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‘Ma Deuce’ Days May be Numbered

by Ward Carroll on June 20, 2008

Probably the longest serving weapon in the U.S. military arsenal is the Browning .50-caliber M2 machine gun. Often referred to as “ma deuce” for its M2 designation, the weapon entered U.S. service at the end of World War I, being scaled up from the Browning .30-caliber M1917 machine gun. The .50-caliber weapon was initially designated M1921.

Using a round designed by Winchester, the .50-caliber machine gun was originally intended for ground troops to use against enemy troops. Subsequently, it was employed as an anti-aircraft weapon and then became the standard armament of U.S. warplanes. In 1932, the design was updated and redesignated M2.

Ground and naval machine guns could be air– or water-cooled, the latter having large “jackets” around the barrel. The weapons had rates of fire from 500 to 650 rounds per minute. Mounts for vehicle and shipboard use soon had twin barrels, while a fixed quad-barrel mount was developed for ground and vehicle use. Its light weight permitted up to eight guns to be carried in fighters and it fit into single-, twin-, and quad-barrel turrets on U.S. bombers. The weapon was used in every theater of World War II by U.S. and allied troops–by 1945 the U.S. Army authorized 237 .50-caliber guns in each infantry division, 385 in each armored division, and 165 in each airborne division.

The “ma deuce” was used in large numbers in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, in other crises and conflicts, and, of course, in the Gulf War of 1991 and the later invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Now, after almost 90 years of service, the U.S. Army has moved to replace Browning’s remarkable machine gun. The Army recently ordered three prototypes of a lightweight .50-caliber machine gun. Produced by General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, the weapon weighs about one-half of the current .50-caliber M2HB (Heavy Barrel) machine gun, fires with less recoil and is equipped with technology to improve accuracy, according to the company.


The Army and Special Operations Command (SOCOM) will test the new guns and then apply the lessons learned to a potential production design. Low-rate initial production could begin as soon as 2011.

It would take several years for the new weapon to replace the “ma deuce” in U.S. service. But even if it does so, the M1921/M2 would have been in service for a century.

Its inventor — John Moses Browning (1855–1926) — was one of America’s most prolific gun inventors. After making his first gun from scrap metal at age 13, he went on to design pistols, rifles, and machine guns. The U.S. Army began using his machine guns in 1890. Browning’s innovative weapons also included the .30-caliber M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), used in U.S. Army and Marine Corps squads from World War I through the Korean War.

Norman Polmar

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{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

Ed June 20, 2008 at 11:30 am

Here’s the big question. Reliability of the new weapon. The M2 can be beat on to get it to work in some situations but it is considered a very reliable piece of equipment. General Dynamics I hope isn’t going to come out with a new technological marvel of a weapon that works well but has problems when used in combat conditions.
Ma deuce, you served your country well, and before the AK came about, it was the most mass-produced gun ever created.

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T-800 June 20, 2008 at 11:35 am

it is old, it may be a good ideya to replace it

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Roy Smith June 20, 2008 at 12:04 pm

You don’t replace something just because it’s old. If you can come up with a 50-caliber machine gun that is lighter & can still offer the same rate of fire,then ok.So far,the last sure fire replacement,the M312 machine gun,had a very substandard low rate of fire & was quickly(perhaps more quickly than its rate of fire) rejected.
The new M2 replacement better be able to shoot out laser death rays to make it better than “Ma Deuce,” otherwise there is no replacement whatsoever.

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Bob June 20, 2008 at 12:27 pm

http://world.guns.ru/machine/mg39-e.htm
If you would like whats known about the system…

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GIZhou June 20, 2008 at 12:50 pm

When you look up the weight of th Ma Deuce or any similar heavy machine gun, add 150 pounds for the sand bags to keep the tripod steady. Every other M2 replacement has been binned and I can see the new going the same way. if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Weight has its own advantages – like recoil absorption.

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Sterling June 20, 2008 at 2:01 pm

I loved the .50 cal, but would really like to see a small adjustment – no more manually setting the headspace and timing. Luckily I never had to do a barrel change in combat, but I can easily see myself choosing to wear a barrel out instead of taking the gun off line while I have to fumble with headspace and timing.

