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"Squad LMG Firepower - How important?" Topic


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Whirlwind10 Sep 2016 10:46 a.m. PST

Wasn't "Walking Fire" pretty much only a text-book thing?

Has anyone found an account of an actual engagement where this tactic was used in any large-scale fashion?

It always seemed like the sort of thing that gamers like, because it lets us add weird rules to an army, but without a ton of basis.

Of course, times are different now, but when I did my bit of military time, we were never taught to do the "walking hip fire" thing for sure.

Not quite an account of a large scale engagement, but from General William E. DePuy: Preparing the Army for Modern War (American Warriors Series) link which strongly implies it was used a lot:

p.21 of General William E DePuy's "Preparing the Army for Modern War":

DePuy recalled that after-action reports and lessons learned were compiled, but they were not emphasized – except for one negative lesson. That was "marching fire". It became, according to DePuy, a fad. The purpose was to teach soldiers and commanders to maintain fire superiority in the final assault, a fine idea. But, he said, marching fire was used "as a method of attack, the sole method of attack. What they should have done, of course, was position heavy machine guns and light machine guns and even rifle companies, so as to gain total fire superiority". He added, "The problem with infantry is while you may get fire superiority through suppression, just at the time you need it most, during the assault, when the troops all rise up out of their foxholes or from behind a hedgerow, you lose it. So the enemy comes up out of his foxholes and starts to fire at you".
Marching fire in the assault, without suppression, was dumb. Yet that is precisely what was done. "If the enemy was professional, as the Germans usually were", said DePuy, he "was well-hidden and in very good positions…MArching fire as often as not just wasn't sufficient. We marched into their killing zones." Extended-order drill had become the suicidal norm, despite the general awareness of the ever-increasing lethality of modern weapons.

Mark 110 Sep 2016 10:59 a.m. PST

The BAR is an auto-rifle, not a MG, since it only has a 20 round clip.

And here we see the Italian Breda 8mm M37 tripod-mounted heavy automatic rifle in service, right? (Please note the 20 round clip.)

Honestly guys, if you want to choose a single aspect of a gun to say "this proves it was NOT in that category", then for a machine gun you better choose the aspect of "does it continue to fire if you hold the trigger". Because any other single-issue test looks pretty silly when you look at all of the various MGs used by all of the armies of the world.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Weasel10 Sep 2016 11:06 a.m. PST

Hm, interesting find. Thanks for sharing Whirlwind.

foxweasel10 Sep 2016 2:56 p.m. PST

I am told by my still serving friends in the British army that the LSW is great at providing longer range firepower. So its use is not what had been planned for but it works great in its new role :)

What regiment are they in? The Women's Auxiliary Balloon Corps? The LSW is as much use as a chocolate teapot. As a weapon it's not an act of war and my Regiment got rid of them a long time ago. The L129 7.62 Sharp shooter rifle is now used to provide long range accurate firepower.

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2016 3:28 p.m. PST

All – I'm back, the family had a great time at the aquarium and Butterfly House, thanks Fred ;)


VVV – Fair enough man. I think it is, you think it's not, we've both stated our cases. I'm not aware of any all-knowing machine gun arbiter, so I guess we're finished.

Whirlwind – Yes, I've read Brains and Bullets as well, lots of good stuff in there. And jumping ahead, my issue with stats and personal interviews is that there is simply so much going on, and one man can only tell you his particular piece of the fight, which is but a small slice of the battle, and his recollection usually doesn't match up with others.

I'm currently reading "Foxtrot Ridge," about a fight in May 1968 by the USMC's F/2/3 against NVA regulars on a ridge. It's written sort of in the Ambrose style, a series of personal interviews of participants, and the personal recollection issue is constantly popping up. The "I thought the assault on the southern slope started at 0100,' 'nah, it started at midnight,' 'hey, I thought it started at 0200,' and the 'Smith took ammo up to the Crow's nest,' 'nah, it was Brown,' and 'no way man, we didn't take ammo to the Crow's nest, they recovered NVA weapons and ammo and brought some down to us.' Even on the stats side, the acting CO, the CO, and two platoon commanders all have different recollections of how many troops were there, who their attachments (snipers, intel scouts, anti-armor rocket teams, machine gun teams, forward observers) were.

"Okay, but I think that there have been some advances in understanding over the last 30 years (and some of the WW2 stuff has been usefully dusted off)."
Okay I guess.

"We do have some idea of some of the useful facts about infantry combat: we should try to incorporate them into our games IMHO, or we should specifically know why we are excluding them."
See, I'm not sure where we're going here. What are the useful facts about infantry we should include in our games? I am a former combat infantryman; if I wrote a book you could come on TMP and quote "according to Jack, x, y, and z are the essential facts of infantry combat."

I would submit that everyone of my 'facts' could probably be refuted or modified by another combat infantryman who had a different perspective and/or different set of experiences. So, I think the best that we can do is combine what I say with what everyone else says and formulate your own opinion, as I don't personally believe there is a 'ground truth' that we could actually discover.

The best example I can think of is the M-16 rifle. You can go out and find tremendous amounts of words written on what a piece of crap the M-16 rifle is, about how it always jams, it's too short ranged, its round is lacks penetration capability and/or stopping power, etc… My opinion is based on the fact I carried one as my personal weapon in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I think it's a fantastic weapon and wouldn't trade it for anything. I cleaned it every morning and never had a single stoppage in combat (unlike the M-9 pistol, which plenty of people love; I ended up in a house in Fallujah with a double feed that required me to pound the damn thing on a wall for seemingly five minutes to finally knock the damn rounds out, so I'm not a big fan of that weapon, but that is only my experience) and never had a problem with knockdown power.

So who's account/opinion are you going to believe?

"At all times the impetus in protracted war seems to have been to add firepower: is there a case of the opposite in the last 120 years, in which an infantry platoon withdrew firepower from its section & platoon orbat because it was seen as hobbling its close assault capability?"
As discussed earlier, there are militaries that went away from the 7.62mm GPMG in favor of the lighter 5.56mm SAW. Having said that, there are units that have now gone back to the 7.62mm (but again, my opinion is that was done because of the specific tactical situation they now find themselves in).

"I think that some people forget that modern allied soldiers are not dealing with a peer or near-peer enemy. The difference between facing him and facing an enemy which, at the tactical level, was at least as well-trained, experienced, doctrinally-savvy and equipped is simply enormous."
Damn, that's a really tough one. On the one hand, combat is combat. I'd been in Indonesia in 1997 and we were shot at a couple times. Two years later I was on Iwo Jima for an anniversary and there were Marine vets there; one of them asked me if I'd been in combat. I told him I'd been shot at a couple times but I didn't consider it combat. His reply was 'getting shot at is getting shot at.' I dunno, maybe he was just being nice, and I still wouldn't equate my experience in Indonesia with his on Iwo Jima, but there's something to that.

