- Our? - one lips asked Malinin. Sintsov nodded, although now, at this moment, he did not see anything except the Germans, who were climbing the hill, and a piece of snowy field behind them. The Germans had only twenty steps to the dead zone, when Sintsov pressed the trigger and widely and firmly led the machine gun by the handles from right to left and right again, describing the deadly lead arc of people who did not have time to fall. It was the case that was not frequent in the war, when an unexpected and cold-blooded line-up from less than a hundred meters cut off like a whole chain. The chain fell, several people climbed, hurrying to run to the dead space. Turn! .. Another turn! .. The first German who escaped almost reached the dead zone. In order to cut it, Sintsov had to bend the machine gun to the full. The machine gun of the Germans got stuck on the embrasure, but the embrasure on this side was narrow, and the bullets only crumbled a brick around it.
"They will go now," said Sintsov.
And in fact, because of the machine gun, another German chain rose and went forward. Without shooting at them, Sintsov focused his attention on the German machine gun. From the German response line, straight into his face, in his squeezed left eye, small splinters of brick splashed, and he, with pain, squeezed his eyes even closer, gave the last turn on the German machine gun, hitting both Germans lying behind him. One fell on its side, the other jumped up and, tilting backwards, rolled down the slope. Hearing silence behind her, the chain broke down, stopped and ran down ... "
This quotation from Konstantin Simonov’s famous novel “The Living and the Dead” came in very handy in order to demonstrate the real combat capabilities of the easel machine gun.
Today, machine guns are almost never used, and with them went the art of shooting from this weapons. Who knows today that from the “machine-tool operator” one could confidently shoot at an enemy, located at a distance of two kilometers and hidden by the slope of a mountain? In the meantime, in those years when heavy machine guns were in service in all armies, such a rifle "trick" was not something surprising.
Modern single machine guns can, if necessary, be mounted on a tripod machine, but this is done extremely rarely, and more often you can see how the machine gunner firing from the belt, not even using bipods.
In order to better remember such a semi-forgotten weapon for the modern fighter, which is the easel machine gun, let's turn to the book, which was published in the distant 1927 year. This is a Russian translation of the German edition entitled “Troop Guide for Machine-Gun Case”. During the First World War, German machine gunners proved to be from the best side, so their combat experience was repeatedly summarized and later used not only by the German army, but also by many other European armies - for example, the Red Army.
The main machine gun in the German army was a machine gun arr. 1908 of the year - the equivalent of the world famous machine gun "Maxim". Everywhere we are talking about this system, but the combat characteristics of the machine guns of the first quarter of the twentieth century were about the same, so everything that will be discussed below can be attributed to any “machine tool”.
It was believed that “equipped with good machine tools and excellent sighting devices, machine guns of the 1908 model are able to hit even the most insignificant targets with extraordinary accuracy and corresponding excellent results at a distance of up to 1600 m. With a significant target size, in connection with the use of cartridges with an SS bullet (a heavy bullet specially designed for long-range shooting), the actual fire ranges increase to 3 500 m.
The water cooling device enables the production of 1000 shots without interruption.
After replenishing the coolant, you can continue firing until more 500 cartridges are used up. ”
The experience of the First World War showed that the organization of machine-gun parts should be such that light and heavy machine guns were provided with the opportunity to work together with the sole purpose of destroying the enemy. In training, they also sought to unite the future combat work of those and others. It was believed that the scattered activities of light and heavy machine guns in combat, without mutual support and revenue, is the biggest mistake and always leads to significant losses.
When conducting an offensive, the direction of joint work of light and heavy machine guns was in the hands of the battalion commander. Machine-gun companies received their assignments in accordance with the tasks of infantry companies. The main rule was that each part of the advancing rifle line had fire support for machine guns.
The task of the heavy machine guns was to support the infantry from the last half of the long distances, approximately from 1500 m. They carried out this task by firing from the dominant or from the side of the located heights, or between the parts of their infantry.
