Better rifle for German army in 1914

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T. A. Gardner
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Re: Better rifle for German army in 1914

Post by T. A. Gardner » 04 Oct 2021 02:29

The Germans soon started issuing 20 round magazines for their K 98's once trench warfare set in

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Sheldrake
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Re: Better rifle for German army in 1914

Post by Sheldrake » 04 Oct 2021 08:33

Latze wrote:
30 Sep 2021 08:02
I think the question whether the cannon or the howitzer is the weapon better able to give effective support was answered in the Great War. The howitzer is much more flexible in it's target selection. In the frontier battles of 1914 the French were in most cases unable to deploy a sufficient weight of fire to stop German attacks. This was especially acute in meeting engagements.
Not really. All Armies ended the war with a mix of guns, howitzers and mortars. Some were mounted on tracked chassis as tanks.

The French 75 was a very effective gun capable of puttign down a high rate of fire. Hoiwever, it was not enough to have the best light artillery piece alone. Their artillery park was unbalanced until they introduced higher calibre guns and howitzers.

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Re: Better rifle for German army in 1914

Post by Hans1906 » 04 Oct 2021 12:48

The Germans soon started issuing 20 round magazines for their K 98's once trench warfare set in
Links on this topic:

Mauser Trench Gewehr 98 https://www.instmiltech.com/mauser-trench-gewehr-98/

"Deckungszielgerät" for the Gewehr 98 / WW 1


German Wartime Modification of the Gewehr 98 / WW 1


Dozens of other videos also on YouTube...

Attached two historic photos with the 20-rounds "Grabenmagazin" for the Gewehr 98 / WW 1
Source for both photos: https://laststandonzombieisland.com


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Latze
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Re: Better rifle for German army in 1914

Post by Latze » 05 Oct 2021 09:46

I should note that the "trench magazine" was discarded again as soon as open warfare conditions applied. The evolution that was kept was the replacement of the Gewehr 98 with the Karabiner 98, the long rifle was discarded for a much shorter weapon with a different charging handle design but the 5 round magazine was retained.

The French army meanwhile deployed a much better self-loader (RSC 1917) than the Germans (Mauser Selbstladegewehr) during the Great War. Clearly self loading offered a real advantage while mucking around with magazine size was not. Everybody had programs for the development of them in the inter war period. But the development of these weapons up to the American M1 and SVT-40 shows that nobody was conceivably able to field them in 1914.

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Re: Better rifle for German army in 1914

Post by Latze » 05 Oct 2021 09:53

Sheldrake wrote:
04 Oct 2021 08:33
Latze wrote:
30 Sep 2021 08:02
I think the question whether the cannon or the howitzer is the weapon better able to give effective support was answered in the Great War. The howitzer is much more flexible in it's target selection. In the frontier battles of 1914 the French were in most cases unable to deploy a sufficient weight of fire to stop German attacks. This was especially acute in meeting engagements.
Not really. All Armies ended the war with a mix of guns, howitzers and mortars. Some were mounted on tracked chassis as tanks.
But cannons (direct firing) were clearly on the way out (lets discount specialized guns like AT, AA and infantry guns, we were discussing something different). French and German light field guns were kept because they were numerous and the production facilities were there. Everybody developed or ramped up the production of light howitzers as the main divisional support piece.
Sheldrake wrote:
04 Oct 2021 08:33
The French 75 was a very effective gun capable of puttign down a high rate of fire. Hoiwever, it was not enough to have the best light artillery piece alone. Their artillery park was unbalanced until they introduced higher calibre guns and howitzers.
Which was my point all along. The "better" French gun was unable to overcompensate for their deficiencies.

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Re: Better rifle for German army in 1914

Post by Sheldrake » 05 Oct 2021 23:11

Latze wrote:
05 Oct 2021 09:53
But cannons (direct firing) were clearly on the way out (lets discount specialized guns like AT, AA and infantry guns, we were discussing something different). French and German light field guns were kept because they were numerous and the production facilities were there. Everybody developed or ramped up the production of light howitzers as the main divisional support piece.
Really?

So what you are saying is that if we discount all the new and varied types of direct fire for which cannons are the answer (plus tank armament) we can conclude that cannons are on the way out.

