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Best shot I ever made: I had reported to my last duty station, the USS Nitro AE23 and I had 10 months left on my 4-year active duty contract. I had made E4(GMG3) (I’m not in either of these. I used them so you’d get an idea of what it’s like. Both are at least 20 years later than my time in service 1977–1981 ship service ended January 1981. The MG in the top pic is an M240, possibly the “B” or "M240 Bravo " variant. Both pix are post-9-11) 8 months before i got to the boat so life for me was not too terrible. We were told that there was to be an “unrep” (underway replenishment) with several ships in a carrier group. this is in the North Atlantic. We’re doing about 5–7 knots and the ship we’re going to send munitions to pulls up alongside us and matches speed and heading. I hear my name called over the 1MC and they tell me to “lay to the armory” as I was to shoot the line throwing gun to the ship. I had always qualified expert with small arms so I was not too worried. I go to the armory and Posmotto gives me an M14, a line throwing attachment, a 20 round magazine, and 5 blank cartridges. Tells me Grif has the shot line and is waiting for me aft of the Hotel area Starboard side. I get there and the ship I’m going to shoot to is about 100 meters away. Both ships are rolling side to side and fore-aft, and winds were about 25 knots (15 knots if we were not heading into it.) I had never done this before. I ask Grif what is protocol and he gives me the skinny. Then he asked if I’d ever shot a line gun or grenade gun. Nope to both. He tells me: “You see the guy just forward of the Hotel area? Well, that’s the guy that you need to get the rubber projectile to.” I said OK. Then he says: “I’ll bet you 20 dollars you can't hit him.” I asked to see the cash, he pulls it out. I get the all clear and I fired that bad boy and literally put it into the baseball glove he was wearing! It was a thing of beauty, I tell ya. Grif pays up and after that day they always made me shoot the line whenever we sent to a vessel. Later on bets, I hit 3 other guys with the line gun. One was a Marine sleeping on a forklift on the helo deck of a “gator carrier.” I was supposed to put the projectile into the hangar bay, but the sleeping jarhead, directly above where the projectile was to go, was just too good to pass up. I knocked him off the forklift. Not because of the force, but the surprise. Soon as I hit him I heard them call me on the 1MC and they want me on the bridge. O.O.D. (officer of the deck) was pissed like you would not believe. He tells me that if I hit one more person deliberately he’s going to nail my ass to the mast and bust me down to E1. Of course, I plead ignorance and swore up and down it was an accident. “Gunner, You NEVER MISS!”
Based on what I know, I think for the MG-42: effectiveness and ammo consumption were 2 separate issues. Was the MG-42 effective? - Extremely, if operated by a skillful machine-gunner AND employed in the defense in concert with other MG-42s in a tactically intelligent manner. Was the MG-42 wasteful of ammunition? - Yes, it could be due to its high ROF. But with skillful control by a well-trained and experienced gunner, ammo consumption could be controlled to avoid wastage. I will explain both aspects of the weapon in the following section. (quite long so please bear with me) The MG 42 was unique in that it boasted an exceptionally high ROF: 1,200 - 1,500 RPM. The fact that it could only fire in automatic mode (semiautomatic was possible but it required extremely delicate control or by loading alternate links with cartridge. The second option required the gun’s charging handle to be pulled back after each round was fired.) meant that if used carelessly by an inexperienced or poorly trained gunner, it would consume a tremendous amount of ammunition in a short time span. The 1,800 rounds carried by a full squad could be burned through in little more than 10 or 15 minutes of intensive firing. In fact, this popular American military training video , although evidently disparaging of German weapons as inferior to American weapons, was right on one point that the MG-42 was wasteful of ammunition and essentially required additional soldiers in an MG squad to carry extra ammo. Even the most restrained MG-gunners found it difficult to completely avoid wasteful consumption of ammo and often found themselves often dangerously low on ammo, especially when facing some of the massed Soviet infantry assaults on the Eastern Front. One soldier recalled: Rather than simply attacking another section of the defensive rim, or retreating - as I believe any sane commander would do - the Russians continued to send countless troops to attack this one section of the line. They fired mortars into our rank, killing several paratroopers. German machine-gun crews were desperately screaming for ammunition as they continued mowing down groups of Russian infantrymen. They fired their MG 42s in one-second bursts, as they had been trained, but this was not enough to conserve their ammunition. The Russians were very numerous. Before discussing the effectiveness of the MG-42, I think a detailed discussion relating to the challenges of operating the MG-42 will help you appreciate what it took to become an MG-42 gunner. Challenges associated with the MG-42 gave rise to rigorous training to master the intricacies of the weapon. Rigorous training contributed to effective use of the weapon in combat. Being in charge of the MG-42 was a tremendous responsibility, both a curse and a blessing for the machine