The author of the manual writes: “Heavy machine guns should be put into action, if possible, from the very beginning of the battle. It would be a mistake to use them only after finding out the whole situation. The result of the late introduction into battle may be significant losses suffered by the shooting lines. Covering the deployment and advancement of shooters is their most important task.
The introduction of heavy machine guns into battle, as a rule, should take place on a platoon basis and, if possible, outside the lines of infantry positions. In the very same shooting line, their place only when the action from the depth is unthinkable. In this case, machine guns must adapt in their movements to the rifle line and maintain contact with infantry companies.
Generally speaking, heavy machine guns can best support infantry if they, working as a platoon engineer, are under the authority of their company commander only, and try to fire through the heads of their riflemen, if possible, from behind the lying heights. Especially important is the flanking action of machine guns, which is achieved by placing them behind the company’s sections in such a way as to fire at the enemy in front of his mouth, operating side by side.
Positions from which you can shoot for a long time without harm to your own shooting lines should be considered the most profitable. ”
It was recommended that rifle positions should be chosen with special care, while taking into account the shading of the places occupied by machine guns and the background behind the located terrain in order to use a disguise that represents the best way to make it difficult for the enemy to observe the machine guns.
The use of machine gun shields was recommended only when they did not give out the location.
Advancement of machine guns was carried out by artillery, in a variable line, at the direction of the company commander. During the advance of one platoon, the rest were to remain on alert. In such an inferior order, carefully applying to the terrain, suddenly disappearing and appearing and skillfully dodging enemy artillery fire, heavy machine guns had to advance along with infantry lines. In order to fulfill its main task - to ensure the advancement of infantry lines - they must occupy such places that they can hit the enemy in the flank or fire through the heads of their infantry. Moving on a platoon basis, the machine guns had to cling to the ledges in order to be always ready to advance into the flank and repel the enemy's reach with their powerful fire.
Outside the zone of the real enemy fire, heavy machine guns, to save the forces of the personnel, moved in carts and on hand trucks. When this method of advancement turned out to be inapplicable, machine guns were carried by hand, and hand trucks were used to deliver cartridges and water.
When moving the shooting lines to the attack, platoons of heavy machine guns were located in such positions from which these lines could be supported with real fire. A powerful continuous fire was supposed to crush the enemy and make any resistance impossible for him. With such an intensified fire, it was necessary to shoot, if possible, direct fire; Taking into account the smoke from the shots and the formation of a general haze in the battle zone, the machine-gunners used special dispersion limiters.
In the context of defense, machine guns were positioned so that the entire front lying area and the intervals between the parts were under their fire.
It was believed that heavy machine guns in defense are the main means of stubborn infantry resistance. The accuracy of their battle, due to the variety of methods of shooting available to them, gives them the opportunity to open firefighting already at long distances with direct and indirect fire, especially when using heavy bullet cartridges.
Regarding the requirements for the position of heavy machine guns, the manual stated the following: “Due to their small size, heavy machine guns can be covered relatively easily. We must constantly remember that only a skillful shelter from the eyes of the offensive protects them from premature destruction. Artificial mounds in most cases constrain the sector of fire and are easily recognized by pilots.
Machine guns positioned for flanking, easier to hide from the observation of the enemy, rather than acting frontally. The choice of firing position requires special care. Preparation of spare positions is required. It is especially important to move some of the heavy machine guns at night to other positions not occupied by the day.
The more numerous the shooting directions of individual machine guns and the more machine guns can be concentrated on one target, the better the installation of machine guns and the more effective their fire. ”
Already in those days it was believed that anti-aircraft artillery, as well as fighter aircraft, would not always be reliable means of fighting against the enemy aviation. Therefore, the duty of calculating machine guns, easel and manual, also included the fight against enemy pilots.
Despite the simplicity of the adopted anti-aircraft sight, at distances up to 1000 m that do not require installation in the distance and altitude of the target, shooting at airplanes still presents great difficulties and requires constant exercise. During the transitions, the duty of guarding the troops from the air enemy was the task of the mobile accompanying machine-gun platoons moving in "jumps" along the column.
