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Old May 27, 2013, 02:23 PM   #1
rgillis
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.30 Browning 1917 vs .30 Browning 1919 Machinegun

I've often wondered once the 1919 came into being, why the water cooled 1917 remained in production. I would think the portability factor alone would have been a tremendous plus. I can only assume that the 1917 could probably with its water cooled system allow for more sustained fire. But it's a complete assumption on my part.

Could anyone shed some light on the differences between the two. What makes one better than the other and why would a unit choose to deploy one over the other?

Thanks
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Old May 27, 2013, 03:01 PM   #2
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Needs must, but generally the water-cooled guns were relegated to fixed defensive positions, and not used in "fluid" situations. (OK, OK.)

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Old May 27, 2013, 04:11 PM   #3
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1917 is classified as a "heavy machine gun", 1919 is classified as a "medium machine gun" even though they both fire the same cartridge. Has more to do with their ability to maintain sustained fire.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heavy_machine_gun

Quote:
the "heavy" aspect of the weapon referred to the weapon's bulk and ability to sustain fire, not the cartridge caliber.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medium_machine_gun

Quote:
The medium designs offered greater flexibility, either using a bipod and being used like lighter designs, or being put on a tripod
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Old May 28, 2013, 01:05 PM   #4
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Watercooled guns could chug away for as long as you liked, as long as the water kept coming up.
Aircooled guns were a logical development for aircraft, and mirrored the development process in other nations. The first ground aircooled guns were for tanks, where water jackets being pierced by the amount of fire AFVs attracted was a distinct turn-off and the heavy barrel weight didn't matter much. All the M1919A4 guns were originally converted from watercooled and tank ones.
The A4 could not produce the same sustained fire that the M1917 guns could, and WW1-style barrage fire was what machine gunners were expecting to do in the next war. Fresh manufacture of watercooled guns did take place in the 1940s, but the quantities were far less.
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Old May 28, 2013, 02:28 PM   #5
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The Model 1917 and Model 1919 are, for all practical purposes, identical, except for the water jacket. Very little lightening was practical or was done for the M1919 and it was intended for use on a tripod. The M1919A6 was designed as a "light" machinegun, but anyone who ever carried one knows that the term "light" is a joke. I think that steel butt alone weighed more than a modern LMG.

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Old May 28, 2013, 09:07 PM   #6
Mike Irwin
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One reason I've heard for the development of water-cooled machine guns is because many of the early smokeless powders burned VERY hot and, if not properly cooled, could wash out a barrel in very short order.
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Old May 28, 2013, 09:21 PM   #7
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Certainly true of cordite. Actually about any ammo will wash out an MG barrel pretty quick, or at least until they got Stellite liners.

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Old May 29, 2013, 12:39 AM   #8
medalguy
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I've owned and fired both quite a lot, and the basic difference is heat dissipation by the water jacket/steam condensing can. The 1917 can fire all day long, or until you have to change out the barrel or run out of water. Other liquids can be substituted but one in particular which GIs in the field had to resort to makes the gun quite, well, smelly when hot. The 1919 in contrast is designed for burst fire, and I can assure you sustained fire WILL overheat the gun, causing all manner of problems, from tightening headspace to cook-offs in the chamber.
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Old May 29, 2013, 08:29 AM   #9
Mike Irwin
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Yep, cordite was always a flame thrower, but Ballilstite and most early American powders were also barrel napalm.

The rise of Du Pont's military rifle and improved military rifle powders as the standard US propellant class was due in part to their burning significantly cooler than WA 30.

Hey, another powder history discussion....

You and I seem to be stuck in a rut, Jim.


Back when I worked for a guy who had a gun shop, he had his class 3 license and kept some class 3 stuff in the shop, including for a time a beautifully restored Model of 1917.
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Old May 29, 2013, 08:32 AM   #10
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'The 1919 in contrast is designed for burst fire, and I can assure you sustained fire WILL overheat the gun, causing all manner of problems, from tightening headspace to cook-offs in the chamber."

Yep.

Somewhere on the web is a low-light video of someone ripping off an entire belt in a machine gun like this. Don't think it's a Browning, but I can't remember for sure.

About half way through the belt you notice that the barrel has started to glow...


