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Volume 9 Issue 97

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Richard Hook der of British Land Forces during the
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f[achine-Guns
of ttbrldm
WorId War I differed in kind and. degree ftom any previorts IndianArmy soldiers in France fire a
Hotchkiss Mk I from a positionvery
haman conflict. It was the first true industrtal wat, in which like the sangars of the NorthWest
more men were killed in battle than ever before , The two Frontier. The strip feed used on the
Hotchkiss machine-gun can be
patamount weapons wete artillery and - the scoutge of clearly seen, as can the cooling fins
no -man's land - the mac hine' gun. around the barrel.

During World War I the machine-gun dominated the battlefields in a situation in which relatively mobile rnfantry could supply a lair propor-
manner now drfflcult to comprehend. In fact it would be safe to say
that is tlon of their own fire support where and when it was most needed Even
that the machine-gun dictated the very way in which World War I was so, it should not be forgotten that despite aU the dreadful success of the
fought, and this dominance of a tactical sltuation by a stngle weapon machine-gnrn it was the arrival of the tank that finally did away with the
spurned the devetopment of novel weapons to counter that same mincing-machine apparatus of trench warfare on the Western Front
machine-gun, Included in this study are some superb examples of machine-gnrn
Throughout World War I miiitary planners sought desperately to design, ranging from the magnificent Vickers machine-gnrn and the
overcome the power of the machine-gun. Time and time again pro- sturdy PM1910 to the dreadful Chauchat. A11 the weapons included here
longed artillery bombardments battered an enemy defensive system used some mechanical devices that tested the skills of designers and
until it seemed that nothing could survive, but every time the hapless metallurgists alike, and the results were often technical marvels of their
infantry moved forward from thetr trenches there seemed always to be a day, Many of the weapons mentioned here would stlll be viable in any
machine-gun that could prevent further proqress. Thus it was that the form of combat were it not for the fact that they have been replaced by
artlilery destroyed while the machine-gnm krlled But in tactical terms new and yet more powerful generaiions of weapons,
many oithese machine-guns were large and heavy weapons that could
not be moved easlly or rapidly, and a new family of lighter machine-guns French and British soldiers operate together, with aHotchkiss mle 1900 ready
was devised even as the war continued. It was these light machine-guns to provide fire supporL This l91B scene reflects the return to mobile warfare
that were partly able to break the pattern of static emplacements and which preceded the end ofthewar and atlastbrought the machine'gun outof
massed frontal assaults, by allowing the evaluation of a new tactrcal the trenches. I t would have been inconceivable only six months before'
Hotchkiss mle 1909
in the years up to l9l4 the French army
,',rastrained in the tenet that the attack
rr the offensive) was the key to victory
-n any future war, The infantry and
:avalry were trarned to attack at all
-rmes, overcominq any opposition by
:he force oftheir onslaught and by their
leterminatron. ln this' optrmistic sce-
lario the machine-gun hardly fea-
:ured, but at one point in the early
i900s rt was thouqht that some form of
hght Hotchkiss machine-qnrn would be
:seful for cavalry units, and mrqht also
be portable enougrh for attackinq in-
:altrymen to carry.
The result ofthrs sugqestron was the
Fusil-mitrailleur Hotchkiss mle 1909,
.vhich used the basic gas-operated
mechanism of the larger Hotchkiss
machine-qnrns, thouqth for some reason
:he ammunition feed was complicated ly tanks such as the British 'Female' Above : T he Hotchkiss mle I 909 was Below : A drummet of the I / 7 th
i:rther by inversion of the ammunition tanks with their all-machrne-gnrn arma- used by the French, the British (as the Lancashire Fusiliers demons trates a
.eed strip mechansm, When u was in- ment, and the little Renault FT17. On Hotchkiss Mk 1) and also by the US Hotchkiss Mk 1 to newly-arrived US
roduced the cavaly units did not take the tanks the ammunition feed strips Army,who knew itas the Ben6t-Merci6. Army soldiers in F rance in M ay I 9 I L
io the weapon at all and it proved to be sometimes limited the traverse avail-
-co hearry for infantry use, so the num- able inside the close confines of the
bers produced were either relegated tank mountings, so many guns, espe-
:o use in fortificatrons or stockpiled, cially those of the British, were con-
However, export sales of the mle ]909 vefied to use the three-round linked
-,!ere more encouraging for the strips intended for use on the larger
,veapon was adopted by the US Army Hotchkiss mle 1914, Some of these
',"ho knew it as the Ben6t-Merci6 Qruns were slill in British army use in
Machine Rifle Model 1909; it was used i939, and more were later taken from
mainly by cavalry units. the stockpiles for use as airfield de-
When World War I began the mle fence weapons and for arming mer-
-909 was once more taken from the chant shrpping,
stockpiles, and it was even adopted by The mle 1909 was one of the first
:he Britrsh army as the 0.303-in Gun, light machine-guns, but rt had little im-
Machine, Hotchkiss, Mk in an I pact at the time, although tt was used in
ailempt to get more machine-gmns into quite large numbers. Its main dis-
sen.ce, The mle 1909 was produced in advantage was not so much a technical
:ie United Kingrdom chambered for difficulty as a tactrcal problem, for the
-:e British 7.7-mm (0.303-in) cartridgre tactics involved in trench warfare of
=rd in British use many were fltted the period and the lack ofappreciation
',',rrh bipod in place of ihe
a butt and a of the potential of the weapon never
:lgnnal small trrpod located under the gave the mle 1909 a chance to shine,
:3nlre of the gun body, As a tank weapon it made its mark on
However the mle 1909 was not des- history, but it was less successful as an
to be used. very much in the tren- aircraft gmn, the feed strip mechanism
-ed
lres: the ammunition feed was a con- proving a deflnite drawback in an
::ant source of troubles and gradually open aircraft cockpit,
-:e Hotchkrss was diverted to other Lengths: overall 1. 19 m (46 BS in); second
:s:s. The mle 1909 in its several forms Specification barrel600 mm (23.62 in) Rate offire: (cyclic) 500 rpm
::came an aircraft gun and rt formed Fusil-mitrailleur Hotchkiss mle 1909 Weight: l 1.7 ks (25, B lb) Feed: 30-round metal strip
:e marn armament of many of the ear- Calibre: B mm (0,315 in) Muzzle velocity: 7 40 m (2,428 fI) pet

ff ii[icnmss medium machine-suns


gnrn: this consistedof flve prominent
'douqhnut' collars around the end of
the barrel closer to the receiver
These rinqs (sometimes brass and
sometimes steel) enlarged the surface
area of the barrel at the point where it
became hottest and thus provlded
greater cooling.
For operatrng, gas was tapped off
from the barrel and used to push back
a piston lo carry out all the vartous
extractrng and reloadrnq operattons. It
was a system that worked well and
reliably, and was soon to be used rn
one form or another by many other
machine-gnrn designers, The weapon
had its first exposure to action during
the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, in

French and British infantry at the


Battle of the Aisne in I 9 I 8 in the
follow-up to theAllied advance. The
gun is a Hotchkiss mle I 900 mounted
on the mle l9I6 tripod, with
ammunition boxes close to hand
behind the gunner. To the left of the
gun are two ammunition handlers
ready to assist.
Easily recognized by the large
doughnut cooling rings around the
barrel, the Hotchkiss mle 1914
bec ame the s t andard F re nch heavy
machine-gun of WorldWar I.
Although heavy, it was well made
and generally reliable, butthe strip
feed sometimes gave trouble. I t fired
an 8-mm (0.3 I S-in) round.

which it performed well enouqh


though one feature drd cause trouble,
This was the ammunition feed, the
Hotchkiss using a method whereby the
rounds were fed into the qun mounted
on metal strips; originally brass strips
were used, but these were later re-
placed by steel strips. These strips
carried only 24 or 30 rounds, which
severely limited the amount of sus-
tained fire that could be produced, On There were some variattons on the used mainly by the French army dur- Calibre:B mm (0,315 in) -ca::=-
the mle 1914 this was partly overcome basic design. Versions for use rn for- ing World War I, but in 1917 large Lengths:overall 1.27 m (50 in):
by redesigrning the strip system to qtive trficatlons had a downwards 'V'- numbers were handed over to the 775 mm (30,51 in)
three-round strips linked toqether to shaped muzzle attachment that was American Expedrtionary Force when Weight: gnrn 23.6 kq (52.0 ]b)
form a 249-round 'belt'. Even in this supposed to act as a flash hider, and it arrived in France. The Americans Muzzlevelocity:7Z\m(2 379 n i.:
form the strips were prone to damage several types of tripod were in use continued to use them until the war second
and any dirt on them tended to cause during World War I, includinq a mle ended, Rate offire: (cyclic) 400-600 rpr:
jams. The feed mechanism was thus 1897 mounting that had no provision for Feed: 24- or 30-round strip, or 2.i3-
the weakest point in an otherwise relt- traverse or elevation, Specification round strip in 3-round links
able and serviceable design, The Hotchkiss machine-gn-rns were Mitrailleuse Hotchkiss mle l9l4

