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Post Info TOPIC: The Madsen Resurfaces . . .


Legend

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The Madsen Resurfaces . . .
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. . . asthe RexerMachine Gun, a British copy.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/10893327/the-rexer-automatic-machine-gun

This rather contradicts AJ Smithers's claim that GB was too gentlemanly to copy the Madsen.

And it seems that GB did have some genuine Madsens. Perhaps this is where the one trialled for use in Mother came from.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/10873444/britain-the-madsen-machine-gun-191418



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Good heavens, what finds. And the Rexer (never heard of it before), an LMG with a bayonet! Now that's what I call "moral authority" (not sure what it says about mechanical reliability though).

I'm intrigued by the picture of the trooper on p15 (fig 8). No hat badge but it looks a bit like a Commonwealth Horse uniform. The horse doesn't look like an Australian Waler though (round-nosed brute). Someone at lighthorse.org.au might hazard a guess if they get their forum going again.

Anyway, I'm staggered.


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Hi James, an excellent find the same guy also has manuals for the portable hotchkiss with some interesting pictures of Belgian Cavalry..

The Rexer rings a bell though..... clearly the British didnt use madsensbiggrin

Cheerssmile

-- Edited by Ironsides on Monday 29th of March 2010 07:46:40 PM

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It was a stroke of luck, actually, but there we are. A bit more googling reveals that Australia considered the Rexer in the 1900s after learning that Japan had bought some, although the terms Rexer and Madsen seem to be rather interchangeable. I need to read this more thoroughly. And a US newspaper reported the British trials with the Rexer. It seems to have briefly caused a bit of a stir.

Thanks for the tip, Ivor. Found the Short Hotchkiss manual. The Belgian cavalry shownare Chasseurs Cheval. I posteda colour postcarda few days ago of a Chasseur with a Hotchkiss and special bucket, if you recall. Since then I've read that the gun was issued only to the Chasseurs and that the victory at Haelen owed rather more to the Hotchkiss than to anything else.

In the other manual on that excellent site is the M1914 Hotchkiss manual, which also contains 2 pics I've not seen before of the Tank Hotchkiss.

Rect - yes the pics of the Rexer are most interesting. The manual has the date 1905 hand-written on the title page, which makes sense. The hat is puzzling me, too. Something rings a bell about British cavalry and slouch hats, but I can't remember exactly what. The case continues.

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James H wrote:
Rect - yes the pics of the Rexer are most interesting. The manual has the date 1905 hand-written on the title page, which makes sense. The hat is puzzling me, too. Something rings a bell about British cavalry and slouch hats, but I can't remember exactly what. The case continues.

Sorry, venturing a trifle off-topic on uniforms with some pondering prior to convergence. Hat, khaki fur felt, prior to WW1 - mostly City (or County?) of London Volunteers of the Australasian persuasion from what is more readily apparent - but the 3rd Volunteer Battalion The Gloucestershire Regiment is also documented though the rest of their uniform was quite different I think. So much is lost/awaiting rediscovery. Even the 'distinctive' fore-and-aft' bash (with or without the side dimples) is far from being actually distinctive.

In colonial times tiny badges of various designs were used by some Australian units for the brim fastener turn-up but the recognizable and highly visible 'rising sun' badge was in place by 1902, in time for the Commonwealth Horse contingent to the 1902 Coronation - but as a specific CH badge. From 1904 the badge that was worn in both world wars was the official 'general service' badge for all army units though when/how it was 'rolled out' I don't know and certainly volunteer units retained their badges in peace-time service.

New Zealander Samuel Begg's once-famous etching "Sons of the Blood" is said to have contained a comprehensive sampling of all the regiments and detachments involved in the Boer War (as at 1899/1900?) but good luck finding an un-cropped copy on the internet. A relatively un-cropped depiction is shown at http://www.military-art.com/mall/more.php?ProdID=7265 but small, low-resolution. Even there it is cropped. A book copy I have is differently cropped but shows the bloke next to (to the left of) that splendid NSW Lancer, lower left, is a sergeant, with right arm fully visible, and most of the Lee Metford (?) he is grasping too. I'm not aware that anyone has ever identified and recorded all of those uniforms in that picture but it is getting pretty rare these days anyway, perhaps it is too late already. And the picture may be just a couple of years too early to help with that strange slouch-hatted figure anyway (assuming Begg was accurate in the first place - but I think he was).

So, some wild conjecture, we could be looking at an Australian ordnance representative at the British trials, in pre-1904 kit, sort of 'faking it' as mounted infantry on a borrowed horse for the purpose of the exercise. That would explain the lack of a visible hat badge or collar badges. The turf and trees don't look Australian but (I may be kidding myself) the tents look about right for Australian service circa 1900. A thoroughly unreliable assessment, if I do say so myself.biggrin



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Rectalgia wrote:

Good heavens, what finds. And the Rexer (never heard of it before), an LMG with a bayonet! Now that's what I call "moral authority" (not sure what it says about mechanical reliability though).

Hi Rectalgia, the Japanese had their Type 96 (1936) with a bayonet on it, so it seems that concept was still alive after ww1. But it looks odd as do bayonets on sub machine guns too like the Sten Mk2 or the Swiss Rexim.

regards, Kieffer





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kieffer wrote:
Hi Rectalgia, the Japanese had their Type 96 (1936) with a bayonet on it, so it seems that concept was still alive after ww1. But it looks odd as do bayonets on sub machine guns too like the Sten Mk2 or the Swiss Rexim.