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Jess October 18, 2010 at 7:41 pm

The new M2QCB has a quick change barrel system that allows you to change out the barrel in less than 10 seconds. It also has fixed head spacing, eliminating concerns with improper timing and safety. The conversion kit has common barrel threads to interchange with existing M2HB barrels which eliminates logistics concerns in the field.

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SW1911 June 20, 2008 at 2:21 pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XM312
So stupid. This is the replacement? Well no shit it’s more accurate – it has HALF the rate of fire!
Although this, the actual General Dynamics contract-awarded version: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LW50MG
has a higher ROF, supposedly…
Yeah. It’ll be plastic and all kinds of crappy. If the M2 is mounted in static positions and on vehicles, who cares if it weighs a ton? What purpose does lightening it do? Besides increase recoil.

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joe June 20, 2008 at 3:56 pm

When Ma Deuce talks, the opposing force takes notice.

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mang June 20, 2008 at 5:56 pm

the op system for the new gun sounds similar to the MK-19′s, which is a proven weapon. it weighs 75 pounds less than the M2, doesn’t need headspace adjustments, has half the number of parts, and it doesn’t need to be sandbagged to be fired. recoil is the same as the M240. fits in the standard M2 mounts. if it’s reliable, sounds like a winner.
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0IAV/is_6_96/ai_n24261659

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mang June 20, 2008 at 5:59 pm

apparently gun PLUS tripod weighs 53 pounds, which they manage to achieve with low recoil. one guy can carry the whole thing. that’s pretty significant…

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PS June 20, 2008 at 6:27 pm

The M2 is a truly great weapon. I never experienced a jam with it and with a new barrel it can drive nails at 800 meters. Any replacement has big shoes to fill in terms of accuracy and reliability.

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Sinjin June 20, 2008 at 8:04 pm

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. With many of our “enemies” researching electromagnetic weaponry. This would be a stupid decision. The U.S. reliance on “Gee-wiz” electronic weapon systems, is setting the stage for certain disaster. Ground troops should have reliable weapons that are tried and true. It took Rome 500 years to burn. America on course to do it in half the time. Especially when you have a Congress that starting to become a “Domestic Threat”.

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citanon June 20, 2008 at 8:04 pm
ELP June 20, 2008 at 8:51 pm

This should be an amusing process to watch. Sounds like a solution for a non-existing problem.

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Old Sailor June 20, 2008 at 9:31 pm

The military never ceases to amaze me for the ways it continually looks to spend money on non-existent problems.
I am reminded by the way money was spent on my old ship 25 years ago. Money was allocated to each Division on the ship for each year. If the money wasn’t spent, guess what? The budget for that division would be reduced accordingly the next year.
The departments’ solution when they had more money than they needed? Find something, ANYTHING to spend the budget money one so they wouldn’t get a budget cut next year. It makes me wonder if the service’s desire to always think the grass is greener on the other side (“We’ve just got to have the latest and greatest”) may have its roots in the same thing.

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rix June 20, 2008 at 10:00 pm

Probably the best gun ever fielded by the United States. A war winning weapon in WW2. I can’t think of another weapon with the possible exception of the M1911 pistol(also designed by Browning) which has gone so long in service. Browning was a genius. By the time we field something it will probably have gone a full century in front line service.

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justbill June 20, 2008 at 11:42 pm

“I loved the .50 cal, but would really like to see a small adjustment – no more manually setting the headspace and timing. Luckily I never had to do a barrel change in combat, but I can easily see myself choosing to wear a barrel out instead of taking the gun off line while I have to fumble with headspace and timing.
Posted by: Sterling at June 20, 2008 02:01 PM”
Wasn’t this taken care of with the M2E2 upgrade?

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stephen russell June 21, 2008 at 8:55 am

How much to get one, great for gun ranges to Rent.
Problem: ammo.
See thegunstorelasvegas.com which does rent subguns for Full auto shooting.
Love to rent Ma deuce for Fun.
(darn that ammo price).

