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Old June 11, 2014, 12:04 PM   #76
amd6547
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I recall reading that the cutoff found use with grenade launchers, allowing the soldier to load a grenade launching blank, while keeping a mag full of ball.
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Old June 11, 2014, 12:48 PM   #77
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"I recall reading that the cutoff found use with grenade launchers, allowing the soldier to load a grenade launching blank, while keeping a mag full of ball."

By the 1930s and into the early days of World War II when it was still being issued, that's the only reason troops were taught for the cutoff's existence, and was the primary reason why it was kept even during wartime production when fitting a simplified bolt release would have required less machining and been faster and less expensive to make.
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Old June 11, 2014, 01:14 PM   #78
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Hi, Mike,

Good points, but in the 1898-1902 time frame, when the M1903 was being designed, few (too few) military officers understood the machine gun or its role in future battles; the primary infantry weapon, the most costly and the one which underwent the most scrutiny by the Army and the public, was still the soldier's rifle.

Actually, the Civil War had a major influence on European military tactics, mainly in two areas, the use of railroads, and the use of metallic cartridges and repeating rifles. In that era, there was a surprising interchange of ideas between the European military establishments and the American Army and Navy. Each studied the other carefully, and military and naval attaches spent a lot of time cultivating their counterparts in other countries.

So, it is possible that American thinking influenced the Danish Krag (a modified version of which was adopted as the U.S. Krag, and its cutoff was carried over to the M1903), but the idea was "in the air" and I doubt the Danes used it just because some American Civil War officer said so.

But the thinking behind the cutoff was not only "keeping the magazine in reserve" for an emergency. It was to allow, and encourage, individual aimed fire at other times, the reverse of your idea that individual firing was not allowed. And that concept was foreign to the Germans; their tactics involved waiting for the right moment, as determined by an officer, then using mass fire to suppress the threat. Chance dictated when a soldier's rifle was empty, but that was not important; most of the other soldiers would have loaded magazines.

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Old August 12, 2014, 03:01 PM   #79
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Weren't they dumped off the Golden Gate?

BTW, Presidio Army Museum used to have one displayed. When the museum shut down, it was stolen. I know because I met the curator who was sent from West Point to inventory the objects and return them to storage. He was surprised to learn about it (and the Broomhandle Mauser I used to gawk at).
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Old August 15, 2014, 05:43 AM   #80
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After reading a little more into the supposed history of the Pedersen Device, it seems as though it's main intended use was for trench sweeping at close range and not "marching fire." Trench sweeping makes a whole lot more sense than the marching fire.

When it was evident that the U.S. was intent on developing a semi auto rifle, the whole Pedersen Device idea became moot. In essence, they became completely obsolete within a very short timespan.
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Old August 15, 2014, 07:50 AM   #81
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Yep, as I said, it had a dual purpose.

Yes, they did envision it giving Doughboys more firepower as they walked across no man's land, but its primary use would have been IN the trenchs, assaulting along the length of the trench and into bunkers and bastion points. It's there that the firepower would have likely been a significant advantage.
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Old August 15, 2014, 07:14 PM   #82
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You are probably right, Mike, that a semi-auto rifle would have been of use IN the enemy trenches. But everything I have seen and read about the PD seems to be about the idea of "marching fire" and "keeping their heads down." If there was anything about how it would work when the Americans reached the enemy, I have either not seen it or don't recall it. I still think there would have been another name for "marching fire" with the PD - suicide.

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Old August 15, 2014, 08:45 PM   #83
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Regardless of what some tactician may have invisioned as the purpose of the Pederson Device, I believe that if the Marines at Belleau Wood had them, they would have put them to good use in whatever way seemed appropriate.
Might have been handy for Sgt York and his buddies when they marched all those captured Krauts into captivity, too.
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Old August 16, 2014, 05:40 PM   #84
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Perhaps the overstuffed Ordnance Board members were thinking of "marching fire," since most of them (as has been pointed out) were still fighting the Civil War, but I suspect that once in the field, any good officer worth his salt would have figured out right away that it was suicide, and only used the devices for the more practical benefit of close range trench sweeping. In the end, the 12 ga. trench guns proved to be much more effective.

I firmly believe that officers in the field had enough common sense to know that there was no "marching" of any kind across No-Man's Land and that it was crazy and suicidal.

