WWII Base of Fire: BAR vs MG.34

Here’s Art Alphin, then at West Point, presenting a video for the cadets (and for all of us) comparing the weapon the US Army and Marine rifle squad used as a base of fire, the M1918A2 Browning Automatic Rifle, to its Wehrmacht counterpart, the MG34 general purpose machine gun.

The two weapons are technically different, of course, with the BAR more akin to the ZB 26 / ZB 30 LMGs that the German forces used as substitute standard. But they’re also tactically different, and Alphin covers that.

The MG34 barrel swap in the range-test in the video was triggered by the extractor ripping apart a casing. A failure like that in the BAR would down the gun until the residue of the case could be removed by other means. In the MG34, it simply means you have to do the barrel swap sooner (and your assistant gunner needs to get the ruptured case out before the other barrel gets too hot.

Which was better? As an infantry officer or NCO, it didn’t matter. Because your side only had one, and that was the one you had. And it was up to you to deploy it tactically in a way that best exploited its characteristics.

A great deal of discussion in the gun world is tribal/fanboy posturing, reminiscent of the hot-rodder t-shirts that were popular with grade school boys in the 1960s: “Chevies Eat Fords” or vice versa. An infantryman does not have the luxury of preference. He gets the bayonet handle the Republic/King/Commissar has provided for him, and he might as well like it because the decision is out of his hands just as much as the rifle is in them.

But even if he doesn’t like it, he has to use it. Sometimes his really will be better. Sometimes it won’t. And either way, it doesn’t matter. Good leadership with crap weapons beats good weapons with crap leadership.

Looking at the guns from a logistician’s point of view, the BAR wins. It burns less ammo, requires a smaller fire team, get by without belted ammunition. And, as complicated as it is (soldiers of a certain vintage, or who cycled through Light Weapons or 18B school,  will remember “cups and cones!”), it’s still much simpler to machine and assemble than the fiendishly complicated parts of the MG34.

That may explain why, despite the recognized high quality of the MG34, nobody really used it after 1945, and why the most successful post-war GPMG was based on its arch-rival, the BAR.

90 thoughts on “WWII Base of Fire: BAR vs MG.34

  1. Brad

    Question: when it comes to LMG is there any significant differences in over-heating between the various calibers? I assume the intermediate calibers show some advantage over the larger calibers?

    If you had your pick of any LMG ever fielded by any army, that you had to use yourself, which one would you select and why?

    1. archy

      ***If you had your pick of any LMG ever fielded by any army, that you had to use yourself, which one would you select and why?***

      I’m assuming you really mean GPMG, the general purpose MG, the concept introduced by the MG 34 [well, pretty much] and I’ve never thought that there was a definitive answer- they all have flaws and faults, and fall short of what a real *general* purposed gun should do. Examples:

      Even the Browning-M1919A4-derived M37 Browning tank MG can be fed from either left or right side, making it suitable as a tank co-ax gun in which it’s usually fed from a turret tray [6000 rounds on the M60A1] on the turret left side in US/Western tanks and on the right on Soviet designs. By the same token helicopter skid or belly pod mounting can require switchable left or righthand feed, either by component reversal [M37 and M2 .50 Browning MGs] or complete swap of a top cover and other components [MAG58] That also means the usual ejection port needs to be large enough to handle a reversed belt feed setup and associated feed link chute or ammo can holders and ideally ejection of empty cases should be downward out the bottom and fired links out the side. Twin mounts for dual guns likewise ideally require that one gun feed from one side and the other from the opposite and that empty links or brass from one gun not foul the other gun. That complexity can add weight but need not, but there’ve been few guns to offer the feature.

      Richard Smith and Lazlo Soregi of Lyttleton Engineering Works of South Africa, now Denel Land Systems, came up with such a design in 1977 with their SS77, which after a decade of teething and limited field troop trials, finally became a general-issue item to the South African Defence Force in 1986. It’s also available in a 5,56mm version AKA the *Mini-SS* coming in just a bit under 20 Lbs, with the 7,62 NATO parent weighing in just over 20.

      Picking a gun for myself, I’d likely go with a PKM or PKP Pecheneg, being the lightest of which I’m aware. The MG42/MG53/MG3/MG74, in either the original 7,92x57mm Mauser cartridge or later 7,62×51 NATO would be a very close second…. assuming I’m either vehicle mounted or have a MG support team to carry spare barrels, tripod, ammo, ammo, ammo, and more ammo, and keep the RPGs and bloopers off my back.

      1. Brad

        No, I didn’t really mean GPMG. When I wrote LMG, I meant any MG used for a squad automatic weapon. If you prefer some GPMG like the MG-34 for the job of infantry squad LMG, that’s fine, if you prefer a automatic rifle like a BAR or RPK, that’s fine too. Considering the context of the Hognose post of the BAR vs the MG-34, I thought my question was rather obvious.

        Myself, I favor the old Czech Vz-52 LMG. Though I’ve seen a video over at TFB of a Stoner Mk 23 fired using the square belt-box for prone support, and it looked pretty amazing.

      2. Daniel E. Watters

        FWIW: The SS77’s teething period was much longer than what the popular press would like you to believe. It was almost immediately withdrawn from service after the first production batch was issued in 1990-91 The SS77 wouldn’t be reapproved for issue until 2002-2003.

    2. Kirk

      I’ll second that vote for the SS77. Or, the Negev. Suitably accessorized with a good tripod and sights.

    3. DSM

      I’d pick the Mk48; 7.62 in a M249 sized package and mostly because it’s familiar and I know how to maintain it.

      1. Hognose Post author

        What you sacrifice with the Mk 48 is durability vis-a-vis the M240, which even in the titanium version is pretty sturdy. Mk 48s wear out much more rapidly.

        It wasn’t a hard design to do, as the Minimi started as a lightweight 7.62 design in the early-mid 70s, before FN figured out the market wanted a 5.56 squad weapon. So they already had a design on the shelf.

        The two best GPMGs in the world are the Kalashnikov PKM/PKP and the FN MAG.

        1. DSM

          Yes, true as the stamped and welded receiver of the Minimi takes a beating from the larger cartridge. That same receiver is also quicker to produce en masse though and durability is still quite good considering. The design is easy to work on too.

          Talk about wear and tear, I still remember the extra gauging we had to do to wring more life out of our M60s.

          1. Kirk

            A lot of the issues with the stamped guns comes from piss-poor design of the stampings themselves. You’ll note the rather lengthy lives of the PK and MG42 series of weapons, as compared to the FN stamped offerings and that well-known excresence, the M60.