gunner. Weighing at 11.5 kg empty, carrying an MG-42 was a considerable strain on the machine gunner. Besides the MG, an MG team had to carry a Lafette tripod which weighed 20 kg without fixing the gun on it. There were other tools to be maintained; the ammunition cans (patronenkasten) each weighing 13kg, Gurtfuller 34 or Gurtfuller 41 belt-filling machines, 2-kg spare barrels plus the barrel container, gun optics, bolts, recoil springs. etc… The weapon’s high ROF, heavy recoil, excessive muzzle flash, etc… added more challenges to the use of the weapon. Apart from the physical strain of carrying an MG-42 and its accessories, heavy emphasis was placed on the weapon’s regular maintenance to ensure proper functioning. The last thing a German squad wanted to happen was to see their MG jammed at the critical moments which could be fatal for them. In fact, maintaining an MG-42 was such an essential task of an MG team, that the German Army issued the 12 Commandments of the machine gunners as follows: As a consequence of all of physical and technical challenges, an MG-42 gunner couldn’t be just anyone. Ideally, MG-42 gunners had to be those with superb visions, right-handed, strong and well-built. Not only that, he had to be highly competent and technically-minded, endowed with the physical and technical aptitude to operate the MG-42 effectively. Soldiers chosen to handle the Einheitsmaschinengewehr (unit MG) were subjected to a very comprehensive and rigorous training program divided into 2 phases. Phase 1 revolved around the use of MG-42 in their bipod-mounted LMG configuration and consisted of 21 separate lessons. The recruits would learn how the weapon worked, how to maintain it, change barrels, clear stoppages, reload, and take part in firing exercises. In the final lesson, the recruits would engage in tactical exercises involving the weapon. As a side note, the fast barrel-changing mechanism of the MG-42 was one of the genius features of the weapon. A well-trained crew could change a barrel in 4–7 seconds, resulting in only a brief drop in squad firepower in combat. Phase 2 consisted of 16 lessons in employing the MG-42 in HMG role on the Lafette tripod mount. The recruits would have to master how to set up the weapon on the Lafette, how to use the MG Z optical sight, and the tactics of sustained and indirect fire. In addition, they would learn how to fire the weapon when mounted on the Zwillingsockel twin mount or the Fliegerdrehstuze 36 vehicle pedestal mount. One particularly important aspect of the training program was how to fire the MG-42 properly in various positions and mounts. Apart from the standard firing positions, training featured firing in an assault position = firing from the hip which required great upper-body strength and delicate trigger control. An alternative firing position was firing over the shoulder of a willing comrade. This was often the last resort. Only for the exceptionally brave and in exceptional situations. Firing over the shoulder of another soldier like this subjected the man at the front to deafening noise, strong blast and dazzling muzzle flash. The MG-42’s high ROF produced excessive recoil in lengthy burst of fire on bipod mount. If not controlled tightly, the gun would wander off the target. The muzzle blast would kick up dust cloud that reduced visibility. The muzzle flash could be dazzling in low-light or night-time conditions. To effectively fire the MG-42, special emphasis was placed on making the correct grip on the weapon. The German LMG training manual stated The results of the fire will largely depend upon how the machine gun is being held by the machine-gunner. The bipod, elbows and shoulders are the support for the machine gun and they may equal the mount for a heavy machine gun if utilized correctly. Good results may be achieved by digging the points of the boots into the ground for added support... In a normal prone position, the machine-gunner’s body must lie directly behind the weapon. The bipod, shoulders and elbows must work together and support the machine gun equally. The weight of the body should press lightly against the bipod. The manual described the problems of incorrect grip. Held too loosely and the rounds would frequently strike the area between the MG position and the target. Too much forward pressure against the bipod, or the misalignment of the gunner’s body with the axis of the gun, and the muzzle would stray up and to the right or left. In addition to correct gripping, firing carefully controlled bursts of fire was crucial for optimal results. Interestingly, the specifics of firing effective controlled bursts can be found in a US army report in January 1944 which stated the following: It would appear, in any case, that a high degree of skill and training are required to obtain the best results from the MG-42… a. When Used As a Light Machine Gun Trials under battle conditions have shown that the best results are obtained from bursts of 5 to 7 rounds, as it is not possible to keep the gun on the target for a longer period. The destruction of the target is therefore accomplished with bursts of 5 to 7 rounds, the point of aim being continually checked. It is of course important that re-aiming should be carried out rapidly, so that the bursts follow one another in quick succession. Under battle conditions the firer can get off approximately 22 bursts in a minute, or approximately 154 rounds. Comparative trials under the same conditions with the MG-34 showed that the best results in this case were obtained with 15 bursts in the minute, each of 7 to 10 