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"Did Airborne use BARs in Normandy...& I don't mean pubs" Topic


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War Panda23 Oct 2013 11:59 p.m. PST

I just painted up a platoon of 20mm US airborne including a couple of BARs…and by hook or by crook I intend to use them in my Normandy scenarios. I believe there is at least some evidence of the BAR being used in Normandy by US Paras (not just Gliders and regular)

Any pointers how this could be best represented historically? Would it be seen as an official direct replacement of the M1919 Team or would it be more likely to be inserted ad hoc into the rifle team…I guess I'm also trying to imagine how the BAR was tactically intented to be used …as a multi manned weapon laying down suppressing fire or simply adding more firepower to the rifle team…

Thanks

John

PiersBrand24 Oct 2013 1:44 a.m. PST

Yes some did use them in Normandy…

Colonel Eckman,505:

"A" Company was delayed in moving out as they couldn't find their bundles immediately. The weapons section we had contained machine guns in the squad, we jumped with some BAR'S, but would like to replace the machine guns with BAR'S, because looking for the machine guns holds us back at first."

FABET01 Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2013 4:05 a.m. PST

The 504 used them in Italy. In "Devils in Baggy Pants" the author talks about his squad losing they'res in the drop.

Sundance24 Oct 2013 5:21 a.m. PST

I've seen conflicting information, but the above pretty much clears up why: The BARs were generally dropped separately.

Fatman24 Oct 2013 5:37 a.m. PST

This has been covered here before,

TMP link

TMP link

link

These are the most recent but there are more. Unfortunately the answer seems to be yes/no/maybe or "who cares, the figures are nice, use them."

Fatman

Personal logo vogless Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2013 6:21 a.m. PST

No matter what, you can always use the excuse that a weapon was scrounged up from the battlefield….

Personal logo Who asked this joker Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2013 6:23 a.m. PST

BARs and M1919A6s were both used in Normandy. American Paratroopers did not drop with there weapons so they always had to go looking for their baggage.

Ark3nubis Inactive Member24 Oct 2013 8:00 a.m. PST

Whatever you do, never confuse the BAR with an MG. It is a heavy rifle in effect capable of chucking a bit more lead down the field. It's role was as supporting fire for the relevant squad but never able to lay down the suppressing fire of an MG. The reasons for this are several;

1. 20 round magazine, finished too quickly
2. lighter barrel meant that it couldn't stay on target as well as an MG) (muzzle rise.
3. Lighter barrel overheated more quickly, but mitigated by the fact that the magazine change would mean it fired less overall anyways
4. It was as a result of being a single-man operated weapon that it couldn't keep firing in a way that an MG would (MG teams have several crew all feeding the weapon to keep it firing.

All too often in games the BAR is treated as an MG, instead of (effectively) an upgraded M1 rifle.

As for availability, the TOE from what I can remember didn't have them on, although undoubtedly they would have (eventually) scrounged them. I say eventually as they were dropped in a different area to the GIs so wouldn't have had them to hand right away. Like all airborne troops their intended role was to be dropped behind enemy lines and thus as self supporting as possible. Their BARs were thus dropped on the TOE for more MGs like the .30 cal, so any presence of BARs in your games should be kept low if around Normandy 1944.

Hope that helps,

A

War Panda24 Oct 2013 8:10 a.m. PST

That's really helpful info guys thank you for the references and links also…

@Ark3 I didn't understand its capabilities at all especially if the information is based on certain game rules…I've used various calibre of rifle (hunting…) and to be honest your info confirms my suspicions on its alleged role seen within certain rules I've seen……very helpful, thank you.

John

Fatman24 Oct 2013 8:30 a.m. PST

I always considered the BAR as a poor mans SAW. I think the lack of a quick change barrel was its biggest problem. I have talked to US veterans who compared it to the Bren and Japanese LMGs but often thought that they might of changed there mind if they had a chance to use a real LMG in combat. In our homebrew rules we use for participation games we give a squad with a Bren or similar LMG get three extra dice when firing those with a BAR get one. This is mitigated by the fact that US squads get more dice to start with, M-1 rifle and more troops, and can have two BAR.