Both of my maternal grandfathers (biological and step) served in the First World War. Unfortunately, my bio. grandfather died the year before I was born, and my "step" never talked about it.
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Old August 16, 2014, 06:37 PM   #85
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You think they knew marching fire was suicidal and wouldn't do it? Read about Belleau Wood, when the Marines attacked across a field into machine guns.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battl...k_Belleau_Wood
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Old August 16, 2014, 08:05 PM   #86
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The belt socket for the BAR was adopted for "marching fire", and all the armies were trained in working the bolts of their rifles while marching forward. Of course, no one much hit anything and "the enemy" (either side) pretty much ignored such nonsense and just concentrated on mowing down the attackers.

Actually, "marching fire" was not a Civil War tactic. Attacking troops held their fire until they got right up to the enemy trenches, then fired their one shot and used the bayonet. They had to do it that way because in the massed formations of the CW era, only the front rank could fire without hitting their own men. But going against mostly muzzle loading rifles or muskets, the casualty rates were acceptable. Even against canister fire, the attackers had a chance. Against long range belt-fed machineguns and repeating rifles, they had almost no chance of even reaching enemy lines, let alone of actually taking them.

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Old August 17, 2014, 01:11 PM   #87
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"But everything I have seen and read about the PD seems to be about the idea of "marching fire" and "keeping their heads down."

That was the great theory of the day, as being a means of getting across no man's land. Once you get inside of trenches it's pretty obvious that weight of fire is going to be a huge consideration.

It's why Thompson started developing his submachine gun, very tellingly calling it a "trench broom."

The Germans developed the MP18 was developed as a weight of fire weapon for use by stoss trupen during infiltration into Allied trenches, and it was used to great effect several times on such missions.

The Italians were also working on submachine guns for trench warfare and assault, culminating with the Beretta Modelo 1918, which also proved successful in limited use against the Austrians.
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Old August 17, 2014, 01:20 PM   #88
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"In the end, the 12 ga. trench guns proved to be much more effective."

Shotguns were effective, but how much more effective they might have been as compared to the Pedersen device can't be measured because the Pedersen never saw combat.

US shotguns were also hampered by other considerations in WW I combat... First, there weren't that many of them. From the stories it would make it seem as if every other GI was armed with a shotgun. Not the case.

The shotgun also only held 7 rounds, and was time consuming to reload.

Then, there was the problem of actually getting close enough to the Germans to actually make effective use of the shotgun:

"The hours dragged by with but little interruption of any sort. Now and then we would stand to one side to allow a band of 'moppers-up' to pass. They had some strange looking camouflage on their helmets and were armed with trench knives, hand grenades, and several of them carried the new U.S. riot guns, a 12-gauge pump-gun shooting a heavy charge of buckshot. These guns were designed for close quarters and, judging from our experiences of the next few days, they found but small use for them, owing to the fact that the Huns were in no frame of mind for hand-to-hand combat."

OUR BATTLE OF THE ARGONNE, Mechanic Vernon R. Nichols, 363d Infantry, 91st Division"
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Old August 17, 2014, 01:22 PM   #89
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The origin of Marching Fire apparently originated in the middle 1800s with the Prussian military against the French.

The French dusted off the concept in the early 1900s in response to the growing application of heavy machine guns. I don't think, however, they ever expected the Germans to roll out as many MG08s as they did, or fire them from hardened positions.

French "feu de marche" was anticipated to be more useful against emplaced, but not dug in, troops, and went hand in hand with their obsessive emphasis on offense, at all times offense, leading up to the disasters of World War I.


The much maligned Chauchat was originally developed to give French troops an advantage in firepower while advancing.
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Old August 17, 2014, 06:39 PM   #90
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I expect the idea of "marching fire" came with the "needle rifle" and other breech loaders. I doubt anyone would embrace the idea of trying to load a muzzle loader while marching.

In tactics, weapons, etc., things seldom happen in a vacuum. There was once a series of books called "Connections." The "cause and effect" was often surprising and sometimes totally unexpected.

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Old August 17, 2014, 08:56 PM   #91
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Actually, with the Prussians and Austrians at the end of the 1700s.

It was apparently a slow, rank by rank advance more than marching fire.

" I doubt anyone would embrace the idea of trying to load a muzzle loader while marching."

The British had a manual of arms for reloading while on the move.
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Old August 18, 2014, 11:35 AM   #92
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The earliest 20th century application is, as I mentioned before, the marching fire concept of the Mexican Army using the straight pull Mondragon rifle. One setting would allow the bolt to "slam fire" ala some old browning designs. The procedure was to operate the bolt at each footfall (I don't remember if it was right or left, but probably right), then recock and fire again at the next (right?) footfall.

This was well prior to WWI, and most likely, was a carryover from the French occupation of Mexico, conceived by the "moustache Pete" generals.
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