33 Comments

  1. An M1910 Maxim, complete with wheeled carriage, gun shield, stabilizer bar and all — and the soldier carrying the whole ensemble on his back doesn’t even look in the least bit winded. A good illustration of how incredibly tough and sturdy so many East European people are, thanks to a simple lifestyle with plenty of hard work outdoors. It reminds me of the stories about Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s mother, who could work all day long on the farm where her family lived without tiring, including single-handedly hefting 180-pound sacks of grain.

    For those who might be interested, http://www.cheaperthandirt.com currently has a limited supply of surplus Maxim ammunition cans like the one in the photograph, complete with a 180-round link belt. The Item Number is BELT-762 and the baseline price is $19.93 ( excluding S & H ).

      • Hi, Ian :

        What do you think of the Vickers’ performance in 7.62mm x 54R vis-a-vis the original 0.303″ Enfield caliber?

        • I haven’t done any formal testing of any sort, but I really like the 54R setup. I don’t have much .303, but I bought a big pile of Czech silvertip 54R, which lets me actually shoot the thing.

          So far, the only malfunction I’ve had with the gun was actually in .303 – a case head separation (not the gun’s fault). In 54R it has run flawlessly. Eventually I’ll be doing a thorough video on the Vickers, but for the time being here’s a brief clip of my girlfriend shooting it (in 54R):

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8caKh68wj4

          • Thanks, Ian. Nice video clip, and I must say that Debra handles that Vickers very well in addition to having a lot of fun with it! The Russian 7.62mm x 54R cartridge is one of my all-time favorites. I’d really love to acquire a PKM GPMG one day, along with a complementary stock of 7.62mm x 54R ammunition, but for now I’m content with my Mosin-Nagants and contemplating a Molot VEPR rifle or Dragunov SVD in that caliber.

          • Did you switch to Russian ammo because .303 British was not available, costly or just bad? I believe Sellier-Bellot (now Companhia de Cartuchos) were making then until recently.

          • Very nice clip, Ian. Thanks for posting. Debra is having a lot of fun with your converted Vickers! Did you refinish/repaint the gun? I am asking this out of curiosity for the unusual shade of green of the tripod and water jacket…

            @ Denny: I am sure Ian can answer this, but I think the cost of shooting .303 Brit (over much cheaper and available surplused, military 54R) must have had something to do with Ian’s decision to convert his Vickers. Btw, Sellier-Bellot has been sold to a Brazilian company? I suppose that by Companhia de Cartuchos you are actually mentioning C.B.C., i.e. Companhia Brasileira de Cartuchos.

          • I didn’t repaint the gun, but the Australian government did. The registered sideplate is a Colt 1918 one, which started life as an aircraft gun in 11mm. It was built up with an Australian WWII parts kit, which was factory refurbished in 1952, and from the look of it not used at all after that. I got it from a dealer who owned it for 6 or 8 years and never fired it, because it looked too nice, and he had a bunch of post-sample guns he could shoot worry-free.

            My conversion to 7.62x54R was entirely because of ammo prices. I also have the parts to run it in 8mm Mauser, which I bought a bunch of cheap before it dried up. That’s one really nice aspect of the big early machine guns; they’re generally pretty easy to change over to almost any cartridge, so you can make use of whatever is most available.

  2. Great patriotic war was full-on effort, more than in carrying stuff. But there is plenty of material to read about that on net. Here is one functional nice kept piece on the range: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCJ5rone8xU

    I was always fascinated with that oscillating lever on outside; super gun, legendary story. Picture is good, looks authentic; although it may be just as well from a movie. There were tons of those made in years after.

      • Glad you like it Earl.
        You can imagine that during my service I did not come even close to anything like Maxim, of course. That’s why this is sort of precious occasion. But, I had to do with Goryunovs; we were pulling them out of T55s for service and reinstalling them. Heavy sucker, but I like that gun, its a solid, although bit black-smith kind, piece. Very durable. They were in service with CS army till mid 50’s.

        • I enjoyed reading your brief post about your experiences in the army with T-55’s and the Goryunov MG. A Goryunov — now there’s a magnificent gun, heavy, solid and workmanlike ( as you said ), with excellent sustained firepower and an enviable reputation for reliability, built to withstand the worst long-term rigors of the battlefield. Thanks for sharing!

          • Ya-ya, that is so… again, I like to hear your response Earl! Perhaps Ian will get the drift and will bring one up in his future presentation. If I was to buy a vintage MG (providing CDN law would allow it) it would be the SG43. Its rugged as hell.

  3. Ian,

    From watching that video of your girlfriend enjoying shooting your Vickers and ammo so much, are you sure that she isn’t with you just to be able to shoot machine guns for free?

    Joking aside, an Eastern Front vet who was a big man(6′ 6″ and solid muscle when young) told me that in the army being big was very bad deal. Always ended up carrying everything. Even when he was a sargent.

    • Your friend the veteran was right — and it applies to virtually every army, with the possible exception of specialized units that know better or have certain requirements that transcend this tendency.

  4. Just a general note on carrying gear during war time; yes it is ordeal even for well built caucasian males. Now, lets imagine small Asian people doing it (both men and women). One such case was what VCs have done during their own ‘patriotic’ war; all that hauling on Ho-Chi-Minh’s trail while being bombed and peppered by Agent orange. It just plain amazes me. That’s a true definition of word ‘tough’.

    • You’re quite right about the Vietnamese, and about the VC and NVA during the time of the Vietnam conflict. A tough, enduring people who have known much war and sorrow throughout their history. In spite of everything that has happened to them, most of the Vietnamese I know — and they come from both sides — have not lost their humanity or their ability to forgive. There is a lesson for the rest of the world here.

