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Old June 16, 2012, 08:00 PM   #51
indy1919
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Bluetrain, Nothing is as nice as tanks... Tanks are so cool they have many machine guns + more

Per the Japanese clip feed MG, not that it shows the internals, the one history show on machine guns shows one of those and if you slowmo it you can see that thing kick out that little clip.. Its a sight
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Old June 16, 2012, 11:18 PM   #52
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The movie that started this thread:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35R2WENXMl8
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Old June 17, 2012, 12:42 AM   #53
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Aren't machine guns wonderful things? Almost as nice as tanks.
Depends on the machine gun and tank.
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Old June 17, 2012, 03:53 PM   #54
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To me, some of the most interesting tanks were the ones that performed the worst in battle, mostly German and British. The German tanks at the beginning of the war were not especially battle worthy and they lost a relatively high percentage in the invasion of Poland.

I mentioned the Japanese clip fed light machine gun. A similiar idea is how a M249 machine gun will take a standard M16 magazine. Again I suppose it was a good idea but I've been told they really are not reliable that way.
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Old June 19, 2012, 12:59 AM   #55
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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!
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Old June 19, 2012, 09:06 AM   #56
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For Troop support Hitlers buzzsaw (the Mg42) is the best. But for best Machine gun in the entire World War 2 I would be inclined to say Ma Duace (M2) is the best.
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Old June 19, 2012, 12:42 PM   #57
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44AMP. Yeah, I've heard about those. The idea was the machine gunner could use Arisaka rifle clips if he ran out. I have that show on DVR and you are right, they were malfunctioning quite a bit.

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Old June 21, 2012, 02:53 PM   #58
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Ask any veteran of any army in WWII which machine gun (or any gun) was the best and most will say their own. It would take a lot of nerve to admit that someone else had a better one. But sometimes I get the impression that sometimes there's a general feeling among soldiers that their enemy has better weapons. Often as not they just have better propaganda.

The odd and unique Japanese light machine gun only used rifle clips. It sounds like a good idea but apparently it sounded better than it worked.

There are outtakes of the TV show Mail Call on youtube on which Gunny is attempting to demonstrate various weapons and other militaria but mostly achieves a very high rate of failures, followed by high quality cursing. But in defense of all of those malfunctioning weapons, virtually all were of WWII or earlier manufacture. But also, as was said of a certain French heavy machine gun (not a Hotchkiss), they worked but it required a dedicated machine gun afficianado (which all readers of this forum would be, of course).
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Old June 21, 2012, 06:31 PM   #59
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For years i was the senior firing range advisor to the Saudi National Guard. One of the non-modernized battalions that used our ranges was the remnant of a princes private army that was integrated into the national guard: They were all from the same tribe. Their automatic rifle was an updated quick change barrel version of the BAR, the FN-D; chambered for 8mm. Their machinegun was the MG42/58. Their rifle was the FN model 1950.

The soldiers from that unit were the best military marksman i have ever seen.
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Old June 21, 2012, 08:38 PM   #60
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I have to say the comments on this thread are really fascinating.
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Old June 22, 2012, 09:10 PM   #61
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Somebody mentioned the Bren, which to me was the best Automatic Rifle of them all - I say Automatic Rifle however as it was not a machine gun, right along with the BAR.

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Old June 22, 2012, 10:15 PM   #62
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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.
As much as I love the "Fork-Tailed Devil," this just isn't true.

A single bullet in the right place could take out a liquid-cooled engine (Allison V-1710). And losing an engine (even in a twin-engined fighter) at low altitude was disastrous.

Also, despite the concentrated fire of the P-38, the P-47 was the more stable gun platform at low altitude.
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Old June 23, 2012, 02:17 AM   #63
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Tikirocker: Are you saying the Bren wasn't a machine gun because it wasn't belt fed?
As far as I can see that's the main functional difference between it and the MG 34.

Would the Japanese type 96 also count as an auto rifle rather than a machine gun?

Fishbed77: My point wasn't which plane was more durable or easier to fly. It only had to do with a planes ability to put rounds on target. I stand by my position.
It was another poster that argued the durability of the P-38.

Because the prototype crash landed after setting a transcontinental speed record, a lot of the planes development was stalled. The most unfortunate problem was not discovering the need for dive brakes until later models. Upgrades were on a ship that was sunk by a Uboat so that delayed improvement to planes already in Europe even further. The result was that several P-38s literally disintegrated during power dives.
Other problems plagued the P-38 all the way through its operating life. Even with these problems it was a heck of a plane. More so when later models were equipped with ten rockets.
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Old June 23, 2012, 08:12 AM   #64
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" 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."

