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Why wasn't the BAR given an extended magazine?

Discussion in 'Small Arms and Edged Weapons' started by superbee, Jan 9, 2011.

  1. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I mentioned in post #107 a report by SLA Marshall on Infanty Operations and Weapons Usage during the first year of the Korean War. Here are excerpts with some of the applicable information.

    THE BAR


    THE MAINSTAY



    Under the conditions of the average infantry fight in Korea, the BAR, even more than the machine gun, provides the fire base around which the action of other infantry weapons builds up and the force expresses itself unitedly.
    It is not alone the case that analysis of company operations warrants this appreciation of the weapon; the men also make this estimate of its effectiveness; they state frankly that it is the mainspring of their action, and that wherever the BAR moves and fires, it gives fresh impulse to the rifle line.
    Appreciation of the BAR within Eighth Army therefore reaffirms experience with the same weapon in World War II operations both in the Pacific and in Europe.

    What makes this reaction all the more noteworthy is that there has been a markedly higher incidence of failure by the BAR in Korean operations than in World War II fighting, for reasons which will be explained later. (USMCPrice note: The reason detailed in a later section had to do with the reconditioning of older weapons in Japan by US Army Ordinance. During the early part of the program this reconditioning was done by local Japanese and apparently they only cleaned but did not replace the recoil springs. Also, te investigation stated that inspection proceedures were technically inadequate and generally weak. The section also states; "Concerning the new BAR, fresh from the factory, there is no problem. Practically without exception, this weapon has met with full success every test which the inclement weather of Korea and the dust and grime of the countryside have imposed upon it. The record is unmarred by any major entry of cold-weather failures."
    Even so, there is no diminishing of general infantry confidence in the effectiveness of the automatic rifle. It is still considered “indispensable” and troops shudder at any suggestion that it might ultimately be replaced by some other weapon. They cannot imagine having to get along without it.

    The reason that the BAR is rated as the mainstay of the fire base is because of the greatly modifying influence of the Korean terrain upon the utility of the machinegun. The CCF are good machine gunners; they are more expert in their employment of this weapon than in all else; they are persistent; their guns are of every type under the sun; even so, they have the knack of keeping them going; in the attack, they bring the gun in very close; but they are good at concealment behind brush, thicket, and rock ledge, and therefore the close-in target remains very elusive. The record contains many examples of CCF machine guns bearing on our positions at 30-40 yards range
    and continuing unseen. To counter this fire with one of our own machine guns usually necessitates bringing it far forward, with consequent sudden death, either in transit or soon after placement. Our MG crews are far more obvious in moving and in setting

    72

    Pari II

    UNCLASSIFIED B

    up. The BAR, which is a lesser target and usually has as its operator an individual who combines boldness with a requisite stealth, is therefore the main counteragent. BAR fire is also the chief depressant of sniper fire delivered from ranges which are too close in for the mortars and too far out for the grenade. One man with a BAR, if he is the right man, will have a stronger neutralizing effect upon a local sniper-infested area than the’ random fire of five or six riflemen. Almost invariably, BAR men are exemplary in their conservation of ammunition. They do not have nervous fingers; they sustain fire only when the situation truly demands it. Why this is so is something
    of a mystery; it is recorded here as fact because the BAR record in Korea is one of consistently strong performance by the operators.
    On defense, the machine gun will usually be sited to cover a draw, the gentlest hill facing, or some other avenue of approach which seems particularly favorable to the enemy purpose. Because, as the attack develops, the threat from that quarter will continue more or less constant, even though the enemy does not initially take advantage of it, the employment of the machine gun is more or less rigid. But under attack, the defensive dispositions seldom remain static; the lines contract and expand as the pressure changes; men and weapons are shifted as an excess of danger threatens from a new point. The BAR is the pivotal weapon in this eddying of the tactical situation. Should the rifle line begin to bend at one point, the BARS are sent there to stabilize it. If the machine gun, stopping the enemy frontally, is threatened by flankers circling toward it over dead ground, BAR fire is used to cover the corners and save the gun. During the mop-up, it is the main weapon for neutralizing foxholes; when, on defense, strong out-posting is required, the BAR is also given that assignment.

    (and from a later portion of the report)
    AUGMENTATION



    In the view of the great majority of infantry troops and commanders in Korea, the fighting strength of the infantry company would be greatly increased by doubling the number of BARS, while reducing the number of Ml carriers proportionately. This could be done without adding an upsetting burden to the company load. The final argument for the change is that it would make more perfect the balancing of
    offensive-defensive strength within the infantry company.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
  2. superbee_57

    superbee_57 New Member

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    PM sent. Thank you very much !
     
  3. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Were there a lot of complaints from the troops about the 20 round mag? And how much of a difference would 30 round mags really make over the duration of an engagement or a day of combat?

    Consider that the BAR man, or the squad, carries a certain amount of ammo for the BAR - how much does it matter if it's in 20- or 30-round increments?
     
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  4. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Besides, standing up in a firefight might be a good way to get seriously killed!
     