Indeed, it has always amused me about the bayonets on SMGs (or MCs - machine carbines - as we called them once). The knife type, fair enough - (American) research once found those were about the last item to be discarded in extremity. It is more for morale and general utility as a blade. But the spike type? Well, better than a pointy stick I suppose. But getting altogether too close to the foe in my view - and no match for most armed opposition. But I'm a bit of a fan of the bayonet really - applauded when they (Americans) fitted their old P17s to shotguns again in Vietnam though I don't know that any one of these odd applications (shotgun, SMG) was ever seriously used in battle. I suppose they must have been, in melee situations. We don't think about melees much in these forums but they were ever very much part of battle in all ages.



-- Edited by Rectalgia on Tuesday 30th of March 2010 09:02:28 AM

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Here's a blowup. Anyone identify?

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Just to note the tunic looks okay for an Australian (and buttoned to the collar which is correct). No hat badge or collar badges (as mentioned before), nor shoulder titles - but they might only be expected for specific formations like Commonwealth Horse? Can't make out his qualification badge(s) but certainly not the hammer and tongs of an armourer/artificer which was one thought. One other thing - he is wearing riding boots, not standard boots and puttees. Perhaps an improvisation, perhaps not. And another one other thing - the chin strap looks right for Australian - buckle at about the level of the mouth on the left side.

But, after all that, Australian evaluation of the Rexer in Britain may have taken place a little later than 1905 and it may have been a little more low-key.

The Advertiser (Adelaide) - Monday 4 June 1906

THE MILITARY FORCES.

A NEW MACHINE GUN.

Melbourne. June 3.

The Commonwealth Government have under consideration the adoption of a new automatic machine gun, the "Rexer," which has been adopted by the Japanese army, and is now under the notice of the British War Department. Writing from London, under date April 27, Captain Collins has sent to Senator Playford full particulars and photographs of this deadly arm. The price of the "Rexer" automatic machine gun, complete with the usual spare parts, is 80. When the weapon is carried on horseback special gun buckets and ammunition wallets are necessary, but as the arm is especially useful to infantry, and is fired by men lying flat on the ground with the barrel raised by a sort of tripod, the cost of the cavalry accessories need not be taken into consideration at the outset. The principal advantages claimed for the "Rexer" over all other machine guns at present in use are as follow:

1. Its extreme lightness (18 lb.) and portability, combined with the highest rapidity of fire (15 shots per second).

2. It can be easily carried by a man on the march either on foot or horseback.

3. The ease and rapidity, with which it can be brought into action, fired, and moved to new positions.

4. It cannot be distinguished by the enemy from an ordinary rifle.

5. It affords no greater target than the rifle, and is therefore much less liable than other machine guns to be put out of action.

6. Neither a wheeled carriage nor horse transport is required.

7. Its extreme lightness of recoil. No ammunition waggons are used, for the ammunition for the gun is carried in the magazines:

The gun is very easily handled, and the marksman lying prone could be sheltered by a few shovelfuls of earth. Both the King and Prince of Wales have personally inspected experiments made with the new gun, and the Army Council experts in England appear to be most favorably impressed with it. The Minister of Defence will probably order a couple of guns to be shipped to Melbourne for experimental work in Australia.


Bearing in mind that South Africans wore slouch hats too - Rexers were used in South Africa (although there was some confusion over what was a Madsen and what was a Rexer in some parts of the world). The Nelson Evening Mail (9 April 1907) reported the use of an unspecified number of Rexers by "Natal Colonial troops" in the 1906 Natal (Zulu) uprising. The South African Historical Journal (Volume 49, Issue 1, November 2003) mentions that 16 Rexers were used in two sections under the command of Captains Bullock and Sakers during the South African Rebellion of 1914-15 (or perhaps in the invasion of German South West Africa, the stories are interwoven and the Journal wants money before parting with the article).

Heh, as an aside Andrew Fisher, then Australian Prime Minister, secretly offered to send Australian troops to South Africa to lend a hand, sure that they had a fearsome reputation after their work there during the Boer War. He was gently told that Australian troops were not welcome there, their reputation was more for thievery than for fighting. "O wad some Power the giftie gie us, / To see oursels as ithers see us!" That's the same Andrew Fisher, who in 1919 as Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, fiercely pressed Lloyd George over the virtual dismissal of Lancelot de Moles' tracked tank invention.

[EDIT] Ah yes, this page from the Danish Military Historical Society says "In 1906, a committee of citizens from Natal, resident in London, purchased 8 Rexer guns which were afterwards sent to Natal." and the Rebellion and German South West Africa Order of Battle includes two Rexer sections:
Rexer Moter (sic) Cycle G.S.W.A. Northern and Central Force
Rexer G.S.W.A. Northern and Ceantral (sic) Force (Central 26.12.14, Swakopmund 25.1.15).

Incidentally, the Danish source refers to a 1906 Rexer Handbook, unhappily no longer linked. The 1905 date on the one we see now may not be correct (on the other hand, since it contains minor corrections it may be correct for an initial version).

Note also reference in the Danish page to licencing problems with the British Rexer forcing the company to cease production.

Also there is reference in the Society of the Military Horse links in the Danish page to the saddle-bucket for the gun being rigged for colonial saddles, as distinct from the (British) Universal Pattern saddles. That has to be significant, if correct (and I would not doubt it). Australians used the UP saddle from 1912, maybe earlier.

Small pieces of the puzzle ...


