Vickers machine gun

The Vickers machine gun or Vickers gun is a name primarily used to refer to the water-cooled .303 British (7.7 mm) machine gun produced by Vickers Limited, originally for the British Army. The machine gun typically required a six to eight-man team to operate: one fired, one fed the ammunition, the rest helped to carry the weapon, its ammunition, and spare parts.[10] It was in service from before the First World War until the 1960s, with air-cooled versions of it on many Allied World War I fighter aircraft.

The weapon had a reputation for great solidity and reliability. Ian V. Hogg, in Weapons & War Machines, describes an action that took place in August 1916, during which the British 100th Company of the Machine Gun Corps fired their ten Vickers guns continuously for twelve hours. Using 100 barrels, they fired a million rounds without a failure. "It was this absolute foolproof reliability which endeared the Vickers to every British soldier who ever fired one."[11]

Vickers Medium Machine Gun
Vickers Machine Gun YORCM CA78ac
A Vickers Machine Gun mounted on a Tripod. This particular model resides at the York Castle Museum.
TypeMedium machine gun
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Service history
In service1912–1968
Used byWidely used, See Users
WarsWorld War I[1]
Irish Civil War[2]
Chaco War[3]
Spanish Civil War[4]
Winter War
World War II[5]
First Indochina War[6]
Indo-Pakistan War of 1947
1948 Arab–Israeli War
Malayan Emergency[5]
Korean War[5]
Algerian War[7]
Congo Crisis[8]
Aden Emergency[9]
South African Border War
Production history
Designed1912
ManufacturerVickers
Specifications
Mass33–51 lb (15–23 kg) all-up
Length3 ft 8 in (1.12 m)
Barrel length28 in (720 mm)
Crewthree man crew

Cartridge.303 British
.30-06 Springfield
11mm Vickers
others
Actionrecoil with gas boost
Rate of fire450 to 500 round/min
Muzzle velocity2,440 ft/s (744 m/s) (.303 Mk. VII ball)
2,525 ft/s (770 m/s) (.303 Mk. VIIIz ball)
Effective firing range2,187 yd (2,000 m)
Maximum firing range4,500 yd (4,115 m) indirect fire (.303 Mk. VIIIz ball)
Feed system250-round canvas belt

History

Vickers machine gun in the Battle of Passchendaele - September 1917
A Vickers machine gun crew in action at the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, September 1917

The Vickers machine gun was based on the successful Maxim gun of the late 19th century. After purchasing the Maxim company outright in 1896, Vickers took the design of the Maxim gun and improved it, inverting the mechanism as well as reducing its weight by lightening and simplifying the action and using high strength alloys for certain components. A muzzle booster was also added.

The British Army formally adopted the Vickers gun as its standard machine gun under the name Gun, Machine, Mark I, Vickers, .303-inch on 26 November 1912.[12] There were still great shortages when the First World War began, and the British Expeditionary Force was still equipped with Maxims when sent to France in 1914.[13] Vickers was, in fact, threatened with prosecution for war profiteering, due to the exorbitant price it was demanding for each gun. As a result, the price was slashed. As the war progressed, and numbers increased, it became the British Army's primary machine gun, and served on all fronts during the conflict. When the Lewis Gun was adopted as a light machine gun and issued to infantry units, the Vickers guns were redefined as heavy machine guns, withdrawn from infantry units, and grouped in the hands of the new Machine Gun Corps (when heavier 0.5 in/12.7 mm calibre machine guns appeared, the tripod-mounted, rifle-calibre machine guns like the Vickers became medium machine guns). After the First World War, the Machine Gun Corps (MGC) was disbanded and the Vickers returned to infantry units. Before the Second World War, there were plans to replace the Vickers gun; one of the contenders was the 7.92×57mm Mauser Besa machine gun (a Czech design), which eventually became the British Army's standard tank-mounted machine gun. However, the Vickers remained in service with the British Army until 30 March 1968. Its last operational use was in the Radfan during the Aden Emergency. Its successor in UK service is the L7 GPMG.

Use in aircraft

Vickers Challenger synchroniser (Bristol Scout)
The cockpit of a Bristol Scout biplane in 1916, showing a Vickers machine gun synchronised to fire through the propeller by an early Vickers-Challenger interrupter gear.