            Having had to work on the M249 a bit, I think the root problem with that weapon is that FN went with too light a stock to stamp the receivers out of, and the basic design doesn’t really “lock” into the forgings and machinings of the other parts that go into the receiver. If you look at the PK, the gauge of the metal from which the receiver is stamped is considerably heavier, and the way that the various forgings and machined parts are put together with it are considerably stouter.

            Frankly, I think the PK series is Mikhail Kalishnikov’s masterwork; forget the AK-47, look at his MGs…

  2. LSWCHP

    Back in the day I schlepped both the L4 Bren (derived from the ZB 26) and the M-60 GPMG. The Bren was similar to the BAR only….errmmm…..much better, according to friends who were familiar with both. :-)

    The Brens I carried and fired were beautiful works of art in every way, and The Pig was a piece of shit that appeared to have been designed and made by immigrant outworkers, but if I were to go to war I’d choose the Pig, because if correctly maintained it sure could out out rounds..

    An old mate of mine was a Vietnam era Aussie SAS veteran, and he reckons he’s alive today because his recon team had replaced its Bren with an M-60, and could put out fire at a rate that a Bren couldn’t sustain, which became Very Important, on one particular bad day.

    Soooo…if I had to make a choice, I’d take the MG-34. May JMB (who sits at the right hand of God) forgive me.

    1. Tierlieb

      “May JMB (who sits at the right hand of God) forgive me.”

      JMB would probably forgive you regarding the A1 and A2 variants. Ian has this article where he documents the changes and weight increases of the BAR “improvements”: http://www.forgottenweapons.com/light-machine-guns/browning-automatic-rifle-bar/ – and if I recall correctly, somewhere there is a video where he is less guarded when explaining how much this sucks in his opinion.

      I personally think of these improvements as an attempt to use something built for one role in another.

      1. Kirk

        Thing is, the BAR was designed as just what it says on the tin–An “Automatic Rifle”. Which is a much different beast than an LMG. The mods you mention were intended to turn it into more of an LMG, which it manifestly is not suited for. The various European iterations of it are better, but the absence of an ability for the thing to be effectively served by an AG or mounted on a tripod make it a piss-poor LMG.

        The US would have been a lot better off with the BREN, to be honest.

    2. archy

      ***Back in the day I schlepped both the L4 Bren (derived from the ZB 26) and the M-60 GPMG. The Bren was similar to the BAR only….errmmm…..much better, according to friends who were familiar with both. :-)***

      Back in the days before London became Londonistan when the L1A1 SLR had clearly become the coming thing, BSA developed a belt-fed Bren as an alternate to what became the L7 series GPMGs, derived from the FN MAG. No idea how it might have cut the mustard, but it had the fast-change barrel of the magazine-fed Brens, would run off of a Bren tripod, and the machinery to grind out receivers was available at a half-dozen or so facilities in the UK/Canada/Oz. It’s really quite a shame that the happy thought wasn’t pursued a bit further and developed at least a bit more, particularly since Springfield Armory was working along the same lines with the T23 series of guns developed from the earlier T10 guns that young Bill Ruger may have been a part of; see http://ww2.rediscov.com/spring/VFPCGI.exe?IDCFile=/spring/DETAILS.IDC,SPECIFIC=11344,DATABASE=objects
      Something very useful might have resulted. And, of course the postwar beltfed Czech UK Vz.59 Rachot was at least a close cousin.

      1. Hognose Post author

        I started reading your comment and I was going to say, “If you want a belt-fed Bren, the UK vz. 59…” until I got to where you said that.

        1. LSWCHP

          Oh…I didn’t know about that gun. Thanks gentlemen…you learn something new every day, which is another good reason for coming to WM!

          And now I can die happy, safe in the knowledge that a belt fed Bren has existed upon this earth as God intended.

          1. Hognose Post author

            The evolution path was vz.26 (aka ZB 26)-> vz. 52 (7.62×45) -> vz. 52/57 (7.62×39) -> vz.59 (7.62x54R).

  3. TRX

    Alphin dropped out of sight some years ago. I wonder what happened to him.

    As for rate of fire… depending on who you believe, my M11A1’s ROF is somewhere between 1200 and 1600 rounds per minute. Most people will dump half a magazine before they can manage to release the trigger. Somewhere I picked up a quote that the US Army had decided a ROF of 350 rounds per minute was optimal for an SMG, but after feeding far too much ammo down the pipe of the little Ingram, I’m thinking 350 might even be too high…

    Things are different for an LMG than an SMG, but I’ve wondered what the people who actually used them in combat thought about rate of fire. Laying down a wall of lead is great, but someone has to hump all that ammo in, then out to the next position.

    1. Hognose Post author

      He was a target shooter of some talent, and later made precision rifles. He could just be retired from his second career — he looks about 40 in that early 1980s video, so he’d be in his mid-70s now?

      1. Daniel E. Watters

        The BATF raided both Alphin’s home and business (A-Square) back in December 1996. In more recent years, Alphin has run into additional legal issues resulting from the grants and loans he secured during the relocation of A-Square from Kentucky to Wyoming, and later to South Dakota.

        “A-Square’s Alphin faces felony charge”
        http://www.douglas-budget.com/news/article_b9f1da05-a834-50b7-8917-3305ae225226.html

        “Wyoming gunmaker Art Alphin sued by South Dakota town over loan”
        http://trib.com/business/wyoming-gunmaker-art-alphin-sued-by-south-dakota-town-over/article_fe8a5380-24fd-534f-a7a7-b9a213d2d5dc.html

    2. archy

      Back when the Army, Special Forces in particular, still had a particular admiration for the Ingram M10 guns [and the Navy was still training with 9mm M10s following the successful use of the 9mm M10 by the Israelis at Entebbe in ’76] there was a lukewarm request for a 3-shot burst trigger for the M10. The guns were still in use by the SF advisors in El Salvador [*defensive* weapons like handguns only, M16A1s having been deemed *too offensive* in nature] and some tinkering resulted. Both a two-shot and three-shot burst trigger adaptations were developed that could be used in addition to the usual full/semi selector choices, and five and ten-shot unit designs were contemplated when the Navy/SEALs went whole hog for the MP5 and followon MP5 *Navy* models, the Marines [mostly embassy security at the time, MEUSOC expanded soon thereafter] quickly followed and the Army eventually came on board.

      1. John Spears

        By the early 80’s the M10’s stayed in the 3/7 armory as toys. I never saw one in El Salvador except brought along as a goof. They were not very reliable and we had few magazines that wold consistently feed. Looked cool though. Presaging the M4, we all carried CARs.