The larger issue, in my opinion (and this could be a whole separate thread) is there's a lot of variance. But I'll hit a couple issues as quick as I can:

1) small unit tactics is not rocket science. Like I said about fire and maneuver above, there's nothing particularly perplexing or challenging about "hey, you stay here and shoot at them while I move over there. When I get close, stop shooting so you don't hit me in the back."

2) commitment to the fight is extraordinarily important, in my opinion. In wargames rules we read about such things as 'well-trained veterans with lots of combat experience that aren't very much inclined to press home an attack or hold the line under pressure,' and 'ill-trained rabble that's never heard a shot fired in anger, but has resolved to die or win.' I think this applies in both high-intensity conventional fighting and asymmetrical fighting.

3) I think combat experience (and we could talk at length about 'the right kind' of combat experience) is pretty important; if a unit can maintain its commitment to the fight AND be experienced I think it makes you a very tough and capable soldier. When the war in Afghanistan started most Allied (ISAF) troops had never been fired at, while some Taliban had been fighting literally their entire lives. The issue in their collapse, in my opinion, was more to do with the overwhelming supporting fires Allied forces were able to bring to bear.

4) Regarding 'near-peer' in terms of supporting fires, in asymmetric warfare it sometimes occurs that the insurgent can negate Allied supporting fires by choosing a venue which strips away Allied supporting fires due to rules of engagement.

Again, everything is relative, there are many factors to take into account, so what is ground truth?

Fred – "The story was similar for the US 28th they had several weeks to bed in replacements and get familiar with the terrain they were holding."
From my readings, the 28th ID was in position longer but didn't really do much to train their replacements, didn't do much to improve their positions, didn't patrol very aggressively, and when they came back with reports of German buildup they were dismissed by higher HQ (within the division). And then they didn't perform very well in the actual fight, so I'm not sure where to go with this.

"Now you are confusing me."
Uh-oh, sorry. I will admit it's getting a bit difficult to keep everything straight with the myriad of topics and people I'm dealing with on this thread.

"I thought you said the modern US Army could make fire and manoeuvre work at the squad level."
I believe I did, and if I didn't, I am now.

"No WW2 army achieved that once the full time pre war regulars were gone."
I disagree. Late war (1944) is when the USMC changed it's squad table of organization, going to three fireteams with a BAR in each, specifically to become more tactically flexible, and these were almost all men that joined after Pearl Harbor (the USMC went from pre-war less than one infantry division to six infantry divisions during the course of the war, to say nothing of air, logistics, etc…).

I know it's only one, but I'm sure I could find some example of other services/militaries using fire and maneuver, and the continuation of the set up of countries' squads/sections as rifle groups/gun groups points in that direction as well.

"I think we will have to agree to disagree. I feel your case that 2 LMG's per squad caused a deterioration in the ability of German infantry to attack remains unproven."
Okay man, I can live with that.

"There are too many other factors which explain any problems."
Two things then:

1) I'm not stating two machine guns is THE reason, I'm saying it is one of the reasons.

2) Too many factors, and so many of them being subjective, is my point in why there is no ground truth, only opinions. This isn't a game one of us can win. If I 100 other combat veterans came and posted on TMP, all agreeing with my point of view, it still wouldn't prove that 'this way is THE right way.' We'd just have had a statistical anomaly in that 100 combat veterans agreed on something ;)

"Walking fire was introduced specifically because fire and manoeuvre wasn't working at squad level and all too often advances would stall when the infantry took fire until artillery, air, tanks, mortars etc had cleared the threat. And remember the Americans had only 1 LMG per squad and they still couldn't get it to work and came to rely on supporting weapons to drive an advance forward. Another point which tends to disprove your theory."
First, we need to establish what is meant by walking fire. An infantry attack begins when the line of departure is crossed, and for the sake of argument, let's say the tactical situation dictates the LOD is 300 yards from the objective (a farmhouse).

Let's assume we are the attackers; we've got company and mortars firing on the objective, and the rifle platoons are moving forward, two up-one back, in open order and we have not yet been fired on. Everyone is moving.

Fire and maneuver begins once we take fire. So the enemy opens up on us from the objective, all three rifle platoons go to ground. Now small unit leaders take over to get their men firing and moving. We are still 250 yards from the objective, nowhere near being close enough to close assault the farmhouse.

I don't want to re-hash how fire and maneuver works, just that this is the point when it would begin.

My understanding of walking fire is this: at the point fire and maneuver (a unit shooting while another is moving) would have begun, all of our units (in this case, all three rifle squads of all three rifle platoons) is going to get on its feet and begin moving forward, with everyone firing from the hip (to include squad machine guns), all the way to the objective. Instead of having a final, close assault, we're just going to keep firing from the hip until we're on the objective.

That's what 'walking fire' means to me; is that what it means to you? If you're simply talking about the assault element firing from the hip the last twenty yards into the objective, while the non-assaulting elements are held back in support of the assault element, that is not my understanding of walking fire. Because if you're talking about that latter, you used fire and maneuver to get the assault element into assault position and you're exercising the concepts of fire and maneuver while close assault of the objective is carried out.

So, when you say my stuff isn't working, I'm not sure what you're saying isn't working man. I will say that 'walking fire' (as I described it) has largely been de-bunked as a "Good Idea" in infantry tactics; it was brought back for a bit (in the US military) in the Vietnam War, then again cast aside.

Now, if you're trying to say towards the end of the war the Allies in the ETO resorted more to attritional warfare rather than maneuver warfare, where infantry were mostly used to move forward until contact was made and then sat tight while overwhelming supporting fires were levied, that's a different conversation altogether, and one, with qualifications, that I can get behind. But you can have both; you can have 99% of battles working out to 'get shot at, halt, call up the tanks, have them reduce the strongpoint, then move on.' Riflemen still have to clean out the stragglers.

But then you can still have 1% of the fights that required an actual close assault of the objective (as we so often saw in the Central Pacific, where enemy defensive positions proved impervious to supporting fires and thus had to be cleaned out by men with satchel charges and flamethrowers), where infantry have to go it alone, and they've got to get onto the objective somehow. What do you figure works better: everyone stand up, fire from the hip, and walk onto the objective, or you two squads fire while my squad moves up, then these two squads fire while your squad moves up, etc…?

I think this is backed up by Whirlwind's DePuy excerpt.

Mako – "The BAR is an auto-rifle, not a MG, since it only has a 20 round clip."
So 20-round magazine is not a machine gun, but 30-round magazine is? I could make the case that an MG-42 firing on a bipod using a drum is not a machine gun but an automatic rifle, but an MG-42 firing from boxes on a tripod is.