Interestingly, in the late 1920s, easel machine guns were involved even to combat tanks. The fight against tanks over long distances was naturally entrusted to artillery and mortars. The task of the machine guns is to take the nearest tanks under the crossfire, breaking through our lines under the auspices of the smoke screen. It was believed that when shelling a tank with heavy bullets, choosing certain weaknesses of a vehicle to defeat, one could hope for such damage to the tank that would not allow it to continue to participate in the battle.
Part of the machine guns simultaneously turned its fire on the infantry following the tanks, and sought to achieve its maximum destruction, or at least cut off from the tanks.
It is extremely curious for a modern machine gunner to look at the section of this manual, which sets out the theory of shooting from an easel machine gun. “A sheaf of heavy machine gun shots varies significantly from a sheaf of rifle shots and a light machine gun, because from the first one they shoot not from the shoulder, but from a stable machine. Machine gun mounted on the machine, turns into a real machine. The sheaf of shots resulting from firing from it is much narrower than that of a light machine gun.
If you look at the sheaf of shots of a heavy machine gun from the side, it is in the middle of the thick, and in the outer part less often. In systematic shooting, only the inner, thicker, “useful” part (core) is taken into account. Outside, rare parts of the sheaf are called "adjacent stripes."
The normal type of fire from a heavy machine gun was continuous fire. In addition to the continuous, sometimes even single-person fire was used, used in practice shooting and, as an exception, in battles, for example, to warm up the liquid that cools the machine gun, in severe frost, etc.
Continuous fire was divided into “fire to a point” - with tightly mounted lifting and turning mechanisms or with a free swivel and a certain homing point; “Wide fire” - with the simultaneous movement or dispersion of a sheaf of shots to the side; "Deep fire" - with the simultaneous systematic movement or dispersion of a sheaf of shots in range or height.
Fire to the point with fixed mechanisms was conducted with a precisely defined scope and aiming point. In order to get a possibly narrow heap of shots on the target, both the turning and lifting mechanisms had to be fixed.
The goal was always “put on the fly”, the fire was fired in bursts, at least in 10 shots, in order to get, if possible, a clear picture of the whole sheaf of shots on the target, rather than individual holes. When the observation was done, the fire stopped, but the gunner could only stop it himself after 40 – 50 shots.
Regarding the shooting technique from the “machine tool” and the mistakes made in the German manual, it was said: “Who of the teachers did not reproach the gunner for not holding the machine gun firmly enough? Did this teacher know that the sheaf of shots, due to the firm grip of the arms, in most cases increases rather than decreases, and that, consequently, his reproach to the gunner was a blunder. Pressing or lifting the handles on the back burner helps to move the entire sheaf of shots and violates the very point of zeroing, which should show where the bullets fall when aiming at the target and during the "natural" oscillation of the machine and the weapon.
In case of a sighting fire, the machine gun must be held freely in the hands, without interfering with its natural concussion; only under this condition we get a clear picture of hits, i.e. the narrowest sheaf of shots. Strong holding does not make any sense, because the machine gun is already tightly fixed. Another thing is when shooting to kill, when the gunner with a continuous fire must hold the correct aiming and straighten it, - otherwise, thanks to the jarring, the machine gun can easily escape from the hands ”.
Fire to a point with free mechanisms, used, as a rule, only when firing at direct fire, i.e. continuous fire, with unsecured lifting and turning mechanisms, at which the gunner accurately kept the aiming line at the designated point. This fire was considered suitable in cases where it was necessary to hit a single small target, such as an enemy machine gun, a fighter's figure, or when with continuous fire it was necessary to make sure that the sheaf of bullets was in exact position. Here, too, it was necessary to release at least the 10 round of shots, because only under this condition can a correct conclusion be made about the position of the sheaf.
Wide fire is obtained by slow and uniform movement of the machine gun to the side. It was believed that the 1 front meter should be about two shots.
The human eye, even armed with the best binoculars or a telescopic sight, cannot see whether narrow sheaves really lie in the target or not. If the target is located at least a little ledge or oblique with respect to the direction of shots, then keeping a narrow sheaf on the target without artificial dispersion into depth becomes completely impossible.