-- Edited by Rectalgia on Wednesday 31st of March 2010 04:20:57 AM

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Hi all,

still a bit of a mystery I guess: I read that the British did some trials with the Madsen amongst others in the 30's, eventually deciding for the (later) Bren. If that's true, than it's hard to assume they already had some.
Lazy as I am: didn't google it yet, but was Rexer only the dealer ( the Madsens going abroad went under their name mostly) or did Rexer built Madsens themselves?
There were by the way, 3 different chambers, Rectalgia...and the Australians had Madsens, hadn't they?
I remember I saw a picture somewhere, must look that up.

Regards, Kieffer


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kieffer wrote:

... was Rexer only the dealer ( the Madsens going abroad went under their name mostly) or did Rexer built Madsens themselves? ...



The Danish reference I posted says Rexer built the things in Britain themselves without the benefit of a licence and stopped doing that when they were sued. They may have assembled a few more from parts supplied by Rexer Switzerland who was a distributor only.
kieffer wrote:

... There were by the way, 3 different chambers, Rectalgia...and the Australians had Madsens, hadn't they?
I remember I saw a picture somewhere, must look that up.



There were more than 3. You name a military rifle cartridge in front-line use anywhere 1904-1951 and there was probably a Madsen chambered for it, 6.5mm to 8mm. "... sold in 34 countries in a dozen different calibers." according to Small Arms of the World 1973 (WHB Smith, revised JE Smith).

According to Smith & Smith it was used by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay and Yugoslavia.

It is highly probable Australia obtained a small number of Rexers for evaluation about 1906/7. As far as I know Australia never officially adopted the Madsen, using the Lewis in that LMG role in WW1 and the Bren in WW2. A photo of a Madsen in Australian operational use (other than a borrowed British or French one) would indicate differently.

It (or the Rexer) was probably evaluated by many more countries in addition to those that adopted it but the USA and Japan are the only two I have seen mentioned.

[On edit]
kieffer wrote:

still a bit of a mystery I guess: I read that the British did some trials with the Madsen amongst others in the 30's, eventually deciding for the (later) Bren. If that's true, than it's hard to assume they already had some.
...



The British purchased Madsens in models 1915, 1919, 1929, 1931 and 1939. So, I'm guessing the word "trial" applying to the Madsen is a slight misnomer to the extent that they knew the Madsen already - but that's NOT the same as a side-by-side comparison with others. I'm thinking that, after the 1905/7 contretemps, a part of their supply concerns would be the ability (or lack of it) to obtain manufacturing licences. Of course anyone who ever used a Bren fell in love with it (I still pine but the authorities insist that is insufficient "reason to possess"biggrin). I'm not sure if the Madsen ever inspired such attachment.


-- Edited by Rectalgia on Thursday 1st of April 2010 08:07:19 AM

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Hi All, heresa Natal Rexer report 1906

http://www.scribd.com/doc/10895906/natal-rexer-report

apparantly the guns were browned with bright metal magazines

and the 1930 trial report....

http://www.scribd.com/document_collections/2306675

theres more from this guy....so check out the links for the 20mm madsen, 1938 German manual

Cheerssmile


-- Edited by Ironsides on Thursday 1st of April 2010 08:50:02 AM

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Rectalgia wrote:






The British purchased Madsens in models 1915, 1919, 1929, 1931 and 1939. So, I'm guessing the word "trial" applying to the Madsen is a slight misnomer to the extent that they knew the Madsen already - but that's NOT the same as a side-by-side comparison with others. I'm thinking that, after the 1905/7 contretemps, a part of their supply concerns would be the ability (or lack of it) to obtain manufacturing licences. Of course anyone who ever used a Bren fell in love with it (I still pine but the authorities insist that is insufficient "reason to possess"biggrin). I'm not sure if the Madsen ever inspired such attachment.

Hi Rectalgia,
I read that after ordering 200 Madsens in Denmark, by the British, Rolls Royce got involved, planning to build the Madsen in cooperation with the Danish manufacturer DRRS (Dansk Rekyl-Riffel Sydicat).
Drawings and technical information were given after a long period and were not that accurate so the project was skipped in 1916.
There must have been even a proposition to move the DRRS company to England.
I don't know about supply problems, but one major problem was a technical one, the British rimmed cartridge causing trouble with the vertical breech block. Apart from being not appropriate as an aircraft gun and the low firing rate.
I don't hope that I mention things here already posted in one of the various treads..if so apologise for that.

Regards Kieffer





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Thanks Ironsides! Some great information there.

Thanks too Kieffer. Interesting comment on the rimmed cartridges - yet see the 1929/1930 trials report linked in Ironsides' post. It was faultless (using .303), including sustained fire which an impressive thing for an LMG. The Madsen was apparently produced in three other rimmed calibres - the Danish 8mm Krag, the Russian 7.62mm and the French 8mm Lebel. I guess it was developed on the Krag cartridge.

So far as the low rate of fire - so too had the Bren, we would be looking at something like 400 rpm and 480 rpm respectively for the two. LMGs with much higher rates of fire are liabilities I think. They are possibly the most difficult of all small arms to 'get right', especially with the 'full size' rifle calibres.

I suspect we must look elsewhere for the several reasons the Madsen was not used more by the British at the various times. Perhaps the 1929-32 'Great Depression' was a factor for the 1930 trials not being followed up (hard for it not to have been).

It seems, as you have made it plain, that the licencing of production facilities in Britain during WW1 was not a factor, during that earlier 'window of opportunity'.

