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"What was the role of the Browning BAR?" Topic


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©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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mwindsorfw Supporting Member of TMP20 Oct 2017 4:33 p.m. PST

The Browning BAR does not seem to have been an effective LMG, but troops seem to have liked it. What role did it play? What did it add to a U.S. squad after they were equipped with the M1 Garand?

Tgunner Supporting Member of TMP20 Oct 2017 4:47 p.m. PST

It was an automatic rifle and it was pretty effective IN THAT ROLE. A BAR could send a lot of metal down range and it was more portable than the LMGs used by other nations. It also only needed one man to crew it too, so it was a great support weapon for US rifle squads.

However it wasn't as good a true, belt fed, LMG like the MG42 or even the BREN. It wasn't belt fed and didn't have a quick release barrel so it just couldn't be a true light machine gun. It wasn't intended to be either. It was automatic rifle and it played that role very well. It was great as a weapon that could lay down a base of fire to support the advance of a fast moving rifle squad, but it just couldn't match true machineguns for laying down fire.

As the war went on US squads acquired more of them to boost their firepower, so it wasn't unheard of for a squad to have two or even three of them. Arguably, it was the BAR that led the US to start fielding the four man fireteam that is used even now.

saltflats192920 Oct 2017 4:47 p.m. PST

A 20 round box magazine vs an 8 round clip?

Sobieski20 Oct 2017 5:39 p.m. PST

What about the Royal RAF, the United US, and the World WHO?

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP20 Oct 2017 6:04 p.m. PST

The BAR was never intended to be a squad LMG – it was developed in WWI as a squad support for "walking fire", that is to lay down fire while being held by a soldier advancing forward

While it never did quite live up to the concept, it did provide a rifle squad with some extra firepower and as noted the troops certainly could not get enough of them

RudyNelson20 Oct 2017 6:18 p.m. PST

As mentioned the 20 rounds before reloading indicates that it was a support weapon. Do not forget that it had a light machine style bipod to stabilize fire. The BAR place as many rounds as two and a half soldiers and in less than half the time.
It also did not require a separate loader who would be poorly armed. More effective squads fire power ratio.
Also in regards to bullet size, the .30 caliber medium machine gun fired the same size round and took longer to deploy and get into action than the BAR

attilathepun4720 Oct 2017 7:14 p.m. PST

Frederick is quite right about the original concept for the BAR during World War I, to lay down fire while on the move; however, it wasn't ready in time to really be tested in that war. Apart from the factors that others have mentioned, the BAR was pretty accurate when firing single rounds. An uncle who saw combat in both World War II and Korea once commented that he really liked the BAR.

Personal logo Cardinal Hawkwood Supporting Member of TMP20 Oct 2017 8:22 p.m. PST

and the chosen weapon of Clyde Barrow

picture

Personal logo jdginaz Supporting Member of TMP20 Oct 2017 10:58 p.m. PST

Funny thing is neither weapon his is holding is a BAR, the top one is a 30-40 Krag the other appears to be a cut down shotgun

Personal logo jdginaz Supporting Member of TMP20 Oct 2017 11:03 p.m. PST

Funny thing is neither weapon his is holding is a BAR, the top one is a 30-40 Krag the other appears to be a cut down Browning semi-auto model 98 .shotgun

UshCha Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2017 12:54 a.m. PST

Its interesting. The Garand was a better rifle so there may be some argument that the overall firepower of a US squad with a BAR was not much worse than the Brits with a BREN. Not only that but the US are going back to theis concept, away from the Squad automatic weapon, acknowleging that it will not have the same suppressive effect as a Squad Automatic wepon.

surdu2005 Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Oct 2017 1:44 a.m. PST

That is NOT what they are acknowledging. The Marines have done some interesting studies. The M-27 rifle has more range than the M- 4 and has a slightly higher rate of fire. The Marines believe that fewer but better placed rounds have a more suppressive effect than a lot of inaccurate rounds. In the meantime the Army is looking to dump 5.56 and go back to 7.62. After 30 years in the Army, both ideas have some merit.

I don't have the URL handy, but there are a couple of really nice videos on YouTube by a professor of mine at West Point, named Alphin. He did a comparison video of the BAR vs. the MG-34/42 and a US squad versus a German squad. These are almost 30 years old, but they were part of his master's thesis, if I recall correctly.

mwindsorfw Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2017 3:23 a.m. PST

Thanks Surdu2005, the video was most instructional. Here is the URL: YouTube link

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2017 4:50 a.m. PST

The BAR started off as a weapon designed to help soldiers cross no-man's land. The original model didn't have a bipod and featured a cup on the belt to fit the stock that would allow a trooper to fire semi-automatic shots and suppress enemy troops until they got in close, switch to full auto and start to clean up the enemy trench.

