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Hotchkiss Portative LMG

The Hotchkiss Portative was a variant of the Hotchkiss medium machine gun designed for use in the LMG role. It used the same long-stroke gas system and interrupted-thread locking system as the earlier Hotchkiss, but had the feed system inverted to save space and the gun significantly lightened. Developed in 1907, it was one of the early light machine guns available on the market, and purchased by several countries. They were used by the US (in .30-06, designated the M1909 Benet-Mercie), Great Britain, Belgium, Sweden, Mexico, and others.

Videos

Disassembly and operation of a British Hotchkiss Portative in .303 caliber:

Manuals

English (click to download in PDF format):

M1909 Benet-Mercie manual

News Articles:

In 1916, the New York Times published a short column commenting on the impending replacement of the M1909 with a new Vickers-type machine gun:

Benet-Mercier NYT column, March 23 1916

Vintage Photos:

A number of photos of US troops training with M1909 Benet Mercie machine guns (download the gallery as a zip archive)

 

7 comments to Hotchkiss Portative LMG

  • eric

    Smart move, armour the gunner, but not the driver! The NYT article reads like a press release of the army. What happened to critical journalism?

  • Waterman

    The “armoured” sidecar was intended to be detatched from the motorcycle. See Hatcher’s “Machine Guns”.

  • Nyanman

    A Hotchkiss weapon would make this French…did it see service by the French military? If so, what cartridge did it use? I thought the 8x50R Lebel was the primary French cartridge at the time, and a gun firing a regular .303 or .30-06 round seems quite incompatible with the unique characteristics of the 8x50R.
    Thanks to anyone who knows and replies to help clear up my lack of understanding.

    • It was made by Hotchkiss, but adopted by the British Army in .303 caliber (the US Benet-Mercie 1909 is basically the same gun, in .30-06). Setting up production in different calibers is generally not a big deal with machine guns, as long as the cartridges have reasonably similar muzzle energy.

      • Nyanman

        So it was an export gun only and not used by the French military?
        My impression was that it was also used by France, but I know that round that time they tended to use the 8x50R lebel, which is such a strangely shaped cartridge that it would seem like almost every component would have to be changed to go between the 8x50R and the .303 or .30-06
        Wikipedia says that it used the 8x50R lebel, but having never handled that particular cartridge, all I can say is it looks to be far larger and far more oddly shaped than the .303 or .30-06
        But anyways, thanks for clearing that up a bit. That is really a neat gun.

  • In relation to the Hotchkiss guns we are trying to determine exactly which models were used by the Belgian Army at the Battle of Halen 12 August 1914. Was there a difference in the Belgian model? We are getting the impression that some were used with and others without a tripod. How does one should it without the tripod? Thank you in advance.

    VR
    Joe

  • Very belated response to Joe Robinson.

    Many different pods were used with the Hotchkiss. Here’s an Australian site with some manual pages from 1917, clearly showing a monopod prefiguring the Johnson M1944′s.
    http://alh-research.tripod.com/Light_Horse/index.blog?start=1220150918&topic_id=1106158

    The Benet-Mercie or Benet Gun as it was called in US service, had a bipod although the terminology of the time called it a “barrel rest.” It had two fairly long legs and the end of each leg had one end of a latigo strap that ran to the other leg through the trigger guard. These guns did not go forward with the AEF as far as I know.

    Here’s a facebook page with some pictures, including some shots of the tripod, a very small one that fits under the forearm, and some of a partial, completely different, mounting system.
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.258325190936444.43072.167321313370166&type=3

    Here’s a brief Bruce Canfield article on the US version, the 1909 Benet-Mercie.
    http://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/1909-benet-mercie-machine-gun

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