Fatman

Ark3nubis Inactive Member24 Oct 2013 9:09 a.m. PST

No problem Panda, glad to help. In my rules, M1 Garands (and all Semis such as the M1 Carbine, German GWR43 etc)) get one shot when shooting, so 1 D6 RoF).

The BAR gets 2 shots (so 2D6 RoF).

Both weapons get to Rapid fire and so add +1 shot (2 for the rifle and 3 total for the BAR) but the effects are suppressive only, they are very unlikely to wound or even kill.

MGs, such as the Bren (RoF 3), .30 Cal (RoF 4), MG34/42 (RoF 4), have the option to fire normally or do suppressing fire. Normal shooting is at the RoF above given in brackets. When performing suppressing fire they double their RoF (so 6D6 for the Bren etc) but again the effects are Suppressive only.

However I hav chosen to crunch the numbers above the BAR is firmly within the Rifle aspect of the weapon categories, and not near the LMG range at all (and it was never used that way in combat from what I can make out at all). If it were to be viewed any differently, it should be seen as a 'poor man's Assault Rifle', or similar to the Russian SVT. A couple of squirts and it needs reloading, light enough to be fired on the move, but not agile enough for a full on assault weapon. (by on the move I mean move, shoot, move shoot, I doubt soldiers would have entertained the run-n-gun methods seen on TV…)

A

Personal logo Who asked this joker Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2013 10:02 a.m. PST

All of these negative comments from folks that never used the BAR in combat. My father-in-law carried a BAR for the Marine reserves in the 50s. He liked it just fine. Other veterans in interviews thought it to be a great weapon. Never once did they even mention that the magazine was too small, the barrel was too light (that translates into a lighter weapon you know) or that it overheated too much. BAR gunners also had a man as an assistant…a mule really to carry extra ammo. He could just drop the bag and use his own weapon, letting the BAR man reload on his own.

If it was such a terrible weapon, why on earth did it last so long in the US military?

hocklermp5 Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2013 12:55 p.m. PST

I remember a book written by Jack Weller in the 1960's that went in depth on the TOE of various armies in Asia. The Japanese had put a light MG in every fire team because their experience in WWII with USMC use of more BAR's than the TOE called for made believers out of them.

Ark3nubis Inactive Member24 Oct 2013 2:58 p.m. PST

Hi Who Asked This Joker. It's not so much about knocking the weapon as having it reasonably balanced and represented in the rules of whichever game you play. The reasons above are to highlight why it shouldn't be used as an MG. By all accounts it was a reasonably accurate weapon, dependable and robust enough for the rigours of combat. It was much liked. Your father-in-law's experiences only further testify that it was a much valued weapon. But I must re-iterate it doesn't escalate the BAR's abilities up to a level that make it comparable to an MG. Apart from an STG44 I would likely favour a BAR over many other WWII weapons as it has the range of a rifle, bit more fire power and volume of fire, yet portable enough to take where and when you need.

FABET01 Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2013 6:09 p.m. PST

The BAR had all the firing characteristics of the Bren MG, Same round, same rate of fire, same range. It was designed to be, sold as and employed as a LMG.

MAD MIKE Inactive Member24 Oct 2013 6:24 p.m. PST

BAR vs Bren…an interesting little video YouTube link

War Panda24 Oct 2013 8:24 p.m. PST

V interesting vid Mad Mike…nice to see them in action…the BAR shoots nicely but reloading looks a chore…

Toshach Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member24 Oct 2013 9:29 p.m. PST

This question comes up from time to time.

None of the paratrooper units were assigned BARs for the drop into Normandy. In fact, the TO&E indicated that each squad be equipped with the 30-caliber MG.