The very idea that US Doughboys were expected to walk across the battlefield, shooting their way in, shows that they had a very wrong idea of actual combat conditions on the Western Front and despite the French and British trying to tell them their tactics emphasizing things like walking fire and long range marksmanship were utter rubbish, US commanders persisted with them until the end of the war.

In the post-war era the US army didn't quite know what to do with the BAR. The Belgians and Poles looked at the problem and converted them into relatively effective light machineguns by adding a pistol grip for better control and a quick-change barrel. Because the weapon was meant to be fired from a bipod the magazines were kept short so they would not hit the ground and get damaged or make it hard to reload.

The US upgraded the BAR into a light machinegun and completely ignored the obvious lessons other armies had learned and removed the adequate sights (derived from the P17 Enfield Rifle) and replaced them with inferior ones. And then somebody who really must have had a special hatred for soldiers was tasked to design one of the worst possible bipods they could come up with. It was a perfect mix of clumsy wingnuts, flimsiness/instability and superfluous weight. And of course to compound the problem they figured that a pistol grip and a quick change barrel would only make things easier on your average GI, so they were dumped.

So the BAR which was 1918 cutting edge technology applied to a somewhat obsolescent design for a "walking fire automatic rifle", resulted in an overweight, impractical light machinegun in 1941.

Many soldiers in WWII got rid of the heavy useless bipod and many squads tended to acquire extra BAR's or hang onto the weapon whenever the gunner was lost in combat and a replacement, complete with a new BAR was assigned. As a result many US squads had 2-3 or more BAR's to lay down extra firepower.

The BAR worked best when used as a heavy automatic rifle, it was not very practical as an LMG and it usually took everyone in the BAR group shooting away to get a decent level of suppression. More often than not a whole squad would lay down fire, while another would fall guns blazing upon the enemy. In both squads, the BAR adding useful extra firepower.

In the right hands the BAR was a deadly weapon, and used in combination with the large proportion of other rapid firing weapons like the Garand, Thompson, Grease Gun and Carbine a single US squad would sound like a whole battalion attacking.

The BAR was rather heavy, poor at sustained fire and not really suitable as a light machinegun like the Bren or the MG 34/42. A problem somewhat alleviated by the widespread availability and use of the .30 MG at company level.

If the US army hadn't had so many other automatic weapons, the BAR would have been replaced or significantly upgraded.

As a weapon the BAR is really sitting between two chairs not quite a proper LMG and too big and heavy to be a decent automatic rifle. But in the context where it was used it worked well enough.

mwindsorfw Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2017 5:10 a.m. PST

How do games tend to treat the BAR?

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2017 5:57 a.m. PST

It varies from being in its own category outside the usual LMG/MMG/HMG triad to being lumped in with the LMG, while weapons like the MG-xx given superlative stats.

In Alzo Zero a full US squad blasting away with everything they have have as many dice as a single German MG.

In Chain of Command makes a distinction between automatic rifles like the BAR, magazine-fed LMG's and belt fed LMG's. US troops get a rule called "walking fire" which allows them to move and shoot without penalty.

I'm a bit hazy on Bolt Action, but the dice range is very limited so a rifle has 1 die, a BAR has 2 dice, and an MG has 5 dice or something.

Skarper21 Oct 2017 6:06 a.m. PST

With no experience of firing real weapons I would guess ….

A BAR is much better than a Bren or Mg42 when fired from the hip. You could and they did do that with both of the true MGs but it wasn't at all easy and the effect probably marginal.

But not really much use firing as an LMG. Yes – they did it…but the bulk of the firepower would be generated by the other 6-10 guys firing their M1s.

Kind of the exact opposite of the German system with the British coming in between.

Most games seem to give US units better firepower than British but unless that takes into account the likely manpower [up to 12 in a US squad and more likely 7-8 in A British one] it is overdone IMO.

Andy ONeill21 Oct 2017 6:42 a.m. PST

I'm not so sure the bar was better than a bren fired from the hip. This was fairly common practice in british use which implies it must have been reasonably practical.
I've read descriptions of snap shots fired from the hip against "snipers" and in street fighting seem to have worked.

My understanding on the use of the BAR:

The BAR was "officially" to be used rather like a lmg with a loader. In practice, most units just had the gunner operating it and re-allocated the loader to regular rifleman duties.
Most units ditched the bipod and the weapon then became a sort of heavy rifle. An automatic rifle.

Some units were keen on it and had 3 or even 4 in a section.
Some units were not keen on it and swapped theirs for smg or rifles.

