzer battalion, anti-tank and anti-aircraft batter action much more quickly to enable fire support to being replaced in theRedArmy by theT-7? and
ies, service and supply platoons, and single com- be provided rapidly after the vehicle comes to a halt. theT-\1, itremains aformidable MBT andwill
panies of reconnaissance, engineer, signals, che- Two of the self-propelled artillery battalions have continue to sewe in both T ank and Motor Rifle
mical defence, motor transport, maintenance and the 122-mm 2S1 self-propelled howitzer, which is Divisionsfor manyyears to come.
medical troops. The motorized rlfle reglment has a also known as the M1974 in the West, while the
total complem ent of 2,225 officers and men other battalion has the 152-mm (6-in) 2S3 which is
Each of the three motorized rif le battalions has a often called the M1973. Each artillery battalion has a The division also has a single FROG battalion
battalion HO. three motorized rifle companies, a battalion HO plus HO platoon, a supply and mainte- which has a battalion HO plus HO battery and two
mortar battery with six '1 2O-mm (472-in) towed nance platoon, and three howitzer batteries each firing batteries each with four launchers for the
with six weapons. The artillery battery has battery FROG-7 surface-to-surface rocket, or the more re-
mortars, an automatic grenade-launcher platoon
with six of the new AGS-17 weapons, a repair work- HO plus HO platoon and two firing platoons each cent and long-range SS-21 misslle. These weapons
with three weapons. The target-acquisition battery are normally fitted with a tactical nuclear warhead,
shop, a medical aid station and supply and com-
munications platoons. has a battery HO, two surveillance radar sections, a so it is assumed that permisslon for their launch
Each motorized rif le company has a company HO meteorological survey section, a radar section and must come f rom a higher level and not rest with the
plaloons lor sound rang ng, reconnaissance, com- divisional commander. The battalion also has four
with one BMP and three motorized riile platoons,
municatrons and topographic survey. missile resupply vehicles. ln the case of the older
each of the latter having three BMPs. The motorized
rifle regiment has a total of 108 BMPs. lf the divisional commander wants to put a mas- FROG-7, each carries three missiles whlch are
sive amount of firepower onto target in the shortest loaded onto the FROG-7 launcher with the aid of its
The artillery regiment has an HO battery, three
battalions of artillery, a target-acquisition battery, possible time, he can call upon the servlces of the onboard crane.
single multiple rocket launcher battalion. This has an The surface-to-air missile regiment has a regim-
rnotor transport, maintenance and medical com-
panies, plus a supply and servlce platoon. Until the HO plus HO platoon, service battery and three firing ental HO, target-acquisition and technical batteries,
batteries each of which has slx 122-mm 4O-round motor transport and malntenance companies and
1970s all artillery of the Soviet army, apart from
speclalized assault guns which have now almost BM-21 multiple rocket launchers, each mounted on five 54-6 'Gainful' firing batteries. Each of the last
the rear of a cross-country truck. Thls launcher can comprises two missile{iring platoons each wrth two
disappeared from f ront line servlce, were towed. ln
fire a full salvo of rockets in a few seconds and will three-round SA-O launchers. Thls is not the only air
recent years self-propelled weapons have been in-
troduced in Iarge numbers, and these have a num- then move to another position to be reloaded manu- defence capability of the tank divislon, however, as
ally, which takes about 10 minutes. lf the rocket aircraft and helicopters can be engaged by the roof-
ber of signif icant advantages over towed weapons.
They have a much greater cross-country speed, launchers remained ln the same position after they mounted 12.1-mm (0 5-in) heavv machine-guns of
allowing them to keep up with the tanks and other had fired thelr rockets they would soon be found by the tanks, the mach ne-guns fitted to the self-
enemy location radars and engaged by art llery. The propelled artillery weapons and other armoured
armoured fighting vehicles they have to supply with
BM-21's rockets are normally fitted with HE war- vehicles, and SA-7 rGrail' man-portable SAMs
heads, but smoke or chemical can also be fitted. Each tank and motorized rifle regiment also has
four SA-9 'Gasktn' surface-to-air missile systems on
the BRDM-2 4x4 chassrs, and also fourof the highly
The venerable T-54 and the similar T-55 still serve effective 7Su-23-4 self-propelled anti-aircraft 23-
in some divisions.Owing totheir eminently mm gun systems. The threat of the 54-6 forces
sensible policy of not scrapping serviceable aircraft to operate at relatively low Ievel, where they
vehicles,- the Soviets do not have to risk expensive encounter the ZSU-23-4 and SA-7s
modern tanks fighting ill-armed guerrillas in Details of the reconnaissance, engineer, slgnals,
Afqhanistan, where T-54155s are perfectly rnotor transport, maintenance, chemical defence
aieouate. The T- 54/ 5 5 tvpifies the older
and medical battalions are given in the second part
oendration of Soviet lanks, crudely built and
but carrying a big gun and of this study, which covers the motorized rifle divi-
produced in massive numbers, over 50,000 being sion, as their organization and equipment are iden-
built. tical n botn types o' d v,s on.