08/06/2018 at 15:17 #92807Deleted UserMember
My WW2 rules, Blitz Krieg Commander, don’t make any fuss as to the weapons carried by the figures in infantry units – a unit being, for my purposes, a 3 figure base that represents a squad.
Thus, a unit is regarded as carrying any or all of the typical infantry weapons such as light machine guns, submachine guns, rifles or anti-tank weapons such as piats or panzerfausts of bazookas no matter what the actual figures are armed with. The firing statistics take cognisance of this.
I do, however, like to have something resembling the correct proportion of weapons even if it makes no matter.
Thus several of my British infantry units have figures carrying bren guns.
Some are moulded lying prone to fire the bren, others squatting/crouched to fire & one figure is actually standing & firing. I’m assuming the weapon was heavier than a rifle so are the later poses valid or some exaggerated “Hollywood” pose?
I’m also curious as the role of the bren. The US BAR seems a similar weapon and are both responsible to give a typical rifle platoon a bit more punch?
I can’t imagine their rate of fire is comparable to a German MG42 on a bipod (NB any machine gun on a heavy, tripod mount is rated as a machine gun & given appropriate firing& movement stats in BKC).
donald08/06/2018 at 15:42 #92812cmnashParticipant
I believe that the Bren could be fired from the hip – not sure how often it was done though!
The Bren had a 30 round magazine as well as a quick change barrel. The gunner had a no.2 who’s job it was to change magazines (and barrel when required I believe) so the gunner could stay on target.
Within a section it’s role was to provide a base of fire (as the mainstay of the ‘gun group’) while the manoeuvre group of the section manoeuvred toward the enemy. So, the rate of fire was better than the BAR AFAIK. Every member of the section carried at least 2 magazines for the Bren.
It was a very good LMG – in fact a direct derivative the L4A1 was used in the Falklands Conflict
As an aside, the best film representation I’ve seen of a Bren in action is in ‘Kokoda’ which shows the no.2 swapping magazines in a firefight
.08/06/2018 at 15:59 #92818Not Connard SageParticipant
I have my own theories about this, some of which derive from the Australian army’s use of Bren guns.
I’m going to edge my bets though, and wait for John Salt to weigh in 🙂
Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.08/06/2018 at 17:25 #92828deephorseParticipant
During my time “in service” firing the Bren from the hip or standing was not taught! I can see that advancing whilst firing from the hip could be useful, but I imagine that the rounds went everywhere but where you were aiming. I cannot see why anyone would fire it whilst standing (like a rifle pose I presume?) unless they were standing behind some pretty stout cover and using it as a rest. I suppose that Captain Hurricane might have done that!
Whilst the Bren magazine could take 30 rounds we were instructed never to load it with more than 28 to prevent jamming. If you were a dextrous enough gunner you could get off a single shot with it, which I managed a couple of times.
Now over to Mr. Picky.
Play is what makes life bearable - Michael Rosen08/06/2018 at 17:34 #92829Not Connard SageParticipant
During my time “in service” firing the Bren from the hip or standing was not taught! I can see that advancing whilst firing from the hip could be useful, but I imagine that the rounds went everywhere but where you were aiming. I cannot see why anyone would fire it whilst standing (like a rifle pose I presume?) unless they were standing behind some pretty stout cover and using it as a rest. I suppose that Captain Hurricane might have done that! Whilst the Bren magazine could take 30 rounds we were instructed never to load it with more than 28 to prevent jamming. If you were a dextrous enough gunner you could get off a single shot with it, which I managed a couple of times. Now over to Mr. Picky.
That’s pretty much my take on it. I acknowledge your first hand experience. 🙂
Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.08/06/2018 at 19:16 #92832deephorseParticipant
Firing was only meant to be in 2-3 round bursts, otherwise you’d go through the mag pretty quickly. As a single Bren you would generally only be involved in a section attack. Therefore your task was to suppress 1-2 enemy riflemen whilst the rifle group manoeuvred to assault. So a 2-3 round burst every few seconds should be enough to pin them. In theory. Never had to do it for real of course!
