Intro Ij C Tionf

time. Essentially it was a weapon which used rifle-calibre ammunition but was intended for sustained weapons have remained important in army and naval applications throughout their existence, their fire. It was therefore tripod-mounted, usually water- period of major development occurred in the mid-

cooled, belt-fed and served by several men. The Maxim was the first of these, with the Vickers die years of the twentieth century, especially for aircraft installations. The constant pressure for higher derived from it being perhaps the most famous rates of fire for less weight drove aircraft gun example. This remained in British service until the mid-1950s.

The MMG, and the earlier LMGs, were replaced by a different concept, the general-purpose machine gun (GPMG), which again used the stan-

designers to produce most of the technical innovations in this field. For the same reason, aircraft guns have tended to be rather like Formula One racing cars: highly tuned and of uncertain reliability.

This book is concerned with the development dard rifle ammunition. This was developed in and history of these heavy weapons and their

Germany in the 1930s as a versatile weapon, air- ammunition; larger in calibre than the standard cooled but with quick-change barrels, belt-fed and infantry rifle or machine gun but usually much used with a bipod in the light role or a tripod where smaller in size than artillery. The emphasis is very sustained fire was required. The German guns, the much on weapons which saw service but some

MG 34 and MG 42, became famous in the Second important experimental types, and recent develop-

World War and inspired many similar weapons which remain in service today, normally in 7.62mm calibre.

ments which have yet to be adopted, are included. However, there is a large number of experimental cartridges and weapons which have had to be omit-

From the earliest years there has been a need for ted for reasons of space.

some weapons intermediate in power between the

In general, the calibres considered in this book standard rifle calibre and field or naval artillery The range from 12.7mm to 57mm. There are some reasons for this are many and varied. The original exceptions, however: a few weapons of smaller cal-

purpose, which is still valid today, was to apply the greater destructive power of explosive shells against light naval craft and army units. Later, the need to destroy vehicles (especially armoured) and aircraft was added to the list. Most of these weapons have been automatic but some of the more portable ones have not. While such

Rifle Machine Gun

ibre which are included for the sake of completeness, and a few automatic guns of larger calibre for the sake of comparison. It is a category of gun which has probably seen more, and more varied, technical development than any other, and there is every likelihood that this will continue into the future.

5mm Carcano

8 .50" Browning for scale

Rifle-calibre machine gun cartridges compared with .50" Browning (left to right)

8 .50" Browning for scale

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