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Hand-Feeding Machine Gun Belt?

Discussion in 'Other Weapons' started by RandomCanEHdian, Aug 30, 2015.

  1. RandomCanEHdian

    RandomCanEHdian New Member

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    I recently watched HBO's The Pacific and loved it. Something that I've been wondering for awhile, that I see in most WWII machine gun setups, popped into my head again, though. When a machine gun is being fired, why is there a second person guiding the belt? Does this actually serve any purpose?
     
  2. Pacifist

    Pacifist Active Member

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    Yes. If you've seen movies of bomber turret gunners you'll see they don't need a 2nd man guiding the belt. This is because the magazine is fixed right in line with the feed mechanism. Whichever way the gun turns the ammo turns with it so the feed doesn't foul itself. A crew served gun on the ground doesn't have this feature so a 2nd man manually ensures that the belt enters the gun correctly. In addition the gun can only pull a certain weight of belted rounds to it. If the gun is in a high position relative to the ammo box having a 2nd man lift the ammo belt and reduce the strain on the guns mechanisms helps reduce problems.
     
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  3. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    The gun, properly set up in a fixed position will fire without anyone feeding the belt. It just has less likelihood of catching up dirt or brush or twisting (whatever) and creating a jam if somebody is guiding it. That loader will also attach a new belt to the old one before the old one is expended, and move the new ammo box into the correct feeding position. Without that, you'd have a delay when you finished a belt while the gun is opened, a new belt laid in and the gun re-cocked for firing.
     
  4. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member

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    Each cartridge needs to be parallel to the bore axis as it enters the receiver and relatively level for positive feed.. If the gunner pivoted right the belt would widen on the outer edge and if he pivoted left it would compress. . Some Japanese machine guns fed from an extended tray like clip to overcome that need but a loader still had to insert a new tray. Tray is no doubt not the right term so someone help out. German MG 34's often had a 60 shot drum for a better mechanical connection but 60 shots in a gun capable of 600 plus RPM means changing a great deal. The gunner often changed his on drum in planes or tanks..

    So mainly the loader help feed the belt into the gun for reliability. I just finished reading a D-Day account of a German soldier taken in 1955 who was a loader for a MG 534 in Normandy. It was belt feed and his job was to retrieve ammunition from stores, prep it and make sure the gun was feeding correctly, leaving the gunner to aim and fire.

    Now I have never shot a machine gun and only have seen one fire , that plus film and reading is the basis for my answer but hopely one of the more knowledgeable folks here will amplify my rambling..

    Gaines
     
  5. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member

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    Thanks guys, there was no answer and by the time I take to type two chimed in . BTW, Am I crazy or do I remember seeing a cotton or canvas belt ?
    If so what happened to it?
     
  6. Pacifist

    Pacifist Active Member

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    I believe you mean a stripper clip.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgtdmGlXjio
    At a guess I'd say a metal belt was less likely to tear and jam.
     
  7. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    No sir, not crazy. The cloth belt was the predominate belt type used by US ground forces during WWII and into Korea.The "disentegrating metallic link" type belt was first introduced into aircraft machine gun use, then into armored forces and lastly into ground forces. (There are also non-disentegrating metal link belts that are still in use) There were two main types of cloth belts, the reusable type that was loaded using a machine like the one in the video, and pre-packaged lot type ammunition that used a disposable cloth belt. IIRC, some of the first documented uses of the metallic linked belts by ground forces was sometime in the fall of 1944.

    Mainly he's spotting for the gunner who pretty much has tunnel vision while he's firing, the A-gunner/spotter will help the gunner adjust his fire, watch for effect, watch for developing threats or targets of opportunity. He'll advise the gunner if he's hitting high or low. He helps with reloads, clearing stoppages, and keeps the belt from twisting and stopping the gun. In fact one of the immediate actions for a runaway gun malfunction is to twist the belt or break the belt by twisting if using disentigrating links.
    With the cloth belts once you ran through a belt, 250 rounds was the most common length/round count used by ground forces, the A-gunner would have a new belt prepped, would insert the metal or cloth belt starter tab into the feed slot (the cover didn't have to be opened), then the gunner would rack the gun twice. The first time he pulled the cocking handle back the feed pawl would move the round under the round extractor, he'd pull the cocking handle back again and it would extract and chamber a round and move the second round under the round extractor. He'd make sure the charging handle had gone al the way forward and would pull the trigger and resume firing.
     
  8. Takao

    Takao Ace

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  9. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    No, a stripper clip is something used to thumb feed rounds into a magazine. I don't know what the technical term is for those stiff belts fed into various machine guns (perhaps somebody will chime in?), but they aren't stripper clips.



    Stripper clip: [​IMG]
     
  10. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Terms I have seen are ammunition strip or feed strip.

    However, the Japanese Nambu Type 11 6.5mm machine gun was purposely designed to use the stripper clips for the Arisaka rifle, the Type 11's ammunition compartment held 6 stripper clips that sat horizontally, one on top of the other.
    [​IMG]
     

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