        1. TRX

          The magazines were always the problem with the M11A1. After a few thousand rounds the lips get razor-sharp and have to be rebent to hold cartridges in. There was a Glock magwell conversion someone worked out which looked very nice, but it never actually made it into production.

          On the other hand, the A1 is smaller than a Desert Eagle and lighter; unlike the “alien head” M11/9.

          That’s the first I’ve heard of a burst FCG for the Ingram. The A1 is big buckets of fun, but “held the rabid weasel” isn’t conducive to accuracy tighter than “roughly east.”

          1. Kirk

            The MAC smgs were all meant to be fired suppressed, period. Without the can on, they are damn hard to control.

        2. archy

          After the successful SAS op on the Iranian embassy in South Kensington, London from 30 April to 5 May 1980, all the high-speed doorkickers wanted an MP5, black Nomex duds and a pouchful of flash-bangs. The Ingram gun dropped out of military favour, and became instead the stuff of TV and movie bad guys for the most part, though John Wayne’s use of an Ingram M11 .380 in the 1974 movie McQ was an exception to that generalization. Reportedly he got a little sloppy about muzzle discipline while on-set, and with a magazine in place to boot. Thankfully, that episode did not work out nearly as badly as it might have.

        3. W. Fleetwood

          For what it’s worth. I was in El Salvador in the early 80s too, a contractor not US Army. The SF folks I worked with and around carried HK MP5s because they were restricted to “Pistols only.” Why? Because #Congressional Dipshits, that’s why. And the “P” in MP5 does stand for “Pistol” right?

          I also noted that when they deployed outside the Cartels they always seemed to have a Salvadorian Troop tagging along carrying two (2) M16A1s and two (2) sets of web gear.. Purely coincidence I’m sure.

          Wafa Wafa, Wasara Wasara.

          1. W. Fleetwood

            I hang my head and beg forgiveness, I made the mistake of writing phonetically instead of taking the time to look up the correct spelling. Mea culpa.

            For Gods sake, please don’t tell my mom, a life long English teacher. (Like Marines and Rangers, there is no such thing as an ex-English teacher.)

            Sua Sponte.

    3. DSM

      Contemplated an M11 for a time as they were still affordable enough (comparatively of course) in the FA world to get into. Not wanting just a bullet hose I started looking into some different conversions that were Uzi-esque in nature and lowered the ROF. Lage I think they were? Pun intended, never pulled the trigger on it. The pistol caliber SMG, or heck, even a carbine never made it high enough on my utility scale save for the M1 Carbine. If I could find a Swedish K or its step brother S&W M76 for a BA price then maybe I’d reconsider just for the certain cool factor.

    4. whomever

      “Alphin dropped out of sight some years ago. I wonder what happened to him.”

      I’d heard of A-Squared, but not Mr. Alphin. I liked the video, and googled his name to find more. One of the hits was headlined ‘A-Square’s Alphin faces felony charge’.

      Append
      news/article_b9f1da05-a834-50b7-8917-3305ae225226.html
      to
      www dot douglas-budget dot com

      for the details. A further few minutes googling didn’t find what the result was, but it looks like his business skills aren’t Warren Buffet class.

      As long as I’m posting, thx for the video. Just on a weight/manpower basis, it looks like you get at least two BARs for the cost of a MG34. That’s an interesting perspective. OTOH, when you read WWII bios, none of the Americans seem to feel the MG34 (and 42) were too slow to displace. It’d be interesting to have some of them comment on the video.

      1. Hognose Post author

        A-Square seems to have been through some weird transitions in 2011-2012.
        http://www.broadswordgroup.com/in_the_news_glenrock_independent.html

        Wikipedia, not particularly trustworthy, says that the SD and WY facilities are closed.

        There’s no word on what happened to Alphin w/r/t the criminal charges. He was sued in 2014 by the SD town that lent money for the plant there.

        http://trib.com/business/wyoming-gunmaker-art-alphin-sued-by-south-dakota-town-over/article_fe8a5380-24fd-534f-a7a7-b9a213d2d5dc.html

        http://trib.com/business/poor-management-unfilled-orders-lead-to-glenrock-business-s-failure/article_ed53d03c-7138-5c34-9806-a80817f29ff6.html

        The Business Council commissioned a background check on Alphin. The check found a federal criminal investigation in the 1990’s that led to a raid on Alphin’s residence and an A-Square plant in Indiana, but no wrongdoing by Alphin or the company.

        (note: those stories give you an invasive Google “survey,” but when I clicked “show me another question” twice running, they went away).

        Way more depth in those stories.

        1. Hognose Post author

          Add to that, the Sharps Rifle Company, which is in an ex-A-square facility, seems to actually be using a couple of the A-Square ideas, including a classic Alphin flatnose bullet for their 25-45 Sharps.

          1. Hognose Post author

            But it seems to be the guys from an earlier iteration of Sharps, set up as a holding company for Sharps, A-Square, Merwin & Hulbert (sp?), etc.

  4. Ray

    Just for the record; The BAR was the US Army’s and USMC’s S.A.W. The M-1919 was the standard Base of Fire weapon. This is reflected in the standard ammunition issue for the USMC infantry during WW2. One days “unit of fire” for the BAR was 500 rounds. For the M 1919 it was 1500 rounds. (A WW2 “unit of fire” was the amount of ammunition an infantryman was expected to use in one day of heavy fighting)

  5. robroysimmons

    I’ll wait for Kirk’s rant before I make up my mind which LMG my family unit should maintain for defensive operations, because we know every American family of proper operating capability should have one in their armory.

    1. Boat Guy

      “One is none, two is one” Besides, MG’s should be employed in pairs – at minimum.
      Were it possible my family’s turf would be guarded by M1917 Brownings – inside the mortar fans.

      1. robroysimmons

        My family fire team is small but resolute so I guess a pair of 249s for my gals

        1. Boat Guy

          Never got the “deal” on the 249… seems like a lotta weight and trouble just to launch a 5.56 bullet. Now a 240 or two…much better

          1. Kirk

            The 249 is more an AR, vs. an LMG or MG, and its role is correspondingly different.

            Compared to a M240, its inadequate. Compared to the M16 on full-auto with the bipod, which is the weapon it replaced…? Yeah, I’ll take one per fire team, thankyouverymuch…

          2. robroysimmons

            Key word is “gals” and it is light hearted spoof since they won’t be shooting they will be directing me on how to shoot, what I am doing wrong and how somebody they know could probably do it better and how my poor suppressive fire is embarrassing them amongst their friends. I just assumed the nastiness behind the 249 is less than the 240 making it possible my gals would like it better if they decide to risk the chance of chipping a nail.

