LIGHT MACHINEGUNS PART 2:

Other Light Machineguns

 

6,5 mm light machinegun M/21:

(6,5 mm Kulsprutegevär m/21) aka (Kg m/21)

PICTURE: 6.5 mm light machinegun M/21 with its bipod folded below barrel. (Photo taken in Uudenmaa/Nyland Brigade). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (60 KB).

Calibre:

6,55 mm x 55

Length:

1110 mm

Barrel length:

612 mm

Weight:

8,7 kg

Fire-rate:

500/minute

Magazine:

arch-shaped box: 20

Official abbreviations:

"6,50 pk/21" and "650 PK 21"

Country of origin:

Sweden

Prototype:

Further development from B.A.R. m/1918

Finnish use: Used by Finnish troops and Finnish Lapland and Swedish SFK volunteer unit during Winter War. Coastal troops used these light machineguns during Continuation War.

Swedish M/21 light machinegun had its roots in US Browning Automatic Rifle M1918 (B.A.R.) developed by John Moses Browning and used by US troops in World War 1. But as Swedish Armed Forces standard rifle calibre was 6.5 mm x 55, this naturally came the calibre of M/21 light machinegun instead of American .30-06 used in original B.A.R. Soon After World War 1 United States introduced improved B.A.R. version called M1918A1. The US M1918A1 was the B.A.R. version to which the Swedish M/21 was based, but M/21 had been developed bit further and proved to be reliable weapon of good quality. Like name says M/21 was accepted to use of Swedish Armed forces at 1921. Another Swedish improved version called M/37 was introduced in late 1930's, both light machinegun models remained in use of Swedish armed forces long after 2nd World War. Like all weapons of Browning Automatic Rifle family also M/21 was gas-action automatic with gas-piston. Unfortunately the limitations of original B.A.R. design existed also in this weapon - as the name suggest Browning had originally intended B.A.R. as automatic rifle, not as light machinegun. So it lacked capability for barrel to be replaced fast (important feature for light machineguns) and diassebly/reassembly process was quite complicated for military weapon. The amount of gas going to gas-piston could be adjusted with gas-regulator, which had three settings (from these settings "S" was reserved for live ammunition and "L" to blank ammunition). Selector switch of the weapon had also three settings: P for semi-automatic fire, A for full-automatic fire and S for safe. The front sight was typical blade-type inside protective ring, while the rear sight was diopter-type with settings for 200 - 1200 meters. While the barrel could not be quickly replaced in the field the weapons equipment containing besides multitude of tools, spareparts and loading tool included also spare barrel. Finnish Army issued typically ten 20-round magazines with each of these weapons. While Swedish Army used leather magazine pouches made for magazines of light machinegun M/21, Finnish Army does not seemed to have had them and issued just magazine bags for carrying of their magazines. Early on Colt manufactured some 700 light machinegun M/21 for the Swedes, but most (some 7,500) were manufactured by Carl Gustafs Stadts Gevärsfaktori in Sweden. Also 1922 introduced Browning machinerifle and 7.92-mm calibre Polish M1928 light machinegun were based to M1918A1.

PICTURE: Closer look to receiver area of 6.5 mm light machinegun M/21. Notice various switches. The button inside trigger guard is magazine release. (Photo taken in Uudenmaa/Nyland Brigade). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (123 KB).

Finnish military equipment shortage during Winter War included also light machineguns. So Finland bought 130 light machineguns M/21 from Sweden in January - February of 1940. During Winter War some Finnish units stationed in northern Finland were issued with this light machinegun. When soldiers of Swedish (SFK) Volunteer Unit returned to Sweden after Winter War they left behind 204 light machineguns M/21, which they had brought with them. So after Winter War Finnish military had about 330 of these weapons. Germany occupied Denmark and Norway in spring of 1940, this made the Swedes to realise just how dangerous the situation was for them. So the Swedes asked some of the weapons delivered to Finland during Winter War to be returned. 105 light machineguns M/21 were included to the weapons which Finland returned to Sweden in 1940. During Continuation War Finnish military still had bit over 220 light machinegun M/21, these were soon issued to Coastal Troops (part of Navy), which used them till end of Continuation War. Finnish military routinely issued light machinegun M/21 with 10 magazines and two tool pouches. The remaining weapons were sold to Interarmco in 1958.

