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Bren gun's are superior than Spandau's (and every other machinegun by default!)

Muldoon

What is this devilry?
The Bren is going to be better for an army on the move, it's lighter, easier to carry ammo for, less prone to getting dirt in the mechanism and therefore more reliable despite the sort of abuse it's going to get in a war. You can also fire it on the move or from a standing position, not something that's advisable with an Mg42 :p So if you are on the attack and trying to be mobile the Bren is a nicer choice. If you are holding a position and not going anywhere try a Vickers ;) But if you have to do both and you are in a position where you need more mobility than a Vickers but more rate of fire than a Bren then the MG42 is a good balance, it has the advantages of both but also the disadvantages of both.

To see why you just need to look at how a rifle squad was armed in the 1930s. Germany still gave its guys the Kar 98, a powerful and accurate weapon but slow to load, slow to aim and with a small magazine. You are going to manage at best one shot every four or five seconds, less if you are aiming carefully and someone is shooting at you, and you need to reload frequently. On the other hand a British section has the Lee Enfield with double the magazine capacity, a much easier bolt to cycle, and the advantage of not having to break aim every time you cycle the bolt. A good rifleman could match a semi auto for rate of fire, and aimed fire at that. A British section is going to put ten aimed shots downrange for every two shots the Germans can fire back. Not good if you are German.

This basically means that when it comes to suppression that British squad is going to do a pretty good job based on rifle fire alone, it can put a solid amount of lead downrange, multiple rounds per second for a respectable amount of time thanks to their magazine size, and each round will be reasonably well aimed. The German squad can do none of that, instead it has to bring along its own machine gun. Whereas the Bren is support for the rifles, in the German squad the rifles are support for the MG. Becomes a doctrine thing where the German squad relies on the MG to do the job and the British squad prefers to put more trust in the rifles.

Both have pluses and minuses, the MG can put out a lot more bullets but you are putting all your eggs in one basket. Lose the MG to a sniper, grenade or bit of well placed smoke and your squad becomes largely useless at range. Lose a Bren and your Enfields can still do a decent job of putting down some suppressing fire, at least by 1930s standards. Also much harder to suppress several men with decent weapons than it is to suppress one guy with an excellent gun.

So the Bren fills a role in British squads that doesn't exist in a German squad, and likewise the MG34 fills a role that isn't necessary in British squads where its negatives are considered more important than its positives. The British army of the 1930s was based on a doctrine of mobility, it had a greater mechanisation than the German army managed and being able to pack up and go somewhere quick was considered an important advantage. A Bren fits that doctrine better than an MG34 would and suits the more mobile style of war Britain favoured in the 30s
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
Author
@Muldoon, the Germans made the assumption that it isn't the rifle that killed the most in terms of small arms, but the machinegun. Then again this is from a development from Imperial Germany which kept adding more and more MGs to their infantry units during WW1...
 

Muldoon

What is this devilry?
Indeed they did, though i would say they put too much emphasis on it and neglected the other elements for too long. They fixed it in the end with more smg and MP44s for example to give the rest of the squad some ability beside bullet mules for the MG, but British and US squads already had that set up before the war started. If we look at modern squads you see that they take the best of both, a decent MG and solid fast firing infantry rifles.
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
Author
Indeed they did, though i would say they put too much emphasis on it and neglected the other elements for too long. They fixed it in the end with more smg and MP44s for example to give the rest of the squad some ability beside bullet mules for the MG, but British and US squads already had that set up before the war started. If we look at modern squads you see that they take the best of both, a decent MG and solid fast firing infantry rifles.
The thing was that Germany had a rather bad time getting an effective semi-auto rifle in bulk (the G43 would be -if I remember correctly- was the first time that Germany 'cracked' semi-auto rifles), add that to the fact that the concept of the Assault Rifle hadn't been even conceived yet (let alone the context and circumstances that caused it to become prominent in the first place), that German tactics focused on avoiding urban environs unless absolutely necessary...