Play is what makes life bearable - Michael Rosen09/06/2018 at 04:50 #92847EtrangerParticipant
The BAR was just that, an automatic rifle. It was not intended for use as a LMG but the Americans couldn’t find anything better (Madesen, Johnson LMGs etc, which all had significant flaws), so it was better than nothing. It wasn’t designed for sustained use as an MG. It was a hangover from the WWI doctrine of using a weapon to clear a trench of defenders, in much the same way as the Thompson SMG was. It wasn’t really comparable to the Bren.
German and British doctrine was a bit different, in that the German section was there essentially to support the MG, which was the mainstay of the units firepower. It was the other way around with the British, in that the ‘gun group’ (gunner, No 2, L/C) was there to support the rifle group as mentioned above. There were of course all sorts of variations. Instructions for the Bren were pretty simple http://www.forgottenweapons.com/wp-content/uploads/manuals/Bren%20Light%20Machine%20Gun%20-%20Description%20Use%20and%20Mechanism.pdf Variations on the prone firing position are the only ones described.
Posed, but potentially firing from the hip. Note that the bipod is supported though! Lying prone to fire was far commoner.
BKC does differentiate between German Panzergrenadier units with 2 MG per section (6 per platoon), & fusiliers/grenadiers who have just 1, similar to US/British practice (3 per platoon).
A late friend of my father’s was a Vickers gunner on the Kokoda Track. He reckoned that the movie got the atmosphere and conditions just right.
And speaking of Rambo…09/06/2018 at 06:32 #92850Deleted UserMember
BKC does differentiate between German Panzergrenadier units with 2 MG per section (6 per platoon), & fusiliers/grenadiers who have just 1, similar to US/British practice (3 per platoon). …
In BKC /1? I’ll check but I don’t think so. I think in /1 there’s also an optional rule that allows you to have anti-tank weapon armed units (with suitable panzerschrek or bazooka armed figures) in the infantry that have better stats than the generic rule that all infantry units have the capability but when we played it, we kept it simple (KISS).
I should add, it’s getting on to 3 years since my last game of BKC. When I’ve re-vamped my 3 forces, I’ll see if any of my chums is up for a game.
donald09/06/2018 at 15:11 #92882Mike HeaddenParticipant
There are 100 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who can work from incomplete data09/06/2018 at 16:00 #92888WhirlwindParticipant
I humbly disagree with James Holland. I will submit 3 reasons:
1 – The “man hours” & “raw materials” argument is fine, but you wouldn’t want to make the mistake of thinking that thereby a Sherman was a better tank than a Panther. It may be strategically better to have more inferior weapons than fewer quality ones – that doesn’t make the inferior weapon better, in itself.
2 – The author makes the mistake of thinking that because accuracy diminishes as the barrel heats up, that is a key deficiency in the MG34/42 series. It isn’t. Having a weapon that you can just keep on firing for more seconds than the enemy (regardless of precise accuracy, within reason) is going to win you the firefight. It is a tangible thing, and the German MGs made a crucial difference – as the soldiers on the ground at the time explained (and soldiers today tend to agree with them).
3 – The author wants to downplay the testimony of the soldiers facing these things. Fine. But then surely there is a wealth of German testimony explaining the equally fearsome qualities of the BAR and the Bren? As far as I can tell the average Allied serviceman was quite discriminating in his fear for things which really needed fearing.09/06/2018 at 17:29 #92900Mike HeaddenParticipant
“Quantity has a quality of it’s own” 🙂
There are 100 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who can work from incomplete data09/06/2018 at 23:26 #92919John D SaltParticipant
Will I manage to keep this to a reasonable length? Absolutely not.
I suspect that the differences between the Bren and the MG-34 or -42 in the section automatic role are rather overstated. In my salad days when I was paid good green cash money to take healthy exercise in the fresh air with machine-guns, the British Army, at least, didn’t bother to make much distinction between the Bren (L4) and GPMG (L7) in the light role. Both had a no. 2 to feed ammunition and carry the spare parts wallet; both were the main source of covering fire for the section attack; both had the same doctrinal rates of rapid (120 rds/min) and sustained (30 rds/min) fire. Because ammo in belts is lighter than ammo in mags, you could carry more GPMG ammunition for the same weight, so, contrary to popular opinion, the GPMG as a system had a lightness advantage over the Bren once the ammo supply reached a certain level. This point was never accepted by my landlord in Folkestone, an old regular Queensman, who always said that I did not appreciate what a terrible fag it was to carry a big lump of metal like the GPMG around for days on end, because I was only a TA soldier and only played at weekends. I never really accepted his point, because he had spent a good part of his career in a mortar platoon, where you have to carry things a sight heavier than a GPMG.
