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Weapons of the Trenches

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Nightcrawler, Sep 11, 2003.

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  1. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    Let's put together a semi-comprehensive listing of all the small arms that saw significant (or insignificant) usage in the Great War.

    This is, of course, a GREAT excuse to post lots of pictures of your vintage weapons.

    Anyways:

    Great Britain:

    -Rifle, Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield, No. 1 Mk.III (and other models I'm sure), .303 British
    -Vickers .303 Machine Gun (water cooled?) Grand old lady of No Man's Land.
    -Webley Mk.IV and MkVI, .455 Caliber. (And older ones in .476, prolly)
    -Webley-Fosberry self-cocking revolver, .455 Caliber.

    Imperial Germany:

    -Mauser 98, 7.92mm.
    -Luger "Parabellum", various models, 9mm and .30 Luger.
    -Mauser "Broomhandle", various models, 9mm and 7.65x25mm.
    -Maxim 1910 Machine Gun, 7.92mm? The Devil's Paintbrush.
    -MP-18?
    -MG-15?
    -MG-08?

    France:

    I got nothin'. Anybody? Lewis Gun?

    Austrio-Hungarian Empire:

    Again, I'm real fuzzy. Roth-Steyr pistol, I would imagine.

    United States:

    -M1903 Springfield rifle, .30-06
    -M1917 Enfield rifle, .30-06
    -M1917 Revolvers, (Colt and S&W), .45ACP
    -M1911 Pistol, .45ACP
    -Winchester M1897 Trench Gun, 12 Gauge
    -Browning M1917 Machine Gun, .30-06.

    Imperial Russia:

    -Mosin-Nagant M1891, 7.62x54mmR
    -Nagant M1895 Revolver, 7.62mm

    Were Russia's Winchester 95s in 7.62x54 used in the great war? What about their S&W top-breaks in .44 Russian? What kind of machine guns did they have?
     
  2. Stickjockey

    Stickjockey Member

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    France:

    Lebel (Model 1885?) rifle, 8mm Lebel cal.

    Machinegun: 8mm Lebel Chauchat (pronounced "show-show") one of the worst designed and most hated machineguns built.
     
  3. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    Ah, yes, I forgot about the Chau-Chat. :barf:

    The M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle saw limited use.

    There was another early light machine gun in the US. They have a demilled example of one in one of our Armories. It's like a Colt 190...8, maybe? Anybody know anything about a Colt automatic rifle or light machine gun?

    I also understand that many hand weapons were used for trench raids. Bayonets, knives, and sometimes field expedient things like clubs, bats, and sticks.

    [​IMG]
    M1903 Springfield. (Image by Allen Blank, courtesy of world.guns.ru)

    How much use did the Petersen Device get?
    [​IMG]
    (thanks again to world.guns.ru)

    And I'm interested in Sniper Rifles and sniper usage of the great war. Were any optical sights in use? I read somewhere that German snipers got so bold as to crawl across no-man's-land with thick steel shields that could, apparently, deflect .303 rounds. This practice stopped, apparently, when the British introduced their big elephant guns to the front.
     
  4. BowStreetRunner

    BowStreetRunner Member

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    i think austria hungary has the mannlicher m95 or something like that
    france had the lebel rifle, with its efficient single round loading system :)
    dont forget japan, they captured some german colonies in the far east
    i think russia's machien guns were maxim designs
    BSR
     
  5. Kaylee

    Kaylee Moderator

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    well, the occasional superciliously smirking German used a sporter Mauser... :)

    http://pw1.netcom.com/~chingesh/mcbride.html

    To answer your sniper rifles questions Nightcrawler, look up "A Rifleman Went to War" by H.W. McBride (quoted above). He goes into a lot of the sniper stuff of the era. I do recall a mention of a scope, but by and large from what he says the optics of the period were comparatively delicate and not up to extended hard use.


    -K
     
  6. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    What sort of armaments did the Ottoman Empire have?
     
  7. telewinz

    telewinz Member

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    Germany

    9mm Driese "blowback" pistol

    US

    The 03' never served overseas, just the 1917. If that doesn't matter then add the Thompson submachine gun. It was setting on the New York docks waiting for shipment overseas when the War ended.
     
  8. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    I knew the 1917s outnumbered the Springfields, but I've never heard that there were NO Springfields in the trenches.
     
