A Reevaluation of war products like MGs

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South
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A Reevaluation of war products like MGs

Post by South » 27 Feb 2018 07:53

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-bu ... rong-24656

The above article tells of an author reevaluating war products like machine guns and tanks.

Some do catalog logistics, economics and supply as strategic.

The follow-on comments are worth reading.

.......

My reading about extra machine gun barrels invoked thoughts on how to stockpile - if any could ever be found - asbestos gloves to change the barrel. Ten sand bags lumped together are not an ideal substitute.


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Steve
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Re: A Reevaluation of war products like MGs

Post by Steve » 27 Jun 2018 02:24

If the chap in the given link is correct it seems odd that when the West German army was formed a version of the MG 42 was put back into production. Also Pakistan, Iran, Yugoslavia and various other countries have used and continue to use a version or exact copy of the MG 42 while the USA M 60 machine gun was based on the MG 42. The weapon did not need to be accurate just as the AK 47 is not accurate. Off the top of my head I believe that around mid 1944 the accuracy of the Bren was lessened to make it better at laying down suppressant fire. It was apparently possible for a very competent operator to change a barrel in 5 seconds. I remember my father telling me of coming across I think it was 6 men who had been walking along in a file and been caught by an MG 42. The first man was was literally cut in half the next one less and so on down the line. If you had the ammunition it was a fearsome weapon.

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Re: A Reevaluation of war products like MGs

Post by StrangerHereMyself » 27 Jun 2018 19:52

Historian James Holland is not saying either the MG42 or other German kit is awful, just that it’s overrated. He observes that the quality was often not only good but too good—over-engineered and a waste of time and resources, unsuitable for mass armies fighting a long war.

Here is a short vid by James Holland comparing various items of German and British kit. He acknowledges the quality of the German kit—‘It’s beautifully engineered, there’s no question about it’, and points out a little box for spare lenses in the lid of the German respirator case, ‘Look at the detail on that!’; but the design is far less suitable for Total War than our cheap-and-cheerful canvas satchel.

As for the MG42 continuing in use in modernised form, it’s notable that one thing the Germans did with the MG3 was reduce its rate of fire; the Italians and Austrians reduced it further still in their respective MG42/59 and MG74. That the ‘USA M 60 machine gun was based on the MG 42’ (although it also owed much to the FG 42) might have been one of their mistakes, explaining why the US armed forces replaced it by the most-popular post-WW2 GMPG, the FN MAG, which copied some MG42 components but was in much larger part derived from the BAR. (Incidentally, the Bren was still being used in combat as late as 1982’s Falklands War, and remained (remains?) in use with the Indian Army long after.)

Wrt the effectiveness of the MG42, one British soldier recounted coming under fire from a ‘Spandau’ and finding to his consternation that the ditch he had chosen for cover ‘was only a few inches deep. The Spandau crew must see me. They could. They fired burst after burst from point-blank range—about eighty yards judging from the sound.’ (Bowlby, 117) For ‘anything between half an hour and an hour’, this soldier lay there, receiving ‘a burst every few minutes’—and survived, unscathed. (Being unable to land a single round on a static target at around 80 yards is a poor advertisement for any firearm. Regarding the Bren’s later reduction in accuracy, according to one author, the Mk III introduced a shorter and lighter barrel that led to ‘somewhat reduced accuracy’ but ‘this was seen as an acceptable trade for the weight reduction’—it was not deliberate; and the Mks III & IV ‘were primarily intended for jungle warfare where engagement ranges were likely to be short, [so their slightly reduced accuracy] was not a significant issue’. (Grant, Neil. The Bren Gun. Oxford: Osprey, 2013. 20,68.))

