Home Forums WWII Basing BARs for WRG 1925-50

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This topic contains 27 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by Whirlwind Whirlwind 1 week, 1 day ago.

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  • #109807
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    I am just completing my first ever 6mm US WW2 infantry and I was wondering how they were/are typically based for the WRG 1925-50 first edition rules?  Were the BAR gunners just considered part of a rifle group or were they based separately as an LMG team?

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #109810
    John D Salt
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Bipod-mounted MGs are mounted separately.

    Whether a BAR falls under the definition of a “bipod-mounted MG” is not defined, but the second edition states that it is, and gives a squad organisation of 1 BAR group, 2 rifle groups, and 1 sniper. I believe the “sniper” is incorrect, as the M1903-equipped rifleman served as rifle grenadier before rifle grenades for the M1 rifle were developed.

    The first edition 1950-75 rules offered the possibility of 2-man scout or observer rifle groups, with the same rolls to neutralize as the 4-man version, but a pip or two less destructiveness on the K-O table. If you wanted to use those, I would suggest the best representation of a WW2 US Squad organized by the book would be a scout group for the Able team, a BAR group for the Baker team, and a rifle group for the Charlie team.

    Then again, it might be an idea to nick the idea from the later editions of being able to buy LMGs as an additional capability for a rifle team, rather than as a standalone weapon.

    All the best,

    John.

    #109832
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Many thanks, John, there are some really good ideas there.  I think I can see why Phil Barker revised all of this for the second edition.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #109839
    Not Connard Sage
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Many thanks, John, there are some really good ideas there. I think I can see why Phil Barker revised all of this for the second edition.

    Barker totally buggered up a good, simple set of rules in the second edition. Ditto the 1950-1985 set. The best parts of either are the TO&E and the army lists, the rules themselves add layers on complication for no good reason. IMO, of course.

    WRG Ancients went all wobbly with the 7th edition around the same time. Feck knows what he was on in the late 80s.

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #109843
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Barker totally buggered up a good, simple set of rules in the second edition. Ditto the 1950-1985 set. The best parts of either are the TO&E and the army lists, the rules themselves add layers on complication for no good reason. IMO, of course.

    Ha! Well, unfortunately I agree, you are quite right (and it is why I stick with playing the first edition, not the second: ‘modes’ – *shudder*).  On the other hand, I can also see why Phil Barker wasn’t happy with his lumping German MG34s and US BARs in the same bracket…

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #109844
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    WRG Ancients went all wobbly with the 7th edition around the same time. Feck knows what he was on in the late 80s.

    A necessary evil which led to the (IMHO) inspired creation of DBA…

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #109845
    Not Connard Sage
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Barker totally buggered up a good, simple set of rules in the second edition. Ditto the 1950-1985 set. The best parts of either are the TO&E and the army lists, the rules themselves add layers on complication for no good reason. IMO, of course.

    Ha! Well, unfortunately I agree, you are quite right (and it is why I stick with playing the first edition, not the second: ‘modes’ – *shudder*). On the other hand, I can also see why Phil Barker wasn’t happy with his lumping German MG34s and US BARs in the same bracket…

    Never saw (ha!) a problem, or with lumping the Bren in with them either. The main difference is belt v magazine fed of course. Practical rates of fire were in the same area, they’re all bipod mounted, and as far as I’m aware bipod MGs weren’t used in a sustained fire role. Their usefulness lay in their portability.

    I suspect though that Barker had regular letters from players who somehow felt their Spandaus had been downgraded 🙂

     

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #109846
    Not Connard Sage
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    WRG Ancients went all wobbly with the 7th edition around the same time. Feck knows what he was on in the late 80s.

    A necessary evil which led to the (IMHO) inspired creation of DBA…

    He must have had a strong word with himself between WRG 7th and DBA. :p

     

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #110315
    John D Salt
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Barker totally buggered up a good, simple set of rules in the second edition. Ditto the 1950-1985 set. The best parts of either are the TO&E and the army lists, the rules themselves add layers on complication for no good reason. IMO, of course.