In 1913, a Vickers machine gun was mounted on the experimental Vickers E.F.B.1 biplane, which was probably the world's first purpose-built combat aeroplane. However, by the time the production version, the Vickers F.B.5, had entered service the following year, the armament had been changed to a Lewis gun.[14]

During World War I, the Vickers gun became a standard weapon on British and French military aircraft, especially after 1916. Although heavier than the Lewis, its closed bolt firing cycle made it much easier to synchronize to allow it to fire through aircraft propellers. The belt feed was enclosed right up to the gun's feed-way to inhibit effects from wind. Steel disintegrating-link ammunition belts were perfected in the UK by William de Courcy Prideaux in mid-war and became standard for aircraft guns thereafter.[15] By 1917 it had been determined that standard rifle calibre cartridges were less satisfactory for shooting down observation balloons than larger calibres carrying incendiary or tracer bullets; the Vickers machine gun was chambered in the 11mm Vickers round, known as the Vickers aircraft machine gun and sometimes the "Balloon Buster", and was adopted by the Allies as a standard anti-balloon armament, used by both the British and French in this role until the end of the war.[16][17]

The famous Sopwith Camel and the SPAD XIII types used twin synchronized Vickers, as did most British and French fighters between 1918 and the mid-1930s. In the air, the weighty water cooling system was rendered redundant by the chilly temperatures at high altitude and the constant stream of air passing over the gun as the plane flew; but because the weapon relied on barrel recoil, the (empty) water-holding barrel jacket or casing needed to be retained. Several sets of louvred slots were cut into the barrel jacket to aid air cooling, a better solution than what had initially been attempted with the 1915-vintage lMG 08 German aircraft ordnance.

As the machine gun armament of fighter aircraft moved from the fuselage to the wings in the years before the Second World War, the Vickers was generally replaced by the faster-firing and more reliable[18] Browning Model 1919 using metal-linked cartridges. The Gloster Gladiator was the last RAF fighter to be armed with the Vickers, although they were later replaced by Brownings.[19] The Fairey Swordfish continued to be fitted with the weapon until production ended in August 1944.[20]

Several British bombers and attack aircraft of the Second World War mounted the Vickers K machine gun or VGO, a completely different design, resembling the Lewis gun in external appearance.

Vickers machine guns, designated as models E (pilot's) and F (observer's) were also used among others in Poland, where 777 of them were converted to 7.92×57mm Mauser cartridge in 1933-1937.[21]

Variants

HMS London gun
A .5-inch Mk. III, four-gun anti-aircraft mount and its crew on the cruiser HMS London in 1941

The larger calibre (half-inch) version of the Vickers was used on armoured fighting vehicles and naval vessels.

The Gun, Machine, Vickers, .5-inch, Mk. II was used in tanks, the earlier Mark I having been the development model. This entered service in 1933 and was obsolete in 1944. Firing either single shot or automatic it had a pistol type trigger grip rather than the spades of the 0.303 in (7.7 mm) weapon.

The Gun, Machine, Vickers, .5-inch, Mk. III was used as an anti-aircraft gun on British ships.[22] This variation was typically four guns mounted on a 360° rotating and (+80° to −10°) elevating housing. The belts were rolled into a spiral and placed in hoppers beside each gun. The heavy plain bullet weighed 1.3 oz (37 g) and was good for 1,500 yd (1,400 m) range. Maximum rate of fire for the Mark III was about 700 rpm from a 200-round belt carried in a drum. They were fitted from the 1920s onwards, but in practical terms, proved of little use. During the Second World War, the naval 0.5 in (12.7 mm) version was also mounted on power-operated turrets in smaller watercraft, such as Motor Gun Boats and Motor Torpedo Boats.

The Mark IV and V guns were improvements on the Mark II. Intended for British light tanks, some were used during the war on mounts on trucks by the Long Range Desert Group in the North Africa Campaign.[22]

The Vickers machine gun was produced, between the wars, as the vz.09 machine gun.

Foreign service

The Vickers was widely sold commercially and saw service with many nations and their own particular ammunition. It was also modified for each country and served as a base for many other weapons. For example:

Service after World War II

The Union of South Africa retained a large inventory of surplus Vickers machine guns after World War II. Many of these were donated to the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) and National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) during the Angolan Civil War.[25] Angolan militants were usually trained in their use by South African advisers.[25] Small quantities re-chambered for 7.62mm NATO ammunition remained in active service with the South African Defence Force until the mid 1980s, when they were all relegated to reserve storage.[25] Six were withdrawn from storage and reused by a South African liaison team operating with UNITA during the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, after which the weapons were finally retired.[28]

The Vickers MG remains in service with the Indian, Pakistani, and Nepalese armed forces, as a reserve weapon, intended for emergency use in the event of a major conflict.

Colt–Vickers M1915

By the early 1900s, the U.S. military had a mixed collection of automatic machine guns in use that included M1895 "potato diggers", 287 M1904 Maxims, 670 M1909 Benét–Mercié guns, and 353 Lewis machine guns. In 1913, the U.S. began to search for a superior automatic weapon. One of the weapons considered was the British Vickers machine gun.

