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Old May 30, 2012, 02:31 PM   #26
Amsdorf
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The BAR was not a machine gun, but an automatic rifle, that only had a 20 round box magazine. It was pressed into service as a "squad automatic weapon" back in WWII.
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Old May 30, 2012, 04:01 PM   #27
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These things are all true. As other firearms have been brought besides the 1919 and MG42 I place it here as well as it filled a major role with the US forces, which relied less on the 1919.

Additionally I would add in the Bren Gun (just because its cool), and the Johnson .30 used primarily by the Marines.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M1941_Johnson_machine_gun
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Old May 30, 2012, 05:35 PM   #28
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The P47 Thunderbolt was the best platform in the war, though the P51 generally overshadows it. The 8 .50 calls in the wings, with its incredible diving capability made it the king of the air when it came to ground support.
As far as ground attack the P-38 with four .50 cals and a 20mm cannon, was imho a better platform. Mainly because all the guns were centrally placed so convergence of fire wasn't as important.

That is of the fighters, the various small bombers including a B-25 with a 75mm gun probably hit harder.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B-26_Marauder
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B-26B-10 through B-26B-55—Beginning with block 10, the wingspan was increased from 65 feet (20 m) to 71 feet (22 m), to improve handling problems during landing caused by a high wing load; flaps were added outboard of the engine nacelles for this purpose also. The vertical stabiliser height was increased from 19 feet 10 inches (6.05 m) to 21 feet 6 inches (6.55 m). The armament was increased from six to twelve .50 caliber machine guns; this was done in the forward section so that the B-26 could perform strafing missions. The tail gun was upgraded from manual to power operated. Armor was added to protect the pilot and copilot.
Once rockets became practical in mid 1945 the machine guns and auto cannons took a second place in ground attack.
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Old June 1, 2012, 04:31 AM   #29
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Everybody has their favorites...

But even though they often filled the same roles in combat, design philosophies are very different, as one might expect considering the near quarter century between the designs of the two guns.

The 1919 Browning is just the lightened, air cooled version of the 1917 water cooled gun. There are some minor differences, but basically its the same gun. And like ALL military small arms designed before (and during WWI) they were built like civilian guns in the fact that they were intended to be durable.

WWI changed everyone's thinking about combat, being the first war where the machine gun ruled the battlefield. Heavy built, built to last. The Maxim gun, was the main weapon, and used by both the English and the Germans.

By the closing years of WWI, some lessons had been learned, and the Browning has improved features over the earlier WW I machineguns. But there is only so much that can be done with a design, without making it into a completely different gun. We used the Browning .30 in WWII, and used it A LOT, because it was what we had, and were making.

Germany, on the other hand, as has been said, basically had to start from scratch when they rearmed. And they had a different tactical doctrine than we did. The MG 34 is a masterpiece of design, but it is also made more in the traditional manner than later arms. It was the pressure of wartime production requirements, and some lessons learned that led to the MG 42. Propaganda aside, the Nazi war machine was nearly always on the brink of being critically short of small arms, and used captured weapons, and captured weapons factories extensively to supplement the German produced arms pool.

Note that they contined to build Lugers (p.08) until 1942, when it finally became clear that cost (in terms of skilled labor time) could be better used making other arms. The MG 42 was the first hugely sucessful design that took into account the fact that the battlefield life of small arms is not very long, and its a waste to make them "the old fashioned way".

So, stampings were used for a fair part of the gun. Cheaper in cost, and much cheaper in terms of production time. For us, there was no pressing need to replace or supplement the Browning .30, because when we got going, our production capacity dwarfed all the other combatant nations. Only the Soviet Union came close to matching us in arms, and they were able to do it in some areas only because supplies of materiel from the US (Lend Lease) meant they could concentrate production on arms. The Soviets didn't build as many trucks as they needed (or used), for example because we sent them thousands of Studebakers. The capacity they would have needed to use to build trucks could instead make tanks.

We also had an unsurmountable advantage in that our supplies of raw materials were secure and nobody was bombing our factories.

The Germans built a great gun in the MG 42, but they needed to build a gun like that. The lessons of WWII meant that the Browning .30 was a luxury car, and what modern war needed was an economy car, and lots of them. When we did get around to replacing the Browning .30, we went with a gun that did borrow (or directly copy) many of the features of the MG42. The M60 was better suited for modern war, but it was NOT a better gun than the Browning. In fact as a fine firearm, the m60 was a piece of crap, with many flaws and faults. ITs true we took lots of its design from the MG42, but we didn't do it right. Many of those flaws were eventually corrected, but it took considerable time, and its still "the pig".
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Old June 1, 2012, 05:02 PM   #30
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Very interesting, thank you!
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Old June 3, 2012, 07:33 AM   #31
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I think the biggest ways the MG34 and the MG42 were different from their predecessors in German service at least was that they were lighter and that they had quick change barrels. The older water cooled machine guns, which did have some advantages, were simply too heavy and difficult to move around. They needed a whole squad to employ. Everyone has fairly similiar general purpose machine guns now but apparently a quick change barrel is not so important as it was considered then. Of course with the high rate of fire of an MG42, maybe it needed it more than other guns.