m Et",,"t"t
Officially known as the Fusil-
Mitrailleur mle 1915, the Chauchat or Below: A Prench soldier fully attteci
CSRG rs one of the more unpleasant in lris horizon bleuuniform and
weapon production stories of World greatcoatholds his Chauchat in the
\ffar L It was intended as a light prescribed dfill bookmanner foruse
machine-gun, and was created by a in the assault.
commission of desiqners in 1914, the
result beingr a longr and awkward
weapon usinq a mechahism known as
'long recoil' in which the barrel and
breech block moved to the rear after
firrng, the barrel then berng allowed to
move forward while the bolt is held
and released later to feed the next
round. This mechanism works, but 1s
rather complicated and the movement
rnside the gun makes aiming difficuit,
The Chauchat was apparently tn-
.ended for ease of manufacture, but
-r.-hen the desiqn was rushed into pro-
irctron in 1915 its manufacture was
:-red out to a large number of firms, The Fusil-Mitrailleur mle I I I 5 or
s:n-ie of whom had vtrtually no 'Chauchat'was one of theworst
',','=apon-manufacturrng experience. machine-guns ever built andwas
,:e result was a horror, for many reviledby thesoldierswho had to
:,:rufacturers used the Chauchat useitin action.
:-:.ply as a means of making maxlmum
;::it and so used cheap and unsuit- 7.62-mm (0,3-in) cartridqe; this model so many parhamentarians and indus-
materials that either wore out had a vertical box maQlazine instead of trialists were involved that the whole
-.: the french half-moon magazlne. al{air gradually hzzled out.
;:-:idy or broke in action. Even when
--:: ::.iaterials were suttable the service Neither of these versrons proved to be Most references state that the
-,-=:sr.ns of the Chauchat were still any better in American hands than Chauchat rn all rts forms was one of the
:.r ihe weapon handled badly and they were in French hands, The Amer- worst machine-gnrns of World War I in
.=---:r:C to jam at the sliqhtest excuse, icans often srmply cleared jams by all aspects, From basrc desigrn to
-:= :alf moon maqazine under the throwrng the jammed weapon away manuJacture and the materrals used it
:::,- Crd little to make the weapon and takrng up a rifle, especrally when was a disaster, but what now appears
=--:r :o caffy, and the light brpod was the rechambered weapons reached worse is the fact that the whole progT-
tr ,-j=y that rt bent very easily, The their ranks. The American cartrtdqe ramme was not controlled at all, The
::=:-:: soldrers hated the weapon, was more powerful than the French result was that many soldiers suffered
::---.- -arer proclarming that the manu- B-mm (0.315-in) round and made the from having to use the weapon while
::: -::.s gEeed for proflts had caused gun components break even more others pocketed the proflts their greed
--= ::::s of many French soidiers, as raprdly. had generated.
=,- :-: doubt had. In the end exsting production con-
- :-::-lnately, the manufacturers tracts were allowed to run their Specification
r:r- :-:: alone in therr search for course, but the resultant weapons Chauchat
T=:;,,:- ploductton proflts When the were usually stockpiled to be dragqed Calibre:B mm (0,315 in)
-r---=:-:a:s entered the war some out and later dumped upon unsuspect- Lengths: gun 1.143 m (45.0 in); barrel
: :=-:: l:L'icrans prevailed upon the ing post-war markets, In France some 470 mnr (lB 5 in)
-:
-i-*-r:::--.-
:. adopt the Chauchat and parliamenLary rnvesLrgations were Weight: 9,2 kq (20 3 lb)
-:---:!€aling Amerrcans aqreed. made into. the Chauchat affair in an Muzzle velocity: 7OO m (2 297 ft) per
,
-:=-i ---=---6 over 16,000 chauchats attempt to determrne exactly how the second
r-: : L9.0OO were ordered of a production contracts were placed and Rate of fire: 250-300 rpm
:-r ----:-:-::
r:-:r bered for the American where the proflts ended, but by then Feed:20-round cu rved box magazine
Lightl'lachine-Gun
Taclics 1915-1918
The first machine-guns were not the most mobile of weapons,
being emplaced in battle rather like pieces of artillery. It did
not tike long for the troops on the Western Front to appreciate
how effective a machine-gun could be, advancing with them
intobattle, and so the light machine-gunwas born.
When World War I started the light machine-gun was virtually unknown Belg.ian
lroops did carry into action a number of Lewls Guns, but these were used at that
iirir eiactty the same way as conventional heavy machine-guns, ie' they
weie Caietutty emplaced before an action and used to provide supporting or
coverino fire. As the troops moved forward into an attack the mach'ne-guns
iiu*J
- ir1reie thev were,'beinq considered too heavy to be carried forward.
1'.it waj unfortunate, for in"the Lewis Gun the Belg;ans had an excellent
nfantry weapon that was quite capable of taking on a new role This new role
*al in'OiCarcjO during 1915 when the first of t6e setpiece attacks along the
German lines beganlwith their massive artillery overtures and the subsequent
c*tuiion and ca"rnage when the planned infantry attacks stalled either on the
UiiO"i wi* or in fro"nt of emplacbd heavy machine-guns. At times like these
th.;;;;a no way in which'the infantry could get-themselves out of their French infantry operate in theVosges mountains, with the unfortunate soul in
predicament. Usini their rifles alone they could rarely produce enough firepow- the foreground carrying a Hotchkiss mle ! 900 on his back; others would haue
er to make an eneiry machine-gunner keep his head down, and there was no to carry the tripod and the boxes of ammunition strips. Note that all have rifles
*av tnal artillery or machine-gui support could b-e called upon, for radio was in or carbines to carry aswellwhilemostcarry their packs'
ts infancy and telephone wires were soon cut. For thls reason all anlllery a.no
machine-iun fire pian support had to be prepared beforehand using rigid fire
plans on 5 timetable basis. lf an enemy machine-g-un intervened there was no
iulvinv supporting f ire could be diverted from the Tire plan, and the'poor bloody
niantrv'thus had to suffer.
Fire support
But by the end of '1915 the first inklings of how.supporting machine-gun.fire
coutO n6 produced to counter this problem had been suggested pY a few
'orward-lobking officers. lt was 1916 before their ideas came to the hardware
stage: the oveiall solution to the crossing of no man's land was of course the
'eni- nrt an interim solution was found-with the service introduction of the
Lewls Gun. This had been adopted by the British army for economic rather than
t*ti"ll r"rrons; the expanding Briti3h armies clearly, had to be equipped with
rnachine-guns, and it was found that f ive or six Lewis G uns could be churned out
n the rim"e thai it took to produce one of the heavier and more complex.Vickers
.nachine-guns. lnitially thbre were four Lewis Guns to a battalion, to. replace^the
v,Jkerj m"achine-gund that had been passed to the newly-formed Machine Gun
Coros. Bv mid-19"16 Lhis allotment had been increased to eight, and a month
aiei a f uriher four were added. By the end of 1916 there was one Lewis Gun to
:verv four olatoons, and by tne ehd oi the war every lwo platoons shared one
-ewi's Gun'. By thattime there were even four Lewis
Gr-rns in every.battalion
Cedicated to the anti-aircraft defence role. This rapid growth in numbers was
rrsned tnrouoh bv a realization that in the Lewis Gun thelong-sulfering lntantry
cartal'ons could h'ave their own local fire support weapons. No longer did the
nfantry have to rely upon Vickers machine-guns emplaced away to the rear tor
ccal fiie suooort. lf a iarqet presented itselitne Lewis gunners operating right
:p .n the f 16nt lines witfitne first waves of in+antry.were on tne spot to throw
ihemselves down and open fire right away ln this way isolated pockets ot
'esistance left behind by the artlllery bombardment could be overcome as
r-i.ltu oossible. Somb units even devised a drill whereby the Lewis Guns
"s forward by two men n the first wave ol attackers One man held
,vere moved
-nu Le*t Gun by looplhg his arms around the barrel. The other man fired the
crn at anvthino ihat'pre"sented itself. ln this manner the gun could be fired
lv rnout tl-Le gu"nner hiving to adopt the prone position and fire could also be
--cened up all the more raPidlY.
B-r rheie [actics were not universal. Despite the [irepower potential of the
-ewis Gun, the men that used gunnersit were just as vulnerable to enemy tire as.the
lest, and alt too often tne Lewis were arrong the f rrst to be picked o{,l by
:- e ca ref r,lly-emplaced def endeis. ln t;me the inf an lry.tactics changed: they had
:c, for men werei simply not able to walk through a hail of enemy fire to carry out
:- attac<. lnstead of proceed'ng forward in a sedate manner, the ln'antry lnsteao
rlopted a method whereby sniall sections of men rushed f orward one after the
:...,er As each section moved fonrvard the other sections provided covering f ire
-.e'the trench system be,ng attac<ed. The French adopted this rnethod-at-ter
In '1916
. - -er ng 'rom its ef fects when it was used bV the Germans at Verdun
Above: This lndian cavalrwan is
seen ashe wouldhavebeenon the
Western Front during I 9 I 4' 5. The
Lewis Gun was ideal for use with
cavalry as itwas relativelY light.

Left: The German MG 0 I / I 5 was an


air - coole d machine- gun d eve lope d
from experience gained during
WorldWar L Designed bY
Rheinmetall, it had an' all-in-line'
layout and a novel form of locking
mechanism.
Machine-Guns of World War I

Above:Any enemy aircraftllyingwithin range of this array of LewisGuns


wouldhavebeen in tor a nasty shock.These IndianArmy guns are shown
somewhere in Mesopotamia and are fitted with 47-round magazines. Some
have slings for ease in carrying their I I .8 kg (26 lb) bulk.

Above: A section of the Gordon


Highlanders is seen in action during
March I 9 I 8 near the Somme, with
their LewisGun beingused in the
classic supporting fire role. The
figrure in the tree is probably spottng
for targets for the Lewis team and
shouting down fire corrections.

The British were reluctant to assume this form of tactics mainly because of the Above: The MG 08/ 15 was converted
overall poor standard of training they were able to provide for their mass armies, from its aircraft role for the ground
cut gradually the soldlers themselves devised methods for the mutualsupport role duringWorldWarll, again a
cf sections by other sections. lt was here that the Lewis Gun came into its own, carry-over from World War I when
=orthe firepower potential of the weapon was such that a single Lewis Gun many weapons wer e similar ly
:ould assume the support role of a whole section of riflemen. Thus infantry converted. This conversion involved
sections reached the point where a single Lewis Gun team of two men could the fitting of a light hipod and a
:cver the forward progress of almost an entire platoon. rudimentary hutt, but the end result
As ever, by this time the Germans were already one stage ahead. They had was notvery successfu/.
:een the recjuirements for a portable machine-gun as early as '1915 and had
:evrsed the MG 0B/15 Maxlm gun for a new array of infantry tactics- Using R ig ht: A S chiit ztruppen NC O holds

:rcerience gained on the Eastern Front, the Germans had already designed a an ammunitionbox for hisMG 08. A
-:!v systeri of infantry warfare employlng the same balanced mutual fire critical shortage of artillery made the
.-cpori role that had been tentatively evolved by the Allies. However, the machine-guns of theGerman armyin
l:-manstookitonestagefurther. Realizingthatinfantryalonecouldnothopeto East Africa doubly important.
.: (e control of Western Fronl trench system, they did nol even attempt to take
a
. :-ench by storm. Instead the German infantry were divided up into small
=-.aJ t teains that were trained simply to pass around any strongpoints they
-^-::rs
l^t encounter: so rather than attempting to attack any defensive emplace-
that might be in their path, they moVed away to the flanks and filtered
-:
--C into the iear areas. Once there they could disrupt the movement of men
.-:--crsrpplies to the forward trenches, attack command posts and generally
:: ihe enemy's rear areas. lf necessary, troublesome strongpoints could be
.: ,:<ed from the rear.
- :^'s type combat the light machine-gun had many roles to play. The most
:::1ant.wasofstill that of providing supporting or covering fire while the other
: : :: :.s moved, but the Germans' activities were hampered by a shortage of
: -3 i 5s. Supply of this weapon could not meet demand, so captured Lewis
. - - . ,', ere pressed into German use. Stretcher bearers became involved in this
---:::s of obtaining enemy weapons, some units ordering their stretcher
::r':-s :c carry bactito the rear as many Lewis Guns as they-could find on the
:... =' :ii, each one carried on a stretcher along with a casualty.
: . -i- E iight machine-guns were being used in defence as well as attack. As
-= .:--an-army fell back during the later months of '19'1 B it worked out a
-- - - : :,'. rereby.small light machlne-gun teams were used to cover the with-
- . .. :' :'rch lirger bod'les of men. At times a single MG 0B/1 5 would be used
: - - :,: :,..vhole battalion advancing across open ground, the gun team simply
::- --: -: and carryrng its gun away to the rear, ready for another holding
-,,- : :: ::rn as the Allied assault forces came uncomfortably close to their
::] ':
Tf Saint-Etienne

Above : The F rench mle I 907 w as a


s tate-produ ced m achine- gun
intended to improve upon the basic
Hotchkiss designs. /t was /ess
successfu/, ma ny being sent to the
colonies or relegated to fortress use.

anything it could obtain The tribula-


tions of the mte 1907 simply had to be
borne, and as late as 1916 attemPts
were made to eradicate some of the
more obvious faults None of the mod-
ifications was ofany use, and gradually
the mle 1907s were phased out in
favow of the far more reliable Hotch-
kiss gnrns, The mle l9O7s were shunted
offto the French colonies, where they
were used to arm local levies and
police units Others were issued to for-
tress units.
AIl in all the Saint-Etienne was not a
successi indeed, it even carrted over
the failinqs from other models. The mie
1905 Puteaux had already lndicated
the impracttcahty of some of the mle A mle 1907 St Etienne machine-gun prove that Paris was able to defend
1907's features, and the troublesome team posesfor a pubiiciU itself again:st German air raids. The
ammunition feed strip method of the photograph on one of the levels of mle I 907 was no more successful in
Hotchkiss guns was adopted even the EiffelTower in an attempt to this role than itwas in any other.
when it was known that it should have
been phased out rn favour of a better Specification Weight:25.4 kq (56,0 ib)
method. The result was that ln the Mitrailleuse SaintEtienne mle 1907 Muzzle velocity: 700 m (2,297 ft) per
dreadful conditions of the Western Caiibre: B mm (0,315 in) second
Front trenches the Saint-Etrenne often Lengrths: gn-rn 1.1B m (46.46 rn); barrel Rate offire: 400-600 rpm
failed, 710 mm (27,95 in) Feed: 24- or 30-round metai strip

flro*ninsr MtgIT
=
-:-rnost as soon as the Colt-Browninq
I.lcdel iB95 was in production, Brown-
j,E was already at work on a recoil-
:perated weapon, Unfortunately for
3l:wning, at that trme the American
:jlrtary authorities had no interest in
:-7 more machine-gruns: lhey consi-
jered they had enougrh already, and
funds to purchase more were
=-)'way
-:','; Thus virtually nothing happened
'ri1l 1917 when the USA found itself at
','.-ar
w'lth few modern weapons and
:-,-en fewer serviceable machine-
;::s In a very short space of time the
:-ew' Browning machine-qun was
::dered into production in large num-
c:rs as the Machine-Gun, Caliber.30,
M19I7
Erternally the M1917 resembled
:--ler machrne-gnrns of the time, espe-
:-aily the Vickers Gun. In fact the
I.l-317 was qurte different: it used a
::::nanism known as the short recoil
i.-::em, rn which the recoii force pro-
:::ed on fuing the cartridge pushes
:ack the barrel and breech block to
The Colt Model I I I 7 was the fust of
m any successful B rowning- designed
machine-guns that are in use lo lfijs
day. Chambered for the American
a 30 - in (7.6 2 -mm) cartridge, they
'were used by the US Army in France.