rounds, i.e. approximately 150 rounds. It will be seen from this that the ammunition expenditure of the MG-42 is a little higher than with the MG-34, but to balance this, the results on the target with the MG-42 are increased up to approximately 40%. (US Army 1944a) The results of the American testing are useful. One key takeaway is that the cyclical rate of an MG dictates the rate of fire in practice. In the American opinion, the fast-firing MG-42 required controlled bursts of 5–7 rounds to be most effective, while for the MG-34 with a lower ROF, the optimal was 7–10 rounds per burst. Another takeaway is that the report acknowledged that firing the MG-42 required extra skill and control not required in other MGs. Indeed, there were several first-hand accounts that attested to the challenges of firing the MG-42 even by experienced German soldiers. One such account is from the book The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajer. The setting was a battle around Belgorod in the summer of 1943. Sajer served as an MG-42 gunner. As the Germans were prepared to mount an attack, Sajer tried to control his nerve in a position only about 100-m from the advanced Soviet trench: Suddenly I began to shake uncontrollably [...] I tried shifting my weight, but nothing did any good. I managed to open the magazine [the top cover] and nervously slipped the first belt into the breech of the gun, which the veteran held open for me, and left partly open, to prevent the sound of its clicking shut. Hals had just opened fire. The veteran slammed our gun shut and fitted it into the hollow of his shoulder. ‘Fire!’ shouted the noncom. ‘Wipe them out!’ The Russians ran to take their places. The string of 7.7 [sic] cartridges slid through our hands with brutal rapidity, while the noise of the gun burst against our eardrums. I could see what was happening only with the greatest difficulty. The spandau was shuddering and jumping on its legs, and shaking the veteran, who kept trying to steady himself. Its percussive bark put a final touch on the vast din which had broken out. Through the vibrations and smoke, we were able to observe the horrible impact of our projectiles. You see, these men were veteran soldiers, and even they had to strain to keep the weapon on target. It would have been more difficult for an inexperienced gunner. After successful completion of the training program, the recruits qualified as MG-42 gunners. They would go into combat to apply their skills, gain combat experience and become invaluable members of their units whose success and survival depended on their skillful operation of the weapon. MG-42’s squad in combat The MG-34/42 was the core of German infantry organization, right down to the Gruppe (squad) level. The basic German wartime squad comprised 10 men, armed and equipped as follows: With its high ROF, the MG-42 could deliver a volume of firepower equivalent to 20 riflemen. Support fire was generated by a battalion’s heavy MG platoon which consisted of 4 tripod-mounted MG. Each of these MG was manned by 6 men: an MG leader, primary MG gunner, assistant MG gunner, and 3 ammunition men. The 3 ammunition men carried 1,800 rounds of ammunition and 2 spare barrels. The role of the German squad MG was simple - provide a powerful base of fire in either offensive or defensive situations. A key German squad battlefield formation during WW2 was the Reihe: In this formation, squad members fell into a fluid single-file formation with the squad leader at the front, the MG gunner in the 2nd position, the assistant gunner the 3rd position, and riflemen followed them behind. The assistant squad leader would be position at the end of the line. As soon as the squad came under hostile fire, or spotted an enemy position to be engaged, the MG gunner would immediately take up an optimal firing position and start unleashing heavy suppressive fire by firing short and accurate bursts. The assistant gunner would stay by his side to help load ammunition and change barrel. Meanwhile, the rest of the squad would fan out to the left and right of the MG, creating the Schützenkette (skirmish line). One critical factor was maintaining a reasonable distance between each man - about 5 paces. The distance mattered because the MG, once identified by the enemy, would receive the lion’s share of retaliatory fire. This problem could be mitigated by firing short disciplined bursts rather than long bursts and by moving to various positions of cover regularly which would partly hide the MG-gunner. A single German squad would create a defensive sector about 40-m of front. When used in an LMG mode, the 2-man MG-42 team would occupy a Schützenloch für leichte maschinengewehr (two-man light MG position). In ideal form, this position was a curved trench about 1.6 m long plus 2 shorter Panzerdeckungsloch (armor protection trenches) in which the occupants could squat down if their position was overrun by tanks. Multiple such positions would be dug in a well-constructed squad defense to give the MG team the option of shifting to more advantageous positions, or abandoning ones that would be overrun. Enough about squad tactic. Let’s talk about how the MG-42s and their operators performed in combat using reports from both the Allies and the German Army. The Germans proved themselves masters of using the MG-34/42 in urban defense. Several guns would be positioned around a town square or important street section, carefully sited to lure Allied troops into a kill zone from which escape was uncertain and difficult once the trap was sprung. Barricades of rubble, created by