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Post Info TOPIC: Standard firing position for machine guns
Pat


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Standard firing position for machine guns
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There have been several discussions questioning the poses of plastic figure MG poses, concluding most of the poses are wrong.

It is hard to find a British Vickers gunner sitting behind his gun (http://www.vickersmachinegun.org.uk/ links to some original manuals in pdf format), or a Russian Maxim gun in a prone position, as they should be for those were the standard positions. Someone please correct me if wrong.

Therefore, I found these images of WW2 Romanian standard postions for the Schwarzlose and the Maxim machine gun quite interesting and thought I'd share them with you. The Schwarzlose position looks quite uncomfortable!

http://www.worldwar2.ro/arme/?article=286
http://www.worldwar2.ro/arme/?article=285
(click onto the images for captions)

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Legend

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Interesting - of the two ways (front or back) to fire the gun with the legs retracted it certainly looks the more ungainly and the 'sight picture' would surely be problematical. Looks like it is intended for use in a level, open field and tantamount to suicide in any event - comfort would perhaps be a minor consideration in such circumstances. There is a similar rifle target-shooting posture but that is more laid-back and relaxed, with the weapon more to the side.

There are a couple of depictions of the Schwarzlose in Austro-Hungarian service amongst the 'war art' post-card set at http://www.barryobomber.com/21.html. Needless to say those are more dramatic and there are no such niceties as 'standard positions' or pictures of machine-gunners operating out in the open.

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There was a vigorous discussion about this on the HaT Forum a while ago. The position that is never represented is "Upright".

This is a British plan for a regulation trench. I've scaled in the Vickers. There was a recess on the right for the ammunition and the No. 2. I suspect this is from the earlier part of the war, when the Vickers tended to be in the first line and before they were withdrawn to the rear to operate by indirect fire.

Clearly, it's designed for men standing upright, but afaik no manufacturer has ever cosidered making such a crew.




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here's a picture of a British Vickers gunner seated, if that's what you meant? (they are MGM, Motor Machine Gun corps).
Standard position, I think too that's depending the circumstances. Most pictures are made of training crews, or posing. On battle ground things were never 100% standard I think.
I read somewhere that MG's were even fired with a piece of string when showing your head was to risky.

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Pat


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Thanks for your replies.

James H, the closest thing to what you're suggesting is the Airfix Doughboy MG team I'm afraid...

Kieffer, sorry I didn't make myself clear. There are plenty of photos of the standard poses, so I wonder why plastic figure manufacturers quite never seem to get the pose right.

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I think that the pictures of the "official" firing position reveal something.

I suspect that if you were manning an MG during the static period of the War you would be dug in and would make yourself as comfortable as possible, with a nicely designed firing position and maybe some seating arrangements, not sitting with your backside on the ground.

The pics such as Kieffer's and those of German Jäger MGs, for example,  betray, I would suggest, the persisting subconscious belief that the War would be one of movement and that guns would be set up on open ground.

At least the HaT British Heavy Weapons Vickers gunner and maybe the "Canadian" one are looking along the sights, which none of the other WWI machine gunners seem to be. Only the HaT Early French gunner is in anything like a textbook position.

Pls feel free to argue.

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Rob


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You wouldn't be able to fire a Vickers (or probably any other Maxim type machine gun) with string - i've fired a Vickers before, there are two safety catches, which you hold back, whilst gripping the two handgrips, with your first finger (after your thumb), and press the button to fire the Vickers with both thumbs - without the safety catches held back by your fingers, the trigger button won't go forward to fire.

When I fired it, and from photographs of them in action in trenches, the Vickers crew stand to operate it, but standard practice is to sit behind it with your feet ahead of you as shown, but the opportunities to do so wouldn't happen much on the western front except in the first and last years when it became open warfare. More to the point with British Vickers machine guns at least is that from about mid-1915 onwards they were used in the indirect fire role, as mentioned by James H, operated like artillery to create beaten zones of machine gun fire

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according to 1940 reports of Dutch soldiers manning  MG's these could be fired with a piece of string. I presume these were Schwarzlose. But if they tinkered with it, or it was just technically possible without I do not know.

regards, Kieffer

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Pat wrote:


Kieffer, sorry I didn't make myself clear. There are plenty of photos of the standard poses, so I wonder why plastic figure manufacturers quite never seem to get the pose right.