The extremes of opinion on the belt versus mag debate for WW2 seem to be represented by Sydney Jary and Col. Gore-Langton. Jary’s “18 Platoon” has long been on the Sandhurst reading list, he has made many contributions to the British Army Review, his view is respected. He reckoned the German MGs wholly outclassed the Bren, and remarked bitterly that although people said the high rate of fire would make them run out of ammunition quite quickly, they never seemed to when they were firing at him. Contrariwise, Col. Gore-Langton, head of the Small Arms School when Jac Weller (“Weapons and Tactics, Rome to Berlin”) visited in 1966 was of the opinion that, while the German MGs were twice as good as Brens for keeping people’s heads down, a Bren was worth three of them when it came to hitting people.
The Bren’s reputation for accuracy (“wiggle it so the bullets don’t all go through the same hole”) seems justified, in my experience. My TA recruits’ cadre was run with recruits from both Queen’s TA battalions, 6/7th (my lot, an Internal Security battalion, with Brens) and 5th (the late Richard Holmes’s lot, NATO-committed, with GPMGs, and most unfairly known by us as “the muppets”). On the range day to introduce us to basic infantry weapons, we had two dozen MG firing points set up, half LMG (Bren) for us and half GPMG for them. When the first shoot was marked, it was very noticeable that the pointers from the butt party indicating MPI were all over the place on the fig. 11s for 5th, whereas very few for 6/7th were not in the black. The same was true of subsequent shoots. We gloated; surely this was clear proof that we were better soldiers than the muppets. When all the shoots that needed to be done had been done, there was time and ammunition remaining, so it was arranged for 6/7th to have go on the GPMGs, and 5th to have a go on our guns. At the first shoot after swapping over, the GPMG burst MPIs were still all over the place, and the muppets on our Brens had managed to put almost all of theirs in the black.
This may be a general characteristic of mag-fed as against belt-fed section automatics. An old house-mate of mine when I spent a year in Northern France had served in Algeria, and it was his contention that the Fusil-Mitrailleur (I suppose the FM 24/29) was “L’arme le plus terrible au monde” because of its pinpoint accuracy, whereas an MG (I suppose the AA-52) threw more bullets per unit time, but not as accurately.
WW2 Bren training emphasised the use of the change lever, and encouraged the Bren gunner to use aimed single shots where appropriate. While I was only taught short bursts of 3-5 rounds for both guns, I found it easily possible to tick off singles with the Bren without using the change lever, but could never get anything less than pairs out of a GPMG. The GPMG didn’t have a fire selector (although I understand other models of MAG have a rate selector), so with the safety off (and the safety was not generally applied) it was automatic only. At the short ranges we fired (I don’t recall firing on anything longer than a 300m range) and in the fairly dry and dusty conditions of most range days, it was very easy indeed to spot the bullet strike, so even if you managed to miss with the first pair, the second should be on.
Brens and GPMGs both had their partisans, who would cite quite obscure points of weapons design in support of their favourite. My fondness for the Bren, apart from its historical distinction, was based on its brilliant human engineering; it was impossible to assemble incorrectly, and the gas regulator had a groove in it for adjustment which, if you had lost the combination tool to twiddle it with, was the right diameter to accept a bullet (the round so used should then be discarded rather than fired). The GPMG gas regulator was a horrid fiddly thing with small parts that could easily be dropped into the leaf-litter, unlike the large brass lump of the Bren’s regulator. A cook in our battalion — a huge bloke in all dimensions, with muscles like Garth and easily capable of shooting the Bren from the shoulder — criticised the GPMG’s bipod particularly, which had a spring arrangement to help the bipod legs ping out when placing the gun in a firing position. We didn’t see what the objection was until he explained that it made it difficult to roll with the weapon held against one’s side, because the bipod legs would ping out at inconvenient moments. If you’re demented enough to attempt rolling with anything bigger than a rifle, I suppose it’s a consideration. Some people claimed the GPMG was more liable to detection by the enemy, because it ejected its spent brass upwards and sideways, instead of straight down, like the Bren (where, as I’ve mentioned before, it might give a soldier with a badly-placed left arm and poor attention to buttons the sensation of a stream of hot brass going down the inside of his combat jacket sleeve).