The Board of Ordnance & Fortifications held a meeting on March 15, 1913 to consider the adoption of a new type of machine gun… The Board convened for the competitive test of automatic machine guns at Springfield Armory on September 15, 1913. Seven makes of automatic machine guns were considered and tried out. The Lewis gun during the endurance test had 206 jams and malfunctions, 35 broken parts, 15 parts not broken but requiring replacement as against respectively 23, 0, 0, for the Vickers gun and 59, 7, 0 for the Automatic Machine Rifle .30, Model of 1909, Benét–Mercié. The Board is of the opinion that, with the exception of the Vickers gun, none of the other guns submitted showed sufficiently marked superiority for the military service, in comparison with the service Automatic Machine Rifle to warrant further consideration of them in the field test. The Board is of the unanimous opinion that the Vickers rifle caliber gun, light model, stood the most satisfactory test. As to the merits of the Vickers gun there is no question – it stood in a class by itself. Not a single part was broken nor replaced. Nor was there a jam worthy of the name during the entire series of tests. A better performance could not be desired.

— Captain John S. Butler, Office of the Chief of Ordnance[27]

Field tests were conducted of the Vickers in 1914, and the gun was unanimously approved by the board for the army under the designation "Vickers Machine Gun Model of 1915, Caliber .30, Water-Cooled". One hundred twenty-five guns were ordered from Colt's Manufacturing Company in 1915, with an additional 4,000 ordered the next year, all chambered for .30-06. Design complexities, design modifications, and focus on producing previously ordered weapons meant that when the U.S. entered World War I in April 1917, Colt had not manufactured a single M1915.[27]

Production began in late 1917 with shipments to the Western Front in mid-1918. The first twelve divisions to reach France were given French Hotchkiss M1914 machine guns, and the next ten had M1915s. The next twelve divisions were to have Browning M1917 machine guns, but there was a shortage of parts. By August 1918, thirteen U.S. divisions were armed with the Colt–Vickers machine gun. 7,653 guns were issued during the war out of 12,125 produced in total. War damage losses reduced the number of M1915s in the U.S. inventory to about 8,000 total.[27]

After World War I, the Colt–Vickers machine guns were kept in reserve until World War II. Several hundred were sent to the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines, and were all eventually lost to enemy action. Seven thousand guns were sent to Britain under Lend-Lease to re-equip their forces after the Dunkirk evacuation, which depleted the weapon from the U.S. inventory before their entry into the war. Because the M1915 Colt–Vickers was not chambered for the standard British .303, it was painted to differentiate it and relegated to Home Guard use. After the end of the war, the British had enough domestic Vickers guns to retire the M1915 from the Home Guard, after which they were disposed of.[27]

Specifications

.303ammunition.jpeg
Rimmed, centrefire Mk 7 .303 inch cartridge from World War II. The type of ammunition is denoted by the colour of the annulus, the narrow ring shown here surrounding the percussion cap

The weight of the gun itself varied based on the gear attached, but was generally 25 to 30 pounds (11 to 14 kg) with a 40-to-50-pound (18 to 23 kg) tripod. The ammunition boxes for the 250-round ammunition belts weighed 22 pounds (10.0 kg) each. In addition, it required about 7.5 imperial pints (4.3 l) of water in its evaporative cooling system to prevent overheating. The heat of the barrel boiled the water in the jacket surrounding it. The resulting steam was taken off by a flexible tube to a condenser container—this had the dual benefits of avoiding giving away the gun's location, and also enabling re-use of the water, which was very important in arid environments.

In British service, the Vickers gun fired the standard .303 inch cartridges used in the Lee–Enfield rifle, which generally had to be hand-loaded into the cloth ammunition belts. There was also a 0.5 in calibre version used as an anti-aircraft weapon and various other calibres produced for foreign buyers.

The gun was 3 feet 8 inches (112 cm) long and its cyclic rate of fire was between 450 and 600 rounds per minute. In practice, it was expected that 10,000 rounds would be fired per hour, and that the barrel would be changed every hour—a two-minute job for a trained team. The Vickers gun could sustain fire for long durations of time exceeding the recommended 10,000 rounds an hour due to the water-cooled barrel and hourly barrel swaps. One account states a Vickers fired just under 5 million rounds in a week as a test in 1963 at Strensall Barracks and was still operable.[29] The muzzle velocity was 2,440 ft/s (744 m/s) ±40 feet per second (12 m/s) with Mark VII(z) ammunition and 2,525 ft/s (770 m/s) with Mark VIIIz ammunition. The Mark VIIIz cartridge, which had a boat-tailed spitzer 'steamlined' bullet, could be used against targets at a range of approximately 4,500 yd (4,115 m). The bullet jackets were generally made of an alloy of cupro-nickel, and gilding metal. Ammunition for the Vickers used colour-coded annuli. Tracer ammunition was marked with a red annulus; armouring-piercing ammunition a green annulus, and incendiary ammunition was marked with a blue annulus. Lastly, explosive ammunition was marked with an orange annulus before the Second World War and was changed to black.