explosives to collapse buildings across streets would be covered by individual MGs, and the weapons would be positioned at various floor levels in buildings to give multi-directional and multi-dimensional angles of fire that further confounded Allied troops and increased Allies’ casualties. A convincing example of how the Germans used their MG-34/42 in urban defense could be found in a US Intelligence Bulletin dated July 1944. In particular, a 5th Army’s report meticulously described how the Germans defended 2 houses on the road to Carano, Italy with just 2 platoons. Let’s read the Germans’ skillful defense of one of the houses, referred to as house ‘A’, using MGs: In the case of house A, it was observed that all the machine guns (345) were emplaced in the house itself or in its outbuildings. Machine gun No. 1 was fired from a table in the ruins of what had been a room; the gun’s direction of fire was through a hole in the main wall and then through the archway of a cowshed. By emplacing the machine gun in this manner, the Germans concealed its muzzle flash from all directions except to the front, and even from that direction it was not conspicuous. The gunner was well protected from small-arms fire and grenades, and was not exposed when he moved to his alternate (1a) position. From position 1a, the gunner was able to cover an additional area to the front and also to protect the flank of the strong point against any attack from the road. Three Mauser rifles loaded with antitank grenades were found leaning against the wall to the left of the doorway. Machine gun No. 2 was in position inside the same room, and was sited so that it could be fired through a window facing the stream. It is interesting to note that when our forces secured the south side of the building and attempted to toss grenades through the window at machine gun No. 2, the German gunner ricocheted bullets off the wall (W) in an effort to forestall the grenade fire. Machine gun No. 3 was sited in a corner of an adjoining room, where the walls were still standing. This gun was so sited that its plane of fire was close to the ground; during the course of the action, the gun delivered continuous fire, angle high, toward the stream and, alternately, to the south. The walls afforded protection from the south and west. The siting of machine gun No. 4 shows how the enemy utilizes the characteristic Italian outdoor oven as a machine-gun emplacement. By siting his weapon in the part of the oven normally used for storing wood, the gunner protects himself against small-arms fire from the flanks and rear, and enjoys a certain amount of overhead protection against artillery fire. During the action, the No. 4 gun delivered grazing fire ankle high. (Hand grenades and rifle grenades wounded the two-man crew of this gun, and destroyed the gun itself.) (US Army 1944b) As you can see, the placement of the MGs demonstrated intelligence and skills on the part of the German defenders. Everything from the concealment of the muzzle flash to the height of the fire is considered. Most importantly, the guns together formed a mutually supporting tactical entity. The Germans also proved adept at using indirect fire tactic learned in their training. This was done in HMG mode on tripod using optical sights. It was a complicated task requiring highly technical understanding of the sight’s traverse and elevation settings and their relation to various range tables and ancillary range-calculating equipment. Training and practice made this easier to perform. German gunners were noted for their ability to use a group of tripod-mounted MGs to saturate a target area from distance. With about 13 MGs in its complement, a German infantry company could unleash well over 2,000 rounds every minute against enemy formations. The tactic was deadly. Allied troops in the attack were particularly vulnerable to this tactic. The first they would know of the enemy MGs would be the crack of rounds splitting the air, observed bullet impacts and soldiers dropping to the ground, dead or wounded. Numerous Allies’ reports from the advance across Normandy and France in 1944 attested to getting caught in German MG-crossfire, with entire battalions and even divisions unable to advance against withering fire while suffer heavy losses. One report noted that during an attack on a German position: the Germans had at least 2 platoons with 2 MGs each, with at least 3 in our sector. We keep going forward and we keep losing people. They just decimated us. Also, don’t forget how MG-42 claimed the lives of thousands of American soldiers on the beach of Omaha June 6th 1944. German paratroopers firing their MG-42 in the rubble of Monte Cassino. Well-entrenched, the German defenders inflicted heavy casualties on the attacking Allied troops. Apart from the massive firepower the MG-42 unleashed, it also had a devastating psychological effect on the enemies. Nicknamed Spandaus by the Allies, Allied troops were terrified by the sound of the weapon which resembled the sound of linoleum ripping or a buzzsaw. The MG-42’s coupled with its lethal effect on the target earned it a variety of epithets such a Hitlersäge (Hitler’s saw), Die Schnellespritze (the fast sprayer), knochensäge (Bone saw), Linoleum Ripper. An account of Canadian soldier in the 5th armored division attested to the psychological impact of the MG-42: From beyond the embankment came the steady rattle of small arms, mostly the enemy’s. It was easy to identify them. Brens could push out a maximum 540 rounds per minute, while the MG 34 delivered eight to nine hundred, [the MG] 42 could