We came across an interesting manual (in English, as a bonus!) for a variety of Hotchkiss machine gun which we have very little information on. It’s an aircraft gun, intended for use by the observer in a two-seater plane:

Hotchkiss aerial observer's gun
Hotchkiss aerial observer’s gun (click to enlarge)

Mechanically, the gun is a pretty standard Hotchkiss Portative, aka M1909. It has a pair of shoulder rests to help control the gun in a ring mount, and the characteristic aerial vane front sight. That front sight can pivot in all directions under wind pressure, and theoretically moves the front sight post to accurately compensate for wind deflection when shooting in a variety of angles and directions.

What makes this gun unusual (for us) is the feed mechanism, which is a side-mounted drum with a belt of ammo on individual metallic links instead of an articulated belt of 3-round strips.

Hotchkiss observer's gun ammunition links
Hotchkiss observer’s gun ammunition links

Very early Hotchkiss guns used in aircraft used the original 24-round feed strips, as they were simply infantry guns acquired for use by aviators. The feed strips were a pain to use in an aircraft, though, and were generally replaced before long with articulated belts made from 3-round sections of strip connected by hinge pins (these were also used in armored vehicles). The belts would be wound up on large spools, for maximum firepower, compact storage, and smooth feeding. This use of individual disintegrating metal links is rather new to us for the Hotchkiss, though.


The complete manual is included in our Manual Archive DVD, and can also be downloaded here:

Hotchkiss Aerial Observer's Machine Gun manual (English)
Hotchkiss Aerial Observer’s Machine Gun manual (English)


  1. Hello, correct me if I am wrong, but after looking at the picture and the manual, it seems the observer gun was built of the model 1922/24/26 ( I dont know the difference in the year variations honestly), as while the trigger group is far different, the top cover/feed mechanism, reciever, bottom plate, and BCG all seem nearly identical for the most part.

  2. hey, I am trying to find out what aircraft these machine guns were used on. I haven’t been able to find a picture or article ( except this one) that even states that they were used on aircraft. Supposedly they were used more by the French, but on what aircraft? Did they only get used for a limited time? Most aircraft show some version of Lewis machine gun used by observers but I suspect that Hotchkiss may have been used in the beginning. I just can’t find out on what aircraft

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