I am not sure if all armies ramped up production of light howitzers. The proportion of light (4.5 inch) howitzers to 18 pounder guns in the British divisional artillery remained the same throughout the war 25%. One battery in four. The French divisional artillery remained the 75, so did the US. Sure they supplemented them with medium and heavy howitzers and a wide range of mortars.

What about long ranged artillery pieces? Most WW1 armies had some sort of long ranged guns for counter battery and interdiction. Many were versions of naval guns (canons)

In WW2 the most famous German artillery piece was the 8.8 cm - versatile as AA, Anti tank and Field artillery. The British 25 pounder was a gun/howitzer.

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Re: Better rifle for German army in 1914

Post by Latze » 06 Oct 2021 21:14

Sheldrake wrote:
05 Oct 2021 23:11
Latze wrote:
05 Oct 2021 09:53
But cannons (direct firing) were clearly on the way out (lets discount specialized guns like AT, AA and infantry guns, we were discussing something different). French and German light field guns were kept because they were numerous and the production facilities were there. Everybody developed or ramped up the production of light howitzers as the main divisional support piece.
Really?

So what you are saying is that if we discount all the new and varied types of direct fire for which cannons are the answer (plus tank armament) we can conclude that cannons are on the way out.

I am not sure if all armies ramped up production of light howitzers. The proportion of light (4.5 inch) howitzers to 18 pounder guns in the British divisional artillery remained the same throughout the war 25%. One battery in four. The French divisional artillery remained the 75, so did the US. Sure they supplemented them with medium and heavy howitzers and a wide range of mortars.

What about long ranged artillery pieces? Most WW1 armies had some sort of long ranged guns for counter battery and interdiction. Many were versions of naval guns (canons)

In WW2 the most famous German artillery piece was the 8.8 cm - versatile as AA, Anti tank and Field artillery. The British 25 pounder was a gun/howitzer.
What I am saying is that for the "field artillery mission" (divisional guns supporting their infantry in offense and defense) the cannon was found to be muss less useful under "modern" (read post 1914) conditions than the howitzer. The German army settled on a howitzer as the standard divisional gun after the Great War, the US Army also, the British as well, the French were obviously unable and started WW2 with an obsolete field artillery park... The conclusion that howitzers can much easier find suitable firing positions and are able to hit the enemy in defiladed positions or on reverse slopes is a matter of ballistics. (see for example Major E. D. Scott "Howitzer Fire" in Field Artillery Journal July/August 1915 p. 356ff or Lt. Gen. Sir Noel Birch "Artillery Development in the Great War" Field Artillery Journal July/August 1921, p. 366ff which argues in section I "The necessary artillery and it's rolê" about the necessity of the howitzer as the main weapon).
Concerning light howitzer production ramp up... Maybe I overstated my case there (German and Austria-Hungarian bias?).

Maybe we start another thread because we moved a long way from the question of rifle design and performance in 1914, haven't we?

Concerning the 8,8 cm FlaK: I tried in vain to find out if they were ever really used as field guns. Yes, concerning ballistics the guns were certainly capable. But did the batteries have the necessary equipment, the crews training in indirect fire? If you have sources on this and or good examples of their use in that role I am very eager to hear it.

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Re: Better rifle for German army in 1914

Post by Sheldrake » 06 Oct 2021 21:39

Latze wrote:
06 Oct 2021 21:14
Sheldrake wrote:
05 Oct 2021 23:11
Latze wrote:
05 Oct 2021 09:53
But cannons (direct firing) were clearly on the way out (lets discount specialized guns like AT, AA and infantry guns, we were discussing something different). French and German light field guns were kept because they were numerous and the production facilities were there. Everybody developed or ramped up the production of light howitzers as the main divisional support piece.
Really?

So what you are saying is that if we discount all the new and varied types of direct fire for which cannons are the answer (plus tank armament) we can conclude that cannons are on the way out.

I am not sure if all armies ramped up production of light howitzers. The proportion of light (4.5 inch) howitzers to 18 pounder guns in the British divisional artillery remained the same throughout the war 25%. One battery in four. The French divisional artillery remained the 75, so did the US. Sure they supplemented them with medium and heavy howitzers and a wide range of mortars.