  5. harolds

    harolds Member

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    It is also more dangerous. Advancing at the walk could get you seriously killed! Prone is safer. Well, maybe less risky would be a better term.
     
  6. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    You can’t advance laying down...
     
  7. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    And I can fully agree with your statement here.

    In fact I made the same point twice in post #114; "Employment with the bipod is the most stable, optimal employment, just as the tripod is with the GPMG; tactical factors though often precludes this." and "The bipod is the most stable employment, just as the prone position is the most stable for the rifleman."

    I am also cognizant to the fact that a poster's actual intent is sometimes lost or misconstrued in written debates on the internet due to the decision to use a particular word.

    So that being said, the statements of yours I was questioning were; "The rifle is simply not controllable in full auto unless prone or otherwise braced up with the bipod." Most controllable in the prone with bipod, yes. Next best option prone without bipod, yes. Uncontrollable unless in prone with or without bipod, No.

    Then, "The BAR (and a host of other similar guns) can only do so effectively from the prone position with bipod extended." If your meaning was; the BAR is/was most effective from the prone with bipod, I am in full agreement with you, we share a similar opinion. If your meaning was as stated, only effective from the prone with bipod, then I disagree and argue that the statement is incorrect. This is not just semantics, most effective and only effective have two totally different meanings.


     
  8. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Excellent questions! I'm not sure of the answer, but will reseach it.
     
  9. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Yeah, point taken - the BAR is most effective from prone. I've never had the good fortune to shoot a BAR on full auto, but having shot lighter rifles (and rounds) in full auto, I suspect the effectiveness of shoulder fire even in 3 to 5 shot bursts is more supposed than actual. Or perhaps, since the theory behind 'base of fire' is to keep the enemies head down, maybe it doesn't matter as much as one would think. A loud burst of 30.06 (even if over your head) will certainly see you eating dirt and praying to whatever deity you favor, and that is the purpose of the 'base of fire' doctrine

    .
     
  10. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Yes you can! It's called the "low crawl" and it's only way for an infantryman to advance under heavy fire.
     
  11. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    One of the men I met at the 30th Division's reunion said he crawled across Europe. He didn't know what it looked like standing up until the war ended.
     
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  12. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Who is this guy? I've read something about his and what put him on the cover of Life Magazine, but for the life (no pun intended) I cannot remember anything about him.
     
  13. Andy235

    Andy235 Member

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    A better idea, although the American Army would be LOATHE to do it, would have been to adopt the BREN as the squad level light machine gun and re-chamber it for American ammo. It was originally designed by the Czechs for 7.92mm, I believe, which I would guess is closer to 30-06 than the rimmed British .303.
     
  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Looking at it with 20:20 hind sight and supposing production could be initiated and or increased in say 38 or possibly 39 I'd go with the Bren in30-06 and 2 BAR's per squad. Not sure how long it would have taken to produce significant numbers of the BREN in this configuration. I know that the supply of BAR's wasn't up to until some time in 44 (or possibly late 43).
     
  15. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    That's the major part of the problem, production. The US was trying to re-equip its forces and expand the military at the same time. Lack of M1 production led to the Marine being deployed to Guadalcanal with '03 Springfields, the M1 Carbine had just been adopted in late Octobr 1941, there were probably 120,000+ M1918's in armories across the country so a very good automatic rifle you do have, is better than an optimal light machine gun that you do not have. Since, the Army was struggling even late war with providing adequate numbers of the BAR, what would it have been like if they'd made the switch Andy235 suggested?
     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Wasn't part of the late war production problem the decision to go with 2 BARs per squad rather than one. Which brings up another question. While in many ways a BREN is better than a BAR is it better than 2?
     
  17. Pacifist

    Pacifist Active Member

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    The life article 24 hours with infantryman Terry Moore.
    LIFE
     
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  18. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    The Marine Corps adopted the two BAR squad (Series E TOE) after Guadalcanal based upon lessons learned. They went to three BAR's per squad and four man fire teams by Kwajalein (Series F TOE), and retained that configuration through the G series TOE late war. They retained the structure through the Korean War TOE's as well.
    I may have misinterpreted what he wrote, but one of my go to guys for accurate information RichTO90, stated in another thread that there was a chronic shortage of BAR's in the ETO, critically so post Normandy and IIRC he said that was still the case through the end of 1944. I had always "thought", don't know where I read it, that the US Army unofficially adopted the two BAR structure in late WWII, but based on what he wrote that may be bogus information, much like the M1 rifle and the "ping" myth.
     
  19. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I think I remember him writing something about the army adopting the 2 BAR structure. That may have been part of the reason for the shortages. All of a sudden needing almost twice as many. Suspect he'll be along before too long and straiten us out on the topic.

    *** edit for ***
    found it in the m1917 thread:
    And here's where he talked about the shortage in the "Did the Germans have better..." thread:
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018
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  20. Andy235

    Andy235 Member

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    Having a squad divided into two sections---the fire team (3 men) with a Bren and personal weapons and a maneuver team (8 or so men with at least one BAR for auto fire) might have been a very workable idea.
     

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