    Ha! Well, unfortunately I agree, you are quite right (and it is why I stick with playing the first edition, not the second: ‘modes’ – *shudder*). On the other hand, I can also see why Phil Barker wasn’t happy with his lumping German MG34s and US BARs in the same bracket…

    Never saw (ha!) a problem, or with lumping the Bren in with them either. The main difference is belt v magazine fed of course. Practical rates of fire were in the same area, they’re all bipod mounted, and as far as I’m aware bipod MGs weren’t used in a sustained fire role. Their usefulness lay in their portability.

    I suspect though that Barker had regular letters from players who somehow felt their Spandaus had been downgraded 🙂

    While Mr. Picky likes to expatiate on all kinds of niminy-piminy differences between different flavours of LMG, possibly his favourite class of weapon, it is true that the practical rates of fire are much less varied than some people seem to believe. As an exercise in silly things to do with spreadsheets, I calculated the expected rate of fire achievable by an assortment of WW2 guns, assuming that:

    1. Everyone fires “service bursts” of 3 to 5 rounds, averaging 4.
    2. It takes 1.5 seconds to aim each burst.
    3. It takes 2 seconds to change a top- or side-mounted box mag, 2.5 seconds to change a top- or side-mounted drum or bottom-mounted box mag, and 5 seconds to top up the hoppper on a Taisho 11 or fill that silly clip arrangement on the Breda 30.
    4. Barrel changes are ignored.
    5. MG-34 and -42 gunnners are using the 50-round belt box in the light role, so this is treated as a 50-rd drum mag.

    Based on the numbers I have for magazine capacities and cyclic rates, this produces the following numbers of rounds per minute (rounded to the nearest whole bullet):

    RoF	Weapon
    -----------------
    126	MG 42
    124	MG 34/41
    121	M1919A6
    120	MG 34
    116	Lewis Mk IV
    111	DP, DPM
    110	Type 99
    107	V-B Mk III
    106	Type 96
    105	Bren Mk II, IV, Solothurn 31M
    104	Bren Mk I, MG-13
    103	Bren Mk III
    101	ZB-26
    100	Johnson
    99	FM 24/29
    97	MG 35/36
    96      Lahti-Saloranta 26
    95	BAR, KE-7
    93	wz 28
    88	Type 11
    78	Breda 30
    77	CSRG
    

    Similar calculations based on a half-second burst produced more widely-separated figures (44 for the CSRG, 194 for the MG-42), but made very little difference to the ordering. Obviously one can fiddle with aiming and mag-changing times as one wishes. However even Mr. Picky, in an especially picky mood and wearing his picky hat, thinks it is a complete waste of time to attempt to distinguish tactically between different marks of Bren gun; I’ve never heard of anyone bothering to do so in real life.

    Comparing these calculated numbers with doctrinal RoFs, where available, shows they are about right. The BAR’s doctrinal rate was 90 rds/min; the DP’s a mere 80; the Bren was supposed to manage 4 mags a minute, so 112 rds/min if one has, as advised, only loaded the mag with 28 rounds.

    The world is, of course, divided into people who like dividing the world into lots of classes (splitters) and those who don’t (lumpers). Those of a Connardly-lumperist tendency may well question whether an infantryman being shot at can meaningfully distinguish between 95, 110, or 126 bullets whanging about his ears in a minute. For those who like to split — and I’m with the Judaean People’s Front on this one — it seems to me very unlikely that one needs to distinguish more than three classes of LMG, tops. Setting their relative firepower in a ratio something like 5:6:7 would be about right on the “service bursts” rate. Arguments can be made for ratios of 4:5:6 or 3:4:5. I have blethered before about the wide variation in ammo loads carried by BAR-armed, Bren-armed and MG-34-armed sections, and on ammo stowage the ratio should be more like 2:3:4, but of course ones rules might allow for ammunition depletion — in which case I believe Japanese sections will suffer, and Italian squads will be able to fire forever, and MG-34s will still outlast BARs. In any case, I do not think a gun from the top category should be worth more than twice one from the bottom.