What about long ranged artillery pieces? Most WW1 armies had some sort of long ranged guns for counter battery and interdiction. Many were versions of naval guns (canons)

In WW2 the most famous German artillery piece was the 8.8 cm - versatile as AA, Anti tank and Field artillery. The British 25 pounder was a gun/howitzer.
What I am saying is that for the "field artillery mission" (divisional guns supporting their infantry in offense and defense) the cannon was found to be muss less useful under "modern" (read post 1914) conditions than the howitzer. The German army settled on a howitzer as the standard divisional gun after the Great War, the US Army also, the British as well, the French were obviously unable and started WW2 with an obsolete field artillery park... The conclusion that howitzers can much easier find suitable firing positions and are able to hit the enemy in defiladed positions or on reverse slopes is a matter of ballistics. (see for example Major E. D. Scott "Howitzer Fire" in Field Artillery Journal July/August 1915 p. 356ff or Lt. Gen. Sir Noel Birch "Artillery Development in the Great War" Field Artillery Journal July/August 1921, p. 366ff which argues in section I "The necessary artillery and it's rolê" about the necessity of the howitzer as the main weapon).
Concerning light howitzer production ramp up... Maybe I overstated my case there (German and Austria-Hungarian bias?).

Maybe we start another thread because we moved a long way from the question of rifle design and performance in 1914, haven't we?

Concerning the 8,8 cm FlaK: I tried in vain to find out if they were ever really used as field guns. Yes, concerning ballistics the guns were certainly capable. But did the batteries have the necessary equipment, the crews training in indirect fire? If you have sources on this and or good examples of their use in that role I am very eager to hear it.
FMS interview PICKERT, General der Flakartillerie Wolfgang MS # B-597 In this he debunks the myth of Luftwaffe 8.8 cm guns in the anti tank role, but explains how they used the AA batteries in the field role.

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Re: Better rifle for German army in 1914

Post by Felix C » 25 Oct 2021 19:44

Here I was thinking aside from the early battles that rifles did not make much of a difference as it was artillery, MG fire and weight of attack or defence which determined the outcome of assaults. that is 40 men with 5 round magazines was preferred over 20 men with 10 round magazines.

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Re: Better rifle for German army in 1914

Post by stg 44 » 26 Oct 2021 15:35

nastle wrote:
28 Sep 2021 21:44
If German army had a rifle better than the Gewehr 98 , more like the SMLE or french Lebel rifles would it help inflict more casualties on the entente troops in 1914 ?
Gewehr 98 - Wikipedia
en.wikipedia.org en.wikipedia.org

Esp since the french and british rifles could carry ten rounds each and german rifle only carried half that much
Of course.
If they had the wisdom of 1918 they could have developed a formidable rifle for WW1:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StG_44#Ea ... evelopment
In early 1918, Hauptmann (Captain) Piderit, part of the Gewehrprüfungskommission ("Small Arms Examination Committee") of the German General Staff in Berlin, submitted a paper arguing for the introduction of an intermediate round in the German Army with a suitable firearm. He pointed out that firefights rarely took place beyond 800 metres (870 yd), about half the 2 km (1.2 mi) sight line range of the 7.92×57mm round from a Mauser Gewehr 98 rifle or less for MG 08 machine gun. A smaller, shorter, and less powerful round would save materials, allow soldiers to carry more ammunition, and increase firepower. Less recoil would allow semi-automatic or even fully automatic select-fire rifles, although in his paper he called it a Maschinenpistole (submachine gun).
A cartridge like these would have been ideal:
RWS offered two rounds, one with a 7 mm bullet and one with an 8 mm bullet, both in a 46 mm case. The German company Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken had the 7×39.1mm round, and Gustav Genschow & Co (Geco) proposed a 7.75×39.5mm round.
Which could have worked wonders with a rifle operating system like this:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinand_Mannlicher
Mannlicher designed two semi-automatic rifles both called Model 93, one based on his turn-bolt rifle and the other based on his straight-pull rifle. The rifles had a recoil spring housing behind the bolt and the bolt locking lugs were angled, so the bolt started turning on firing, essentially a hesitation lock or delayed blowback much like the later Thompson Autorifle utilising the Blish lock. In this system there was no recoiling barrel nor gas piston as with other rifle-caliber autoloading designs, so the mechanism was simple, but ejection of fired cartridge casings was so fierce as to be hazardous to bystanders.