Deep fire with dispersion into depth was achieved by systematically moving a sheaf of machine-gun shots at a distance, by slowly rotating the handwheel of the lifting mechanism to the right and left.
With such shooting, the shooter refused the highest results in order to raise the probability of hitting the target with more or less deep fire.
To find this measure, it was necessary to be guided by: the conditions of observation, the distance to the target, the properties of the target, as well as the accuracy of the methods used to determine distances. Scattering into depth was performed within 100 and 200 m.
Theory of firing from a heavy machine gun indirect fire. By indirect aiming, it was understood that the machine gunner does not see the target for the conditions of the terrain or for other reasons, but with the help of auxiliary devices can still hit her. For example, a machine gunner should fire a target, but does not see it, since it is covered with a height lying in front. However, from the observation point you can see at the same time both the machine gun and the target.
The direction to the target was given by a special device called a commander protractor. The circle of this device is divided into 6 400 divisions, i.e. on the same as divided by the circle of the machine gun protractor. The same divisions were inside the protractor and on the lifting mechanism of the machine gun, and on the side stops. Each division corresponded to one “thousandth”.
For firing at long distances it was recommended to use special heavy bullets. Recall that in the service of the Red Army for the same purpose was in the 1930-40-ies cartridge with a bullet "D" (long-range). While the light bullet flies rather steeply, the heavy one gives an extremely flat trajectory, and this leads to the fact that the spaces hit by the heavy bullet are almost three times larger than the light one. The likelihood of hitting is also greatly increased. The reason for this advantage of a heavy bullet is its heavy weight and best shape. Thanks to these two qualities, it better overcomes the resistance of the air and, keeping its speed longer, flies more slopingly, flat, and hence further. In addition, the flight of a heavy bullet is stable, monotonous, and therefore a sheaf of shots of heavy bullets is much thicker and, accordingly, gives more real defeats.
In general, the rules of machine-gun fire were as follows. Shooting from heavy machine guns direct fire always began with a zeroing, which was carried out, as a rule, by fire at a point with free or fixed lifting and turning mechanisms. In the same cases, when it can be expected that firing to the point without fixing the mechanisms will ensure good observation, the machine-gunners immediately transferred fire to destruction, whenever possible, always with the division of fire popleumelno.
In addition, machine gunners were advised to always shoot deep fire with dispersion on 100 m in range. The fire should have started, aiming so much lower than the target, in order to get an undershoot in 50 m, then “if artificially dispersed in the range on the 100, m itself would result in a sight, on the 50 m exceeding the true distance, i.e. a sheaf of shots should cover the target. If it can be expected that the conditions of observation when shooting at a point will be unfavorable, resort to fixing mechanisms. If there is reason to assume that the separate shooting of machine guns will not lead to success, then all three platoon machine guns immediately concentrate fire on a specific point indicated by the platoon commander. This point should lie, as far as possible, in the middle of the target's platoon area, in order to facilitate the individual machine guns to go on to defeat with the division of fire into sections. ”
When firing at the main combat target, the enemy infantry was recommended to distinguish:
1) visible wide targets - shooter lines, etc .;
2) invisible broad goals - the lines of shooters, etc., which still, despite their invisibility, should be hit;
3) small targets, such as individual rifle groups scattered on the battlefield, which can be hit not by massive, but only well healed by fire at a point.
To defeat such targets, it was necessary to conduct a deep and at the same time wide fire. Scattering along the front was made slowly, at the rate of approximately 100 shots at 50 m target width, and dispersion into depth - evenly, without delaying the handwheel at each turn and rotating it not especially fast.
It was necessary to strive “to maintain the correct continuous fire, to fall asleep the enemy with bullets, not allowing him to recover. He should in the shortest possible time suffer such losses so that his moral resilience is broken. With continuous fire for about 5 minutes, the average speed of fire should be about 300 per minute per machine gun. ”
The mass fire of several machine guns was practically useless if the sizes of the targets and the number of them were so small that the results of the fire cannot justify the expenditure of ammunition. As a rule, fire to a point was used to hit such targets, in combination with dispersion into depth. The gunner must strive to be able to instantly cover with a bunch of bullets every target that appears as soon as it becomes visible. If the targets were not visible, but in the meantime a part of the terrain had to be kept under fire, then a disturbing fire was conducted.
