Jump to content

Remembered Today:

MG08/15/Vickers


David B
 Share

Recommended Posts

As a non gun type - most of us are nowadays - I am puzzled as to why the MG08/15 came with a wooden gun stock as opposed

to the two handed grip of the Vickers. Could anyone please tell me why. Lightness ? maybe.

I would have thought that with a gun stock jammed into the shoulder when firing would have created some discomfort to the man

on the trigger with the continual jarring caused by recoil, or was there some mechanism to reduce that. It seems to me much more

preferable to be able hang on with two hands and more accurate viz-a-viz Vickers when in action

David

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a non gun type - most of us are nowadays - I am puzzled as to why the MG08/15 came with a wooden gun stock as opposed

to the two handed grip of the Vickers. Could anyone please tell me why. Lightness ? maybe.

I would have thought that with a gun stock jammed into the shoulder when firing would have created some discomfort to the man

on the trigger with the continual jarring caused by recoil, or was there some mechanism to reduce that. It seems to me much more

preferable to be able hang on with two hands and more accurate viz-a-viz Vickers when in action

David

I should think it would be used for more close up work, very much the reason why the Lewis was brought into service, where as the vickers was more a weapon to be fired over a distance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

More technically-minded pals will no doubt offer more detailed explanations, but I think the simple answer is that the counterpart of the Vickers was the MG08 - and the counterpart of the MG08/15 was the Lewis - both somewhat lighter, more mobile/portable weapons.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Siege Gunner is essentially correct.

The MG08 and the Vickers were both tripod/sled mounted weapons that the gunner sat behind, firing the gun using both hands on spade grips. Both guns were fired from relatively fixed positions.

The MG08/15 on the other hand was considered a "light" machine gun and was intended as a German counterpart to the Lewis. It was used as a mobile gun in the attack, advancing as a composite part of the infantry squad. It was intended to be fired from a prone position and hence had a butt (there is another thread about firing the MG08/15 from the hip whilst on the move).

The recoil would not have been excessive, as it is still a heavy gun. The Lewis and Hotchkiss were both considerably lighter and saw extensive use during the war without any problems with the recoil.

Regards

TonyE

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The MG08 and the Vickers were 'aimed' by the sled/tripod on which they were mounted. The MG08/15 was used prone, as TonyE noted, and had to aimed directly by the gunner. A gun stock would have been essential to enable the gunner to be positioned appropriately, while remaining prone, in order to aim the gun.

Robert

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Siege Gunner is essentially correct.

Emboldened by this endorsement, I shall pose a couple of follow-up questions, which are:

* If the air-cooled Lewis was designed several years before the Great War, why did it take the Germans until about 1918 to produce their own air-cooled equivalent?

* Why did Lewis guns continue to be made with the shroud when it was apparently already known that they functioned perfectly well without it – not only in the cold, windy conditions aboard aircraft but also on the ground?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

* Why did Lewis guns continue to be made with the shroud when it was apparently already known that they functioned perfectly well without it – not only in the cold, windy conditions aboard aircraft but also on the ground?

I would guess the answer to this may be found by experimentation.

1) Fire off a couple of drums of .303 through an unshrouded lewis, then

2) PICK IT UP and move somewhere else.

3) Repeat as needed.

I would expect somewhere in this process you will eventually, rather painfully I would imagine, burn the heck out of your hand on the barrel.

In an aircraft the slipstream etc cools the barrel nicely. On the ground unshrouded works well enough on vehicle mounts or fixed AA mounts, but I suspect for the mobile fire support role and the covering the barrel was a necessity.

Awaits correction!

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I never, told you all that I was useless around guns, cleared up the mind considerably

David

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think Siege Gunner nailed it first time. You're essentially comparing apples with oranges - the MG08/15 ought to be compared with the Lewis (or maybe the Madsen) rather than the Vickers, which ought to be compared to the MG08.

MG08/15 = Damn Heavy

Lewis = Merely Heavy

Vickers = Extremely Heavy

MG08 = Hernia-inducing Heavy

A bit flippant but not entirely wrong ...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

* If the air-cooled Lewis was designed several years before the Great War, why did it take the Germans until about 1918 to produce their own air-cooled equivalent?

The Germans did have the Bergmann (not the MP 18), which came out in 1915, I think. It sort of looks like the very successful MG 34 and MG 42, but I think it had some defects. It was used in aircraft, and as an infantry LMG in the East, in Palestine, etc.

One would think that it could have had its defects worked out with some tinkering. I suspect that the Germans, who were generally on the defensive on the western front, were doing less attacking, and were subject to mass attacks, especially by UK forces, were reluctant to widely equip MG forces with air-cooled MGs, which would jam up one way or the other after some hundreds of rounds, while the liquid-cooled guns could fire thousands of rounds in an attack situation. Despite the obvious advantages of a lighter weapon, it would be awkward to say that "take this gun, easy to carry, take on raids, but in a general attack you may fire 500 rounds and kill 20 men, but then you will be overrun and you and your crew killed." Better to say "you can fire thousands of rounds, when your water boils off, pee in it, when that boils off, put in a couple of bottles of the company commander's French red." You read of a single Maxim, in an attack, firing 12,000 rounds; I am sure Vickers did the same on occasion. In the East, Russia and the Middle East, where the fighting was less intense, generally, and the distances much greater, the lighter gun was much more attractive. Many moons ago I was on an all-night march, with a 64 lb. pack and a M-1, and a comrade broke down and I had to carry his Browning Model 1917 MG for the rest of the night. (Some one else carried the tripod.) Even that air cooled MG was about 70 lbs. Wasn't the Bergmann (from its looks) about 35 lbs.?

Perhaps TonyE can step up and tell us what the defects of the Bergmann were in infantry use.

Bob Lembke

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the MG 42 had as standard issue three quick-change barrels and an asbestos glove to change them with. Handy with a gun firing 1200 rpm. The high rate of fire seemingly had quite a psychological effect on the other guy.

Bob

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some excellent answers to the wooden stock question. Only to add that wood absorbs a certain amount of recoil/shock whereas a straight metal stock ensures a shaky firer. I am sure there are some here who have used GPMG and even a plastic stock hugely assists.

Even the hotchkiss .303 had the wooden stock before the metal L portative (tank) version, and that was said to be immensley accurate at single shot - no doubt partly due to the comfort and firing position of the stock.

I think also it was a period mentality reason - the days of infantry and everyone a rifleman drove the firing position. The crossover of rifleman skills to machine gunner maybe channelled the manufacturers into designing the wooden stock in order to assist the same 'sort of but not quite' firing position.

In weapons design today one only has to watch the news to see the imaginative variation on butts, weapon types :mellow: and stocks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whilst I agree with Mark's points about the buttstock, it is mainly a question of ergonomics. A weapon like the MG08/15 or Lewis when used in the attack will frequently be fired from a prone position, or at least semi-prone from a shell crater. Without a butt it would be very difficult to use, as if it had a spade grip and a bipod well forward of the centre of gravity, the rear of the gun would be unsupported and the gunner would have to take that weight to elevate the gun and also aim and fire it.

I can think of no weapon other than the Villa Perosa that was fitted with a bipod and spade grip (which does not really count as it was relatively light and fired a pistol cartridge, and I am not counting the emergency bipod fitted to some Vickers)

Regards

TonyE

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In an aircraft the slipstream etc cools the barrel nicely. On the ground unshrouded works well enough on vehicle mounts or fixed AA mounts, but I suspect for the mobile fire support role and the covering the barrel was a necessity.

Thanks, Chris, that sounds persuasively convincing to me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...