But I wanted to take it a step further. Some years ago I examined every photgraph of U.S. Paras that could be reliably identified as taken in Normandy, or in England just before the drop. I looked at something like 100-150 photographs and identified something like 60 that fit the criteria and in which the soldiers in the photo had weapons that could be identified. Of those I identified that about half carried M-1 Garands, 25% carried Thompsons, about 25% carried carbines, and one 30-Cal MG. There was not one BAR that I could identify in any of the photos I examined.

Further, since the BAR was not in the official TO&E, it seems unlikely that BAR ammo boxes would have been available. So, it seems to me unlikely that a soldier would choose to jump with, and unofficially carry a weapon that was heavy, ungainly, and for which ammunition would likely be unavalable.

Now I suppose it is possible that the odd paratrooper might have picked up a BAR from a glider unit, but as I said above, I did not find a single photo of an American paratrooper, carrying a BAR, officially or unofficially, that could be verified as being in Normandy.

Now, if anyone can find a photo of a paratrooper carrying a BAR in Normandy, I would really be interested in seeing it.

Ark3nubis Inactive Member24 Oct 2013 9:32 p.m. PST

That vid highlights many of the points I've already made;

1. Reloading Nuff said
2. Weapon weight Gunny walks forward whilst firing with Bren, watch again and see that the the rise of the barrell is minimal. The same can't be said of the BAR that yes fires a very similar/sake round, but Gunny needs to fire shorter bursts otherwise he has muzzle climb. I'd imagine firing in the field that would result in aimed bursts at specific targets but more sustained firing, that's close enough to the target, wouldn't be that possible. And brings us back to the reloading point above. The weight of the Bren however in this instance means that it wasn't as portable as the BAR so relied on the manoeuvre half section to flank and move on to target while the Bren would suppress/pin, the BAR wasn't as good at this suppressing role thus meant either half squad could switch as the situation dictated. Typically in practice though I believe once the shooting started most units would hit the dirt and fluidity-of-action was severly hampered by a unit's desire not to be killed…
3. Another point to be made is that the bi-pod was discarded by the troops much more than it was kept as it hampered the manoeuvrability of a weapon that wasn't ideally suited to an LMG role anyway. This further reduced the weapon's ability to be used as a stable platform for suppressive fire.
4. They may have sold it as a LMG, but all of the above precludes the weapon's unsuitability as one.
5. The US army's tactical philosophy at the time was all about the Rifleman concept and any heavier sustained firepower was intended to come from .30 Cals allocated to the rife platoons and heavy weapons platoons. MGs organic to the squads was not what the US was after, so they employed the BAR to increase the squad's firepower (that it did) but maintain manoeuvrability (that it did)

I love Gunny's vids and watch them from time to time, and it's a nice source for seeing all the weapons we think we know in action. He is however a bit biased when it comes to his comparisons. There were two weapons (I think it was the differences between AK and an M4/M16) and he had it that the AK lost, yet the criteria actually put it in favour of the AK (can't quite remember what they were) when I really believe the AK should have won. You can see that by the way Gunny really wants the BAR to win in this vid, but has to really concede that the Bren wins. The vid to ve fair doesn't test the weapons in terms of;

A. Firing at range
B. Firing on the move
C. Being used as part of an integrated all arms environment (I'd imagine very hard to do)

They are both great weapons designed with different tactical roles. Put it this way if the Bren were being packaged as a maneouverable heavy rifle it would be sorely mis-placed and would be receiving a similar level of criticism for being put in that category. If being dropped randomly into a battlezone I'd probably choose the BAR, so nothing against the weapon at all.

Personal logo jdginaz Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2013 11:49 p.m. PST

I like all the comments on the BAR by those who have never fired one. I have fired one and also a MG42 & 34. The BAR is very accurate and stays on target perfectly, much more so than the MG42. I was able to put several 3 round bursts on a target the size of a gallon jug at 100 yd. the very first time I fired it. The mag. change is very easy to do with a little practice, it's pretty obvious from that video that he had no experience prior to filming with the BAR, there is no need to turn the weapon over to change the mag. The BAR certainly has the same range as a LMG, it uses the same ammo and is equipped with a bipod just the same as LMGs.

