Thursday, September 21, 2017

The US Model 1918 Chauchat

US M1918 Chauchat 

The French Model 1915 Chauchat machine rifle was one of the first light, automatic rifle-caliber weapons designed to be carried and fired by a single operator and an assistant, without a heavy tripod or a team of gunners. They were  issued to the American AEF during WWI. 

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French Model 1915 Chauchat

The muddy trenches of northern France exposed a number of weaknesses in the Chauchat's design. Construction had been simplified to facilitate mass production, resulting in low quality of many metal parts. The magazines in particular were the cause of about 75% of the stoppages or cessations of fire; they were made of thin metal and open on one side, allowing for the entry of mud and dust.

In hopes to correct the problems the US M1918 Chauchat was redesigned to use a box magazine and chambered in 30-06. Development and production were rushed, and a large number of guns went out the door with incorrectly sized chambers. They were cut slightly too short, which meant that the neck of the cartridge case was jammed too tightly into the end of the chamber. Upon firing, the case would stick in the chamber and its rim ripped off by the extractor. The barrels also did not have extractor cuts in the barrel face, which didn’t help anything. They functioned so poorly that few, if any, made it into combat.