The problem is that individually "manned" personal weapons just weren't very effective in ww2 use. Unless in elite formations.
I should think this explains why some paras should describe the BAR as great whilst regular infantry could say it's a heap of way-too-heavy junk.
To the highly motivated elite soldier it's got auto capability with a larger capacity. To the regular Joe it's heavy and he's not going to hit anything whatever the weapon he's using until it's on top of him.

Rather than thinking in terms of weapon differences there's another way to consider ww2 squad weapons.
It's not so much the lmg that matters as the leader paying attention to it's use and having his strange effect multiplier on the primary section weapon.
Obviously, not the only factor at play but worth considering if you're focussed on the stats of weapons.

Blutarski21 Oct 2017 7:44 a.m. PST

The following commentary is taken from "Guidebook for Marines":

"Upon opening fire, the squad seeks to gain fire superiority over the enemy holding up its advance. Fire superiority is gained by subjecting the enemy to fire of such accuracy and volume that the enemy fire ceases or becomes ineffective. The squad leader commits enough of his squad so that fire superiority is gained. The fire teams use all of the weapons at their disposal to accomplish this task. Rifles, rifle grenades and especially the automatic rifle, are employed. The automatic rifle's capacity for delivering a large volume of fire makes it especially useful in gaining fire superiority. This weapon is normally controlled by the fire team leader. The fire team leader may designate the firing position, the target and the rate of fire for the automatic rifle. He usually initiates the movement of the automatic rifle to new firing positions, endeavoring to place the weapon in such a position that enfilade or oblique fire can be placed upon the enemy."

The BAR, as a weapon, is described as follows:
"Because of its great fire power it is the most vital weapon of the platoon. All men in the platoon, whether they are armed with the BAR or not, must know all about it so that any of them can man the weapon is a BAR man is knocked out."

Cyclic rate (selectable) 550 or 350 rpm
Effective rate of fire 120 to 150 rpm
Sustained rate of fire 40 to 60 rpm
Rounds per burst 2-3 or 4-5

USMC squad organization =
[1 x squad leader] + [3 x fire teams]
USMC fire team organization =
[1 x fire team leader] + [1 x automatic rifleman] + [1 x assistant automatic rifleman] + [1 x rifleman].

Each Marine infantry company had in addition a weapons platoon of 6 x M1919 air-cooled machine guns classified as LMGs.

In his book "Automatic Arms: Their History, Development and Use", Melvin Johnson makes some interesting observations about the automatic rifle versus the LMG in terms of tactical utility. He comments that, at the cost of a certain degree of sustained fire power, an automatic rifle is more mobile and versatile in offensive operations than a conventional LMG.

FWIW.

B

Fred Cartwright21 Oct 2017 8:28 a.m. PST

The US Army obviously weren't entirely happy with it as they tried to copy the MG42 and also put a bipod and buttstock on the 30 cal to produce probably the world's heaviest LMG. Post war most countries adopted a GPMG for squad use and stuck with it until the SAW came along. Although the Brits reintroduced the GPMG back to squads after experience in Afghanistan. I'm not sure what current thinking is or if there is any consensus? What round, 7.62 or 5.56 or something in between and what to fire it from? Also what the doctrine is, accuracy or volume of fire?

donlowry21 Oct 2017 9:07 a.m. PST

an automatic rifle is more mobile and versatile in offensive operations than a conventional LMG.

An important point!

Blutarski21 Oct 2017 9:29 a.m. PST

One complaint regarding the BAR was its very high cost of manufacture, which resulted from its extensive use of milled and machined components. This was, I believe, the principal reason why the US showed no interest in copying the German MG34. The MG42, on the other hand, incorporated numerous steel stampings in place of milled steel, which made it faster, easier and considerably less expensive to produce; hence the US interest in copying it. (Side note I've always suspected that the failure of the T24 program to copy the MG42 was bureaucratically orchestrated rather than accidental.)

B

Blutarski21 Oct 2017 9:59 a.m. PST

"The US Army … put a bipod and buttstock on the 30 cal to produce probably the world's heaviest LMG"

I was curious about this matter of BAR weight and checked my references.

BAR Model 1918 – 16 lbs
BAR Model 1918A1 – 18.5 lbs
BAR Model 1918A2 – 19.4 lbs (standard WW2 issue)

MG34 – 26.5 lbs + spare barrel 5 or 6 lbs
MG42 – 25.5 lbs + spare barrel 5 or 6 lbs
Bren Mk1 – 22.12 lbs + spare barrel 6.28 lbs
Bren Mk2 – 23.18 lbs + spare barrel 6.46 lbs
Bren Mk3 – 19.3 lbs + spare barrel 5.09 lbs (late war 44+)
Bren Mk4 – 19.14 lbs + spare barrel 5.0 lbs (Korean War)
Soviet DP – 26.23 lbs
Soviet DPM – 26.9 lbs

The weight of the spare barrel arguably should be included into the weight calculation for LMG's with quick-change capability; Otherwise, the sustained fire advantage of such a weapon is largely negated. Strictly my opinion, of course.

