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Bren still a classic

Discussion in 'Small Arms and Edged Weapons' started by Carronade, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    Nice VP. Enjoyed that read a lot...Wonder if there are any other instances where iaf may have directed fire - unintentionally - on friendly forces...cough.
     
  2. green slime

    green slime Member

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    I found the show a bit wierd and... slanted, to put it mildly.

    With the discussion I couldn't resist pulling this from utub.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KfhjdtLyZg

    IIRC, the show's main gripe was "too hard to aim with vertical magazine", inspite of it clearly outperforming it's rival in the piece.
     
  3. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    I've always read that the Bren's offset sights worked quite well ; certainly it's generally accepted as being very accurate for its class of weapon.
     
  4. CliSwe

    CliSwe New Member

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    The Bren was an excellent weapon: only reason for its replacement (along with the Vickers .303" MMG) by the 7.62mm GPMG in the early 1960s, was that the former was said to be too accurate (ergo likely to be swamped by human-wave mass infantry attack); and the latter not mobile enough. When sited in permanent emplacements, the Vickers was a brilliant SF gun. The Bren was best suited as a section-level light support weapon. And I wish people would stop comparing Bren with Sten: different calibres, different roles - no point of comparison.

    Cheers,
    Cliff
     
  5. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    The Bren was excellently accurate for "repeat" fire, on the same point....and grouped very well...which was indeed its one apparent disadvantage. It swivelled better on its bipod than the Lewis did on its....but neeed to, as that close grouping meant that although it traversed better, it didn't spread - it was a case of knock down one or two targets, re-acquire, knock down one or two targets....and t'buggers were coming over the sandbags at you :(

    Take a look at the "effective" ranges of the Bren, the Lewis....and the Vickers - and you'll discover something VERY interesting! ;)
     
  6. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    You couldn't really use it for sustained fire with a 30 round magazine. Like the BAR, its tactical niche was as an offensive weapon rather than a defensive weapon like the various belt fed guns. The Bren kept their heads down as the "base of fire" while the rest of the squad attempted to flank the enemy.
     
  7. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    The problem is however that on many occasions in the Far East - Malaya, Burma, etc. it had to be used as such in the absence of anything better...and that's when the problem was identified. To resolve the same issue on Guadalcanal - rate of fire needed to deal with banzai charges - the USMC issued extra belt-fed .30 cals per unit. There was nothing similar in the British inventory to fill that role except the Vickers .303....so they soldiered on with the Bren.

    There's a practical limit to the number of large, awkward, tripod-mounted MMGs requiring a water supply and expansion can AND ammunition you can issue to a company...

    The British did experiment with an infantry version of the Vickers' K gun...but it's very high rate of fire emptied its bulky/heavy pan magazines too quickly, and a no.2. could only carry two pre-filled anyway, in a back-and-front bib-like canvas carrier. Only the Commandos used them regularly from 1944-on, for putting a LOT of lead on a target in a short time.

    And, to be fair.....one could say that given Britain's notable martial success up to El Alamein - I.E. little or none! - the Bren probably spent as much time fighting in the defensive rather than the offensive during WWII!
     
  8. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Not sure about this. I served in the 1980s when the British army had a mix of GPMG and LMG (the 7.62mm version of the Bren).

    The Infantry were equipped with the GPMG, which replaced both the Bren (in the light role) and the Vickers MMG in the Sustained fire (SF) role. I don't think there was much to choose between the Bren and GPMG in the light role. The Bren was used as a section weapon by the Royal Engineers and RA Gun detachments. 42 Commando kept them for use in the arctic and deployed to the Falklands with a GPMG and Bren per section.. As an officer I trained with the GPMG and as an FOO I had an LMG on my FV432. and I think we had confidence in both. I found the LMG far more accurate than the SLR. .

    The magazine fed Bren could never put down the sustained fire that formed the basis of defence against massed infantry attacks in the world wars and subsequently. .
     
  9. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Somebody once said about the big picture "The infantry does the dying and the artillery does the killing." I suspect, in the small unit engagement the machine gun does the pinning down and the rifles, grenades and mortars do most of the killing. Though there may be an exception in Japanese tactics in the Pacific, few western soldiers are going to charge a machine gun, and I doubt it matters much whether it's the short bursts of an LMG or the sustained fire of a HMG. You're just going to hit the ground. What happens next is dependent on experience, training, terrain and a host of other imponderables.
     
  10. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    I never have understood the 'too accurate' argument. If you need to engage something like a banzai charge, you can sweep the gun back and forth. You onlly need or want spread in the horizontal plane. A less accurate weapon will spread its shot in a cone; if the pattern at a given range is more than about five feet wide it will also be that high, putting a proportion of shots into the ground or over the targets' heads.
     