Even by Mr. Picky’s standards, these are all quite footling, picayune and inconsequential points. Both guns do a fine job of providing covering fire for a section or platoon attack, which is what they are meant to do. As Deephorse pointed out, this is best done from the prone position, the only one trained. Yes, you can fire either gun in a variety of exotic postures if you wish, and it is pretty easy to fire either gun from the hip using the sling, but it is more of a party trick than an act of war. For that matter, we hardly ever fired rifles from any position other than prone, because that’s the posture you want to be in if, first, you are shooting to hit the target rather than emitting a feu de joie, and, second, you understand the survival value of making yourself a small target for the bullets that would be coming the other way in a two-way range.
The L7A1 or FN MAG is not exactly the same as the MG-34 or MG-42. I’ve never fired either of the latter, and the MG-5. which I have fired, is a gas-operated gun like the FN MAG. I observe that the Germans, and the Waffen-SS particularly, used ZB-26s (the Bren’s parent) as section weapons when there weren’t enough MG-34s to go round, and I have never heard that they found them unsatisfactory. In the end I would (now, having originally preferred the Bren) rather have a belt-fed gun, and I think this opinion dates from the time a Corporal called Wilf from the D&Ds gave me a 250-round belt of live ammunition, a wicked grin, and the fire order “Gun, two hundred, target to your front, in your own time, f**king obliterate it.”
D(Inf) decided to move from a mag-fed to a belt-fed section automatic (which should have been the TADEN) when WW2 was over, and he must have had his reasons. WO 291/474, “Rate of fire of the LMG”, considers four theoretical gun types, with practical rates of fire allowing for mag and barrel changes as follows:
Gun Cyclic Feed rds/min rds/min . rate of burst continuous . fire fire fire A 500 mag 112 218 B 1000 mag 120 285 C 500 belt 124 400 D 1000 belt 134 660
Obviously, gun A has characteristics not unlike the Bren, and gun D is not dissimilar to the MG-42. For practical purposes, the advantage in bullet-throwing is about 20%, which seems about right to me. I also like to observe at this point that this is quote close to Trevor Dupuy’s “national characteristics” advantage for German soldiers over the Western allies, but nobody seems to have considered that this might be the explanation. WO 291/473, “Performance of bullet weapons”, says that “…the advantages of the German gun over the Bren are due almost entirely to
the belt feed rather than to the cyclic rate.” That probably explains why post-war GPMG designs such as the AA-52, FN MAG, PK and M-60, never bothered with the extreme rates of fire. Even the Germans eventually seem to have calmed down, as Wikipedia tells me that the highest option on the rate selector for the MG-5 is 800 rds/min.
The other thing that seldom gets a mention when arguing about the superiority of German or belt-fed guns as section automatics is the amount of ammunition being carried for them. The standard load for the MG-Trupp in an early-war German infantry Gruppe was 4 50-round belt-boxes, plus one on the gun, and three boxes carrying 300-rd belts carried by the no.2 and no. 3. This is without any of the “everyone in the section carries belts for the gun” one hears about, which I have no evidence of (although it was accepted in the 1970s British Army that if anyone was mad enough to use one of the three SF kits (sustained fire — tripod, dial sight, extra barrels, weird thingy to replace the butt) in the company, it would probably need at least a section to hump the additional ammo required). That adds up to 1050 rounds. Compare and contrast the following WW2 standard loads, as I understand them:
Nationality Total rounds Mags Rounds per mag British 700 25 28 French 625 25 25 Japanese 510 12 30 plus 150 loose rounds USA 500 25 20 Polish 460 23 20 Russian 427 9 47
The German Gruppe is lugging half as much ammo again as the British, twice as much as the American, and almost two and a half times as much as the Russian, for its LMG. I suggest that there is no real need for any further explanation of any perceived German superiority.