FWIW.

B

jim 3921 Oct 2017 10:28 a.m. PST

My dad was in the army in the late 30's, before joining the Navy.

He was a BAR man. He said the the best thing about it was that if you qualified Expert on it you got paid an extra $5 USD a month.

Fred Cartwright21 Oct 2017 11:17 a.m. PST

Interesting there is not a lot of difference in weight between the MG34/42 and the other proper LMG's. The Browning M1919A6 however weighed a whopping 32 lbs! It had a lighter barrel so not so suited to sustained fire like the tripod M1919A4.

attilathepun4721 Oct 2017 12:15 p.m. PST

It just struck me that, in view of the age of its original design, it might be more appropriate to examine the BAR's characteristics in comparison to the World War I Lewis gun or the execrable French Chauchat.

UshCha Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2017 12:38 p.m. PST

surdu2005

I found this on Wikipedia.

Each M27 gunner was to be equipped with around twenty-two 30-round magazines of the type currently in use with the M16 and M4 carbine approximating the combat load of an M249 SAW gunner; although the M27 gunner would not be expected to carry all 22 magazines. The individual combat load would be determined at the unit level and was expected to vary by unit, based on results of evaluations conducted by the four infantry battalions and one light armored reconnaissance battalion that participated in the Limited User Evaluation. Though program officials were aware that switching from the belt-fed M249 would result in a loss of suppressive fire capability, Charles Clark III, of the Marine Corps' Combat Development and Integration Office, cited the substantially increased accuracy of the M27 as a significant factor in the decision to replace the M249.[20]

This specifically states that replacing the M249 with an M27 results in the loss of supressive fire. This is not the only source, and not the one I first looked at but the conclusion is the same.

Clearly its a close call between a BAR type and an LMG's as they have different advantages. But supressive fire is not the BAR or M27's strong suit.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2017 1:08 p.m. PST

The Lewis was a proper light machinegun, it was a good design, certainly far more flexible than the Maxim, but still very heavy.

The Chauchat was an attempt to mass produce an automatic weapon that could be made very cheaply using simple tools. The French solved some of the reliability problems by issuing waterproof bags to carry the weapon and the ammo. When used properly they did work, but it required a bit of nursing to keep it in good working order.

The botched conversion to .30-06 was a disaster and only made a tricky weapon almost useless.

The BAR was a "proper" state of the art automatic rifle in 1917. The conversion to an LMG was probably a bit of a mistake and it could have been made better if they had simply switched to the more effective FN version.

The MG-34 came about in the 1920's when the Germans came up with the concept of a "universal" machinegun that could perform all roles, from tripod mounted heavy machinegun to light machinegun or even as a vehicle mounted weapon. It was a state-of-the-art design, requiring special alloys and was complex and expensive to manufacture. The much simpler MG-42 could be made from stamped steel much faster at a reduced cost.

The M1919 was a similar concept for a universal machinegun, but unlike the German design it wasn't considered for use as a portable weapon, but could perform different roles as heavy and medium machinegun.

monk2002uk21 Oct 2017 10:15 p.m. PST

The Chauchat was not alone in requiring careful attention. The Lewis gun was equally vulnerable, especially with the open underside of the drum magazine. I have a German movie clip that shows an MG08/15 jamming multiple times within the 2 minute segment. All three were capable of being fired from the hip on the march but only the Chauchat was specifically designed for this additional purpose. Most American troops in WW1 were trained by French instructors or training methods using French weapons. In the case of the Chauchat, a modified version was created to handle different calibre ammunition. Chauchats were used to provide suppressive fire from the hip from early 1916, which is likely how BAR gunners came to use this same approach once it was issued on the Western Front.

Robert

14Bore22 Oct 2017 3:02 p.m. PST

Very interesting video, but then have always loved the BAR though never fired one. My dad has, was the BAR man in his NG unit

Lion in the Stars22 Oct 2017 4:59 p.m. PST

I think the big failing of the BAR was the lack of a quick-change barrel. This left it unable to fill the role of the Bren.

As far as the M27 goes, part of the requirement was to have a weapon that didn't look like a SAW (to protect the gunner from snipers in an urban setting). The Marines still have SAWs in the company TO&E, the basic idea is to carry M27s in the cities and SAWs in the country.

Pizzagrenadier22 Oct 2017 5:18 p.m. PST

I've fired the BAR, the MG-42 in both light and heavy role, and the DP-28 all full auto.