    My suggested categories for WW2 guns would be:

    1. Belt-fed guns — MG-34, MG-34/41, MG-42 and Browning M1919A6.
    2. Ordinary decent mag-fed LMGs with top- or side-loading drum or box magazines, such as the Bren. As well as Brens, this would include the Vickers-Berthier, Lewis, French FM-24 and FM-24/29, German MG-13, Russian DP and DPM, Japanese Type 96 and Type 99, Czech ZB-26 and ZB-30, Solothurn 31M, and Johnson LMG.
    3. BARs or inferior LMGs handicapped by small-capacity bottom-fed magazines, odd feed systems, or very low rates of fire. As well as the BAR (including wz 28) this includes the Knorr-Bremse MG-35/36, the Japanese Type 11, the Italian Breda 30, the KE-7, the Lahti-Saloranta 26 and the CSRG.

    Where countries field a variety of guns, these categories normally allow progress to be shown in successive generations of guns — the Japanese Type 96 and 99 are an improvement over the Type 11, the French FM-24 is an improvement over the CSRG. In the two cases where a country fields guns in all three categories, I think it is reasonable to consider the M1919A6 a cut above the Johnny Gun, which is in turn better than the BAR. The Germans would in doubt prefer an MG-34 to an MG-13, and prefer that or a ZB-26 in turn to the wretched Knorr-Bremse.

    All the best,

    John.

    #110321
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Where countries field a variety of guns, these categories normally allow progress to be shown in successive generations of guns — the Japanese Type 96 and 99 are an improvement over the Type 11, the French FM-24 is an improvement over the CSRG. In the two cases where a country fields guns in all three categories, I think it is reasonable to consider the M1919A6 a cut above the Johnny Gun, which is in turn better than the BAR. The Germans would in doubt prefer an MG-34 to an MG-13, and prefer that or a ZB-26 in turn to the wretched Knorr-Bremse.

    Thanks very much for that John.  Something that does occur is that one doesn’t see this progression from Lewis gun to Bren.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #110328
    MartinR
    MartinR
    Participant

    Where countries field a variety of guns, these categories normally allow progress to be shown in successive generations of guns — the Japanese Type 96 and 99 are an improvement over the Type 11, the French FM-24 is an improvement over the CSRG. In the two cases where a country fields guns in all three categories, I think it is reasonable to consider the M1919A6 a cut above the Johnny Gun, which is in turn better than the BAR. The Germans would in doubt prefer an MG-34 to an MG-13, and prefer that or a ZB-26 in turn to the wretched Knorr-Bremse.

    Thanks very much for that John. Something that does occur is that one doesn’t see this progression from Lewis gun to Bren.

    I rather think it depends if you have to carry one. There was a reason Lewis gun teams had half a dozen men….

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    #110337
    John D Salt
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Where countries field a variety of guns, these categories normally allow progress to be shown in successive generations of guns — the Japanese Type 96 and 99 are an improvement over the Type 11, the French FM-24 is an improvement over the CSRG. In the two cases where a country fields guns in all three categories, I think it is reasonable to consider the M1919A6 a cut above the Johnny Gun, which is in turn better than the BAR. The Germans would in doubt prefer an MG-34 to an MG-13, and prefer that or a ZB-26 in turn to the wretched Knorr-Bremse.

    Thanks very much for that John. Something that does occur is that one doesn’t see this progression from Lewis gun to Bren.

    I rather think it depends if you have to carry one. There was a reason Lewis gun teams had half a dozen men….

    Martin continues his tradition of being, like Laurie Anderson, right again.

    In plain rate of fire terms, as I have calculated things, the Lewis does well, because of its large magazine capacity. For extreme pickophiles, I should point out that my table included an entry for the Lewis Mk IV, a lightened, stripped-down version of the original gun, with a higher cyclic rate. The Lewis Mk I would, on the same basis of calculation, come out a little lower, at 110 rds/min in service bursts.