PICTURE: Two tool pouches were routinely issued with each M/21 light machinegun. This is the second pouch and next to it are its contents. (Photo provided by Lemmy). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (167 KB).

 

7,62 mm light machinegun M/20 Madsen:

(Let maskingevaer Madsen m/20)

PICTURE: Madsen M/20 LMG (Photo taken in Jalkaväkimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (25 KB).

Calibre:

7,62 mm x 54 R

Length:

1240 mm

Barrel length:

587 mm

Weight:

9,4 kg

Fire-rate:

500/minute

Magazine:

arch-shaped box: 30 (*)

Official abbreviations:

"7,62 pk/20" and "762 PK 20"

Country of origin:

Denmark

(*) The 1922 manual lists 25-round magazine, but this is likely an error in manual.

Finnish use: Used by Finnish Army between 1921 - 1936. First issued to cavalry and bicycle units, later also to infantry.

Danish Madsen designed was one of the first real successful light machineguns. The first version had originally been patented by Julius Rasmussen already in 1899. The improved version, which saw production was however patented by Jens Schouboe three years later. The weapon worked with barrel-recoil principle and started looking quite outdated already even before World War 2 even if its manufacturer Dansk Rekylriffel Syndikat / Dansk Industri Syndikat tried to develop it to keep up. Structure of the weapon's moving parts was quite unusual: Instead of really having anything unable to be considered as a bolt it had rammer and extractor, which did most of work. In fact the idea of this kind of action might have been based to old Peabody-Martini hinged-block action. The weapon was select fire - in other words it was capable to both semiautomatic and full-automatic fire. Rear sights of Madsen M/20 delivered to Finland settings between 200 - 1900 meters. Russia had first acquired Madsen light machineguns already in year 1904. During World War 1 both the Germans and the Russians used Madsen light machineguns in some extent. It's also known that during WW1 Russians were building factory in Kovrov, which would have allowed them to start domestic manufacturing of Madsen light machineguns. However the factory wasn't finished until October revolution wrecked existing plans and the Soviets were not interested about Madsen. Even if the weapon proved huge export success between world wars with more than 30 countries adopting it no major power did so. These machineguns became outdated very fast - Denmark was one of the very few countries that used Madsen light machinegun also some time after World War 2. Most if not all the medium and small size countries, which had issued Madsen light machineguns to their troops either replaced them with some other light machinegun already before World War 2 or during it.

First delivery of 162 light machinegun M/20 was ordered in spring of 1920 and weapons arrived already during that year. Around 1921 - 1922 Finnish Army was building prototypes of tripods and even license production of Madsen M/20 was considered. But neither of these ideas led to anything real in Finland (Danish Army took tripod-equipped version later in their own use, but it is unknown if Finnish Madsen tripod project had any connection to it). By late 1923 about 600 light machineguns M/20 had been delivered to Finnish military and they amount reached highest peak of 729 in late 1928. Early on Madsen light machinegun had been issued to Finnish cavalry and bicycle troops, but as their numbers increased weapons were issued to also to other units (Even the first classification used about light machinegun by Finnish Army was "ratsuväen konekivääri" = machinegun of cavalry). Madsen M/20 proved as very expensive and complicated weapon, which had a lot to hope in reliability, in infantry use this become especially clear. When domestic Lahti-Saloranta went to production it started replacing M/20 in use of Finnish Army. Finland sold most (612) of the remaining Madsen M/20 in year 1937 to Estonia, where Arsenal presumably modified them to .303 British cartridge. The small number that remained in Finland did not see any use during World War 2. The last 60 or so Madsen light machineguns were sold to Interarmco between 1959 - 1960.

