Machine guns on posts WWI - am I talking out of my bottom?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by gobbyidiot, Nov 12, 2007.

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  1. For years I've been saying that it couldn't be beyond the wit of man to have found a way to get a Vickers and half a ton of ammo up a twenty foot pole and within 100 feet of the front of the trench complex - maybe have it on a mobile bogey and raise it at the last minute. Have the troops crouch at first and crawl the last bit. Suppressive fire onto the target the whole way. It seems so obvious I can only assume they tried it and couldn't make it work, or, "Mad, mad, mad Blackadder. It simply won't do. Won't do at all"?
  2. Never heard of it, and certainly not in any of the manuals or notes that I have seen. There a few bizarre things that I have seen or heard of but not that one.

    Would have probably been mentioned in the war diaries somewhere is possible.

    I know that they did put pairs of Vickers K guns on the top of ladders mounted on the front of DUKWs and other landing craft as they went in to beaches in order to supress fire from cliff tops - similarly crazy!


  3. Probably three reasons why this was not seen as the way forward

    - first, control of the Vickers was centralised in the specialist machine gun battalions so as to make the most of their firepower rather than being used in penny packets

    - second, artillery was seen as the main source of fire support

    - third, the Lewis gun was a far more mobile weapon. Richard Holmes tells us that it was an essential component of the infantry in the last two years of the war, with up to eight guns per company
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  4. The Vickers was provided with an 'emergency mounting' that could be utilised for advances but, as Vasco says, this was really the role of the Lewis.
  5. A high value asset like a Vickers stuck up on a pole would have presented excellent target practice for the highly trained German snipers. It would have simply been 'filled full o'lead' in short order. Besides, it would also have made an excellent aiming marker for any mortar team in range!

    Besides which, the effect you describe can be achieved anyway by advancing under the 'first catch' of a normally sited machine gun (the space beyond is the 'beaten zone'). Fat lot of good it did them anyway when they got to the wire. :(
  6. I imagine my guns behind a thick bit of steel. They did use what amounted to indirect fire and have the troops advance under the first strike but velocity and accuracy goes to pot then. The Vickers (being water-cooled) could chatter on almost indefinitely. They (reportedly) fired one for three days in the sixties before running out of ammo. I reckon half a ton of ammo gives about 35-40 minutes of constant fire. I'd rather scurry forward with loads of guns blatting their front line than a creeping and probbaly woefully inaccurate arty bombardment.

    Wonder if anyone could put a chain gun on a telescopic pole on the top of a Humvee or something similar. Stick a camera on the same post and you have some seriously useful infantry support; a gun that can fire 360 degrees with troops on the ground around it, and with a partial view over many kinds of cover - if they can pay for Euroblunder they could pay for that.
  7. IIRC during WWII there was a project to mount multiple MG on an elevating platform, it was to be used for firing over obsticles like hedges etc. It was mounted on a universal carrier but I don't think it amounted to much.
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  8. You would have real stability problems mounting an MG on the end of a pole like that, not to mention trying to sort out the ammo feed. Also, what do you do about a stoppage..?

    Remember also that the Vickers is a blowback operated gun, and that any rearward movement of the mounting would tend to make the action misfeed (as happened with the .50 M2 on soft mounts recently).

    Can I suggest you are in the same league as anti mine boots and atomic hand grenades with this one mate. :)

    Back to the playpen...
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  9. My understanding is that they were reluctant to even train the New Armies in F&M, because they didn't think they could understand it. Hence the human waves behind artillery fire 'tactic'. Getting them to know when to crouch and when to crawl up to the objective would have been far too innovative.

    Plus everything HE117 said about actually getting the gun to work at the top of a GBFO stick.
  10. "Whats on the end of your stick, Vic?"

    Nice idea, but raising a half ton+ of metal on a pole 20ft up, aiming it via a 20ft periscope (i presume) and expecting the pole not to sink into the flanders mud at worst, or remain stable seems like a it might provide more keystone cops comedy value than watching officer cadets on command tasks.

    But hey, dont let us stop you trying it in your back garden, but remember to hose down the garden for weeks first to make it a quagmire.

    Ok, so maybe if we build a huge metal badger and fit vickers guns on both sides of its belly and push it slowly towards the enemy...?
  11. In "The Longest Day", Ryan recounts that the US Rangers used elevating "cherry-pickers" platforms borrowed from the London Fire Brigade to mount MGs for surpressing fire at Pont Du Hoc.

    Just as an aside
  12. You do realise we are talking about WW1? To refresh your memory that was 1914-1918 and spaceships were still in the head of HG Wells and far from reality. Much like you.
    Re. Your shield idea.
    Would probably be unfeasible on a flat dry field in exercise conditions to march a platoon forward in formation carrying shields study enough to stop German 7.92 MG bullets. Let alone staying in formation across a muddy swap in flanders.
    But, if you are game then come down to bisley with your metal shield, stand on top of the butts (or better, climb up a ladder from behind the butts to get into the spirit of things) and with it held in front of you and walk slowly towards the 100m point where I will be firing short burst from a GPMG at you. If you make it i'll give you a tenner to make it interesting.
    I feel a darwin award coming on.... :roll:

    Edited to add. a) wah b) please dont join the MOD
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  13. Never mentioned spaceships? Do you even read what you are writing or is the text that appears just the results of dribble hitting your keyboard randomly? I even took the time to highlight it for you. You said that if they could put spaceships into orbit they should have been able to make shield. I pointed out your scientific timeline was a little bit out....

    Dont go protecting the MOD? You muppet. I was asking you please not to join the MoD and infect them with even more lunatics than they aleady have. I hold absolutely no love for the MoD.

    Men with heavy iron shields with cork on was your little gem. Using WW1 technology. We are not talking about kevlar and advanced composites here. Some snipers did use basic body armour to protect against shrapnel while lying in no-mans land, but advancing to contact with shields into interlocking MG fire. Aint going to happen in WW1.

    Read, think, post. Remember the posting drills.

    But please dont think too hard. I'm glad you think you are a 'concerned historian' but please dont forget to take the happy pills and that star trek is on soon. Plenty of good ideas for WW1 there.
  14. I think putting a gun on the top of a post in the modern world could work - it could weigh (say) 50lb, or have an extended point of contact with the post - 7.62 recoil is not going to move that much, and if nobody has to carry it you can weight the end of the barrel, which dramatically deadens movement. Stoppages - a problem, but they mounted machine guns on the wings of fighters without anyone considering that this was an insurmountable problem. An electrically powered mechanism should solve that anyway.

    As to the WWI scenario - the trade off is height versus distance from the front. If you can come up 50-60 feet you can be 600m plus back away from the worst of he quagmire. A truck with a raised steel plate platform and 4 guns could have helped a lot. If you were using this as a shock tactic to achieve an offensive breakthrough it would have been worth the effort.

    There had to be something better than walking into a hail of unsuppressed fire.

    Having said that, I wonder if offensives tended to start where there was high ground fortuitously behind our lines, and I wonder if Herman did the same.
  15. Putting a sight on a pole - not a problem. Putting a vibrating weapon on top of a pole - tricky. Watch a flagpole waving in the wind, and that's just getting dragged about by wind pressure on a piece of cloth.

    Anyway, sights on a pole? The Swedes put a surveillance radar on a cherry-picker type arrangement (Ericsson GIRAFFE), and the British VERDI project put optics on a pole back in the early 1990s.

    Look at this page:

    There's a Warrior pictured in the section on "Human/Machine Interface" - there's a box visible above the turret which can be raised on a telescoping mount; optics and LRF/Designator IIRC.