Use

PrincessPatriciasCanadianLightInfantryTrainingMaximGunDec1942
Soldiers of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry firing a Vickers machine gun during a training exercise, Eastbourne, England, 3 December 1942

The gun and its tripod were carried separately and both were heavy. The Vickers Mk I was 30 lb (13.6 kg) without the water and tripod, and weighed 40 lb (18.1 kg) with the water. The original design did not anticipate it being carried up jungle-covered mountains on men's backs, but such was the weapon's popularity that men were generally content to pack it to all manner of difficult locations. The tripod would be set up to make a firm base, often dug into the ground a little and perhaps with the feet weighted down with sandbags. The water jacket would be filled with about four litres of water from a small hole at the rear end, sealed by a cap. The evaporative cooling system, though heavy, was very effective and enabled the gun to keep firing far longer than its air-cooled rival weapons. If water was unavailable, soldiers were known to resort to using their urine.[30] It was sometimes claimed that crews would fire off a few rounds simply to heat their gun's cooling water to make tea, despite the resulting brew tasting of machine-oil.[31]

The loader sat to the gunner's right, and fed in belts of cloth, into which the rounds had been placed. The weapon would draw in the belt from right to left, pull the next round out of the belt and into the chamber, fire it, then send the fired brass cartridge down and out of the receiver while the cloth belt would continue out the left side. During sustained fire, the barrel would heat up which heated the water in the jacket until hot enough for the water to evaporate or boil thereby cooling the barrel releasing the heat through steam. It took the Mk I 600 rounds of continuous fire to boil the water in the jacket, evaporating at a rate of 1.5 pints (0.852 L) per 1,000 rounds.[22] The steam would reach the top of the jacket and enter a steam tube which led to a port that was situated under the jacket near the muzzle. A hose was connected to this, which released the steam into a metal water can allowing it to be vented away from the rest of the gun hiding the steam cloud and the gun's position. This also allowed any condensate to be reclaimed from the steam. Before the can got too full, it would be emptied back into the jacket to replenish the water level which would have fallen as the water evaporated and boiled away. If the water jacket needed to be emptied, a plug under the jacket could be unscrewed to drain the entire jacket.

Vickers Clino R
Clinometer for Vickers .303 machine gun

The Vickers was used for indirect fire against enemy positions at ranges up to 4,500 yards (4,115 m) with Mark VIIIz ammunition.[32] This plunging fire was used to great effect against road junctions, trench systems, forming up points, and other locations that might be observed by a forward observer, or zeroed in at one time for future attacks, or guessed at by men using maps and experience. Sometimes a location might be zeroed in during the day, and then attacked at night, much to the surprise and confusion of the enemy. New Zealand units were especially fond of this use. A white disc would be set up on a pole near the MMG, and the gunner would aim at a mark on it, knowing that this corresponded to aiming at the distant target. There was a special back-sight with a tall extension on it for this purpose. The only similar weapon of the time to use indirect fire was the German MG 08, which had a separate attachment sight with range calculator.

A British, World War 2, Vickers medium machine gun platoon typically had one officer in command of four guns, in two sections of two, each with a crew and a small team of riflemen whose job was to protect the gun and keep it supplied with ammunition.

Users

Gallery of images

Vickers machine gun crew with gas masks

British Vickers gun team in action at the Battle of the Somme. Both are wearing gas masks.

Vickers machine gun crew with gas masks rear view

Rear view of Vickers gun team in action at the Battle of the Somme.

British Machine Gun LOC ggbain 24930

Vickers gun set up for anti-aircraft purposes during the First World War.

Vickers machine-gun of the 1st Manchester Regiment

Vickers machine-gun of the 1st Manchester Regiment in Malaya, 1941.

Vickers machine-guns fire in support of troops crossing the Maas-Schelde Canal

British Vickers gunners in action in the Netherlands during Operation Market Garden. All are wearing the Mk III Turtle helmet.

British commandos in the shattered outskirts of Wesel

British commandos on the outskirts of Wesel during Operation Plunder in 1945.

Vickersgun1

View of the breech of a Vickers gun showing brass feed ramp.

Vickersgun2

Dorsal view of a Vickers gun showing fluted water-cooling tank.

Vickers RAR Chipyong-ni

An Australian soldier manning a Vickers gun during the Korean War.

Ckm Vickers 1909

Vickers machine gun from Polish Army Museum's collection.

