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Tiny problem with BREN


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Originally posted by luckyorwhat:

Just pointing out that the BREN pictured is the L4, firing 7.62x51mm NATO rimless ammunition. The WW2 BREN was the mark 3 and it used .303 rimmed cartridges. Because of the different cartridges the older BRENs used a curved magazine, while the newer BREN had a straight-walled box magazine.

Actually, all four marks of Bren were used in the Second World War, Mark I, II, III and IV. You are correct on the magazines, however.

What about the tripod, though...

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Originally posted by Lanzfeld:

Great spot Lucky.

You see...the devil is in the details.

I hope that this is'nt a letdown.

I thought the Devil was in the bottle? smile.gif

At any rate that's why when I write I generally use sci-fiction so I can make up history. Otherwise I could spend a lifetime doing research and still not get it right for some people.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a picture of a bren gun on its tripod (will scan it in when there's no-one in the office - don't want be accused of being a gun nut !) But its not a combat photo - probabaly taken when it was manufactured. The writing says one was issued for every 3 guns ! Also says its the same as the Czech tripod issued for the ZB26 and ZB30 (which I have seen used in photos by early Waffen-SS units,the 5th Gebirgjager Division and Fallschirmjager[no photographic evidence for the paras - anyone out there ?] - not the tripod though ! Apparently a copy of the tripod was also used with the Chinese copy of the US 57mm recoiless rifle.

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Originally posted by Michael Dorosh:

Is that picture anything like these?

:D

Or these?

We could use another discussion of it though...:)

This forum has some hardcore members ! Don't think I will bother with that photo now !

Thanks for the info though - your website has some intresting stuff in it. Out of intrest do you know how many rounds the drum magazine carried ? Could it only be used on the tripod when in AA mode ?

[ October 10, 2006, 01:56 PM: Message edited by: Panzerjäger653 ]

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Originally posted by Panzerjager653:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Michael Dorosh:

Is that picture anything like these?

:D

Or these?

We could use another discussion of it though...:)

This forum has some hardcore members ! Don't think I will bother with that photo now !

Thanks for the info though - your website has some intresting stuff in it. Out of intrest do you know how many rounds the drum magazine carried ? Could it only be used on the tripod when in AA mode ? </font>

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The reason I asked is that it seemed to me it would of made the Bren more effective in the S.F. role (was the drum magazine and tripod issued together ?) but of course they had the Vickers for that (but maybe it would of been easier to carry than the Vickers - even with a drum magazine and tripod) . Would I be correct in thinking it is the same drum magazine as used with the Lewis gun on S.A.S. jeeps ? (it looks similar but from the angle on Michael's website it is hard to tell).

It always appears that the Allies were seriously outgunned when it came to a question of Bren vs MG42/34 - maybe issuing the drum magazine on a wider scale would of helped address that issue ?

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Originally posted by Panzerjäger653:

The reason I asked is that it seemed to me it would of made the Bren more effective in the S.F. role (was the drum magazine and tripod issued together ?) but of course they had the Vickers for that (but maybe it would of been easier to carry than the Vickers - even with a drum magazine and tripod) . Would I be correct in thinking it is the same drum magazine as used with the Lewis gun on S.A.S. jeeps ? (it looks similar but from the angle on Michael's website it is hard to tell).

It always appears that the Allies were seriously outgunned when it came to a question of Bren vs MG42/34 - maybe issuing the drum magazine on a wider scale would of helped address that issue ?

I don't know that they were outgunned. Each CW section had an LMG, same as the Germans. The Germans had a company weapons detachment but I don't recall if MGs were part of it. Canadians had MG battalions with the Vickers as you point out, parcelled out to the infantry battalions. Numerically, the Germans had more MGs. But mainly, the CW had 25-pounder support where and when necessary - the ability to say "Uncle Target" into a microphone and get shellfire in a few minutes was invaluable and I think made up for any perceived lack of firepower in the infantry platoons themselves.
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Originally posted by Michael Dorosh:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Panzerjäger653:

The reason I asked is that it seemed to me it would of made the Bren more effective in the S.F. role (was the drum magazine and tripod issued together ?) but of course they had the Vickers for that (but maybe it would of been easier to carry than the Vickers - even with a drum magazine and tripod) . Would I be correct in thinking it is the same drum magazine as used with the Lewis gun on S.A.S. jeeps ? (it looks similar but from the angle on Michael's website it is hard to tell).

It always appears that the Allies were seriously outgunned when it came to a question of Bren vs MG42/34 - maybe issuing the drum magazine on a wider scale would of helped address that issue ?