Mark1 – I'm with you on classification. I think we all can agree that it needs to be fully automatic, but then it gets a bit slippery. I've tended to fall back on 'what was the intent of the force using it?" If it could lay down some fire, and they wanted it to be a machine gun, it's a machine gun. But I'm not sure why it matters, either in theoretical matters or practical wargaming matters.

I always had a soft spot for the "woodpecker," Japan's Type 92 HMG. But it can't be a machine gun as it fires from stripper clips…

V/R,
Jack

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2016 3:31 p.m. PST

YES!!!

"Green Leader I am told by my still serving friends in the British army that the LSW is great at providing longer range firepower. So its use is not what had been planned for but it works great in its new role :)"

"Foxweasel What regiment are they in? The Women's Auxiliary Balloon Corps? The LSW is as much use as a chocolate teapot. As a weapon it's not an act of war and my Regiment got rid of them a long time ago. The L129 7.62 Sharp shooter rifle is now used to provide long range accurate firepower."

So who is correct, what is ground truth? Foxweasel or Green Leader's buddies?

I swear I didn't pay them to make my point!

But it's very interesting to hear that the Brits and the USMC are now using precision fire weapons (L129 for Brit and M-27 for USMC) to deliver fire in what had traditionally been the realm (range) of machine guns. It's all about precision fires nowadays! In my opinion, just shows how technology is making the grunt so much more effective. Previously a machine gunner would have fired 100 rounds to drive the enemy rifleman off that ridge 600m away, now the DM drops him with one round, and he's not a specialist attachment (sniper), he's an organic part of the squad/platoon. Pretty cool.

V/R,
Jack

Pyrrhic Victory10 Sep 2016 6:28 p.m. PST

Just Jack,

For what it's worth, you've gotten me to give Five Men at Kursk a shot. I think it's going to be a closer in focus than I normally play (i.e. Chain of Command), but I am interested in how folks are approaching this problem. Weasel can thank you later…

Simo Hayha10 Sep 2016 9:57 p.m. PST

Sustained Fire rate and how I approached my firing tables
I may change them after reading an excerpt from stress of battle about it being easier to have crew served weapons fire. So after doing a lot of research on sustainable fire rates here is the conclusion I have come too. Ammo carried is another thought as well.
squad automatic weapon BAR fg42 3
Semi auto rifle 1.5
Bolt action 1
LMG bren mg34 5 dpm 4?
Tripod Machine Gun 6
Squad automatics. LMG and HMG have the ability to double thier ROF but for morale hits only and chance of overheating, jamming or running out of ammo
Rate of Fire
HMG – this is where water cooled jackets and replacement changeable barrels come in handy. Vickers max ROF 240 sustained 120 (for 30 minutes!) (tripod mounted) MG42 max 300-500 sustained 120 (5 minutes?)
Mg34-42 around 120
Bren 100 (from what I have read this is a very well designed light machine gun)
DPM 80
BAR 60
Semiautomatic rifle maximum ROF 36 so I halved that to 18 with infantry only carring 100 rounds or so how could this rate of fire be maintained though?
Bolt action 20 so I figure sustained 10
I halved all automatic weapons and divided by 10. I basically assumed you couldnt fire automatic weapons as accurately as rifle fire. But now that I think about it with bipods maybe that just isnt true and they should be more accurate, but how many different targets would they be able to aquire in the time frame? I see automatic weapons more of a supressive fire role and riflemen for shooting acurately. WWII infantry training, or the lack there of, esspecially with getting troops to aim and fire their weapons presents a problem that modern armys do not have

Side note in terms of modern infantry wanting to go back to 7.62 ammo. I ahve heard 2 reasons 1 for better bullet penetration and because they can use AK ammo.

There is an excerpt in a british manual that states that the bren had more firepower than the rifle section. Sorry i can not remember which

Mako1110 Sep 2016 10:14 p.m. PST

So, Stens, MP-40s, and M-16s are machine guns?

7.62mm rounds also can be fired a lot further as well, to reach out and touch guys beyond 300m – 400m. Apparently, that's especially important in wide-open spaces like Afghanistan, and I suspect in some areas of Iraq.

VVV reply11 Sep 2016 12:55 a.m. PST

VVV by your standards the Soviets, the French and the Czechs also did not have LMGs

I would disagree with your statement. Degtyaryov was a great LMG. French had the had the Chauchat (which is again treated as a special case in AAF) and of course the Czech model was the origin of the Bren. So why you would have such a misguided view beats me.

The best example I can think of is the M-16 rifle. You can go out and find tremendous amounts of words written on what a piece of crap the M-16 rifle is, about how it always jams, it's too short ranged, its round is lacks penetration capability and/or stopping power, etc…

Yep I read up on this some time ago. Apparently the problem was the ammunition. Initially they used recycled WW2 propellant from battleships as the powder in the M!6 ammo.

thegunzone.com/556prop.html

So 20-round magazine is not a machine gun, but 30-round magazine is? I could make the case that an MG-42 firing on a bipod using a drum is not a machine gun but an automatic rifle, but an MG-42 firing from boxes on a tripod is.

No its about the ability to provide more firepower than a rifle. So a heavier barrel helps, quick change barrel even nicer. Got to be able to fire automatic but then again some rifles like the FG42 or MP43 did that. Full power ammo, again the FG42 had that covered as well (as well as a bipod). MG34/42 both could take belt ammo and have quick change barrels. So in order to try and make your point you have to ignore some facts. Which seems to me to be pretty stupid given that you are in a forum full of wargamers.

There is an excerpt in a british manual that states that the bren had more firepower than the rifle section.

Again I was trained in basically WW2 British infantry tactics. We had Lee Enfields and the Bren (the Enfields being replaced by SLRs). Standard rate of fire from the rifles and the Bren about the same, 5 rounds a minute but obviously the Bren could keep it up longer. But here was the difference, the Bren team (2 men of course) were supposed to swing out to a flank and put enfilade fire on the enemy, then the rifles assaulted the position. SLRs semi-automatic (British army did not want us to waste ammunition) but still only a rifle. Full sized ammo, 20 round magazine, no bipod, no barrel change, still a rifle.

Martin Rapier11 Sep 2016 1:53 a.m. PST

The machine gun mafia in WW1 generally referred to anything which wasn't a Vickers or Maxim as an automatic rifle.

Such partisan distinctions largely disappeared in the 1920s after the demise of the Machingun Corps.

Wrt weapon ratings for games, you may wish to bump up rifle ratings at short ranges compared to MGs. Define short as you wish.

In more general terms, as noted above, we have a much better understanding of what happens in the infantry battle now, and frankly actually simulating combat at section level and below is incredibly difficult due to the prevalence of psychological factors and situational awareness. We can do a Hollywood style cowboys and Indians shooty game, but not an actual simulation using toys and dice.

Which is largely why I prefer element based tactical, grand tactical and operational games. Better data, better measurement of outcomes, more averaging etc and less worrying about corporal bloggs operating on autopilot and accidentally ordering his section to shoot their own side.