I'm not a trained infantryman, I never had to hump these or their ammo or parts nor maintain them in the field but…

I was really very impressed with the BAR. I can tell you it has a very distinct presence. That 30.06 round is loud, it is accurate, and it hits hard. The ROF of the MG-42 IS, of course, impressive. But if I had to choose any of those to take into battle, it'd be the BAR, hands down. The weight is a factor, but carrying the mags in belt pouches and bandoleers would seem to distribute that pretty well and it handled pretty well.

The DP was neat but loaded awkwardly and you easily burned yourself on the barrel and receiver while firing.

My two admittedly very limited cents for this discussion.

Starfury Rider24 Oct 2017 1:22 a.m. PST

I started a couple of posts on this thread and didn't submit because I'm not really sure what to add; this is a query that comes around a lot because the BAR really stands proud from the support weapons found at Squad/Section level.

I have to declare my total admiration for the Bren, and it's very difficult not to judge all other by it, consciously or not. In a straightforward comparison the BAR looks a lot less capable than a purpose built LMG, with a decent sized box magazine and a barrel change facility.

However, the Bren complemented bolt action rifles, while the BAR worked alongside semi-automatic rifles, so becomes an important supplement to firepower rather than a focal point (as long as sufficient riflemen are contributing to the firefight with M1s).

I've seen a reasonable amount of reports that comment on US equipment by both GIs and Marines, and I struggle to think of any criticise the BAR. There are the usual moans about weight common to all feedback by men weighed down by pounds of kit, and references to removing the bipod as mentioned above. Other than that US end users seem to have been content that they were not disadvantaged by having the BAR rather than something most of us would recognise as an LMG proper.

The one thing I've always noted is that the US machine guns of WW2 almost all got their debut on the battlefields of WW1 (the BAR and the M1917, the M1919 came too late). In the interwar years almost all the major armies introduced LMGs for Squad/Section usage, and despite some interest there were relatively few semi-automatic rifles in use by 1939. Meanwhile the US had the M1 semi-automatic ready to go when it entered the war, but used the same suite of machine guns it had twenty years previously. There's nothing obviously wrong with any of them, though I think there were very real concerns about the weight of the M1919A4, partly addressed with the A6.

When it was first conceived the BAR was to equip a full Section of a 1918 US Rifle Platoon, four such weapons complementing dedicated Sections of riflemen, hand bombers and rifle grenadiers. It had spells as a Squad weapon, but even in 1941 the US Army and USMC had Auto Rifle Squads in their Platoon structures with a couple of BARs. Those went away quite quickly and the Marines worked up to two and later three BARs per Squad, which is a ratio I feel works better than just one supplemented by spares (scavenged or authorised) where available.

I've softened my scepticism of the utility of the BAR somewhat over the years, but do feel there could have been a better balance of M1s, BARs and M1919s across the US Army Rifle Coy, though doubt the ETO needed the same level of MGs as the Marines favoured in the PTO.

Gary

Skarper24 Oct 2017 4:13 a.m. PST

I was also a bit negative about the BAR for a long time. I wanted it to be less effective than the evidence suggested just to make it more different in game terms!

Given the US were going to be giving every GI a semi-auto rifle and expecting him to use it [radical idea I know] having a belt fed LMG anything like the MG34/42 wasn't going to work, because all those M1 users would be lugging ammo around and not doing their thing with those super rifles.

A bren could could have worked, but would have needed different ammo. Possible I guess to rechamber to the US calibre but they had home built BARs ready to go so went that way. It seems to have been enough.

2 BARs in a squad probably equals a single Bren gun anyway, and I think 2 per 12 man squad was pretty common by late 1944 in the ETO. On the attack you need fire and movement, so the riflemen have to be plentiful and able to move. The Germans could get away with 2 MG34/42s in a Gruppe late war since they were on the defensive.

There were quite a lot of M1919A4s and M1917 machine guns in a US infantry battalion anyway so on the defensive they probably managed OK without a true LMG in each squad.

donlowry24 Oct 2017 8:16 a.m. PST

Note that the US armored infantry used LMGs instead of BARs, since they had halftracks to carry them for them.

Pizzagrenadier24 Oct 2017 11:50 a.m. PST

Rangers and Paras had M1919s organic to their squads as well.

Legion 424 Oct 2017 2:42 p.m. PST

The BAR was basically a SAW. And something else to remember about the US Inf in WWII. By about '42(?), most US Infantrymen carried the M1 Garand [or some the M1 Carbine later]. Both [primarily] semi-auto. IIRC some version of M1 Carbines could fire full auto ?

Most other armies of that time period were still using bolt action rifles as their standard Infantry weapon. The semi-auto ability could give a well trained, well lead unit an edge in firepower, etc.