Steve



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Hi All. I do believe it was the mention of the Rexer in the Natal report whereI read about it before but didnt really make the connection or simply forgot about it,I get sidetracked way to easy...

A good gunI think and very underated...

Theres an article there as well about the problems of obtaining the gun in 1915...

http://www.scribd.com/doc/10873444/britain-the-madsen-machine-gun-191418#

Cheerssmile

-- Edited by Ironsides on Friday 2nd of April 2010 12:58:16 AM

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Ironsides wrote:
Theres an article there as well about the problems of obtaining the gun in 1915...

http://www.scribd.com/doc/10873444/britain-the-madsen-machine-gun-191418#


. . . which I linked to in the original post. It explains about the Rexer company, Rolls-Royce, and everything.

You're starting to forget things, Ivor.



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Ironsides wrote:

...A good gunI think and very underated...

Theres an article there as well about the problems of obtaining the gun in 1915...

http://www.scribd.com/doc/10873444/britain-the-madsen-machine-gun-191418


Cheers Ironsides - again, great information and covers all of the matters raised recently by Kieffer (not that we ever doubted him ...). Hmmm ... yes Rexer Switzerland produced, not just in distribution as I had said.

Perhaps at the end of the day the Madsen was sufficiently different in performance characteristics and capability from the more readily-available weapons within the fluid/emergent supply chain to challenge the relative comfort of Britain's war planners and battlefield tacticians. And Rolls Royce was more use doing what they did best. I'm sure that's what the Chief of the Imperial General Staff would be thinking. And maybe it was at least as much about keeping it out of the hands of the Central Powers for the duration of "the present hostilities"?

I remain puzzled by reference in the above to the 'difficulties' with rimmed cartridges (noting the Austrian 8x50R Mannlicher for the Bulgarian guns is yet another rimmed round - NOT the same as the French 8x50R Lebel). Those difficulties were not at all evident in any of the reported trials and demonstrations.

There were exigent times when there was a distinct superiority in quality of 'machine gun' cartridges and perhaps the use of 'rifle' quality rounds in the Madsen might contribute to such comments. Exactly the same could be said in relation to any machine gun of course, that's (one of the reasons) why there was designated machine gun ammunition in the first place.

Clutching at straws perhaps but there is a discrepancy between the virtually faultless trials reports and other overwhelmingly positive accounts of demonstrations both verbatum and second-hand (not to mention the fact the gun was initially designed for the rimmed Danish round) and this virtual throw-away, non-sequitur line of discourse about 'technical difficulty' with the rimmed rounds.

It is fascinating to see the effect of demand and transportation risk on price (and the consequent elasticity of price-demand). From a prospective unit price of 80 at the time of the 1905 trials it shot up to 239 then 256 with wartime supply from Denmark (admittedly with an extra barrel and probably more spares). Then dropping to 100 per unit with prospective supply from Britain and with further volume reduction to 85 pencilled in.

But yes, a 'good gun' indeed, as its 50-year production run would attest. By comparison, the FN-derived L2A1 "AR" to replace the Bren in British and Commonwealth service in the 1960s was an unmitigated disaster. Whatever its service life, that was by how much it was too long. Not the Belgian original necessarily, but certainly the Australian-licenced manufactured version and (judging by short service life) probably the British and Canadian(?) as well.

The problem was receiver stretch and we don't like to talk about it. The same thing even affected the L1A1 SLR but naturally took a little longer to show up. That's an illustration of what I meant earlier when I said the LMG was possibly the most demanding of small arms formats. Anyway, it was a metallurgical problem and one which was eventually cured but too late, the damage to reputation and confidence had already been done (well, that's my 'take' on matters).

I wonder if part of the Rolls Royce problems with specifications might have been metallurgical too. Reading between the lines in Ironsides' referenced report it is easy to imagine so. "Rolls Royce doubted if the Danes themselves knew the formulae, or the properties ...". That could refer to many things but, as we know from the L2A1, precise metallurgical specification and replication was not a simple thing, even much later.

James H wrote:

. . . which I linked to in the original post. It explains about the Rexer company, Rolls-Royce, and everything.

You're starting to forget things, Ivor.


Me tooblush.gif


-- Edited by Rectalgia on Friday 2nd of April 2010 08:59:39 AM

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Hi James...me too, too eager in reacting before thoroughly reading the posted threads..sorry! When the boys are already chasing the ball you don't have the patient to tie up your shoe laces properly..

regards, Kieffer

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Rectalgia wrote:



I remain puzzled by reference in the above to the 'difficulties' with rimmed cartridges (noting the Austrian 8x50R Mannlicher for the Bulgarian guns is yet another rimmed round - NOT the same as the French 8x50R Lebel). Those difficulties were not at all evident in any of the reported trials and demonstrations.

Hi Steve, generally rimmed cartridges were a bit of a problem in magazine fed weapons, you can't get them smooth on each other just because of the protruding rim. Here the problem was at the beginning the quality of the round itself, a tendency to get bend during chambering and causing trouble by ejecting afterwards. I think you're right with:

There were exigent times when there was a distinct superiority in quality of 'machine gun' cartridges and perhaps the use of 'rifle' quality rounds in the Madsen might contribute to such comments. Exactly the same could be said in relation to any machine gun of course, that's (one of the reasons) why there was designated machine gun ammunition in the first place.