          3. DSM

            The standard M249 is kinda bulky for what it’s intended for. The first unit I worked CATM in was very lenient to such things so we skirted the logistics folks to get some of the original collapsible stocks and short, “para” barrels and that made a huge difference in how it handled. We also had the 100rd nylon pouches instead of the hard plastic 200rd drums. You had to watch for frayed material getting snagged in the links after you used them a few times but all in all they worked just fine for us. That was many moons ago, last time I saw a gunner around these parts they had new stocks but with long barrels.

            The special units have a better model, the Mk46, that deleted the M16 magwell adapter. I was never a fan of that feature anyhow so I say that’s a gain.

    2. Kirk

      LOL….

      I’m not that much of an authority, but I will weigh in on this important issue. I think you should first determine the doctrine under which your family unit will be operating its guns, and then work forward from there.

      1. robroysimmons

        Sometime ago you had a good say about mg doctrine and emplacement when it came to the US mil.

        I did notice up thread one of HN’s peers mentioned his best list and I don’t think a one of them can be optics equipped, and I thought that was the thing these days. Of course maybe for area defense maybe their tripod is optics equipped as the Brit set up I once saw a picture of on the webs.

  6. archy

    ***In the MG34, it simply means you have to do the barrel swap sooner (and your assistant gunner needs to get the ruptured case out before the other barrel gets too hot.***

    Unless of course that assistant gunner was one of those who carried the Laufbehälter 34 (Barrel holder) double spare barrel carrier, made for both the MG34 and MG42. And, interestingly, the German Panther bow gunner station I inspected appeared to be set up to not only handle several spare barrels, but with enough room for them to be stowed in the twin barrel carriers in the event the vehicle had to be abandoned…or maybe if the tank crew needed to loan a couple to their supporting infantry unit. Or, without the carriers, even more barrels could be carried. The Germans really had thought things out a good bit.

    1. gwood

      Did tankers ever carry those detachable shoulder stocks for the MGs like the Luftwaffe did?

      1. archy

        ***Did tankers ever carry those detachable shoulder stocks for the MGs like the Luftwaffe did?***

        Yep. The stock unit on an MG34 or 42 was only about 10 inches in length, so not much of a space problem at the co-ax or commander’s roof gun position. Only is the bow gunner [*bog* in US tanker talk] sitting alongside the driver fairly cramped, requiring the shortest gun possible, though some more cramped assault gun and armoured car mounts fitted better without the butt in place. And not only did the Germans include the easily detachable buttstock for their tanker’s heavy-barrel schwerer Lauf and Panzerlauf MGs, but also a strap-on front sight for the heavier-barreled guns’ barrel jacket, held in place by nothing more fancy than a leather strap with hole-and-tongue buckle.

  7. John Spears

    Never met Art but I always thought highly of the A Square Manual and the info it contained. I learned a lot reading that. Ross Seyfried and others were very critical of A Square, but I never questioned Art’s competence and knowledge. I hope he is well. GREAT POST.

  8. Boat Guy

    The man said “You go to war with the Army you have, not the one you wish you had.”

  9. Spu_orb

    During the height of combat, the BAR gunner was often used as the ‘fire brigade’ weapon, helping to bolster weak areas of the perimeter under heavy pressure by Communist forces. In the defense, it was often used to strengthen the firepower of a forward outpost.

  10. Chris W.

    I had to look up that “cups and cones” reference…found it here on p.29:

    https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/ref/FM/PDFs/FM23-15.PDF

    Damnit Hognose! You made me read another FM!!! I didn’t read the whole thing, but might go back and finish it as I find this one particularly engrossing…NOT.

    At one time I dreamed of owning a BAR, but I believe even if I could find one that the price would be out of this world.

    1. Hognose Post author

      There’s a nice semi-auto one made by Ohio Ordnance Works, $4,300 (best deal is the kit with accessories though).
      http://www.ohioordnanceworks.com/rifles/semi-auto/oow-line

      A transferable is expensive. There are relatively few compared to the collectors chasing them. All US WWII weapons exploded in value after Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers. A new replica semi-only BAR really sells for as much as an authentic WWII Johnson… how weird is that?

    2. TRX

      The Swedes used several variants of the BAR, mostly chambered in 6.5×55. Last time I had BAR fever, the Swedish guns were substantially cheaper than the American ones.

      The Swedish guns accumulated a fair number of changes from the original over the years; they all looked like valid improvements to me, but purists seem to reject them as lesser guns.

      1. archy

        The Swedes used several variants of the BAR, mostly chambered in 6.5×55. Last time I had BAR fever, the Swedish guns were substantially cheaper than the American ones.

        The first 700 Swedish m/1921 BARs were built on Colt receivers, with some rebuilt into M/1937 guns with a lock on the barrel front that allowed a quick barrel change. I had one of the early guns, marked with the Finnish [SA] SA-in-a box army property marking; it was likely a veteran of the Finnish Winter War. The good news was it shot well and the 6,5 Swedish version was a good deal easier to control than a US M1918 BAR in .30-06 and the pistol grip helped too. The later guns had the foreend/handguard removed, apparently to save weight, but I was quite happy to have it on up front.

        There were some of the Swedish guns- especially former demils- that were reworked into .30-06 guns using American M1918 BAR parts, since the barrel threads were the same. I was a lot happier with the 6,5 though, and took one of the first deer I ever shot with a rifle with it- on semi, one shot, Norma soft point. It would have been an easier hunt using the little m/94 Swedish carbine I also had at the time, but I really wanted to try the BAR out. It worked just like it was supposed to. Given a choice of either gun at the same price now, I’d take an M/1921 first, then a US M1918 or ’18A2, then the m/1937. I doubt, though, that another will come my way.

        1. Hognose Post author

          A Semi version of the Colt M1921 Monitor is in pre-order phase still. It will be about $8-9k if they don’t drop the project.

        2. Kirk

          Don’t forget the Poles, either–There was an interesting bit of chicanery that went on with FN and the Polish army regarding the Polish version of the BAR, which had later influence on the Radom pistol program. I recently saw a write-up on that, and I think it was at Forgotten Weapons… I’ll see if I can find it, later on.

          1. Hognose Post author

            Cool. I have more BAR vs BREN videos (and other match ups) running at 1100 tomorrow, because my thumbsucker about Mali isn’t finished.