 

7,92 mm light machinegun FN D:

(Fusil automatique Browning type D)

(FN Modele D)

PICTURE: FN D light machinegun (Picture taken in Rannikkotykistömuseo). This weapon is lacking the usual flash suppressor. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (31 KB).

Calibre:

7,92 mm x 57 JS

Length:

1060 mm

Barrel length:

550 mm

Weight:

9,5 kg

Fire-rate:

350 or 600/minute

Magazine:

box: 20

Official abbreviations:

"7,92 pk/FN" and "792 PK FN"

Country of origin:

Belgium

Prototype:

Further development from B.A.R. m/1918

Production:

At 1939 and again after WW2.

Finnish use: Finland bought 700 of these light machineguns from Belgium in February of 1940. They were not issued during Winter War (1939 - 1940). During Continuation War (1941 - 1944) they were first issued to fortification troops and later to coastal troops.

Originally Colt had the manufacturer of B.A.R. (Browning Automatic Rifle) developed by John Moses Browning. Belgian weapons manufacturer FN (Fabrique National) had been selling B.A.R. versions in 1920's, until also it started its own development and manufacturing of them. The first weapon of this type it manufactured was Polish order for 10,000 7.92-mm light machinegun wz.28, contract for which was signed in December of 1927. This version delivered to Poland was based to "R 75" commercial version, which Colt had introduced in 1925. Year 1930 FN introduced Mle 30 light machinegun, to which D.J. Saive had developed capability for shooting automatic fire with two separate rates of fire - slower and faster rate of fire. FN manufactured Mle 30 light machinegun in 7.65-mm and 7.92-mm calibers until 1940. The main customer for Mle 30 light machinegun was Belgian Army, but by the time its production ended thousands had been sold also to China, Chile and Ethiopia. Soon after introduction of Mle 30 Saive developed further improved version, which was named FN Modele D. The letter D in this name from French term Demontable - meaning removable. This indicated that the barrel of this version was capable to be quickly removed and replaced with another one - a new feature among weapons belonging to B.A.R. family. Saive also redesigned the whole receiver for FN Modele D making disassembling and reassembling the weapon much easier. Another notable improvements introduced with FN Modele D were carrying handle (earlier versions has none) and new rear sight, which was tangent sight with aperture. With these features FN Modele D without doubt was the most advanced version of B.A.R. family existing, when World War 2 begun. However it had failed attracting orders and pre-war production numbers were quite small. Also, when German Army invaded Belgium in 1940 even all these improvements were not enough to convince the Germans to keep it in production for their own use - so they stopped its production. As far as the Germans were concerned FN Modele D had one very serious disadvantage when compared to their own MG-34 - it was not belt-fed, so its magazine capacity was too small. Like earlier B.A.R. versions also FN Modele D used box magazines of only 20 rounds. After World War 2 this by then best version of Browning Automatic Rifle was already too old-fashioned for success. The production of this weapon did continue after World War 2, but failed gaining large-scale commercial success. The post-war main customers for FN Modele D were again Belgian Army (who chose .30-06 calibre version) and Egyptian Army (which bought them in 7.92-mm calibre), but smaller number were sold also South-America. The largest difference between pre-WW2 FN Modele D and its post-war version is gas-regulator, which was redesigned. After 7.62 mm x 51 cartridge had been selected as standard cartridge of NATO at 1954, it made this weapon designed mostly for .30-06 and 7.92 mm x 57 JS cartridges obsolete over night. In this situation FN redesigned FN Modele D to this calibre and named the version FN Modele DA1. As the basic magazine-fed B.A.R. design became more and more old-fashioned when compared to new belt-fed light machineguns, this new version proved even less successful than its predecessor. Most of FN Modele DA1 had been manufactured by modifying earlier FN Modele D of Belgian Army, the actual production numbers of DA1 were very small. Only known users of this weapon were Belgian Army and Israeli military. FN Modele DA1 was the last light machinegun belonging to B.A.R. family manufactured anywhere. Since FN ended its production at 1967 only commercial semi-auto hunting rifle versions (which have developed very far from original Browning M1918) based to original B.A.R. have remained in production to this day.