a:;
Browning M 1917 (continued)

the rear of the gn-rn; after the barrel and The M1917 was rushed into produc weapons that were issued to the Amer-
bolt have travelled back together for a tion at several manufacturing centres ican troopst up until then all they had
short distance, the two cbmponents and was churned out in such numbers from home were therr Springfieldrifles
part and the barrel movement rs that by the time the war ended no less and a tew other sundry items lt was
halted; a swingingr lever known as an than 68,000 had been made, Not all of lusl as well thal rhe M1917 lurned out to
accelerator then throws the bolt to the these reached the troops in France, be an excellent weapon desrqn.
rear, and as it travels a series of cams but after 19lB the M1917 became one
move the belt feed mechanism to in- of the standard American heavy Specification
sert another round. a return spnng machine-gn-rns and remained in ser- MI9I7
then pushes forward the bolt to the vice untrl well after World War IL Also Calibre:7.62 mm (0 3 in)
barrel and the whole assembly is then after 19lB some sligrht alteratrons were Lengrths: gun0.981 m i3B 64 in-;; barrel
returned for the cycle to start again. introduced as the result of combat ex- 607 mm (23.9 in)
This bastc mechanism was retained for perience but these chanqes were Weights: qun less water 14,79 kg
all future Browmng machtne-gun de- slight, More drastic changes came af- (32.6 1b), tripod 24 I kq (53. 15 tb)
signs, from the air-cooled 7 6}mm ter 19lB when the water cooling lacket Mwzlevelocity: 853 m (2,800 ft) per
(0.3-in) to the large 12,7-mm (0.5-in) M2 was removed altogtether to produce second
weapons the M1919, Rate of fire: 450-600 rpm
One component that differenttated in sewice the M1917 proved to be Feed: 250-round belt
the M1917 from the Vickers machine- relatively trouble free, and desptte the
qnrn (apart from the internal workings) rush with which it was placed in ser- Completely unpreparedfor a major
was the firing grip the Vrckers used vice few problems appear to have conflict, the US Army was compelled
two spade grips, but the M1917 used a been recorded. Relatively few M1917s to rely on Britain and France tor
pistol grip and a conventional trigger, actually reached France before the much of the equipment {or its
Close inspection between the two Armistice, but many were on their Expeditionary Force. One
types will soon reveal many other dif- way. Those which did arrive were ex- honou r able e x ception was the
ferences, but the pistol grrp is easily tensrvely used, for the Ml9i7s were Browning M I 9 I 7, a fine weapon
noticed. amonq the few purely-Amerrcan destined to enjoy a long career.

Colt-Browningr Model 1895


John Moses Browning started design
work on a machine-gun as early as
1889, at a time when ihe American
armed forces were still heavily in
volved with the hand-operated Gatlingr
Gun and when Maxim had already
patented his recorl-operated machine-
gmn Brownrng was thus directed to-
rards a gas-operated mechanism,
-,','hrch he grradually reflned untrl
it
reached the point where the Colt Pa-
.ent Flrearms Manufacturing Com-
pany built some prototypes, one of
';rich was demonstrated to the US
iiar1, It was lB95 before the US Nar,ry
:ecrded to purchase a batch cham-
::red for the Krag-Jorgensen 7.62-mm
, 3'in) cartrrdqe, but later thls was
.' :red to the ,30-06 cartridge that was
: ::main in use for two world wars.
r:e Colt-Browning Model 1895 was
- las-operated weapon that used
l=.:s tapped off from the barrel to
: .::- dorr" n a piston. Thts 'n turn
; --::ed down a lonq lever that s\&'ung
:=-:',', the gun body to operate the gun machine-guns. The Model 1895 did re- The Belgian and Tsartst Russian The Colt Model I895 was known to
- =-^:anism It was this lever that gave marn rn production for a whrle during armies used the Model 1895 throuoh- the troops as the 'potato digger'
-i-= -,',-eapon the nickname of 'potato
Worid War Ir productron was switched out World War I some of the Russ"ian because ofthe arm thatswung down
:. ;;:r'. for if the glr-rn was mounted Io the Mdrhn-Rockwell Corporarron, weapons being prominent during the under the bodywhen thegun was
--,-..'- .o the ground a small pit had to which modified the weapon by de political upheavals of 19 17, A few ofthe firing. This weapon was s till in us e
:- -.-:
r*J rnto whrch the lever could sigmng out the lever action and replac- Russian Model 1895s were strll beino when theAmericans entered thewar
-.:--:-i otherwise it would hrt the ino rr by a more orlhodox gas pLston used as late as lg4l in 1 9 I 7 and was used in France.
and cause stoppages. This system. The result was known as the
-:=
-::ack was partially offset by the Marlin Gun It resembled the Modei Weights: gun 16.78 ks (37 lc
:: :-1, being based on a mechanical ]895 but was much hghter and was a Specification 29.0 kq (64 ]b)
.;:r:-:n the movements were very bettel y,'s6p9n overall Many were Colt-Browning Model 1895 Muzzle velocity: B3B m (2 75i -
-=----.: and precise, and so able to produced lor the US Army a-r service Calibre: 7 62 mm (0 3 rn) second
' - -- -i:-:-:::munitlon
:: a srnooth and trouble-free ac- as aircraft weapons, and some were Lengrths:Qun 1.20 m(47.25 rn); barrel Rate of fire: 400-500 rpm
was fed into the produced to become the standard 720 mm (28,35 rn) Feed: 300-round belt
: :::-: -n 300-round belts, machine-gun for tanks produced in
. 1.1- lel lB95 first went into act-on
.- America. In the event the war ended
' '--
-,: US Marine Corps durrng the before many of the Marhn Guns could
- -: ::-npaign of 1B9B The US Army
=:-':=: reach the front in sizable numbers, and
, i a few, and some sales were the bulk of the production run was
--:r- : Seigium and Russia, By the stockpiled, only to be sold to the Un-
-=': - -,-, :rldWar I came aroundthe ited Kingdom for home defence rn
.::=, -::j','vas already regarded as 1940,
. -:: - = :*. srnce by that time the US
:-- ' ''- .::gely starved of funds to Despite its awkward underbody
:, --:-:::e modern weapons the Iever that swung down during firing,
- :=- -:::s ;;ere al1 that wele avali- the Colt Model I895 was selected for
, : - .,.: .-.=:: retained for training use as aweapon for early combat
r r r:,:<: tne lourney to France aircraft such as thisVoisin. This was
=-.: -:-3 cut few were used rn mainly due to its relatively light
---. ==i -reAmerrcans took weight and air-cooled barrel, though
-i-::r: :: French and British it was not used as such for long.
Hro*ning Automatic Rifle
-:r7 Browninq demonstrated two
-€
--
:,: r; automatic weapon desiqns to the
3.:::giress Ln Washington: one was the
,--:r-,1; machrne-gun that was to be-
::::e the M1917, and the other a
:',-:al>cn that ls still regarded by many
.. a:ybnd and which became known
-: ::: as the Browning Automatic Rifle,
:: BAR. The BAR was in an odd cateq-
:.; :br to many the weapon was a light
:::a:eine-gnrn but to the US ArmY it was
-- automatic rifle, in some waYS an
:::1v assault rifle, It was a light and
;,:::able weapon that could flre srngle
:::: cr automatic, and it could be car-
:,:i ald used by one man,
source of the 'hump' on top of the gun T he Br owning Au tom atic Rifl e, or
:.' early 19lB the BAR was in Pro- lenqth of bursts was strictly hmited As
a [jht machine-grurn the BAR was real- just rn front of the rear sights. For BAR,was a cross between a heavY
:-::-,ron at sevetal centres, but as colt machine rifle and a light machine-
:--=-i ihe Browning patents at that tlme ly too liqht, and as an automatic rifle it maintenance and repairs the BAR
was too large and heaw, could be rapidiy and easily stripped gun. Its magazine held onlY 20
prcduced the drawlngs and gauQles
--:.a: But the American soldiers took to the down to its 70 component Parts and rounds and therewasno biPod on
rhe other centres were to use lt the firstmodels. TheUS ArmYfound
-,r.s September l91B before the BAR BAR very well, no doubt as a relief reassembled just as easily.
-=:-,.:a11y reached the staqe where it from having to deal with the dreadful In the field the US Army devised it a very useful weapon and used it in
some combat drills for the BAR, One large numbers.
used rn action, but it made a
-,'.-rs Chauchat, Apart from the Springfield
:=rrendous rmpact on the American rifles, the BAR was one of the flrst 'all- that did not last long was a drill where-
s:iijers who soon qrew to value the American' weapons to reach them, by attacking infantry would fire one the assault-iype weapon role n had
'r;=apon highly, so hiqhly 1n fact that and no doubt they wanted to demons- shot every time the left foot touched been used for in the trenches.
trate the quality of American small the ground. In fact most ofthe tactical
-:,3]r were strll using the BAR during Specification
:-: Korean War of the 1950s. ExactlY arms, The BAR was certainlY an im- drills involving the BAR were formu-
-.',-:l'the Americans went so overboard pressive{ooking weapon. It was ex- lated after 1918, when the lessons of BAR
::grardrng the BAR was (and still is) cellently made, was provided with the few months of combat that the US Calibre:7,62 mm (0.3 in)
well-finished wooden furniture, and Army had to endure were analYsed, Lengrths: overall 1.194 m (47 in); barrel
:ai::er drfflcult to determine. The first
3iRs, as used in World War I, were was capable of taking hard knocks, Along with the drills the BAR itself 610 mm (24 in)
The mechanism was gas operated and changred by the addition of a bipod and Weight: 7,26 kq (16 lb)
s-rply hand-held weapons. There was Muzzle velocity: 853 m (2,800 ft) Per
:-c brpod or any form ofsupport for use so arranged that at the instant of firing a shoulder strap for carrytnq, and the
the mechanism was locked in place by BAR became more of a section support second
,';:en the weapon was fired on automa-
weapon that could deliver automatic Rate offire: (cyclic) 550 rPm
:: rr the prone position, and as the box the bolt engaqnq in a notch rn the top
flre rn support of rtflemen rather than Feed: 20-round box magtazine
:-agazrne held only 20 rounds the of the receiver. This notch was the

