The AA-52 was adopted to replace the Chatellerault light machine gun in French military service in 1952. The AA52 is rather unusual in being a rifle-caliber (7.5×54 French, specifically) machine gun using a lever-delayed blowback action. The AA-52 was intended to serve as both a portable light machine gun and also a heavy mounted gun on vehicles with the use of a heavier barrel. It is belt fed and fires from an open bolt, with a cyclic rate of 700 rounds/minute. The chamber is fluted to ease extraction, which is a common concern on high-pressure blowback actions.
The AA-52 saw service in Indochina, Algeria, and the first Gulf War, although it has been since replaced by the FN Minimi and FN MAG (one for light use and one for heavy). There was also a variant of the AA-52 made in 7.62mm NATO, designated the AA 7.62 N-F1 (which fired slightly faster than the original, at 800 rpm). In addition to French service, the AA-52 was purchased and used by several African nations, including Cameroon, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Chad and Togo.
We have copies of an original AA52 manual and a neat layered cutaway view booklet on the N-F1 version available for download here or on the AA-52 page in the Vault:
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