See also

Weapons of comparable role, performance and era

References

  • Pegler, Martin (20 May 2013). The Vickers-Maxim Machine Gun. Weapon 25. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 9781780963822.
  • Smith, Joseph E. (1969). Small Arms of the World (11 ed.). Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: The Stackpole Company.
  1. ^ Pegler 2013, p. 5.
  2. ^ Neeson, Eoin (22 August 2003). "So, once and for all, who did shoot Michael Collins?". The Irish Times.
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  6. ^ a b "Indochine 1945-1954: Le Viet-Minh". Militaria (in French). No. 180. Histoire & Collections. July 2000. p. 16.
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  8. ^ a b Byrne, Ciaran (27 July 2016). "The True Story of the Heroic Battle That Inspired the New Netflix Film The Siege of Jadotville". Time.com.
  9. ^ a b "WWII weapons in Yemen's civil war". wwiiafterwwii.wordpress.com. 9 September 2018.
  10. ^ [1] Archived 1 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Hogg, Ian V.; Batchelor, John (1976). Weapons & War Machines. London: Phoebus. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-7026-0008-1.
    "The Vickers gun accompanied the BEF to France in 1914, and in the years that followed, proved itself to be the most reliable weapon on the battlefield..."
  12. ^ Pegler 2013, p. 28.
  13. ^ Pegler 2013, p. 29.
  14. ^ Driver, Hugh (1997). The Birth of Military Aviation: Britain, 1903-1914. Boydell & Brewer Ltd. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-86193-234-4. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  15. ^ "Metal Belt Links For WW1 U.S. M1915 Vickers Aircraft Gun, Phosphate Finish". International Military Antiques. 2015. Archived from the original on 31 January 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
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  21. ^ Konstankiewicz, Andrzej (1986), Broń strzelecka Wojska Polskiego 1918-39, Warsaw ISBN 83-11-07266-3, p. 141 (in Polish)
  22. ^ a b c Fisher, Richard E. "The Vickers Machine Gun". Vickers Machine Gun Collection & Research Association. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  23. ^ a b di Difilippo, Max (2006). "Le mitragliatrici italiane della Grande Guerra" [Italian machine guns of the Great War]. Peaks and Trenches Historical Association (in Italian). Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  24. ^ a b Lohnstein, Marc (23 August 2018). Royal Netherlands East Indies Army 1936–42. Men-at-Arms 521. pp. 12, 21. ISBN 9781472833754.
  25. ^ a b c d e Steenkamp, Willem (2006) [1985]. Borderstrike! South Africa Into Angola 1975-1980 (Third ed.). Durban: Just Done Productions Publishing. pp. 52, 93. ISBN 978-1-920169-00-8.
  26. ^ a b Pegler 2013, p. 33.
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  29. ^ Goldsmith, Dolph L. (1994). The Grand Old Lady of No Man's Land. Collector Grade Publications. p. Part III, Chapter Seven, pp 188. ISBN 978-0889351479.
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  31. ^ Weeks, Alan (2009). Tea, rum & fags: sustaining Tommy, 1914-18. History Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-0752450001.
  32. ^ The Vickers Machine Gun Range Tables
  33. ^ Pegler 2013, pp. 48-49.
  34. ^ Smith 1969, p. 203.
  35. ^ Smith 1969, p. 212.
  36. ^ "British Empire/ Colonies and Protectorates" (PDF). Armaments year-book : general and statistical information. Series of League of Nations publications. IX, Disarmament. A.37.1924.IX. Geneva: League of Nations. 1924. p. 126.
  37. ^ League of Nations 1924, p. 156.
  38. ^ League of Nations 1924, p. 163.
  39. ^ League of Nations 1924, p. 173.
  40. ^ League of Nations 1924, p. 185.
  41. ^ League of Nations 1924, p. 196.
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  47. ^ "Other machineguns: 7,62 mm and 7,70 mm Vickers Machineguns".
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  52. ^ Smith 1969, p. 461.
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  57. ^ Smith 1969, p. 530.
  58. ^ "World Infantry Weapons: Sierra Leone". 2013. Archived from the original on 24 November 2016.
  59. ^ Capie, David (2004). Under the Gun: The Small Arms Challenge in the Pacific. Wellington: Victoria University Press. pp. 66–69. ISBN 978-0864734532.
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Further reading

  • Richardson, A. (1902). "Vickers, Sons and Maxim Limited: Their Works and Manufactures". Engineering. OCLC 457878220. (Plates showing the mechanism of the forerunner of the Vickers gun, the Vickers Maxim gun as well as numerous plates of the factories in which they and other arms were made.)

External links

Alcock Scout

The Alcock Scout, a.k.a. A.1 and Sopwith Mouse, was a curious "one-off" experimental fighter biplane flown briefly during World War I. It was assembled by Flight Lieutenant John Alcock at Moudros, a Royal Naval Air Service base in the Aegean Sea. Alcock took the forward fuselage and lower wings of a Sopwith Triplane, the upper wings of a Sopwith Pup and the tailplane and elevators of a Sopwith Camel, and married them to a rear fuselage and vertical tail surface of original design (presumably by Alcock himself). It was powered by a 110 hp Clerget 9Z engine, and carried a .303 Vickers machine gun.