Ah, that's what you meant! I was already a bit surprised you couldn't find pictures of seated MG crews...my fault!

regards, Kieffer

 



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Pat


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James H wrote:
At least the HaT British Heavy Weapons Vickers gunner and maybe the "Canadian" one are looking along the sights, which none of the other WWI machine gunners seem to be. Only the HaT Early French gunner is in anything like a textbook position.


Agreed about the HäT Brit being a good figure, but the Canadians sadly are a miserably wasted opportunity.


Found another image of a Schwarzlose in training with the gunner in the same increcibly uncomfortable position as on the Romanian photo. Scroll down about 3/4 of this page:
http://www.barryobomber.com/24.html

Here is another one with a Schwarzlose gunner more comfortably seated:
http://www.barryobomber.com/26.html
There is also an image of an Austrian Madsen on the latter page.

Thanks to who originally posted the link to that website on this forum.


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Hi Pat, don't know if this is interesting to you:
http://in.ebid.net/for sale/1-76-1-72
The (web) company is Australian, Keegan Miniatures, I never heard about them. Apparantly they sell a range of 1-72 items, a Schwarzlose (be it a Volkssturm) team too. I am not such a 1-72 expert, sorry if this might be old news

regards, Kieffer

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Pat


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Thanks for the hint Kieffer. He is a seller and the product is manufactured by SHQ, here is another image for anybody interested:
http://www.shqminiatures.com/Ranges/WWII/Resistance/Resistancemain.php?UID=2007070523582066.249.72.97

I came up with another Schwarzlose model - scratchbuild in 1/16 eyepopping.gif
http://www.razyboard.com/system/morethread-schwarzlose-mg-m0712-slang-348376-5665365-0.html

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Pat


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James H wrote:

The position that is never represented is "Upright".

This is a British plan for a regulation trench.(...)

Clearly, it's designed for men standing upright, but afaik no manufacturer has ever cosidered making such a crew.



Now that thanks to the kind help of the computer gurus on this forum I can finally see the pictures on the IT miniatures site, I can tell there is one set as requested by you, albeit in metal and probably 1/78ish:

http://www.itminiatures.com/

Click "contents", then click "British", and if using the Internet Explorer you will see an images of set Tom44 (Lewis) and Tom45 (Vickers).



-- Edited by Pat on Saturday 6th of November 2010 11:24:35 AM

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Thought for one delirious moment this was the previously-unheralded, "Firing blind whilst grovelling on the ground with the gun slung over your left shoulder" position, but no, it is "Mounting gun in prone position". Evidently whilst exposed in a contested location. OMG, the sheer desperation of it all - I for one find it difficult to even imagine.VickersMount.PNG

From part2 (photos etc) of MACHINE GUN NOTES No.l EDITED AT ARMY WAR COLLEGE

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nice picture Rectalgia! Well, if there's a fence, the weather is fine and you're close to the sergeant...

-- Edited by kieffer on Tuesday 1st of March 2011 09:27:10 AM

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In WW2 in the desert campaigns, entrenched Australian troops would sometimes threaten the LMG/MMG AA gun pits should they be inclined to open fire on passing Italian aircraft. The idea was the AA crews had virtually no chance of bringing down a passing aircraft but they just might annoy the pilot who had a much larger target to beat up. It would have been much different in WW1 I should think. Even so, I see no other Scots around that indolent machine gunner - apart from his Corporal who probably got something like fourpence a day extra to sun-tan his knees.

