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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 90.djvu/684

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668

��Popular Science Monthly

���Photos © lut. Film Sen'

��the most frightful of modern weapons.

But when the Japanese and Russians learned to use machine guns as they should be used — in touch with the infantry at all times, civilized Europe woke up to the possibilities of the chattering demons.

When the great war broke out, the Germans had more than fifty thousand machine guns of Maxim type, aside from those used specially for fortress defence.

The modern machine gun ranges from the automatic rifle form, such as the Lewis and Benet of our service, weapons weigh- ing thirty lbs. or less — to the weightier water- cooled Maxims and kindred guns, such as the Germans use. All of them ope- rate the same way. They fire at the rate of from three hun- dred to six hun- dred shots a min- ute so long as the ammunition sup- ply is kept up —

and all of them use the ordinary infantry cartridges of the army operating them. So long as the trigger or firing bar is held back, the gun continues to fire. Most of them can be used as single shots, a shot to each pull of the trigger.

The Colt, Maxim, and Schwarzlose, feed their cartridges by means of webbing belts holding usually two hundred and fifty shells, and refilled by a special machine. As a rule each gun has several thousand rounds of shot loaded in these belts, car- ried with each gun.

The Benet-Mercie and Hotchkiss of older type, feed their shells through flat clips of steel, holding thirty cartridges in each one.

The Lewis feeds by means of a drum of fifty shells, which when emptied can be replaced in an instant with a filled one.

No machine gun is fired continuously. It will not stand it, and the damage is worse when the gun is of the air-cooled variety instead of water-jacketed. The air-cooled

��British troops using a Lewis machine gun in the trench fighting in the Balkans. It fires fifty shells

���A Lewis machine gun taken apart. The maga- zine (shown in photograph above) is missing

��gun of Benet type is ruined in five minutes' continuous firing, which means without any more pause than enough to insert filled clips. Each shot develops a temperature of five thousand degrees.

Any of these machine guns, fired until it is good and hot, which does not mean neces- sarily for five minutes, or more than one, will fire a cartridge inserted into the barrel, from the heat alone. The Colt gun when

firing at a lower rate than four hundred shots to the minute, has an unpleasant habit of firing the shell being inserted into the barrel, from the heat and before the action is en- tirely closed , pro- ducing discon- certing eff"ects on the mechanism and gun crew.

Machine gun fire is by short bursts of shots, ten to thirty; then thefirestops and the gunner relays the gun onthemark. The Germans use them in pairs, alternating their fire, one backing up the other in case of a jam. The German front is solid with machine guns. The British tear to bits their trenches and make a waste of their en- tanglements, but after the fire has lifted and the British start forward.

���A machine gun fitted with seat and pedestal for horizontal firing

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