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How individual weapons were really carried in WW II


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A 50 round burst from a 1200 rpm weapon would basically be a 2.5 second burp. Which would be followed by a pause to swap out barrels, which would then quickly cause the problem of needing another barrel swap before the first barrel's had a chance to cool down. The M1917 water-cooled Browning had half the ROF (a long 5 seconds to fire 50 rounds) but could theoretically spit out lead all day long. MG42 was not designed as an area suppression weapon. its design philosophy was more of a point saturation weapon.

Edited by MikeyD
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8 hours ago, MikeyD said:

A 50 round burst from a 1200 rpm weapon would basically be a 2.5 second burp. Which would be followed by a pause to swap out barrels, which would then quickly cause the problem of needing another barrel swap before the first barrel's had a chance to cool down. The M1917 water-cooled Browning had half the ROF (a long 5 seconds to fire 50 rounds) but could theoretically spit out lead all day long. MG42 was not designed as an area suppression weapon. its design philosophy was more of a point saturation weapon.

snippet taken from the YT video descriptive text block: "

... Notwithstanding the MG 42's high rate of fire, the Handbook of the German Army (1940) forbade the firing of more than 250 rounds in a single burst and indicated a sustained rate of no more than 300--350 rounds per minute to minimize barrel wear and over-heating.

The high rate of fire resulted from experiments with preceding weapons that concluded that since a soldier only has a short period of time to shoot at an enemy, it was imperative to fire the highest number of bullets possible to increase the likelihood of a hit. This principle was also behind the Vickers GO aircraft gun. The disadvantage of applying this principle was that the weapon consumed exorbitant amounts of ammunition and quickly overheated its barrel, making sustained fire problematic. ..."

This coincides with my primary sources which as well were referenced in mentioned Handbook of the German Army.

Edited by RockinHarry
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2 hours ago, RockinHarry said:

forbade the firing of more than 250 rounds in a single burst and indicated a sustained rate of no more than 300--350 rounds per minute

That's interesting.  That seems like a very long burst.  Can't recall any doc footage that showed it being fired for more than a fraction of a second.  Carrying enuff ammo must be a huge challenge if using long bursts.

FWIW: 350/min @ 20/sec = 17.5 secs during a 1 minute period.  @ 25/sec = 14 secs firing in one minute period.

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I've been playing a lot of CMRT recently (back after a long absence). The PPsh smg spits out lead like a minigun revolver cannon! Its spectacular and devastating for close-in combat. But things go quiet pretty quick as your unit runs itself out of ammo. If you're lucky a couple guys are carrying the lower ROF PPS-43 and still have some ammo left.

On the topic of anachronistic weapon carrying, don't get me started on that two-handed "Ive had police training" firing pose for handguns in WWII films. It doesn't happen often, surprisingly enough. I think because as cool as spec-ops 'combat pose' is in film its the 'Dirty Harry' one handed pose that's still considered the coolest.

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Interesting discussion. During my time in the German Bundeswehr, I had the pleasure to use the MG3 often which is very similar to the MG42 (ROF was reduced to less than 1200 rds/min; too much heat and too much ammo to carry forward I heard. The only machine I ever heard of where the performance was reduced). Phantastic piece of engineering, we fired single shots on a bunker target at 600 m - no problem to hit an opening 1 ft x 1/2 ft with the first shot.

Barrel exchange is really made in seconds. The container for the substitute barrel is a cylinder which opens lengthwise to two half cylinders with the barrel lying on one half. Take the asbestos glove, open the barrel arrestor, pull out the hot barrel, lay that into the empty half of the open container, take the cold one , put it in, close the arrestor, recock and fire. We had drills to train that, I would estimate some 10 sec. When I remember correctly, this was required after some 250 rds fired. The same quick exchange was made with the breech block, approximately the same time needed when trained (after 500 rds?).

Against ground targets always short bursts were recommended. Aerial targets were to be fought in long bursts.

Carry and use: In CM, the MG is fired standing and kneeling, something we never did or were trained and it was not part of the field manual for the MG; at least I cannot remember to having seen that. I am convinced, no matter how strong or heavy you are, most of the burst will go upwards into the sky. This piece pushes really hard and steady.

Mostly it is fired prone, the trick is to find some arrest at your feet, push into the two leg support at the front with your shoulder somewhat high, and then lower your body so, that there is a strong pushing tension between your feet and the front support. Then, the MG lies perfectly fixed and does not deviate when fired. Left hand is always at this small hook at the underside of the shoulder piece and pushes that rearwards.

During extended training we had an exercise to advance with five soldiers, one with MG3, and half size targets (head to hip) flipping up suddenly at relatively short distances. There I found at the field manual how to fire the MG from the hip and immediately implemented that. The leather carry belt is actually composed of two parallel belts, as you can see at the photo on the previous page with the soldier carrying it with one hand. This belt is fixed forward at an eye at the centre of gravity, rear end of belt unfixed at pistol grip, split in two and hung around the neck. The right hand takes the pistol grip and the left both legs of the frontal support. The legs are pulled to the left side of the barrel. Now you have a configuration like Vasquez at Alien2. Nice to carry, quick, stable, and precise. I used that at this execise, one short burst at each emerging target, aimed low and pulled up, all targets hit, some ammo left, no other comerade was able even to fire one shot with their G3 assault rifle - quick shooting was never trained.

Besides the old but decent shotgun of my father, this was always my favourite weapon.

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I think the MG42 may well have bought Germany 6 months of survival during the war by itself. They built so damn many of them, meaning the chance of Allied troops running into them was certain and they were so good at just taking whole platoons, companies, battalions even, and just dropping them to the ground pinning them for hours. This happened so much and so often that the net effect was felt up all the way up the war I think. Enough battalions of enough regiments of enough divisions were forced into a state of cautious movement or pause until fire-support assets could be brought up frustrating many an Allied General with the dream of being the man who conquered the Ruhr. 

Any machine gun can do the above, but the crucial thing here is that Germany built nearly half a million of them, over a million if you count its close relative the MG34. Only infantry rifles were more ubiquitous. 

39 minutes ago, hank24 said:

Now you have a configuration like Vasquez at Alien2.

Or Jin Roh 

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On 10/12/2019 at 10:24 AM, Erwin said:

That's interesting.  That seems like a very long burst.  Can't recall any doc footage that showed it being fired for more than a fraction of a second.  Carrying enuff ammo must be a huge challenge if using long bursts.

FWIW: 350/min @ 20/sec = 17.5 secs during a 1 minute period.  @ 25/sec = 14 secs firing in one minute period.

The YT video I posted bits of gives the idea that at least for the tripod version HMG longer bursts were the rule, not the exception. Disregard the reenactor footage though. HMG gunners got their fire task usually combined with ammo expenditure from their tactical commander. The normal fire task usually assumes a minimum of a 50 round belt to be fired in single continuous burst. Off course always depends on target, so i.e point target enemy MG vs a russian human wave in full assault mode. While the MG itself was a fairly accurate weapon in trained hands the tripod offered additional options to provide the continuous fire bursts on broader/wider/deeper areas automatically with appropiate setting. The gunner (if appropiately trained, rather rare late war) just does the settings, aim through the 3x optics and blaze away. Beside him was just the assistant(s), both in lowest possible stance. The majority of the crew was in full cover bits off from the firing position while a commander observes effects in target. Compare that with how it is in CM. Just some specific pecularities but lack of continuous fire bursts and rather pathetic application of the TacAI to engage targets makes all HMG in game a tamed tiger.

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