spit out twelve hundred. Someone somewhere on the battlefield came up with the term ‘rubber gun’ for the Jerry MGs - not an apt name, but nonetheless that’s what we came to know them [sic] until the more descriptive term ‘cheese cutter’ took over. By whatever name we called it, the Jerry machine-gun was a weapon to be feared. (Scislowski 1997: 123-24) So fearsome was the weapon that the US army produced a famous training film designed to allay American GIs’ fear should they face this weapon in combat, The training film compares German automatic weapons vis-a-vis American automatic weapons to demonstrate how accurate and efficient in ammo use American MG were compared to their German weapons: The most famous line in the video was: “Its bark is worse than its bite”. Apart from being mendacious and deliberately disparaging of German automatic weapons (the only truth was that the MG-42 could be wasteful of ammo only if used carelessly) designed to allay the fear of Allied soldiers facing the MG-42, the video conveniently omitted one important thing: how the German actually used their MG-42s in mutually supporting positions, an omission that would prove to be a nasty surprise to Allied soldiers in combat and caused them to incur heavy casualties. German MG teams were tactically intelligent units who knew how to employ the MG-42’s high ROF to good effect. This was testified by Lieutenant Sydney Jary of 4th Battalion, The Somerset Light Infantry, fighting in Normandy in 1944: The forward platoon had barely crossed the stream when concentrated Spandau fire came from the front and both flanks. There must have been about twelve machine guns firing at one time. This devastating firepower stopped the battalion dead in its tracks. There was no way forward or around it and no way to retire. Tom Renouf, serving with 5lst Highland Division in 1944- 45, witnessed the grim effects of ‘Spandau’ impacts at first hand: Meanwhile, our platoon secured some high ground further forward, where we came under heavy Spandau fire. A bullet hit our corporal, Sam Clarke from Elphinstone, near Ormiston, in the leg, severing an artery. He died shortly afterwards… This was my first experience of direct Spandau fire. All you heard was a short burst and then people were falling. The Allies’ methods of countering MG-42s could be extremely expensive. Many combat reports of the North-West Europe campaign spoke not only of the terror and casualties that the German MGs could inflict on Allied troops, but also the overwhelming firepower that tended to engulf those guns once they could be targeted. Increasingly, German infantry companies would stay in place long enough to hit advancing Allied troops hard with crossfire, but then retreat when the firepower directed at them became overwhelming. General Heinrich von Luttwitz, the commander of XLVII Panzer Corps, observed that: The incredibly heavy artillery and mortar fire of the enemy is something new, both for the seasoned veterans of the Eastern Front and the new arrivals from reinforcement units. The average rate of fire on the divisional sector is four thousand artillery rounds and five thousand mortar rounds per day. This is multiplied many times before an enemy attack, however small. For instance, on one occasion when the British made an attack on a sector of only 2 companies they expended 3,500 rounds in 2 hours. The Allies were waging war regardless of expense. Hopefully from the preceding presentation, you can appreciate just how deadly the MG-42s were when: used by well-trained and experienced soldiers deployed in mutually supporting tactic with interlocking fire All in all, the MG 42 and to a lesser extent the MG-34 were true force multipliers enabling a small number of soldiers to put down a massive volume of fire that couldn’t have been achieved by dozens of riflemen. Both MGs were capable of inflicting heavy casualties and of forcing large units to a standstill. Without weapons of this capability and flexibility, it was likely that Allied infantry in Europe would have been able to advance much faster and without much casualties. The MG-42 in particular was a masterpiece at both technical and tactical levels. With its proven fearsome capability to suppress enemy infantry and kill in mass in the hand of highly trained and experienced operators. the MG-42 was regarded with both fear and a grudging respect by all those who faced it, as exemplified by Polish resistance fighter Marian S. Mazgai: A unit from the Jedrus company pushed toward the end of the road that went in the direction of Momocicha, but when it reached the top of the elevation that divided it from the enemy, the German machine-gun fire, from a nearby windmill, forced it to hit the ground. I will never forget that heavy German machine-gun fire that almost cost me my life. When the Germans fired at our unit from the windmill as well as from its vicinity, we responded with our fire. I happened to fire a German-made machine gun MG 42 from a fine position. At the same time, I was doing everything possible to discover the German position from which the enemy was firing at us with the same kind of machine guns, MG 42s. According to my humble estimation, model MG 42 was the best machine gun used in World War II. (Mazgai 2008: 211) The MG-42 proved to be so versatile, effective and successful that it formed the basis for multiple derivatives that see service with many armed forces in the present day, including the German army which employs the MG-3. The MG-3 is manufactured under license by other countries and assigned different designations by the