LORDGHEE25 Oct 2013 3:14 a.m. PST

Sargent Proctor my friend's Grandfather of the 82, Stated that during D Day when he jumped in he found a bar (that famous night) and carried it the rest of the War. He was impressed with it's power, how it ripped the enemy in two. He did not shoot it for two days as it took that long to find the war his stick was that lost. His sargent tried to take it away weeks later when they refited and rested. He laughed and stated "after looking at my face he thought better not and let me carry it". Other paratroopers I have talk to over the years stated they where allowed to choose what they carried.

FABET01 Supporting Member of TMP25 Oct 2013 3:54 a.m. PST

If you can't take all the arguments here for the BAR being a LMG, check the authorities like Ian Hogg. Every book on firearms I've seen lists the BAR as a LMG.

TO&Es are fantasy. Units actual structure reflect the paper plan. Between not receiving equipment (or receiving too much for the U.S. in WWII), loses of men (not just to combat) and task organization of the units, they're at best a guideline. Even in a peace time environment with the military well supported TO&Es don't hold up (The MODIFIED TO&E – MTO&E is only a little closer). In full blown, long duration combat – forget it.

As far as pictures go, lack of evidence has never been proof of anything.

With so many, many veterans tell us otherwise, why do so many here insist on believe otherwise? They were there. they did it. Please stop revising their history to fit your own view.

FABET01 Supporting Member of TMP25 Oct 2013 4:28 a.m. PST

I've just had a quick go through my copies of Michel De Trez "American Warriors" and "At the Point of No Return". Two very good pictorial books about US Paras leading to and during the Normandy invasion.
There are at least 3 pics of American Paras with BARS in those books. That just Normandy. Not the whole war.

Ark3nubis Inactive Member25 Oct 2013 7:38 a.m. PST

Well, I bow to the greater knowledge out there, and experience too. However I have read several accounts over the years that suggest the BAR wasn't up to the job of an LMG, so are all those people wrong too?? (sorry I can't remember all my sources off hand)

With that in mind though, isn't that why its called a Browning Automatic RIFLE?

I have never fired one, so obviously can't fully comment on its performance, weight, reliability, usability…

Achtung Goomba25 Oct 2013 7:46 a.m. PST

While not claiming to be an expert, far from it rather, the impression I have from my limited knowledge and reading was that the BAR wasn't comparable to a dedicated LMG, as the name Automatic Rifle suggests.

That's not to say it was a poor weapon, however as I understand it the BAR lacks a quickly changeable barrel for sustained firing, and the position of the magazine compared to the Bren is less suited to the LMG role for maintaining a sustained base of fire. Whereas in a British platoon the sections' Bren groups were the base of fire and the rifle groups were the maneuver element, didn't US platoons use a dedicated .30 calibre LMG squadas the base of fire, and the rifle squads (equipped with rifles and BARs) as the maneuver element?

CharlesRollinsWare Inactive Member25 Oct 2013 7:54 a.m. PST

The Parachute Forces had TO&Es. Like most other units – perhaps more so – there were MANY unofficial changes from the TO&E made at most levels.

You often hear folks say well it was not there because it was not in the TO$E. Official and reality seldom agree. The Parachute forces were expected to be on their own and to take heavy casualties. When they wanted to alter the TO&E they did so – usually with unofficial "official" approval. I had a great many conversations with men that jumped into Normandy with the 101st & 82nd. Many jumped with equipment not in the TO&E.

Consider two well "known" facts: There were no Black Holsters in the USA and the M-1903-A3 had been replaced by the M-1

Jack Agnew jumped with a M-1903-A3 rather than a M-1 Garand because he liked it better. He asked for, and received permission to jump with it.