ffi vi"k"r, Gun


clear the weapon rapidly, These drills (usrng a hose fed into a water can) was
Specification
VickersGun
-:e UK was among the flrst to adopt
-:-e Maxim enrn followtng demonstra- took a bit of learmnq so in time a new introduced to conceal the steam, After Calibre: 7.7 mm (0,303 in)
Machrne Gun Corps was formed with- a while the water could be replaced in Lengths: qnrn 1,156 m (45.5 in); barrel
-:rc held in the country as earlY as
in the Britrsh Army so that experlence the jacket. 721mm(28 4 in)
-337. A manu-facturtng line for various Weights: gun tB, 14 kq (40 Ib); triPod
:::odeis was set up at Crayford in Kent and skitls could be conflned within a The Vickers machine-gun was
i:.'a company that came to be known relatrvely small body and not spread usually mounted on a heavy tripod, 22,0 kg (48.5 lb)
throughout all the regdments of the ex- Variatrons on the basic gnrn tncluded Muzzle velocity: 744 m (2,440 ft) Per
"q Vickers' Sons & Maxrm lrimited, and air-cooled versions for use on aircraft, second
::m this factory Maxim guns went to panding armies, The Machine Gun
-:-e Bntrsh armed forces and to manY Corps also raised its own espril de usually on fixed installations only, Rate offire: 450-500 rpm
Many more variations were produced Feed: 250-round fabric belt
::rer countries, The Vickers en- corps. and lhar enabled the machine-
gunners to use their weaPons wrth a between the two world wars, and the
:-reers realized the virtues of the Max- built
lrttle extra spint; their cap badqe was Vickers is still in sewice with some T his V ic ker s is an Ame r ican-
-:: Qtun but considered that some armed forces to this day; rt did not pass version mounted on the British Mk 48
',-.erght savings could be made bY a two crossed Vickers machine-gnrns.
r:Cesiqn, and by careful stress studles In actton a Vtckers could be kePt from British service until the i970s. The tripod.Itwas the standard British
firingt for as long as ammunitton could Vickers machine-gun was, in the opin- mAchine-gun and was eYen used as
::::ch of the mechanism was graduallY
be fed into it, The water in the coollng ion of many authorities, one of the best the b adge of the M achine -G un
..;:rtened and the basic action in- Corps, a formation whose very
-,-ened so that the togqle lock rnvented jacket had to be kept toPPed uP, and of all the World War I machine-guns,
ri Maxrm could be made lighter. after early experiences whete steam and would still be a verY useful cre ation unde rscor e s the
from the jacket gave way the gun's weapon today. impor tance of the m achine - gun
The result came to be known as the
Vickers Gun. In relative terms it was posrtion a special condenser system duringWorldWar I.
:-:: all that much lghter than a compa-
::ble Maxim machine-gun, but the
:peratinq principles were much re-
:red making the weapon more
:icient. It was approved for British
-ny service in November 1912 as the
Gun, Machine, Vickers,0.303-in, Mk I,
ali production imtially went to the
=d
::-Lrsh Army, where the machrne-qn-m
.'.
-r regarded wrth such suspicton
srLll
.:-a: the rate of rssue was only two per
i:-:rtry battalion,
lnce World War I stafied that allot-
:::=rt changed drasttcally. New Pro-
:l;tlon centres were soon oPened,
-r:=e of them located rn RoYal Ordn-
--:e Factories, but the basic desiqn
::r:aned unchanged throuQlhout its
-::,; productton 1tfe, The last Vickers
::-a-lne-gnur was very like the first
=1 :lalqes were confined to details
most machine-gmns of its period,
-<e
-:-: r-:ckers was subject to jams, most
:- -:em induced bY the ammunition,
::,i a senes of dllls were devtsed to
TheVickers in Actio
Hiram Maxim produced one of the most successful of early
machine-guns, variants equipping many of the armies taking
part in World War L The modified Maxim produced by
Vickers, still in service today, became one of the finest
machine-guns of the 20 th century.

When the first Vickers machine-guns entered service in 1907, few British army
officers knew exactly what to do with their new charges. Few appreciated the
potential power of the weapon, and those few who did were regarded as
eccentrics.
The initial rate of issue of the Vickers machine-gun was two to an infantry
battalion; few cava lry battalions took to the weapon and only a f ew ca rried them
across to France in 1 91 4. Once there they soon learned that the machine-gun
was a powerful weapon and the first to suffer were the cavalry units. A single
machine-gun hidden away on a distant horizon could keep an_entire cavalry
battalion Jmmobile for as long as it kept firing. The Battle of Loos further
reinforced the lesson for the British, and they-began to look at the Vickers
weapon in a dif [erent I'ght.
The Vickers machine-gun was developed f rom the earlier Maxim Gun. Vickers
had manufactured the Maxlm Gun at its Crayford factory in Kent, and although
the Maxim had sold very well to many customers, the Vickers design engineers
thought that they could improve upon the basic concept to produce a lighter and
more efficient weapon. This they did by reversing the Maxim toggle lock device
so that it opened upwards instead of downwards. This can perhaps be better
explained by going through the sequence of operations involved in the Vickers
short recoil mechanism.
At the moment a cartridge was f ired the toggle mechanism, formed f rom two
levers, was in an all-in-line position with the central hinge in line with both levers.
This gave the mechanism a very positive and strong lock, for the only way to
brealithe toggle joint was by an upward movement. This was not imparted at
the moment-df fiiinq, for the recoil forces tended to push the breech block (the
lock) backwards in a straight line. As the bullet left the muzzle the gases
expanded in a small muzzle chamber and forced back the barrel which in turn
provided more impetus for the breech block. Together they moved to the rear,
but as they did so the rear of the two toggle levers struck a fixed post, the lever
being so airanged that it was then pushed upwards. This broke the posrtive lock
and the breec6 could then move separately to the rear, taking with it the spent
case f rom the cha m be r. At the same time the reloading operation cou ld start: as
the breech block moved to the rear it placed a load on a spring known as the
f uzee spring, which would eventually return the breech block back to the original
position. Thiis operation would continue for as long as the trigger in front of the Seated in front of hisVickers machine-gun, with the tripod reversed to allow
firer's spade grips was pressed. the barrel to be elevated for anti-aircraft use, this Anzac soldier is taking a
Prolonged firing made the barrel very hot, so it was cooled by water contained quick break. Using the Vickers in this role couldbe successfu I - Australian
in a metal jacket around the barrel. This jacket held 3.98 litres (7 pints) of water, soldiers claimed responsibility for shooting downvon Richtofen's Fokker
which would boil after three minutes of sustained f ire at the rate of 200 rounds triplane.
per minute. At first this boiling assisted the cooling process as minute air
bubbles helped to carry the heat away from the barrel, but soon the heat caused Despite the water cooling system the barrel had to be changed every '1 0,000
the water to evaporate as steam. ln the early days this was allowed to escape rounds. As it was possible to fire 10,000 rounds in an hour it often became a dr
from the top of the jacket, but it was soon noticed that the cloud of steam_gave that in action a barrel was replaced every hour on the hour. A well trained crei,"'
away the gun positibn and invlted retaliatory fire, so an easy solution was found cou ld accomplish this in about two minutes with no loss of water other than that
by diverting it via a flexible pipe into a can of water where it could condense which entered the barrel as itwas pushed in from the rear. ln fact rtwas this type
harmlessly-back to water and eventually be returned to the jacket. This last was of operation that led to the use only of specialists on the Vickers machine-gun. Al
important in areas where water was scarce. first men f rom ordinary battalions were asslgned to the weapons, but the neec

An Australian soldier demonstrates the drill-book method of packing a Vickers machine-gunners keep their gun in action during the altermath of a
Vickers machine-gun onto a packhorse or mule. The special harness carried a chemical attack inJuly 19I6. The primitive respirators of the time cau,seo'
complete machine-gun and tripod alongwith ammunition, water, spares and sevete restriction onvision butwere just adequafe. ivote l1le strap arou-Ilc:e
sighting equipment, even including spare barrels. barrel thatwas used for rapid movementin an emetgency.
TheViclers Gun t'lk l.
Rssight adiusting wheel
-- : - :Iedthe gunnertoalter
-
:-e -:-:e roto 1000 m (1,094
.:-:: !J:iarsVanedonSOme
-,:a:s :s ild the size of the
:: -:: -a ilieel

Sp.de grips Not used to hold


:-: ,:-- s:e3dy for firing, but
-:-: . -aCe a comfortable grlp
': -:-: ;irNer; the trlpod held
:_: :-_ s:eady

fring lever Connected to the


-::-: :-:ggerbya inkage. lt
r,:s a-essed by the gunner's
:- --.s :s they held the two
:a::: a- os

Ertmaltail of cocking lever


: -:: :€ :ne breech casing. lf a
:::a3:qe occurred the exact
:,:: : :. of this tall, and thus the
:":- rilcatedtothegunner
:-a :arse of the stoppage (e.9. a
- :'=; canridge)

Hinge of toggle mechanism Cocking lever handleThe


-- s3'cke upwardstoa lowthe gunner pul ed this back to
::(:: move backwards under iiranua iy load a cartridge from
:_= -' rence of the muzzle the be t intothe system readYto
fire the {irst round. lts position
aftera stoppage. combrned with
the leverta L cou d indlcatethe
stoppage cause
Barrel chamber, seen here
with a round n place ready Jor
Tumbler Paft of the actua fir ng firing. The thickened barrel
mecha nlsm; when the trigg er section covering the chamber
was moved bya inkage lrom mpinged on the breech block or
the firing, the tumbler moved lock to actuate the mechanism
upward to allow the firing pin to
move foMard and strike the holdLng the
cartridge primer elevatrngwhee and e evat ng
gear
ExtractorTh s cllpped overthe
rim of the carlridge case ready
to extract lt after firing as the
ock moved to the rear
Elevating wheel Th s raised
and lowered the ang e of
e evatlon ol the gun on the
trlpod

Socket allowing some sllght


degree of traverse for the gun
usual y effected bythe gunner
strlk ng the slde of the breech
casing with his hand to move
the qun a prec se amount ln
order to spread the arc of fire to
one side or the otheT

rd
=cr experience (not only in the actual servicing of the weapon but rts tactical use ammunition had to be carried over considerable distances by manpower alone.
resupply over prolonged periods) led to formation of the Machine Gu n Corps Once on site the ammunition could not be simply loaded lnto the gun. The
=^:
^ Octobei '1915. Gradually the heavy machine-guns assigned to divisions were rounds were supplied in metal cases that often held the ammunition in the form
:eallocated as companies of this new corps, and its ultimate importan-ce can be of small cardboard cartons each containing 'l 00 rounds, as being intended for
seen in the fact thbt when World War I bnded it contained 6,432 officers and use by many types of weapon (Lee-Enfield rifles, Lewis Guns and so on) and lt
was nbt possible to provide the rounds already loaded into theirfabric belts, and
'24,920 other ranks. These men gradually improved the art of using machine- this had io be done 6efore thev could be fed into the gun. This was often done by
f Jrs in battle by formulating proc-edures whereby they were fired not ln isola-
:-:r but as part of a mutuallv--supporting f ire plan. Stead:lv they improved these hand, which was a time-consuming process, though later a special loading
''e olans sb that at times ihe machine-gun fire plans resembled those of the machine was devised and issued.
lndeed, on occasions machine-guns were used to harass the enemy in So there was more to usinq the Vickers machine-gun in action than simply
':;li'ery.the same wav as artillerY. pressing a trigger and watchin-g the enemy tumble. In time the members of the
--cn -lowever, it was sbon discovered that if machine-guns were given,the task of Machine Gun
-Corps
became every bit as prof icient as their German counter-
:':i:ding prolonged fire support, they required not only hrghly trained crews but parts when ii came to using machine-guns in action, and were sometimes mucn
svstem. The V cr<ers macnine-gun could devour more imaginative rn the tactical use of their weapons.
= sc a ni"ohlv oroinized supolv An exariple of this can be found in the instance when 10 Vickers machin+
'--rniiion ati
prodigio,rs iate, and cons derable ammunition supplies had
guns of the 1 00th Machlne Gu n Company played their part ln the battle to secure
--::e;ore to be kept in ihe supply line at all times. One snag soo,n enco^untered
,'. as tnat of transpbrt: there were f ew places in the f ront lines of 1 91 4-B where Fliqh Wood on 24 Auqust 1916, as part of the battle now known as the Battle c'
vehicles bould get anywhere close to the forward trenches, so the th6 Somme. This wai a dour sloggihg match that lasted months under the mos:
=*cciv
Machine-Guns of World War I

Barrel iacket made from


Detail otfeed mechanism on corrugated pressed steel. Th s is
which the ammunition was fed the model desioned to beffted
into the gun from the right-hand to the Sopwith'i 72-strutter in
1 9'l 6. the ouvred batrel jacket
slde. Rounds were taken from
the fabric be t bya pawlthat allowing airto circulate. Ground
moved to and fro, actuated by a versions were water-cooled ;
connection to the lock the steam that was qulckly
mechanism produced was collected in a
tube and fed inta a candenser
can for re-use
Muzzle cup This was attached
to the barrel, and when gases
collected in the front cone they
pushed back the cone and barrel
to operate the breech
mecha nrsm

Front cone There were severa


different external shapes forthls
component, which collected
muzz e recoil gases and allowed
themto push back the muzz e
cup