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Re: Better rifle for German army in 1914

Post by CroGer » 23 Jan 2022 19:25

nastle wrote:
28 Sep 2021 21:44
If German army had a rifle better than the Gewehr 98 , more like the SMLE or french Lebel rifles would it help inflict more casualties on the entente troops in 1914 ?
Gewehr 98 - Wikipedia
en.wikipedia.org en.wikipedia.org

Esp since the french and british rifles could carry ten rounds each and german rifle only carried half that much
Not kidding, I really had to laugh at this. You can't mean this seriously.
The Gewehr 98 was the best rifle, and nobody with any sense seriously doubts that. I highly doubt you ever shot one of these rifles or read a WW1 war memoir
Sperg

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Re: Better rifle for German army in 1914

Post by CroGer » 23 Jan 2022 19:37

Latze wrote:
29 Sep 2021 21:14
LineDoggie wrote:
29 Sep 2021 19:38
More Germans shot with SMLE than British shot with 98's in 2 world wars
Interesting! Do you have a source for this? Casualty numbers for the Great War are tricky thing, so I would really like to know if the British Army did a study on German casualties by weapon type.
The statistics from the field hospital are pretty much the same for Germans and British. Artillery caused about 60% of the casualties, on the western front a bit more, but here it also depends on the year. The often purported number of 75% is from the battle at the Somme.

Artillery caused most casualties, but Artillery didn't win battles. You needed men with rifles, pistols and handgrenades to take the enemy's position.

When the question is how much of the casualties by infantry ammunition was caused by rifles and by MG - this is hard to estimate, but from reading various war memoirs I would say it was about 50/50. Unfortunately a lot of people have their image of western front-warfare from All Quiet On the Western Front which was specifically written to de-glorify war. Soldiers also often misinterpreted fierce rifle fire with MG fire. For example, I read in a report from the Gallipolli-Battle that some british soldiers though the turks would have MG pretty much eveywhere, but they just had 8; they were just welcomed by experienced riflemen. And if you read Jünger's "Storms Of Steel" or Rommel's "Infantry Attacks", the MG is described as a devastating weapon, but charging MG-positions is never described as a futile endevour. And even though the war at the western front was a stalemate strategically, it did develop tactically. Jünger describes how the artillery lost it's effectiveness in the later stages of the war, because a) the soldiers had learned how to estimate the trajectory, but also b) the ground was often so softened up that grenade would did themselves very deep into the ground which would divert the energy and the splinters upwards, not causing a lot of damage. The ground was also so full of craters that the soldiers later charged the enemy by jumping from one crater to the next. The handgrenades at that time also weren't very effective. They would be lethal in a 2 meter radius. Above that the splinters would only cause minor injuries, if any at all. Explosives in WW2 were much better and both artillery grenade and handgrenades were way more effective.
Sperg

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Re: Better rifle for German army in 1914

Post by gebhk » 24 Jan 2022 14:37

I am sceptical that a better German rifle would have increased casualties on the opposing side - the initial question of this thread. The reason for my scepticism is that the limiting factor was (and to a degree remains) not the physical parameters of the rifle but the ability (or rather inability) of the average human being to deliberately shoot another human being when under extreme stress (such as in battle) for a variety of reasons. While the extreme underperformance of musket and rifle fire in combat compared to theoretical expectations was recognised since at least the 18th Century, some of the reasons for this phenomenon only started to be explored towards the end of WW2.

An off-top to be sure but an interesting one is the cannon-howitzer debate. A critical factor here that must be taken into account is the changing of circumstances between WW1 and WW2. The static nature of the trench warfare allowed the advantages of the cannon (like its longer range) to be expoited fully while its drawbacks such as the difficulty of finding suitable firing positions, were a minor inconveniences when there was ample time to set up. Even in mobile warfare, the cannon had certain advantages because with the time it took to set up FOO points and the limited stock of ammo that could be carried, egnagements were often over open sights where the better accuracy, ROF, speed of bringing into action and sometimes less dead ground gave the cannon a distinct advantage over the howitzer. However the radio enabled FOOs to accompany the foremost troops while remaining in contact with their guns, the truck enabled rapid resupply of ammo and the ability of artillery to deploy quickly to the nearest ground, to fire from concealed positions and to engage targets regardless of terrain became paramount considerations. Here the howitzer was infinitely more versatile and the reason for the 'howitzerization' of most armies in the inter-war period.

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