Fred Cartwright11 Sep 2016 1:53 a.m. PST

Jack,
You must be reading different histories to me. The 28th ID fought pretty well from what I read. Most of their units were eventually overrun, but that was due to some stupid hold at all costs orders and not lack of fighting spirit and they inflicted serious casualties and delay on the Germans in the process. The performance of the 28th ID contrasts with what happened further north to the 106th and the 14th Cavalry Group where there were panicked flights and 2 regiments of the 106th sat and did nothing while the Germans surrounded them. That was due to a failure of command.
You are confusing me even more now Jack. So how come the US Marines could attack with 3 LMG's per squad and the Germans were hampered in the attack with just 2? So here's a you can't have it both ways coming back at ya!
By walking fire I was talking the tactic used and promoted by Pattons 3rd Army. This was a thick skirmish line that advanced on the objective supported by every weapon that was capable of firing. The men were meant to walk forward firing at anything that looked capable of holding enemy. It was supposed to keep the momentum of the advance going and prevent troops going to ground stalling the attack. I'm not saying it was an ideal tactic or successful in all circumstances, but it was tried because the text book tactics weren't working. When fired on the infantry would hit the dirt and engage in a firefight, but not obtain fire superiority and so the freedom to manoeuvre. They would wait until heavier weapons dealt with the threat before resuming the advance.
While some of the stuff we are discussing is just opinion a lot of it is verifiable fact – like the poor physical state of many German recruits in late '44 and the minimal training they got. TO&E's and tactical manuals still exist so we know what organisations were considered best at the time and how they were supposed to be used. You can then infer things from those facts by looking at real combat examples and if for instance if you find that troops in poor physical shape with minimal training made a poor show of soldiering on the vast majority of occasions I think you are pretty solid ground saying that physical fitness and good training are important factors. Conversely if you find that squads with 2 or more LMG's were able to attack successfully on many many occasions I think you are fairly safe in saying that if it does have an adverse effect on attacking ability that effect is small. If you are saying that is not the case and this is all just opinion then there is no point in studying combat to try work out what happened and why and if it can be done better some other way and there is no point in us discussing this.

Blutarski11 Sep 2016 2:37 a.m. PST

Re the mobility of MG34/42 in the tactical offensive role, it is worth keeping in mind that in WW1 the Germans were using the 50lb MG08/15 in essentially the same capacity. There is a reason the MG34/42 family was uniquely defined as a "GPMG". The immensely long service life of the MG42/MG3 as well as its M60 offshoot suggests that, whatever the precise definition of the term GPMG, it was widely accepted as a highly useful weapon of war.

B

GreenLeader11 Sep 2016 3:28 a.m. PST

VVV Reply

Re. LSW agreed: it was a useful enough weapon for long range fire almost like a section marksman type role. Damn accurate though I reckon would have been a lot more worthwhile in 7.62mm.

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2016 8:18 a.m. PST

PV – That's great man, I hope they work out for you. I'll warn you that they are a bit different, so (like any other set of rules) not for everyone. I hated them at first, but I've now played around 150 battles with them. If I can be of any help, please let me know.

Simo – Sounds like some straightforward mechanisms there, should work out nicely.

Mako – "So, Stens, MP-40s, and M-16s are machine guns?"
Submachine guns, in my view, are not machine guns. They are not designed nor used to deliver sustained fire and they fire pistol-caliber, or other 'cut-down', rounds.

I will also point out that the M-16 was tried out during the Vietnam war in the light machine gun role. They didn't put out a heavy barrel version (they have now, but not back then), they just clipped a bipod on it and told everyone else in the squad to fire semi-auto, he was the only guy that was supposed to fire full-auto. It was also done with the M-14, and a heavy-barrel version of the FN-FAL was produced and served widely. So, if it does the things a machine gun does, and it it used as a machine gun, is it a machine gun?

Like I said, this conversation is sort of pointless. I can (and have) laid out the case that an MG-34/42 on bipod is not a machine gun but an MG-34/42 on a tripod is. An MG-34/42 on a tripod can do things in the doctrinal machine gun role that a gun on a bipod just can't do.

And vice versa of course, which is why bipods and tripods exist. In my opinion, this is most often where civilians and military view things differently. Civilians look at characteristics where military looks at capability. It's like the classic 'which elite unit is the most elite, the best? I think it's Delta because blah, blah, blah,' and 'I think it's DEVGRU because blah, blah, blah.' The whole issue is not one of characteristics, it is one of capability. Delta is better than other forces at doing some things, but not everything, which is why the US military has Delta AND it has other units. None is generically 'better', they are just designed to be very good at what they're doctrinal mission is.

Having said that, I still can agree with other ideas regarding competency: that is, I would say that a Delta operator is probably more competent at performing his particular role and mission than an average US Marine anti-armor guy is competent at an anti-armor guy to fulfill his mission. And I would submit that the Delta operator can fulfill a larger variety of missions/roles than the US Marine anti-armor guy. But you still wouldn't have a Delta operator HAHO into the open desert with an M-4 and expect him to take on an enemy tank. You would have the Marine drive a HMMWV with a Javelin up there and take out the tank. And yes, before this gets jumped on, I am simplifying a bit in the interest of time in order to make my point about capability, not making a statement that the Delta operator is not or could not be trained to employ a Javelin.

VVV – "So why you would have such a misguided view beats me."
Because your definition of machine gun seems pretty malleable, making exceptins here but not there, changing to whatever you need it to be to make your point. Again, I think it's irrelevant as 1) you already have a mechanism for dealing with the various weapons in your rules (and I think it's a good way of handling them, though, from what I can tell, it really is differentiating them based on rate of fire and not any other characteristics of 'machine gun-ness'), and 2) there is authority all wargamers will defer to to make the final adjudication on which weapons are or are not machine guns.

"Full power ammo, again the FG42 had that covered as well (as well as a bipod). MG34/42 both could take belt ammo and have quick change barrels. So in order to try and make your point you have to ignore some facts. Which seems to me to be pretty stupid given that you are in a forum full of wargamers."
So you're saying the FG42 and the MG-34-42 have the characteristics of a machine gun, but the FG42 isn't and the MG-34/42 is, but I'm stupid and ignoring facts? I should say, is that what you're saying? I'm really confused. It almost reads that the last you meant to put the last two sentences into a separate paragraph (thereby not calling your own argument stupid), but if that's true there's no context for what you're talking about.

And 5.56mm propellant in 1967, while interesting, is not at all the point I was trying to make. My point is that you have, in 2016, a lot of soldiers that have carried the M-16 in combat between 1966 (or so) and the present, and they are pretty much divided into one of two groups: guys that hate it and think it's a piece of trash, and guys that love it and wouldn't trade it for anything.