The Vickers machine-gun used ffte gases produced on firing to


push back the barrel using a muzzle booster to trap more gas and
ass6t tfte opera tion. After a short distance the barrelwas return&
to its former position, but the breech mechankm used a toggle
affangement to move the breech block that extracted the spent
cartridge as it moved to the rear. A spring then returned everythitrg
back to its former position to continue fifinq. All parts were virtuallT
hand-made and very strong to ensure reliability and continud
operation under even the most stenuous conditions. Many of these
guns are still in use.
'i
r ;,"
.:l ,,, !U:"
-:* --l*'l* :-* -*'-*Ie-
r:":''rlconditions, with the British attacking most of the time. After an attack in mostly absorbed by the heavy tripod. From time to time he gave the s,ce --: :'
:ll* - .-cn Wood area it was noted that an earthwork known as Savoy Trench gun a sharp tap to move the barrel slightly to cover a wider area anc - =:,',
:t:-:i a good fire position that comrnanded the German front line about moments later another tap would move the barrel again.
:: - 12,000 yards) distant. lt was decided that the next foray on the German s;-: :'
-: -
When necessary the water in the coollng jackets was topped up witn
-r': -e would be supported bythe machine-guns of the 1 00th Company; once that so carefully stockpiled during the previous night. Barrels were c:3-j:l
-lr . -tf, been completed the inevitable German counterattackwould be halted every hour. All through the 12-hour period a party of men was kept brs'r -:, -:
ri r::3 ng the area behind the front-line trenches covered by machine-gun fire
-2 hours.
ammunition from the dump built the previous night to two men !\i.c tr {:::
-:
,a.r- loading machine in constant action. From the loading machine ancir^:':i-:,
i-:: a formidable fire plan called for considerable preparation. The night took the full belts to the guns. By the time the action ended the 10 c--: -::
J'F-:-::'re attack two infantry companies were needed to move forward the managed to fire just 250 less than one million rounds. Throughout:r 3: ::-:':
L- - -^ : on and the water for the guns. The guns were carefully emplaced and only two guns gave any trouble, one with a broken extractor pawl an: z'.--':..
lr-: -':ged under netting and made ready for the battle ahead. that had something wrong with its lock mechanism and so sufere: .=^a:-
-*. :-: a:tack went in the machlne-guns opened f ire and kept f iring for the next jams. All the stockpiled water had been consumed, and the guns hac 3^ . :?=-
I -:--s. At intervals the gunners were changed, along with the faithful kept gorng by use of the company water bottles and the cre\\'s :€-s:-:
irr:- - -- ::n numbers who were responsible for guiding the ammunition belts resources. But in the end it all worked. The enemy frontiine trencnes -a: :?:-
'iii: :-= tr-n to prevent them f rom twisting or dragging along the ground and so taken and the anticipated counterattack had not taken place, 'c' :-= : -: =
I,r, -r -: i'rt. The firer had little to do other than keep down the trigger reason that no German soldier could cross the area of ground bea:e- :. ---: = -=
tur'il+- :.e two spade grips; he could feel little of the firing recoil, which was of the 10 Vickers machine-guns of the '1 00th Machine Gun Ccr::-,
ib ov e : An Australian ArmY Vic kers Right: AVickers machine-gun is
::.achine-gun team engages a hidden in far m bu ilding s ne ar
, :','; - fly ing enemy aircraft. This Haverskerque during the Period of
; sually involved reversing the tripod relatively fluid w arfare that followed
:ead to provide the required barrel the German offensives of early I I I 8.
e:e','ation and some carewiththe As always, one man directs the
anmunitionfeed, but this anti- gunner's fire and another guides the
a.::craf t method could be highlY ammunition belt into the gun. T he
eliective against the German ground condenserlos e is fitted to the j acket.
a::ack aircraftwhich aqgeared in
"argenumbersin l,918.

Left: A sergeant of the Machine Gun B elow : V icke r s m ac hine - gun te am s


Corps uses /rjs Vickers machine-gun o per a te fr om s pec iallY' P reP ared
t close range (note the rearsight in positions som e w her e am ong the
rc 'down' position). He is personallY Flanders battlefields. This
rmed with a revolver, and on his photograph provides an indication
arm can be seen the machine-gun of the field conditions theVickers
proficiency badge, awarded onl7 to had to operate induringWorldWar
the most skilful machine-gunner who I, but the guns could absorb all
knew the V ickers b ac kw ar d s. manner of hard and mud-infesfed use
DENMARK
Machine-Guns of World War I
Madsen machine-guns
:-= =lst Madsen machine-grun was
;r:rtrced in Denmark by the Dansk
--.:-urTheSyndikat in 1904 and the last in
-::0 Madsen series was really a
-::g strrng of near-identical models
;:cduced rn a very wide array of
::hbres to suit the requirements of
:r.any export customers all around the
-,-;crld.
Although it was not fully reahzed at
-re time that the flrst were produced,
re Madsen 8-mm Rekytgevaer MI903
inachine-gun was one of the very first
ci the light machine-quns, and even
featured the world's first overhead box
magazine of its type. The weapon used
a unique operatingt prrnciple that has
been used in no other desrqn and
whrch even for its time was expensive,
complex and difflcult to manufacture,
Thrs was a system that used the Pea-
booy-Martinr hrnged block actron. an
actron familiar on small-calibre match
rifles What Madsen did was to convert
thrs essentially manually-operated ac-
rron to a lully a*tomalrc By usrng a
combination of the recoil plus the
movement of a plate moving on cams tained-fire role, but various types of used by both sides for early expen- The Madsen machine-gun was one of
and levers, the action opened and heavy tripod were produced, The ments in aircraft armament, although i1 the first light machine-guns, and
closed the hinged block, but as thrs more usual mounting was a brpod se- was soon passed over in favour ofother used a complex falling block locking
block had no integral bolt action (as cured just under the muzzle thougth weapons. It was also used in small sys tem. I t was produced in many
with a normal breech biock) a sepa- some models, including those for the numbers by German troops ex- calibres and models and was widely
rate rammer and extractor mechanrsm Danish armed forces, had a short perimentrng on the Eastern Front with used throughout World War I. This
had to be used. It sounds andwas com- pedestal under the barrel for resting Iheir Sturmtruppen tactics, and more versionwasusedfor awhile by the
phcated, bur the sysrem had one malor the barrel on parapets rn houses or were used by some of the Central British Army chambered for 0. 30 3- in
attribute and that was that rt worked fortrfications, A carryinq handle was European armies, again in small num- (7.7-mm) ammunition.
very reliably under a wide ranqe of often fitted. One feature that promoted bers only. When the tight machine-gmn
conditions and with all sorts of am- the Madsen's reliabihty was the type s concept became more widely Specification
munrtion, although rimmed ammu- exceilent manufacture usinq the best accepled rhe Madsen was investr- Rekytgevaer M I 903
nition such as the Brrtish 7.7mm materials available, which no doubt gated by many nattons, and the British Calibre: B mm (0.315 in)
(0.303in) was not so successful added to the overall costs. even attempted to use it in 7.7-mm Lengths:overall I 145 m(45,0,8 in):
As well as betng produced ln many During World War I the Madsen calibre, Unfofiunately thrs cartridge barrel596 mm (23.46 rn)
cahbres for customers as far away as was not an oflrcial weapon used by any was rimmed and rt was one that did not Weight: 10 kq (22.05 lb)
Tharland, the Madsen was also manu- of the major protagonists, but all the work well in the Madsen mechanismi Muzzle velocity: 825 m (2,707 ft) per
factured in a wrde variety of forms. same many Madsens appeared in the gn-rns were thus put by only to be second
Havrng an air-cooled barrel the Mad nearly every continental army. The issued again in 1940, this trme to the Rate offire: (cyclic) 450 rpm
sen was not rdeally surted for the sus- Madsen was one of the flrst weapons new Home Guard. Feed: 2O-round box magazine

RUSS A

Pulemet Maksima obrazets I9l0


The flrst Maxim machrne-gnrns for Rus
sian service were ordered direct from
Vickers in the early 1900s but it was
not long before the Russrans were pro-
ducrng their own models at the state
arsenal at T!la. The first 'Russran' mod-
el was the Pulemet Maksima obrazets
i905 (Maxim gn-rn model 1905), which
was a direct copy of the oriqtinal Maxrm
grun but produced with a typicai Rus-
sran flourish in the bronze water jacket.
In 1910 this bronze jacket was re-
placed by a sheet steel tacket and this
.ruas known either as the obr 19I0 or the
PMl910, traversing and was elevated by a large weiqht penalty, the PM19l0 could be Originally builtbyVickers for the
The PM1910 was destined to be the wheel-operated screw. The turntable kept frring for long as belts were fed
as Russian army, the Maxim ganwas
icngest-produced version of all the was carried on two spoked steel into the mechanism It requrred next to soon being manufactured in the
:rany Maxim qnrn vanants, for it re- wheels and the whole arangement no marntenance whrch was just as well I mperial Arsenal at Tula, oufsjde
::ained in full-scale production untrl could be towed by hand usrnq a U- for the state of training in the Tsanst Moscow.ltwas toremain in quantity
,943. Although there were several shaped handle, On many ofthese early armres usualiy mea-I tnat no servrc-ng productionuntil 1943.
;ariants over the years, the basic Sokolov mounts there were two side (other than rudimentary cleaningr) was
?M1910 was a sohd piece of equip- legs ihat could be extended forward to provrded.
:rent that serued very well under even raise the entire weapon and carrrage PM1910s were produced in vast used as many as they conld cap:-::
.:e most drastic conditions and all ex- for firing over parapets, on later mod- numbers untrl 1917, by which time pro- though only on the Eastern Frc:-.
:emes of climate, a fact which suited els these legs were omitted, ductron had spread to centres other
:e Russians very well considering The weigrht of the PM1910 complete than Tula. The only change made dur Specification
:err far-flung empire, This reliability with the mounting was no less than ing World War I was that the orrqdnal PMI9IO
--,:C to be purchased at a cost, and that 74 kq (163.1 lb). This meant that at least smooth water-coohnqf ;ackets were re- Ca-lilcre:7.62 mm (0.3 in)
::st was weight. The PM1910 and any- two men were requrred to drag the placed by corrugated lackets to in- Lengrths: overall L IOZ m (43.58 r--
,-rg to do with 1t was very heavy, so weapon (more across rough ground, crease the surface area slightly and bawel720 mm (28,35 in)
:=alry rn fact that the usual carnage for which draq ropes were provided). thus tncrease cooling. At times the Weights: gmn 23.8 kq (52.47 lb)
::sembled a small artillery field car A special sledge mounting was avail- heavy shrelds were left off to decrease mountingwirh snreld 45.2 kg 19: :: r
:--;re. On this carriage, known as the able for use duringr the winter months, the weight slightly, During World War Muzzlevelocity: 863 m t2,831 - l;-
-i:,<clov mounting the gun was usually and the weapon could also be carried I the amount oi rough handlinq the second
:r::.cted by a removable shield. The on the widely-available peasant carts PM1910 could absorb became iegen Rate of fire: (cyclic) 520-600 rpr-
l-: rested on a large turntable for used all over Russia, To offset thrs dary so much so that the Germans Feed: 250-round fabric belt
..-:T\AT ONAL

Lewis Gun
:: Lewis Gun is put into an tnterna-
' . .,, .-ategory for alLho.roh LLs ottqins
'.',':r: Amencan tt was flrst produced
-i:-ranufactured tn Europe Its tnven
- - -,-.
r Amertcan, one Samuel Mac-
as an
-=-: but the basic concept was de
.
=-:ced further and sold bY Colonei
--::: Lewis, another American. The
-l-::-:rLcan military authortties were un-
=:-.:;srastic about the new gun so
:';;is took the deslgn to Belqtium
','.-:-:re rt was accepted and put lnto
;::iuctron for the Belgran armY. That
.. -: : l9]3 ano tn'he rollowtng Year
:::iuctron was switched to the UK
:',':ere Birminqham Small Arms (BSA)
.::K over the programme,
lne Le',ms Gun was put into produc
:: at BSA as the Lewis Gun Mk 1 for
--: Brttish "\rmy for the simple reason
:.:. nve or six Lewis Guns could be
:::cuced rn the tlme it took to Produce
: srngle Vtckers machine-qun. The
-: that the Lewts was ltght and Port-
-:i: was secondary at that time but
-:.ce rn sewice the Lewis proved to be Above : The Lewis G un was widelY
r'.'ery popular front-hne weapon wlth used by the ritish ArmY but it was
B

