War Machine, Volume 9

Machine-Guns of World War 1 World War I differed in kind and degree from any previous human conflict. It was the first true industrial war in which more men were killed in battle than ever before. The two paramount weapons were artillery and -the scourge of no-man lands -the machine-gun. During World War I the machine-gun dominated the battlefields in a manner that is now difficult to comprehend In fact it would be safe to say that the machine-gun dictated the very way in which World War I was fought and this dominance of a tactical situation by a single weapon spurned the development of novel weapons to counter that same machine-gun. Throughout World War I military planners sought desperately to overcome the power of the machine-gun. Time and time again pro­longed artillery bombardments battered an enemy defensive system until it seemed that nothing could survive but every time the hapless infantry moved forward from their trenches there seemed always to abe machine-gun that could prevent further progress. Thus it was that the artillery destroyed while the machine-gun killed But in tactical terms many of these machine-guns were large and heavy weapons that could not be moved easily or rapidly and anew family of lighter machine-guns was devised even as the war continued It was these light machine-guns that were partly able to break the pattern of static emplacements and massed frontal assaults by allowing the evaluation of anew tactical Indian Army soldiers in France afire Hotchkiss M k J from a position very like the sangars of the NorthWest Frontier. The strip feed used on the Hotchkiss machine-gun can be clearly seen as can the cooling fins around the barrel. situation in which relatively mobile infantry could supply a fair propor­tion of their own fire support where and when it was most needed. Even so it should not be forgotten that despite all the dreadful success of the machine-gun it was the arrival of the tank that finally did away with the mincing-machine apparatus of trench warfare on the Western Front. Included in this study are some superb examples of machine-gun design ranging from the magnificent Vickers machine-gun and the sturdy PM1910 to the dreadful Chauchat All the weapons included here used some mechanical devices that tested the skills of designers and metallurgists alike and the results were often technical marvels of their day Many of the weapons mentioned here would still be viable in any form of combat were it not for the fact that they have been replaced by new and yet more powerful generations of weapons. French and British soldiers operate together with a Hotchkiss m le 1900 ready to provide fire support. This 1918 scene reflects the return to mobile warfare which preceded the end of the war and at last brought the machine-gun out of the trenches. It would have been inconceivable only six months before.
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