Which group is correct? Which one should we take as ground truth in order to build a set of wargame rules with no bias?

And here we have it again:

"Standard rate of fire from the rifles and the Bren about the same, 5 rounds a minute but obviously the Bren could keep it up longer. But here was the difference, the Bren team (2 men of course) were supposed to swing out to a flank and put enfilade fire on the enemy, then the rifles assaulted the position."
So you and I are both veterans. But what you were taught about machine guns is much different than what I was taught about machine guns. If I recall correctly, the British military (I'm assuming you're Brit affiliated based on the weapons you listed) use the same 'rate of fire' concepts as the US military: sustained, rapid, and cyclic. Your terminology may be different, but the concepts are the same.

So you're saying the sustained rate for the Bren was 5 rounds per minute, same as the rifles? That can't be right.

And I also disagree with your idea of enfilading fire. Don't misunderstand, the concept of enfilading fire is used and is the preferred target profile, but 1) in the defense the flank aspect of it only comes into play with the FPF (when the enemy is on top of you, although we could also talk 'ambush mentality,' but that is coming off the march and not in prepared defensive positions), as the guns are supposed to be engaging the enemy at long range (at least 300 yards out, but if you've got a good defensive position, hopefully 600-900 yards out. At which point you are firing on avenues of approach, before the enemy has deployed into combat formation, so the enfilading aspect is not from the flank, but from the front, where you are firing down the length of their column.

And 2) getting the gun into an enfilading position would be great but is most often not possible, you're exposing the flank of your gun to enemy supporting positions and really messing with tactical boundaries of supporting friendly units (to where you may end up on the receiving end of friendly fire, or worse, caught in a good guy-bad guy crossfire). We move the gun into an 'off-set' position, so that you the gun can engage without being masked by the riflemen; is that what you meant?

At least we agree on fire and maneuver ;)

Martin – "In more general terms, as noted above, we have a much better understanding of what happens in the infantry battle now, and frankly actually simulating combat at section level and below is incredibly difficult due to the prevalence of psychological factors and situational awareness. We can do a Hollywood style cowboys and Indians shooty game, but not an actual simulation using toys and dice."
I think we are saying the same thing here. I'm not disagreeing that the number of troops in the T/O, or the tactical doctrine, or what the commander(s) was trying to do can't be understood (due to research), my issue is the psychological factors and LACK of situational awareness they cause makes simulation difficult if not impossible, and even then relies on quite a bit of 'interpretation,' which I have been referring to as 'opinion,' for the reason that interpretation of conflicting facts may be very well informed but is still running counter to someone else's fact/experiences (the M-16 debate), so how can we definitively say this one is right?

Fred – "You must be reading different histories to me."
Okay. Or maybe we are simply using different definitions. What I'm reading here, you're saying the 28th ID was very capable but suffered poor leadership which caused ultimate failure. What I'm saying is you can't separate bad leadership from the infantryman, the comm guys, the supply guys, the cooks, the admin folks, etc…, it's all part of the same unit.

And that is in addition to my reading about the sorry state of affairs (in particular the lack of aggressive patrolling and improving on their defensive positions prior to the battle, because they believed they were in a quiet section of the front), but I don't want to go any further with this. I though we'd agreed to disagree? ;)

"You are confusing me even more now Jack. So how come the US Marines could attack with 3 LMG's per squad and the Germans were hampered in the attack with just 2? So here's a you can't have it both ways coming back at ya!"
I am most definitely not having it both ways. What I am doing is begging you, with tears in my eyes, to go back and read what I originally wrote about the BAR in the LMG role, how it sacrificed some aspects (going with magazine fed and lower rate of fire) in order to improve mobility in the offense.

Additionally, aside from parity of capability (no gun group/rifle group issues of employment, each fireteam can carry out both tasks), having three BARs per squad helps to offset their lesser capability in pure firepower terms.

I think we're in agreement then on what 'walking fire' is/was. It was judged to not be an effective tactic, which is why no one does it anymore. It's different than riflemen firing their weapons on the move in the assault, coming via fire and maneuver tactics, which is still done.

"Conversely if you find that squads with 2 or more LMG's were able to attack successfully on many many occasions I think you are fairly safe in saying that if it does have an adverse effect on attacking ability that effect is small."
All I ever said was it has an effect, not that it was THE effect. I believe the effect is greater than you do, and we could debate that, but we already have. ;)

"If you are saying that is not the case and this is all just opinion then there is no point in studying combat to try work out what happened and why and if it can be done better some other way and there is no point in us discussing this."
Brother, I've written a ton of crap here, just on this thread alone, and again, I beg you to go back and read what I wrote. Where did I say nothing is knowable? Studying combat has been done consistently since combat entered the lingo of the human race, and it has always served to inform the doctrine, strategy, and tactics of humans involved in the profession of arms.

The context of the conversation is: how do we find 'ground truth' so that it can be reflected in wargame rules? I believe we cannot find ground truth; let's argue about which unit was more elite, or what the best tank of WWII was, or whether the M-16 is good or not good, it's the same concept.

So while I believe you cannot have 'ground truth,' I believe you can discuss the issues, form your opinion, then come up with a mechanism to use in wargame rules that reflects your opinion (or bias, as I call it) regarding that particular weapon, piece of gear, tactic, or characteristic (such as bravery, cohesion, training, leadership, etc…).

I will support my opinion that 'ground truth' is not knowable (in our context) by pointing out how many different rulesets there are that are purportedly trying to do the same thing but have different values, concepts and mechanisms. Why do you think different rulesets have different mechanisms to reflect the same things. In general I believe the author has done some homework on the period, forms some opinions on what he has identified as key aspects to combat in that period and at that echelon, and then he sets about creating/modifying mechanisms that allow table-top action to occur in a manner that matches his/her idea of what combat was like.

Blutarski – Yes, we've really gotten off topic, I hope PV isn't pulling his hair out. For what it's worth, I wholeheartedly agree with your statement.

V/R,
Jack

Pyrrhic Victory11 Sep 2016 11:25 a.m. PST

Just Jack,

Nope, not pulling out my hair. While the discussion has been wide ranging, most of it has been salient to the "How do you simulate combat at the Platoon and Squad level?" question that the OP is a major subset of. We have gone down the "What is an MG?" Rabbit hole a bit, but defining the parameters of a problem isn't s bad thing as long as it doesn't spin completely out of control….

All rules designers make decisions about the importance of different factors in creating what is, by necessity, an impressionistic model of combat. Creating a game that is playable, enjoyable and provides a reasonably accurate historical result without shattering our suspension of disbelief is hard to do. I don't envy them that, but I'm often surprised at what gamers will accept with suspension if disbelief intact….

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2016 11:44 a.m. PST

PV,

Glad to hear it. You mention being surprised at some of the things gamers will accept/put up with. What are some of the issues/mechanics you're not a fan of, things you don't find attractive in rules?