Rate of fire as you mentioned already: I think that was always a relative item. High rate costs lots of ammo, barrel wear, cooling problems. I heard that for instance the German M42, a 'big spender', was listened carefully to by Allied soldiers, knowing how long it could fire till barrels had to be changed, giving some opportunity to attack.
The Madsen was a bit 'slow' with 400/m but many others were mostly around 500/m. A very slow gent was the Chauchat with 250/m...
I think that tactically there was a difference in LMG and heavy's, the first being much more mobile. Short burst of fire and may be changing position is another thing than sustaining fire. But I guess you know the Bren by your service days and therefore you're the expert here. I heard that practise was firing short bursts, 5 rounds each and pause?
May be high firing rate is more important with aircraft guns, for which the Madsen was evaluated too, but not suited as you can't fire it 'upside down'.
Some later Madsen's had a muzzle device to increase the gas power, which resulted again in torn shells. The problem was solved by oiling the ammo, this again causing trouble with dust and the powder residue ..I wonder how they did that, keeping the oiled ammo in some sealed cases or something? Or was there an oil flask in the kit?

regards Kieffer



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James H wrote:

Ironsides wrote:
Theres an article there as well about the problems of obtaining the gun in 1915...

http://www.scribd.com/doc/10873444/britain-the-madsen-machine-gun-191418#


. . . which I linked to in the original post. It explains about the Rexer company, Rolls-Royce, and everything.

You're starting to forget things, Ivor.



Sorry James, selective memory.... Ive had an awfull lot of De ja vu's recently tooconfuse

Cheersbiggrin



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kieffer wrote:

...I think that tactically there was a difference in LMG and heavy's, the first being much more mobile. Short burst of fire and may be changing position is another thing than sustaining fire. But I guess you know the Bren by your service days and therefore you're the expert here. I heard that practise was firing short bursts, 5 rounds each and pause?


Yeah, LMGs were fully integrated into the "fire and movement" of rapid advance or retreat at section level. The Madsen was unusual in being able to sustain fire for extended periods, making it a sort of magazine-fed GPMG ahead of its time, going by the hyperbole of the trials reports. Not a lot of call for that in fire and movement - can't keep the ammo up anyway (relatively low cyclical rate still chews through a heck of a lot if you fire a whole magazine at a time). Monash introduced aerial re-supply towards the end of WW1 - but you still can't afford to 'prop' when you ought to be moving, according to doctrine.

Australian doctrine with the Bren was for 3-round bursts routinely but you might be right that slightly longer were more usual in combat (fortunately I never got to find out). 3-round bursts were easily done with a tap on the trigger - in fact we were encouraged to practice single-round taps with the selection lever set to full automatic and no cheating (just a skill game). Same with the AR - when the mongrel thing could be coaxed into full auto at all that was. I think all armies would use them similarly, when there were such 'full calibre' LMGs as the "squad automatic weapon" as some called them.

Barrel conservation was another consideration with the 'lights' - the Bren had a quick-change barrel but we had no extras to change to. The AR didn't have that facility anyway - and it operated from a closed breach so that discouraged successive long bursts (rounds might start to 'cook off' without the trigger being operated). Did I mention it was a mongrel thing? The Madsen of course had the quick-change barrel and was apparently supplied with a spare.


-- Edited by Rectalgia on Friday 2nd of April 2010 07:59:45 PM

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My limited work with a Bren we always had a spare (in the few "realistic" exercises our "old sweats" often managed to make shure we had 2) - I know as being short & square of build with (then) plenty of stamina I got to hump them & many such extras. That was a contributing reason for switching to the Artillery - where some @#$%^&* stuck me with OP duty & I got lumbered with the batteries for the PRC25 - always called the prick25 & it was!


PS for a while the fight in the infantry was to aviod getting the Brens converted to belt feed. The true LMG's were much prefered!

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Brennan wrote:

My limited work with a Bren we always had a spare (in the few "realistic" exercises our "old sweats" often managed to make shure we had 2)...


Ah, so that's where *our* spares got to! laughing.gif
Brennan wrote:

PS for a while the fight in the infantry was to aviod getting the Brens converted to belt feed. The true LMG's were much prefered!


I didn't know/had forgotten that conversion existed or was considered. .303 or 7.62mm? A lot of change when there were perfectly adequate GPMGs already available. Still, I suppose you had to use up all those spare barrels somehow...laughing.gif

One or two Australian units clung to the 7.62mm version of the Bren (the L4..) as long as they could but that was a magazine-feed LMG, same as before.

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Bulgarian Madsen and original RASMUSSEN patent
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Hi James, two articles on Bulgarian Automatic guns 1915.....


TRANSFERS ARMS AT SEA.; Swedish Ship's Cargo Given to Germans, Denmark Hears.

RELEASE BULGARIAN GUNS.; Germans Allow Shipload of Arms from Denmark to Pass On.


The inventors patent....
RASMUSSEN


Cheerssmile

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RE: The Madsen Resurfaces . . .
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just took a quick look at these wonderful drawings, so my first impression might be a total miss: it looks like a mixture of the Martini rolling block and Winchester repeating system...

Thank you Ironsides, again an interesting patent you've found!

Kieffer

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Madsen 8mm guns in aerial warfare
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This article claims use by the German airforce early in the war however Jens Schouboe is not the inventor that accolade must go to Rasmussen....

http://modern-war.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_madsen_machinegun

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RE: The Madsen Resurfaces . . .
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Hi Kieffer, yes its basically an automated Martini action(I believe)theoretically impossible but worked well in practice...