He carried a .38 revolver in a black holster. All paratroopers, regardless of rank, were authorized to carry a side arm – but – none was issued. He acquired a .38 revolver in a black leather holster from the Chief of Police in his home town. He wore it for the Normandy jump. He was photographed (stills and movie) in his "war paint" [for the record – black and white paint from the freshly painted invasion stripes on the jump plane] moving his gear around to switch his black shoulder holster from one side to the other.

The men liked the BAR and wanted them viz just .30 caliber MGs. More than a few units "acquired them to jump with – with the proviso that they were to use the MGs when they were on the ground. Some did – others never found the MGs and kept the BAR. Others opted to keep both in the squad.

Regardless – there was no ammunition issue – they all fire the same round :)

Mark

Ark3nubis Inactive Member25 Oct 2013 8:11 a.m. PST

What Goomba Fletch said…

FABET01 Supporting Member of TMP25 Oct 2013 5:02 p.m. PST

With that in mind though, isn't that why its called a Browning Automatic RIFLE?

Because it had a rifled barrel. Rifling only means the barrel has been bored with lans and grooves to stabilize the round. Pretty much all small arms since before WWI have been rifled.

The BAR is unlike any assault rifle. An AR is a rifle that takes the place of a full battle rifle and an SMG. To do the later it takes a subcaliber round. The BAR fired a full sized cartridge.

Pizzagrenadier25 Oct 2013 6:44 p.m. PST

I've seen this discussion all before and don't have much to add to the original topic re BARs in Normandy.

However, having fired full auto the BAR, the MG-42 (both LMG and HMG), DP-28 LMG, and Maxim, I have to say the BAR would be my weapon of choice. It is accurate as hell and there is no muzzle climb to worry about if you are firing prone. I put my second burst of three rounds through a pumpkin. The first round put a huge hole in it, the second tore it apart, and the third went right through where the pumpkin used to be. It was awesome. It is definitely heavy, but the magazine isn't too bad to work with (I would imagine especially once you got used to it). The weight actually helps keep it stable. It is a BEAST. Out of everyone with us that fired these weapons everyone agreed it was their surprise favorite or agreed it was an excellent and impressive weapon. I don't think anyone would have turned one down in combat.

The MG-42 was a hell of a lot of fun, but other than in a well prepared defensive position with lots of ready ammo, I don't think I'd want to carry one in action…

The BAR is an awesome and powerful weapon. There's just something about that .30-06 round's power, sound, and oomph.

Toshach Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member25 Oct 2013 8:49 p.m. PST

As I said in my post above. Show me one, just one photograph of a paratrooper that can be reliably placed in Normandy carrying a BAR.

Ark3nubis Inactive Member26 Oct 2013 5:49 a.m. PST

I'm actually enjoying having real accounts from you guys who have actually fired the BAR and other weapons. It's good to hear your experiences. I'm just questioning as I have no practical experience myself, but a coupe of you have mentioned the accuracy of the BAR, that was never in doubt. However your accounts are for a quick 3 round or so burst on target. What donyou think the results would be if?… (and yes I am looking to see if your answers agree/disagree with my personal view of the weapon's capability and categorisation)
1. Would all round likely land on target if you fired the full 20 round clip with no pause or controlled bursts?
2. If you were trying to lay down suppressive fire wouldn't (regardless of accuracy) that just mean the reload would severly lessen the chances of achieving SF?
3. you mention the BAR being weighty enough to be a solid firing platform, however the Bren is +40-50% heavier so surely a more stable gun again? And even so that doesn't necessarily make it an effective squad based LMG regardless of reliability, accuracy, ease of use. The issue is how effective it would be enough to counted as an LMG, and all the 'for' accounts here don't really seem to actually back up that it should be an LMG.

