Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
There is a good Tales of the Gun episode on Japanese infantry weapons, and it included the one that took the rifle stripper clips. One thing I found amusing was that every gun they shot in that show, except for the Arisaka rifle, jammed at least once before it was empty!
The Japanese machine guns of WWII were a really horrid lot. The best one they had was a copy of a Hotchkiss, and that one was neither belt or box mag fed, it used feed strips. I've had a couple of the strips over the years. Neat idea, not so good in actual use, but the did work.
Brass, with little fingers to hold the rounds in place. Each strip held 30 rnds (or so, I don't recall exactly), and could be linked together, forming a kind of rigid "belt". I believe its the type 99 machine gun that used them, we nicknamed it the "woodpecker". One really odd thing was that the gun reloaded the fired cases back into the feed strip!
Another of their LMGs used the rifle stripper clips, BUT (IIRC) the gun wouldn't run right on the regular rifle ammo! And the ammo had to be oiled! Another one used a round dimensionally identical to the rifle round, but loaded to a lower pressure to work in the machine gun. Working in supply must have been a nightmare, to get the right ammo to the right users!
On the other hand, you have to admire their determination. As far as I know, the Japanese were the only people to mount a bayonet on a light machine gun!
We've come a long way, each war producing both good and bad designs, and if modern designs weren't at least some better than the old ones, I'd have to ask, WHY THE HECK NOT?
The design teams that came up with the MG34 and the MG42 did some tremendous work. Maxim proved it could work, and work well, but I think the undisputed king of machine gun designers has to be JM Browning. True, his designs don't have all the bells and whistles we think important today, but for the era his guns were so far ahead of the curve, we're still using some of them today. And when we went to replace some of his designs, we went through one, two, or even three different designs to find something that actualy improved, or had any significant advantage over Browning's designs.
When we replaced the M1919, we went throug 4 differnt guns before finding one that would even serve as well as the old 1919! We tried to replace the M2 .50 cal, the M60 series tanks carried the M85. It worked so well, the M1 Abrams has an M2 on it!
The M60 tank also replaced the Browning 1919 in the coax position with a new design, the M73. Then the M73A1, then the M219 (all "refinements of the basic design, to try to get it to work right). Finally, we went to the M240, which is the basic Belgian MAG58 design, and it works. M240s are mounted in the Abrams too.
Browning machine guns aren't idiot proof, troops can, and do screw them up. I worked on M2s as a Small Arms Repairman, 90%+ of all the repairs I had to make were broken/bent exterior parts (charging handle, sight ears, etc) because they got dropped. Archaic dinosaurs, they didn't have quick change barrels, and you had to adjust the headspace, and timing, but Ma Duce, she just don't quit!
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.