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stephen russell June 21, 2008 at 8:56 am

How much to get one, great for gun ranges to Rent.
Problem: ammo.
See thegunstorelasvegas.com which does rent subguns for Full auto shooting.
Love to rent Ma deuce for Fun.
(darn that ammo price).

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badmac June 21, 2008 at 9:45 am

Re ‘Sterling’ & ‘justbill’ comments: I don’t anything about the M2E2 other than what I have read. I know that there are no “bolt on’s” to convert the M2HB to a M2E2. I do know that some reliability is usually sacrificed when you attempt to make an existing system better. As far as changing barrels and setting headspace and timing on the M2 during combat on a fast moving boat at night, it can be “tricky” (lol) at first. But like most things, you overcome the difficulty and it becomes second nature with practice. I’m not sure that “practice” is the right word. lol!

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1371 June 21, 2008 at 10:14 am

This is a mistake. The MK19 is a finicky POS that I would hardly call “reliable.” If the new weapon is anything like the MK19, I am not encouraged.

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freefallingbomb June 21, 2008 at 1:36 pm

To the poster “Chief B.”:
Can you assault an enemy position with the M2? Since you can’t even fire more than 50 rounds (= for only a few seconds) with it before having to let its barrel cool down again, the M2 is even unacceptable as a vehicle-mounted weapon! That’s why (in my opinion) the M2 was obsolete even when it was first introduced, in the old days of trench warfare.
And in nowadays highly mobile warfare, compare its contribution to close-in combat to that of the MG42 or of its successor, the MG3, which you can even fire from the hip!

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jhm October 19, 2010 at 12:20 am

um it was never used in trench warfare. also you shoot bursts allowing considerable numbers of rounds to be fired off. and why teh hell would ou fire form the hip?? you shoudl take a crash course in weapons fireing and modern warfare

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Sam Adams June 21, 2008 at 2:56 pm

Rule 1. Never try to apply logic to .mil.
Why do they announce the replacement for ma-duce before the newcomer has been properly tested in field conditions. Why can’t they just buy 2,000 of the things and field them with select front line units for evaluation and proper testing? Then if they are worse, get rid of them. Why are full contracts for small arms given when you can procure and field in small quantities? Why have to make a decision that M2 will be replaced. Why not say that you are fielding an alternative that appears to have some advantages to the M2, but need years of field experience before replacing a tried and true system.

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pedestrian June 21, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Come on, give it ten more years of service for its 100th birthday.

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Sterling June 21, 2008 at 3:47 pm

justbill: I know that there are variations, and I wouldn’t be surprised if other services had the latest variation – but I can tell you that 3/5 1st Mar Div has stuck with the model requiring manual head space and timing adjustment.
freefallingbomb: You speak from what experience? In my experience (and the last experience of many dead insurgents) the M2 system is very mobile, reliable, and deadly. If you’re going to stage an assault on an enemy stronghold, here is what ya do: mount a .50 on a humvee, drive the humvee to a point where you have a clear line of sight on said stronghold, open fire. Then send riflemen in with sponges to clean up the mess. This worked in Fallujah just fine.

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Brad June 21, 2008 at 4:34 pm

“who the hell carries around a canon?”
Grunts do. Called Heavy Weapons Section, etc. Ask a grunt about the School of Infantry; you get assigned a deuce, you’re carrying the goddamn deuce through every hump.
They carried it in Vietnam too. Gun weighs ~70 lbs, without tripod, sandbags, ammo, etc. So the gunners would take out the bolt assembly to lighten it, and when they were ambushed, the gun was effectively useless until it was reassembled.
There are good reasons to replace the deuce; weight and firepower are two. (the new weapon fires slower, but with improved munitions; it is deadly)

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Curtis June 21, 2008 at 5:38 pm

I see this as a weapon that has too many numerous variations to fully replace. IE Sure you might be able to find a better coaxial for the M-1s and Bradleys, but if its heavier it probably ain’t going to make a good replacement as a cupola mount on a humvee or MRAP.
Mama Duece gets around, there are some situations where her weakness is weight, some where its her slow rate of fire, and some where its her cooling that could use a boost. Shes’ an old girl who is a jack of all trades, and yet a master of none. What other weapon do we have that can claim to have killed tanks, planes, armor, and individual idiots all in large quantities?
I say that she can be replaced or improved in all of her roles eventually, but it won’t be by the same exact weapon system. If the military tries, somewhere someone will be screaming “Give us our M2s back! This new toy sucks!”