By far the best Japanese machine gun of the war was their late analog to the Bren gun, the Type 99 chambered in 7.7mm. It wasn't until this gun that the Japanese finally understood the need for slow primary extraction. Their guns prior to that, even their copies of the Hotchkiss guns, didn't have initial extraction, so they had to use either cartridge oiling mechanisms, or they had to have oiled cartridges loaded into the magazines. Horrible set up.

"Would the Japanese type 96 also count as an auto rifle rather than a machine gun?"

Nope. It was, like the Bren and most of the others, used as a squad automatic weapon.

The fact that the Browning Automatic Rifle is called an automatic rifle is really irrelevant because its primary role after World War I's "how the hell are we going to use this thing" head scratching was as a.... squad automatic weapon. Same as the Bren, same as the Types 96 and 99.


"Also, despite the concentrated fire of the P-38, the P-47 was the more stable gun platform at low altitude."

The P-47 was great, the P-38 was interesting....

But if you wanted to REALLY kick some ground ass from the air, you called in a flight of Hawker Typhoons. Four 20mm cannons, 10 Holy Moses rockets, and in some field set ups, a 500-lb bomb slung on the centerline as well (although that apparently was only done on paved or solid runways because it hung a little low to the ground).
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Old June 24, 2012, 12:27 PM   #65
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Yeah, the Hawker Tempest and Typhoon were probably the best attack aircraft the Allies had during WW2. They were so fast that Britain used them to chase down V-1 rockets and shoot them down. They were originally designed as fighters, but it had handling problems and couldn't turn inside Messerschmidts. So the made attack fighters out of them. 4 20mm guns and 2,000lbs of bombs were plenty.And if the pilot ran out of ammo chasing a V-1 he would simply fly next to it and use his wing-tip to tip the V-1 over so it would crash in the sea. Britain continued to use them until 1951.
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Old June 24, 2012, 12:47 PM   #66
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Shooting down V1s with the big Hawker turned out to be the least preferred option! While the Hawker was faster than the V1, it wasn't that much faster, and many times intercepts couldn't be made.

But when they were, pilots learned that the V1, while it did not maneuver, was a small fast target, and to get hits, you had to be fairly close.

And close turned out to be a bad thing when you shot at a flying bomb! V1s turned out to be able to damage, and even take out their attackers at close ranges, from the massive explosion of the warhead!

So, easing up on one, and edgeing a wingtip under the V1 wing, then flipping it out of control became preferred, and safer for the pilots. But it had to be done over the sea, or open country, not over cities, towns, or villages, for obvious reasons. If caught late, they were shot down, ...carefully.

personally, I'd give the nod for best fighterbomber to the P-47. 8 .50cal Brownings, bombs/rockets, and still a quite capable air superiority fighter, and many, many Messerschmitts and Focke Wulfs found out. A very rugged airframe, and a massive air cooled engine meant Thunderbolts could take a lot of damage and still get home. That was a bit plus, too, and one place where the P-47 was superior to the Hawkers, which used liquid cooled engines.
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Old June 25, 2012, 08:41 AM   #67
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Over the years I've read a lot about how fighters and other aircraft using liquid cooled engines were a flying crash waiting to happen, and that a well-placed blob of spittle from an angry Nazi Gauleiter would cause a cooling system failure and an immediate engine seizure, followed by a spectacular crash.

I call B.S. and say that that "problem" was an overstated issue that was largely a non issue.

In all of the reading I've done on the air war in Europe over the years, I've found many mentions of this "problem," but I've found VERY FEW credible accounts of aircraft being downed because of their cooling systems being drained from battle damage. And in most of those it would appear that even had the cooling system not been damaged the plane still would have gone down simply because of the total damage sustained.

The cooling systems on liquid-cooled aircraft during the war were generally well protected by a combination of armor plate and other systems and in most cases were largely inaccessible to being damaged by bullets. Explosive shells were another matter, but then again, the damaged caused by explosive shells was often enough to bring an aircraft down whether the cooling system was damaged or not.

Many of the war's most successful aircraft used liquid cooled engines, including the Mustang, the Spitfire, the Typhoon, the Tempest, the Lancaster, the Mosquito, etc.

The Mustang, Typhoon, and the Mosquito (as well as the Lockheed Lightning) were well known for their low-level attack and reconnaissance missions.