military the uses it. I will conclude this answer with a description of what it was like to be an MG-42 gunner. Being an MG-42 gunner was both a curse and blessing and was an onerous job. The gunner was entrusted with an extremely deadly weapons on which the success and survival of his unit literally depended. It was a tremendous responsibility. He had to maintain the weapon ceaselessly to ensure its proper functioning. The physical strains were severe. The relatively heavy weight of the gun, its tripod, its ammunition cans and other accessories an MG-team had to carry could easily weary the men, esp in long and intense combat: Exhausted German infantrymen taking a nap on the Eastern front. Grenades and MG and ammunition boxes could be seen on the round. MG-gunners faced considerable danger because the enemy would try to destroy the MG once it was spotted by returning MG-fire, snipers, mortars or heavy artillery strike. In the HMG role, the gunner was particularly vulnerable because using optical sights meant that the gunner had to position his eye above the line of the mount (shown below),the result being he ran the risk of being shot by snipers or counter MG fire. This danger could be mitigated by using the periscope attachment (shown below) which enabled the gunner to see the view in front of the gun while positioned safely behind cover. Like captured snipers, captured MG-gunners often faced summary execution, particularly so if they had inflicted heavy casualties prior to capture. The fate of many German machine gunners: a fallen MG-gunner in Holland. In the end, despite the skills, courage and resilience of the German soldiers and a wide range of technologically excellent weapons produced by Germany, including the MG-34/42, they were not enough to stop the Allies using sheer and crushing weight of firepower to overcome the Germans. Defeat of the Third Reich was inevitable. Reference(s) 1/ MG-34 and MG-42 machine guns - Chris McNab
You’re talking about the little barrel next to the big barrel! The coaxial M240 on the Abrams is an amazing weapon system. It is *hands down* the most accurate M240 in the Marine Corps, and one of the most precise weapons overall. Why? Well let’s look at the guts: Notice first that the coaxial barrel is slaved to the main gun. This means that the coaxial gun uses the same hydraulics and mechanics to elevate/depress/traverse as the main gun. If you’ve been studying your AFVID, you know that the main gun on the M1A1 and M1A2 has a max range of 4,000 meters. Unfortunately the M240’s 7.62 doesn’t have enough oomph to make it out that far; it has a max range of 1300m. It’s bullets will go farther than that, but the spread becomes very wide and employment at such ranges is not doctrinal. 1300m is still really far though (almost a mile). Definitely far enough when thinking about engaging point targets, like enemy troops. The tank’s computer uses environmental and target data to create a ballistics solution and then super-elevates the gun. This means if you want to shoot at the enemy, and he is 1000m away, then the gun will add a ton of elevation (point the M240 up higher), but keep the gunner’s sight trained on the target. Additionally, the tank will account for crosswind, barometric pressure, air temperature, and even the tank’s cant (if it is sitting diagonally on a hill). If the target is moving, the gunner simply has to track with the target and lase, and the computer will even add an appropriate amount of lead. Super-Elevation (pretend the boat is a tank). LOS means line of sight. Just like any other weapon system, the heat of the weapon, vibrations, expansion and contracting of metals will change how accurate the weapon is, however. The crew will regularly zero and verify that their weapons are shooting straight. The last really cool part about the coaxial machine gun is all the ammo. Normal machine gun crews using crew-served weapons, will use 5–7 round bursts. This is done to preserve ammunition and increase barrel life. This is not how to tank, though. Tanks train for 20–30 round bursts. They also carry extra barrels inside the tank to swap out when the barrel gets too hot. When you use man-bursts of 20–30 rounds, the gunner will actually be able to see the impacts of his rounds and actively adjust his point of aim to walk them onto the target. In the top left you can see the box that says, “coax ready ammo”. It holds a lot of ammo. There is a chute that feeds the M240s appetites across the top of the gun, just forward of the main gun’s breach (black part). You can link up about 2,000 rounds at a time for the coaxial machine gun, so there is plenty of love to go around. Additionally you can carry another 8,000 rounds inside the tank and basically infinite ammo on top of the tank. If the gun malfunctions, then the gunner will immediately perform immediate actions to get the weapon back in the fight. Notice how close the M240 is to the gunner. They come with a metal cord attached to the action to clear stoppages. The last thing to mention is that the M240 in the tank is properly ventilated to pull the majority of the gasses from firing the weapon out of the crew compartment.