If you guys could shed light on it a bit more then great, please do,

Cheers,

Ark3n

Pizzagrenadier26 Oct 2013 12:32 p.m. PST

1. Why would you fire a full 20 round magazine like that? You would lose your sight picture with any LMG if you did that. Unless your intention is to waste ammunition.

2. You have to reload any box fed LMG, so except for having less rounds in the mag this is an issue for the BAR the same as it is for a Bren. AFAIK, the Bren was not loaded with the full 30 rounds anyway (IIRC it was often loaded to 25 or 27?), as in practice it increased chances for feed problems. So you are only going to get a few extra bursts out of it anyway.

3. It's heavy enough. Just because a Bren is heavier doesn't mean the BAR isn't a stable firing platform.

I think you are making too much out of the semantics. The BAR might not be the same as an MG-42 or even a Bren in terms of sustained fire to provide suppression, but it does work. It's actually arguably better in the assault as well due to ease of handling more like a rifle.

Yes, overall, it will deliver less fire for suppression at the enemy due to having to change mags more often, but not so much that suppression cannot be obtained.

That said, it's assigned role was slightly different than the LMGs used by other nations because it was to be paired with a higher ROF provided by rifles. Still, it functions as a SAW, albeit one with a lower ROF overall.

I think the balance sheet is thus:

Accuracy: same as other LMGs.

ROF: Lower due to mag changes, but not significantly less than the Bren.

Range: same or similar.

Power: same or similar.

I still think classifying it as an LMG is ok, but that it needs to also be considered as part of a different type of fire doctrine. Still, on its own as an automatic weapon that can deliver fire for suppression, I don't think it would significantly underperform compared to a Bren at least, and I still think in an assault it will outperform the Bren and definitely the MG-42 because of the rifle like design.

I don't know if that helps or not, but that's my two cents from someone who has fired some of these guns (though my time on the range with them is limited) and studied WWII small unit tactics and designed rules for it.

I treat the BAR as a lower ROF weapon and paired with the Garand, I think it evens out in terms of firepower, though to be sure the usage is different.

Personal logo jdginaz Supporting Member of TMP26 Oct 2013 1:04 p.m. PST

I can second what Iron Ivan wrote. In my comments I didn't claim that the BAR was the same as a LMG it's a squad automatic weapon. I was just trying to correct some misstatements about the BAR. Over the years I've seen a lot of wrong comments about the BAR that just aren't true.

One thing the BAR had over the Bren was in reloading magazines. With Bren using the .303 rimmed cartridge whoever reloaded the magazines had to be carful to make sure that teach round was in correctly so that the rims didn't lock something that the BAR using the .30-6 rimless cartridge didn't have to worry about. I've also read that the Bren magazines were only loaded to 27 rounds to prevent jamming.

Another thing that I've read about the BAR, but haven't confirmed, was that it was usually issued with AP ammo which would mean the it would really chew up the countryside.

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP26 Oct 2013 1:05 p.m. PST

Guys,

We've gotten way off the original post, but all this debate about the BAR vs. the Bren (vs. the MG-42) has enticed me to add my two cents, which might put this in a different perspective.

Doctrinally, i.e., when discussing the employment of weapons at the battalion/company/platoon level, there is no such as a LMG. When a Bn/Co/Plt does up its fire plan for an assault or defense, there are inorganic supporting arms, such as air, artillery, naval gunfire, there are guns (self-propelled or towed), mortars, anti-tank guns (self-propelled or towed), and machine guns that can be either organic or inorganic, i.e., in the battalion organization or found higher, such as regimental level, but placed in support, and there are rifle companies/platoons/squads or sections. But there is no such thing as a Light Machine Gun.

For fire plan planning purposes there MGs and there are rifle units (in this case, platoons or squads/sections). The squads (in WWII) will almost invariably have a squad automatic weapon, and you can call this a LMG, but that does not change the fact that the purpose of the weapon is to augment the firepower of the rifle squad/section and not to perform in the role of a MG.