During World War 2 Finland seems to have been quite likely the only country, which used FN Modele D light machineguns in any real numbers. And even in its case the decision for acquiring them was not based to long-term plan, but to immediate need of automatic weapons. During Winter War Finnish shortage of military equipment included also having far too few light machineguns, so Finland bought 700 FN Modele D light machineguns that were delivered in February of 1940. They were not issued during Winter War, but during Continuation War they were first issued to fortification troops and later mainly to coastal troops. The reason for this was their calibre - unlike frontline infantry (armed mainly with weapons chambered 7.62 mm x 54R) these troops used also German MG-08 medium machineguns chambered to 7.92 mm x 57 JS cartridge. These weapons were the most numerous light machinegun model in use of coastal troops, who used them until end of the war. Finnish Army issued these weapons usually with bandolier containing slots for 12 magazines, but apparently usually only six magazines were issued per weapon. Other equipment issued with them included variety of tools and spare-parts, which included also spare barrel. Although by year 1943 spare barrel seems to have disappeared from list of equipment issued with each FN D light machinegun. After World War 2 these weapons remained warehoused until being sold abroad year 1960.

 

8 mm light machinegun M/15 Chauchat:

(Fusil mitrailleur mle 1915)

PICTURE: 8-mm light machinegun M/15 Chauchat (Photo courtesy of private collector). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (88 KB).

Calibre:

8 mm x 50 R

Length:

1143 mm

Barrel length:

469 mm

Weight:

9,1 kg

Fire-rate:

250/minute

Magazine:

half-moon shaped box: 20

Official abbreviations:

"8,00 pk/15" and "800 PK 15"

Country of origin:

France

Finnish use: France "donated" 5,000 during Winter War. They were not issued during Winter War (arrived in January-February of 1940), but during Continuation War some unfortunate Finnish units used them. Mostly used by Finnish home front and field artillery units, but also some unlucky infantry units used them shortly during early Continuation War.

French Chauchat m/1915 aka C.S.R.G. was one of the very first light machineguns. While it was cheaper to manufacture than its competitors Madsen and Lewis unfortunately the inexperience of its manufacturer showed in its quality. French gentlemen Chauchat, Ribeyrolle and Sutter developed Chauchat light machinegun, in fact the three first letters of the another name (C.S.R.G.) used from this weapon came from first surname letters of these gentlemen. Chauchat was the main designer and Ribeyrolle his assistant. Sutter was engineer and owner of Gladiator bicycle factory, manufacturer of this weapon, from which the last letter "G" in C.S.R.G. originated. While the idea of giving the task to manufacture the new weapon to bicycle factory instead of further burdening the existing armaments industry with it may have looked good early on, in this case the outcome didn't go too well. In fact the outcome suggests that using established armament production facilities for manufacturing might be more sensible choice, when a totally new type of weapon is introduced.

While French were able to issue Chauchat in large number during World War 1 and it was certainly better than no light machinegun at all, it also proved to be quite poor military weapon and the inexperience of manufacturer was not the only reason for this. It used long barrel-recoil, which with hindsight can be considered maybe the most difficult option for self-loading weapon to get work reliably. In addition the weapons magazine, which had large holes in its sides, was not really well thought design for muddy trenches either. Ergonomics of the light machinegun leave lot to hope for and the bipod was with its stick-shaped legs likely didn't work too well on soft surface either. Not only was this weapon poorly suitable for war in trenches of Western Front, but it was also unreliable and parts not interchangeable. Manufacturing of Chauchat continued from 1915 to 1924. While also other early light machineguns had their own share of issues Chauchat was the one, which once the better light machineguns were introduced became obsolete practically in record time. By World War 2 practically every country had better light machineguns. Still it was used by France, Greece, Belgium and shortly also by USA (US used version was chambered for .30-06). The weapon had flash hider in end of the barrel and tangent-type rear sight with settings 2 - 20 (for 200 - 2000 meters). Its selector switch had the typical three settings: C for semiautomatic-fire, M for full-automatic fire and S for safe. Equipment of the weapons delivered to Finland seems to have contained also antiaircraft-sights. The rather unique 180-degree arch shaped 20-round magazine weight fully loaded 910 grams, while the empty one weight only 360 grams.

