Tuesday, June 16, 2015

storm rifle 2


Trench warfare would not have been possible without mass industrialization.  It takes a lot of minerals and chemicals and transportation infrastructure to pound an enemy around the clock, for years, with automatic weapons and artillery shells.  The War Between The States never would have seen the duplicate use of machineguns, even if Gatling had prevailed earlier and sold his guns wholesale.  Because, you see, while the Generals in World War One were mostly wrong as can be in copying Civil War strategy and tactics, those involved in the War Of Northern Aggression were mostly right.  Rapid fire guns did use up more ammunition than could be produced or transported ( you could also say:  Cavalry was effective.  Trenches were useful, but not permanent.  Fighting spirit, élan, armed men with bayonet could carry the day ).  But by 1914, industrial capacity was exponentially better than 1861.  Miles of trenches could have overlapping fields of fire from Maxim style machineguns, and they could fire as long as needed to repulse attack.  Ultimately, trench warfare could not be duplicated in the next war once the tank was introduced.  Tanks, despite their attempted use as land based versions of ships at sea, are in essence mobile machineguns ( their main guns are little more effective than artillery or aircraft ).  It should be remembered that the main casualty inflictor in WWI was machinegun ammunition.  Not artillery ( yes, a close second, but certainly not as cost effective ).  Not rifles.  And certainly not bayonets ( at something like one half of a percent ).  Tanks countered entrenched machineguns, and were mobile machineguns themselves. 


Now, here is where things get interesting.  Prior to the tank, it was recognized that mobile machineguns were a good idea.  German Stormtroopers were specialty units able to sneak across No-Man’s Land and attack, avoiding the machineguns by stealth, but the military doesn’t do “stealth” on a wide scale basis.  They wanted mobile machineguns.  Sub-machineguns were already in use, but pistol ammunition is for a scale bad breath close.  And for years, no designer could design a decent mobile machinegun with battle rifle ammunition.  The American BAR was simply too heavy and only limited ammunition could be carried.  So by the end of the war, you had ineffective submachineguns or limited issue too heavy mobile machinegun prototypes.  The tactics were recognized, but the weapon hadn’t been designed.  That had to wait for the next world war.  What few survivalists seem to grasp is that the final evolution of the mobile machinegun was meant to be just that.  A machinegun, the premier casualty inducer.  And machineguns, while nicely aimed by the expedient of every fifth round a tracer ( so that you can correct your aim as if moving a hose and seeing a continuous stream ), are for all intents and purposes, suppressive fire.  You can kill enough of the enemy by using a factory shifts worth of ammunition, but the main effect of its use is to immobilize the enemy, so that he doesn’t advance on your position and you can advance on his. The fact that most casualties were from the machineguns speaks of asinine frontal assault waves, the rounds being heavy enough to go through some cover, and the general ineffectiveness relatively speaking of other means of killing men.

More next article.

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  1. oops James you're entering dangerous territory. Whole books have been written to the genesis of the assault rifle.

    If you mention WW1 then you have to mention the Chauchat LMG, which was made for mobile, suppressive fire and was mass-produced in small workshops, much like the Sten would be later several decases later. It was the first weapon of the "20th century". Contrary to the US-led propaganda it was functionning quite well, only the US-manufactured .30-06 version was a disaster.

    You also have to mention the submachine gun and for instance the role of finnish tactics into this.

    As I said, it is a complicated story, a journey of many small steps.

    1. By necessity I had to gloss over most if not everything. Once you read all four parts you should get a feel for where I was going.

  2. right at the end of ww1 the US developed a 32cal semi auto converstion for the bolt action battle rifles. The bolt of the rifle was removed and what in effect was a semi auto 32 cal pistol took its place allowing the use of the same trigger and barrel and had something like a 15 or 20 round magazine feeding in from the top. The idear was that when the soldiers were going over the top in attack they would blaze away at the enemy putting them off there game.


    1. I'd never heard of that one. Sounds interesting