Back in my distant youth, I humped an M14(@ 11.5 lbs.) then the M16(@ 7.6 lbs.), and occasionally the M60 MG(@ 23 lbs.), M203 GL (@ 11 lbs.) and the M249 SAW (@ 21 lbs.) At about the 8-10 mile mark of a 12 mile forced road march. They all weighted a ton ! evil grin

Skarper25 Oct 2017 3:04 a.m. PST

A key point worth remembering is that if everyone is going to contribute to a firefight a lot of semi-automatic rifles is probably the ideal.

If most are just going to play possum or blast away without effect then a few bolt actions and one proper LMG is going to get better results.

Assuming someone is able and willing to use the weapon to full effect of course.

A two man crew with a clear duty to provide the base of fire was I understand found to be more effective than an individual guy on his own with a weapon that was useful but not as vital. The BAR no 2 even if not reassigned as a regular rifleman is unlikely to hover next to the BAR gunner since it just makes a better target to little purpose.

BARs are probably more often knocked out of action by a wound or pinning the operator than a BREN or MG42 with a second or even 3rd man also assigned.

I would want this kind of thing covered in detailed skirmish games but abstracted into a FP factor or similar in anything above a platoon a side.

As an aside, I don't think the BAR had a clear role. It existed and could be mass produced at home in the US so they were ordered, built, delivered and issued. The Army and Marine Corps then had o work out how to use them. They may have wanted a true LMG, but they got the BAR and worked with it.

Paratroops and some other units wouldn't touch the BAR at first, but warmed to it later.

donlowry25 Oct 2017 7:57 a.m. PST

IIRC some version of M1 Carbines could fire full auto

FROM WIKI:
"Initially, the M1 carbine was intended to have a select-fire capability, but in order to speed up development it was decided to omit this feature. On 26 October 1944, in response to the Germans' widespread use of automatic weapons, especially the Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle, the select-fire M2 carbine was adopted, along with a new 30-round magazine. The M2 had a fully automatic rate-of-fire of about 850900 rounds-per-minute. Although actual M2 production began late in the war (April 1945), US Ordnance issued conversion-part kits to allow field conversion of semi-auto M1 carbines to the selective-fire M2 configuration. These converted M1/M2 select-fire carbines saw limited combat service in Europe, primarily during the final Allied advance into Germany. In the Pacific, both converted and original M2 carbines saw limited use in the last days of the fighting in the Philippines."

You can see an M2 fired in fully automatic mode in the old '50s science fiction movie "The Thing" (an excellent movie, BTW), when Dewey Martin fires one through a wooden door at the monster.

BTW, the carbine is said to have an effective range of only 200 yards, after which there is considerable drop.

Murvihill25 Oct 2017 9:12 a.m. PST

I shot an M2 once. We only had six rounds, but I put three of them in the ceiling…

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP25 Oct 2017 10:57 a.m. PST

I accidentally converted an M1 Carbine to full auto once … if only for one burst.

When I was a younger man I was quite enthusiastic about collecting guns. Well, only some of them were in my collection. The M1 Carbine was in fact a gift for my father, who had expressed his admiration for it as his preferred side-arm from his experiences in the Tank Destroyer command in WW2. He was a rather small man, and left-handed, and didn't like the M1 Garand not only because if it's weight and recoil, but also because it was awkward to shoot for a lefty. Although both were designed for right-handed shooters, the Carbine discarded it's empty cartridges upwards, while the Garand tended to discard them to the right (into his face).

Anyways I was the care-taker of the Carbine, doing the cleaning after each time we took it out to the range. One time while cleaning the gun I not only field-stripped it but did a full take-down of the trigger assembly, in my enthusiasm to get every bit and piece cleaned up. Even with an illustrated after-market handbook it was a right PITA to put it back together.

And, evidently, not only was it difficult to put back together, but it was even more difficult to put it back together CORRECTLY. Seems I did not seat the sear properly.

So the next time we went to the range, I loaded it up, pulled the bolt, sited in, and fired off a burst of maybe 3 or 4 rounds full-auto (until the sear dropped into its proper place)!

Got a few odd looks from the guys on the firing line at the range that day…

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Legion 425 Oct 2017 1:38 p.m. PST

Thanks guys, I thought there was a version of the M1 Carbine [the M2] with full auto. old fart

BTW, the carbine is said to have an effective range of only 200 yards, after which there is considerable drop
Yes, not being a full .30 cal round like the M1 Garand, BAR, etc. The smaller Carbine round would not have the performance of the larger full sized rifle round. And of course, the Carbine barrel is shorter, etc. E.g. The CAR-15 in Vietnam, the "Carbine" version of the M16. Had @ 20% decrease in overall performance.

