Was this first time portable machine guns were used?

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by primalclaws1974, Jan 9, 2015.

  1. I realize that the Gatlin gun was the first machine gun, and it was long before WWI, but it was like a cannon, and they used a crank. I am wondering when the first true automatic, handheld machine guns were used? I am fairly certain they were used in WWI, because they came into widespread use by gangsters, following the war, but were they in existence before the war?
  2. When it comes to something like a submachine gun, the Germans were using a MP-18 during WWI as well as some Beretta SMGs that came in closer to the end of the war. However, there were a few models of Machine Pistols that were used a little bit on the front lines as well that were basically just pistols that had been modified to fire fully automatic with either longer handles or detachable stocks.
  3. Interrogator#6

    Interrogator#6 Active Member

    The Gattling gun was a product of the ACW, though I do not recall reading of any actually being deployed or used in battle. They were being developed either very late in the war or early in the post war era. I read "Strategoes: the American Kriegspiel", C. A. Totten, circa 1880. He devoted a chapter in his book about the training of cadets (West Point) to the theorical deployment of this weapon on the battlefield and its potential.

    As I recall the crew-serviced weapon was initially thought to be a NAVAL weapon and was to be crewed by sailors even though a field carrage was developed for it.

    One armchair general speculated on the effect of a pair of Gattling guns at the Battle of Greasy Grass (Little Big-horn, 1875) or Battle of Indesawanda (1879?).
  4. As the gun would have been mounted as a cannon, I would think it would be difficult to move around in unforgiving terrain and over long marches. I would also question how many regular cannons were brought along as well, for the same reason. When it comes to marching, I would figure light would be the way to go.
  5. Interrogator#6

    Interrogator#6 Active Member

    Yes, the Gattling gun was mounted in a similar fashion to a cannon, including cassons. But this was due to the weight of these early machine-guns and their accompaning ammunition. It was simpler to move them in that fashion. But these items would have been moved normally by horses or mules. But that was pro forma for a late ninteenth century army.

    Please be aware that ninteenth century armies, US or European, had an arm known as "Horse Artillery". This was "light guns", meaning 3#, 6# or 9#. The Gattling gun would have fit right in.

    And Gattling guns could have been adjusted on a battlefield by manpower, sans horses. I can atest to this as I personally and singlly moved a 12# Napoleonic Gun. Granted, it was only some 50 yards across a parade ground, but it was heavier than a Gattling gun.
  6. Alexander

    Alexander Member

  7. Interrogator#6

    Interrogator#6 Active Member

    Thank you, Alexander, for this reference. For those who missed it, one example was found at the Battle of Peterborough being used by the CSA. The Union captured it in 1865 and sent it for study to West Point. But this was an "auto-cannon" not a machine-gun.

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