Obviously the MG42 was a redesign of the MG34 and the MG42 was obviously the inspiration for the M60, though everything I've read said that some design features actually came from other weapons. It's interesting to consider that the replacement for the M60 is actually an older design that was introduced either at the same time or a little earlier.
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Old June 5, 2012, 10:39 PM   #32
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The M60 "borrowed" design features from the MG 42 (notably the feed cover mechanism and the extensive use of stampings), the Lewis gun (bolt group), and I believe the BREN gun (barrel latch).

Touted as a wonder weapon, the only thing it did really well was be lighter than previous guns, at 23.5lbs. The feed system (in the cover) was nearly an exact copy of the MG 42's, and worked pretty well, however, the feed tray itself was crap, being too thin (and a stamping), which was prone to crack and the rivets fastening the hanger constantly came loose.

The bolt group wasn't bad, but the designers choose poor angles for the cam surfaces between the bolt and op rod, resulting in the gun actually chewing up the op rod during operation. Can't tell you how many op rods I stoned to keep them running for a while, but it was more than a few.

Also, there was no secondary sear, so that when the trigger was released, the notch on the op rod would slam into the sear (and the op rod would also ride on the top of the sear as it worked, if the trigger wasn't held back enough) resulting in rapid wear of the rod, and the sear, which eventually would lead to a run away gun.

And, instead of working smoothly like the MG 42, the M60 was very jerky when feeding, the vibration was bad enough to overcome the spring detents and allowing the end caps of the gas cylinder to virbate loose. We wound up using lacing wire to keep them on, and that meant that the wire had to be cut, in order to disassemble the gas cylinder to clean it, and new lacing wire installed afterwards.'

Other flaws in the execution of the design were that the carry handle was on the gun (forearm) NOT the barrel, (unlike the Bren) so one needed the asbestos mitten (provided) in order to change a hot barrel without serious burns.

AND, the bipod was mounted on the barrel, not the gun, meaning each barrel assembly was bulkier, heavier, and more expensive than it needed to be, because every spare barrel also had its own bipod attached!

AND...the trigger group was held to the reciever by a single solid pin. The pin was retained by a leaf spring, which could vibrate off, or be brushed off, and was easily installed upside down, which meant it would remove itself due to gravity somtimes. And when it did, the pin was easly pushed, or vibrated out, letting the entire trigger group fall off the gun! If this happened with a belt loaded and the bolt back, the gun runs away and keeps firing until somthing jams the belt or it runs out of ammo!

All in all, the original M60 design was a fabulous gun, if you were a manufacturer interested in selling as many spare parts to Uncle Sam as you could. If you were the troops using it, at best, it was adeqate, and seldom was it at its best.

A fine example of a gun designed by a committee, taking the good features from some other guns, and putting them together in the worst possible way.

And yes, I worked on them....a lot.

I'd have to go look it up, but I don't think its correct to call the MG 42 a redesign of the MG34. The bolt groups are quite different. While there are many visual similarities overall, they are mechanically quite different at the heart of the gun. IIRC, the MG42 uses a variation of the roller lock system (actually a delayed blowback, but without the fluted chamber found in the H&K version), while the MG 34 uses rotating bolt locking lugs (might be wrong, but that what I remember. After I look it up, if I'm wrong, I'll apologize.)
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Old June 6, 2012, 04:32 AM   #33
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Thanks, I learned a lot from that comment.
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Old June 6, 2012, 06:20 AM   #34
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The P47 Thunderbolt was the best platform in the war, though the P51 generally overshadows it. The 8 .50 calls in the wings, with its incredible diving capability made it the king of the air when it came to ground support.

It wasn't only firepower, it was survivability of the P-47. It could take a lot of abuse from ground fire and still keep going. The big radial was reliable, and could keep running, even after some critical hits. The P-51's engine was liquid cooled. One hit to the radiator, and it was toast.

Someone else mentioned the P-38 which was also good a the ground attack role. It had TWO engines, so if one got it, the other could still get you home. Again, survivability was important. Doesn't hurt to have a 20MM either.