Affectionally referred to as the 'Sopwith Mouse' by Alcock and his fellow designers, Alcock never flew it himself, but squadron-mate FSL Norman Starbuck made a few flights in it, the first on 15 October 1917. However, it crashed in early 1918, was written off and never flew again.

Audenis C2

The Audenis C2 was a two-seat fighter biplane, designed and built in France during 1916. Probably powered by a 130 hp (97 kW) Clerget 9B 9-cylinder rotary engine, the C2 had equal span single bay biplane wings with the lower mainplane set well below the fuse attached by the rear undercarriage sruts and a pair of struts at the leading edge. The undercarriage was of conventional tailskid configuration with the mainwheel axle attached to the fuselage by V-struts. Pilot and gunner were seated in individual cockpits with the pilot under the centre-section and the gunner aft of the wings, provided with a single fixed Vickers machine-gun fired by the pilot and a machine-gun on a ring in the rear cockpit. Development of the C2 did not continue after initial flight trials.

Ben Hardy (GC)

Benjamin Gower Hardy, GC (28 August 1898 – 5 August 1944), known as Ben Hardy, was an Australian soldier who was posthumously awarded the George Cross for the gallantry he showed when Japanese prisoners of war staged an escape on 5 August 1944 in Cowra, New South Wales.

Armed with improvised knives and bats the Japanese stormed the guard posts with what a military court of inquiry termed "a suicidal disregard of life." 231 prisoners were killed during the ensuing fighting and 108 wounded. All of the remaining escapees were recaptured within days. Hardy was killed in the outbreak, as was Private Ralph Jones, who was also awarded the George Cross. Private Charles Henry Shepherd was the third Australian victim of the fighting at the camp, while Lieutenant Harry Doncaster was ambushed and killed while recapturing the escapees.On the night of the breakout, Hardy was manning the Number 2 Vickers machine gun alongside Jones when they were overwhelmed by Japanese prisoners and killed. Before he was killed, Hardy disabled the gun by removing the firing bolt and throwing it away, thus rendering the gun useless to the escaping Japanese.

The court of inquiry found that the Australian soldiers had ceased fire as soon as they had reestablished control of the camp, and that many of the dead had either killed themselves or been killed by fellow prisoners, while many of the wounded had self-inflicted injuries.Hardy was born in Marrickville, Sydney in 1898. He enlisted in the Australian Army in September 1941 at the age of 43. He was considered too old for active service and was attached to the 7th Garrison Battalion where he was known as an expert on the Vickers machine gun. He was posted to the 22nd Garrison Battalion at Cowra on 12 February 1944.

Besa machine gun

The Besa machine gun was a British version of the Czechoslovak ZB-53 air-cooled, belt-fed machine gun (called the TK vz. 37 in the Czechoslovak army ).

The name came from the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA), who signed an agreement with Československá zbrojovka to manufacture the gun in the UK. The War Office ordered the weapon in 1938 and production began in 1939, after modifications.

It was used extensively by the armed forces of United Kingdom during the Second World War as a mounted machine gun for tanks and other armoured vehicles as a replacement for the heavier, water-cooled Vickers machine gun. Although it required a rather large opening in the tank's armour, it was reliable.

Blackburn Baffin

The Blackburn B-5 Baffin biplane torpedo bomber was a development of the Ripon, the chief change being that a 545 hp (406 kW) Bristol Pegasus I.MS radial replaced the Ripon's Napier Lion water-cooled inline engine.

The Baffin was designed by Major F A Bumpus to meet a Fleet Air Arm requirement as a conventional two-seat single-bay biplane of mixed metal and wooden construction with fabric covering. It had swept, staggered, equal-span wings, the lower having an inverse gull to provide clearance for the torpedo while retaining a short undercarriage. Armament comprised one fixed, forward-firing 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun and one free-mounted .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun in the rear cockpit, plus one 2,000 lb (910 kg) bomb, or 1,576 lb (716 kg) Mk VIII or Mk IX torpedo, or three 530 lb (240 kg) or six 250 lb (110 kg) bombs.

Closed bolt

A semi or full-automatic firearm which is said to fire from a closed bolt is one where, when ready to fire, a round is in the chamber and the bolt and working parts are forward. When the trigger is pulled, the firing pin or striker fires the round; the action is cycled by the energy of the shot, sending the bolt to the rear, which extracts and ejects the empty cartridge case; and the bolt goes forward, feeding a fresh round from the magazine into the chamber, ready for the next shot.