- lcst of mobile tacttcal uses The originally produced in Belgium.It


,:'ns Gun was one of the fust of the was easily recognizable from its
.:-.e hqrht machtne-guns and wlth lts bulky air-cooling jacket and the flat
r' -cl.ve overhead d"um n-agazine r panmagazine, here holding 47
-.';:s soon a common sight on the West- rounds.
::r. Front The Lewis Gun was a gas-
rlerated weapon qas berng taPPed weapon, but in service lt made quite
:: rom the barrel on firingt to Push a an impression in a way that was not
.-s-cn to the rear, the piston pushed possible using the heavY machine-
.-3k ihe breech block and mechan- guns, The Lewis Gun was the first of
:::: and also wound uP a cotl sPrLng the true light macrrne-guns in more
-:ier the gn-rn which was used to re- ways than one
-- -\6tylLtno lo l"e starl poslllo-.
:-: mechantsm was rather comPlex Specification
-.:d took careful matntenance but LewisGunMk I
prone to an alarm- Calibre: 7.7 mm (0 303 in)
=-.'3n then was strll
:-;: number of jams and stoppages, Lengrths: qpn L25 m(49.2 in); barrel
.,:::e of them tntroduced by the over- 66i mm (26.02 in)
::ad drum maqazine, which was a Weights: 12.25 kg (27 lb)
::Ttant cause of trouble especlally Muzzle velocity: 7 44 m (2, 441 fI) per
,-,::n cnly slightly damaged. The bar- second A British Lewis Gun team in action the ammunition pan on the gun;
offire: 450-500 rpm s how s the r e ady - filled ammu nition these fins were supposed to force air
::: i'asenclosed tn a speclal alr cool Rate
pans stil| in their box. The fins of the along the barrel, butwere
-:; Lacket that was supposed to use a Feed: 47- or 97-round overhead drum
,:r:ed drauqht system of cooltng but maqaztne air-cooling jacket can be seen under superfluous.
:r:errence showed that the lackets
= :rency had been over-rated and
:-: lun -rorked qurte well without it
, :1slons of the Lewrs Gun intended for
-e on aircralt dtd not have this com-
:i:-.: coohng jacket.
3nly after the Lewts Gun had been
:::Cuced tn thousands in EuroPe dld
.:: ,\mertcan mrlitary authorlties flnal
leahze the potential of the weapon
..'
=:-j Lt'went tnto production for the US
-r::r-'r (and arr corps) chambered tn
:-= American 7.62-mm (0.3 in) caltbre.
:.; ihe Lewts Gun became truly in-
:::aiionai especrallY as the Germans
'.',:re ln the habit of using as many
:=-r:.red examples as they could to
::ls:er thetr own machtne-gun totals
S::-e Lewts Guns were used on the
:JL. 'tanks and more were used bY
::'.'ai vessels A simrlar role cropped
-c 19faln in World War Il when stock-
:,,:i I ewis Guns were dtstributed for
.:-: ieience of merchant shipping and
,:r ilcme Delence in the hands of the
-:,::,: Guard and RoYal Air Force
:ici defence units.
= -:e Lelvis Gun was a comPlex
A BritishArmy Lewis gunner firing
his Lewis Gun as if itwere a rifle, no
doubt at some hastily-Presented
iarget. Firing theLewis Gun in this
las hion w as usually inaccurate, for
:he weight of thegunwas toohighfor
prolonged firing and the recoil soon
sirook fft e ajm off the target.
TheSomme
That fine JuIy morning in I 9 l 6 gave no
hint to the men in the trenches of the
Sornme the scale of the ordeal to come.
Within minutes theywere to bow their
heads into a storm of machine-gun fire,
.s
andwere to die like cattleintheir
tiousands.

No battle rn World War I was as shaped by the rate and a lack of heavy guns that could pene- The mine explodes under theHawthorn Redoubt
machine-gmn as the Britrsh 19l6 summer offen- trate the deep bunkers where the German l0 minutes before the attack onBeaumontHamel.
sive, the Battle of the Somme, The impact of the machine-guns and machine-gunners were Thismine heralded theBattleof the Somme and
German MG08 'Spandau' and Bergmann guns waiting untrl the 10-minute period, just before removed one of the major German strongpoints ir,
has remained long after the 'day of breathtak- the path of the planned British advanie. It was one
07.00, between the moment the barrage lifted
of a series of mines exploded along theGerman
ing summer beauty', as Sregfried Sassoon de, and the whistles blew for the British infantry to /ines.
scribed 1 July 1916 the opening day of the go over the top.
Battle of the Somme, The image of the skirmish The 1915 battles showed that a srngle ties (57,470 meq of whom 19,240 were killej ::
lines of khaki infantry, Lee Enfields at the high machine-gun could defeat an attacking batta died of wounds) amounted to half of the c _:-=:
port position, cut down rn the barbed wire has hon ri allowed to flre unsuppressed. On 1 July ranks, and three-quarters of the officers, .';:-:
shaped not only the West's perception of mod- 1916 battahon after battalion found that the went over the top on I July, The vast major-:r- :-
ern war, but of modern hfe itself. More than power of the machine-gun had not been over- this carnage was done by about 100 mach_:_=
r-nfantrymen fell to the machine-gmns on the estimated. For example, the 7th Battalion, QIUNS,
Somme, The structured, progressive pre-1914 Green Howards and the lOth Battalion, West The machine-gun was able io determne -:-=
-.vorld died there as well, Yorkshire Regiment attacktng the village-fort course of the Battle of the Somme in a war .:-=:
The heavy losses inflicted on attacking of Fricourt (the German defence was based would not have been thoughl possible ..'.'-
:roops by German machine-guns at Neuve around these village-forts, connected by tren- years earlier. Most armies recognrzed ::.=
Jhapelle and Loos ln 1915 shaped the British ches) were both cut up within three minutes by value of the machine-gun rn 1914, but i: -,';..
plan for the Somme. The lesson that the Brrtrsh a single machine-gun. The 16th Battahon, under conditions of trench warfare .ra: -.
j-rew from those battles was that they had to Northumberland Fusiliers attacked towards showed its potentially decisive impor.a:-:=
-e their artillery to deliver even more tons of Thiepval with great bravery, drrbbling a foot-
righ explosive onto the machine-guns before ball across no man's land. There were four All themud and discomfortof the trenches is
epitomized in this photograph of a ration party o!
re infantry assault was committed. Enough machine guns opposrte the battahon, and only the RoyallrishRifleswaiting to moveup on the
.rells, it was reasoned, would result in no more I I men from the assault companies walked fateful day of 1 July I 9 I 6. Despite the awful
::achine-guns, back, The story was repeated throughout the conditions some of these soldiers can still raise a
day up and down the Brrtrsh front. The casual smile for the camera, but for how long?
Dugout survival
The Britrsh prelimrnary barrage was sup- Jrr
a:sed to defeat the machine-guns, The infantry
,';:uld then, according to plan, simply occupy
:,= ground, But despite the length of the British
:rraele, the German machine-guns on the
:. rme showed that firepower cannot win a
:=:le by itself, The frontline machine-guns
.-:-,-ived the barrage in their deep dugouts,
,:-s lesson of the machine-Qluns on the Somme
'"'rs relearned by the US Marines on Tarawa in
-:-3 and countless times during the Vietnam
'-,-=r.
Massive firepower (even the seven-day
: =rage that preceded the openlng of the Som-
.:,= -,rnll not defeat an entrenched defender by
-:=.: Later in the war the barrage became the
.---:r- tremendousiy intense'hurricane', often
.:-; extensive gas for suppression, The bar-
: -:: belore I July also suffered from a high dud
,,- irtill lii
ilt: tii --ifecirrre orl the defer"s|Ie to a. iarqe
j-".i- l-
. :llSiliaj t:eVOlLtilo.fl *-',- r' hSrrC: B'rir.sh a icl tiic rli.:llrri:'l: harJ reccqnizecl-
li, lla,l r-ie!'llr lj ed liaj j,. rna ci'1na:r alrLl'j oarrrse, ailetl ii the;t are ]lrtshed. iol'-r,rald -
l-rshind |echnoloc-ty just as the ;riri-l
t .'-:
9l
l:rar:Cl io ,:eitiace ihe llemend.ous qua:l'-l- -. -
1

. :ac:,cs were iiiaclequa-te lo cieal Irhe: lltr|ish I flyi;]3 i:un aLlcl ,he Cro':lnal lelr,i
o in' -' o i. arnfiLLlnttion ll-Ley consutne in aclion Til.: --.e
. o
the carry ilerr il.alllir.le iol'rlt;,1t1 rrrrheio ihe:
rJL'.tLs rla..r :'rar:iillie--cjlrns oll i Jr-Lly al1had 1al:!1e -c ar ::-
: :-iat: i ol [he Boer Wa;: c-ri lsrae]i
me<irt]i:i rt:ar'l-tlrle q'-r.s t..oL'rr:i 1Lo', alo ll.Eli' I O..
i: :1l:irt-Lsed by the a.ilt1 ianL quiclec ior ihe i.eviris quns the -iiiril:'i,
, : - sr.ari cL the 1973 i',./LclclLe Easi Wa,: n13gil le gllLls :ja-li i:ller:lsllrar L!3e on lLle lalrn' arrtnrLj.nriion
- 1: broLr.'glii rr,rtlb tiren iraci lo be cs.rrlecl acra:: i.l
;rri.r nanCatecl ai ner.i ela in bat- 1Ie.
le:rhze iroririeirei: at I J t t O t r'. ^
T'he Br:iilsL v,rerc lher i,::"'li io
ihar il i|,lajle a rrlacirlr:re glli i-i-rai 13
,vc'LL rt'lai-l.i
The nachine girn noi ol1f i,:es mci.: r:a9lf,t
ii-l i iitr'.r(i.i-il glli. truly r-ipablr: i-ri lo h irie anr-L ttro"ernen I ll iar:l lhan a tifl.e br-rt lt ls rrlu.lh easler io Ctle:i arr'--.
in I
'l"a r' \nl.6o, io be lrui i..r ;L se ii l:,lolle1lecl ;L:lLlciLrec! l.rr:r-tr-tt
:

capable ci rrovilq ovei ihe l:'atiieileii: rn:ho,:t, l.iClOs to riiiecl the irie of t:ifl.elnen rlu.ch e::'-: ,-l
, :-,:rensirve rA'-eailorl Because tire Ger- io dreci a stnqlle rnachine-gun ln mccle ril. ',":iL'r
overall deiensive lnetr a. ia,:1L.. '1'l:tege riehlcle. iLtli ai.rfilrali:eal 1[ Il]e
-':': or. the I l' o', I a i.ei sla ge: oi iic l:-r;l:l le lr r I i, iier.' ieil
rlr:i I I lr i;.,r:e i:iilernen are fiecluer:l]l/ redtlced :ar -lr''
ll' the ieelinq lha- tn: r
: l-:atile The t,.i'ro bastc eJemenls oi 'i'lie m.;riliitLe qlrn hcrcr cleaiecl ior: i-ricirJcrl li ncqLiiorr. ci i:vsiar:rilels -by
lii3].LClt ,;,t;tf iitla: tI a1lo 1;r',1i:?d ;, 3gilrtitlr:i L'l lvealloLr3 aie tnadeq'.tatte: in lvoald llrial Il
:le ire and. moverneni 'i::lPod- e:pacl:',1ry ihe iiil:,oL:l
rL
U! Bilgacliei C-'nelal S.L A. IvLar:sliall,ic:lr1
, .;-eclii,tiitr inachine-guns a-re harii io lrr'l acl'itlre !u:tl
' -: rfrllllot lire v'rhile cloing so Both the rlounlec.l li:teail'.-lrr :lacllilte c,tuns, ai'e illoS: l.hai oiter onlir J0 to L5 ler cent 01 rliiei:let't

r.:'r :- ,''r - t:.i'r;hr"-."_-.,


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.t :r,.-E:iii:::i. _r.i: . -l+l ;4.L.
i.:.|+' ia
trl i :E:

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jli

r:"'
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ilr
':',:,',lt:.
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Machine-Guns of World Wa: l
-:tually flred their rifles rn cornci. \,la::rne- the head of advanctng troops, In the later within a bayonet's reach. In the -a.:r . . - =.
lred ',\ai
::inners, however, almost aln,avs-,-.:r_j stages of the battle, Vickers guns would fire the baLrle the Br, ttsh sh r'red - ' t: ''
fhe machrne-gun cre/,-j cr I extensive 'barrages', often ranged in like artil- (such as that which took mucn :, :.-= . .
<new they were the primary tarcei ior all ihe lery to flre rndirectly, to protect the flanks of Rtdge on : .:= r :. - -
. Lepowei rhar could be drrecred i:,_i:- rncm
14 luly) dusk attacks (as :
advancing units and to interdict German move, Heights on I October), and nror. i..:.t:.: ::
-hey also knew har reur .r-ran i-,-:r:r. rooK ment, thaL on Delvrlle Wood on 22 2:-p .-
rachine gunners pr-soner \-+- .he German German defensrve tactics on the Somme being secured by 26 JuJy;. The e_r. -- -_.
:nachine-gunners on
-.-,reapons
I Ju1_v manned their were based on counterattacking any British the machine-gun put an increased cf :r:_,.:r ,
until they repulsed the aitacks aimed penetration of their defences almost im- operalions aL nighL and rn decreo t. -i . .
against them or perlshed under ihe sword mediately, before the Brrtish could bring in which rs why in June t9B2 'h+ E-- i_.:
cayonets of the Lee Ennelds. In lhe words of their reserves and consolidate the position, launched their attack on the Arce:_.-:'_- _:-
Lieutenant Colonel A Carton de Wrart, VC, These counterattacks resulted in heavy Ger- fences around Porr S'anley or nrgi.
The German machtne-gunners \,lrere outstand- man losses but ttme after time pushed ihe Brtt- Machine-guns are just as deadlr .::.. -::
rng, almost invariably very brave men and the ish back from hard-won objectives including, lhey were on lhe Somme. Ihe Brr r. ' ..:
trlck oi the German Army. The British Army on 1 Juiy, the Schwaben Redoubt and Thiepval tronary Force of t9l6 shows Lhar a.l r- : -r =.
called its Machine Gun Corps The Surcrde Wood, where the 36th Ulster Drvisron was re- in the world cannor triumph by rrse_r ; - .
Club', Their German counierparts might well pulsed. These counterattacks wouid have hard realities of modern warfare E-.- -: :.
have done the same. been more successful were it not for the ]:ewis tanks, more elfectrve and responsr,.'e :.- .. -
The nature of the Somme emphasized the gmns carried by assaulting Bnttsh troops, While to suppress the machine-guns. less ./L_: : . .

German use ol machine,guns but this dtd not Lewis guns (unlike the heavier tripod-mounted infantry tactics, attacking in conditrons , :=.
mean that the Bntish did not use therr machine- Vickers) could be carried into an attack, they duced vrsibrlity, there has never been a r:: =.
guns effectively as weli Technrcally, they were not very effectrve against dug-in posi- of I July 1916
were more advanced than the Germans in tions. It was in support of inlantry cleaning out
some regards, as was demonstrated by their slrongpoints and in delealing counteratracks
capabrlity for delivenng supporting fire over that the Lewis showed its value on the Somme, AtZ pm on I July Igl6 the TthDragoon Guarcis a::
and the numbers of Lewis guns carried by the Deccan Horse launched a claisic cavalrv
British infantry was increased as a result. ch a rge. the las t of its kind to be seen on a ile, t e :.
The Somme showed not only the power of European battlefield. Their target was high woc :
the machine-gun, but also some of the tactical through which the Germans had retreated as r: s::
and technical countermeasures that were trenches in Bazentinwere pounded by British
evolved rn response to its dominance of the ar-tillery. A personal reconnaissance by senior
officers had found the wood empty during the
battlefield. This could be seen in the offensive morning, but it was decided to wait for the cava ":.-
tactics used on the French sector ofthe front on rather than advance with the available in!antr,.
i July. Benefltrnq from the costly lesson of Ver- Thus the Germans had all atternoon to recove,:
dun, the French used more flextble and fluid and by early evening their machine-guns vtere
formations than the lonq British skirmrsh lines, re-positioned to cover allthe approaches. The i.::
The French suffered fewer casualties than the waves ofhorsemenwere mown down by guns
Bntish and gained some of the Allied successes firingfrom the top ofthe ridge and in fronl of tke
of I July. The British not only deployed the tank wood. Here a machine-gun team works the rr .'.: C
08 from amongst the tall crops before the woc: :.
as an answer to the machine-gun (which rt re-
cavalry pass on either side to avoid the hail ci
mains today) but also started to emphasize bullets. Incredibly the cavalry carried the fron: c:
'creeping' artillery barragres to suppress the the wood and killed and captured many of the
machrne-guns until the attacking infantry was defenders.

, j:1,. l;i

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The Somme

Above: Inaction the Machine GunCorpswas not


averse to using captured weapons, as shown by
this photographof aBritish teamusing a sMG 08.
The team in the foreground are using aVickers
machine-gun. Using the Maxim mechanism of the
sMG 08 presented no problems toVickers-trained
machine-gunners.
Below: This illustration of a section of captured
German trench near the ALbert-Pozidres road
shows the deepbunkers inwhich theGerman
machine-gunners sheltered during an artillery
attack, and fromwhich they emerged to set up
their machine-guns once the attack lifted to herald
the infantry attack.

Below: A German view of the British infantry Above: Troopers of the Deccan Horse await their
advancing over the open terrain near Mametz on I chance to advance during the action at Bazentin
Iulv 1916.-Presentedwith such a target the German Ridge on l4July 1916. The call never came, and all
'michine-gunners could not fail to halt such an the cavalry were able to do was clutter the rear
attack in ils tracks, especially when the advancing areas and makeundue demands on the supply
lines moved across the path of enfilading fire ftom lines for fodder for their horses. They were unable
bofh sides. to advance against machine-guns.
GEBI\'4ANY
I
d Maschinengewehr 08 Machine-Guns of World War I
Contrary to general beliel the German
army was not an avrd proponent of the
machine-gun when Hiram Maxim
started to demonstrate his product
around the European capitals in the
1890s His gun aroused some interest
but few sales, and the first made to the
German army were actually paid for
out of the private funds of Kaiser
Wilhelm IL Thereafter things beqan to
look up and gradually a licensingr
agreement was made between Maxim
and the German army. From this
agreement Maxrm machine-guns
were soon being produced by both
commercial concerns and the Deuts-
che Waffen und Munitionsfabriken at
Spandau, near Berlin. Several models
were produced before the 'standard
weapon appeared in l90B as the
schwere Maschinengewehr 08, or
sMG 08. It frred the standard 7 92 mm
(0,312-in) rifle cartrrdge of the day.
As a machine-gnrn the sMG 0B dif
fered lrttie from many other Maxrm
gmns, and the Maxrm recoil-operated
mechanism was used unchanqed
Constructionwas very sohd, and once
in servrce the 'Spandau'proved to be
very reliable under the most deman
ding battlefleld conditions. Where the
sMG OB did differ from other machrne-
fl.rns of the trme wds the mounrrng

The schwere Maschinengewehr 08 (sMG 08) was the standard German machine-gun of WorldWar I and used the
basicMaxim system unchanged.ltwas averyheauyweaponcapableof aprodigious amountof fire. Emplaced in
well'constructed dugouts protected by dense thickets of barbedwire, it took a fearful toll of Ajlied troois.

army increased greatly and (probably Alter 1918 the sMG 0B was
more important) the Germans learned lained rn German service anc
to use them widely, Instead of srmply were still in use when 1939
placing a machine-gmn to face directly around, but by by then they had
across no man's land, the Germans relega'ed lo second-l ne dune:
learned to set them up firing to a flank
so that one gun could enfllade and Specification
break up an infantry attack to much sMG08
Even the early German Maxims used a better effect, while at the same ttme Calibre:7.92 mm (0.312 in)
type of mounting known as a Sc.hfiflen providrng more cover for the gun Lengths: gmn 1. 175 m (46,26 rn) ba::=.
(sledge) that was intended to be drag- crew, The German machine-gmnners 719 mm (28.3 in)
qed across country when folded wrth were picked men who often main- Weights: qn complete wrth spa:.. :
the gmn on top. As an alternative this tained their gn-rns in action to the last, 62 kg (136,7 lb); sledge mount 3l i:,:-
mountrng could be carrred by two men and they were highly trained in all r83 0 lb,
as if it was a stretcher, The mountinqt aspects of ther task. They knew the Muzzlevelocity: 900 m' 2 951 fi r-:
known as the Schlitten 08, provrded a sMG 0B backwards and could carry second
stable flring platform but was very out repairs in the front line if need Rate offire: 300-450 rpm
hearry, to the extent that rn 1916 an alose. Feed: 250-round fabric belt
alternative tripod mountinq known as At trmes two or three men usino a
the Dreifuss 16 was introduced. single sMG OB could break up entire
During World War I the sMG 0B took Allied infantry battalions once the lat- Bulgarian machine-gu n feams rn
a fearfui toll of the Allies' manpower ter had left the shelter of their tren- action use Maxim Model I 908
strenqths. It was usually the sMG 0B ches. The slaughter of Neuve machine-guns purchased from
that was responsible for mowing down Chapelle, Loos, the Somme and all the Vickers in the United Kingdom.
the massed infantry attacks of l9l4 to other costly infantry carnaqes can be These guns firean 8-mm (0.315-inl
1917, for after L9l4 the numbers of traced to sMG OBs and their deter- cartridge andwerevery similar to
machine-guns used by the German mined crews theGermansMG0S.

-:-sove: The heavy tripod-mounted


_:::;rs rn serzice in I I 14 had to be
::cken down into several loads for
;:cJonged marching. Here aJager
:Entinfantryman) in 19J,4 service kit
:=ulders the burdenof the sMG 08.
iffir"nittensewehr o8/15
=
:-"- -:13 the German armY had come to
=:crecrate that there was a need for
s::::= iorm of light. machine-Qnrn for
:::-i-line r:se. While the sMG 0B was
-,:.sexcellent heavy machine-gn:n' it
-r,
:oo heavy for rapid tactical moves
--d:rals were held to determrne what
-.'-:e oiweapon would suffice. Among1
-and tested was the Danish Mad-
,reaoors
s=: light Bergrmann and DreYse
::-:cirine-gn-ins, but the choice fell upon
r'chtened form of the sMG 08. This
=
:r:5rged as the MG 08/15 and the first
:.i:mples of the type were issued in
-: -4. slipstream. Some of the early Maxtm The MG 08/ 1 8 was the last of the
lhe MG 08/15 retained the basic war the designers went one stage WorldWarl versionsof thesMG 08
further and did awaY wlth the water- aiicraft gnrns had been lightened sMG
:-ecnamsm of the sMG 0B and the wa- to see service. Itused an air'cooled
cooltnq iacket altogether to produce 0B models known as the LMG 08, but
::: cooimg system, but the water]ack- these passed out ofuse once the LMG barrelwithout the usual large casing
:: was smaller; the receiver walls the MG 08/18. The war ended before
0B/15 was established, and was an attempt to Provide
;,-ere thinner, some detail parts were this version could be widely used, the with a light m achine-
The grround-used MG 0BiI5 equiP- G erm an troops
:i-rrrnated, a brpod rePlaced the few that were produced being issued gun.
to the more mobile units of the German ped front-line troops at company ieve-l
:-ea-rry sled mounting, and a pistol grrip
were added; some changes army; few actually reached the front- and below, while the heavier sMG 08
=i butt
-,';ere also made to the sights. BY no Iine infantry, was retained at battalion leve1 or even MG 08/15 teams to cover its withdraw-
There wAs one fufiher variant ofthe deployed in special hearry machine- als, single weapons sometimes hold-
,=etch of the imaqination could the gun companies, The portability of the ing up whole battalions and prevent-
llG 0BiI5 be cal]ed light, for it still MG 08il5 known as the LMG 08/15'
where the L denoted l,u.ft (air). This MC OgltS enabled rt to be used bY the ing the Allied cavalry from taking part
r,'eighed a hefty 18 kg (39,71b)' but it
;;a-rportable and could even be flred version was one of several air-cooled Sturmtruppen of 1917 and 1918, but tt in any actton.
machine-gnrns used rn flxed mounttngs was nevei a handy weapon to use in
:::m a standing Position with the action: in comparison with other light Specification
-,1-eight taken by a sling. A shorter fab- bv the new German ar arm and was
r: belt was introduced to make hand- bisically an MG 08/15 with a Perfo- machtne-guns of the Period it was MG08/15
or a belt drum could be rated water jacket to allow air-coolinQt much larger and bulkier, But it re- Calibre: 7,92 mm (0.3i2 in)
-::g easier, of the barrel, The gn-urs were fired na a marned every bit as reliable in action Lengths: overall 1,398 m (55 0 in);
':led to the side of the weapon to pre- as its large counterpart and the Ger- barre}719 mm(28.3 in)
-,
e1t feed belts dragging in the mud. cable and were synchronized so as not
to shoot through the aircraft propeller' man troops were well trained in its use Weiqht:complete IB kq (39 7 lb)
The chorce of the basic sMG 0B Perhaps the most effective use was Muzile veloc-ity: 900 m (2,953 ft) per
::-echamsm meant that no additional Ammunition was fed into the gun from
a drum and another spring-loaded madebf the MG 08/15 during the latter second
:arninq was required to use the lighter Rate offire: 450 rPm
-;;eapon, and there was a fair degrree- of drum was often used to Prevent the staqes of the 1918 campaign, whenthe
r.rsed fabnc belt flapping around in the retieating German army used small Feed: 5O-, 100- or 250-round fabric belt
slar-es interchangeability, Late in the