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MBI June 21, 2008 at 7:11 pm

The Ma Deuce was actually designed to be an anti-tank weapon, as apposed to anti-personnel. However, by the time it made it into production, tank armor had improved to the point that it was obsolete for it’s intended purpose, which is why it was fielded as an anti-personnel and anti-materiel weapon.
They began actively searching for a replacement for the Ma Deuce quite some time ago due to concerns that the caliber was not destructive enough to ensure that vehicles and equipment hit with it would be permanently and irretrievably disabled. At one point they were rushing development of a new 25mm round with an electronically fused warhead (and an accompanying weapon platform) to replace the Ma Deuce, but they had problems with it and it’s development stalled. In response, the Mk 211 (Raufoss) round was developed, which greatly improved the destructive potential of the Ma Deuce, and they say that round added at least twenty years to the useable service life of this classic weapon.

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Old Crusty Chief June 22, 2008 at 4:58 am

Re: Freefallingbomb
Vous

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Slab June 22, 2008 at 9:34 am

The reason you only see M2s on vehicles and defensive positions is because it is too damned heavy. Our military is entirely too road-bound as it is. A lighter HMG would be useful on a wider variety of offensive ops, because I can dismount it and move it to a support by fire position that might not be reachable by vehicle. And lighter weight does not necessarily equate to higher recoil, as one of the factors that produces that recoil impulse is the weight of the moving parts. Ever disassemble an M2? That bolt is heavy. Why don’t all of you wait for the operational tests before you jump on one bandwagon or the other?

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John Meoak June 22, 2008 at 10:41 am

Having used both the M85 “improved replacement” for the M2 and the real deal. I would take the Browning any day. As for weight issues is not intended to used as an assault rifle.

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John Meoak June 22, 2008 at 12:30 pm

If I had a dollar for every new improved weapon ever force on the American soldier. Remember the M73 coaxial, the M85 improved 50bmg, or the 20mm they tried to on an equally bad M114. Some times good is good enough. The current anti gun mind set in the US
is forcing the Armed Forces to us 80% non us designed weapons. Thank you John Browning forever

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Camp June 22, 2008 at 1:12 pm

Another XM project,eh?… Maybe the money should be spent on resurrecting Mr. Browning instead… It might be cheaper. 8p
“How NOT to fire a 50 Cal Machine Gun”
http://youtube.com/watch?v=_Px0wErIeJI
“US Army in Afghanistan”
http://youtube.com/watch?v=f2ICLx1GYhc
“Large VBIED set off by MK19 firing into vehicle”
http://youtube.com/watch?v=J109ykltIrA
“Easy coy, A10 on outpost”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Buc3TDhBAY8
“How not to get off a 7 ton”
http://youtube.com/watch?v=BJux5KzYG5Q
“Upgrade Version -Humvee Bioloid-”
http://youtube.com/watch?v=zK8OjwMdn5I

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freefallingbomb June 22, 2008 at 3:51 pm