Lieutenant Audie L. Murphy was a 5'2'' American soldier in WW2. His first kill in combat was shooting two retreating Italian officers on horseback. When his best friend peeked out of a foxhole to accept a German prisoner at Anzio and was shot by a sniper, Murphy shot the soldier, the sniper, killed a 3 man machine gun crew harassing his unit and went on a rampage like Rambo killing 5 more with his captured German MG. During the Ardennes offense, he came under attack by 200 Germans supported by 4 tanks. Mind you, his company had been reduced to only 21 men and a couple tank destroyers, which were quickly destroyed. He ordered his 20 men to retreat to the tree line while he jumped on top of a burning tank destroyer with his M1 Carbine and a radio. He used his radio to call in accurate mortar fire on the Germans while he used the TD's .50 Caliber machine gun. He was shot in the hip and continued to fire his carbine when the MG ran dry. He even killed a small team that was able to stealthily move within 25 meters of his position. When he used all his carbine ammo he called in a mortar strike on his position and he limped away as the TD blew up in the background, Iron Man style.
I have 2 stories to share: 1/ An extraordinary coincidence: German and British paratroopers landed at exactly the same location at almost the same time On July 13 1943, at several airfields in the vicinity of Rome, 1,817 tough young German paratroopers were strapping on harnesses as they prepared to board scores of black transport planes. It was the 4th day since Anglo-American armies landed in Axis-held Sicily, the stepping stone to the liberation of Italy. These paratroopers of the elite 1st Parachute Division wore their distinctive round steel helmets with cushioned lining designed to absorb heavy blows on landing. Before embarking the planes, they performed last-minute inspections of their MP-40, MG-42 machine guns, and Mauser 98k. These young men waited anxiously for the order to board the Ju-52s. The atmosphere was eerily quiet with little or no talk among the soldiers. The objective of the German parachute force was to drop behind the lines of Colonel Wilhelm Schmalz ’s armored group which was dug in along the Simeto River on the east coast of Sicily. To accomplish this, once their feet were on the ground, the paratroopers would have to obstruct the northward drive of General Bernard Montgomery’s British Eighth Army toward the key port of Messina. In addition, they were to reinforce Colonel Schmalz’s already formidable defensive line at the southern edge of the Catania plain. But just as the German paratroopers were taking off, some 600 miles to the southwest in Tunisia, troop-transport airplanes full of grim-faced British paratroopers (nicknamed the Red Devils) of the British Parachute Brigade under the command of Brigadier Gerald Lathbury, were also heading toward the east coast of Sicily. In other words, they had the same destination as their German counterparts. Unbeknownst to both the British and German soldiers, one of the strangest phenomena of the war-or any war was about to unfold. A force of German paratroopers, flying from Rome, and a brigade of British parachutists, taking off from Tunisia, unknown to each other, were bound for landing on the identical drop zone in Sicily, and at the identical time!!!! It would go down in history as a coincidence of the epic proportion. Darkness was descending over Sicily when elements of the German 1st Parachute Division, which had departed from from Rome two hours previously, jumped over a drop zone behind the lines of Wilhelm Schmalz’s armored battle group. There was the customary confusion of a night drop, and the calm summer air was interrupted by the voices of commanders issuing orders. A swift assembly was vital as according to the plan, the paratroopers were expected to arrive at the front line by dawn. While trying to recover from their hard jumps and reassemble their units in darkness, the German paratroopers heard the oncoming noise of a large number of aircraft. Peering upward, they were surprised to see scores of white parachutes billowing under the dark silhouettes of transports. Those were the British Red Devil paratroopers. They were jumping almost over the heads of the German parachutists who were in the process of regrouping. Confusion intensified and spread among the Germans by the unexpected appearance of additional parachutists falling toward the ground. Because of the possibility of unexpected reinforcements, the Germans on the ground refrained from opening fire on the descending paratroopers to avoid friendly casualties. As soon as the Red Devils landed, they were just as confounded by the presence of the unidentified soldiers on the ground. A chaotic and confused fire-fight erupted as both sides tried to identify each other and realized the other side was the enemy. Adding more to the confusion were the virtually identical steel helmets worn by the German and British paratroopers, which made it almost impossible to distinguish friends from enemy. You can see this from the pictures below: German paratroopers with their distinctive helmet British paratrooper. Note his helmet and see how similar it was to the German helmet Flashes of white and red tracers laced the sky, and the sharp explosions of hand grenades punctuated the chaotic firefight. Here and there two shadowy figures grappled to the death in the darkness, with the fight ending with loud grunts as a knife found its mark in a neck or stomach. One British paratrooper was moving cautiously across a field with a sten gun in hand ready to fire at the moment the enemy was identified. Alongside him was another man whom he assumed to be his comrade. He was glad to have a companion by his side. This ended when, curious as to the whereabout of his unit, the British was about to speak when the man next to him asked, in German, Hast du meinen Schmeisser gesehen? (Have you seen my machine pistol (MP-40)?) That was when he was startled to realize that he