  11. Chris W.

    Hognose, you ever disassemble/reassemble a BAR blindfolded? I did think that was pretty cool that it was mentioned in the FM!

    1. Hognose Post author

      Yes, it was part of Light Weapons in Phase II of my SFQC, circa October 1983. To my amazement I passed the BAR (78 parts, IIRC) which I was expecting to get a NO GO on, but I did get a NO GO on the M3A1 SMG which had, IIRC, about 16 parts when detail stripped.

      1. archy

        *** I did get a NO GO on the M3A1 SMG which had, IIRC, about 16 parts when detail stripped.***

        As a first-enlistment tank crewman not quite two decades previously, we had to reassemble a M1911A1 .45 pistol, M3/M3A1 .45 greasegun and an M37 Browning .30 caliber co-ax machinegun, the parts of all three being mixed together, inside a moving tank, hatches shut with no interior light. I got the pistol and SMG okay, took a couple of tries to get the MG together in the time allotted…I think it was three minutes, but it might have been five. Mind your finger when you trip the accelerator on that Browning; it can bite you worse than M1 thumb.

  12. Kirk

    Overall, I have to say that Alphin isn’t entirely wrong, but he ain’t right, either.

    The evidence that the US Army never did, and still doesn’t “get” German MG doctrine or usage is right there in the video, where he is talking about how the Germans “used the guns to support the movement of the riflemen”. Not the case, and a very mistaken idea of what was going on, mostly due to the US observers interpreting what they thought was going on through the lens of their own training and doctrine. He gets some of it right, in that he alludes to the German squad being built around the gun, but he completely fails to grasp the “why” and the “how”.

    1. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

      Kirk, where is the best place to read up on the subject of the squad being built around the gun?

      1. Kirk

        Oh, criminy… I wish I could point you at one reference that definitively laid it all out, in clear and comprehensible form, but… There ain’t none, in English. Basically, because we don’t have a very good understanding of the intricacies of the German doctrine, nor have we bothered to study it in any detail.

        Likewise, there’s a bunch of interwar German stuff that just isn’t out there in English, and I’m not even sure the Germans have really got things laid out clearly in one place either–There are teasing references to it in a bunch of peripheral stuff, like Len Deighton’s books on the Battle of Britain, where he talks about the German human factors engineering that led to them laying out their bombers in a totally different manner than we chose to–The Germans thought that the crews should all be within touching distance, and built the JU-88 accordingly. We scattered them throughout the fuselage, as dictated by the airframe. How big a deal this was, in aircraft? No idea, but the Germans thought it damned important, and did the same with their vehicles, which was one additional reason you don’t see one-man turrets on the German tanks, either.

        The root difference in terms of MG doctrine can probably be summed up as being that the Germans looked at the MG as being the reason for the squad, and the Allies looked at the gun as being a support weapon for the riflemen in the squad. Seems minor, but it really isn’t–For corroboration on that, look at the exchange ratios and casualty figures, and ask yourself how the hell an army that couldn’t even mount itself on motorized vehicles, and which relied on the horse for about 90% of its off-railway movement managed to do as much damage as it did, and damn near conquer most of the western Eurasian continent with a fraction of the population of the area they were in control of. That set of facts, right there, tells you who the hell had it most “right”, when it comes to basic infantry tactical doctrine and operations.

        The reasoning used by Mr. Alphin is sadly specious, and of a piece with the US sources that sought to minimize the issues of going up against German infantry armed with the MG34/42 family of weapons. The reality is, the US looked at what the Germans were doing, and interpreted it through the lens of their own doctrine, which gave them a false sense of what was going on. All too often, they’d find out the hard way that the German guns they were going up against weren’t “supporting” the German troops which were moving, they were fixing our guys in place, while the infantry troops we observed and assumed were being “supported” were actually scouting for paths to move their guns forward into dominant positions. The Germans did not think in terms of “support”; they thought in terms of “the guns are the distilled firepower of the squad”, and used the riflemen to scout for paths forward to bypass and make irrelevant the allied positions they were attacking. The rest of the time, the riflemen were there to haul ammo and provide security, while the squad leader directed MG fires and maneuvered his gun(s). It seems a minor difference, but when you consider the host of other issues that went into things, you really have to wonder how the hell we missed all that.

        Alphin alludes to the tripod; that was a key part of the system, because the guns were only meant to be used as LMGs during a frontal assault, and when they were in movement between positions. Inclusion of that tripod, which if you ever see in action as I have in some of the old German training films, enables the German crew to deliver massive amounts of fire very rapidly, and very accurately. This is a point we miss, to our detriment, because I’ll guarantee you that were we doing the same thing in Afghanistan today, the insurgents would be suffering a hell of a lot more casualties, just as the German Gebirgsjager delivered in the Caucasus during WWII. That German Lafette tripod and sight system is a lot more flexible than our half-ass POS; you can adapt that damn thing to virtually any bit of terrain you find, by varying the lengths of the tripod legs, and put a gun into action on a stable firing platform far more easily than anything we’ve issued, ever. That “minor point” is one I’ve railed on, for years, and which nobody pays attention: “Oh, the Lafette weighs 40lbs.; it’s too heavy…”. Yeah, dumbass–But, it enables you to actually deliver deadly fires out to 1500 meters with a speed and rapidity we can’t match with anything in our MG inventory.

        On top of that, the US has always missed the point of that “excessively high rate of fire” the German guns had designed in from the beginning. The reason for that rate of fire being selected was quite simple–Math. At long ranges, if you deliver your burst of rounds at 600rpm, which is what we consider to be the “ideal” rate, the problem is that your beaten zone isn’t being beaten very quickly, at all–The enemy, in a squad-size target area, has too much time to seek cover. Just going to the prone in a lot of cases will render much of your fire irrelevant, and the slow rate of fire we design for basically means the guns are much less effective at long range. The Germans, on the other hand? At 1200rpm, that beaten zone is going to be filled with lead before the targeted troops can react, and you’re going to get more casualties and do a better job of suppression.

        That’s one of the key things that the US-indoctrinated observers miss, and Mr. Alphin is no different.

        I wish I could point to one definitive work that laid all this out, but the sad fact is, there ain’t one to be had. Most of what I’ve picked up has come through years of reading, research, and comes from a dozen different sources, mostly primary accounts by German soldiers and some of their training films and manuals. A gentleman in Illinois gave me access to a bunch of stuff he was gathering for an intended book, and I wish I had taken the time and money to copy it all down, but that being before cheap scanners and the Internet, it would have meant a couple of hundred bucks down at the local Kinkos. What he had was laboriously translated from German manuals, and a civilian-published handbook for machinegunnery, most of it in that semi-legible German script. The English translation of it was fairly good, but I think some of the technical terms were “not quite right”. I really wish I’d done more to keep track of that guy, but I didn’t, and most of my notes from that era are water-damaged and illegible. I will say this much, though–There is a lot we simply haven’t studied, in this arena, and someone badly needs to take a look at it, digest it, and try to apply it to modern warfare.