  11. Pacifist

    Pacifist Active Member

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    I'm certainly no expert but I've always translated "too accurate" to mean a lower rate of fire and smaller magazine.
    Unlike the mg34/42 you didn't pull the trigger and lay down a quick hail of bullets allowing you to miss with 15 as long a 1 hits.

    The bren had accuracy comparitive to a rifle but only half the rate of fire and a much smaller magazine than the mg34. The
    gunner therefore took more care with his shots reducing the rate of fire even more because he knew his 22-28 rounds would
    quickly be expended requiring him to reload.

    Basicly the mg34 you aimed towards the target and fired a burst of 15 shots. The bren you aimed more carefully because you
    needed to be more accurate with your fewer rounds.
     
  12. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    Wonder how many rounds can be fired accurately before a barrel change. Or does it matter- bullet hose to keep heads down- or
    is an accurate machine gun always necessary?..Maybe have 1 gun shoot away, and have another save it's barrel- only shooting rarely.
     
  13. Takao

    Takao Ace

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  14. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    Cheers MrT...Wonder if the used barrels could be rerifled. Would they hang on to the old barrel or throw it away while in combat?
     
  15. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    I believe that was just to prevent overheating of the barrel, which would prolong it's usefulness. IIRC, a bren barrel was good for about 12,000-15,000 rounds, given normal operation.
     
  16. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    According to "to the last round" , the British Korean War infantry squad was not well equipped to deal with Chinese human wave tactics, and part of the reason was the limited ROF of the BREN. . A belt fed "bullet hose" like the MG 42 would have been better suited to that scenario, the K98k was slower firing than the SMLE but the German squads could usually deal with Soviet infantry charges though as the war progressed they tended to add as many auto and semi-auto weapons as they could. Against the less suicidal tactics used by western European armies the BREN comes out a lot better.

    Comparing the BREN to the BAR is not as ridiculous as comparing it to the STEN but the BAR is an automatic rifle chambered for a full power round, so basically a personal weapon, and was not designed to have sustained fire capability, AFAIK attempts to use it that way usually resulted in overheating and an unusable weapon. This allowed for some weight saving, a more compact weapon and a bottom mounted magazine that prevents having a second man act as a loader. The BREN is an LMG so basically a crew served weapon even if it could be used for assault fire.
     
  17. EdFearon

    EdFearon New Member

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    Hi guys - a Bren barrel had to be swapped out after 300 rounds' constant or near-constant fire. it wasn't that it wore much in that time....when it overheated it warped slightly, knocking the foresight out of alignment with the rear sight.

    A good number two could swap the barrels in 4-5 seconds, a poor or inexperienced one in 6-7 seconds. There was no sacking or asbestos gloves required - you flipped up a catch on the left side, grabbed the grab handle and lifted the barrel away with a slight twist....set the new one in place, clicked down the catch and you were ready to play again. Couldn't have been easier.

    This was in comparison to the previous Lewis Gun....where the ENTIRE weapon had to be stripped down because the piston rod went up right into the barrel jacket/housing....and then IT had to be physically unscrewed from the chassis of the receiver. This had to be done after 600 rounds...or the Lewis simply seized, there had been little though to the thermal expansion of various grades of steel used, and lubrication was everything. New Lewis Guns came from the factory without enough lubrication - and even when properly lubricated by gunners it was guaranteed to seize some time before 12,000 rounds absolute maximum. It was the big screwthread connecting the two halves of the weapon - it conducted heat from the barrel down into the rest of the weapon. And swapping the barrel itself out of the whole jacket housing could take up to 15 minutes of dismantling with various tools and a large number of screws.

    No wonder the British Army loved the Bren!
     
  18. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    One can argue the utility of the Bren vs the BAR, but they are both designated squad light machine guns and filled the same tactical niche. Neither were designed for sustained fire capability, hence the designation "light."
     
  19. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Depends on what you mean by sustained fire, if you want continuous heavy fire for hours on end fire nothing short of a liquid cooled 50+ Kilo MG will give you that, though a tripod mounted air cooled GPMG will come close, but if 120 RPM over a few minutes is enough for BREN can deliver, the BAR cannot as it was simply not designed for doing it, there is a reason the US developed and distributed the M1919A6 to fill the LMG role until the M60 came along.
     
  20. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    What I was trying to point was the "Squad" part of the light machine gun designation. At that level, the BAR was the light machine gun. It isn't until you got up to Platoon level that an actual belt fed LMG became part of the TO&E.

    The M1918A2 version (1938) was specifically modified to be the squad light machine gun. The most important change was a rate of fire reducer so that some form of sustained fire could be maintained without burning out the barrel or pausing to change magazines too frequently. It could be dialed down to around 300 rounds per minute.

    I think, overall, the Bren was probably the better weapon, but they both served the same purpose at the squad level.

    [​IMG]
     

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