32 Comments

  1. The guy with the binoculars seems to be thinking “here come the Russians, and they don’t look happy to see us.” The gunner seems to think the same thing, and he’s probably not happy as the Czech Vickers here won’t put up enough sustained dakka for a good defense. Where’s the butt-stock or pistol-grip?

  2. I think the troops are Luftwaffe ground troops, need to check a couple of books to be sure!

    The collar tabs look like Luftwaffe to me

    Regards

    Richard

    • Richard,
      you are correct: two lance corporals (gunner and “spotter”) and one private (loader) of Luftwaffe.

  3. They are from an Luftwaffe field division, IMHO. Those units were equipped with everything left in the german arsenal and the soldiers were send to the front with minimal training.
    Czechoslovakia’s partition and Bohemia ocupation without firing a bullet was one of the best bargain ever, the germans got good weapons (tanks for more than two Pzd. IIRC), a lot of artillery, guns and equipement from the Czech army and an excelent heavy industry (Skoda).

      • What are the specs for a Vickers chambered for 8 x 57 IS? I’d like to know if it’s any better than one for .303 British… Anyways, do you think these Luftwaffe ground troops will survive past the photo? Or will the Russians use their helmets as chamber pots?

        • If they didn’t run out of ammo, they most likely survived. I’ve talked to a few Eastern front machine gunners about this. Largely came down to if the Germans ran out of ammo or the Russians out of men.

          It’s not fairy tales that the 1st wave of a Russian attack the most commonly used weapon the Russian soldiers had was a club.

  4. I recently heard a long and hilarious interview with Mel Brooks (who was a forward artillery observer and EOD minesweeper, BTW, but really downplayed it… “I wasn’t really at the Bulge, I was just kinda of the edge of it”) and just realized that he left Czechoslovakia out of “Springtime For Hitler.” I don’t have a rhyming dictionary handy, but I guess even for Mel Brooks it falls into “rhymes with orange” territory unless you are reading the menu in a Greek restaurant.

  5. Collar tabs ARE Luftwaffe – these guys could be Fallschirmjaegers (which came under the control of the air arm) with standard Army helmets…most likely a publicity photo…I have a collection of the ‘Bender’ books – (as a former armor modelle)r – but they’re out of reach – need a ladder to get to the top of my 8 foot shelves

  6. This gun had high rate of fire – around 1000RPM, but that did not bother Germans, they were use to it. It might be of interest that this gun, while from beginning conceived as aircraft type, was not bult in Brno but in south Bohemian town of Strakonice.

    This factory started out of nothing in 1920s and soon was involved with broad specter of industrial products such as motorized bicycles and later motorcycles as well. CZ Strakonice was place which gave birth to Vz.24 (.38cal) and later Vz.52 pistols and many hunting rifles and shotguns. Lately they are mostly in automotive type production; no more guns neither motorcycles.

  7. BTW this gun was installed as flexible on observation planes and also on fighter plane – the best Czech military had at the time – Avia B-534. There were four of these (two at each side) mounted in fuselage shooting thru propeller arc. These planes were lately used by Slovak state and Bulgaria, both Germany’s allies. There is at least one recorded case of shotdown by Bulgarian pilot inflicted on Allied bomber. As you can see, MGs had lot going for them at beginning of war (this ties to one of previous discussions.)

    • Thanks for the additional information about the production facilities at Strakonice — most interesting, indeed.

      The Avia B-534 was a very good fighter, easily the equal of its Allied and Axis contemporaries in most areas of flight performance and better in some, but which unfortunately faced overwhelming numerical odds when the moment of truth arrived that have masked its true potential ever since. As a result, the B-534 has been largely ignored or grossly underestimated even by many otherwise knowledgeable aviation historians, which is a real pity.

      • That depends who those historians are; true historian has no agenda other than impartiality.