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oh..it's a corporal, not a sergeant. Stripes and stars and pips etc. never been my forte..
This is private Warrick, Berksire Volunteers. Working with his Soper. Fired in this position a rate of 60 rounds p/m could achieved. Yes I know, it's not 14-18 but 1872...

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Rectalgia wrote:

In WW2 in the desert campaigns, entrenched Australian troops would sometimes threaten the LMG/MMG AA gun pits should they be inclined to open fire on passing Italian aircraft. The idea was the AA crews had virtually no chance of bringing down a passing aircraft but they just might annoy the pilot who had a much larger target to beat up.



Well, at least you could give it a try. Reminds me that famous and dramatic picture of British riflemen shooting at enemy aircraft above the beach at Dunkirk.
This fellow, I think it's a sergeant this time (stripes rather roughly on the arm, looks like thumb nailed), safely covered in some armoured box with the Bren quad.
Sorry, out of era again..

 



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kieffer wrote:


This is private Warrick, Berksire Volunteers. Working with his Soper. Fired in this position a rate of 60 rounds p/m could achieved. Yes I know, it's not 14-18 but 1872...


Interesting - the "reclining" position was quite popular in target shooting too (I think that came before military application, but I'm not certain) - but you need special sights of course. It would be a very good sniping position.
kieffer wrote:

This fellow, I think it's a sergeant this time (stripes rather roughly on the arm, looks like thumb nailed), safely covered in some armoured box with the Bren quad.
Sorry, out of era again..


You're forgiven, those look like Lewis magazines to me (therefore "aircraft" type guns without the shroud), in which case, even if it was not, the Lewis quad could have been used in WW1.

The trouble with WW2 aircraft is they were so much faster (3-4 times the speed of WW1 types), therefore correspondingly harder to hit. In defence of my countrymen, I'm sure they would have all opened up had they come under attack. It's just they would have very much preferred not to be attacked in the first place. As they demonstrated, they were quite effective against opposing ground forces and no doubt wanted to save their ammo for those.

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Have we seen this one before? An early Maxim zug (? six guns) complete with pointy hats and nifty high-or-low profile carts. I didn't know those things were 2-position.

Springfield Armory Museum photograph

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Rectalgia wrote:

Have we seen this one before? An early Maxim zug (? six guns) complete with pointy hats and nifty high-or-low profile carts. I didn't know those things were 2-position.


the Russians could do the same trick. And when the legs weren't enough you could do some tinkering with wood and a Thonet chair too.



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kieffer wrote:

...you could do some tinkering with wood and a Thonet chair too.
I had to look that up, tone-eT, eh? Good heavens, that's a short gunner - I hope, in the name of humanity - he was older than he looked.


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Tone-ad, French pronunciation, famous furniture designer, these chairs still to be found here by the thousands in pubs, cafes, kitchens etc. from solid till neck-breaking, original or copy. Could have told you that immediately of course but some home work on good old European culture keeps you sharp wink
Lacking of a Thonet: use some flimsies!

-- Edited by kieffer on Saturday 5th of March 2011 01:52:40 PM

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Or an upturned mop bucket.  Ah yes, obviously Aussies (note one of them has his boomerang parked close to hand for instant readiness).  And the famous Vickers Mk I* combat sewing machine.  I jest of course, though Vickers did make a sewing machine during and after the war, which looked much like the contemporary Singers in many respects.  One of those treadles looks like a Singer but I think not a common variety if so.  The machines could be Singers too.  But the tables are very plain, with no drawer compartments, more like industrial than domestic purpose.  Is there a story to go with this enigmatic photograph?

-- Edited by Rectalgia on Saturday 5th of March 2011 05:24:37 PM

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you're 100% right, these are Singers, the name is on/under the table. Except the picture has been taken at Fampoux in 1917 I have no further knowledge.
Quite a few companies are known for more than making rifles etc., as they have the expertise, tooling and so on. BSA, Remington they all make or made other products too. One way round or the other, war things or rather bizarre side activities.
There are still a Peugeot pepper and saltgrinder on the market...

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