Squads/Sections were often designed to operate in two teams/subsections/groups, and the SAW would be placed in the one intended to provide the base of fire. MGs perform that role at higher echelon: in the assault, an MG element, as an independent unit, will put fire onto the objective to allow a company or platoon to maneuver in the face of enemy in order to "close with and destroy the enemy by fire and close assault." Once the gap has been closed by the rifle platoons, the SAWs are used to effect the same concept, only at a lower echelon and in concert with the other supporting fires (though often times, once the assault has reached this phase, the MGs shift fire to isolate the objective).

So, the concepts we judge MGs on, such as sustained fire and stability as a gun platform do not apply to the SAWs. A bipod weapon, whether magazine or belt-fed, is, by definition, not a sustained fire weapon nor is it a stable gun platform. That's why MGs are designed with tripods, T&E mechanisms, changeable barrels (or water cooling); their doctrinal role calls for it, while the SAW's does not (despite some of them having changeable barrels).

A MG could not fill the role of a SAW any more than a SAW could fill the role of an MG. An MG is designed to engage area targets at (depending on the model) 500 to 900 yards, while the SAW is designed to engage point targets from 0-500 yards (the fact that its bullets can travel farther does not change the doctrinal employment). MGs cover patches of ground while SAWs shoot individuals, emplacements, doorways, windows, etc…

I could go on, but I've probably bored you enough… Now, on to the BAR vs. Bren vs. MG-42, and this is simply my opinion. The BAR and the Bren are a wash, while the belt-fed MG-42 is a capable but not fully suitable SAW. Who knows why the Brits and Yanks chose magazine-fed weapons, but my guess would be because they decided to leave true MGs in their traditional, doctrinal role, while at the same time they wanted to augment the rifle squad/section's firepower and so chose guns that would sacrifice some MG characteristics (sustained fire, stability) for some rifle characteristics (mobility), which fit well with their concept of employment, meaning they expected their infantry to win the fight by maneuver (and they did).

The Germans, on the other hand, apparently wanted more MG and less rifle in their SAW, and chose a belt-fed weapon. While this seriously aids a squad's firepower in the defense, it seriously hinders a squad's capability to maneuver and maintain fire. It might work like a charm dug into the bocage or the Siegfried Line, but it's to help you close with the enemy. I think the Germans acknowledged this fact by introducing a drum to the weapon, but it seems to me that was a failure because the gun's rate of fire was actually too high (the drum couldn't hold enough rounds to keep the weapon in the fight for very long, and changing a drum takes longer than changing a magazine).

Other, anecdotal evidence that the gun was ill-suited to maneuver was the fact that when you look at German infantry assaults in 1944-1945, those assaults generally didn't fare well didn't fare well. Now, it could be those assaults didn't fare well because of lack of leadership (a lot of seasoned leaders were dead), the quality of the infantry, who knows what else, etc… But many times while reading, and wondering why the Germans in the Bulge didn't crack open Bastogne or St Vith, it occurred to me that building a rifle squad around a belt-fed weapon (or even two!) doesn't do you any favors in the assault.

In my humble opinion, the BAR and the Bren were perfect for the job; leave the M-1917/M-1919 and the Vickers to the MG work, and give the riflemen something with a (relatively) high rate of fire and the punch of full-sized rifle rounds that could accompany them into killing ground.