To the poster “Sterling”:
You wrote: “If you’re going to stage an assault on an enemy stronghold, here is what ya do: mount a .50 on a humvee, drive the humvee to a point where you have a clear line of sight on said stronghold, open fire. Then send riflemen in with sponges to clean up the mess.”
I wanted to say something about “some real” wars, but then I remembered that Mr. Byron Skinner could feel resented (a regular poster here on “defensetech.org”…), so uhhh… I have to crassly re-formulate my post: I can’t remember to have ever seen any pictures or footages of Willy’s jeeps armed with a single M2 assaulting German or Japanese positions back in World War Two. So, enjoy this relative lull in Iraq and in Afghanistan: In Iran, in North Korea, in China, in Russia and in Europe etc. (= in all those next wars whose justifications are still too easy to refute) you’ll need a slightly different approach to “enemy strongholds” than your “M2-armed Humvees”…
You wrote: “This worked in Fallujah just fine.”
What “worked fine” in Fallujah? The M2 or your chemical weapons? You U.S. Americans “helped” the Iraqis in Fallujah with the same mass-murders and crimes against Humanity such as Dresden, Hamburg, Hiroshima and Nagasaki! You destroyed 39.000 homes (over 50 % of Fallujah) only to kill 1.350 insurgent fighters! Neither the (original) Nazis nor the most F.U.B.A.R. Rwandans fully understood the need to destroy an average of 29 reinforced-concrete homes in an effort to kill each sole man! How do you call that in the U.S.A., “military planning”, “distinguished actions”, “pay-back for 11 / 9″, “cheaper oil for the World Economy”, “sanity”, “genetic safety” or what?
Ah, I know: The “Project for the New American Century” (“P.N.A.C.”) !

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freefallingbomb June 22, 2008 at 4:06 pm

To the postrer “MBI”:
You wrote: “The Ma Deuce was actually designed to be an anti-tank weapon, as apposed to anti-personnel.”
True, although…:
1) The first tanks in the World were British (the “Mark I” tanks), they made their debut in 1916, during World War One, and if my History knowledge doesn’t fail me completely they weren’t employed against the U.S. Americans.
2) The first man-portable anti-tank weapons were the German Mauser “Tankgewehr M1918″ rifles (calibre 13,25mm), which only saw action in 1918 (= in the last war year), and they weren’t even automatic like the M2, but bolt-action rifles (and tall as their shooters).
3) The 0,50 B.M.G. round was designed as a direct response to the German 13mm anti-tank rifle of World War I
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M2_Browning_machine_gun#History
(first phrase)
but the M2 itself only came out in 1921 = 3 years AFTER the First World War (“the war to end all wars”), when nobody was expecting any further wars, let alone another World War.
You wrote: “At one point they were rushing development of a new 25mm round…”
But why? Don’t get me wrong: I think that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the 0,50 calibre. In my opinion it could / should be fired only by a chain-gun, as a secondary tank weapon, or even as a primary weapon for wheeled armoured vehicles (if helicopters can carry chain guns and even aim them precisely via the pilots’ helmets, why can’t land vehicles and their crews do the same? There are countless articles about much more mirabulous military technology experiments here on “defensetech”!). A chain gun, having multiple barrels, would also solve the over-heating problems associated with the 0,50” round as well as increase its firing rate up to tenfold!
However, in my opinion any heavy machine-gun above 7,62mm (.308 Winchester) risks to become too heavy to be dragged around by someone who’s emotionally attached to his life. Please heed: I didn’t pronounce myself against any calibres above 7,62mm for the Infantry per se, for example for anti-mat

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Roy Smith June 22, 2008 at 4:34 pm

To maybe make a lighter weight .50-caliber machine gun wouldn’t be bad for light infantry types moving by foot,but there is still so much you can do with the M2 that it shouldn’t be phased out completely.
You can still operate the M2 from HMMWVs & FMTV gun trucks.You can use them on CROWS sytems attached to both HMMWVs & Stryker Vehicles.
Does anybody know if they are putting GAU-15/A .50-caliber Gatling Guns or variants of such on ground vehicles yet? I thought I read somewhere that Gatling Guns were being put on ground vehicles. They would seem to work very well for CROWS systems.

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Jeff M June 22, 2008 at 5:02 pm

freefallingbomb:
Are you only considering masonry homes for the sake of your putrid argument? Does bamboo and paper not count? One bomber loaded with firebombs could do more damage…
But I can see that you’re just another nutball conspiracy theorist who presents zero capacity for logic.