The soldier later wrote:
I had no after-effects from my Spandauing. If anything I was the better soldier for it. I had always had the idea that because of its rate of fire—eleven hundred rounds a minute compared to the Bren’s six hundred—one Spandau was worth two Brens. Now I realized that such a tremendous rate of fire must make the gun difficult to control, and really accurate shooting impossible. As a scatter-gun, at night, at long range, or for continuous fire—here the Spandau, belt-fed, scored heavily over the Bren—the Spandau was supreme. But for accuracy it was the Bren every time.
Bowlby, Alex. Recollections of Rifleman Bowlby. Italy, 1944. 1969. London: Leo Cooper, 1989. 125.
(Of course, he also describes the Germans proving all too sadly effective in causing casualties—again, no-one is suggesting German kit is ineffective, only overrated.)

Youtubing historian ‘Lindybeige’ has a couple of fun—and informative—videos on this: ‘Bren vs Spandau - which was better?’—which was the only vid he intended making on the topic but his conclusion of ‘Neither was entirely better’ was not good enough for the fanbois of the mighty EM-GEE-WHIZZ 42 so he made a response to the furious comments and emails he received: ‘Bren vs Spandau part two - or Lloyd against the fan-boys’.

Regarding the speed of its barrel-change, it is important to know what was normal rather than ‘apparently possible’, and for an average Landser rather than the ‘very competent’. There are many videos online showing how quick and simple is changing the barrel on the MG 42—rarely is this demonstrated after firing a couple of hundred rounds or from the prone position. Here is ‘Forgotten Weapons’ fumbling a bit with the hot barrel—Ah, but an actual MG42 gunner would have an asbestos glove. What, this? Or this? The gunner can’t fire wearing either of those things, so he has to waste time putting it on before changing the barrel?

And if being ‘literally cut in half’ is to be the measure of a weapon, then what about George MacDonald Fraser’s sad account of his mate getting killed in friendly fire and being ‘cut almost in half by the Vickers fire’ (Quartered Safe Out Here, p.225)? Should the various countries who adopted the FN MAG replace it with the Vickers? (En passant, I’ve come across knowledgeable people suggesting we should consider designing a new water-cooled mg for the sustained fire role.)

Yes, the MG42 killed people—so did the Chauchat when it actually fired. No-one—not James Holland, not Lindy, not Rifleman Bowlby, not anyone—is suggesting that the MG 34 & 42 was not a good weapon; just that it is overrated, and not quite the super-awesome, war-winning wunderwaffe that the ‘Wehraboos’ make it out to be.
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Re: A Reevaluation of war products like MGs

Post by StrangerHereMyself » 27 Jun 2018 20:03

Top comment underneath that Forgotten Weapons vid describes, ‘one of the US Army training films for GI's going over to Europe. When the brrrrrrup sound of the MG 42 is heard, the narrator says, "That's the sound of the notorious German MG 42. Sounds bad, right? Don't worry. It's bark is worse than it's bite". LIAR,’ setting off 91 commenters, most of them fanbois drooling over the EM-GEE-WHIZZ 42.

Perhaps this video is the one that commenter referred to; towards the end the narrator states, ‘When you know the drawbacks of these enemy weapons and realize that their bark is worse than their bite, you aren’t afraid of some unknown thing.’ An interesting video, it makes some good points—and wrt the commenter, it is not telling the troops that MG42 bullets will bounce off them harmlessly; just that they should not be terrified into inaction, that they’re not facing miraculous wonder-weapons, that they can have confidence in their own kit, and that if they apply their training, they have choices other than retreat or surrender—they can survive to fight and survive to win.

Here is Al Murray (comedian with a History degree from Oxford) in a vid for the Tank Museum, Bovington, taking the mick out of the Tiger fanbois: ‘Tiger! Tiger-tiger-ohhhh-tiger! Tiiiigerrr! Michael Wittman! Tiger-tiger! …But no match for Joe Ekins in a Sherman.’ He also draws much-needed attention to ‘The Great Swan’, where the British 21st Army Group advanced ‘350 miles in 4 days’.

This worshipping of everything German by the fanboi element makes one want to go full-Basil Fawlty: ‘WHO WON THE BLOODY WAR ANYWAY?

(Btw, be wary of watching that Fawlty Towers clip in Britain as it’s probably illegal.)