        What’s sad is that even the modern Germans seem to be losing the bubble; the HK5 has the low rate of fire that the rest of think is “ideal”, and the Germans themselves can’t articulate why they have changed their minds, other than that they’re complying with the NATO standard. Which, I suspect, is fundamentally flawed.

        1. Brad

          If high cyclic-rate of fire was German doctrine for ground targets, why does their MG tripod have that buffer contraption which drops the practical cyclic rate down to about 600 rpm? And why does the MG-34 have selective fire capability?

          1. Kirk

            That “buffer contraption” was meant to disperse the beaten zone for close-in fires, because the gun was optimized for long-range; at closer ranges, that bit was engaged, and it caused the dispersion to go up. You had to do that, or the beaten zone was too small to be effective at closer ranges. The guns were optimized, you see, for killing at the furthest possible distance from the troops…

            The MG34 had the “einzelfeuer” setting for… Well, you tell me: I’ll note that the feature was not continued through to the MG42, which notably has a higher rate of fire than the MG34. That wasn’t an accident, either.

            There were a lot of oddities about German weapons design–They were adamant, for example, that a gas-tap in the barrel was a no-no, which is why both the MG34 and the MG42 are recoil-operated with muzzle-boosters, and why their semiautos initially all had gas-trap systems on them. It wasn’t until late in the war that they allowed designers to start drilling holes in barrels, and we see things like the StG-44 show up.

            All too many of American evaluators look at the MG34/42 and go “Wow, that’s a stupid way to do things… Hard to work around…”, and never cotton onto the fact that the design is what it is because they meant it to be like that, and then ask the salient question of “Why’d they do it that way…?”.

            And, too, you need to evaluate the damn things in full context, which is including the tripod and accessories. That Lafette tripod is at least half the reason the system is so successful, and I’ll be damned if I’ve ever seen an American military source that even begins to comprehend that fact. Even our half-ass attempt to copy the MG42 had the poor thing mounted on an American M1919 tripod, a tool that is sadly deficient in almost every regard. You don’t begin to grasp this stuff until you see a German training film where the troops are putting one of these systems into operation in some truly funky terrain, stuff where you would be hard-pressed to get a US-type MG into effective operation against anything, and observe that a.) they are doing so with ease, and b.) with frightening rapidity. Couple that with the fact that they are now firing the MG off a fixed, steady platform with easily indexed and adjustable elevation and traverse, at a high rate of fire, aaaaannd… You start to understand how the hell they managed to kill all those poor Soviets.

            Right before I left for Germany, when I was a private back during the 1980s, I got invited over to a neighbor’s house. Ostensibly for tea and pastries, but I found out that Kurt, the husband, wanted to talk to me before going off to defend the Fatherland for us all, and… Let’s just say that conversation was enlightening. Kurt was, it turned out, a German MG gunner for most of the war, and he had some very, very interesting things to tell me–Stuff he’d never mentioned, even to his wife and/or kids.

            He’d been through some shit, too, because he got captured somewhere in the mountains along the Austrian/Hungarian border, and didn’t come home until sometime in the mid-1950s. He had a rather hard war, as he’d been something of a politically unreliable nature, and never got past being a junior NCO because of it. I think it was because he had been active in the Catholic youth groups that opposed the Nazis, and when he’d been called up in ’37, it was a narrow-run thing between the camps and the Wehrmacht. Enlightening guy, and a starting point for my realization that the Germans hadn’t done things the way I thought was “natural” after my training on the M60 in the US Army.

            If I interpreted what he was telling me correctly, he’d had a bunch of Wehrmacht awards for close combat, including a couple of tank kills, and multiple wound badges. Nearly all his time was on the Eastern Front, and it’s probably a miracle he lived through it all. Had nothing positive to say about the Nazis, either–Which was probably why he never got past Obergefrieter, and spent a bunch of time behind an MG34/42. I wish I’d gotten more time to pick his brain, but he died while I was in Germany on that tour.

        2. W. Fleetwood

          Mr. Kirk. “The Germans looked at the MG as being the reason for the squad and the Allies looked at the MG as a support weapon for the riflemen.”

          Yes! Thank you. Best summation / distillation I’ve ever read. I never got it down to less than a pretty long paragraph, or two.

          Oh, and fair warning, I’m stealing it!.

          Wafa Wafa, Wasara Wasara.

          1. Kirk

            Feel free… I probably got that from someone else, in the first place…

            I really wish I either a.) won the Lotto, so I could do the research myself, or that b.) someone would take the time to go through the German archives and find this stuff. I know it’s there, because I’ve seen stuff that was extracted from their manuals and books on the subject, and it just baffles me no end that there isn’t some scholarship being done.

            All too much of the US military historical stuff focuses on the “big picture” crap, and ignores the lower-level enablers. You can read tome after tome, talking about how the Germans did so well, comparatively, but it’s all focused on higher-echelon issues, vs. the lower level nuts and bolts, which is where I think they really did most of their damage. It wasn’t the General Staff, in other words, but those lower-level leaders that enabled the success of the German system.

            Every time you go and look at the times we were successful in breaking through and starting to get going, there’s a damn German officer throwing together a hasty improvised Kampfgruppe out of rear-echelon and retreating troops, who then turns the tables on our guys. How the hell did they manage that, so successfully? And, then, you look at things like what happened to the 106th Infantry Division, and you just don’t see the same sort of improvisational excellence. If it hadn’t been for the intact formed units in the 106th, their entire formation might have melted away in front of the German advance. We did similar things to the Germans, but the thing is, they always pulled these improvised, hastily-organized Kampfgruppe out of their asses, and then put an end to Allied advances. You see it time and time again, on the Eastern Front, and you wonder “How the hell did they manage to keep doing that…?”.

            I think the answer lies in how they paid more attention to low-level training, organization, and cohesion than we did. The individual replacement system we ran was a horror show, insofar as building unit teamwork and cohesion went. There’s little wonder why the casualty rate amongst individual replacements was as high as it was, and why the surviving veterans often couldn’t tell you their names–We were doing it wrong.

