Targets And Their Engagement

Targets presented to the machine gunners during combat will in most cases consist of enemy soldiers in various formations, which require distribution and concentration of fire. These targets have width and depth, and the application of machine gun fire is designed to completely cover the area in which the enemy is known or suspected to be. These targets may be easy to see or may be indistinct and difficult to locate.

a. When machine gun fire is under direct control of a leader, he designates the midpoint and flanks or ends of a target unless they are obvious to the gun crew(s). When a target other than a point target is engaged by two gunners, it is always divided. Each gunner applies his fire to that portion of the target corresponding to his position with relation to the other gun. Normally, each gunner engages one-half of the target;

however, gunners must be prepared to engage the entire target if necessary. Gunners continue to fire on the target until it is neutralized or until another signal is received from the leader.

b. The gunner's positions (including vehicular-mounted) should be numbered so each gunner will know which portion of a target he should engage. It should be emphasized that the positions are numbered - not the guns or gunners. To ensure that gunners react quickly and properly when they detect a target or when a target is designated by the leader, standard methods of applying fire to the various type targets are taught. These methods are the same for ground and vehicular-mounted guns. The following are the different types of targets and how they are engaged with the MG.

(1) Point targets are targets that require the use of a single aiming point. Enemy bunkers, weapon emplacements, vehicles, small groups of soldiers, and aerial targets such as helicopters or descending paratroopers are examples of point targets. A point target is engaged with fixed fire. If the target moves after the initial burst, the gun crew(s) keeps fire on the target by following its movement with the gun(s).

(2) Linear targets have sufficient width to require traversing fire and no more depth than can be effectively covered by the beaten zone. Linear targets are engaged with traversing fire.

(a) Two guns, normal division. The target is divided at the midpoint; the right gun engages the right half of the target, and the gun on the left engages the left half of the target. The point of initial lay and adjustment for both guns is at the midpoint of the target. After adjusting on the midpoint, the right gun traverses the right half of the target to include one aiming point beyond the last visible target flank and returns to the midpoint.

(b) Two guns, special division. If one portion of the target presents a greater threat than another, the target can be divided so fire is concentrated on that portion presenting the greatest threat. The special division of the target is accomplished by a subsequent fire command after firing begins. The gunners initially lay at the midpoint, regardless of the special division to be made, thus precluding confusion.

(c) One gun. A single gunner must engage the entire width of a linear target. The point of the initial lay and adjustment is on the midpoint, or that portion of the target presenting the greatest threat. The gunner traverses to either flank and then covers the remainder of the target (Figure 6-6, page 6-10).

(3) Linear targets with depth are targets that have sufficient width to require traversing fire and depth which cannot be covered by the beaten zone. A combined change in direction and elevation (traversing and searching fire) is required to maintain effective fire on these targets (Figure 6-7). Linear targets with depth are engaged with traversing and searching fire. When range is announced, the range to the midpoint is given.

Figure 6-7. Linear target with depth.

(a) Two guns. The method of division, the point of initial lay and adjustment, and the extent of manipulation for both guns are the same as prescribed for linear targets. The gunners, however, apply enough search between each burst to ensure the center of the beaten zone is maintained at the center base of the target (Figure 6-8).

(b) One gun. A single gunner initially lays and adjusts on the midpoint of a linear target with depth unless some other portion of the target presents a greater threat. The gunner traverses and searches to the near flank, then he covers the entire target area (Figure 6-8).

(4) Deep targets have depth but very little width and can be effectively covered by searching fire (Figure 6-9, page 6-12). When the range is announced, it is given to the midpoint of the target.

Figure 6-8. Engagement of linear targets with depth.
Figure 6-9. Deep target.

(a) Two guns. The point of initial lay of both guns is on the midpoint, which is also the point of division. Since enfilade fire is delivered, it is not necessary to adjust on the midpoint of the target because the long axis of the beaten zone will compensate for missing the midpoint. However, should the gunner's beaten zone be out of the lateral confines of the target, it will be necessary to adjust fires into the target area. After the initial bursts, the right gun searches to the near end of the target, and the left gun searches to the far end of the target. Both gunners then reverse their direction of search and return to the midpoint (Figure 6-10).

(b) One gun. A single gunner initially lays and fires at the midpoint of a deep target, unless another portion of the target presents a greater threat. The gunner immediately searches to the near end, then covers the entire target (Figure 6-10)

(b) One gun. A single gunner initially lays and fires at the midpoint of a deep target, unless another portion of the target presents a greater threat. The gunner immediately searches to the near end, then covers the entire target (Figure 6-10)

SINGLE

Figure 6-10. Engagement of deep targets.

SINGLE

Figure 6-10. Engagement of deep targets.

(5) Area targets as discussed in this manual have considerable width and depth, and they require extensive traversing and searching fires. This type target exists when the enemy is known to be in a certain area, but his exact location is not known. A hilltop is a typical area target. The leader designates an area target by indicating to the gun crew(s) the width and depth of the target.