BTW, it can be argued the P-51 was a better air to air fighter than the P-47. It was generally considered the best piston fighter of WWII.
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Old June 6, 2012, 06:55 AM   #35
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That is of the fighters, the various small bombers including a B-25 with a 75mm gun probably hit harder.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B-26_Marauder
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B-26B-10 through B-26B-55—Beginning with block 10, the wingspan was increased from 65 feet (20 m) to 71 feet (22 m), to improve handling problems during landing caused by a high wing load; flaps were added outboard of the engine nacelles for this purpose also. The vertical stabiliser height was increased from 19 feet 10 inches (6.05 m) to 21 feet 6 inches (6.55 m). The armament was increased from six to twelve .50 caliber machine guns; this was done in the forward section so that the B-26 could perform strafing missions. The tail gun was upgraded from manual to power operated. Armor was added to protect the pilot and copilot.
If you talk about armament configuration the Douglas A26 was far better suited and had a far longer life in service. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_A-26_Invader
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Old June 6, 2012, 07:17 AM   #36
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The MG42 gets allot of praise for its design as it should it is still used today but one that is overlooked is Ma Duece aka M2 .50 it was mentioned a few times but if you want to talk about dependability and reliability and firepower there is nothing that comes close you can take her faults in being heavy all you want but the MG42 had her faults as well the combat vets that have heard the God awful sound of the 42 firing knew that the machine gun pit would run out of ammo due to her high rate of fire. Regardless a great design still used today in the 240 variants that we currently use today. The M2 however is still used as well with very little if any modification to the original design. She is one of the ages, proof that John Browning is still the king. As for the BAR not being mentioned and even though it is classified as a machine gun but as a Automatic Rifle name says one thing the operation of it says machine gun just like the Thompson the Grease Gun, MP40, PPsH 43 they are not belt fed like the 1919, or the MG42 but it does not make them anything less they are still machine guns. The M2 is still the king for range, firepower, lethality, dependability she covers all the bases. The M2 is to the machine gun world as what George Strait is to country they are still the King.
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Old June 6, 2012, 03:38 PM   #37
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MA Duece....

To my mind, the undesiputed king of machine guns, and a significant factor in US success on the battlefield in WW II, and ever since.

However, the M2 is a heavy machinegun. Its in a whole different class from the 1919 Browning and the MG 42. Now, while the Germans did use the MG 42 as both the light and heavy machinegun roles, the gun is not a heavy machinegun. It is best described as a GPMG, a general purpose machinegun.

And that is something the M2 definately is not. IN infantry configuration, the M2 reciever alone weighs 84lbs! The barrel is another 23, and the tripod about 65lbs. Considering each round of .50BMG fires a bullet that weighs about 6 times that of a .30-06, and at a slightly higher speed, all that weight is needed! But you pay a price in mobility. Weight vs mobility is why ground mount use of the M2 is rare. We mounted Ma Deuce on every kind of vehicle capable of taking it, on the ground, and in the air, for mobility.

True the BAR, Thompson, Sten, PPSH, MP40 etc are legally machine guns. SO is the M16. IF it fires full auto, then legally its a machinegun, be it tripod mounded belt fed, rifle, carbine or pistol.

That's how the ATF and the law define it. However, military defintions (and the terms in common use by civilians discussing these arms) are a bit different. Automatic rifle, light MG, Submachinegun, and assault rifle are better descriptors of the arms, by both their design and tactical use.
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Old June 6, 2012, 06:21 PM   #38
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Thanks for the very informative comments!
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Old June 12, 2012, 09:28 AM   #39
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Cost of Production

Came across some other comparisons for the 1919s & Mg 34 & mg 42


The 1919a4 in 1940 cost the US over $650 each ($9993.52 US$ value today)
By 1945 the cost of manufacture was reduced to $60 ($718.96 US$ value today)

The mg34 cost 150 man hours & 500 Reichmarks to make or $119 US$ ($1917.01 US$ value today)

The mg42 cost 75 man hours & 250 Reichmarks to make or $59.50 US$ ($712.97 US$ value today)
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Old June 13, 2012, 03:28 AM   #40
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more video

There is/was a youtube video taken with a camera on the berm, looking back at the MG42 while the gun dumped a belt into the berm! Pretty amazing.

The MG42 was likely the best MG of the war. Portable, high rate of fire, and replaceable barrel. Keeping the thing fed would be another matter.
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Old June 13, 2012, 09:46 AM   #41
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The Nazis had better machine guns. Hard to beat the MG42. The BAR was an ultra-heavy 20 round automatic rifle. You'd think they would have at least made a drum for it. Seems like it would have been better if it was designed as a super accurate semi-auto long range rifle. If I recall, they were full-auto only. I've never fired one.