When World War I era machine guns were being tried for use on aircraft, the Lewis gun was found not to be usable with a gun synchronizer for forward firing through the propeller, due to its firing cycle starting with an open bolt. The Maxim style arms used by both the Allies, as the Vickers machine gun and Central Powers, as both the rectangular-receiver lMG 08 and lightened-receiver LMG 08/15 Spandau gun, and Parabellum LMG 14 gun—as well as the improvements introduced by Swedish armaments designer Carl Gustave Swebilius to the American M1895 Colt–Browning machine gun for aircraft use, creating the M1917 and M1918 Marlin-Rockwell machine guns for the USAAS in World War I—all fired with a cycle starting with a closed bolt, and since the bullet firing from the gun started the firing cycle, it was much easier to set the synchronizer to trigger the gun only when the propeller's blade was not directly in front of the gun's muzzle.

Cruiser Mk I

The Tank, Cruiser, Mk I (A9) was a British cruiser tank of the interwar period. It was the first cruiser tank: a fast tank designed to bypass the main enemy lines and engage the enemy's lines of communication, along with enemy tanks. The Cruiser Mk II was a more heavily armoured adaptation of the Mark I, developed at much the same time.

Cruiser Mk IV

The Cruiser Tank Mk IV (A13 Mk II) was a British cruiser tank of the Second World War. It followed directly on from the Tank, Cruiser, Mk III (A13 Mk I). The first Mk IVs were Mk IIIs with extra armour fitted to the turret. Later Mk IVAs were built with the complete extra armour. The tank was used in France in 1940 and in the early part of the war in North Africa, before being withdrawn from service. In total, 955 of these tanks were built.

Fairey Gordon

The Fairey Gordon was a British light bomber (2-seat day bomber) and utility aircraft of the 1930s.

The Gordon was a conventional two-bay fabric-covered metal biplane. It was powered by 525–605 horsepower (391–451 kW) variants of the Armstrong Siddeley Panther IIa engine. Armament was one fixed, forward-firing .303-inch (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun and a .303-inch (7.7 mm) Lewis Gun in the rear cockpit, plus 500 pounds (230 kg) of bombs. The aircraft was somewhat basic; instruments were airspeed indicator, altimeter, oil pressure gauge, tachometer, turn and bank indicator and compass.

Grigorovich M-5

Grigorovich M-5 (alternative designation Shch M-5, sometimes also Shchetinin M-5) was a successful Russian World War I-era two-bay unequal-span biplane flying boat with a single step hull, designed by Grigorovich. It was the first mass production flying boat built in Russia.

The aircraft designer Dmitry Pavlovich Grigorovich completed his first flying boat (the model M-1) in late 1913, and produced a series of prototypes, gradually improving the design, until the M-5 appeared in the spring of 1915, which was to be his first aircraft to enter series production, with at least 100 being produced, primarily to replace foreign built aircraft, including Curtiss Model K and FBA flying boats.The M-5 was of a wooden construction, the hull was covered in plywood and the wings and tailplane were covered in fabric. Aft of the step the hull tapered sharply into little more than a boom, supporting a characteristic single fin and rudder tail unit, which was braced by means of struts and wires. It was normally powered by a 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape engine mounted as a pusher between the wings, but some used 110 hp Le Rhône or 130 hp Clerget engines. The pilot and the observer were accommodated side-by-side in a large cockpit forward of the wings, the observer provided with a single 7.62 mm Vickers machine gun on a pivoted mounting.

Most of the M-5s served in the Black Sea or in the Baltic, initially with the Imperial Russian naval air arm and later with both sides in the Russian Civil War. Some remained in service until the late 1920s as trainers, reconnaissance and utility aircraft.One M-5 fell into Finnish hands when it was found drifting at Kuokkala in 1918. The aircraft was flown by the Finnish Air Force until 1919, when it sank. Only one example survives today in the Istanbul Aviation Museum in Turkey, preserved in Ottoman Air Force markings.

HMAS Narani

HMAS Narani was an auxiliary minesweeper operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) during World War II. Narani was requisitioned from the Illawarra & South Coast Steam Navigation Company as auxiliaries. The 381-ton vessel was armed with a 12-pounder 12cwt QF gun, a 20mm Oerlikon cannon, a .303-inch Vickers machine gun, and four Type D depth charges, and was commissioned into the RAN on 11 June 1941.

During the war, Narani, Uki, and Bermagui made up Group 77 Minesweeper, based at HMAS Maitland, in Newcastle, New South Wales.

Returned to her owners on 10 July 1946, she plied the coastal trade until 1951 when she was sold to New Guinea Borneo Mangrove Co., Port Moresby. She was broken up in 1954.

John Dwyer (soldier)

John James Dwyer, (9 March 1890 – 17 January 1962) was a politician and an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Elected to the Tasmanian House of Assembly in 1931 representing the Labor Party, Dwyer served as Deputy Premier of Tasmania from August 1958 to May 1959 and remained in office until his death.