  9. telewinz

    telewinz Member

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    ALWAYS read that for the sake of standardization, all 03's (guard and training duties) stayed here and 1917's were issued for overseas use. York used a 1917 rather than the 03 shown in the movie.
     
  10. Stickjockey

    Stickjockey Member

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    Nightcrawler-

    Are you referring to the Colt 1895 "potato digger" machinegun? I thought those had been phased out by WW1.
     
  11. Detritus

    Detritus Member

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    yes optical sights were in use, more so by the western powers (canada, UK and other "comonwealth" troops, and the US mainly) than by the germans or austro-hungarians, from what i understand.

    not entirely sure what the more common scopes in use were, but there seem to be alot of pictures showing Ross, SMLE, and '03 Springfield rifles, equipted with Warner-Swasey sights (an ugly, prismatic thing, sort of short and humpbacked looking reminds me of some of the current Night vision units in basic profile).

    as to the german's using loophole plates, they weren't the only ones, these plates were MAINLY used for protection of MG positions, and obsevers, plus the sniper positions in the support trenches (many places no-man's land was 100yards or less wide, snipers could set up WELL behiond the frontline trenches, and still be brutally effective) there may have been a FEW german attempts, in those places where the no-man's land belt was fairly wide and the smiper could not get a good shot from other forms of cover, to try and crawl across no-man's land behind one, but due to the weight, size etc this would be a physically difficult thing to do. plus by the time sniping had really set in and such forms of inovation were needed by both sides, decent comunication with the Artillery units behind the lines, had established and any such attempt would have been met by a barrage.

    what the Elephant guns were mostly brought up to do is to be able to shoot through (or least damage and give the impression that it MIGHT give way with the next shot, if the plate was not penetrated on the first time) plates that were being used to protect MG "pits", forward observation points, etc in other words, general harrassment and making sure teh enemy didn't think he had a "safe haven" behind a 1/2 inch of armor. not long after the germans introed the 8mm AP round, the brits brought out an AP .303 round to even the field.

    the WW1 era rifle I personally would like to find an example of someplace (just to look at) is the Mondragon, Designed by a Mexican Army officer and built by SIG, as the first Semi-auto to be intended for general issue to the infantry, it turned out to have signifigant problems that caused Mexico to cancel their orders, SIG left with a coinsiderable number sold them to the Germans who uswed them for a short time as feild expedient rifles for use by aircraft observers. if you read between the lines of all desciptions of the service life of this gun AND the feild manuals for it, the design was both WAY ahead of it's time AND a piece of junk (two rifles with 30rd drumms magazines, were issued to each flight obsever, b/c it was pretty much a given that at least one of them would suffer a hard to clear stoppage!, and poor accuracy [anything under a 20cm at 100meters was considered normal) but the first (accepted in 1908) functional self loading infantry rifle.

    and at least it wasn't a Chauchat :D
     
  12. Detritus

    Detritus Member

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    there is a reference in "A Rifleman went to war" to the MG section of the 21st Battalion of the canadian expeditionary Force, going to war with "Colt -Vickers" (i think this was a .303 vickers copy of the maxim, made by colt instead of the Brits) as well as another type of Colt machine gun, which i beleive was of a different design than the "potato digger" but not sure on that point, gather from McBride's reference to the second "colt" guns (two of them, given by citizen groups to the troops) that these unlike the issue guns were not of the vickers design, while still being chambered for .303.
     
  13. Kingson

    Kingson Member

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    This is from Standard Catalog of Military Firearms
    Austro-Hunagry
    Handguns
    FEG (Frommer) Stop Model 19
    Steyr Hahn Model 1911

    Rifle
    Model 1895 in varies forms

    Machine Guns
    Model 07/12 Schwarzlose

    France
    Handguns
    Model 1892
    Savage Model 1907

    Rifles
    Model 1982/M16

    Machine Guns
    Model 1907 St. Etienne
    Hotchkiss Model 1914
    Chauchat Model 1915
     
  14. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    I was thinking knives, clubs, metal knuckles and of course, that bayonet that fits on the end of the Webley MK VI revolver. :D
     
  15. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Member

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    By World War I the Mle 1886 Lebel rifle had been replaced in front-line service by a number of rifles that used, instead of the 1886's tubular magazine, a Mannlicher en-block clip system.

    Most of these rifles were based on modifications made by Col. Betherier, who modified the design to use the Mannlicher system.