“Shelling machine guns - the most difficult of the tasks falling to the share of the machine gun and gunner. The machine gun as a target has negligible size, is mostly well applied to the terrain and therefore poorly visible, and due to the too narrow sheaf of machine-gun fire with fixed mechanisms and, conversely, too wide with a free machine gun, it is difficult to be vulnerable.
If shooting is conducted from rifles, then each sustained shooter produces only aimed shots. When firing a machine gun, this is somewhat different: there the gunner can only pick out the first shot well, and then the line of sight, under the influence of recoil, fluctuates so much that the gunner has almost no opportunity to aim. The resulting smoke makes it even more difficult.
To achieve the defeat of the machine gun, you need to concentrate the sheaf of shots well, but you can not fasten the swivel, because it will make the sheaf too narrow: for example, at a distance of 1000 m it will be only 1 – 1,5 m wide. Shooting such a narrow sheaf is extremely tempting, but experience teaches that it does not provide as advantageous conditions of observation at medium distances as are needed to achieve success in shooting.
So, first of all, attention should be paid to the fact that the sheaf of shots was not too stretched to the sides. This is best achieved by the position of the gunner, not sitting, but lying down, with elbows resting in the elbows. Under this condition, the fire to the point gives a sheaf of shots at 1000 m, a width of about 6 m. When shooting in the sitting position, with no elbow rest, this width usually increases to 10 m, which makes the sheaf too liquid. To thoroughly fire a machine gun, you need to spend a lot of ammunition.
Regarding shooting through the heads of their troops, which was often used at the time, the following was said. A sheaf of heavy machine gun shots from a machine or a tripod, with the excellent lifting mechanisms available on these machines, is so stable in the hands of an experienced gunner that shooting over the heads of their troops was done without any danger to them. The infantryman was supposed to be accustomed to such shooting, and in the course of the exercise he was convinced that under the protection of his own machine guns firing over his head he was completely safe.
There was a difference in shooting over the head with direct and indirect fire. While direct fire shooting through heads is necessary in certain terrain conditions, indirect fire shooting does not depend on the terrain.
Shooting through direct-fire heads could be applied only from commanding points or at targets located at the same points, since from a machine-gun position both your own and enemy units should be visible, and the trajectory should pass at least three meters above heads shooters under it are. Naturally, such shooting in the plain is excluded. “When firing over the head, as a rule, absolute safety must be ensured. If the position of the sheaf of shots cannot be established directly, then the officer of the machine-gun company must calculate it, depending on the placement of the front infantry line, and transfer the results of his calculations to the position of the machine guns. ”
Shooting through indirect-targeting heads could be carried out on any terrain, and the calculations should establish exactly that the lowest 100 bullets% of the sheaf of shots fly at least four meters above the heads of their shooters and do not fall closer than 200 meters in front of them. It is also necessary not to forget and carefully monitor that the bullets do not touch trees or, in general, any local objects on their way.
The commander of a machine-gun company was obliged to be in close connection with the troops, through whose heads he shoots. In addition, it was necessary to strive to ensure that front-line demands for support for fire or for carrying fire were executed by machine guns as soon as possible.
Also, “hitting bullets behind grass, knots, etc., should be avoided in any case, since the bullets are reflected at considerable angles and bother the shooters. It should be noted that the bullets for anything that hurt, do not always fly close, like ricochets: often they only change direction and fly a considerable distance.
Shooting over the head is allowed only with machine-sled or tripod, and only with height limiters installed. If the lower limiter is installed in such a way that the possibility of hitting its troops is completely ruled out, then dispersion in range is acceptable. ”
Housings must always be filled with water and refilled every 500 shots. With each shooting through the heads, it was desirable to put new trunks and in no case use such ones, of which more than 5000 shots have already been made.