Light Machine Guns

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by gjs238, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    USA
    The US had the Browning Automatic Rifle...
    ...And then it did without an LMG until the introduction of the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in the mid-1980s.

    UK
    The UK had the Bren.

    Japanese
    The Japanese had the Type 96.

    Germans
    Don't think the Germans used a LMG. Perhaps the FG42 fits in here somewhere.

    Questions Assumptions:
    Did the folks fielding LMG's fair better than the folks who didn't?
    I assume the folks who didn't used heavier GPMG's for that role.
    I assume history has favored the LMG, with the US adoption of the M249.
     
  2. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Not sure what you are asking or getting at?

    The BAR was NOT a LMG even though the US ( and others) tried to use it as one. The US had started with the Benet-Mercie machine rifle in WW I.

    The British had used the Lewis gun in WW I as a light machine gun, in addition to the Hotchkiss (see Benet-Mercie).

    The Germans had used some cut down Maxim guns (which were no more successful or less than the US M1919A6) during WW I and went to the MG 13 during the 20s and early 30s.

    mg13_1.jpg

    The Germans replaced it in the squad with the bipod mounted MG 34.

    The Japanese had started with the Type 11

    800px-Japanese_Type_11_LMG_from_1933_book.jpg

    The French used the MAC Mod. 1924/29 in WW II and for a bit after.

    In fact the light machine gun category was one of the most prolific military small arms categories between the wars. Even Mexico got in on the act.

    Now some were lighter than others and some could put out a higher volume of fire than others. Some were more reliable than others ( some were downright atrocious ) with the French WW I Chauchat C.S.R.G. Model 1915 generally acknowledged as the worlds worst EVER. :0

    Part of the problem is deciding wha was a machine rifle, or a squad automatic, or a light machine gun or a GPMG playing at the LMG role.
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Terms such as "squad automatic weapon", "automatic rifle" and "light machinegun" are meaningless in the real world. All that matters is what automatic weapon is carried by the infantry squad.

    BAR was standard MG for an American infantry squad.
    Bren was standard MG for a British infantry squad.
    DP was standard MG for a Soviet infantry squad.
    Type 96 was standard MG for a Japanese infantry squad.
    FM 24/29 was standard MG for a French infantry squad.

    German infantry squad carried MG34 during 1939. Supplemented by MG42 from 1942 onward.
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Since we are discussing the BAR....

    Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was state of the art during 1918. Rapid advances in LMG technology made the weapon obsolescent by 1930. The BAR carried by U.S. Army during WWII had no substantial improvements over WWI model except a better bipod. Consequently almost every army had a superior squad machinegun.

    Ironically a substantially improved BAR version was available. FN Herstal introduced the FN Mle D during 1932. U.S. Army had plenty of time to adopt the improved BAR but chose not to do so. What were we thinking?
     
  5. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    #5 gjs238, Dec 16, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2013
    800px-Swedish_Kg_M1937_Left.jpg
    Not to mention the sweet Swedish Kg m/37, adopted for service in 1937.
     
  6. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Excellent summary/clarification.

    So the German infantry squads used heavier GPMG's.
    Was this a disadvantage?
    Also, it seems that the US later emulated the German use of a GPMG for squad use, but then later reverted to use of a LMG.
     
  7. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    #7 bobbysocks, Dec 16, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2013
    the us had a lot of 1919 browning 30s which were a medium air cooled mg but were used more like light mgs.
     
  8. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The terminology is somewhat important because it shows what the designers where thinking. Also the scale of issue is important as is the actual level at which some guns were issued.

    For instance NOT all armies issued one LMG or automatic rifle per squad. The Italians issued one gun for every two squads (and it was poor gun at that), A Russian company that had one DP machine per squad was a very, very lucky infantry company indeed.

    For the British in the "normal" infantry battalion it was the Bren gun or nothing. The Vickers guns were held "officially" in the division machine gun battalion but could be loaned out in 4 gun platoons as needed?

    In the American Army in the summer of 1941 the Browning 1919 air cooled tripod mounted MG was called the "light machine gun".

    In the Summer of 1942 each US infantry battalion had a a heavy weapons company with two machine gun platoons each with 4 1917 water cooled guns and each rifle company had a mg section in the heavy weapons platoon with two 1919 air cooled Brownings, for 14 belt feed Brownings per battalion. BARs were also issued to drivers of the heavy weapons units as AA guns. The US also had the Garand to beef up the squads fire power. However in the quest for more firepower Marine squads at the end of WW II had 3 BARs per 13 man squad. Nobody was going to issue 3 lmgs per squad but with a "proper" LMG 3 "automatic rifles" may not have been needed.
     
  9. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Was that a variant of FN Mle D or did Sweden start with a clean sheet of paper when improving the BAR?
     
  10. yulzari

    yulzari Active Member

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    I can't comment on the US doctrine of using the BAR but in British use the Vickers was treated as a species of light artillery. ie to deny ground in a sustained fire role. The Bren's role was to win the fire fight by keeping the enemy's heads down so that the infantry could close to engage them.

    I cannot see how the BAR could do the first (and why should it with the belt fed Browning doing the Vickers role) and you would need twice as many BARs as Brens to manage the second whilst losing some of the riflemen to the extra BAR job.

    Postwar everybody copied the Germans in having the one GPMG (role not type) for both. Now, from Afghan experience, we see a return to the HMG plus LMG for exactly the tasks that Britain set them in WW2 (and late WW1).

    Now who would have though that you could outrange NATO.223' rifles with 19th century Russian 7.92mm and British .303"....... It should not have been a surprise as Massoud was using a mix of Lee Enfield and AK47 against the Russians when we were training some of his soldiers in the UK.
     
  11. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Some weights from Wikipedia:

    MG34: 26.7#
    MG42: 25.51#
    Bren: 22.83#
    BAR (M1918A2): 19#
     
  12. derek45

    derek45 New Member

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    #12 derek45, Dec 17, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2013
    US M1919A6

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    the US military quickly learned to respect the German MG-42 and after the war, along with design inspiration from the FG-42, developed the M-60 GPMG

    [​IMG]
     
  13. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    The M1919A6 trigger looks vulnerable to damage.
     
  14. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The M1919A6 was more than a bit of a bodge and was too big, too heavy, and too clumsy to be a good light machine gun.
     
  15. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Finns used their 7.62mm Lahti-Saloranta M/26, see: FINNISH ARMY 1918 - 1945: LIGHT MACHINEGUNS PART 1
    Solders didn't like it very much and when possible, took captured Soviet DPs instead. Ammo wasn't a problem Finns used the same rifle amo than theSoviets.

    Juha
     
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