    The weights I have for bare guns with bipods are 12.83 Kg for the Lewis Mk I and 11 Kg for the Lewis Mk IV, as against 10.05, 10.6, 8.8, and 8.69 Kg for successive marks of Bren. That’s over 4Kg difference between the early Lewis and the late Bren, although there’s only 400g between the Lewis Mk IV and Bren Mk II. The big difference in team sizes is, I think, due to the amount of ammunition exepcted to be carried. WW1-era AR or LMG groups tended to carry alarming numbers of magazines; 35 mags for a French CSRG group (giving 700 rounds), 20 mags for a Lewis team (940 rounds). While Brens might have similar quantities of ammo available, lots of the mags would be carried outside the gun group by the rest of the section. An interesting hangover from WW1 practice is the Italian gun group, with 900 rounds in 20-rd clips. Given the low rate of fire and awkward loading, this is enough to keep the gun firing for a very long time, always assuming it doesn’t break first. Its reputation as an awful gun is no doubt deserved, and Italian SA design was so backward that it didn’t even fire a spitzer bullet.

    This brings us on to the more intangible factors of weapon quality, which all wargamers are obliged to hold strong opinions about. For my money, one of the greatest advantages of the Bren is its admirably simple and soldier-proof design. I wouldn’t fancy learning all the stoppages possible on a Lewis, and I wouldn’t like to try keeping crud out of those daft open-bottomed magazines.

    All the best,

    John.

    #110339
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    @ John & Martin,

    Totally understood (and agreed) about the weight, just thought it was curious that it seemed to be an exception to that pattern.

    The fundamental questions for you both then:

    1 – In games in which 1 figure = 1 man, which if any countries need to have an advantage or disdvantage because of their MG and ammo combination?

    2- Do you personally think that a sizeable chunk of any greater German effectiveness in WW2 comes from having a better (or in some cases, extra) MGs?

     

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by Whirlwind Whirlwind.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #110341
    Not Connard Sage
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Has anyone said that a rate of fire of 20000 rounds per second is pretty fecking academic if you haven’t got any bullets for the thing, and the more you shoot it the faster you’re going to run out. Assuming barrel droopage doesn’t get you first?

    No? Then I shall. A rate of fire of 20000 rounds per second is pretty fecking academic if you haven’t got any bullets for the thing, and the more you shoot it the faster you’re going to run out. Assuming barrel droopage doesn’t get you first.

    You may now return the the very fascinatingly interesting (really, I like reading it) technical stuff. I shall continue to keep things simple.

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #110343
    Guy Farrish
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    I was just thinking something along the lines of:

    There is obviously (?) a point where marginal incremental improvements, in say LMG design and performance, add up to something effectively  tactically superior to earlier iterations. Hence Mr Salt’s, Knorr-Bremse, MG-13, MG34 progression above.

    However, is there also a point where further iterations are simply tinkering, and there are no practical improvements to be made – and theoretical performance improvement is simply swamped by other practical limitations?

    NCS said it far more elegantly however.

    Oh and as for ‘how to base BARs’ – did we decide?

    I’d stick it on a separate stand myself, but I’d be prepared to cheat and just call it another rifle group if I had a crisis of confidence/conscience after reading all this!

    #110344
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Oh and as for ‘how to base BARs’ – did we decide? I’d stick it on a separate stand myself, but I’d be prepared to cheat and just call it another rifle group if I had a crisis of confidence/conscience after reading all this!

    Obviously…I did both!  I did some BARs as a separate LMG team, but in some games I have simply given the US 3 rifle teams…

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #110345
    Guy Farrish
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    Great minds…?

    #110353
    John D Salt
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Has anyone said that a rate of fire of 20000 rounds per second is pretty fecking academic if you haven’t got any bullets for the thing, and the more you shoot it the faster you’re going to run out. Assuming barrel droopage doesn’t get you first?

    No? Then I shall. A rate of fire of 20000 rounds per second is pretty fecking academic if you haven’t got any bullets for the thing, and the more you shoot it the faster you’re going to run out. Assuming barrel droopage doesn’t get you first.

    You may now return the the very fascinatingly interesting (really, I like reading it) technical stuff. I shall continue to keep things simple.