      Also, one of the forgotten wars that has shown how enduring they were was the Sino-Vietnamese conflict of 1979-1989. By all accounts, the People’s Liberation Army outnumbered and outgunned the Vietnamese, who were already tired from the rigors of the Vietnam War, yet the latter held their own against overwhelming odds and maintained their country’s sovereignty.

      • Maoism (like Stalinism and the Red Army in the ’30s) had a very corrosive effect on the Chinese military in the ’60s and ’70s. The quasi-religious descent into fanatical ideology crippled the Chinese military. The PLA’s humiliatingly poor performance against the Vietnamese was one result. The reversion to good old fashioned tyranny and corruption has allowed the Chinese military to bounce back.

        • Excellent cause-and-effect analysis. The PLA has become a much more formidable protagonist in recent times that coincide with the rise of China’s post-Maoist economy.

  5. One technical item I’d like to bring up here. This intrigued me for long time and either I did not know who to ask or where.

    On many Russian arms, namely machine-guns parts we can observe a reddish tone; sometime it is quite pale, other times almost brown. I had been wondering what is this caused by. One possibility is the method they use during the heat-treatment (specific salts). Would someone know?

    • Hi Denny,

      Were the parts bright, blued or parkerized?

      With hot bluing, apparently the presence of nickel in the steel can give a reddish tinge.

      also if the hot bluing solution (concentrated mix of sodium hydroxide and sodium nitrate) reaches the wrong concentration / boiling point it can give off colours. because of the high temperature it boils at, it is constantly boiling the water off, and adding more water cools it, and some also flash boils away, so keeping the bath at the correct concentration / boiling temp is a pain.

      Strong alkalis all react with carbon dioxide in the air. apparently the presence of sodium carbonate in the solution can result in iron carbonate growing on the steel – ferrous carbonate is easily oxidised to rust.

      Angier “firearms bluing and browning” (pub by stackpole) recommended adding lime (calcium oxide or hydroxide) to the bath to precipitate any carbonate out of the solution as insoluble calcium carbonate.

      Angier is not easy reading, and the collection of arsenic, mercury, cyanides, whale oils etc in some of those witches brews, suggest they were concocted to wind up the present day greens.

      If anyone happens to find an old time book that recommends either panda bear or polar bear products for some particular use – then the hunt is on – someone somewhere must have a time machine…

      • I think this may be close enough to answer, Keith. Thanks for your response!
        To give example, there is the muzzle end on SG43 looking in that way. http://www.passionmilitaria.com/t24937-mitrailleuse-sovietique-goryunov-sg-43

        However, and in addition to, I have seen different gun parts (distinctly of Russian origin) in different times which had that kind of appearance. When you say “browning” that definitely fits. On guns I served with (primarily vz.58 & vz.59) there was applied coat of paint; quite durable actually, although the early series were also black-to-grey phosphate/ parkerized.

        The notion of nickel presence (especially in hardened alloy steel) may have some validity too; I clearly recall seeing Russian (yes, again) made vernier calipers finished that way albeit the finish was quite pale even bright overall.

        • @ Denny & Keith :

          It was intriguing to read both your exchanges concerning the subject at hand. For what it’s worth, I’ve noticed that the blued aluminum alloy receivers on the Mossberg 500 Special-Purpose Persuader 12-gauge pump-action shotguns often have a deep purplish-brown undertone when viewed at an angle in the light. Any clues?

          • Hi Earl

            Aluminum alloys are typically anodized as opposed to steel pats which can be (typically for military arms) finished by phosphate which is most common or by black oxide or even by liquid nitride.

            Interesting thing about anodize process which is actually a conversion and creates a layer little (couple tenses of inch) over machined surface is that it can be dyed to any conceivable colour, such as you may see on motorcycle engine covers.

            To whatever intention is during any surface protective finish adds some contamination of bath in which process inevitably occurs. The end effect is a matter of economy vs. quality. The processing plant cannot change bath so very often and as a result the product picks up some “mysterious” tones and tinges.

          • Hi, Denny :

            The first two paragraphs of your answer to my query cover something I’m already quite familiar with. The third paragraph was the ticket — many thanks!

          • Hi Earl,
            Depending on the oxide film thickness produced in anodizing, it is possible to get some interesting diffraction effects with light (sinillar to the effects of an oil or gasoline film on water)

            The effect can be used (particularly with anodized titanium) to give irridescent colours.

          • Hi, Keith :

            That might be another piece of the puzzle falling into place. Between your answer and Denny’s, I think the whys and wherefores of the finish on the Mossberg 500 aluminum receiver are very well addressed. Many thanks!

  6. Probably – and most likely just one of many propaganda fotos of sovjets. Maxim m/10 with Sokolov-mount and shield would weight some 68 kg! The soldier would not last carrying it in the snow too long. May be fifty meters. Carrier has only one 250 round belt and no personal weapon! And look the marks in the snow – no marks at all of walking in the snow. And the depth of the snow – may be 15-20 cm – too little to be in KArelian Isthmust 1940.

    • Good observations. However, the apparent lack of tracks in the snow may be simply a matter of the perspective or angle from which the original photograph was taken, and it is possible that the ammunition carrier’s personal weapon may be slung across his back at an angle that is completely blocked by his body, especially if it happens to be a compact SMG or similar weapon. The lesser depth of the snow cover may be the result of the photograph being taken in the late fall or early winter before the accumulated snowfall became much deeper. If one looks closely at the trees in the background, there is relatively little snow on them, too.

      • Thanks gentlemen. I don’t know whether the photo was taken somewhere in the Karelian isthmus or not, but the style of the ushankas worn by both men is indicative of an early date for the picture, probably predating Barbarossa (or the Great Patriotic War, as the Russian use to call the Axis vs USSR war on the Eastern Front), maybe even the Winter War.

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