(a) Two guns. The target is divided at the center of mass; the right gun fires on the right half and the left gun fires on the left half. The point of initial lay and adjustment for both guns is on the center of mass. After adjusting on the center of mass, fire is distributed by determining the size of the beaten zones and applying direction and elevation changes that cause the most effective coverage of the target area. Both guns traverse and search their respective halves to the flanks, then return to the midpoint (Figure 6-11).

(b) One gun. A single gunner engages an area target by laying and adjusting on the center of mass, traversing and searching to either flank, then reversing the direction, traversing and searching to the other flank (Figure 6-11).

Greater than 50 mils wide SINGLE

Figure 6-11. Engagement of area targets (objective).

Greater than 50 mils wide SINGLE

Figure 6-11. Engagement of area targets (objective).

NOTE: After the target is engaged in whatever formation it is in, the configuration of that target will change. The gunner must be trained to compensate for this change and still place effective fire on the target.

6-5. OVERHEAD FIRE

Overhead fire is fire delivered over the heads of friendly troops. A machine gun on a tripod is capable of delivering this type of fire because of the small and uniform dispersion of the cone of fire. In the attack, the use of overhead fire permits the machine gun to support the advance of rifle units. Sectors of fire allow the trainers to plan safe training while still incorporating the combat realities of overhead fires.

a. Minimum Clearance. The center of the cone of fire must clear the heads of the friendly troops by a prescribed distance (Figure 6-12). This distance, known as minimum clearance, is found by adding together the following elements:

• The height of a standing man, taken as 1.8 meters.

• Half the vertical dimension of the 100-percent cone of fire at the range to the troops.

• A margin of safety equal to the vertical distance which extends a 5-mil angle at the gun or 3 meters, whichever is greater.

• An additional allowance to compensate for a 15-percent error in range determination.

Figure 6-12. Components of minimum clearance.

b. Safety Angles. To obtain this minimum clearance, the gun is elevated so that the center of the cone of fire is raised from the feet-of the friendly troops to maintain clearance above their head. The amount of this elevation change is known as the safety angle. When the gun is fired from the tripod with the required safety angle, the center of impact determines the shortest range at which fire can be delivered over the heads of friendly troops. The range from the gun to the point of strike is called the corresponding range. When the ground is level or uniformly sloping between the gun and the target, the corresponding range for the safety angle used is obtained by converting the angle of elevation expressed in mils into range.

c. Conditions. Overhead fire is used only when the following conditions have been met:

(1) The safety limit has been determined and has been identified on the ground.

(2) The gun mount is firmly seated.

(3) Friendly troops have been notified, if at all possible, that fire is to be delivered over them.

(4) The rate of fire does not exceed 40 rounds per minute.

(5) The gun barrel is not badly worn. This condition is indicated by excessive muzzle blast.

d. Uneven Terrain. Level or uniformly sloping ground is seldom found in the field. This limits the use of firing tables and corresponding ranges in determining the limit of troop safety. In lieu of firing tables, a rule of thumb has been devised to give the gunner a simple method of checking for troop safety.

(1) The gunner's rule can be applied when the friendly troops are at least 350 meters in front of the gun position, and the range to the target is 850 meters or less (Figure 6-13).

(a) Lay the gun on the target with the correct sight setting to hit the target.

(b) Without disturbing the lay of the gun, set the rear sight at a range of 1,600 meters.

(c) Look through the sights and notice where the new line of aim strikes the ground. This is the limit of troop safety. When the feet of the friendly troops reach this point, fire must be lifted or shifted.

Figure 6-13. Application of gunner's rule.

(2) When the range to the target is greater than 850 meters, overhead fire should be delivered only in an emergency and then only out to a range in which either the tracers or the strike of the bullets can be seen by the gunner. In this situation the leader's rule applies (Figure 6-14).

(2) When the range to the target is greater than 850 meters, overhead fire should be delivered only in an emergency and then only out to a range in which either the tracers or the strike of the bullets can be seen by the gunner. In this situation the leader's rule applies (Figure 6-14).

The platoon or section leader uses the leader's rule only when the target is greater than 850 meters. The rule is as follows:

(a) Select a point on the ground where it is believed friendly troops can advance with safety.

(b) Determine the range to this point by the most accurate means available.

(c) Lay the gun on the target with the correct sight setting to hit the target.

(d) Without disturbing the lay of the gun, set the rear sight to

1,600 meters, or the range to the target plus 500 meters, whichever is greater. Under no conditions should the sight setting be less than 1,500 meters.

(e) Note the point where the new line of aim strikes the ground.

• If it strikes at the selected point, that point marks the limit of safety.

• If it strikes short of the selected point, it is safe for troops to advance to the point where the line of aim strikes the ground and to an unknown point beyond. If it is desired to fire after friendly troops advance farther than the point where the line of aim strikes the ground, this farther point is determined by testing new selected points until the line of aim and the selected point coincide.

• If it clears the selected point, it is safe for the troops to advance to the selected point and to an unknown point beyond. If it is desired to have troops advance beyond the selected point, this farther point must be determined by testing new selected points until the line of aim and the selected point coincide. This point marks the line of safety.

e. Precautions. The following safety precautions must be observed in delivering overhead fire.

(1) Firmly emplace the tripod mount.