    These included the Mle 1892, the Mle 1907, and the Mle 1916.

    A number of these, including the 1892, used a three-round en-block clip.

    I don't think there has ever been anything more useless...

    The French also fielded, in limited numbers, two semi-auto rifles, the Mles 1917 and 1918, but the 1918 appeared just a little too late to see active duty.

    Machine guns included the Mle 1914 Hotchkiss, and the lamentable Mle 1915 light machine gun, the dreaded Chauchat.
     
  16. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    Come on, Crufflers, let's see some pictures of those surplus rifles. Where's Tamara?
     
  17. swingset

    swingset Member

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    [​IMG]
    1917 BSA No1mkIII, still retaining the mag cut-off.
    [​IMG]
    P17 Enfield, WWI vintage.
    [​IMG]
    Lithgow No1mk3, in it's original Queensland maple. 2nd Military District marked.
     
  18. TexasVet

    TexasVet Member

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    Under France add every cheap Ruby Pistol that Spain could crank out.

    And BTW, I have talked to at least 2 WW1 vets who had Chauchats in .30-06 caliber with a mag that had no cutouts like the French caliber gun and they actually loved them. They had no problems with jams like the opensided mag guns had.
     
  19. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Member

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    TexVet,

    I've risked the ire of members a number of times by opining that in design the Chauchat actually wasn't a bad weapon. It was the execution (manufacture) that made the thing a real problem.

    I've also fired an 8mm Lebel Chauchat, and overall, it's not a terrible gun. The balance stinks kind of badly, and there's that half-moon magazine (with the horrific cutouts!) that's required because of the rimmed and steeply tapered cartridge.

    US troops to get the first Chauchats got them in 8mm Lebel, and they were, quite frankly, worn out and just didn't work well. Armorers trying to rebuild them ran into serious problems because the guns were essentially cottage built, with little standardization between the different manufacturers, so replacement parts literally had to be hand fitted.

    Those that were redesigned and manufactured in .30-06 worked fairly well, for a time, until the more powerful cartridge started beating the living hell out of the guns, and then they too became problematic.

    All in all, a nice try for a light machine gun, but overall a failure.
     
  20. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    I hear something about Canadian soldiers having a rifle called the "Ross". Anybody know anything about it, or have any pictures? Apparently it was problematic, though very accurate.
     
  21. Orthonym

    Orthonym Member

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    I think I remember reading somewhere that the straight-pull Ross was perfectly OK until it got dirty. Then, when you took it apart to clean it, it was all too easy to put some of the small parts back into its bolt back-to-front, whereupon the bolt, or parts of it, would fly back and destroy your eyeball the next time you shot it.:eek:
     
  22. OEF_VET

    OEF_VET Member

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    Don't forget Germany's Mauser 98 and also the German Commission Model of 1888.
     
  23. greyhound

    greyhound Member

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    This was the famous "trench broom" that apparently caused the Germans to complain long and loud about how "barbaric" and "inhumane" the weapon was....
     
  24. BowStreetRunner

    BowStreetRunner Member

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    as if poison gas wasnt barbaric
     
  25. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Member

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    My entry's into the list of trench weapons are possibly the most fearsome trench warfare individual weapons of them all: The US Mark One, 1918 brass knuckle trench knife, and the hand grenade.

    Contrary to current "urban legend" the 1903 Springfield was extensively used in WWI. If nothing else, remember, the Marines used the Springfield exclusively.
    Belleau Wood and Château Theirry were "'03" events.

    Also there are plenty of vintage photos of combat troops in the trenches with Springfield rifles.
    True, the 1917 was more heavily issued, but the '03 was there in numbers.


    The problem with the Canadian Ross rifle was inability to handle the mud of the trenches, the possibility of improper re-assembly, and a problem with the locking system. Under use, the locking mechanism would get burred, and if not noticed, this would eventually allow the rifle to fire in an unlocked condition. The bolt could be blown out the back of the receiver.

    After the problems appeared, the Ross was used only for training in Canada, and the SMLE was issued for combat.
    This was a sad end for the Ross, since it was loved by the Canadians for it's target rifle-like accuracy.

    As an interesting historical note, my Dad's Uncle died in the 1930's from the effects of Mustard gas. He was a trench messenger, and Dad told me his Uncle's foot locker contained a pistol belt, TWO 1911 pistols in 1913 Model holsters, and a Mark One trench knife.
     
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