PICTURE: 8-mm light machinegun M/15 Chauchat (Photo courtesy of private collector). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (95 KB).

Small number (15 or so) of Chauchat light machineguns had cumulated to hands of Finnish Armed Forces by end of Finnish Civil War in 1918. Certain photograph suggests that they may have been captured from the Russians, but some the Finns might have also received some from the Germans. At that time Finnish military wasn't terribly interested about them and year 1937 they were sold abroad. During Winter War Finnish military equipment shortage led to second coming of these dubious weapons, as France "generously donated" some 5,000 Chauchat light machineguns and 10 million rounds of ammunition for them to Finland. The weapons were delivered to Finland in February - March of 1940. This was so late that Chauchat were not issued to Finnish troops during Winter War, but during early part of Continuation War even some unfortunate front-line units got these issued as their light machineguns. At earliest possible moment they were replaced with captured Soviet light machineguns and were soon only used by home-front units and some field artillery units. These might have found them marginally more useful, since they had been delivered with anti-aircraft sights and even with their slow rate of fire were more effective against strafing ememy aircraft than bolt action rifles or throwing stones. Year 1943 Finnish Army routinely issued 10 magazines per Chauchat light machinegun. For transporting these magazines the weapons were equipped with French magazine boxes of two and ten magazines, tool box, anti-aircraft sight and tarpaulin. After World War 2 Chauchat light machineguns remained warehoused until 1955 when first of them were sold abroad, the last ones were sold to Interarmco in 1959 - 1960.

 

SOME OTHER LIGHT MACHINEGUNS USED BY FINNISH MILITARY:

- 7,5 mm light machinegun M/24-29 Chatellerault (Fusil Mitrailleur mle 1924/29): This light machinegun was the weapon that the French introduced to replace Chauchat M/15. It was chambered for new French standard military cartridge 7,5 mm x 54. During Winter War France donated 100 M/24-29 light machineguns, which arrived too late to see any action in that war. Not that they would have seen any battle use with the Finnish military later either - during Continuation War they were issued to home front troops. They did not see any combat use, but served as training weapons in the home front. Some 60 weapons were wrecked in 1944 and the remaining ones were sold to Interarmco year 1960.

- 7,62 mm and 7,71 mm light machineguns M/Lewis (Gun, Machine, Lewis ): Like the name tells this weapon was namely designed by American Colonel Isaac Lewis, however its structure was at least partly based to earlier ideas of Samuel McClean. Even if the weapon with its drum magazines and gas action mechanism was clearly ahead of its time US Army never adopted it (likely due to Lewis's disputes with William Crozier, who was head of US Board of Ordnance). When Lewis didn't succeed getting orders from US Army he moved to Europe (Great Britain to be exact), where he gathered huge fortune after British started mass-manufacturing of his light machinegun in 1915. Lewis machinegun was remarkable weapon by World War 1 standards. It had gas-action mechanism had gas-piston and rotating lock, both features commonly used nowadays. It also fired from open bolt, which improved the weapons cooling. In fact only problems concerning this weapon seem to have been related to its realibility, but the main benefactor for this seems to have been in its ammunition magazines. Besides light machinegun use the weapon saw plenty of use as aircraft weaponry, in armoured vehicles and as antiaircraft machineguns. Major problem-point of the light machinegun (infantry) version was the cooling jacket, which weight about 1.6 kg while its capability of actually improve cooling of this air-cooled weapon by increasing rotation of air is very dubious. Still the weapon seems to have been rather popular among British troops and also their German opponents seem to have favoured captured Lewish light machineguns. However Lewis machinegun was also rather complicated and very expensive to manufacture already by World War 1 standards. During WW1 Great Britain the weapon was manufactured by BSA (Birmingham Small Arms), while in United States by Savage and Rockwell-Marlin manufactured it for the British. In between World Wars the commercial success continued as these machineguns were manufactured for large number of countries. Lewis machinegun remained in use of British military also for duration of World War 2, but manufacturing effectiness-wise it was obviously outdated by that time. So British declared Lewis machinegun outdated in 1946.

