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Thursday, January 26. 2012
When we were kids, we played Army Man. In the evenings, we watched Vic Morrow keep his head in Combat, and Christopher George go dunebuggying in Rat Patrol. Entertainment like that was everywhere, and every retaining wall in every driveway had imaginary Guns of Navarone atop it the day after we saw the movie. We'd gather up all our military-ish toy swag, pick sides, and wander the neighborhood sneaking up on each other and arguing over who shot whom. Nothing we had shot any sort of projectile, so there was nothing to do but argue; but we all wanted to die and fall to the ground in histrionic ways and writhe around a bit, so the arguments were mostly about who was "throwing" the war too easily to suit the other side. There was a dirty little secret of all such suburban war games of the sixties. We all wanted to be the Germans.
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The largest ethnic group in the U.S. is — guess.
Germans. Aber naturlich.
I was taught and learned six round burst, maximum, to save the air cooled barrel. And it was spray at a height while traversing, a height that would catch from ankles to knees while also covering crawlers, never at a specific target, just range. Accuracy not so important. Tactics change though, as does life.
Irony abounds. On the day we learn an American machine gun platoon can carry an extra squad and gun, the dumba** politicians and the Water Walker in Chief cut 8 infantry brigades.
nice piece of disinformation aimed at our own troops, in order to reduce fear for very good weapons, weapons in many ways far superior to anything we had in our own arsenals.
An MG needs to deliver lead by the bucketload, it's a suppression weapon most of all, not so much a weapon for single target shooting (unless that target is the size of a building).
There's a reason the German design is still in use today, only major changes being the round fired (NATO standard now) and some of the materials used, while the American design has long been relegated to museums and scrapyards.
Yes - Somewhere I saw an reply to this nonsense from actual WWII Vets. Those high-speed German machine guns were horrifying and deadly. And thankfully the Germans did not have time to replace their Mauser with the StG 44's.
WWII Japanese infantry weapons were junk. The Russians were crude but effective. American and British weapons were good reliable tools, the German stuff was the state-of-the art.
I got my German Marksman badge (please don't ask me to spell it Shootzen-snore....) shoothing the MG3 (modernized MG-42), G-3, and the pistol.
It has a high rate of fire, but it is accurate. Firing 50 rounds thru it in just about 3 heartbeats. Learning to control it was hard, but doable.
Shooting the 7.62mm M3 was a dream. Compared to the '16, it was very accurate, more heavy\stable in the hands, and didn't shake like a hula dancer. Where you aimed, squezed, and put the bullet is where it went.
I fired for a full week with my partner unit (a Panzer Grenidier companie), and it was heaven. They even managed to qualify with our weapons, which we took. They liked our lightness, but had a hard time shooting with the Post\Ears sights.
Funny thing is, We preferred their weapons more than ours.... must have been all us suburban\country kids not afraid to shoot, and know about guns instead of Urban 'heady stuff'...
Americans win wars with LOGISTICS! That's our genius.
In a close encounter, an individual German Tiger or Panther tank, of which there were few, could easily knock out ten Shermans in a short time, at a range beyond what the Sherman's main gun would reach. But, the next LST to belly up to the dock would deliver ten replacement tanks and a bunch more tank ammo! And the next one in, would just deliver ten more!
Quantities of weapons and material, delivered where you needed them,(aided by an occasional, slightly-crazed US general ala Patton, pointing out to GIs that the way home was through the German army) prevailed in the end.
True, perhaps, if they could find them all in the sights and the engine was working. Shermans were fast, reliable, numerous, and avoided one on one encounters if they could. Going with your strengths is always a good idea. Going one on one in a frontal attack on a heavily armored tank with a bigger gun would have been a very bad idea. I expect that was learned pretty quickly.
Read some of Ambrose - that was a very grim way to fight a war - and the Vets were determined not to repeat it.
Stories of replacement tank crews being issued a Sherman with a hastily patched hole and the interior covered in blood stains. We threw away a lot of good men by giving them crap tanks before the Pershings arrived.
While I understand that the US M-60 was based on the MG-42 design, the fire rate of the M-60 was more in line with American doctrine. I think the video actually nailed the problem...ammunition is difficult to lug around and there is probably a diminishing return on suppression vs. rate of fire. Dissipating heat from a the very high throughput of a single barrel must have been a problem, as well.
There may be some merit in the "additional gun" mentioned, too. Even with a much higher rate of fire, the more fundamental problem of allocating men to targets and assigning fields of fire would probably favor the platoon with the additional machine gun.
Certainly, you have my agreement that the Wehrmacht had excellent weapons. But there were trade offs made both in engineering and doctrine for both sides and the Army video here may have actually had a fair amount of truth in it.
(Comfortable at my keyboard, I'm pretty happy to have never had to worry about being shot at by any of those weapons.)
There's lots of Japanese WW2 infantry weapons on display at the nearby Nimitz Museum --the metallurgy is --even to the eye --below period standards --it looks like iron, actually --like the 19th century early Winchesters (like my 1872 with a slightly bent barrel). But, you know, it worked --ask the Marines.
The basic Japanese infantry weapons were pretty good; the Arisaka was a perfectly serviceable well-made rifle; they had a good copy of the British Bren gun for a light squad machine gun, etc. But by late in the war they had lost so much equipment and their production capacity was so diminished that the quality of the weapons drastically diminished.
Outside that the infantry seems to have had pretty crappy equipment. They were supposed to get by on pluck and dash.
...reminds of the French élan --up until somewhere around Verdun.
I have a 6.5mm Arisaka. It is an absurd weapon for jungle fighting. Crazy long 31" barrel, long slow bolt, leaf sites for 1,000 yard + volley fire.
It might have been a good weapon in 1905 in Russia. It was effective for sniping from a defensive position, but next to useless as an all-round combat rifle in 1944.
Outside the high rate of fire, a big, maybe bigger part of the weapon's value was that it was easy to use and maintain, adaptable to many tactical uses, and very portable. I wonder if the versions being used today haven't been tweaked to reduce the rate of fire a bit.
Somewhere recently I saw an old interview with a German infantry soldier who had served mostly on the Eastern front; he commented that the MG34 would actually freeze up in the cold weather; The MG42 wasn't as prone to that problem. They loved the MG42, but he said it was really easy to shoot up all your ammunition & the gunners had to be very careful not to!!
I don't know how similar the Browning .30 machine gun is to the Browning .50, but the .50 BMG is still going strong. It's planted all over tanks, troop carriers and firebases in Afghanistan right now.
If you open the link 'the Gun' in the 'Friday Morning Links' above, then scroll down a bit to the photo of the SAR-80 assault rifle taken from a Somali pirate (AKA a maritime insurance rate-increase lobbyist, but that's another story), then read below the pic a couple paras into the stream of consciousness (hey, that guy is good --thanks BD for the link), you encounter the only criticisms i myself have ever seen of the MG42-derived US M60.
Just a guess, but that rate-of-fire tweak you surmise probably followed the events recalled in that block of text.
I don't know anything about the weapons being discussed but
every time I see that photo of Eisenhower and those ready to go Airborne guys I am compelled to take a good long look at it. It fills me with pride, gratitude, wonder, humility and prayer.
me too, CCC. Dunno, may be apochryphal, but the story is, Ike wanted to visit that unit because the eyes-only intelligence reports were that not many of them were expected to make it back.
Great men. I can only thank them and watch Band of Brothers. The first one, not the Pacific. . .