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Arsenal World: machine gun Saint-Etienne

Arsenal World: machine gun Saint-Etienne

tell, how the main machine gun of the French army was created in the First world war

At the end of the 19th century, the French military, as befits the army of an advanced European country (in addition, burdened with dreams of revenge with Germany), closely followed the latest weapons thought, including behind machine guns. So, in the late 1880s, they conducted a series of tests of the then mitrailleuse - Gardner, Gatling, Nordenfeld and Maxim. However, rather cumbersome systems, according to French officers, were of little use in field combat.

The situation changed in 1897 year with the appearance on the market of the Hotchkiss et Cie machine gun. Already according to the results of the first tests, the Artillery Committee highly appreciated this model., but although Hotchkiss et Cie was located in France, the machine gun was made by the American engineer Benet based on the patent of the Austrian Odkolek. therefore, despite another series of successful tests, at 1901 году в "hunter battalions" (light infantry), and 1904 year in the cavalry, the question of adopting Hotchkiss into service was delayed. Generals hoped, that designers on government salaries will be able to do the same and even better.

Alas, the, what happened to the design of the Puteaux state arsenal, the French themselves named: "To want to do too well, nothing good is achieved "или, speaking in russian, "best the enemy of the good". In addition to the numerous wishes of the French military designers, they also had to take into account legal subtleties.. It was impossible to touch upon the design patents of Maxim, Browning and the aforementioned Odkolek.

Mechanics became the result of a long way around the most successful solutions., quite well suited to the definition of "cuckoo clock". The automatic machine gun worked on the principle of gas venting ... but from a muzzle mounted at the end of the barrel. Since the piston received forward movement, and not back, to transform its movement in the right direction, the designers had to use a cunning scheme from a connecting rod, racks and crank gears.

As expected, the work of the resulting miracle coffee machine on the first tests in 1904 year did not look the best, which led to a series of showdowns in the French government. Some insisted, what you need to spit and pay Hotchkiss et Cie what they want, others insisted on continuing work. Comparative tests in July 1906 years have reaffirmed the advantage of Hotchkiss, especially in terms of survivability - he could withstand a shot in 15000 shots. "Puteau" did not even reach half of this figure. Even the use of new special steels from Chatillon did not help.

However, the test report recorded: «Air-cooled machine guns, probably, reach critical temperature faster, than water-cooled machine guns like the German Maxim or the English Vickers. The only solution is, that for the Puteaux machine gun and the Hotchkiss machine gun, it is necessary to create a system for quick dismantling of the barrel and a large supply of spare barrels».

By this time, everyone understood, that in the end you still have to negotiate with Hotchkiss et Cie. But too much time and government money was invested in the project of the state machine gun., to just pick up and drop this suitcase without a handle. This is how Mitrailleuse Mle was born 1907 T - modification of the sample "Puteau", executed by the state arsenal at Saint-Etienne(BUT). In this model, the designers got rid of the muzzle, switching to a more reliable scheme for removing gases through a hole in the barrel. However, it was not possible to completely "cure" the initially not very successful design..

An interesting feature of state machine guns was the rate of fire adjustment mechanism. Another trick, which the designers had to go to - sight, which, as the barrel heats up, "automatically" changes its position.

For shooting from "Saint-Etienne" used metal cassette tapes on 25 rounds. About the same were used for Hotchkiss - this corresponded to the wishes of the French military, hoping in this way to regulate the rate of fire and prevent the machine gun from overheating. But if the Hotchkiss machine gun belt included 24 chuck, which corresponded to three standard packages 8 mm Lebel rounds, then the calculations of "Puteau" and "Saint-Etienne" had to open an extra pack.

Only in 1916 year machine guns were upgraded to use cloth tape on 300 cartridges - primarily for anti-aircraft machine guns and long-term fortifications.

Characteristics of the machine gun "Saint-Etienne":

  • Weight —                        25,73 kg without machine, 51 kg with machine
  • Length —                        1118 mm
  • barrel length —           710 mm
  • Cartridge —                      850 mm × R Lebel
  • Work principles —  removal of powder gases, Crank-shatunnoe zapyranye
  • rate of —   650 rounds / min
  • Muzzle velocity —         700 m / s
  • type boepitaniya —       25-ammunition metal magazine or 300-cartridge cloth machine gun belt
  • Total production —      about 39700 units

Although even in a modernized form, Saint-Etienne was inferior to its constant competitor, by the beginning of the First World War, it was this machine gun that was the main one in the French army and was actually supplanted by Hotchkiss machine guns only in 1918 year.

/Andrey Ulanov,

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