t 3"Ii**rtor" machine-suns
- :e nrst tndigenous Austro-Hungartan
:::a:hine-q'un was invented bY one
-:-::dreas Schwarzlose tn i902, and was
: :r manufactured at the waffenfabdk
S evr. The first model was the
Schwarzlose Maschinengewehr Mod-
eI 07 soon followed bY the MG Modeil
08 and the fult standard model, the MG
Modell 12, to which standard the two
:-her models were later converted
.-; the Austro-Hungarian armed
-:lces. There was little of note to men-
::n between all these various models,
-:r they all used an identical method of
::nstruction and the same operatingt
pr,ncipie,
The Schwarzlose machine-guns
-.'.'ereall heavy belt-fed and water-
::oled weapons working on an un-
-::ual principle, namely that known as
delayed blow-back, in which the re-
::il forces impinge to the rear upon a
:...a1ry breech-block held in posilion
.-,..'rih the spent case st1ll ln the cham- and l2 models, The origlnal Modells The Austro-Hungarian armies used
:er) bv a levered mechanrsm OnlY and this resulted in excessive muzzle 12
machine-gan
07 and 0B usedlubricated ammunition, the heavy Schwarlose
a snorl period of time has elapsed flash, As a result a lonQt tapedng flash
-.:r
jo these levers move sufficrently for hider had to be fltted, and thrs became but on the Modell 12 this featwe was in several forms, most of them
one ofthe distingulshingt features ofthe eradicated and the eariier models looking very like this M 07 / I 2. I t used
:e breech block to travel to the rear; were modified up to Modell 12 stan- the blow-back Principle for
-irs trne rs just long enouqh for the Schwarzlose, Another design feature
of the series was the feed, which was dards. There was also a Modell 07i 16 operation and was very reliable even
i;llet to leave the muzzle and for the intended for use on aircraft and featur- thoughearly models used anoil
cressure rn the barrel to fail to a safe amongtst the flrst to use a ddve sprock-
inq a rudimentary sYstem of air- pump to lubricate the ammunition.
,nit. But the system means that the et to carrv a cartridge into the system
in a very precise manner' This added cooling, but it was not a great success
i:rrrel length is trmited: too lonq a and not many were Produced. Specification
:arrei and the breech oPens before to the oveiall reliability of the Schwarz-
.:-e bullet has left the muzzle So the lose weapors, Ali the Schwarzlose machine-gruns Modell0T/12
Between 1914 and 1918 the main were iarge and heavY weapons not- Calibre:8 mm (0.315 in)
:peratrnql compromlse be-
system rs a lenqths: gmn 1,066 m (41.97 in); barrel
onerators ofthe Schwarzlose were the able for the excellence of their manu-
.i;een cartiidge propellant strength, facture. Indeed, they were so heavY 526 mm (20,71 in)
:arrel ienEh and the delayed-action Austro-Hungarian armies, but later in
and well made that few appear to have Weishts: gun 19.9 kg t43 BZ lb); lnpod
-:;er trn-unq. the war Iralt had also become a major
worn out, so that manY were still in 19.8 kq (43,65 ]b)
In practice the Schwarzlose user, marniy bY means of caPtured
service duringr 1945 in ltaly and Hun- Muzzle velocity: 620 m (2 034 ft) per
:-achtne-guns worked well enough, weaDons The Netherlands was second
another major buyer, but was a neutral gary. The delayed action blow-back
l:r ihe barrel used was really too shorl iystem has not been widelY coPied, Rate offire: (cyclic) 400 rpm
:r ihe standard Austro-Hungartan B- durinq Woild War L Bv 1914 nearly all
and is now regarded as an odditY Feed: 2S0-round fabric belt
:::. (0.31S-in) cartridgre of the period, the v6rsions in use were the 07112,08/

..,.,
Armed Forces of the World

Soviet Na
-re main threat to American and allied surface ships
Pafi2

ard sea lines of communications comes from the


Soviets' force of attack submarines. By mid-1 984
-r's force comprised six 'Alpha', 12 'November', 16
', ctor l', six'Victor ll, 1B'Victor lll', One'Mike'. one
S erra'and five 'Fcho' class nuclear-powered attack
::ats {or SSNs), plus two'Oscar', one'Papa', 11
lnarlie l'. six 'Charlie ll' and 29 'Echo ll' nuclear-
::.,vered cruise-missile submarines (or SSGNs)
':-rling themain strire element. To back up the
-,clear-powered vessels there are also 16 'Juliett'
: ass conventlonally-powered cruise-missile car-
-:-s and 50'Foxtrot', 10'Romeo', four'Zulu', 50
,',riskey', 1B'Tango' and four'Kilo' class conven-
: :rally-powered attack submarines. An additional
- 'Foxtrots',
I six 'Zulus' and B0 'Whiskeys'are held
- ieserye for use ln wartime. The Soviet navy is
:-rrently in a transitional phase of submarine con-
::'Jction, with the third-generation programmes
-:,,v ending and the fourth-generation ones just
.::rting. The submarine classes making up this lat-
.:- cycle are the 'Oscar', 'Mike', 'Sierra' and 'Kilo'
::signs, which are replacing the obsolete first-
l=reration vesels such as the 'November' class of
:: \-
1 the Soviet navy submarines are divided by f unc-
:' rnto one of four main groups, namely ballistic-
- ssile (which was dealt with in the f irst part of this
-:-dy), command, cruise-missile and torpedo
.:ack. The command designation is believed to be
=-.s
gned to three converted ex-ballistic missile 'Golf
.:ssels (now f itted with extensive command, con-
-: and communications facilities for use at sea) between 35 and 64 units in total (including com- The'Victor I I I' SSN is the best of the Tictor seies
: -s other as yet unspecified conversions of older mand vessels). The flotilla's individual divisions are of nucieat attack submarines. I t is said to be
--:iear boats. These four groups are then addi- equipped with different armaments, although there equivalent in quietness to the American Sturgeon
-,:rally classified according to whether they have may well be two or more divisions equipped with c/ass ofSSiVan d has the added advantage of a
- C Iu s tergu ar d an echo ic co atin g.
-:lear or diesel-electric propulsion systems. lf they either torpedoes or cruise missiles within the flotilla
.-: nuclear-powered the craft are grouped into divi- as a whole. Conventionally-powered submarines
::rs of between eight and 12 units. All the sub- differ in their grouping in that there are three distinc- Second of the 'Kiev' class aviation sftlps was llre
Minsk. Ihe c/ass was preceded into service by &e
*,-ines in a particular division have the same type tive command structures, the brigade of some eight two 'Moskva' class helicopter carriers, which ga';e
,= armament. The next higher command grouping to 16 boats which can then forrr part of either a the Soviet navy its initial experience of operating
':' nuclear-powered boats is the f lotilla, which com- division (with two or three brigades) or a squadron large numbers of helicopters at sea in one
:- se s four or five divisions and thus mav consist of (with four to six brigades). platform.
,l?;,:

30 kts have been quoted. Together with other A'Foxtrot' class conventional attack submarine of
Tne actual structure adopted and ts spec fic com
Sov et long-range weapons (such as crulse miss les the Northern Fleet is shown with a'Kashin' class
:os tion depends upon the particular fleet area The Iarge anti-subrnarine ship o{ the Black Sea Fleet
\orthern Fleet has 1 3B actlve nuclear and conven and the SS N-1 5 and SS-N-1 6 ASW weapons), the
during their deploymentwith the Soviet
: onally powered attack submarines, and provides new torpedo accords nicely wlth the Soviet navy's Mediterr ane an S quadron.
'-t.-r ts resources at any one t me between six and concepts of engag ng targets from as great a range
: E:r'Foxtrot' and'Tango' conventiona attack, one as possible in order to achieve a 'surprise' first (each of two or three strike regiments) ass gned to
each of the tour f leets under an aviatlon offlcer who
. - et.i' conventional crulse m ss le, one 'Echo JL' strike.
'Victor' To aid rn such a strike the Sovret navy has a reports directly to the f leet commander. The recon-
SSC\ cruise mlssile and the occasiona
number of miss le-carry ng bombers that torm part naissance, the f txed- and rotary-wing ASW, and the
c;s: 3SN to the Sov et Med terranean Squadron to transport elements which form the rema nder of
'c'-- .s Jndersea component. The Baltlc and Black of the Soviet navaL avtation. This command is dlrect-
each f leet's alr component are organlzed into inde-
Se. : eeis have no nuclear units permanently ly subord nated to the Sov et navy's main headquar
pendent reg ments and squadrons.
ari::-:r, and tnstead rely on around two dozen ters near Moscow, and is divided lnto alr d vlsions
co- .:- . cnal attack submarlnes, the Black Sea Fleet
ha. -; :everal of the 'Tango' class The Paclfic
F e:. - :f,ntrast with these two latter fleets, has
02 .-:^'ar-nes of the same types used ln the
'1

No',-=-- : eet with a growing number of modern


ves:: : .- t n the area at Komsomolsk lts SSGN
fo::: -: :s reavi y on approximately half the 'Echo
l : -:- 3-t 'Charlie l' units are known to be
as: j-=- :. :he fleet as one sank recently and was
ir:- -: ::r n an mmense salvage operatlon The
SS ..
'-: .epresented by a number of the first-
a?--'.-.:- '\ovember' class, but these are be ng
i-:: =-.:: oy'Victor ls'transferred from the North-
:
:'- :=: :-d 'Vlctor built. There are large
llls' locally
--^-::": l' 'Foxtrot' and 'Wh skey' class conven-
.:-: :-ararnes, together wlth several 'Julietts'
.'. . .". .'rq number of 'Kllo' class units
.
- -.:'--s cf armament types, all except the Baltlc
= ..'. '.,. avai able the full spectrum of submar ne
-.'-'-,a.-.a m'ss les and mines. Lt should be noted
.^:. .-: slest Sovlet submarlne classes have been
:: - -:'-:i:d w th torpedo tubes of a calibre well in
er:;ss o'533 mm (21 ln), and that older classes are
be:.e: io be undergoing modification to carry
ii3s3 .-c-s The weapon flred f rom the new tube is
pa\r'3'3i ri, a comb ned stearn-oxygen propulsion
syslem and nas a wake homing gu dance head The
perf orrarce cred,ted to the torpedo ls considered Armed with six 533-mm (21-in) torpedo tubes that of conventional craft. Providing the bulk of the
to be fai- n excess of anv NATO heavywe ght torpe forward and four 406-mm (l6-in) tubes at the stern' submarine strength of the Soviet Mediterranean
do rn serv ce now or due to enter serv ce within the the 'Foxtrots' were a highly successful design' fleet, 'Foxtrots' have also been supplied to Cuba,
e.' o'. c'o'(o Forg'-o'b0.m13' 07 m"es)ar Sixtv-two were built out of a planned total of I60 IndiaandLibya.
50 Kts or 100 km i62.,1 m les) at reduced speed of before production of nuclear boals superseded

IV