How quickly can you get your MG into operation? These were the standards of the Czechoslovak People’s Army for bringing the Universal MG vz. 59 into operation, as published in the Handbook for NCOs in 1975 (p. 175).
This is in the LMG mode — prone, with gunner and AG, ready to fire from the march. Here’s what “assuming the prone position for firing the MG” looks like in a scan from the handbook:
The Czechoslovaks clearly believed that having a year’s experience on the gun shaved a couple seconds, and that having use of an AG versus doing it yourself was worth four seconds.
|Time Norms for Preparing the Universal Machine Gun vz. 59-L for firing (times in seconds)|
|Prone Firing Position||1st Year*||2nd year|
|Collective effort of gunner and loader||10||12||14||8||10||12|
|Either gunner or loader solo||14||16||18||12||14||16|
|Taking cartridges or belts from a closed box||22||24||26||20||22||24|
|* (after completing initial period of training)||Translation © WeaponsMan.com 2016|
Why no “3rd year”? Like all Warsaw Pact (and most Continental European NATO) Armies in this period, it was a draft army. For an infantry gun bunny, there was no third year!
Having to crack the box was considered an eight-second penalty.
The manual also includes table of times for breakdown and reassembly, and similar tables for the vz. 58 rifle. There’s considerable information on exterior ballistics, plunging fire, etc. The Czechoslovak People’s Army placed great store in mastering weapons. Firing was initially at bull’s-eye targets, but by the time the gunner or crew had been introduced to tactical employment of their weapons, silhouettes were used. These roughly resembled the US E-type “full” and F-type “head and shoulders” silhouettes, plus “group” targets comprising a pair of full-silhouettes, or a full-silhouette next to a head-and-shoulders job.
Because it’s an NCO’s handbook, there’s a little bit of information on how to conduct fire control of crews, elements, and squads, also.