I don't know that they were outgunned. Each CW section had an LMG, same as the Germans. The Germans had a company weapons detachment but I don't recall if MGs were part of it. Canadians had MG battalions with the Vickers as you point out, parcelled out to the infantry battalions. Numerically, the Germans had more MGs. But mainly, the CW had 25-pounder support where and when necessary - the ability to say "Uncle Target" into a microphone and get shellfire in a few minutes was invaluable and I think made up for any perceived lack of firepower in the infantry platoons themselves. </font>
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The Brits in Arnhem were not being resupplied, so it would not surprise me to hear that. Using German MGs was always dicey in non-positional warfare because the sound was so distinctive, it drew fire. Being in the same houses for long periods of time, it was probably safe to do that.

Ask anyone who used the Bren and he would tell you it was a great weapon. I wouldn't want to carry the ammo for an MG42 firing 20 bullets a second...on the defence it would be ok, though.

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Originally posted by Michael Dorosh:

The Brits in Arnhem were not being resupplied, so it would not surprise me to hear that. Using German MGs was always dicey in non-positional warfare because the sound was so distinctive, it drew fire. Being in the same houses for long periods of time, it was probably safe to do that.

Ask anyone who used the Bren and he would tell you it was a great weapon. I wouldn't want to carry the ammo for an MG42 firing 20 bullets a second...on the defence it would be ok, though.

Intresting point - a remember reading an article about a british squadie complaining that the G.P.M.G. (FN-MAG) could not hack it compared to a M60 due to rate of fire. Only for the Americans to ditch it in favour of a variant of the FN-MAG !!! I guess rate of fire is not the most important thing but the ability to deliver that fire accurately. Where does that leave the B.A.R. though ?
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Originally posted by luckyorwhat:

That sounds wrong. The M60 has a slower rate of fire than the slowest MAG. Plus the other deficiencies of the original M60's.

Your right - once I looked into it the figures I found were (please correct me if I am wrong) - M60 550 rpm FN MAG 850 rpm ! (a question of the grass is always greener !)

But the most intresting thing I found was when the US army tested the MAG vs M60 - following result - both fired 50,000 rounds

MRBS MRBF

M60 846 1699

MAG 2962 6442

MRBS - mean rounds mean stoppages

MRBF - mean rounds mean failure

no wonder they called it the pig !

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Originally posted by Bannon DC:

But more importantly, will you be able to fire it when assaulting? Lord, that drew a 9 page thread in the CMAK forum.

Don't know about the M60 but the Rhodesians were trained to fire the FN-MAG from the shoulder - due to he fact that the high bush made it pointless to fire it from the prone position. Did the SEALS not have a later version of the M60 that they fired from the shoulder ?
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Hi smile.gif

Regarding the discussion on LMG’s

As someone who’s used the LMG (Bren) GPMG, M60 and the MG3 (MG42) I can give you my opinion on these light machine guns.

The overall best, beyond a shadow of a doubt is the MG3.

The point of an LMG is to put suppressive fire down during a section attack, a high rate of fire allows you to put a lot of bullets down over a larger area. An LMG also needs a "Beaten Zone" to do this.

This is where the Bren fails, because it’s too accurate, for example you have to swing the butt around to cover a trench line.

Another use of the LMG is in defence, enfilade fire if done properly. The Bren's "beaten zone" on a tripod is likely to be quite small (I've never seen a Bren on a tripod) and the MG3's much higher rate of fire puts more bullets through the line of attackers from the side.

The only good point of the Bren is that, as it uses magazine’s the rounds don’t get covered in crap in sandy/muddy conditions, however this is offset by constantly changing mag’s especially if using 20 round mag’s instead of 30 round mag’s.

The GPMG is a close second. It has a slower rate of fire than the MG3, the GPMG ROF is slightly adjustable with the gas regulator. It is larger and heavier to lug about as it uses a gas return rod rather than recoil action and as such has a higher profile. The MG3 bipod can be detached or moved between the front and rear of the barrel guard quickly giving a VERY low profile.

The MG3 can be slowed down, a heavier bolt is available which, as it has a larger weight, slows the rate of fire, but why?

Ammo is not the biggest problem for the MG3, the barrel overheats after 200 rounds! The temptation for gunners is to fire very short bursts, this is a bad thing to do, hehe. The barrel change on the MG3 is a very quick affair, it doesn’t even require the gun to be unloaded.

The sound of the MG3 is very distinctive, like ripping sheets, quite a morale booster (for the side with the MG3). The MG3 can also fire all 3 types of NATO linked belts without adjustment.

The M60 was just rubbish, its slow rate of fire only seemed accentuated by the very high rate of fire of the Armalite rifle, which the rest of the section carried. Strange to have a section fire support weapon that has the slowest rate of fire albeit with larger calibre rounds.

There is, IMO, only one HMG though, the Browning M2 .50" with the QRB (quick release barrel).

Further evidence of an excellent weapon sytem is that it's still used after a long time, ~70 years for the Mg34/42/3 and almost a hundred now for the Browning .50"

[ October 12, 2006, 03:02 AM: Message edited by: Fifty Cal' ]

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Good to know! A guy said that he liked the bipod on the MG3 because exactly of it's flexibility.