Cheerssmile

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Hi Ironsides,

the Martini rolling block, that's only a hand full of simple parts as this patent has the ingredients of an alarm clock!
By the way: I heard once that Martini system rifles were used in the Great War, for 'cleaning up' enemy trenches, or in close combat with raiders. (apart from Martini Henry's still used by territorials?)
The discussion was about Greener built rifles. I only know that Greeners came into service in the 20's or 30's, as police weapons. So a bit of an anachronism, though the guy who told the story is a militaria and antiques dealer with a profound knowledge.
Is there anything known about this?

Kieffer

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Hi Kieffer,

The Martini Henry 577/450. That thing had a kick like a mule, especially the carbine versions. Needs research but I think India was the last front-line user in 1905. But they were converted (even manufactured new) in .303 as the Martini Enfield. They were not front-line in WW1 but would certainly have seen some use.

The British idea of the magazine was not initially as we know it - rifles were loaded single-shot and the 'reserve' in the magazine was supposed to be only for when things got sticky. Well, that idea soon went by the board (and the magazine cut-out on the SMLE was soon scrapped) but the idea that the single-shot was past its use-by date would not have sunk in straight away, not with the generals and the bureaucrats anyway.

I believe many Commonwealth countries would have held stocks of the .303 version for many years, even through WW2. You could fit some pretty fearsome bayonets to those things too, including a bushed version of the "Yataghan". They bent the barrels if used too vigorously, but you can't have everything. They may have been issued to some 'home guard' type units in WW2 (the Volunteer Defence Corps in Australia) - I can't say I have actually heard of that as far as Australia goes.

Slightly different but because the 577/450 had such a kick there was a cadet version of the Martini (several different makers). In Australia that was the .310 - and that was a Greener cartridge. Those were issued by Australian colonial governments and then the Commonwealth government for many years. They were never front-line, some said you could overtake and pass the bullet on a bicycle, but they were retained for many years, in Australia at least.

Cadets didn't actually use them once the ex-WW1 SMLEs became available, but for some reason they were not sold off into surplus for a long while (early 1960s I think). They are still available here to this day in the original .310 calibre - though many were converted to .222 Rimmed (which made them very useful for hunting conditions here).

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Hi Steve,

thanks for your analysis!
Correction: I wrote 'rolling block' but that's of course falling block.
The Martini Henry started with a reputation in one of the Zulu wars, ammunition that jammed the mechanism or better, the cartridge stuck.
The Greener version is, I must look that up, slightly different, I think the ejector and the safety lever are different. And the stock differs too. Both have the 'tear drop' indicator, an ingenious idea to show if the weapon is cocked. They are quite heavy. And their carreer is interesting, from Cairo to Cape Town you could say.

have to go, Kieffer

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Hi Kieffer,

Much of the problem with the 577/450 was with the first Boxer-type rolled cartridges. In just a few years they were changed to to drawn modern type and at least the case no longer pulled apart and blocked the works on extraction. Always going to be problems with blackpowder in the relatively small .45 bore though (yes, the cartridge designation is back-to-front from 'usual' US type). And a little sand could jam the action. The Turks used their Peabody version to good effect though, as mentioned elsewhere.

I mentioned the "kick" of recoil of these. Here is a recoil energy/velocity chart:

http://img50.imageshack.us/img50/9521/graphht8.png - the horizontal axis shows the recoil velocity, the vertical is the same figure translated into how far a body (the rifle) would fall to pick up that speed - onto the poor shoulder. Which is the same as how far the rifle would jump into the air if fired straight down and not constrained. It is intended to give some "feel" for recoil. The area of comfort is subjective (depends on geometry of stock, area in contact with shoulder etc. and supposes no recoil dampening - pads or mechanical methods). But, trust me, anything outside is 'elephant gun' territory.

The Martini Henry in rifle weight and standard load gave

16.4 fps (5 m/s) equivalent to 4 ft 2 inches (1.28m) vertical jump with 8 lb rifle (3.86 Kg). OUCH!

The 6 pound (2.95 kg) carbine gave 20.7 fps (6.3 m/s) equivalent to 6ft 8 inches (2.04 m) vertical jump. OUCH! OUCH!

By comparison the .303 SMLE gave the equivalent of about 0.4 m vertical jump, both in the old 215 grain bullet (13.93 g) and the later 174 gn (11.275 g). The 7.62x51 NATO in the SLR (L1A1) gave just a little less, near enough the same.

The 5.56x45 NATO in the AUG Steyr gives about 4 inches (114 mm) and, looping back again, that is about the same as the Martini .310 Cadet rifle - 98 mm even though it weighs only 6 pounds. That Greener cartridge was only about 3 times the power of a .22LR rimfire ('pea-rifle' us old guys call the 22).

Incidentally, the cadet rifle in Australia didn't have the cocking indicator - or not all of them did. Here is a picture (same rifle, both sides)

http://img139.imageshack.us/img139/4296/martini310fe7dy6.gif. No provision for bayonet either. Ah, I like to see bayonet even on sniper rifles (you never know ...). But they did bayonet practice with broom-handles in those days.

