The Machine Gun

l)ii I let fan out. When the pitch was changed from one turn in ten to a complete revolution in 22 inches, the performance of the bullet was satisfactory.

The design of the weapons, except for the caliber, was identical with that of the smaller bore guns, and they were accepted with such en thusiasm that large orders were placed both in England and America. An additional order was placed with Colt for 1,700 guns after the company had filled the initial order. The weapon fired at a rate of 600 rounds a minute with an effective incendiary tracer range of 1.830 yards.

American ammunition factories were also ordered to make the new French incendiary bullet. This cartridge and the conventional gun made an n o excellent combination for attacking observation balloons and firing the gas tanks of fighter planes.

The Russian Vickers was chosen to be altered largely because at this time a revolution was raging in Russia and the Colt Co. could not deliver weapons ordered by the Czarist Government. The Allies, knowing they would have to rccham-bcr the barrels anyway in order to use them, felt they were the most logical ones to alter for the larger cartridge.

The inferior French ammunition, inadequate as it was in some respects, showed aviation authorities that a large bore machine gun or automatic cannon was a necessity in air warfare ol the future.

The Vickers-Maxim mechanism was so reliably constructed that an attempt was even made to convert it to an observer's gun, in spite of the fact the Royal Air Force believed it already had the world's best gun of this type. The conversion consisted in putting a 97-shot drum feed on the weapon although belted cartridges could be used if need be. The drum was actuated bv recoil of

the barrel and barrel extension which engaged a lug with a cam on the circular feed and rotated it enough to index a round in line with the rising T slot on the boll face.

This large drum protruding above the already high receiver did not make a very compact weapon. Most certainly it could not compare with other machine guns which were more in keeping with conditions of limited space and maneuverability. The location of the drum across

the line of sight also made necessary an unusually high and unsatisfactory sighting arrangement. The weapon remained in a protoype form for a few years following World War I.

When motors capable of high altitudes were

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