    Mr Picky (after a couple of glasses of Bushmill’s 10-year-old) observes that the Mauser sS bullet 35.3mm long, and is typically fired at a muzzle velocity of 760 m/s.
    20,000 rounds would be 706m long.
    The trajectory would be 92.9% bullet and only 7.1% empty space.
    The academic interest would surely be in either lengthening the bullet to 38mm, or increasing the rate of fire to 21,530 rds/s, so that the trajectory is just solid bullet, with no air gaps in between. American and Czech gun designers will be pointing and laughing at the MG-42, because, in a gas-operated gun rather than a recoil-operated one, it is easy to adjust the gas regulator to dial down the muzzle velocity to 706 m/s and achieve the same result. Once the trajectory has become one solid bullet, misses can be rectified by the gun no.2 (using an asbestos glove, probably) grabbing the bullet column and poking the target to death with it. Indeed this will probably be safer than if a hit is scored, when the sudden deceleration of the bullet column at the target would ripple back to the gun and push it very hard into the no. 1’s face.
    This “continuously-extruded pike” concept might also function with a very fast 3-D printer and an appropriately rigid printing medium.
    I am hoping for a research grant from the Acme Corporation to explore these matters further.

    All the best,

    John.

    #110354
    Guy Farrish
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    I’d like to invest, I’ll probably need to sell London Bridge, the Eiffel Tower and my Moon Plots first though.

    (Prefer the Black Bush myself).

    #110359
    John D Salt
    John D Salt
    Participant

    @ John & Martin,

    Totally understood (and agreed) about the weight, just thought it was curious that it seemed to be an exception to that pattern.

    The fundamental questions for you both then:

    1 – In games in which 1 figure = 1 man, which if any countries need to have an advantage or disdvantage because of their MG and ammo combination?

    2- Do you personally think that a sizeable chunk of any greater German effectiveness in WW2 comes from having a better (or in some cases, extra) MGs?

    To answer the second question first — yes, for a long time I’ve thought that Trevor Dupuy’s “20% extra for being German” could be explained, for WW2 at least, by the edge their leMGs had over their opponents. Or it could probably be explained by lots of other things, if you liked. This is the trouble I have with his essentially econometric approach to modelling; he is dealing with correlation, rather than causality.

    On the first question — oh dear, once again, I seem to have failed to be brief.

    For rules using individual figures, I would like to be able to distinguish the ways different armies organised their LMG ammunition carriage within the section. This is surprisingly difficult to find information about.

    I suspect that the rate at which ammunition is used in action is determined by the availability of targets more than any other factor. You can always shoot up the countryside on spec if no targets present themselves, but there are quite stern limits to the amount of ammo available for such japes when you have to carry the bloody stuff yourself. Maybe leave it to the tripod-mounted MGs, or the tankies, who have their ammunition carried by vehicles. On the other hand, if the enemy suddenly decides to come on mob-handed, thousands of ’em, then any decent automatic weapon can put out enough lead in a short time to skittle them down in heaps. This makes me think of the sequence of play used in Arty Conliffe’s “Crossfire”, where there is no limit apart from bad luck to the execution an unsuppressed defender is theoretically capable of inflicting on an attacker who persists in the mob-handed approach.

    With this in mind, using the sparse data available, I have worked out the following table of ammunition carriage, taking one unit of ammunition to represent 30 rounds — a standard mag for lots of weapons, the doctrinal number of rounds in a minute of deliberate fire from the Bren, and I think a sufficient dose of fire to keep the enemy honest. Note that the British and Russians seem to be the only people who spread LMG ammunition throughout the rifle section. The Russians can tell everyone to keep a DP mag in their rucksack. The Brits have the advantage of the “universal pouch” — other armies are still using webbing quite closely tailored to the type of weapon a soldier carries. This British flexibility perhaps explains why I have three different ammo distribution plans from three different sources. Of course a local commander could make up something else again. Other armies, though, I think are quite limited by the specialist pouches or boxes associated with LMG mags.

    Lumpers will be encouraged by the fact that the best-supplied BAR carries 60 more rounds than the worst-supplied Bren, and the best-supplied Bren has as much ammo as the worst-supplied belt-fed gun. Splitters will draw attention to the fact that the best-supplied gun carries more than twice as many bullets as the worst-supplied, and in a smaller gun group.

