The oddest machine gun feed system


#1

It’s not a subject I know much about but the variety of feed systems used with machine guns has thrown up some design oddities over the years. No doubt it was thought that there was a good reason for them all, can we still see what that point was?

For starters, I commend you to the decidedly strange 20 round charger used by the Italians for loading their Breda machine guns. It would be interesting to see what other chargers. links, articulated sections, strips, hoppers and other products of inventive minds time and necessity have produced.

In anticipation, Peter


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#2

Peter,

The charger that you illustrate so well is for the Breda MG 38 in 7.35x51mm calibre. The claimed advantages were that this system allows a much more robust magazine to be used than would generally be the case if a number of magazines were carried with each gun. In practice, the slower reload outweighs the theoretical attractions of the system. The boxes of chargers should also be lighter than boxes of filled magazines. This loading system was covered by Patent Specification 206,086; “Improvements in or relating to Magazines for Machine Guns and like Fire Arms.” This Patent was taken out by Italian Army Engineer and Colonel Bethial Abiel Revelli of 57 Corso Duca di Genova, Turin, Italy.

The charger for the 10.4x47R Italian M 1871/87 Vetterli-Vitali rifle uses the same system and may have been the inspiration for the later machine gun version.

At least this system did work and was accepted for service. In that light it beats many later impractical “oddities” such as Trounds, folded cartridges, rifle calibre flechettes. Some of these required convoluted feed and packaging systems too.

gravelbelly


#3

Of course, we nearly fell into the same trap with the ‘semi-fixed’ magazine trials for the Bren Gun for which 14 round ‘horseshoe’ chargers were designed and produced.

28 opportunities to get a ‘rim behind’ and you’d have needed a thumb of steel to strip the second charger into the magazine without fidgeting about and putting yourself at risk by sticking your head up trying to get leverage against the magazine spring.

Happy collecting, Peter


#4

Great idea for a thread.
What about the Japanese 6.5mm 1922 machine gun. This had a hopper that took a stack of the Arisaka rifle clips. Advantage that any rifleman could provide clips, disadvantage the feed system was complicated and said to be unreliable. The Italian Breda M37 which used a tray that fed in one side of the gun and came out the other with the empty cases replaced in it. Kept the battle field clean but meant that the tray had to be emptied before it could be reloaded! Will post pics when I find and scan them.


#5

Although its not really “odd”, the German MG13 had a magazine loading device that used the normal 5 round Mauser chargers to fill the 25 round magazines for the machine guns. It works really well also, takes about 6 seconds to fill a magazine.


#6

Proditto,

Is this the one you mean?:

Although this feed system has some disadvantages as you correctly point out, the gun had a reputation for hard-hitting reliability. The British Long Range Desert Group who mounted captured 8mm BREDA MG’s on their vehicles particularly liked it. Putting the empties back into the trays meant that there was no ejection port, one less aperture for sand and dirt to get into. It also meant that the gunner didn’t end up skating around on loose empties.

gravelbelly


#7

Here is WW2 Japan’s answer to the Breda system. Very similar. Not sure who the chicken and who the egg was.





#8

Neat way to store/feed ammo. Wish I had one of these.


#9

And another Breda stripper w/box.


#10

And then there’s the newer technology. And a bit more complex. Anybody know where this sample resides?


#11

And this pic, taken at SLICS '09. A nice representation of the various links available.


#12

Rick, what are those 7.7mm Jap rounds - rimless or semi-rimmed? I haven’t seen that casemouth colour before.
Jim


#13

Jim

Don’t get me to lyin’. I’m not well versed enough to say exactly, but I’d call them semi-rimmed. And I believe the purple casemouth seal denotes AP. And they are available.


#14

My wife’s just booted me off the computer - she really can pick her moments!
They’re certainly a different colour to my semi-rimmed AP round which is black. I’ll do a bit of research and get back to you - when I’m allowed back on…
Jim


#15

Jim

Whilst you were away, I referenced my (signed) copy of Ken Elks’ Part 1. These are the Type 92 7.7mm(semi-rimmed) for the Type 92 HMG. Purple denotes AP. The Type 89 aircraft gun used the same round but with different bullets and color codes(black for AP). The Type 92 was developed in 1932 for both the 89 and 92 guns. The AP bullet is steel-cored brass w/o a lead sleeve around the core. This same ammo was used in the Type 99 LMG, as well.


#16

[quote=“SlickRick”]And then there’s the newer technology. And a bit more complex. Anybody know where this sample resides?

[/quote]Imperial war museum? Is it that Argie 20 mm they got hold of down in the south Atlantic?
Soren


#17

Soren wins the prize! Yes. It is. All that. Great museum, huh?


#18

These strips are for the Hotchkiss machine gun of french origin. It was in service in Spain too, in caliber 7 x 57. Unlike the Breda machine gun, the empty cases in the Hotchkiss were not repositioned in the tray after firing.


#19

[quote=“schneider”]

These strips are for the Hotchkiss machine gun of french origin. It was in service in Spain too, in caliber 7 x 57. Unlike the Breda machine gun, the empty cases in the Hotchkiss were not repositioned in the tray after firing.[/quote]

Here’s a picture of a regulation Model 1914 Hotchkiss in 7 x 57 during the spanish civil war.


#20

Hmmm…I posted a reply and it’s disappeared. Rick, I agree, they’re almost certainly AP rounds but I haven’t seen such a bright purple before. All the AP I’ve seen has almost a black coloured casemouth seal but, if the bullets are brass, they’re definitely AP. I was sort of hoping with that purple colour and the flatish tips they might be the Ma101 Incendiary. Thanks for doing the research anyway.
Jim