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View Full Version : WW1 Light machine gun: French Chauchat (Sho-Sho)


sharpie443
April 21, 2012, 12:49 AM
One of the guys i was with at the Southern Ohio machine gun shoot had one of these with them so I thought I'd do a video on it. Hope you like it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qea0CVIQRE

Mike Irwin
April 21, 2012, 08:28 AM
Hum... The guy seems to be saying that it was originally developed for a "black powder rifle cartridge (8mm Lebel)."

That's incorrect, the 8mm Lebel was never a black powder cartridge. Other than that, pretty good video.

kraigwy
April 21, 2012, 08:39 AM
Great video, I read a lot about the Chauchat in the book Machine Guns 1916 by Hatcher-Wilhelm-Malone.

That video complements the book.

The Chauchat wasn't much, but we didn't have any thing better, heck at the time we bearly had enough rifles for our UE troops.

gyvel
April 21, 2012, 09:39 AM
Kind of a let down; I thought he was going to actually shoot it.

When I was a teenager back in the 60s, National Gun Traders in Miami, FL was selling these as dewats for $9.95. LOL!!!

James K
April 21, 2012, 12:04 PM
Oddly enough, the design is not bad. I think the guns suffered more from poor quality of materials and lousy quality control, and from the absolutely awful 8mm Lebel cartridge, than from defects in the original concept and design.

Jim

Mike Irwin
April 21, 2012, 12:28 PM
"but we didn't have any thing better"

Actually, the Lewis gun was available, and was much better. American troops had originally been armed with the Lewis gun, but they had been withdrawn in a political move and replaced with the ChautChaut.

kraigwy
April 21, 2012, 05:12 PM
Actually, the Lewis gun was available, and was much better. American troops had originally been armed with the Lewis gun, but they had been withdrawn in a political move and replaced with the ChautChaut.

I agree, the Lewis gun was much better, but it was more of a medium machine gun, where the Chauhat was more like an automatic assualt rifle (for lack of a better term). The (later) 1919 BAR was more in the class of the Chauhat.

sharpie443
April 21, 2012, 06:15 PM
Hum... The guy seems to be saying that it was originally developed for a "black powder rifle cartridge (8mm Lebel)."

That's incorrect, the 8mm Lebel was never a black powder cartridge. Other than that, pretty good video.

No the lebel was one of the first smokeless powder cartridge but it was based off of a black powder cartridge. In fact it's just a a necked down 11 mm Gras black powder cartridge. Because of it's odd design it had many problems. It was not a very good round especially for the Chauchat(Sho-Sho). I do like the Lebel rifles though. I keep meaning to pick one up just for historical reasons.

James K
April 21, 2012, 07:38 PM
In the WWI context the whole idea of an "assault rifle" was close to insane. The idea that well entrenched veteran troops will duck down and let themselves be overrun just because the advancing enemy is shooting must have been some general's pipe dream. The silliest result was the Pedersen device, firing a round of such low power that an enemy would not even know he was being fired on.

"Marching fire" might have worked in the Civil War era against rifle-muskets if there was no defensive artillery support, but when it was tried in WWI, the advancing troops were slaughtered by entrenched machinegunners.

Jim

Mike Irwin
April 21, 2012, 08:13 PM
"In fact it's just a a necked down 11 mm Gras black powder cartridge."

Yep, I'm well aware of the history of the development of the Lebel.

But that's not what the guy in the video was inferring. He was indicating that the Chauchat was originally developed for a blackpowder cartridge and the reason it was so bad was because the smokeless powder 8mm Lebel was simply too powerful, and that's not even remotely close to the truth.

BlueTrain
April 23, 2012, 08:01 AM
Actually the US Army had the Hotchkiss light machine gun in .30-06 but not many. In fact they had very little of anything when the war started. The Hotchkiss was widely used during that period and was undoubtedly superior to the Chauchat, which has a very home-made look. At least one claim suggested the Chauchat was unreliable mainly because they wore out quickly.

SDC
April 23, 2012, 08:41 AM
The Hotchkiss would certainly have been a better choice than the Chauchat at the time, but it had been severely discredited during fighting in Mexico during the Pancho Villa expedition; the troops who were expected to use it weren't trained on it, and tried to load the clips upside down while firing at night, earning this LMG the name of "the daylight gun".

Mike Irwin
April 23, 2012, 09:19 AM
Hatcher talks about the Benet-Mercie gun in his notebook. IIRC he was assigned to troubleshooting duties because of numerous malfunctions in the field, almost all of which were being caused by actions of the GIs due to improper training.

At one time Clarke Brothers gunshop in Virginia had one of these guns hanging on the wall.

BlueTrain
April 23, 2012, 10:30 AM
You don't say? I'm surprised they don't now but I haven't been out in quite a while.

Mike Irwin
April 23, 2012, 11:38 AM
That was probably 10, 15 years ago that I saw it.

As you walked in the front door and went to the counter, a left turn would take you to where the counter turned 90 degrees towards the rear of the building.

The Benet-Mercie was on the wall right near there. Behind the counter and hanging near the ceiling above the rifles and shotguns.