V/R,
Jack

Fred Cartwright11 Sep 2016 12:31 p.m. PST

I am most definitely not having it both ways. What I am doing is begging you, with tears in my eyes, to go back and read what I originally wrote about the BAR in the LMG role, how it sacrificed some aspects (going with magazine fed and lower rate of fire) in order to improve mobility in the offense.

Well I'm going to have to disagree with you in this one too. I think it sacrificed too much to make it effective in either defence of offence. That is presumably why the USMC needed 3 per squad In order to make fire and manoeuvre work and the army tried different solutions for the same reason. Compared to the Bren which is as handy in the assault, but with a quick change barrel and top mounted mag making sustained fire more practicable the BAR looks poor. I think it's principle failing is not putting out enough fire to win fire superiority which is a prerequisite to,allow freedom of manoeuvre. I suppose the M1's helped, but once your riflemen become involved in the firefight they are no longer free to manoeuvre.
Whether this concept of ground truth as you call it is ever knowable is a moot point, but I believe you can at least keep your speculations about how things worked grounded in as much evidence as you can. Let me give you an example I recently read a book on the Bulge where the author spends the best part of a chapter espousing the theory that one of the reasons that Hitler chose the Ardennes for the attack was an obsession with woods and forest as the spiritual home of the Volk from which the Germanic tribes had risen to defeat their enemies and thus the fate of the German nation was tied to forests. All interesting stuff, but he presents no evidence at all to back it up. No writings of Hitler, no speeches in which he mentions it, no first hand accounts that it was on Hitlers mind when he planned the attack. Hitler at the initial briefing went into great detail for the reasons behind the attack and why the Ardennes was chosen yet never mentions this spiritual connection to forests of the German Volk. It thus remains nothing more than idle speculation on the authors part. That where I am with your theory. You present no clear evidence to support it. There is ample evidence explaining a deterioration in the performance of German infantry, but nothing to suggest that the Germans considered the MG42 hindered efforts because it wasn't handy in the assault. The Germans were fairly rigorous in evaluating their equipment and tactics and making recommendations for changes. The 2 Panzertruppen books have numerous examples of such evaluations of both German and enemy equipment and recommendations for changes in equipment and tactics. I have seen no such reports for the MG42 adversely commenting on its effect on the assault or praising the handiness of the enemies equipment. German MG42 gunners were taught how to brace the gun and keep firing while advancing in the final stages of the assault and Bundeswehr MG gunners were taught the same with the MG3 according to an ex BW machine gunner I had an extensive email exchange with some years ago. He practiced it many times and said you could fire short bursts with reasonable control while advancing. He certainly didn't feel the gun was a particular encumbrance for him.
So my bias is still to ignore any such problems with the MG42 in the assault as not worth bothering with in a set of wargames rules, but I would consider the limited sustained RoF of the BAR something to account for. Each to his own. Wargaming is a broad church – unless you are on the Napoleonics boards of course! :-)

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2016 2:35 p.m. PST

Fred,

"Well I'm going to have to disagree with you in this one too. I think it sacrificed too much to make it effective in either defence of offence."
Okay. I think by itself it did, but that's why there were 3 of them. And please don't forget the reliance on organic (company-level) mortars and machine guns, armored support, and supporting fires (air and arty). It's not done in a vacuum. The concept was to have heavy weapons fill their role and let infantry do their role (not encumbered by weapons that were difficult to move into and use during the close assault). As I mentioned, the peril in this is lack of unity of effort when the different element leaders have differing priorities.

"That is presumably why the USMC needed 3 per squad In order to make fire and manoeuvre work and the army tried different solutions for the same reason."
Don't forget parity of capability within the elements of the squad. No one here but me is mentioning that, or even acknowledging that it could be a factor, but my opinion is that if you get burned by having the wrong guys in the wrong place and suffer (casualties) for it, it kind of becomes a big deal to you.

"Compared to the Bren which is as handy in the assault, but with a quick change barrel and top mounted mag making sustained fire more practicable the BAR looks poor. I think it's principle failing is not putting out enough fire to win fire superiority which is a prerequisite to,allow freedom of manoeuvre."
Okay.

But let me attack this another way: do you think the US was capable of building the MG-42? Or how about the Bren? I hope you agree that it was possible. So, if it's possible, why didn't the US do that, instead keeping the BAR from beginning to end of the war? Do you think not building and issuing the Bren/MG-42 was a case of '@#$% the grunts, let them use that piece of @#$%,' or do you think it was more an issue of what the US military wanted to do doctrinally?

You can agree or disagree with my statement that the BAR did what it was intended to do; at this point I think we've established which side each side of us is on. During the course of this tremendously long thread we've even compared and contrasted the various weapons (and gotten into quite a debate about what is and what is not a machine gun), which I think is a bit unfair as they weren't used in the same roles.

I wholeheartedly agree with your statement regarding firepower winning space for maneuver, but that's where the parity of capability becomes an issue. The USMC concept was two BARs were firing while the third was moving (assuming that was what the tactical situation called for). Exact same idea as the German one of advancing the gun, though (if we're talking about squad fire and manuver) the Germans had no gun firing when theirs was moving (minus PzGren and later when 2 guns became more prevalent in their squads).

"I suppose the M1's helped, but once your riflemen become involved in the firefight they are no longer free to manoeuvre."
I agree conceptually, but that's why the USMC had three different teams. My point being, you're only using the riflemen that were in the base of fire group(s) anyway, not the riflemen from the maneuver group(s).

"Whether this concept of ground truth as you call it is ever knowable is a moot point, but I believe you can at least keep your speculations about how things worked grounded in as much evidence as you can."
Okay. But what do we do when our speculations don't match?

"…Hitler chose the Ardennes for the attack was an obsession with woods and forest as the spiritual home…"
My speculation matches yours, no +1 to German morale for attacking the forests their tribes allegedly originated from ;)

"That where I am with your theory. You present no clear evidence to support it."
Ah, okay, I see. Well, then why not just write it off and continue with your life? Pretend I never said it? It can't be that big a deal.

I gave my best answer (spent way too much time already). What I gave you was food for thought, nothing more, nothing less. I cannot physically go back to every book I've ever read to pull quotes out from them (being in the military I didn't have room to keep much, so I read books and traded them; I don't have a master library), and I would not take the time (historians spend a career on such things) if I could.

And, as I already stated, my opinion is that combat does not lend itself to this type of statistical research. The issue is too complex, the human experience is too diverse, the factors too many. I mean, look at what's happening right here. If references are infallible no one should be questioning me on machine guns in their usage in combat as I was a machine gunner in combat, thereby my opinion is THE opinion, as verified by someone that was there (me). And if you need more, I can call up my buddies and have them parrot the same info.