    		Gnr	No.2	No.3	No.4 	sec	Total	Rds
    MG 34		 2	13	20			35	1050	
    Breda 30	 1	 9	10	10		30	 900
    M1919A6	  	 1	 8	16			25	 750
    Bren		 4	 4	 5		12	25	 750
    Bren		 3	 9	 3		 6	21	 630
    FM 24/29	 8	 5	 8			21	 630
    BAR(USA)	 7	 6	 8			21	 630
    MG 13		 1	 5	 7	 7		20	 600
    Bren		 4	 4	 4		 7	19	 570
    DP		 4	 4			11	19	 570
    Type 96	 	 1	 7	10			18	 540
    BAR(USMC)	 8	 8				16	 480
    wz 28		 3	 4	 4	 4	 	15	 450
    

    I am sure people would hate to do the book-keeping, but if one used these ammunition limits in a game, one might rule that any weapon is capable of firing one or two units of ammunition in a one-minute turn. Weapons have the option of firing more in a turn, if they have the ammo and the targets, up to the following limits:

    2 units		CSRG
    3 units		BAR, Taisho 11, Lahti-Saloranta 26, KE-7, MG-35/36, Breda 30
    4 units		Bren, V-B, ZB 26, ZB 30, Type 96/99, Lewis, DP, DPM, MG-13, Solothurn 31M, FM 24/29, Johnson
    5 units		MG-34, M1919A6
    6 units		MG-34/41
    7 units		MG-42
    

    Guns that fire more than 2 units a turn, unless they have a quick-change barrel (carried by the no.2) are restricted to 2 units in following turns until they spend a turn without firing to cool the gun.

    It’s probably too complicated for actual application to manual wargames, but such a scheme shows different national approaches to light machine gunnery, reminds us of the importance of the no.2 and no.3, shows why it’s a bad idea for a Bren group to get too far away from its rifle group before it’s had the mags off them, and with a bit of twiddling would show why having two guns per section is less than twice as good as having one gun per section. BAR fans can point to the fact that, along with the FM 24/29, theirs is the weapon with the most fiercely-equipped gunner, should he need to act alone, and the bally Spandau fans can indulge their rip-snorting rapid-fire tendencies when the opportunity arises. And we can all admire the baroque silliness of the Breda 30 gun group, who, when almost everyone else is carrying ammunition sufficient for five minutes of rooty-toot, are lugging so many bullets that it will take them almost a quarter of an hour to use it all.

    And, as always with ammunition supply rules, it shows why it’s a bad thing if your platoon gets hit after an attack before it has had time to reorg, and it makes something useful for all those jeep and Bren carrier models to do.

    All the best,

    John.

    #110361

    Etranger
    Participant

    No need to apologise for length John, your postings are always entertaining AND informative.

    #110369
    MartinR
    MartinR
    Participant

    @ John & Martin, Totally understood (and agreed) about the weight, just thought it was curious that it seemed to be an exception to that pattern. The fundamental questions for you both then: 1 – In games in which 1 figure = 1 man, which if any countries need to have an advantage or disdvantage because of their MG and ammo combination? 2- Do you personally think that a sizeable chunk of any greater German effectiveness in WW2 comes from having a better (or in some cases, extra) MGs?

    1. Mmmm. I think tactical combat is one of the very hardest things to model in wargaming as so much of it is psychological, not physical. With battalions, brigades and divisions, you can crunch numbers (force ratios, advance rates, supply consumption, casualty rates etc) in a Dupuy like manner. Having said that, for platoonish sized games, I only really differentiate between belt fed and mag fed LMGs, the former being more suppressive than the latter due to its higher burst rate of fire. Abominations like the BAR get similar firepower ratings to mag fed LMGS but a much smaller beaten zone. SFMGs in their various incarnations are somewhat different.
    2. ‘better’ is pretty subjective for small arms, when the big killers are artillery and mortars. There is clearly some sort of qualitative advantage to belt fed LMGs, hence their almost universal adoption despite abberations like the LSW. Perhaps a better indicator is simply a count of support weapons. 12 MGs are better than 6 (subject to ammo supply etc), so a 1940 German rifle company with twelve belt fed LMGs, a couple of MMGs and 3 x 50mm mortars is simply going to flatten a British rifle company with nine Brens and 3 x 2″ mortars. At battalion level, things are more even as the British have an extra rifle company, and the carrier platoon is roughly equivalent to the Germans MMG component. At battalion level though, the mortar platoon generates far more firepower than the MGs (iirc the rough firepower equivalence is one 81mm tube is worth around three MGs). I can’t help thinking that a tactical level, the human factor is more important than the kit – leadership, unit cohesion, morale etc.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    #110445
    John D Salt
    John D Salt
    Participant