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freefallingbomb June 22, 2008 at 7:28 pm

To the poster “Jeff M”:
You wrote: “Are you only considering masonry homes for the sake of your putrid argument? Does bamboo and paper not count? One bomber loaded with firebombs could do more damage…”
I haven’t the faintest idea what you were trying to say. I didn’t understand a single phrase you said, really. If you just wanted to say that a 0,50 calibre round / the M2 has more effect on solid construction materials than a .308 round: Obviously, but which nation on Earth still builds fortifications today? And if any given objective is found to be too hard in the course of a battle: Is it still intelligent to send the Infantry against it then, stumbling around under the weight of ever-increasing weapons?!

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Sterling June 22, 2008 at 9:05 pm

I’m certainly not against testing alternatives to the M2. My fear is that the grunts will get stuck with an inferior weapon in the end though, this has happened time and time again. I’m sure everyone here has heard the sad story of the 1911 and the M9.
freefallingbomb:
Again I ask you – what experience are you speaking from? Ok, I got the safari story – you have a hard time seeing. But have you ever had to hump a .50 or put it in action? Do you really know how long it takes to overheat one? Have you ever engaged a distant target with a machinegun? Do you know how they are tactically deployed? Do you have any knowledge on the topic aside from what you’ve gleaned on wikipedia and Hollywood trash? I’ve heard grunts complain about a lot of things in my time as a Marine infantry machinegunner, but I have never heard a Marine complain about the 50 cal’s effectiveness or accuracy – ever.
Like I said, I’m all about exploring possibilities – just don’t stick the grunts with another POS like the M9.

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Brad June 22, 2008 at 10:30 pm

Freefallingbomb is a truther.
“ALL THE 11 / 9 PLANES WERE ELECTRONICALLY HIJACKED BY … ISRAEL !!!”
Posted by: freefallingbomb at March 3, 2008 10:52 PM
It’s okay to ignore him.

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mang June 22, 2008 at 11:06 pm

CHECK THE HOSTILITY UP IN THIS PIECE

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mang June 22, 2008 at 11:16 pm

…if this is what discussions in Army Ordnance look like, no wonder they make such weird decisions

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Sterling June 22, 2008 at 11:48 pm

freefallingbomb:
I think I get where you’re coming from now. It seems to me that you’re looking at the M2 as if it were designed to operate all by itself, singlehandedly holding off overwhelming force from an exposed position. That doesn’t follow basic machinegunning doctrine though. Thats like me complaining that M16s are no good because I can’t wield it like a club to pound tent pegs into the ground. Overheating is solved by always employing in pairs and utilizing talking guns. Exposure is solved by moving back from the ridge a few steps. There, thats the way machinegunners have been doing it since WW1.
Now, if they can design a machinegun that will singlehandedly hold off a numerically superior enemy – while allowing me to do backflips and somersaults, I’ll gladly give up my M2. But until that happens machinegunners will continue to learn in SOI that guns are employed in pairs, and that humping your .50 up a hill isn’t going to kill you.

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peter June 23, 2008 at 2:43 am

Lots of military soldiers are sacrificing their lives in war field useless by killing innocent peoples. Most of the soldiers are forced into the war.
=================================================
Peter
Christian Drug Rehab

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Old Crusty Chief June 23, 2008 at 5:10 am

Re: Peter
“Those who have ears let them hear.” Now hear this: We are ALL volunteers, professional warriors engaged in our CHOSEN careers. Therefore, do not walk in the darkness, your understaning darkened by your ignornance.
Cheers,
Chief B.

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Old Crusty Chief June 23, 2008 at 5:12 am

RE: Peter
Sorry. Just got what you meant. You were speaking of all the tin pot little countries… not the U.S.
Let those who have eyes….
Cheers,
Chief B>

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Vitor June 23, 2008 at 11:08 am

The replacement of the M2 is one of the most bizarre stories of incompetence that I’ve ever seen.
So, we have the USA Army, the best one of all world by far, having problem to replace a MACHINE GUN designed 90 YEARS AGO. How the hell can that happen? I mean, Russia, China and Singapore all have effective .50 caliber MGs that are much lighter than the M2.
I guess the US Army got so used to super high-tech mega expensive projects that now got confused when its about design a simple machine gun.