Rumor has it that during WW I, when troops wanted hot water for tea (British) or coffee (Americans), they would fill the water jacket with fresh water and rip off a belt towards the German lines.
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Old May 29, 2013, 12:02 PM   #11
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Mike, I enjoy those discussions, but I think they are a bit too esoteric for most of the folks. I suspect few, if any, of our members have ever heard of W&A or L&R or, today, even DuPont, since they dumped the powder business in the last big anti-gun hoopla.

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Old May 29, 2013, 01:20 PM   #12
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In the computer and/or Sci-Fi world, there's the big controversy over if the word is nerd or geek.

I think we have the same thing here....
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Old May 29, 2013, 04:36 PM   #13
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"I suspect few, if any, of our members have ever heard of W&A or L&R or, today, even DuPont, since they dumped the powder business in the last big anti-gun hoopla."

Well then they need to read our posts!


Serious question, one I don't know the answer to...

Could the 1917 use the disintegrating link belt, or could it only be used with canvas belts?

I've always only ever seen pictures of it being used with the canvas belt.
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Old May 29, 2013, 05:18 PM   #14
Jim Watson
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Small Arms of the World, W.H.B. Smith; shows only the cloth belt for the original 1917 MG.
The M1917A1 (1936) is listed for both cloth and disintegrating link belts.

The M1919A4 WWII gun is also listed to handle both belts.
Earlier models of the air cooled gun are not described in my edition of SAotW.
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Old May 29, 2013, 10:18 PM   #15
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The disintegrating link belt was designed to be used interchangeably with the cloth belt, but of course did not exist until the 1930's, so any pictures before that will obviously not show the steel link belt, only the cloth type. The link belt was originally intended for aircraft use since cloth belts were not very compatible with wing guns. They did design a spring loaded drum to wind up the cloth belts, but disintegrating links proved better; a special chute dropped the links out of the plane. (I once mentioned this on another site and was asked, so help me, if the pilot was worried about the links hitting someone on the ground!)

Note that M1919 converted to 7.62 NATO cannot use the push-through link belt made for the M60. It uses the same pull-back links as the .30 caliber gun.

The first push-through link belts, used by the Germans in the MG.34 and MG.42 are not disintegrating; the links are attached to each other by coiled wire. Like the cloth belts, they could, in theory, be reloaded and reused. I suspect theory didn't "cut much ice" during a Russian winter.

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Old May 31, 2013, 01:28 AM   #16
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Actually, Jim, the .30-06 and 7.62 x 51 guns do not use the same link. The 7.62 models use a slightly different link that does not have the "belling" on the small end of the loop. This is due to the different shoulder angle on the 7.62 cartridge. I use both and have a 1919 set up for .30-06 and one set up for 7.62 x 51. I don't take both out at the same time after mixing up several thousand links!

You CAN use the same link but the 7.62 will push too far into the link causing feeding problems.
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Old June 20, 2013, 11:55 AM   #17
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Quote:
The first push-through link belts, used by the Germans in the MG.34 and MG.42 are not disintegrating; the links are attached to each other by coiled wire. Like the cloth belts, they could, in theory, be reloaded and reused. I suspect theory didn't "cut much ice" during a Russian winter.
The Germans did consider their ammo belts, and ammo cans to be re-usable, unlike our troops, who generally considered them to be throw away items after use.

A lot of effort (and so, some monetary savings) was made during the early part of the war to collect and reuse belts and ammo cans after the battle. It was done whenever possible. Later it became "whenever practical", and as the Germans lost more and more engagements, was seldom practical.

Our guys did collect used ammo cans after the battle, or when the campaign was winding down, and I expect there was some organized reuse at different times and places during the war. Like a lot of things, ammo belts and cans were considered expendable, and collecting, sorting and reusing them wasn't done until well after the pressure of combat was gone, and they were just "lying around" and some local officer needed something for troops to do.

I have always loved the fact the our military sold used cans (and sometimes new ones) as surplus or scrap. GI ammo cans are great for many things.
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Old June 21, 2013, 08:50 AM   #18
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Hi, Medal guy,

Correct, and my error. I also have samples of each and should have checked.

Hi, 44 AMP,

Yes, the links were classed as expendable in combat, like the ammo itself, and items like M1 clips. In training, links and clips were salvaged when possible and fired cases were picked up for reloading blank cartridges. (That is why boxes of blanks usually show varying headstamps.)

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