Had they been as vulnerable to ground fire as is alluded, it's likely that A) their loss rates would have been much higher, and B) they simply wouldn't have been used for those kinds of missions.
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Old June 25, 2012, 10:56 AM   #68
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There is some semantic creep in this thread, although perhaps with good reason (not the reason you think). Congress got into the act now and then. In some branches of the service, automatic rifles got called "machine rifles," which follows the logic of "machine pistol" and "machine carbine." And some tanks were called "combat cars" because some people weren't supposed to have tanks. So they got combat cars instead.

Anyone want to talk about "personal defense weapons?"
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Old June 25, 2012, 09:26 PM   #69
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Here's a question;

Could one define a light machine gun (vs automatic rifle) by the crew assigned? It's all a matter of semantics, really, but since they were both used as squad automatics, this gets into tactical doctrine, and each nation used the doctrine and terms they preferred.

Was there an "assistant BAR gunner"? I know other guys in the squad would hump ammo, but was there a designated guy to feed the BAR (other than the BAR gunner?)

Did the Japanese use an assistant gunner for their magazine fed LMGs? Several other nations did, and I know they Japanese did for the strip fed guns.

SO might one not make the dividing line at automatic rifle (crew:1) and LMG (crew:2)?

As to liquid cooled engines in aircraft, they are more vulnerable (one more thing that can go wrong/be damaged). However, I do agree that their vulnerability was much over blown. That being said, there are documented cases of a single bullet bringing down a fighter due to a hit in the cooling system. Rare, but it did happen. When the stars line up the right way, it happens.

IIRC, Combat cars were "tanks" (full tracked, w/turret(s)), but didn't have cannon, only medium (.30cal) and heavy (.50cal) machineguns. Yes, some people got combat cars, because they weren't authorized tanks, and congress, being what they were, would fund "combat cars", because tanks were too expensive....
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Old June 25, 2012, 09:39 PM   #70
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Just as there are documented cases of single bullets taking down radial engine aircraft because they blow out the oil intercooler and the engine seizes due to lack of lubrication.

They call those kind of events golden twinkees for a reason...


" I know other guys in the squad would hump ammo, but was there a designated guy to feed the BAR (other than the BAR gunner?)"

To the best of my knowledge, no. The gunner changed the magazines.

I think, though, that you're going to find that there is no single answer to that question that cuts across all armed services.

IIRC the British usually had a team of three assigned to the Bren gun - gunner, assistant, and second assistant who was primarily responsible for protecting the gunner, although per the next paragraph the second assistant may not really have been considered part of the gun crew.

This comes from Wikipedia, so we know it's not true: "The Bren was operated by a two-man crew, sometimes commanded by a Lance Corporal as an infantry section's "gun group", the remainder of the section forming the "rifle group". The gunner or "Number 1" carried and fired the Bren, and a loader or "Number 2" carried extra magazines, a spare barrel and tool kit. Number 2 helped reload the gun and replace the barrel when it overheated, and spotted targets for Number 1."

The Japanese had a completely different view of how these types of guns were to be used. They made provisions to mount bayonets on their light machine guns so that the gunner could use them as a rifleman would use his rifle in a charge. Totally insane, and as I understand it, as often as not, the gunner operated independently and carried his own ammo.

Soviet doctrine usually had teams of two with the Degtyarev, the gunner and another guy who did double duty as ammunition carrier (had a shoulder-slung box with three 47-round pans in it) who was also responsible for protecting the gunner with his PPSh 41.
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Old June 26, 2012, 09:48 AM   #71
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I wonder why they didn't ever work at improving on the BAR design, giving it a larger capacity magazine, or some kind of belt feed option, and quick change barrel.

That would definitely have made it a squad automatic weapon, wouldn't it have?

Can't imagine having only a 20 round magazine with that thing on full auto. You'd be doing a ton of mag swaps, no?
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Old June 26, 2012, 10:09 AM   #72
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I wonder why they didn't ever work at improving on the BAR design, giving it a larger capacity magazine, or some kind of belt feed option, and quick change barrel.
They did, what do you think the M240 is? A BAR action turned onto its side and adapted for belt feed.

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Old June 26, 2012, 10:18 AM   #73
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The M240 entered service in the 1970s, if I'm not mistaken, and has been replacing the M60 in many cases, etc.