        Avia has been on par with planes such as Bristol or Heinkel, to name few however, in the pace of rapid development it was aging quickly. Czechs had at time of country breakup another model in development – more in trend of the time. This was all metal single seater Avia B-135; just few prototypes were built and I believe one is kept in air-museum near Prague.

        To be frank, this is about technical history alone, definitely not about how would possible contest with Germany look like. People of knowledge and judgement know well enough; not a chance for Czechs.

        As for B-534, there was one final development of it which incorporated 20mm Hispano-Suiza cannon. This became Bk-534. Some of those planes (primarily B-534 and some others like Smolik and letov) were in service with Slovak state and eventually used on ‘right side’ at time of Slovak national uprising in 1944.

        • Hi, Denny :

          I agree with your assessment of the Avia B-534 regarding the hectic pace of development rapidly outstripping what was only recently considered up to date at the time. Please bear in mind that my previous comments comparing the Avia to its contemporaries were made in the context of the actual time of introduction to service, and not in the short few years that followed whereby advances in aircraft development had accelerated so much that early obsolescence was almost inevitable under the circumstances. This seems to have been particularly rampant during the 1930’s, when general and military aviation reached a pre-war zenith in the design and introduction of new aircraft types.

          Some examples of other aircraft that fell victim to the same sort of timeline trap were the Gloster Gladiator, Polikarpov I-16 “Rata”, Brewster F2A Buffalo, Liore-et-Olivier LeO-451, Morane-Saulnier MS.406, Bloch MB.131 Guynemer, Vickers Wellesley, Curtiss A-18, Breguet 690/691/693/695 AB.2, Fairey Battle, Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 “Pipistrello”, Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley, Douglas B-23 “Dragon”, Mitsubishi Ki-21 (Army Type 97) “Sally”, Handley-Page Hampden, Nakajima Ki-27 and Fiat B.R.20 “Cicogna”, just to name a handful.

          Some, such as the Whitley, Ki-21 and Hampden, continued to serve throughout much of the war in spite of their apparent obsolescence due to a variety of circumstances — lack of, or delays in development, of a suitable replacement, exigencies of war resulting in shortages of newer aircraft, shortsightedness on the part of the respective Air Staffs, or an incorrectly-perceived assessment of that aircraft’s capabilities in combat due to external circumstances (the Ki-21 is a case in point ; Japanese planners tended to over-estimate the “Sally’s” combat capabilities since many of it’s early war missions were flown against poorly-defended targets, or against targets where air-to-air superiority had been established by Japanese fighters).

          Others, such as the Bloch MB.131, Fairey Battle and Handley-Page Hampden, were in front-line service when war broke out because they were what was available at the time.

          Yet other aircraft, eg., the Whitley, F2A Buffalo and Polikarpov I-16 were caught in a transitional time period between generations of aircraft development by the outbreak of war and all this implies. These are examples that continued to do sterling service against technologically superior enemy aircraft under unfavorable conditions throughout much of the first half of the war before being superceded by newer and better designs.

          Yet others again, eg., the MS.406 and LeO-451, had airframes which promised long-term upgrade capability, but which were overwhelmed and overtaken by circumstances — in this case, the fall of France and the abrupt termination of French aviation development.

          Such is often the fate of the best-laid plans and designs, for one never knows for sure what will happen to alter the course of fate and history.

    • There is nothing at all wrong with RCMGs as an air defense weapon! The largest problem with most airborne installations, at least on the allied side, was the fact that they could only hit the target with correctly aimed fire in the very narrow range band at which they were zeroed. Later in the war, the installation of thin armor plates prevented the soft core bullets from perforating though to the soft-squishy stuff behind at any range and the Hard Core AP type bullets at most combat ranges. ( IE beyond 2-250 meters!) Thus the rise of HMGs and less importantly auto-cannon.

  8. Here is technical info with pictures as is available :http://forum.valka.cz/viewtopic.php/title/CZK-vz-30/t/15843
    It is hard to find more, I tried that before with little success.