    As an example of the results of somebody else’s number-crunching on the tactical characteristics of various LMGs, I include here the firepower scores extracted from the (excellent) computer games in the first series of “Combat Mission”: “Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord”, “Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin” and “Combat Mission: Afrika Korps”.

                                       Range
    Weapon			40m	100m	250m	500m
    ----------------------------------------------------
    leMG 42			50	45	30	18
    leMG 34			36	34	24	16
    ZB 30			42	32	20	12
    Bren			42	32	18	 9
    Solothurn 31M		30	28	23	15
    Lahti-Saloranta 26	30	28	20	14
    DP, DPM			30	28	18	11
    FM 24/29		37	26	15	 7
    BAR			34	26	15	 7
    Breda 30		25	24	12	 5
    

    Since the Bren and the ZB 30 are substantially the same gun, it seems that the CM folks have given the 7.92mm Mauser an edge over the slightly less zingy .303″ at the longer ranges. Personally I rather doubt you’d see any discernible difference between them at 250 metres. Cartridge performance is probably behind their poor ratings for the Breda 30, a wretched gun to be sure, but I think 6.5mm Carcano is not that much worse than contemporary rifle cartridges from other nations. Had they ever done a “Combat Mission: Wake to Okinawa”, it would have been interesting to see how differently they rated the Japanese Type 96 and Type 99, which differed principally in cartridge beefiness.

    Notice that the ZB 30 and Bren are considered better than the MG-34 at the shortest range, and the BAR almost as good. I expect that they are trying here to embody some concept of “handiness”. The WRG’s old 1925-75 Infantry Action rules ISTR did something similar, with lower ratings for bipod and tripod weapons at the closest range band. I’ve never really been convinced by this, both from my own experience of handling LMGs and GPMGs, and from the Chinese Communist habit in Korea of trundling MMGs up to insanely close ranges.

    I do not understand why the FM 24/29 is so poorly rated, and the Lahti-Saloranta 26 seems badly over-rated — one would wonder why the Finns preferred the DP to their own weapon.

    In playing the game, I don’t believe that players paid much attention to the minor differences in LMG firepower, treating an LMG as much like any other LMG. The virtue of computer games is that you can insert this kind of detail and the players don’t have to worry about it. And, to underline Martin’s point about human factors, I cannot imagine that any experienced Combat Mission player would trade a morale grade for a better class of LMG, if that were possible.

    My own fascination with LMGs comes largely from my belief that they have the greatest morale impact of any weapon in the rifle company, and their fire provides the key to successful fire and movement. As both Mr. Picky and an apostle of Gun Jesus I am happy to chew the fat on the design and use of LMGs until the cows come home, but I suspect that, for hard-to-quantify psychological reasons, the biggest difference in performance is between an LMG with a no. 2 and one without. Having two or more people bonded into a social unit to serve the gun makes it much more formidable than the lone Hollywood warrior with the Rambo headscarf, the mysteriously oiled arms, and the M-60 with 600 rounds of disintegrating link. Dragging this back to the original question about basing, I would say that you should have your BARs mounted separately if they are acting as a proper LMG team, with an assistant gunner (as the Americans persist in calling no. 2s) and maybe an ammo bearer. If, however, the BAR gunner has taken the bipod off, and is using it as John Moses Browning originally intended, then I would say it’s just being used as a heavier and noisier rifle, so stick it in with the Garands.

    All the best,

    John.