But that's not how combat works. Why do both sides of a fight usually feel like they're getting their ass kicked until its over, when one did and one didn't? What possible quantitative analysis could explain that very common (from Jack's own 'research,' i.e., talking to various veterans of various wars, to include some of our opponents, from WWII to present) phenomenon?

Other than that, you can go back and read everything I've written, where you'll see my reasons (unfortunately, not supported by references) for why I believe the way I do. I can't do anymore. At heart I'm actually a nice guy, I can't not respond to someone if they take the time and put in the effort to post something for me; I'm begging you to let me go if we don't have something new to talk about. I mean that with all sincerity and kindness, no vitriol. I'm just alarmed that we're spinning our wheels, having gone as far as we can go.

"There is ample evidence explaining a deterioration in the performance of German infantry, but nothing to suggest that the Germans considered the MG42 hindered efforts because it wasn't handy in the assault."
If I said that most militaries involved in WWII increased the amount of heavy weapons available to support infantry units based on a shortage of manpower, that having more heavy weapons to offset the lack of bodies due to shrinking companies, platoons, and squads, and to defray the cost of potential future casualties by attempts to simply blast them out, knowing that close assault equals casualties, and those casualties were becoming more difficult to replace, would you agree with that?

So, if one were thinking that way, maybe the Germans weren't concerned with how handy the MG-42 was in the assault, maybe that wasn't the primary concern?

I never said the Germans didn't like the MG-42; I imagine if they didn't they wouldn't have used it. Just like the US military wouldn't have used 'inferior' weapons like the BAR or M4 Sherman if it wasn't the best (not perfect) solution for what they were trying to do. We're getting into issues of whether doctrine was correct or not, rather than the implements of said doctrine.

"The Germans were fairly rigorous in evaluating their equipment and tactics and making recommendations for changes."
Okay.

"The 2 Panzertruppen books have numerous examples of such evaluations of both German and enemy equipment and recommendations for changes in equipment and tactics."
I've seen official US Marine Corps reports from 2004 detailing the shortcomings of the M-16 rifle in Iraq, the same year I was there. I disagree with them, from personal experience, and even got to argue with one of the authors, a Captain from my battalion.

"I have seen no such reports for the MG42 adversely commenting on its effect on the assault or praising the handiness of the enemies equipment."
The counter is also true. Except submachine guns; seems every Army wanted to use another Army's submachine guns (and/or carbines; seems the Germans were quite fond of the M-1 carbine).

"German MG42 gunners were taught how to brace the gun and keep firing while advancing in the final stages of the assault and Bundeswehr MG gunners were taught the same with the MG3 according to an ex BW machine gunner I had an extensive email exchange with some years ago."
Okay. But again we are on different wavelengths, please see below.

"He practiced it many times and said you could fire short bursts with reasonable control while advancing. He certainly didn't feel the gun was a particular encumbrance for him."
Fred, I never said you can't assault fire a machine gun (which is what that is called; the M-60E3 even had a foregrip to aid in assault fire). Several points, only my opinions (and no disrespect to your friend):

-if machine guns weren't an encumbrance, militaries around the world wouldn't have rifles, submachine guns, shotguns, carbines, and pistols. Weapons are tools, and doctrine is set at using the best tool for each role in the mission. The gun is not the tool to clear a room or bunker with, the gun is the tool to pin/suppress the room/bunker so the guys with the right tools can go clear it.

If you have no other tool you will use what you have, but that doesn't mean that's what the plan was, and it's not going to be as effective as the appropriate tool.

This gets back to parity of capability, so you don't end up in the 'the rifle group was under fire and couldn't get out, so they served to establish the base of fire and the gun group charged the house' category. And when you look at things that way, the BAR suddenly doesn't seem so bad. It's not the best tool for either role, but it's the best tool for both (and not operating in a vacuum).

Your buddy mentioned 'reasonable control,' and I'd love to dig into that, but that would be unfair to you. I will ask you, what is 'reasonable control,' and does that do what the mission calls for?

There's just so many issues, many I've already addressed. The big one, the one I think is most relevant here, is if you're not firing a machine gun off a tripod, maybe prone on a bipod (in certain circumstances), then you are not using a machine gun, you're using a belt-fed rifle, albeit one that two- to three times as heavy, has to be taken totally out of the fight (very perilous at close quarters, where you're most likely to be assault firing) to reload, one that is dangerous to your own folks when you're trying to move up under fire as a rifleman as opposed to a machine gun (I'm talking about firing off a three-round burst into the back of your buddy when you charge forward and flop down, hitting the butt of the weapon on the ground, sending the open bolt home). That's part of the mobility of the issue, not just the ammo, spare barrel, ammo, tripod, and the weapon itself, which ways two to three times that of a rifle.

Anyway, I found it an enormous encumbrance, but I probably just wasn't very good at my job ;)

"So my bias is still to ignore any such problems with the MG42 in the assault as not worth bothering with in a set of wargames rules, but I would consider the limited sustained RoF of the BAR something to account for."
Me, I don't let the MG-42 move and shoot in the same turn, whereas the BAR can, though the MG-42's firing dice are much more than the BAR's.

Which was my point earlier with VVV; we're actually doing the same thing, but arguing about terminology.

"Each to his own. Wargaming is a broad church…"
Amen brother, can I get a witness from the congregation!!!

"unless you are on the Napoleonics boards of course!"
Ugh… And I like Napoleonics, it's just hard to get into. I've got a literal pile of them in the room, staring at me.

Take care man; I hope I haven't come off as a @#$%. That was not my intent, and I apologize if I've offended anyone. I'm here because I like to help if I can, and I'll take the time to explain as much as I can, but I just get frustrated when we reach an impasse but won't acknowledge it and move on. Don't forget the last (real, on topic) paragraph: after all the disagreement about performance of troops, reasons in differences in doctrine and employment, etc…, in the end we're pretty much (if not exactly) doing the same thing on the tabletop.

V/R,
Jack

Weasel11 Sep 2016 2:48 p.m. PST

I'm starting to understand why people find Crossfire's "one squad is one squad" approach appealing :-D

foxweasel11 Sep 2016 3:00 p.m. PST

Some heavy discussions going on here. But broadly speaking, each individual armed forces uses what is best for them, doctrinally and tactically, generally based on research, trials and combat experience (and finance) The inescapable fact is that the section/squad weapons were all judged by their respective owners to be up to the job and retained to the end of the war (and in some cases, much longer)

Lion in the Stars11 Sep 2016 10:41 p.m. PST

6+ sounds about right to me, given stops for reloading, barrel cooling, barrel replacement, etc., especially with the MG42's 1,200 rounds per minute ROF. 20 rounds a second is a lot of firepower.

Guys with a semi-auto rifle can probably bang out 2 rounds in that time.