This is another interesting US Army training film.
With a rifle you can tattoo a German at 500 yards.
Toss in a grenade and let them divide it.
How to lift a Nazi’s face—without improving his looks.

Pace Lincoln’s comment on Grant: I like these guys; they fight.
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Re: A Reevaluation of war products like MGs

Post by StrangerHereMyself » 29 Jul 2018 16:04

Further to above, Lindy references a ‘Canadian study’ in his second video where ‘the Bren came out as the second most effective weapon on the battlefield in the opinion of Canadian officers who had actually fought on the Front’ (and mentions teasingly that the No. 1 weapon was not the Spandau but a ‘subject for another video’—apparently yet to be made). From July 1944 to April 1945, the Canadian Army sent ‘616 battle experience questionnaires’ to officers serving in their combat arms: a ‘general survey’ and ‘a survey specific to their fighting arm’ and ‘just over three hundred completed surveys remain’ in Library and Archives Canada in Ottowa (Engen, 31).

Three have been put online at the Calgary Highlanders website:
Capt R.R. Bacon
Maj John Campbell
Capt W.L. Lyster

Interestingly (given this thread’s mention of the MG(whizz)42), to being asked which enemy weapons had the greatest adverse moral effect, none of the three specified the category of ‘Machine Guns’ despite all three describing this category’s ‘#Times used against your unit’ as ‘Often’. To being asked which enemy weapons ‘whose effect upon morale in your unit appeared to decrease with experience’, two of them noted ‘Medium Machine Gun’ (presumably the Spandau in the SF role, i.e. on its Lafette tripod—although Jerry did have a variety of weapons in their arsenal). However, Maj. Campbell (KIA 8/2/45, RIP) did state ‘MG fire’ was the second most important cause of ‘wastage’. Asked which of our weapons were ‘outstandingly effective … and why?’, Capt. Bacon listed the Bren first, for the reasons: ‘High rate of fire, mobility, accuracy’. Bacon, together with Lyster, also singled out the PIAT as ‘outstandingly effective’. Bacon also later volunteered, ‘New Brens poorly machines and have very many stoppages. The old Bren was a fine weapon, and a man always tries to get one of the older weapons.’

Robert Engen in his 2009 Canadians Under Fire: Infantry Effectiveness in the Second World War includes ‘Selected Questionnaire Statistics’ in an Appendix; and it is the oft-maligned PIAT that is singled out most often—by those ‘who expressed a preference’—as ‘outstandingly effective’; followed by the Bren, then the 3" mortar then No.36 grenade. (As balance, weapons singled out as ‘ineffective’ had the Sten topping the list, followed by the pistol then the 2" mortar (the latter is interesting as the platoon mortar (p.27 of link) appears effective in Afghanistan).)
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Re: A Reevaluation of war products like MGs

Post by StrangerHereMyself » 01 Aug 2018 22:58

Saw this comment on a neighbouring site, thought it funny and relevant to thread. (Link to original thread.)
wehraboos.png
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Re: A Reevaluation of war products like MGs

Post by Cult Icon » 01 Aug 2018 23:29

What is missing here is the context that the MG-42 fought in- the massed infantry attacks of the Eastern Front...

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Re: A Reevaluation of war products like MGs

Post by Stiltzkin » 02 Aug 2018 02:04

More of that comedy please :D

I think it was Ustinov who stated, "Die Briten haben den Humor gepachtet".

I always love these articles, "new bunk" vs "old bunk". Anyway, I had a good laugh.

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Re: A Reevaluation of war products like MGs

Post by Felix C » 03 Aug 2018 14:02

Was not the role of MGs on the defensive was to suppress and drive to ground infantry so that mortars or other artillery could blunt the attack. Just driving infantry down slows the advance and retards the timetable. If one MG had a RPM of two MGs then to those on the receiving end it had an effect similar to facing two separate MGs. And if having a scarcity of infantry for crews than one very fast firing MGs substituted for separate crews.

As for the Tiger and other Ger. heavy tanks or tank destroyers, designed for use on the Eastern Front where terrain favored their use and the Soviets had heavy tanks.

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