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"How mobile was the Vickers?" Topic

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Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2020 11:41 a.m. PST

How mobile was it, was it mobile enough that none motorized infantry platoons often had them in support?

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian17 Mar 2020 11:48 a.m. PST

Anything is mobile if you have enough people to carry it.

So yes, but they hated life

Starfury Rider17 Mar 2020 11:56 a.m. PST

Parachute Bns had them, at least for 1944-45, subbed them for their second 3-in Mortar Pl. Chindits had them, with mule transport. Pretty much everyone else I can think of them had 15-cwt trucks, graduating to Universal carriers during 1943, or in Commando and Air Landing units, Jeeps at least.


Fingerspitzengefuhl17 Mar 2020 12:01 p.m. PST

The main issue is never the weapon system, it's manpacking the ammunition!

14th NJ Vol Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2020 12:48 p.m. PST

At over 80 total pounds for gun, tripod, and one box of ammo I'd say not real mobil. And then there is the water can. Wasn't it a 6 to 8 man team to move all that ?

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2020 1:04 p.m. PST

Not bad when mounted on a tank, or other vehicle.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2020 1:20 p.m. PST

At least it wasn't the Soviet M1910 Maxim, which, with wheeled mount and shield, was 152 lbs. I'm sure the wheels helped to some extent, but not in snow, mud, or any type of rough going.

Windy Miller17 Mar 2020 4:34 p.m. PST

The gun on its own weighed 28lbs, the tripod was about 40lbs, one 250 round box of .303 was 22lbs (ammunition allocation was about 7000 rounds per gun), plus about a gallon of water for the cooling jacket, which was another 10lbs. Manpacking it would have been possible but deeply unpleasant.

Skarper17 Mar 2020 5:27 p.m. PST

It's not suitable for 'fire and movement'. You could take it anywhere given enough manpower and determination.

But it tended to get set up and used to provide covering fire or defensive fire. The German sMG34/42 was far more mobile [since there was no water cooling] but it still took a large mob of troops to move it and the ammo.

bsrlee18 Mar 2020 1:11 a.m. PST

They managed to cart them around the Western Front in WW1, thru the mud and wire.

Normal manning would have been a section of 10 or so men. In addition to the stuff mentioned above there was also a 3 foot rangefinder and firing tables for indirect fire 'available'.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP18 Mar 2020 2:06 a.m. PST

But my question still stands, would infantry platoons or companies have them available for support? I looked at TO&Es for British companies and battalions, and can't find the Vickers in any of them. So are they regimental or even brigade support?

arealdeadone18 Mar 2020 2:38 a.m. PST

From memory Brits organised MMGs into their own battalions. Not sure how this worked when it came to supporting infantry

Starfury Rider18 Mar 2020 2:39 a.m. PST

OK, it all depends on when you're talking about and at which units. So for 1944-45, a Br Inf Div would have an MG Bn, with three MG Coys (12 guns each) and one Mortar Coy (16 x 4.2-in weapons). An MG Coy could be attached to each Inf Bde, which could then allocate one MMG Pl of four guns to each Inf Bn. Or, more guns could fire in support of a leading Bn as part of an offensive action.

Armd Divs had a single, Indep MG Coy, with 12 MMGs and four 4.2-in mortars. The Coy supported the Inf Bde of the Armd Div. The Motor Bn of the Armd Bde had two MMG Pls, with four guns each.

Italy had some variations, because they had Support Bns in some Divs, which had a different structure, but effectively allowed for one MG Coy per Inf Bde, plus a larger Mortar Coy (eight 4.2-n mortars in two Pls). Sp Bns gradually converted to the MG Bn format outlined above.

Airborne and Commando units had MMGs at Bn/Cdo level.


uglyfatbloke18 Mar 2020 4:13 a.m. PST

An Airlanding or Para battalion would have an MG platoon as part of it's establishment, also a mortar platoon, an Airlanding battalion also had an AT platoon with 6 pounders. but airborne battlaions had to have the capacity to be self-contained as far as possible. Wargames tend to make Vickers teams into an extra rifle squad tacked on to a platoon. All our WW2 projects are built as companies to justify the existence of a MMG or mortar section, but – broadly speaking – they should not really appear as platoon-level assets and as pairs, not on their own. If memory serves about 6 men to a Vickers team. Out MMG teams have 3 men actually on the gun base and a pair of ammo bearers. Lose the ammo humpers and the fire value of he gun is reduced. Also, an MMG should not be a very efficient weapon as very close ranges other than to cover a road or similar – yon can't really spray the rounds about the place to any useful purpose other than to make a scary noise…which can be significant admittedly. I once caried a Vickers a short distance and found it pretty uncomfortable to lug about….there again I'm a wimp.

Legion 418 Mar 2020 11:42 a.m. PST

Anything is mobile if you have enough people to carry it.
So yes, but they hated life

The main issue is never the weapon system, it's manpacking the ammunition!

Manpacking it would have been possible but deeply unpleasant.

Agreed ! Never had to carry a Vickers, but in the US Army we had M2 .50 cals. … Usually kept them mounted on the vehicle. But if we did dismount it for e.g. a deliberate defense, it was not carried very long or very far. Just into it's dug in fighting position.

They managed to cart them around the Western Front in WW1, thru the mud and wire.
But WWI was not really a war of mobility.

Martin Rapier19 Mar 2020 1:56 a.m. PST

In infantry divisions, vickers guns were allocated from the divisional MG battalion. Usually one company per brigade.

So a battalion would have from a platoon to a company in support. Minimum allocation was usually a section of two Vickers.

I have come across odd instances where platoons had a vickers section attached, but more usually they were controlled at company or battalion level.

Patrick R19 Mar 2020 8:48 a.m. PST

The Maxim, the progenitor of the Vickers was conceived as close support artillery as of the thinking of the day.

Their weight and bulk made them into mostly defensive weapons, but as time went by they discovered that the infantry would need more mobile weapons. The Vickers is extremely portable compared to the Russian or German versions of the day.

The general idea is that the Vickers is not part of the maneuver elements, rather it can be deployed to support infantry on the move and only moved when the infantry moves too far ahead. The British soon noticed that getting a machinegun into position quickly to stop counterattacks was a good idea and rather than try to make the Vickers more "mobile" as in the German 08/15 they simply used the Lewis gun. These will cover the gap until they can bring up the Vickers.

The British did a lot of work to motorize their MG battalions using motorcycles, trucks or even carriers, the last being quite effective in allowing troops to deploy an MG forward very quickly.

The Vickers was one of the best water-cooled MG's out there, but once the concept of the Univeral Machinegun or GPMG was introduced it became obsolete.

Legion 419 Mar 2020 2:50 p.m. PST

Agreed Patrick …

JARROVIAN Supporting Member of TMP19 Mar 2020 4:53 p.m. PST

My grandfather was Machine Gun Corps in WWI, and I'm sure he told me the 'mulepacked' their guns and equipment in France.

Legion 420 Mar 2020 1:18 p.m. PST

I've seen photos of that. Very good way to move heavy weapons and ammo until you get close to frontline.

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