had been walking along with an enemy soldier. He quickly turned aside and fired his Sten at the German which finished him off. By dawn, the confusion subsided and both sides managed to untangle themselves, regrouped, and marched off on their respective missions. Both sides were puzzled as to how their respective commanders had chosen the same location and at almost the same time for their airborne drops. It was a mystery that may remain unresolved indefinitely. Sources: 1/ British Air Ministry, By Air to Battle, page 117–19 2/ Unexplained Mysteries of WW2 2/ The only confirmed sinking of a submerged submarine in the war Modern day submarine technologies enable a submarine to kill an opposing submarine without visual sighting. But back in WW2, the technologies were not sophisticated enough to allow a submerged submarine to attack another hostile submerged submarine. Despite this, a British submarine would go down in history making the first and only confirmed underwater kill of a German submarine in WW2. Welcome to the Hunt for U-864 U-864 was a type IX ocean-going U-boat of the Kriegsmarine. It was large and its fuel capacity enabled it to travel longer distance than the smaller and more agile type VII U-boat. In 1944, U-864 was chosen to carry out Operation Caesar bound for Japan. The U-boat was to transport a large amount of German technical equipment, military technology, as well as mercury (stored under the U-boat’s keel) for Japanese armament production. The most valuable cargo of all were German jet engines which would be used by the Japanese to build their own jet-powered high-altitude interceptors to shoot down high-flying B-29 bombers that had been raining down destruction and deaths over the Home Islands. U-864 also carried human cargo: German and Japanese engineers and technical specialists. The voyage for U-864 had a bad start. Shortly after departing, the U-boat ran aground and had to move to a U-boat base for repair. U-864’s captain sent a coded message informing that his U-boat would move to the U-boat base in Bergen, Norway. Unbeknownst to the Germans, thanks to British code breakers that the veil of secrecy surrounding operation Caesar was lifted. The British were fully aware of the objective of the operation, its cargo, and even the names of the German and Japanese engineers and specialists. Recognizing the value of the cargo and the danger it would pose to the Allies in the Pacific, particular the Americans, the British decided to interdict U-864. They dispatched Lancaster bombers to Bergen which heavily damaged the U-boat base there. The damage necessitated extending the stay of U-864 in Bergen. After repair was completed, U-864 resumed its voyage. But bad luck struck again as the U-boat developed engine problem which compelled the skipper to return to Norway for repair once again. Unbeknownst to the Germans, this was the start of the confrontation between HMS Venturer (P68) and U-864 that would ended in the sinking of the latter. From the British submarine base in Lerwick, Shetland off the coast in the north of Scotland, HMS Venturer under the command of Lieutenant Jimmy Launders set out to interdict U-864. Inside U-864, the captain and his crews were increasingly anxious about the extra noise produced by the malfunctioning engines. They feared it would give away U-864’s position underwater to ASDIC operator listening to ambient noise. The captain became impatient and desperate to get to the rendezvous point with a German destroyer sent out to escort U-864. His impatience made him careless by raising the periscope several times to look out for the destroyer escort. His periscope was spotted by the British lookout on HMS Venturer. U-864 was spotted. The hunt for the German U-boat was on. For hours, the crew of HMS Venturer tracked U-864 through periscope observation and ASDIC. They meticulously noted down the periscope position and heading of the German U-boat. These data points were used to track the course of movement of the German U-boat. Captain Jimmy Launders decided to do the unprecedented: he would attack U-864 while both vessels were submerged. Exercising his mathematical mind, Captain Jimmy Launders predicted, using data points from periscope sighting and ASDIC reports, the underwater movement of U-864. Once he was confident of his prediction, he formulated a plan of torpedo attack. It was a huge gamble because if his prediction was erroneous, U-864 would escape and he would likely have lost the chance to prevent U-864 from reaching Japan to deliver the technologies to the Japanese. At the decisive moment, Jimmy Launders ordered a salvo of 4 torpedoes. They would be launched at pre-calculated intervals at varying depth to increase the odd of hitting U-864. As the first torpedo swam toward U-864, the noise of the torpedoes alerted the Germans. The German skipper ordered evasive maneuver to be executed. U-864 succeeded in dodging 3 torpedoes. But the 4th torpedo found its mark. A huge underwater explosion erupted. U-864 sank with all hands. The British submariners were first infused with jubilation then profound sorrow, knowing that they had just killed dozens of enemy submariners. The sinking of U-864 was an unprecedented achievement in submarine warfare. For the first time in history and only time in WW2, a submarine sank a hostile submarine while both were submerged. Jimmy Launders and his crews were handsomely decorated. More importantly, Jimmy’s method were refined and became the standard method for attacking submerged submarines post WW2.
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