          2. Hognose Post author

            I wonder if it’s in my collection of Waffen Revues (not quite complete, but getting there). I have an index that I was translating for a future blog post, but the translation isn’t done.

  13. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

    Really good summary. It’s really hard to overcome the false notion that everybody thinks the way we do, on a cultural, national or even local level.

  14. Brad

    Comparing the German MG 13, the MG 15, and the MG 34 is very interesting.

    The MG 13 squad automatic LMG had specifications much more like a BAR or French M 24/29 than the radical MG 34, with a low cyclic rate and 25 round box magazine feed. The MG 15 flexible mount aircraft gun had a high cyclic rate and 75 round drum feed.

  15. LSWCHP

    Fascinating insights from Kirk. I’ll add that Australian small unit infantry tactics from the 1970-80’s (my era) sound a lot more German than American. For the section commander, correct positioning and employment of his gun was his primary consideration. The platoon commander basically commanded three MG teams, with some rifles in addition. I thought that’s how everybody did it, but obviously not.

    It would be interesting to see if things have changed.

    1. Kirk

      If you guys were really following the German way of doing business, the telling thing would be to ask how your leaders were taught to conduct advances and attacks. If the focus was on working your fire teams forward, under cover of the MG teams, then you’re in keeping with classical Allied doctrine. If the emphasis was on working the guns forward to establish fire dominance, then that was Germanic.

      The basic difference was that; the Germans saw “fire and movement” as being the movement of MG teams, and firing the guns from advantageous positions; the Allied approach was to use the guns to screen and support the movement of the riflemen in teams ahead of the guns.

      Typically, the Germans would seek to dislodge and dislocate by getting in on the flanks, and attaining a position to where they could make the enemy positions untenable, and then engage them as they were forced to withdraw. As the phrase went, it was flachen und luckentaktik, the tactics of surfaces and gaps. Infiltration and dislocation was the name of the game; direct attack, anathema. A frontal assault was a last resort, and would oftentimes earn a German leader an ass-chewing or a relief, as the attitude was that the conduct of such things was a waste of lives.

      Couple MG tactics and techniques like that with the German skill with light mortars, and the reason why we suffered so many damn casualties fighting them when our infantry was on its own becomes quite clear. If it had simply been an infantry-on-infantry war, we might still be trying to get off Omaha beach…

      Fortunately, our commanders decided to take a more expedient path, and spent the money on creating the world’s finest artillery and aerial fire support system, as well as providing us with copious amounts of armor and wheeled vehicles. As a result, the German primacy with infantry small arms and tactics was rendered irrelevant.

      Which is not to say that there is nothing to learn from them; the ROE restrictions we operate under in Afghanistan are a self-imposed deficiency in supporting arms, and mean that our small arms must therefore take up the slack–And, we’re not doing a hell of a lot to ensure that. The lack of study and attention paid to questions like “Just what made the German MG team so effective…” is literally killing our troops. Those “overly heavy” Lafette-style tripods, and “excessive rate-of-fire” machineguns? Both of those tools could be utilized to dominate the fight, were we smart enough to look at the damn things and realize what they can do.

      A machine gun is not just the weapon; it’s part of a system that includes the mount, the ammunition, and the training/doctrine/operational use thereof. All too often, we’re taking bipod-mounted weapons into a fight where a Lafette-mounted system would be dominant out to 1500-1800m, and lamenting the fact that we can’t suppress the enemy. Well, no shit: You can’t suppress what’s not getting hit. And, with a bipod-mounted MG team, about all you’re going to do is spread copious amounts of projectiles over the sides of the hills you’re taking fire from, instead of using the tripod to help you deliver devastating fires on the specific locations you’re taking fire from.

      The crappy little US-standard M122 and M192 tripods are sad jokes, when you attempt to actually use them to engage the enemy in impromptu and unplanned engagements. They’re designed to be used solely in firing off of firing tables in deliberately prepared defenses, and that’s about the extent of it. Trying to do what the Germans did in the Caucasus mountains with the Lafette mounts is impossible, because the legs of the US tripod aren’t at all adjustable, and the design does not lend itself to use in widely varying terrain. Having been a gunner with the M60/M122 system, I have to say that it’s a complete and utter POS. Getting it into operation to deliver fire at anything over about 800m requires such preparation and work that by the time you get the whole system into effective operation, the damn enemy has likely grown tired and gone home. With the Lafette, a German team can be up and running within minutes, and will not have to go to the extremes I often had to, like tying the damn tripod legs down to logs and so forth.

      Evaluated on a systems basis? We still haven’t got anything that’s even close to being in the class of the MG34/Lafette system, and it’s been an obscenity of some 70-odd years since the Germans took those systems to war. For the life of me, I cannot understand why–Dear God, did not enough of our men die, going against those things, for us to start wondering if maybe, just maybe, we didn’t quite know everything we thought we did?

      1. Tierlieb

        Wow, Kirk, thanks for this awesome and concise explanation. Makes lugging the old MG3 and it’s Lafette around feel much better in retrospective ;-)

        One footnote: “Flächen- und Lückentaktik” is obviously German. Thing is, I only find it as quotes in other militaries’ documents (Danish and Italian mostly).

        Maybe it is as simple as modern Germans avoiding the topic of WW2 so much that much of our know-how has not made it onto the internet. Anyway, do you have another name for that for further research?

        1. Kirk

          Oh, my friend… You have no idea how jealous I was, of you guys. Had we actually fought WWIII, my plan was to find some poor, unsuspecting Bundeswehr machinegun crew, get them good and drunk, and make an informal trade of my much-loathed M60 for their MG3/Lafette setup. After I started to figure out things as a machinegunner, the deficiencies of what the US Army issued me became really annoying, and looking over the gear you guys were still being issued in the 1980s…? The words “Lust in the heart…” come to mind.

          The MG34/42/3 and Lafette combination truly are the distilled apotheosis of machinegun technique and technology. It is truly disturbing to note that fact, who it was that developed them, and the fact that even the Bundeswehr is slowly losing the art and science they represent. The recent specification of a low rate of fire for the HK5 leaves me wanting to find the idiots in charge of that, and shake some damn sense into them, while beating them with copies of the old regulations… It is sadly apparent that a lot has been forgotten, and I can only speculate on the reasons.

