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The Vault

French AA-52

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.

AA52 cutaway view

AA52 cutaway view

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.

Manuals

Arme Automatique Modele 52 Guide Technique Sommaire (French, 1956)

Arme Automatique Modele 52 Guide Technique Sommaire (French, 1956)

AA 7.62 N-F1 cutaway brochure

AA 7.62 N-F1 cutaway brochure

1 comment to French AA-52

  • The first AA-52/ AAT-52s actually were not delivered to the French army until April 1956. It is possible that a few of the 100 pre-series gun made up from August 1952 by MAC (Manufacture d’Armes de Chatellerault) were tested in Indochina, but the source makes no mention of this. The weapon does not show up in photos of French operations in Algeria until no earlier than the middle of 1958, and not for sure until the summer of 1959. The FM-24/29 is ubiquitous until then. Photos of French troops at Suez in October 1956 also fail to reveal any AA-52s. The weapon is still in active service in the AA NF-1 version chambered for 7.62x51mm NATO in French frontline units, with its most recent use in Mali and the CAR, but the FN MAG is beginning to supplant it with units of the COS, including on their fast attack vehicles, and Eurocopter Caracal helicopters being armed with the “new” gun.

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