(2) Use depression stops to prevent the muzzle of the gun from accidentally being lowered below the safety limit.

(3) Do not deliver overhead fire through trees.

(4) Inform commanders of friendly troops when fire is to be delivered over their heads.

(5) Ensure that all members of the gun crew(s) are aware of the safety limit.

(6) Do not deliver overhead fire if the range from the gun to the target is less than 350 meters or more than 850 meters.

(7) Do not use a barrel that has excessive muzzle blast or is otherwise determined to be badly worn.

(8) Do not lay machine guns so their fire will cross at any point over the heads of friendly troops.

6-6. DEFILADE POSITIONS

To achieve maximum effectiveness, the machine gun must be employed using the technique of direct lay; however, at times it may be desirable to employ guns from defilade positions.

a. Full Defilade. A machine gun is in defilade when the gun and its crew are hidden from enemy ground observation by a land mass such as the crest of a hill. The position may be on the reverse side of the crest or the forward slope of the next higher ground (Figure 6-15). The gun must fire up and over the hill. Fire must be observed and adjusted by a crewmember who can observe the target from a position on a flank or to the rear of the gun (on higher ground). A defilade position allows little opportunity to engage new targets.

b. Partial Defilade. A machine gun is in partial defilade when a mask (usually the crest of a hill) provides the gun and gunner with some protection from enemy direct fire, but the gunner is able to engage the target using direct laying techniques. The gun is far enough up the slope so that the gunner can see the target through the sights but the lower portion of his body and lower portion of the gun are protected by the mask. Partial defilade positions are desirable when a fire mission cannot be accomplished from a defilade position.

c. Advantages. The gun and crew have cover and concealment from direct fire weapons. The crew has some freedom of movement in the vicinity of the gun position, and control and supply are facilitated. The characteristic smoke and flash of the gun are partially concealed from observation.

d. Disadvantages. Rapidly moving ground targets are not easily engaged because adjustment of fire must be made through an observer. Targets close to the mask usually cannot be engaged, and it is difficult to secure grazing fire for a final protective line.e.

e. Position Selection. The fire unit leader selects the location of the gun position. To select a position in partial defilade, he moves up the reverse side of the slope until he has the target in view above the mask when sighting at the height of the gunner's eye. To select a position in maximum defilade, he estimates the lowest point below the mask at which the gun can still engage the target without danger of hitting the mask.

Figure 6-15. Minimum and maximum position defilade, partial defilade, and direct lay areas.

6-7. METHODS OF LAYING THE GUN FOR DEFILADE FIRING

The essential elements in engagement of a target from defilade position are direction, elevation, mask clearance, and adjustment of fire.

a. Direction. An observer places himself on the gun-target line in a position from which he can see the gun and the target. He aligns the gun approximately by having the gunner shift the mount. The gunner then loosens the traversing slide lock lever and, as directed by the observer, moves the gun right or left until it is aligned on the target; he then clamps it in that position. A prominent landmark, visible to the gunner through his sights, is selected as an aiming point. An aiming point on the gun-target line and at an equal or greater range than the target is desirable. However, an aiming point on the mask may be used. If the aiming point is on the gun-target line, the gun is laid on the aiming point and is thereby aligned for direction. If the aiming point is not on the gun-target line, the deflection is measured by binoculars or compass. This measured deflection is laid off with the gun.

b. Elevation. An aiming point visible from the gun position is selected (preferably a point at a greater range and at a higher elevation than the target) and the range to the target is determined. The leader, using binoculars, measures the vertical angle in roils from the aiming point to the base of the target. He then lays the gun on the aiming point with the sight set to hit the target. He directs the gunner to manipulate the gun through the number of mils measured. For example, in Figure 6-16, the range to the target is 1,300 meters. The angle read with the binoculars from the aiming point down to the base of the target is 12 mils. The sight is set at 1,300 meters, the gun laid on the aiming point, and the muzzle depressed 12 mils. If the aiming point is off the gun-target line, deflection in mils may be taken with the rear sight windage screw knob if it is not over 5 mils; otherwise, the deflection must be taken up on the traversing handwheel.

c. Mask Clearance. After the gun has been laid, determine if the entire cone of fire will clear the mask.

(1) Visual method. When the range to the mask is not more than 450 meters, mask clearance exists when the axis of the bore is elevated 7 mils or more above the gun-mask line. Mask clearance can be checked after the gun has been laid on the target by depressing the muzzle of the gun 2 mils and sighting along the bottom of the receiver and the barrel support. If this line of sight clears the mask, the clearance exists. Elevate 2 mils before firing.

(2) Firing tables method. Determine the range to the mask and obtain the corresponding angle of elevation for mask clearance from the firing tables. The range corresponding to the angle of elevation is set on the gun sight. If the line of aim through the sight clears the mask, the clearance exists.

d. Adjustment of Fire. Under field conditions, even the most practical methods of laying the gun on the target quickly do not always result in the initial burst being on the target. For this reason, adjustment of fire on the target is essential. Creeping fire should be avoided. (See paragraph 6-10 for details on adjustment of fire.)

AIMINGPOINT

AIMINGPOINT

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