          As to where to go looking for more information in the archives…? I wish I knew. The guy I got the most material from, whose notes I wish I had copied? His stuff came out of a bunch of different places, which he’d gathered on multple assignments to Germany from the late 1950s to the 1970s. Some of it came out of archives, but a lot of it came from old bookstores and flea markets. He’d planned on writing a book, covering the period from 1918 forward to 1945, going over the the development of everything relating to the German GPMG concept during that period, with more of a focus on the tactics and techniques than the guns. I never saw it come out, and I can’t find any sign of him on the internet. His health wasn’t the best, back then, so I’m going to have to assume he’s gone, and God alone knows what happened to his file cabinets full of this stuff he’d gathered. There were drawers full of things he hadn’t even read, yet, that he’d picked up just because it looked like it might vaguely pertain. Didn’t help that his eyesight was going, either.

          The one thing you might start with trying to find was a handbook, published by a civilian company, that wasn’t an official manual. It was like a handbook/study guide for a junior NCO running an MG team, and it referenced a bunch of official sources, not all of which my informant had managed to run down. I want to say it was published by some specialist military publisher that did a bunch of other works like it, but I can’t remember even the city it was based in. Or, for that damn matter, the name of it, although there was a Verlag in there somewhere. Which is about as useful as telling an English speaker that the word “press” is somewhere in the company name, I know…

          Man, I wish I’d paid more attention, and kept in touch with that guy. At the time, however, all I was interested in was improving my professional skills and satisfying my curiousity. Never expected to be where I am now, and wanting to lay this stuff out for others in more detail.

          1. Kirk

            Is the above visible to everyone else? My browser still shows “Awaiting Moderation”.

          2. Kirk

            The “Awaiting Moderation” tag is now gone for me, too… Strange. Yesterday, it didn’t even show up, after I posted it, then it was here last night with the tag, and now… Apparently completely here. [sigh]

            As is often said on another site: “WordPress delenda est”.

      2. LSWCHP

        Well, based on all of that, it sounds like we were kinda German in our training. Whocoodanode? Our goal was always to get the gun forward to establish fire dominance and use it to pin the enemy so that he could be flanked and assaulted by riflemen. Establishing fire support from the gun group, with an assault from the flank at 90 degrees to the line of fire from the gun was the ideal.

        Your remark about having the gun in “advantageous positions” is telling. While moving, the gun was always to be kept on the right flank on flat terrain, or in a position of advantage on the flank with the high ground if there was any. Woe betide the section commander (eg me, sometimes) who didn’t constantly manoeuvre his gun to keep it forward and on the higher flank.

        And as for response to contact, our SOP was to respond instantly and overwhelmingly with rifles, gun, M79, M203, SMG, grenades and foul language. A post Vietnam Australian infantry section, led by or containing veterans, was a prickly and tetchy thing, and not something to be casually poked or trifled with.

        1. Kirk

          I’ve always had a great deal of respect for the Australian Army, and it doesn’t surprise me to hear that, at all.

          To my way of thinking, the MG is the most important weapon in the squad, and should be the focus of the squad effort, as opposed to the usual US Army and Marine outlook that it is merely an aid to the riflemen. This is something that has always bothered me, because it just grates against my instincts, and always has. Early in my time as a private, what my lieutenantsmand squad leaders had me doing with my gun just struck me as being dumb as dumb could be. Why are we tackling this position head-on, when we could be working our way around a flank, or getting into the rear of it, and forcing the enemy to withdraw from it instead? And, ohbytheway, withdraw under our fire?

          When I encountered the German stuff, later on, it was like “Yeah, this is the right way to do business…”. For whatever reason, what I learned of the German technique just resonated with me. It makes sense, and the elegance/economy of it all just makes me want to go out and proselytize from door to door, asking people if they have brought the words of our machinegun prophets into their hearts and tactical operations.

          1. Arturo

            Kirk,
            Informative as usual.
            With your readings, did you happen to come across how stugs and mortars were used. I assume they were organic units, but with the excellent reputation the mortars have, i could be mistaken. Were units structured like the mgs or something else entirely?

          2. Kirk

            To be honest, not being a mortar or assault gun enthusiast, nor ever being likely to have them in my unit and/or span of control, I didn’t pay a hell of a lot of attention to them. I remember seeing references to the use of mortars in conjunction with the MG, but that’s about it.

            These days, I really wish I’d a.) paid more attention to the peripheral issues of those things like mortars and assault guns, and b.) kept better track of where all this crap actually was found.

            What you are getting when I write about this stuff is a synthesis and distillation of some thirty-odd years of reading, talking to veterans, and personal experimentation/thought on the issues of MG employment. Your mileage may vary, the details may not be spot-on, but if I’m saying it, I likely found it somewhere along the line.

            Unfortunately, that’s the way my mind works: I read something, and the information sticks with me. The sources? LOL… God, I wish I had an index going, because I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve gotten into discussions with people and “lost” them, because I couldn’t cite chapter and verse on sourcing for what I was saying, right off the bat.

            Now, I will admit this: The way my memory works, it’s entirely possible that the source I found something at was either mistaken, or bullshit in the first place, because if I don’t spot something wrong with the information, it goes into memory as “fact”. Later experience may lead me to tag it as BS, but… For a lot of esoteric crap, that just doesn’t happen. Not enough other people interested in the subjects I am to make alternative sources/viewpoints really that available.

  16. Slow Joe Crow

    That’s like a bit I read from the North African campaign that identified unknown troops by their response to shooting at them. Rifle fire meant British troops, machine gun fire meant Germans, and a few moments of silence followed by artillery was American troops.

  17. Tierlieb

    This article lead to several absolutely awesome discussions, thanks everyone.

    @kirk, @hognose
    Btw.: If you guys need any help with German translations or a bit of legwork done to get photocopies from books at, say, UniBW in Munich or the HSU in Hamburg, let me know. E-Mail address is this username at gmx.net

    1. Simon

      Yes, and I can usually find time for Projects more interesting than painting the kitchen. Not sure that you will find much documentation here in the East of Austria, but you never know.

  18. atp

    Fascinating stuff. Hognose, back in 2013, you linked to Nette’s 1979 “Emma Gees” illuminating article, below. It never touches on any compare/contrast of allied vs. German MG tactics, doctrine, or equipment, but seems very clear that the Canadian army c. 1970 had largely forgotten its own MG tactics! (Have they improved since then? Have the Americans?) So perhaps it’s even worse than Kirk says; not only did we not learn from the Germans, we forgot much of what we knew then.

    “The Rise, Fall, & Rebirth Of The ‘Emma Gees'”, by Major K.A. Nette, Winter 1979:
    http://regimentalrogue.com/emmagees/emmagees1.htm
    http://regimentalrogue.com/emmagees/emmagees2.htm
    https://army.ca/forums/index.php?topic=5703.0
    http://weaponsman.com/?p=11086

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