The list was long for why 'fast-firing rifles' weren't a thing in the Heer.
 

Muldoon

What is this devilry?
As the Lee Enfield shows you don't need a semi auto to fire fast, you just need to be creative with your bolt mechanism :) It's an area which should have been an easy fix, you don't need new tech or development, just to copy an existing bit of kit which has been proven in battle to work very nicely. A true semi auto would be better of course, but good enough would be cheaper, faster and get the job done better than the rifle your guys are stuck with for another decade.
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
Author
As the Lee Enfield shows you don't need a semi auto to fire fast, you just need to be creative with your bolt mechanism :) It's an area which should have been an easy fix, you don't need new tech or development, just to copy an existing bit of kit which has been proven in battle to work very nicely. A true semi auto would be better of course, but good enough would be cheaper, faster and get the job done better than the rifle your guys are stuck with for another decade.
The Lee Enfield is an anomaly of Bolt-Actions, outside of the Soviets -and maybe the Japanese- the rest of the world used a variation of the Mauser system. :\ Then again, most actions won't allow you to get as crude as the late-war Mausers got and still function properly...
 

Muldoon

What is this devilry?
An unusual choice for sure, the Enfield is simply the better rifle. A Mauser is great for hunting or sniping but for infantry expecting to fight other infantry it stands at a tremendous disadvantage. I mean I'm not complaining, I'm very happy UK and Commonwealth countries had this advantage, it undoubtedly kept many of them alive at the expense of Germans :p But any analysis of Bren vs MG34.42 has to examine the context of infantry weapons and requirements that informed them. The German squad is at such a disadvantage it needs something as over the top as an MG34 to make itself competitive with it's opponents, that isn't an issue with a UK squad which basically has the same firepower in 1945 as it did in 1917. That doesn't mean it was weak for 45, it means it was exceptional for 1917 :p

So the real question I'd say is less about which is the better LMG, but which is the better balanced infantry unit? A squad with an excellent MG and crappy rifles, or with excellent rifles and a decent LMG? I'd say on balance the average British squad is superior in equipment to the average German squad. The German squad on the whole has a better set of infantry tactics but in terms of gear unless we're counting the rare units with MP44s or G43s a German squad is unbalanced and will suffer in anything other than a defensive role compared to US or UK units.
 

Mr Wumbo

Well-known member
Isn't MG42's issue with overheating and the constant need for barrel change is so bad that the actual practical fire rate in the field is equal to the Bren?
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
Author
Isn't MG42's issue with overheating and the constant need for barrel change is so bad that the actual practical fire rate in the field is equal to the Bren?
Not that I know of. From what I can understand MG-42 gunners were trained to simply pull the trigger for a second or two, as usually a second or two of fire tends to kill whatever group of infantrymen the MG team targeted. Hell, even then the average barrel change in combat conditions was something like 7 seconds (form what I can understand). From what I can understand simply pulling down the trigger wasn't used unless of extreme circumstances.

Given that each MG-42 came with four extra barrels as standard and each MG team was trained in changing the barrel quickly. Most other MGs from what I can understand were either water-cooled or didn't have the ability to change barrels outside of an armory.
 

TankTreads

Well-known member
Probably some of the finest LMGs ever made are the improved copies of the M60 made by US Ordnance, the M60E4 and M60E6. They took an unremarkable machine gun with a history of failure in 'Nam and made it so reliable that the only way to kill it is to dump well over a thousand rounds through it without pause:

 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
Author
Probably some of the finest LMGs ever made are the improved copies of the M60 made by US Ordnance, the M60E4 and M60E6. They took an unremarkable machine gun with a history of failure in 'Nam and made it so reliable that the only way to kill it is to dump well over a thousand rounds through it without pause:

Given that rumor has it that it was sabotaged because the project that birthed the M60 had the goal of 'making an American MG-42' in mind and anyone that can do that would be set for life...
 

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