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Vickers

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.303 calibre, water-cooled Medium Machine Gun. Used for several decades by the British Army amongst others, before being officially phased out in the 1960s, though some units still had these on strength until the mid 1970s.

The Vickers is one of the very few weapons that can give real sustained fire as the following documented story illustrates.


           5,000,000 Rounds in Seven Days and Seven Nights - to Prove a Point ?

Obsolete or not, there was strong attachment to the Vickers. Many felt, why get rid of something so good? As if to prove a point (and also to use up the Mk VII ammunition still in the inventory, which was no longer approved for Service use), the most exhaustive trial probably ever fired from a Vickers took place in 1963 at Strensall Barracks in Yorkshire, England. Five million rounds were fired from a single Vickers which was kept in constant use for seven days and seven nights.

British Army Sergeant T.R. Ashley was one of nine armourers involved. At the time he was in an 18-day Vickers course at Strensall Barracks. As related by Sgt Ashley to Warren Wheatfield of Sudbury, Ontario.

.. First day, gauging limits and setting the gun up. (We spent two days hand filing feathers [the square projection] on cross pins to close tolerances so guns and tripods could be assembled without play!) at the end of the day, the instructor told us to draw out one of the guns that we had been working on, [and] one of the lads pulled a gun out of the rack. We were told that this gun was to be fired for the remainder of the course, day and night.

The gun, stores spares, etc, were put onto an Austin Champ and driven onto the range. We mounted the gun onto a tripod in a gun pit. A 4-ton Bedford had been unloaded with ammo. There were stacks of ammo, after cans and barrels. (We had to pack all the rear groove with asbestos oiled string!) The 2 man crew was relieved every thirty minutes. A third body shovelled empty cases from under the gun with a malt shovel and threw the empty belts clear of the pit. We never heard the gun not firing in anything but the shortest time while the barrel was replaced (every hour). The gun fired 250-round belts without stopping: not in 20, 50 or whatever bursts, but straight through: we could hear it rattling away from the lecture room/workshop, and went to see it between work.

At the end the gunpit was surrounded by mountains of boxes, belts, cases, debris; a large cleft had appeared in the stop butts where the bullets had destroyed the butts. We took the gun off it's tripod and back to the workshop. We inspected and gauged. No measurable difference anywhere. It had eaten barrels, they were changed every hour to 1½ hours, but mechanically [the gun] was unchanged. It had consumed just under five million rounds of .303", non-stop (my notes were for Mk VII, not Mk VIIIz, so I presume zones etc were for Mk VII).

That episode was to show nine armourers the ability of the hallowed Vickers. Only after an excellent course result did my Staff Sergeant boss let me work on our battalion guns, which had smooth waterjackets..


Quoted verbatim from the first edition of "The Grand Old Lady of No Man's Land" by Dolph L. Goldsmith (Part III, Chapter Seven, pp 188)


More here: Vickers MMG

http://www.flickr.com/photos/barryslemmings/227646738/