Small number of mixed versions had cumulated to Finland during Civil War in year 1918 and saw use during it. Likely most of these weapons were captured from Russian military. They were a terribly mixed bunch with individual weapons containing even parts from several manufacturers and equipped with mixed equipment. Lewis machineguns that had ended up to Finland were also in two different calibres: 7.62 mm x 54R version manufactured for Russian military and original British 7.70 mm x 56R (.303 British) version. From these two versions the 7.62 mm x 54R calibre version was much more common in Finland. April of 1920 Finnish military tested light machineguns and Lewis light machinegun was among the tested weapons, but Madsen won the tests and became Finnish light machinegun M/20. Year 1921 Finnish Defence Ministry transferred the existing bit over 60 Lewis light machineguns to Suojeluskunta (Finnish Civil Guard), where they were used in training. But once Suojeluskunta succeeded acquiring over 300 new Lahti-Saloranta M/26 light machineguns in early 1930's they had much less need for old Lewis light machineguns. So they returned them to Ministry of Defence, which sold them to Transbaltic Oy in 1936 - 1938. At the time Ministry of Defence used the oppertunity of sell also about 70 Lewis machineguns in .303 calibre. Likely these came from Finnish Air Force. However small number of aircraft version still remained in Finland during World War 2. Finnish Airforce used in small scale in its aircraft and as double barrel antiaircraft-installations during Winter War. During Continuation War the 40 or so double barrel Lewis antiaircraft-machineguns were used in home front. The last ones were sold to USA in 1957.


SOURCES:

Markku Palokangas: Sotilaskäsiaseet Suomessa 1918 - 1988 osat 1 - 3 (= Military Small Arms in Finland 1918 - 1988 parts 1 - 3)

Timo Hyytinen: Arma Fennica 2, sotilasaseet (Arma Fennica 2, military weapons).

Bruno Bogdnovic and Ivan Valencak: Das Groze Buch der klassischen feuerwaffen.

John Walter: Allied Small Arms of World War One.

Jan Kronlund: Suomen Puolustuslaitos 1918 - 1939 (= Finnish Defence Department 1918 - 1939).

Article: Myöhäsyntyinen Pikakivääri FN D by Mika Vuolle in Ase-lehti vol. 6/95.

Article: Tuntematon lahden takaa, Arsenal Tallinn by Toe Nömm in Ase-lehti magazine vol. 1/92.

Article: FN "DA1", Viimeinen Browning-pikakivääri by Mika Pitkänen in Kaliberi magazine vol. 6/2005.

Military manual: Pikakivääri 20. Rakenne, huolto ja käsittely by Sotaministeriö (1922).

Military manual: Aseopas 2, Ruotsalaisia aseita by Päämaja (1940).

Military manual: Ranskalainen pikakivääri malli 1915.

Special thanks to Rannikkotykistömuseo (Finnish Coastal Artillery Museum), Suomenlinna.

Special thanks to Jalkaväkimuseo (Finnish Infantry Museum), Mikkeli.


Last updated 23rd of May 2013
Webmaster: JTV jtvalias@hotmail.com
Copyrights (pictures, text and graphics): Jaeger Platoon Website.