I was just wondering why they didn't do something like this with the BAR itself, during WWII, or, before it.
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Old June 26, 2012, 09:06 PM   #74
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I wonder why they didn't ever work at improving on the BAR design, giving it a larger capacity magazine, or some kind of belt feed option, and quick change barrel.
There are a number of practical reasons, not the least of which is cost. Another factor is legalitites (which also cost), and then it gets into what services think they need, what serves which purpose, best vs good enought, and did I mention, cost?

The BAR was designed, and built like all Browning's other arms, it was made to last. Designed decades before military thought moved to more "disposable" designs, the BAR was made like any sporting and contemporary firearms, built to give a lifetime of service without wearing out the major components just from use.

Other than some handguns, nothing from that era had a quick change barrel in the sense we use it today. Even Browning's designs that did feature a field changeable barrel needed to have headspace and timing set each time the barrel was changed. The modern "yank one out and slap another in" fixed headspace system common today wasn't used, most likely because there was no perceived need.

As to larger magazines, why? Sustained fire is what belt feeds (and specifically water cooled) is for. Also, try to get low prone with a 30rnd mag sticking out the bottom of the gun. Bren guns get bigger mags, but they go in the TOP of the gun.

Belt feed the BAR? OK, sounds good, but then you don't have a BAR anymore. Its not as simple as cutting a hole in the side of the receiver for the belt to go through. Other existing machinegun designs fill the need, so modifying the BAR is a waste of time, and money.

And speaking of money, note that armies buy weapons slowly during peace, budgets are tight, and even modifying existing stocks of arms (cheaper than buying new, usually) is tough to get approval for. And then there is the little legal issue of who owns the design, again, that is money...

When the fighting starts, armies buy guns, in large numbers, and existing designs get a big advantage, because they are already in production. You might have a better gun, in some ways, but if you can't deliver 1,000 next month, you will lose out to the guy who can deliver something that already is known to work.

The BAR, while not the best of all possible designs available at the start of WWII was in inventory, did work, and we could get more, starting tomorrow...

And as to getting something "better" later, well, why? We got all these BARs already....

Personality, both in the military, and in the political side (funding, etc.) also plays a big part. It shouldn't, but it does. History has many examples of someone have a good, possibly even superior design, but because the inventor ticked off somebody (bureaucrat in, or out of uniform) it doesn't get adopted. OR someone's personal prestige becomes part of the process, creating the same result, if for slightly different reasons.

Maybe the new design is just barely better, but not enough to justify the expense of changing. History is full of examples of this, to one degree or another. Even the M1 Garand design had to be modified extensively before the Army would adopt it.

We never seriously considered major changes to the BAR, there was at first, no need, and then, there was no time. And, really while decades later, some people did "built a better mousetrap" in some ways, getting US to adopt it couldn't happen until some fundamental changes in our military philosophy took place first.
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Old June 27, 2012, 07:28 AM   #75
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Your descriptions of the organizational employment of a light machine gun or squad automataic in infantry units is generally correct, Mr. Irwin. The problem that armies have when actually operational is that casualties tend to wreck such niceties pretty quickly, although they will be adhered to as much as possible. The infantry platoon is where everything happens and is the "sharp end" of the army. I hear tanks get used now and then and they also use mostly the same machine guns. A "burst" to a tanker is at least 25 rounds.

Armies have struggled, in a way, with the concept of the rifle squad or section level automatic weapon ever since WWI. They all seem to have tried all variations at one time or another. The US BAR may have been the one in service the longest, with it being used for over 50 years. It and the M1 were still in National Guard units into the 1970s. There may be another that beats that record but I can't think of one.

The basic problems are that, at least at the infantry section level, is the conflicting requirements of mobility and firepower. If firepower were not a requirement, there would be no machine gun in the rifle squad. If mobility were not a requirement, water cooled guns would still be used. So all of these guns represent some form of compromise, just as all the others do. Yet as often as not, the man on the ground, usually with his nose on the ground (literally), will probably think the enemy has better weapons. Doesn't matter which side you're on. Sometimes both sides have exactly the same weapons.

For firepower, belt fed seems to be the way to go but it has disadvantages. Mostly the answer has been to devise some form of magazine for the belt. Where that has been done, the gun stayed. Where it wasn't, it didn't. There were probably other factors but it has always seemed to work out that way unless there were more varieties of machine guns actually used, as was the case in the US Army in WWII. The squad had the BAR, the platoon or company had belt fed light machine guns. The water cooled were at battalion or even higher.

All very interesting but why am I worried about this?
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