The Japanese habit of carrying loose rounds I find interesting — I believe that they issued a dinky little magazine loader for the no.2 to carry. In the British section, as well as every rifleman carrying a mag for the Bren, one of his two bandoliers was supposed to be for the Bren rather than for his own rifle, so in principle the Bren had another 300 rounds available, giving it a supply almost the equal of the Germans’, if there was time
to charge magazines. From Lex Macauley’s “Long Tan” I gather that charging magazines in action is nothing like as straightforward a task as it is in training, and it is better to have ammo supplied in mags — and when I was in, you could fire SLR mags from an L4 if you had to. Magazine standardization is a splendid idea. My late father told me that when he did his national service as a gunner, one of their instructors had a happy tale from his days in the Western Desert when his battery needed an urgent resupply of MG ammunition. They were still using Lewises for close defence in the battery; they were less than delighted when the ammunition turned up, but in Bren mags. A fairly frantic time was spent unloading Bren mags and loading Lewis mags.
Now what about the BAR? Oooh, different thing altogether, people say, can’t be compared, different role. Not really. In WW1 the Americans adopted the French Chauchat and its associated doctrine of “marching fire”. The Americans discarded the Chauchat (a much-maligned weapon — its dire reputation for unreliability in the Anglophone world comes largely from the botched .30-06 conversion, which was consequently restricted to training, while the AEF went into action with the original 8mm Lebel version) immediately after the war, but kept the crackpot doctrine of “marching fire” long past its sell-by date. Nonetheless, once the BAR was issued in serious numbers in the late 1930s, it was issued with a bipod, and was clearly intended to be used in covering-fire tactics by the US rifle squad (using the somewhat over-elaborate Able-Baker-Charlie system). This is exactly the same job as the Bren and the leMG-34 or -42 are supposed to do, so claiming that it’s a different role won’t wash. Very many other armies adopted the BAR as a section automatic; and not just recipients of US military aid, but nations with some pretty sound weapons manufacturing industries of their own, such as Belgium, Poland, and Sweden. The Belgians sensibly did a spot of re-design in the BAR D (for “démontable”) to offer a quick-change barrel, lack of which limits the usefulness of an LMG. The most sensible amendments to the BAR were made in the Fusil-Ametrallador (Spanish for “Fusil-Mitrailleur”) Mendoza, produced in Mexico. Sr Mendoza took the basic BAR action (an extremely fine piece of engineering, widely emulated) and turned it uʍop ǝpᴉsdn, so that the mag was on top where a no.2 could more easily reach it. He also added a quick-change barrel, as with the FN BAR D. The result was a very nice LMG that would have been a considerable improvement on the BAR if the US Army could have been persuaded to buy Mexican.
“Ooh, but it’s an automatic rifle”, some will say. Yes, if you like, although “machine rifle” is arguably a better translation of the original French “Fusil-mitrailleur”. In the inter-war years, “automatic rifle” pretty much only meant this class of weapon, there being no selective-fire rifles to speak of (although the Americans might claim a tie with the Russians as first to produce a selective-fire rifle with the Winchester 1907/15 modified for auto fire in French service in the same year as the Avtomat Fyodorov.) Machine guns were belt-fed, mag-fed weapons were automatic rifles. Chauchats were classified as automatic rifles, but so was the Lewis, and when they came along the Bren and the FM-24/29. Long after everybody else had started calling them LMGs, the US Army perpetuated the distinction between the automatic rifle role and the machine-gun role, having had the BAR and the M1919A6 “light” machine gun in service at the same time — and some people even try to pass off the M1919A4 as a “light” machine-gun, despite it being on a tripod. By the 1970s, once beasties like the M-14 Modified and the heavy-barrelled M-16 had been forgotten, and they had given up the craziness of designating two riflemen in an M-16-equipped squad as “automatic riflemen” and saying they were allowed to fire bursts but nobody else was, this produced the odd situation that a US mechanized infantry platoon had three M-60s in the “automatic rifle role”, and two that were in the machine gun role, despite being exactly the same weapons with the same ancillaries.