When Dwyer was 27 years old he was a sergeant in the 4th Company, Australian Machine Gun Corps, Australian Imperial Force during the First World War. At that time, the following deed took place for which he was later awarded the VC.

On 26 September 1917 at Zonnebeke, Belgium, during the Battle of Polygon Wood, Sergeant Dwyer, in charge of a Vickers machine-gun during an advance, rushed his gun forward to within 30 yards of an enemy machine-gun, fired point blank at it and killed the crew. He then seized the gun and carried it back across shell-swept ground to the Australian front line. On the following day, when the position was being heavily shelled, and his Vickers gun was blown up, he took his team through the enemy barrage and fetched a reserve gun which he put into use in the shortest possible time.Dwyer later achieved the rank of lieutenant. His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Australian War Memorial.

Latécoère 15

The Latécoère 15 was a French airliner built in 1925 for use on Latécoère's own airline on routes between France and Morocco. It was a parasol-wing monoplane of conventional design, with twin engines mounted among the wing bracing struts, and small stub wings fitted to the lower fuselage as a mounting point for these struts and for the main undercarriage units. Six passengers could be carried in an enclosed cabin, and the pilot sat in an open cockpit in the nose.

The design was soon found to be seriously underpowered, unable to take off with the maximum load intended by the design, and unable to stay aloft on only one engine. Therefore, while Pierre-Georges Latécoère had intended for the aircraft to be used to extend the line's existing route to Casablanca over the desert to Dakar, the pilot assigned to fly it, Didier Daurat, flatly refused to do so. In the end, Daurat's view prevailed, and the ten Latécoère 15s were used on the Oran-Casablanca route and short feeder routes into Casablanca before being withdrawn from service between 1926 and 1929.

One of the aircraft was fitted with pontoons and trialled on a route between Alicante and Oran as the Latécoère 15H, but this was not deemed successful, and the aircraft was converted back.

The third prototype was built as a bomber, with a modified fuselage but otherwise unchanged. It was known as the Latécoère 19. It had a fixed Vickers machine gun in the nose, an open dorsal turret with a Lewis machine gun and another Lewis gun mounted to fire down through a ventral port. There were bomb racks in the place of the passenger cabin, as well as ventral hooks for other ordnance.

List of common World War II infantry weapons

This is a list of infantry weapons which were in mainstream use during World War II (1939–1945).

Macchi M.6

The Macchi M.6 was an Italian flying boat fighter prototype of 1917.

Maxim gun

The Maxim gun was a weapon invented by American-born British inventor Hiram Stevens Maxim in 1884: it was the first recoil-operated machine gun in production. It has been called "the weapon most associated with the British imperial conquest", and likewise was used in colonial wars by other countries between 1886 and 1914.

National Museum of Ratnapura

The National Museum of Ratnapura is one of the national museums of Sri Lanka. It is located in Ratnapura, Sri Lanka and it was opened on 13 May 1988. The museum building is called “Ehelepola Walauwa”, as it once belonged to Ehelepola Nilame, a courtier of the Kingdom of Kandy, who was the 1st Adigar (1811 - 1814) under the reign King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha, the last king of Sri Lanka, for whom he served as the Disawe (local Governor) of Ratnapura.The museum includes exhibits on prehistoric archaeological inventions, natural heritage, geological, anthropological, zoological artifacts and models relating to the Sabaragamuwa Province. The weaponry on display include Sinhala swords of the late medieval era including a sword alleged to have belonged to Ehelepola, and a collection of old guns including a Vickers machine gun used during the First World War. The cooking utensils of the region include a tripod pan with three moulds for preparing rice flour cakes known as kiri roti. Traditional Kandyan jewellery includes necklaces, bangles, anklets and earrings. The grounds of the museum contain a palaeobiodiversity park, with life-sized animal sculptures of species believed to have existed in the region.

Rhino Heavy Armoured Car

Car, Armoured, Heavy (Aust), also known as Rhino, was an armoured car designed in Australia during the Second World War. Due to enemy action and design problems the project never got beyond a prototype stage.

Vickers .50 machine gun

The Vickers .50 machine gun, also known as the 'Vickers .50' was similar to the .303 inches (7.70 mm) Vickers machine gun but enlarged to use a larger-calibre 0.5-inch (12.7 mm) round. It saw some use in tanks and other fighting vehicles but was more commonly used as a close-in anti-aircraft weapon on Royal Navy and Allied ships, typically in a four-gun mounting. The Vickers fired British .50 Vickers (12.7×81mm) ammunition, not the better known American .50 BMG (12.7×99mm).

Rifles
Side arms
Edged weapons
Machine guns
Hand grenades
Mortars
Grenade launchers
British Commonwealth small arms of World War II and Korea
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Machine-guns &
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