    #110552
    John D Salt
    John D Salt
    Participant

    I really will stop chuntering on after this, but, having mentioned Gun Jesus, what should I happen to stumble upon this evening but the man himself and a couple of pals doing a comparative range test with real examples of WW1 LMGs to assess their reloading times:

    The times are substantially higher than the ones I estimated above, I suspect because I am used to the very slick mag changes possible on a Bren with a good number two. The point is made in the video that a no.2 would reduce the reload times, and I think looking at the motions the shooters go through it is also possible to deduce things like the Lewis benefitting more from a no.2 than a BAR does. Although all three particiapnts in the tests are knowledgeable shooters with extensive experience, I also suspect that their times would improve rather if they were subjected to plenty of drill and practice on a single type of gun, as would happen with serving soldiers.

    All the best,

    John.

    #110594
    MartinR
    MartinR
    Participant

    I realised that I never answered the OP. For my team based US forces I cheat, each squad has two rifle groups, plus a third with a BAR and a couple of guys with Garands so it can be used as either a rifle group or a dedicated BAR team. More commonlycit ends up being used as a rifle platoon in battalion level games:)

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    #110602
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    There seems some broad agreement then: do both!  This is exactly what I have done now…

    Thanks very much for posting that video John.  I need to have another look, but…

    a – totally agree that more familiarity with the weapons would get the times down and remove some of the errors (there were some obvious ‘muscle memory errors).  I think your 2 seconds estimate in your earlier post is top-end though, instinctively I would think it would usually be a little longer, maybe 3.5-4 secs.

    b – some of the bits which are difficult would always be difficult

    c – totally get your point about seeing which weapons really benefit from a no.2 and which which wouldn’t.  That Hotchkiss really needs one!  I think a Lewis with a No.2 would be a very effective bit of kit, I think you might be hard put to work out if it was magazine or belt if you were on the receiving end and the No.2 was pretty slick.  Apart from picking up the empty mag and prepping the next one, I am not quite sure what a no.2 on BAR would actually do.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #110630
    John D Salt
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Thanks very much for posting that video John. I need to have another look, but…

    I reckon it’s well worth sitting through all the episodes of “Project Lightening”, which does rather a lot of what I would think wargamer-relevant numerical assessments of different aspects of their chosen guns’ performance. The very considerable differences between them surprised me, and would seem bad news for the Lumpers; it may be that there would be less difference with more training, but I suspect the stress of combat would increase the differences again. I hope they will be able to do a follow-up series on inter-war and WW2 guns. I would not be surprised to see smaller differences in performance for the later guns, because, although small-arms technology has not advanced at a frantic pace over the last hundred years, it has advanced, and it is very obvious that some of the wigetry on these early guns is “a bit bloody Mark One”.

    Among the very many points of interest was the shining performance of the Lewis, which makes me more confident of lumping it in with later guns in my Goldilocks classification scheme.

    I think your 2 seconds estimate in your earlier post is top-end though, instinctively I would think it would usually be a little longer, maybe 3.5-4 secs.

    Checking my notes from WO 291/474, “Rate of fire of the LMG”, I find that from 1944 trials the average time Bren gunners needed to re-aim between bursts was measured as 2.3 seconds; to change mag and re-aim, 3.8 seconds. These figures are not fast enough to maintain the official “rapid rate” of 112 rds/min, which would need 1.8 and 3.3 seconds respectively. Assuming that mag change time runs in series with aiming time (I don’t think you have much of a sight picture while the no.2 is changing mags), those figures suggest a mag change time for the Bren of only 1.5 seconds. That seems believable to me if you have a good no.2 who is using both hands, sweeping the old mag off with the left and clicking in the new mag with the right.

    If anyone is aware of any training standards or “bogey times” for mag changes (or barrel changes, for that matter) on LMG-like weapons, or has any formula for the relation between aiming time and aiming accuracy, I would be exceedingly pleased to hear of them.

    Apart from picking up the empty mag and prepping the next one, I am not quite sure what a no.2 on BAR would actually do.

    Taking over when the no.1 gets shot?

    All the best,

    John.

    #110631
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Ah, I understand.  We agree: I was thinking of “mag change” as the time between ceasing fire and being in a position to resume fire.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

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