About the M16's, though, at least in Vietnam the US squads only fired their rifles semi-automatic, (officially), with one guy being designated 'automatic rifleman' and he was allowed to fire automatic. aiui there was a substantial fine for anyone who violated the rule, but it might have varied from group to group.

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Originally posted by Fifty Cal':

Hi smile.gif

Regarding the discussion on LMG’s

As someone who’s used the LMG (Bren) GPMG, M60 and the MG3 (MG42) I can give you my opinion on these light machine guns.

The overall best, beyond a shadow of a doubt is the MG3.

The point of an LMG is to put suppressive fire down during a section attack, a high rate of fire allows you to put a lot of bullets down over a larger area. An LMG also needs a "Beaten Zone" to do this.

This is where the Bren fails, because it’s too accurate, for example you have to swing the butt around to cover a trench line.

Another use of the LMG is in defence, enfilade fire if done properly. The Bren's "beaten zone" on a tripod is likely to be quite small (I've never seen a Bren on a tripod) and the MG3's much higher rate of fire puts more bullets through the line of attackers from the side.

The only good point of the Bren is that, as it uses magazine’s the rounds don’t get covered in crap in sandy/muddy conditions, however this is offset by constantly changing mag’s especially if using 20 round mag’s instead of 30 round mag’s.

The GPMG is a close second. It has a slower rate of fire than the MG3, the GPMG ROF is slightly adjustable with the gas regulator. It is larger and heavier to lug about as it uses a gas return rod rather than recoil action and as such has a higher profile. The MG3 bipod can be detached or moved between the front and rear of the barrel guard quickly giving a VERY low profile.

The MG3 can be slowed down, a heavier bolt is available which, as it has a larger weight, slows the rate of fire, but why?

Ammo is not the biggest problem for the MG3, the barrel overheats after 200 rounds! The temptation for gunners is to fire very short bursts, this is a bad thing to do, hehe. The barrel change on the MG3 is a very quick affair, it doesn’t even require the gun to be unloaded.

The sound of the MG3 is very distinctive, like ripping sheets, quite a morale booster (for the side with the MG3). The MG3 can also fire all 3 types of NATO linked belts without adjustment.

The M60 was just rubbish, its slow rate of fire only seemed accentuated by the very high rate of fire of the Armalite rifle, which the rest of the section carried. Strange to have a section fire support weapon that has the slowest rate of fire albeit with larger calibre rounds.

There is, IMO, only one HMG though, the Browning M2 .50" with the QRB (quick release barrel).

Further evidence of an excellent weapon sytem is that it's still used after a long time, ~70 years for the Mg34/42/3 and almost a hundred now for the Browning .50"

The voice of experience - welcome to the forum.

The comment about the Bren being too accurate is apt; it was renowned for its accuracy but as you point out, was beside the point for a machine gun intended to provide fire over an area rather than individual targets.

How did that fit in with the section-level doctrine from 1939-45? The Germans tended to support their machine gunner (again, per my understanding) while in the CW, the Bren Gun supported the riflemen who ideally closed with the enemy with grenades or even bayonet, under cover of the platoon's 2-inch mortar and covering fire from the Bren. I can see the need for heavy suppressive fire in this case and I understand the theoretical drawbacks but my own experience in infantry tactics is extremely limited (a few battle drills on my basic training) so you seem to be the one to ask. How was it in practice? I have read after action reports by Canadian infantry commanders, and no one (of the handful I've read) identified the Bren's rate of fire or ammunition supply as problematic.

Is there someplace I might go to read more, or perhaps you can provide an example or two...I guess what I'm asking is that although the Bren truly was unable to provide the suppressive firepower that in theory would seem to be preferable, did commanders in the field really have any reason to complain about its performance or capabilities at the time? Comparison to a GPMG seems false; comparison to other squad automatics like the Soviet DP or American BAR (or the M1919 with bipod and butt laughingly called an LMG) seems to bring the Bren back into favour.

The danger as always is of using current or recent military experience as a lens through which to view the 1940s, which had significantly different viewpoints.

Again, welcome and thanks for bringing your expertise to the forum.

[ October 12, 2006, 11:43 AM: Message edited by: Michael Dorosh ]

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Hi Michael Dorosh,

Thanks for the welcome smile.gif

Rather than me speculate on WWII tactics, I ain't that old :D have you seen these?

Infanty tactics

and

Infantry Anti-tank Tactics

and

Panzer small unit tactics

I have this last one as I've only a little experience of tank tactic's though I did see Chieftan's manouvering on a live range once and I got to go inside one whilst they were firing.

As for the anti-tank book, it reminds me of some great anti-tank training in Belgium, of all places, which is best retold after a few beers ;)

[ October 13, 2006, 12:49 AM: Message edited by: Fifty Cal' ]

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