Steve

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Hi Steve,

yes, the Boxer type, now I remember. Thank you!
There's has been that notorious battle in South Africa where a British regiment, or company was defeated, their Martini's causing trouble. The battle field today is still littered with damaged cartridges.
Your recoil-analysis is very interesting! The famous 'blue shoulder' when the rifle isn't properly handled. I think rifle-man those days had to be quite strong.
The W.W.Greener (in the 60's Webley took over) built rifle hasn't a bayonet lug either, would have been a bit akward for a police weapon. The nicely made butt-plate has a little lid, the opening is for a little oil bottle. The stock is two-piece, running under the barrel till the muzzle. This particular one does'nt look that elegant, but there are very elaborate civilian versions, some with almost baroque butts and stocks.
The sight is very rudimentary, just a V cut out on the receiver. It was made in three marks, 13 bore and 14 bore later. The Mark III had a different firing pin, like a fork with three teeth. The cartridge had an extra circled groove around the primer. The story is that the Egyptian police force had some troubles with rioteers. If Greeners fell into their hands they could not use them, having not the proper ammo. Villains had been taping ammo so it fitted in the rifle, a hazardous trick. If it is true, I don't know.
All versions have a complicated background as there are civilian guns and police versions. The PG and EG engravings on the housing reveal that, as the many stampings on the barrel tell a story, from tests, exercise only, till phasing out.
And from Cairo till Cape Town..they even showed up in Zanzibar!

regards, Kieffer




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Hi Kieffer,

The police primer system sounds to me like it was Berdan primed than any special kind (the anvil is part of the cartridge case rather than part of the primer, the latter is the Boxer primer, not to be confused with the rolled/wound Boxer cartridge case). Basically the Berdan makes reloading harder and is routinely used in military ammunition too, and probably for that reason.

The cases for Boxer primers have a centre flash-hole and it is easy to obtain Boxer primers. Berdan primers have to be chiselled out, replacement primers are not as common and it is relatively difficult to seat them securely without setting them off. But people become quick and efficient at just that task - earlier Australian reloading books were full of advice on how to do it and it is said some could de-cap and reprime a Berdan-primed case just as quickly as most could do so with a Boxer-primed one.

I have Greener's own book The Gun and its Development 1881 and certainly he doesn't mention any special primers but nothing would surprise me, it may have come later, that was a time of great experimentation and change which we can hardly imagine even though it is said there is unprecedented change happening in our own times.

All sorts of interesting things in that book - the dum-dum with the cross in the nose (and a central hole below) is called "Lord Keanes' Cruciform Expanding Bullet". And it is supposed to be for animals only. Also there is the formula of the filling for small-calibre exploding bullets which was soon banned in war too. And the incredible "McLeod's Revolving Bullet" for shotguns that spun the projectile by funnelling air through the wall of the bullet, exiting through offset holes in the base.

All sorts of things, including many different breach-loader actions, all but forgotten today. The "star" was the single-shot Soper, a side-hinged, swinging block type operated by a flick of the thumb which demonstrated rates in excess of 60 shots per minute ("sufficient for any purpose. ... "the barrel became so hot that the sight, which was soldered on, fell off."). It was officially rated at 58 rounds per minute, the Winchester lever action at 52 and the Martini at 40.

Steve

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Hi Steve,

the Berdan primer: the cartridge for the Greener MkIII was specially made for this gun only, for the Egyptian police force. At least some of these stayed in Europe (or got back?) too, but of any governmental use on the continent/UK I am not aware of.
0.782" it was at the base, after the neck 0.740". The base has stamped "Greener" and 'Police'. A special large groove at the base of the cartridge responded to 2 lugs in front of the block, the gun could by this only load and fire this shell.
I think this came in the 20's or 30's so may be the Greener book was earlier?

regards Kieffer





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kieffer wrote:

...0.782" it was at the base, after the neck 0.740". The base has stamped "Greener" and 'Police'. A special large groove at the base of the cartridge responded to 2 lugs in front of the block, the gun could by this only load and fire this shell.
I think this came in the 20's or 30's so may be the Greener book was earlier?



Yes, the book is much earlier. At first I thought you were describing something like the groove in the base of the M1891 6.5mm Carcano (pic follows) but no, that is something entirely different. 0.740" - bullet therefore just slightly less diameter? Yes, that is definitely getting into the shotgun bore size, in fact that would handle a slug for 12 bore quite comfortably (let alone 13 bore). That is an interesting weapon I have not heard of before this.

Incidentally, the groove in the base of the Carcano cartridge is just to save on materials I think. Like the corrugations in a rainwater tank, thinner gauge metal can be used. I am surprised more military ammunition didn't use the same trick. It is only a small amount but multiply it by millions of rounds ... it mounts up.

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Ah yes, here it is:

http://www.dave-cushman.net/shot/greenerpolice.html

And it does have that groove in the base too. That is imperfect absolute security - the lugs could be ground off - so I guess the colonial police could be trusted to keep possession of their weapons, the authorities were more concerned that only official and accountable ammunition was used in them.

"Lever-action" shotguns are fairly uncommon but Winchester made several models too - 1887 and 1901. Those were repeaters (tube magazine) designed by Browning. The infamous Bonnie and Clyde had an M1901. Also Terminator 2, but that was a modified modern reproduction. Browning wanted to design a pump-action, Winchester insisted on lever-action but later gave in and the model 1893 pump-action was introduced which led to the 1897 for smokeless powder. The upgrade of the (lever-action) 1887 model for smokeless powder was the 1901 model.

There was a model 1917 trench gun and a model 1912 pump-action used in WW1 - the 1912 was the hammerless version of the 1897 and (more research needed) maybe the 1917 was the 1912 with provision for the M1917 bayonet (same as the British P1913)? Those were used right up to the Vietnam war. But I don't know if the lever-action shotguns were used. The pump-action was generally felt to be be more reliable. Still, one doesn't argue lightly with the Terminator ...