The BREN was finicky - I have fired one of those, and it had failure to eject problems when I shot it.....not that I got to fire it a lot, mind you.
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Old June 13, 2012, 11:00 AM   #42
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The comments about the M60 machine gun above highlights the fact that machine guns in particular do need to be durable. Whether or not there are stamped parts is beside the point and, anyway, stamped parts are really a heavy industrial kind of thing to produce, at least as far as machine guns go. But they do have to last. You can't have small arms (or other arms either) that quickly break down or wear out or are finicky in service. Some machine guns incorporated oilers for the ammo, which I can only imagine increases the critical nature of the functioning. But I'm sure the designers thought just the opposite.

The biggest differences between a military weapon and a sporting weapon are that the military weapon will (hopefully) be more robust and will have a better rust and corrosion-resistant finish. Only recently have hunting rifles been availabe that are really weather proof. If you see old weapons in museums, it is true they had better finishes than later weapons but it didn't contribute to their functionality one bit.
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Old June 13, 2012, 11:53 AM   #43
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The short recoil operated 1919 and 1917 machine guns are heavier, slower rate of fire, and take longer to conduct a barrel change.

That being said, machine gun math says that the gun that can put effects on the beaten zone longer is the better gun from a tactical standpoint. It isn't how much lead you can put on target, it is how long you can put lead on target.

That is why American GI's are constantly being harped on to conduct good burst control and conserve ammo.

Remember, it is never one single weapon system that wins a war, it is a proper mix of systems and combined with proper tactics to use those systems.

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Old June 14, 2012, 10:34 PM   #44
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In 1943 SAGINAW tries to Americanize the Mg42

Found this on the way to other things.. And interesting light read about a wartime attempt to convert an mg42 to "talk American" so to speak..

http://ww2.rediscov.com/spring/VFPCG...TABASE=objects,
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Old June 15, 2012, 01:08 PM   #45
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BAR

I love the BAR, but I don't think they ever came up with a more than 20 shot clip. The barrel replacement required more than just twist and turn, hence the 20 shot max. But I still love 'em. I know they weren't actual machine guns but they only fired 'full Auto' so else do you call them. MG42 heavily influenced the m60 so I quess it's No. 1

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Old June 15, 2012, 01:21 PM   #46
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If I recall, they were full-auto only. I've never fired one.
I have shot one, though I forget if it had a semi-auto mode. I know it had a selector for two rates of full auto fire. It is very easy to do two round bursts. You have to be a bit quick to get a 1 shot burst.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KbQN-2yT0Y
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Old June 15, 2012, 01:31 PM   #47
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Yes sir, you're right. I think it had 450 and 900 rpm selector switch . No single shot choice.
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Old June 16, 2012, 12:51 AM   #48
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Early model BARs did have semi auto. This was dropped on later models.

Technically, the BAR is classed as a LMG (light machine gun). There are several later designs of LMG that are slightly heaver, and still feed of a 20 (or sometimes 30) rnd box magazine. Some of them have quick change barrels, but not all of them do.

Remember the BAR was basically the first, lightest automatic rifle, and while it goes 18lbs or so, its lighter than a Lewis gun. The BAR was built for the concept of "walking fire", to give fire support to the doughboys walking through no-mans land. There was even a metal belt attachment to hold the butt of the gun.
While this tactic did not work out as well as was hoped, the BAR proved very useful, even if it was not as well suited for sustained fire as a belt fed gun.

Browning virtually gave the govt the design (he accepted their first (low ball) bid, under the condition that the first of the new rifles were sent to his son's unit in France.
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Old June 16, 2012, 03:21 PM   #49
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Thanks for the info, 44amp. I never realized there was a semi-auto version. Not that I could ever afford one, but it's nice to learn new stuff, even after 60 years. I used to watch "Combat" just so I could see Gage fire his BAR . It seems all the biggest guys in the squad toted the BAR's. And Browning, despite having to go to Belgium to get some of his guns made, was a heck of an American when it counted.
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Old June 16, 2012, 05:16 PM   #50
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Aren't machine guns wonderful things? Almost as nice as tanks.

I suppose you could argue all day over whether or not a BAR is a machine gun or not. It may be a rifle but it weighed around 16 pounds, depending on what was on it when you picked it up. Now the M249 is belt fed but used in the sale role and weighs around the same. In comparison, a Bren is around 20 lbs, an M250 around 24 lbs. The exact weight isn't so important because at the end of the day, it will feel like it weights twice as much. The important thing is that the users like the gun.

Here is an example of a good idea in a machine gun that didn't work out that well in practice. At least it was replaced with something more conventional. The Japanese first used a light machine gun that was neither belt fed nor magazine fed (It wasn't tube fed either). It was clip fed. In theory it sounds like a good idea. It took ordinary five-round clips for the standard infantry rifle. They were placed in a hopper on the left side of the gun and the cover was placed over the clips. I couldn't tell you how it worked but what I've read suggested it wasn't reliable. The next model had a box magazine. Something to think about next time you're designing a machine gun. Maybe you could get better results.
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