The M1/M2 Carbine round, e.g. is bigger than a pistol/SMG round but smaller than a full sized rifle round. Closer to a modern Assault Rifle round, but lacks the performance of modern Assault rifle rounds. For a number of reasons.

But of course based on some of the posts, many of you know that ! wink

Legion 425 Oct 2017 1:53 p.m. PST

A key point worth remembering is that if everyone is going to contribute to a firefight a lot of semi-automatic rifles is probably the ideal.
Fire Discipline, i.e. well trained & lead troops.

If most are just going to play possum or blast away without effect then a few bolt actions and one proper LMG is going to get better results.
Again, Fire Discipline …

I don't think the BAR had a clear role.
Again, I think it was = a SAW. Lighter than an MG, but could provide Suppressive Fire better than the M1. If for no other reason it had a 20 rd mag. vs. the M1's internal 8 rd mag.

E.g. : a Mech Inf Squad in a Mech Co., @ late '80s had the following organization.

Fire Tm A:

1 M60 MG
1 M203 GL
1 M249 SAW
2 M16s

Fire Tm B:

1 M47 MAW
1 203 GL
1 M249 SAW
2 M16

Properly utilized firepower usually gives you the edge … evil grin

Skarper27 Oct 2017 8:39 a.m. PST

I don't think we disagree fundamentally Legion.

I tend to stress the gap between what you would ideally train for and hope to achieve in combat, and what would actually tend to happen.

The fact that modern armies focus so much on fire discipline and drill this into their troops is in many ways testament to the shortfall noted in WW2. SLA Marshall's methods have been debunked, but his findings rang true with those who had survived combat.

I don't pretend to know what the purpose of the BAR may have been. I speculate it was just what they had available and the troops made the best use of it they could. With hindsight it fits the SAW role. The full auto version of the M14 is in many ways a BAR on steroids.

Andy ONeill27 Oct 2017 10:49 a.m. PST

Well the carbine is a bit off topic but…
The carbine might be lower power but it's round is more likely to exchange higher energy at short range.
Or at least that's the theory a couple of demonstrations I've seen seem to "prove". You get a way bigger hole in clay.

The main downsides of lower range and lower penetration are minors for most ww2 riflemen. They pretty much couldn't hit anything at the sort of range would make any difference. Lower penetration is of course bad but mostly you're only going to hit someone you can see with a semi auto 8 round rifle.
The carbine had a higher capacity mag and was lighter than the rifle.

Audie Murphy preferred the carbine.

Regarding fire discipline and well led troops.
You're looking at the likes of Rangers and Paras for that.
Winters and 13 guys took on 50 Germans. Regular infantry would likely have come unstuck.

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP27 Oct 2017 11:06 a.m. PST

I think this has been a very interesting discussion so far.

I don't pretend to know what the purpose of the BAR may have been. I speculate it was just what they had available and the troops made the best use of it they could.

I don't think so. It was not really so "available" that doctrine would have been adjusted to fit the materials on hand (as sometimes happens). Rather, I think that it was "available" enough that when the doctrine was put together, it was found to be good enough, after some minor engineering changes, to fit into a doctrinal requirement.

This issue, the doctrine, is what is so often missed in discussing weapons. And I think this issue has come out admirably well in this thread.

I can't see the MG-34/42 being successful in the doctrinal role the US Army had for the BAR. At the same time that I can say an emplaced MG-34/42 was far more effective than a BAR man at killing troops in the open at 400m, I can't see a single man running up with his MG-34, poking his head around a corner, firing off a burst at a house down the street, ducking back, running around the other side of the building, sprinting across the street with 3 squaddies, jumping over a wall, rolling up to the side of the target house, jamming his barrel through the window, spraying 10 rounds around the room, and ducking back again while the squaddies stuffed grenades through the window. Tell me you have saddle/snail drums for your ammo, or not, I don't care -- you aren't doing an instant-access one-man run-around with an MG-34/42.

I don't mean to say that my rather theatrical presentation of infantry combat was specifically in the doctrine. I am only using it to suggest that what the US Army foresaw, what the US Army Infantry Combat doctrine was constructed for, was based on mobility and firepower for every member of the squad. The whole squad had equal mobility. Not half the squad was stuck in place while half the squad could move about. Split the squad into fireteams if you like, but those fire teams are still equally mobile. That's not happening with a two or three man gun team that needs to set-up to fire effectively.

We can certainly debate whether the Germans had constructed a better infantry combat doctrine. But that's a question of doctrine first, and weapons only second.