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Vitor June 23, 2008 at 11:25 am

By the way, a ligher MG with lighter recoil to replace the M2 was done successfuly 25 YEARS AGO by Singapore. A beautiful deal belt feed design.
http://world.guns.ru/machine/mg05-e.htm

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John Meoak June 23, 2008 at 11:04 pm

During an attack on FSB Cannon on highway 547 the road to the Ashua our tank fired 30he 40canister 12000+ coaxial 2000 50BMG The coaxial died leaving only the M2 for close in fire.luckily another tank was able scratch our back at the expense of beer coolers and personal gear. The M73 failed

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Robert Stoner, GMCM (SW) (ret) June 24, 2008 at 1:58 am

This is one of those projects that the Army has been dithering with since the end of WW2. First there was the gee whiz M85 tank machine gun with dual rates of fire (one for AA, one for ground) with a short receiver. The gun was so notorious for not working that they were removed from most tanks that had them and sometimes replaced with the M2HB. The only good thing that came of the M85 gun was the development of the M15 strip-through .50 link.
Then there was the “Dover Devil” — a lightweight, dual gas system, dual feed gun that the Army Armaments Command fiddled and diddled with in the late 1970′s and 1980′s. It went nowhere as far as I know (but the dual feed was incorporated into the XM312 requirement).
Now there’s the XM312 that’s lightweight and with half the cyclice rate of the Ma Duce. Well, the XM312 may be SOCOM’s wet dream gun, but based on the Army’s previous attempts at a lightweight .50 to replace the Ma Duce, I’m betting that the Ma Duce will be around for a long time and the XM312 will be the gun that gets retired.
There have also been attempts to replace the Ma Duce with 20mm cannon. The problem with these guns is they break more frequently than the Ma Duce and are usually much more complex. It doesn’t help you a lot if your 20mm has superior ammunition, but it doesn’t work for some reason. There have been a lot of 20mm guns that have come and gone since the end of WW2 and the .50 Browning M2 continues to serve long after the 20mm guns have retired.
Yes, the M2HB is big, and heavy, and clunky. Some call it obsolete, but you’ll notice that there’s a whole lot of countries using it. There must be a reason. The Ma Duce continues to be improved in both ground and aircraft versions. It does do one thing very well: IT WORKS! If there was one thing that I know, nothing speaks with authority on the battlefield like the jackhammer sound of the Ma Duce.
So, if you want another gee whiz wonder .50 like the XM312, that’s fine. How many years and how much money is the Army going to spend to get it “sort of” right? Meanwhile, you can give me an M2HB and I will be just fine, thank you.

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freefallingbomb June 24, 2008 at 1:33 pm

