Figure 6-4. Classes of with respect to the target.

c. Classes of Fire with Respect to the Gun.

(1) Fixed fire. This is fire delivered on a point target with little or no manipulation needed. After the initial burst, the gunners will follow any change or movement of the target without command.

(2) Traversing fire. This is fire distributed against a wide target requiring successive changes in the direction of the gun. When engaging a wide target requiring traversing fire, the gunner should select successive aiming points throughout the target area. These aiming points should be close enough together to ensure adequate target coverage; however, they need not be so close as to be wasteful of ammunition by concentrating a heavy volume of fire in a small area. Two clicks on the traversing handwheel after each burst ensure coverage (2 clicks = 2 mils = constant width of beaten zone).

(3) Searching fire. This is fire delivered against a deep target or a target that has depth, requiring changes in elevation of the gun. The amount of elevation change depends upon the range and slope of the ground.

(4) Traversing and searching fire. This is fire delivered both in width and depth by changes in direction and elevation. It is employed against a target whose long axis is oblique to the direction of the fire.

(5) Swinging traverse. This is employed against targets that require major changes in direction but little or no change in elevation. Targets may be dense, wide, in close formations moving slowly toward or away from the gun, or vehicles or mounted troops moving across the front. The traversing slide lock lever is loosened enough to permit the gunner to swing the gun laterally.

(6) Free gun. This is when fire is delivered against moving targets that must be rapidly engaged with fast changes in both direction and elevation. Examples are aerial targets, vehicles, mounted troops, or infantry in relatively close formations moving rapidly toward or away from the gun position. To fire free gun on the M3 tripod mount, remove the T&E mechanism from the receiver and traversing bar and put it down. When firing swinging traverse and free gun, the weapon is normally fired at the cyclic rate of fire which is in excess of 450 rounds per minute. This consumes a lot of ammunition, and there is no beaten zone because each round seeks its own area of impact.

Figure 6-5. Classes of fire with respect to the gun.


Fire control of machine guns includes all operations connected with the preparation and actual application of effective fire on a target. It implies the-ability of the leader to-open fire at the instant he desires, to adjust the fire of the gun(s) on the target, to regulate the rate of fire, to shift from one target to another, and to cease firing. This ability to exercise proper fire control depends primarily on the discipline and the proper training of the crew. Failure to exercise fire control results in danger to friendly troops, loss of surprise, premature disclosure of positions, application of fire on unimportant targets, loss of time in adjusting fire, and waste of ammunition.

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