Eventually the US squad automatic role came to be filled by the Minimi, as the M-249 SAW. Some wargamers will still try to tell you that SAWs are different weapons from LMGs, despite the fact that the Minimi is designated as an LMG in British service, and now in American too. It is not the class of weapon that differs, so much as the role it is used in, and as far as I can make out, the question here is “do you have a no. 2?” If not, then there is a quite stern upper limit to the amount of ammo that can be carried, the whole business of barrel changes becomes pretty much irrelevant. I would also suspect that there is less psychological support from not having no.2 looking after you, but I have no data on that. Since the original Chauchat was quite generously supplied with ammo bearers during WW2, and the BAR when issued was supposed to have bipod and associated ammo bearers, it’s hard to decide exactly when the idea of a one-man machine-gun became a thing, but I understand that quite a few late WW2 BAR gunners used to ditch the bipod and use it as an individual, rather than a team, weapon. The FG-42 was perhaps another attempt at a one-man MG. It was really when the assault rifle arrived, in the years following WW2, that people started thinking that it would be a great idea, on grounds of commonality, to use a fattened-up version of the standard rifle with a bipod, heavy barrel, and perhaps larger-capacity magazine, and pretend that it could do the job of a section automatic. Examples are the RPK, M-14 modified, FN FALO, LSW, and RPK-74. This has always struck me as a very poor substitute for a proper LMG. In any of these weapons, even if you wanted a no.2, it would probably do you little good, as the mag is underneath the weapon where he can’t reach it. H&K did something a bit unusual with their HK21, where the mag feed of the basic G3 rifle is replaced with a belt feed. It seems to have done well in overseas sales, but I am highly dubious about the whole concept. Eugene Stoner’s brilliantly innovative family of weapons was carefully tailored to the specific requirements of each role, so the Stoner LMG had a top-mounted mag. The same could be said of the less-well-known close support weapon system family designed by Duncan Gordon. A heavy-barrelled assault rifle is very definitely an inferior article to a purpose-built LMG. However, you tend to get two to a section, instead of one. I see this as the final stage of a 100-year process of devolving the level at which covering fire is provided to lower and lower echelons, as discussed in the “Fireteam” thread a couple of weeks ago. Originally, the MG company (or even just section) would provide covering fire for the other companies in the battalion. Then each platoon would provide its own covering fire by half-platoons. Then each half-platoon would have an AR section that could provide covering fire for the rifle section. Then sections could use their own gun group to provide covering fire for their rifle group. Finally everybody is in on the covering fire game, with an LMG or SAW in each fireteam. And, just as the BAR, designed as a one-man gun, came to be used as a team weapon, so team weapons can be used as one-man guns. The Rhodesians and Israelis seem to have used the MAG as a one-man gun, and the Minimi is usually employed as such despite the belt feed. This normally results in horrible ammunition loads, 400 rounds or more, for the poor gunner, who I reckon cannot possibly do anything like as good a job as he could if he had a mate to carry the ammo and SPW.
The US Marines really popularised the fireteam concept with a BAR gunner to every four-man grouplet in a rifle squad. However I understand that they still gave the BAR gunner help carrying ammo. Over the years, there have been a number of articles in the Marine Corps Gazette suggesting improved versions of the rifle squad structure, and a surprising number involved the asymmetric gun group/rifle group arrangement that I was familiar with. Now the USMC is retiring a lot of its Minimis, and replacing them with the M27 IAR, a weapon that stresses accuracy rather than rate of fire. The British Army decided that accuracy mattered more than rate of fire when the LSW replaced the GPMG, and a lot of procurement people seem to have been very annoyed by the emergency acquisition of a proper LMG — the Minimi — once we got mixed up in a shooting war. Having been bumped from its position as fireteam automatic, the LSW carved a new niche for itself as a “designated marksman’s rifle” (DMR), as if shooting accurately had now become a specialist skill in the infantry. The IAR seems to be much more a DMR than a SAW. In the old days the DMR job would have been done by a Bren gunner trained to fire aimed singles where appropriate, but with a weapon that could provide rapid fire rooty-toot if necessary.
As far as I can determine from what little numerical evidence exists on the use of small arms in close combat these past hundred years, and believing Dave Rowlands’ research showing that shooting accuracy is about two orders of magnitude worse in combat than on the range, I reckon that appeals to accuracy are essentially futile under combat conditions. Dust, fatigue, adrenalin, and the extreme difficulty of distinguishing a beige target against a beige background mean that weight of fire is always going to matter more than pinpoint precision. The way to success is to throw more bullets. The relative value of (say) the BAR, Bren and MG-42 probably lies more or less in direct proportion to their effective rates of fire, say 90/min for the BAR, 112/min for the Bren, and 135/min for the MG-42 — about a 20% edge over the next inferior weapon in each case.