    In notes (last 2 lines) it says: “after occupation used by second line German units and for training”. This is understandable considering that this is not ground based weapon such as Vz.26 and field model of same name Vz.30 (from Brno, licensed to Britain as Bren). Both named guns were used in quantity by Wehrmacht.

    • The CZK vz.30, in both observers’ and synchronized versions, was considered for adoption by the Portuguese and Spanish air arms in the first half of the 1930s. Eventually, the former adopted a later version of the FN-Browning Modèle 1932 in 7,92mm Mauser. The later went for the Vickers K as their new observers’ machine gun just before the SCW.

      • That seem to suggest there were marketing attempts past Vz.26/30 field MGs. This gun definitely had advantage in high rate of fire that being party result of type of operating system. Toggle lock was still at mainstream then.
        Thanks for information.

        • Indeed. I think the FN-Browing aerial guns’ rate of fire was even higher; in the Portuguese case, other aircraft machine guns that competed against the FN-Browning included Polish designs and the MG15 (don’t know whether the MG17, for use at fixed mountings, was even considered, but the FN-Brownings were purchased in both hand-held, observers’ and fixed mounting versions). As for the Spaniards, and regarding fixed mounting guns, they clung to the Vickers Mk.II and Mk.III till the eve of the Civil War, such guns being used on synchronized and non-synchro mountings on all major types used by the Arma de Aviación up to 1936.

          • The AN-M2 .30-cal. Browning aircraft MG ( not to be confused with the AN-M2 .50-cal. Browning aircraft HMG ) had a lightweight barrel and receiver with a modified bolt working in concert with a muzzle booster that increased the cyclic rate of fire up to as high as 1350 rds./min. Interestingly, the 0.303″ version in RAF service was modified to fire from an open bolt with a nominal cyclic rate of fire of well over 1000 rds./min.

            Excellent additional information on the Browning and FN-Browning .30-cal. variations can be found at browningmgs.com/AirGunnery/02_30cal.htm. There are also several links at the top of the page ( highlighted in red ) to the .50-cal. Brownings, ammunition data, sources, sights, gunnery training, turret mounts, schematics and design drawings, etc. As an alternative, you can also simply go directly to the parent web page at browningmgs.com and start researching the links to assorted categories from there.

  9. Thanks; I have seen this page before, it is good one. I have seen some Brownings in aircraft format as real pieces and can say that they were heavily modified in comparison with field models in every aspect. The basic design had such a redundancy, it was easily modified in this way. As was already mentioned before, the Japanese recognized its qualities and soon after start of war built their new guns along that line. This adds to recognition of Browning’s genius.

    Arguably, disposing of the toggle linkage and replacing it with vertically sliding lock was superior solution. At the same time, the fancities such as complex extraction and need for head-space resetting add to sense of amazement how this thing could work reliably. Well, it did.

    • You are most welcome, Ruy. Denny is a great source of introspective firearms knowledge because of his background and I always look forward to his comments and criticisms, as I do yours and those of the other contributors on FW.

    • Yes, the Japanese were wise enough to recognize the value of the Browning design and adopt it for their own aircraft. What is equally significant is how the Japanese Army Air Force took the basic AN-M2 .50-cal. aircraft HMG and modified it into a hard-hitting, reliable and successful 20mm automatic cannon, the Ho-5 or Army Type 2, at a time when many pundits of the principle combatant nations on both sides said it couldn’t be done.

      To be fair, they were also many armaments experts and engineers on both sides who clearly saw that the basic AN-M2 design was so over-engineered that it could easily accommodate the upgrade to the larger caliber without any mechanical or reliability issues at all, and in the event they were proven correct.

    • I believe it is a modified MG42 bipod. If you are looking for a low-profile mount for a standard Vickers, you might consider looking at the crow’s-foot tripod used with the Hotchkiss Portative. I believe you can get (or make) a pretty simple adapted pin to connect one of those to the front trunnion of the Vickers. There are also the WWI-issue mounts that clamp over the water jacket, but they’re awfully rare and expensive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*