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Rectalgia wrote:

Incidentally, the groove in the base of the Carcano cartridge is just to save on materials I think. Like the corrugations in a rainwater tank, thinner gauge metal can be used. I am surprised more military ammunition didn't use the same trick. It is only a small amount but multiply it by millions of rounds ... it mounts up.

Hi Steve, that's good engineer-thinking: realising strenght and saving material, is saving weight and production costs. At the other hand, any extra machining costs more. But you're right about the saving principle: in the old days Amsterdam diamant-workers gave in the tiny copper rods, where the stone was fixed upon. Their union financed amongst others a hospital for tuberculoses by selling the copper. I remember something about their aprons too, containing diamant dust that was recycled for industrial use.

Less human but on topic at last again: the use of shotguns in the trenches. As you mentioned the 1917 and 1912, were this shot guns? And pump-actions, I remember seeing them, still used by US navy men when inspecting ships (on TV news reels, not personally of course..)

regards Kieffer


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kieffer wrote:

Rectalgia wrote:
...Less human but on topic at last again: the use of shotguns in the trenches. As you mentioned the 1917 and 1912, were this shot guns? And pump-actions, I remember seeing them, still used by US navy men when inspecting ships (on TV news reels, not personally of course..)regards Kieffer

Yes, M1912 "hammerless" pump-action shotgun, that you can fit a bayonet to, the best kind. The M1917 bayonet, 17" blade, same as the the P1907 blade (only the ring was differently positioned because the ring on the SMLE No.1 Mk III/III* fits to a bayonet boss below the barrel). The M1917 bayonet was primarily for the M1917 US 'Enfield' 30-06 rifle which was used more in the war than the 30-06 Springfield. The same rifle in .303 was the P1914, it was a British design (for the P1913 .276 experimental rifle being built for them by the US but quickly changed over to .303 in 1914 with the war and that is how come the British P1914 rifle had the P1913 bayonet which was the same as the US M1917 bayonet and neither is interchangeable with the P1907 bayonet though the blades are the same and so the handles of the P1913 had to be grooved so they wouldn't get mixed up - but then the Indians put grooves into the handles of some of their P1907s so that all went out the window but we're not talking about bayonets particularly).

I think in much later times they used steel shot instead of lead in the shotguns but I don't think you could do that with the M1912 shotgun, the barrel was not rated for steel shot. So, just an ordinary 12 ga shotgun. With a short barrel. And a bayonet. Most of those pump-action and lever-action guns would originally have had a 10 gauge version too but I don't think those were used by the military.

Oh, and the M1897 was used in the trenches too (exposed hammer pump action), according to Wikipedia that was modified to take the bayonet too. I think the M1917 shotgun designation is incorrect - that is simply confusion with the bayonet adaptor and bayonet. So the two Winchester 12 gauge/bore pump-action models were M1897 and M1912. The other modification for both was apparently a perforated steel guard over the barrel which was part of the bayonet mounting arrangement - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bayonet_Mount.JPG.

-- Edited by Rectalgia on Friday 28th of May 2010 02:22:44 AM

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On the Matini-Henry, a mate of mine owned one & I can attest to its impact if not handled 'perfectly'. Bluntly once fouling realy starts - 30 to 50 rounds it dosen't matter its going to thump bloody hard. We did a 'test' & I put 80 rounds though it at quick rates while prone, by the end I was a good 6" back from where I started - at that stageI weighed almost 90Kg stark naked! I ALL Ways used an additional shoulder pad foring the bloody thing. The thing was perfectly capable of fracturing a collar bone if handled badly - I was present when despite advice etc one of my mates light weight friends (he was only 60 to 70 Kg's & we had put close to 120 rounds through it in the last couple of hours)fired it without it realy jammed into his shoulder & he did end up with hairline fractures in his collar bone.

The issue with boxer rolled / wound cartridges was if the rifle over heated or was not kept really clean. Bluntly in significant air temperatures & even moderate rates of fire the @#$%^& always over heated - I used a glove on my left hand if firing a significant number of rounds, especialy if doing so quickly. Historical records cite long service 'old sweats' regularlyshrinking a rawhide leather cover over the barrel & forstock to protect their hands!

For all its "downsides" I was always keen to have it along if we were pig hunting or in a pig area. Saw the bitching thing literally bowl a 100+kg pig head over heels when hit from the front! Admitadly at about 20 yards, but it was the Martini-Henry or a 12 gauge with Pig Shot as far as I was concerned if we were hunting pigs. The only thing I saw that was better at taking the big pigs down was a lunatic who used 0.303 API aircraft ammo & I stayed yards away from him always half expecting a breech failure!

Regards,

Brennan

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First testimony I can recall from someone who has actually fired one of things, priceless. They had a lousy reputation in Oz on account of their kick and the mess they made of the meat (food and skins was an important part of the job expected of any rifle at the time they were sold into surplus here). Everything else made surplus (that wasn't sold to the Americans) was snapped up by the locals but not many found a need for a Martini Henry 577/450. Buffalo hunters and crocodile hunters being amongst the exceptions I guess but those were on the fringe. They still come up on the market from time to time - but that's collector territory these days.

All-in-all I guess more battles were won with them than were lost but they never acquired the 'gloss' of the similar Turkish Peabody Martini version against more evenly-matched forces. Once a weapon gets a bad reputation it just doesn't go away (as also with the Canadian Ross). Mythology is a potent force in shaping attitudes.

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