One of Shelford Bidwell’s books contains the gunner proverb that “In peace, the cry is always for speed into action; in war, for weight of shell.” I would paraphrase that for the infantry to say that in peace, the cry is always for accuracy, in war, for weight of fire.
All the best,
John.10/06/2018 at 08:16 #92921Jemima FawrParticipant
Excellent post as always, but could you supply more detail…?
My wargames blog: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/10/06/2018 at 09:16 #92923MartinRParticipant
Very little to add to John’s excellent piece, although I would add that there is an Assault Sling available for the Brenner, which would in theory allow the gunner to operate like the MG42/MG3 gunner and actually take part in the final rush on the enemy position. My pal who was a Bundeswehr panzer grenadier said they were still trained to do this in 1980s.
I do have an assault sling for my Bren, which certainly makes it easier to carry around.
"Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke10/06/2018 at 13:36 #92932John D SaltParticipant
Excellent post as always, but could you supply more detail…?
All the best,
John.10/06/2018 at 16:11 #92939Jemima FawrParticipant10/06/2018 at 16:58 #92940WhirlwindParticipant
Yes, great piece John. Given all that, I was wondering what you would consider the strongest (and weakest) historical sections in terms of firepower were? I was just idly thinking that there really wouldn’t have been that much difference between a 1944-5 Panzer Grenadier section with StG44s and two MG42s and a US/UK 2013 section/squad with M4s/SA80s and two Minimis. Although I do notice that a 3 BAR USMC squad should be the equal of a 2 MG42 German section.
Col. Gore-Langton, head of the Small Arms School when Jac Weller (“Weapons and Tactics, Rome to Berlin”) visited in 1966 was of the opinion that, while the German MGs were twice as good as Brens for keeping people’s heads down, a Bren was worth three of them when it came to hitting people.
I suppose that once you factor in the very low hit rates in combat, this is actually to the German MGs favour, if unintended.
One of Shelford Bidwell’s books contains the gunner proverb that “In peace, the cry is always for speed into action; in war, for weight of shell.” I would paraphrase that for the infantry to say that in peace, the cry is always for accuracy, in war, for weight of fire.
Very nice! (although there always seems to be more emphasis on having an accurate weapon for long-range sniping too). The argument I have heard for the Bren / LSW type weapon (although agreeing with your preference for the first from these two) seems to be that that type of weapon actually achieves suppression better by getting more of the actual rounds fired to be within a distance where troops on the receiving end are going to be suppressed. The crux here seems to be how close a round needs to be to achieve that: if it really needs to be within 1m, then the more accurate weapon would have the advantage, if it is wider then the one getting more rounds down would be the one to pick. The historical record seems to favour the latter.
From Lex Macauley’s “Long Tan” I gather that charging magazines in action is nothing like as straightforward a task as it is in training, and it is better to have ammo supplied in mags
Absolutely to the last, although speed loaders are good too. Trying to load individual bullets by hand in the jungle in action with sweat and the shakes must have been an absolute nightmare.11/06/2018 at 01:25 #92959SparkerParticipant
For what its worth I just want to back up what John D Salt and other have said about the use of the 7.62mm LMG (rechambered Bren) in TAVR use. Both Bns I served with (4 RRW and 2 Wessex) were issued with these, and I was never taught anything but firing them prone. Even during live firing exercises where as the ‘gunner’ one was assessed on how rapidly one could put rounds down range when the section was ‘bumped’, it never ever occurred to me, or the Regular instructors, that our immedaite action was anything but get down whilst swinging the bipod out, and start pumping a few rounds vaguely down range. Only the second burst was aimed, that’s how imperative it was to get the gun into action fast, but never were we expected to fire from anything but prone!
Subsequently during my naval career I occasionally got to fire more modern MGs such as the GPMG and the .50. The GPMG seemed to have a similar ROF as the LMG, but seemed much heavier, so presumably could have fired longer bursts for longer… The .50 was awesome but did seem to jam fairly frequently, something that never happened with either the LMG or GPMG. (It didn’t jam as often as the godawful SA80 though…)
'Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they shall need to be well 'ard'
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