A BAR/Bren can maneuver with slightly more exertion than a regular rifleman, and can be employed instantly, whereas the MG-42 has to be taken down, moved, and put back together to get into action. Despite the Hollywood and Lee Ermey infatuation with assault fire, AKA, moving while shooting, it isn't very effective. I can't say how much it was done in WWII because I wasn't there, but I'm somewhat familiar with modern times, and have talked to plenty of WWII, Korean, and Vietnam-era vets who told me it wasn't done (despite Tony Stein becoming famous for it!). It's pretty common, especially under fire, to pull the belt out of the gun before moving it, as MGs are 'open bolt' weapons. So if you hop up, rush forward, then flop on the ground, the force of you hitting the ground is likely to send the bolt forward , launching a few rounds somewhere you didn't intend to…

Regarding Ermey being biased for the BAR, I would actually suggest the opposite. When he joined the USMC, the M-14 was the Corps' service rifle; I mean, that's what he was brought up on. The M-14 and the BAR are VERY similar weapons, so when he flipped the gun over on its back to reload, I couldn't help but wonder what the heck was going on. I can promise you he never flipped an M-14 over to reload it…

Anyway, I hope this has at least been entertaining.

**DAMMIT!!!** If only I typed faster; Iron Ivan got me!

V/R,
Jack

War Panda26 Oct 2013 7:24 p.m. PST

@Just Jack and Iron I Keith Tremendously interesting and informative explanations. Has greatly increased my understanding of not just the true role of the BAR but also how the whole squad dynamic functions and operates.

Brilliant stuff

Cheers guys

Ark3nubis Inactive Member26 Oct 2013 9:32 p.m. PST

Yup, cheers chaps, I enjoyed that read too. Especially the Ermey aspects and his M14 experience. This is what the TMP is for. Well I'm off to Fiasco here in Leeds UK in a few hours, I might pick up some BAR toting Airborne myself!

A

Ross Mcpharter Inactive Member16 Nov 2013 1:18 p.m. PST

Great discussion, sorry I'm a bit late to it.

The closest equivalent to the BAR would be the German FG42. Both fixed barrel, boxed magazine, full powered round, squad automatic weapons. With all the advantages and disadvantages that entails.

Interesting that the German paras felt a need for a similar weapon albeit much lighter.

Ark3nubis Inactive Member17 Nov 2013 3:13 a.m. PST

Good point. Would you count the FG as being near enough an LMG then?

Ross Mcpharter Inactive Member18 Nov 2013 2:39 p.m. PST

Personally, I would treat it as an assault rifle on auto due to the bad recoil of the FG42, and the weight of the BAR. On single shot I treat it as a Garand or any semi automatic rifle.

The FG42 is too light for the full power round on auto, and the magazine a little too small at 20 rounds.

But in truth, this is far too much detail for me and I currently like the Battlegroup series, Chain of Command, and Overlord.

Sorry if that's evasive, but to me an LMG should have a barrel change otherwise it's an SAW.

Petrov Inactive Member19 Nov 2013 6:46 a.m. PST

I don't know what that guy in the video was doing but there is an easy way to reload the bar and a wrong way.
There is a huge advantage to having the magazine in the botton and not on top obscuring half of your field of view.

Canuckistan Commander Inactive Member20 Nov 2013 6:31 a.m. PST

In the Canadian army in the cold war, we used FN LAR on a bipod. Similar to a BAR in all terms, we had 2 per section under the section2IC. He controlled the fire using one while the other reloaded. In short burst you can suppress a section objective efficiently using a two gun method.

kevanG23 Nov 2013 7:16 a.m. PST

I found this extract which I thought was of interest

"Lieutenant Turnbull had forty-two men with normal infantry weapons plus extra bazookas, BAR's, and two 57-mm. antitank guns. He deployed the platoon on high ground north of Neuville-au-Plain, and at 1030 the men engaged an enemy column which outnumbered them five to one. By weight of fire power, Lieutenant Turnbull's men were able to fight the enemy to a draw for eight hours. Gradually, however, enemy mortar fire, which the platoon was unable to neutralize, took its wearing toll, and the Germans began to use their superior numbers to turn the flanks of Lieutenant Turnbull's platoon. It became clear that the unequal fight could not continue. Colonel Vandervoort sent a platoon of Company E to cover Turnbull's withdrawal, and he pulled out late in the afternoon with sixteen of his forty-two men. "

I found it here.

link


So even the 101st had access to some defending st mere eglise.

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