The commentary of the poster “Vitor” struck me as pertinent too: It is incomprehensible to me how the U.S. Armed Forces race to renew for example all their air-borne and Space-borne weapon systems systematically while simultaneously letting their Infantry arsenal become grey in honours (do you still learn fencing?). Another poster (I think it was Mr. “Roy Smith”) also said once – in another thread – that for the price of ONE SINGLE new Airforce weapon system all the armed public clerks in the U.S.A. could be armed to the teeth with the best weapons!
He’s correct too:
1.426.713 U.S. Armed Forces personnell (= active only, reservists not included)
+ 456.800 National Guardsmen
+ 836.787 U.S. Policemen (there are 17.876 law enforcement agencies in the U.S.A., no kidding…)
+ 12.659 F.B.I. employees (sworn members only)
+ 20.000 C.I.A. employees (estimated)
————————————————-
= 2.752.959 armed public clerks in the U.S.A. (= one for every 109 civilians)
The price of a single F-22 Raptor plane is 175 million dollars.
214 F-22 Raptors times 175 million dollars each = 37,45 billion dollars for the entire F-22 Raptor program.
The price of the entire F-22 Raptor program (37,45 billion dollars) divided by the 2.752.959 armed public clerks in the U.S.A. =
37,45 billion dollars : 2.752.959 =
37.450.000.000 dollars : 2.752.959 =
13.603,54 dollars per each single armed public clerk in the U.S.A. .
Sooo, if the U.S. government gave 13.603,54 dollars to each and every of its 2.752.959 armed public clerks (instead of giving 37,45 billion dollars to 214 Raptor pilots only) and told them to buy themselves the best possible weapons for that precise sum, just any weapons in the World they wanted to use (I know that this would be a logistical nightmare, but that’s not what I’m talking about now), do you think that these 2.752.959 armed U.S. American public clerks would / could come up with anything better than just one “M4″ and / or just one “M2″ for 13.603,54 dollars? (And how many of them, do you think, would be STUPID enough to EVER buy another weapon in the 5,56mm or in the 0,50 calibre for themselves, if their lives depended on that choice?)
And that’s not even what I consider truly investing in a soldier’s firepower – not by far!!! And you U.S. Americans scoffed once about the former average Soviet soldiers because they didn’t have any opportunity under the Communist regime to choose anything else than Kalashnikovs? Look at you now…
Such extreme disparities at distributing so much money among the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces (when in fact the foot-soldiers are the most “labour-intensive” part of any armed force) is not rational.

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freefallingbomb June 26, 2008 at 9:12 am

You wrote: “…humping your .50 up a hill isn’t going to kill you.”
Spoken absolutely like any true M2-humping U.S. American standing at the very foot of the Himalayas (= those Afghan “hills” you referred to) or of an 122

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Martin June 26, 2008 at 7:58 pm

General Dynamics is going to increase the accuracy of the basis for our present sniper system? At a decreased rate of fire? It’s based on a system that isn’t quite ready (the 25mm) that is overschedule and overbudget? Great. When did I sleep through the competition for this boondoggle? All I got is more questions.

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demophilus July 1, 2008 at 2:25 am

There’s something a little bit off about the story. The XM312′s more of a supplement than a replacement.
In fact, the M2E2 system is being procured to fix the M2HB’s headspace and barrel change issues. The M2′s going to be around for a while. The M312 may supplement it — for example, in infantry units. I wouldn’t count on a wholesale replacement, not for years.

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Scot-tankie November 20, 2008 at 11:46 am

This always makes me chuckle. I’ve been sitting here getting odd loks from my girlfriend at the amoutn of hate being thrown around on here.
End of the day, the HMG (.50cal by British Army designation) is a good enough weapon. No squaddies i’ve ever been around dislike it, and if nothing else it makes a hell of a re-assuring noise when Terry gets all active.
Problem around here is the extremes! Yes, it is an accurate weapon, more so than most but hammering nails at 800m? come on! Yes it gets hot quickly, but prolonged bursts aren’t docterine. Its heavy and a right pain in the arrse to carry (only guessing, not being an infantryman lol) but its not unmanageable, in that its possible at least.
What is it about weapons that sends people into such anger lol.
Just use better calibres…. pistols in .357 SIG, rifles, DMR’s and SAW’s in 6.5 Grendel, and GPMG’s, sniper rifles and HMG’s and bigger in .338 Lapua Magnum. New, better cartridges. The worst worst worst problem with buying weapons is soldiers bless ‘em, like what they know, and politicians rarely have any idea what’s needed beyond keeping jobs in their home states/counties. SO it generally goes wrong – look at the SA80 in british service, or generally the 5.56. I dislike that round, even if it is easy to shoot, with the L98 came in something larger.
Anyway, for future interest, does anyone know about that 23mm light cannon that the Chinese mount on their FAV where a .50 would usually go? I distinctly remember seeing it shown somewhere and would love to find out more, and see how they’ve fitted a big round into a small package?
If you’ve read this far, thanks for paying attention through my ramblings. No doubt soon enough i’ll have some angry post telling why i’m wrong. Probably about the difficulty of getting a .338 Lapua to feed in a machinegun.
Adios, amigos
‘The grass may be greener on the other side – but you still gotta mow it!’

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