Closer to 4 aimed rounds a second with an intermediate cartridge in a semi-auto (like the MP44 or .30carbine). 1-2 rounds per second in a full-power rifle like a Garand or SVT40. If pushed, I could probably do 4 rounds per second in the SVT40, but not if you want me to actually hit something.

As far as the reason why the US didn't field the MG42, well, part of that was because the .30-06 cartridge was a little too long and skinny to feed reliably, and partly because the draftsman had messed up and had an error on the drawing that the machinists used to make the .30-06 T24 LMG. Failure to eject and chamber the next round off the belt!

VVV reply12 Sep 2016 7:48 a.m. PST

Me, I don't let the MG-42 move and shoot in the same turn, whereas the BAR can, though the MG-42's firing dice are much more than the BAR's

And in AAF, the MG34/42 can move and fire, just suffers an accuracy penalty for doing so. The BAR does not.

Just been reading and found that the US army did have an LMG, the M1919A6.

And of course the US army did design an LMG (or more properly a GPMG) the M60. Still had the requirement to be fired whilst advancing (as per BAR) but now with a quick change barrel (although you needed an asbestos glove to hold the hot barrel with),

Some heavy discussions going on here. But broadly speaking, each individual armed forces uses what is best for them, doctrinally and tactically, generally based on research, trials and combat experience (and finance)

And of course America had a law, which required the use of American weapons where possible,

Martin Rapier12 Sep 2016 7:55 a.m. PST

"I'm starting to understand why people find Crossfire's "one squad is one squad" approach appealing :-D"

Indeed.

donlowry12 Sep 2016 10:20 a.m. PST

I much prefer 1:1 for WW2, although I might fudge the ground scale a bit.

Fred Cartwright12 Sep 2016 12:03 p.m. PST

Jack,
You haven't offended anyone. This whole discussion has been conducted in a polite manner, no personal attacks or some of the nonsense you sometimes get on TMP.
The US built 2 copies of the MG42, the T-24 chambered for the 3006 round, but some unnamed draughtsman got a critical measurement wrong and the test fire was a disaster. So could the US have built the MG42 – obviously not! I jest of course. Of course any of the states involved could have copied and built their enemies weapons. The reason they didn't has to do with things not related to the weapons performance in combat. It has more to do with economics and production. Apart from the Germans the rest of the armies finished the war with the weapons they started with. That was due to the large stocks of weapons and ammo left over from WW1 and the lack of time and finance to develope new ones. The US stuck with the BAR as they had the design ready to go and large stocks of the original M1918. Same reason the British stuck with the SMLE.
As for reasonable control he stated he could put 3 round bursts accurately into the assault area, it wasn't a spray and pray type of fire.
With respect to the BAR it is interesting that although various post war equivalents – beefed up AR's meant to take the role of the squad LMG have been fielded like the LSW they don't seem to have lasted long and armies have gone back to something that has a better sustained fire rate. Suggesting that you still need something with a decent RoF to win fire superiority.

Blutarski12 Sep 2016 1:51 p.m. PST

Fred wrote – "Apart from the Germans the rest of the armies finished the war with the weapons they started with."

The US M1 carbine?

B

Fred Cartwright12 Sep 2016 2:27 p.m. PST

Yes there were a few new ones from other countries. The Sten for example. Compare that to the Germans who produced the MP40, MG42, Stg44, Stg45, MP3008, G41 and G43.

VVV reply13 Sep 2016 1:12 a.m. PST

The US stuck with the BAR as they had the design ready to go and large stocks of the original M1918. Same reason the British stuck with the SMLE.

Not really 25,000 BARs were sent to equip the British Home Guard. So production of the BAR had to resume in double quick time to equip the rapidly expanding US army.

The British army had experimented with another rifle the P14 in WWI. And the Americans made some of their own in 0.30 calibre (M1917). The British took 730,000 of those, again to equip the Home Guard. After we had sufficient rifles the M1917s were supplied to the Resistance.

We also imported from US 0.30 Vickers MG which again went to the Home Guard.

Suggesting that you still need something with a decent RoF to win fire superiority.

I would suggest its more about the ability to sustain fire. Even the Germany MGs were not about continuous fire but about short fast bursts, the idea being to successfully hit targets which may be only exposed fleetingly. I gather towards the end of WW2 the Germans maxed the number of MGs they had in a squad for more firepower and they did not need the mobility of the riflemen. The MP43 equipped squads did not have MGs. So thats the purpose of the squad MG, to provide firepower, the riflemen provide the mobility.

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2016 4:06 p.m. PST

Lion – "Closer to 4 aimed rounds a second… but not if you want me to actually hit something."
I was gonna say, we may be using different definitions for 'aimed rounds,' the sights don't even settle that fast ;)

Fred – I appreciate it man.

"With respect to the BAR it is interesting that although various post war equivalents beefed up AR's meant to take the role of the squad LMG have been fielded like the LSW they don't seem to have lasted long and armies have gone back to something that has a better sustained fire rate. Suggesting that you still need something with a decent RoF to win fire superiority."
The USMC never went to having a 'true' machine gun in the squad, they've been external, in the Weapons Platoons. The USMC went from the BAR to the M-14 (using one per fireteam on a bipod, allowed to fire auto when all others were supposed to fire semi-auto) to the M-16 (same as the M-14) to the M-249 SAW. Even the M-27 is kinda a weird hybrid. The Marine Corps has always chosen to use actual machine guns in a supporting role, despite movies like "Full Metal Jacket" ;)

The US Army is more complicated. Mostly their 'leg' infantry didn't have machine guns in the squad, using M-14s then M-16 then the SAW, like the Marines, though they did mess around with having a 'machine gun squad,' the point of which was to have a dedicated base of fire element and not have them in the rifle squads.

But then you get into other TO&Es (and even they've changed back and forth over time) for Airborne, Mechanized, Air Cav during Vietnam, where they had/have a machine gun as an organic weapon in the squad.

Fred and VVVV – To me, the infantry squad needs high rate of fire to maximize fire superiority at the point of contact and to engage fleeting targets, but machine guns need distance (range) and sustained fire, two different roles.

"I gather towards the end of WW2 the Germans maxed the number of MGs they had in a squad for more firepower and they did not need the mobility of the riflemen. The MP43 equipped squads did not have MGs. So thats the purpose of the squad MG, to provide firepower, the riflemen provide the mobility."
Hey, that's what I said!!! ;)

V/R,
Jack

Whirlwind01 Nov 2016 11:06 a.m. PST

Re: the effectiveness of the BAR

Whilst reading some back issues of The Nugget, I stumbled upon John D Salt link referring to how the US Army rated its various weapons for wargaming purposes: PDF link (the password is victory)

Or one of the original versions here (see p.56): PDF link

The US Army rated the BAR as worth three rifles, and specifically half as effective as a .30cal LMG

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