I can look at a Bren (or FM24 or DP-28) and ask if it was a better design than a BAR. These weapons were kind of in-between, designed to do both the emplaced and mobile roles. But I can't look at an MG-34 or MG-42 and ask that question. Those guns took time and teamwork to set-up.

It's like asking if a Mosquito was a better design than an F4U Corsair. They were designed to do different things. If sometimes they both wound up doing the same job (for example attacking enemy shipping), we can assess their comparable performance for that task. But that doesn't mean one was a better plane than the other. It means one was a better choice for that task than the other.

The full auto version of the M14 is in many ways a BAR on steroids.

I see the relationship, but think it is inverted from this statement. The M14 is a BAR-lite. As I understand it, there was a heavy-barrel M14 that was intended to be used for the doctrinal need of the squad's automatic rifle. But it was found to be too lightweight in total construction to do what the BAR had done.

So the Soviets also found with their AVS-36 and AVT-38. Their concept, developed in the same timeframe that the US Army's M1 Garand / BAR combination came to fruition, was the SVS-36 or SVT-38 semi-auto rifles combined with the AVS-36 or AVT-38 automatic rifle. But the Siminov designs (AVS and AVT) were just not robust/reliable enough, and the Tokarev designs (AVT and SVT) were a bit short on reliability and high on cost, and by the time they had settled on the Tokarev design, and re-engineered it to improve robustness and reduce cost (the SVT-40) they gave up on trying to make the automatic rifle work.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Legion 428 Oct 2017 6:04 a.m. PST

I don't think we disagree fundamentally Legion.
No I don't think we really disagree at all. I was just adding a little content/context based on my experiences, training, etc. I've used the '03 Springfield, M1 Garand, M14 and M16 (even the Mauser 98K. At one time or another. Of course, any of those in a capable soldier's hands will generally hit/kill the target. I mean, that is what they were designed to do. But as tech evolves, so does the weapons and in turn tactics, generally(but not always) …

I tend to stress the gap between what you would ideally train for and hope to achieve in combat, and what would actually tend to happen.
True in some/many cases. Again that is why I mention training, rehearsals, range time and experience, exercises, etc., will give the force that preforms those "tasks"/exercise, etc., Properly and frequently will most likely "have the edge" …

The full auto version of the M14 is in many ways a BAR on steroids.
*Interestingly … I've never seen the Full Auto version of the M14 … only in FMs, etc. IMO, with it's added bipod, it would have made a good SAW. Or better than the "solution" I experienced. In the 101 as a Rifle PL …


I am only using it to suggest that what the US Army foresaw, what the US Army Infantry Combat doctrine was constructed for, was based on mobility and firepower for every member of the squad. The whole squad had equal mobility. Not half the squad was stuck in place while half the squad could move about. Split the squad into fire teams if you like, but those fire teams are still equally mobile.
Very much agree. And that was my experience '75-'79 as a lowly ROTC Cadet. And '79-'90 on active duty in the Infantry. Fire & maneuver within the Squad, by Fire Tms was the basis for more modern evolved tactics.

Hence weapons and the tactics/techniques were eventually designed to provide Squads/Fire Tms with Suppressive Fire capabilities. And the tactic of Fire & Maneuver. And the techniques utilized in that tactical doctrine of Bounding, Bounding Owerwatch, etc.

*As I mentioned above previously. As a PL in the 101, '80-'81. We didn't have the M249 SAW issued at that time. The ARMY's "solution" was to issue one M16 in the Fire Tm a "Close Pin" bipod. And designate those as "SAWs" …

I'll let you make your own decisions on that "measure". The Squad was similar to the Squad/Fire Tms I posted already above. Save for again, No M249 … frown

Lion in the Stars28 Oct 2017 6:07 p.m. PST

So the Soviets also found with their AVS-36 and AVT-38. Their concept, developed in the same timeframe that the US Army's M1 Garand / BAR combination came to fruition, was the SVS-36 or SVT-38 semi-auto rifles combined with the AVS-36 or AVT-38 automatic rifle. But the Siminov designs (AVS and AVT) were just not robust/reliable enough, and the Tokarev designs (AVT and SVT) were a bit short on reliability and high on cost, and by the time they had settled on the Tokarev design, and re-engineered it to improve robustness and reduce cost (the SVT-40) they gave up on trying to make the automatic rifle work.

That and they had tens of millions of functional Moisin-Nagants already in service. Also, it needs a tool to disassemble (and adjust the gas regulator), which was a big minus to the Soviets.

I have an SVT-40, vintage 1941. I'm quite fond of it, shoots very nicely and is lighter than most Moisins (size of a full-size M91, weight of an M44 carbine). But because it is so light, the barrel heats up very quickly, and I can only imagine how uncontrollable it would be in full auto.

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