Protecting HMs frontiers, via Vickers

While the sun may have never set on the British Empire (until 1956, anyway), the Brits were big fans of using technology to their advantage to allow units with small footprints to control large areas.

From 1912 through the 1950s, the water-cooled .303 caliber sustained fire Maxim machine gun variant produced by Vickers Limited, best known just as the Vickers, filled the bill.

Manchester Regiment sit with their wwi era Vickers gun during a demonstration of preparedness for jungle warfare in Malaya, circa August 1941

1st Battalion, Manchester Regiment gunners sit with their WWI era Vickers gun during a demonstration of preparedness for jungle warfare in Malaya, circa August 1941. They would become POWs in just a few months.

Weighing in at over 40-pounds (sans bullets and water) old Mr. Vick was a beast, but by nature of its water jacket could fire almost forever or until your ammo supply ran out, making a static defense point able to control everything in a 360 degree arc out to 1,000 yards with accuracy, with grazing fire a death sentence for infantry trying to move on the emplacement.

When using plunging fire, especially when sited from elevated positions, the Vickers could reach out and produce a beaten zone over 4,000 yards away. As such, these guns were equipped with pretty effective and advanced for their time clinometers on which trained crews could calculate angles of slope (or tilt), elevation or depression of their target and match their gun to make an intersection of brass and body.

It was simple, the machine gun in its truest form.

A Vickers machine gun post, June 1919. Of the 13 British infantry battalions that served during the 3rd Afghan War and the Waziristan uprising (1919-1920), nine were Regular and the rest Territorial. Photo: National Army Museum via Under Every Leaf.

A Vickers machine gun post, June 1919. Of the 13 British infantry battalions that served during the 3rd Afghan War and the Waziristan uprising (1919-1920), nine were Regular and the rest Territorial. Photo: National Army Museum via Under Every Leaf.

Vickers machine gun emplacement in a sangar, North West Frontier Province between the wars. The pouches on the back on the No. 2 (with his hand up) are for clinometer and the foresight bar deflector - seldom seen in the field. The headdress of British Indian troops was normally the khaki puggaree which varied by the soldier's religion--Muslims with a pointed kullah skullcap inside the puggaree and Sikhs with a more open version that allowed their uncut hair to remain in a bun atop their head, while most Hindu troops wore a simple turban. Photo via British Empire Uniforms 1939-45.

Vickers machine gun emplacement in a sangar, North West Frontier Province between the wars. The pouches on the back on the No. 2 (with his hand up) are for clinometer and the foresight bar deflector – seldom seen in the field. The headdress of British Indian troops was normally the khaki puggaree which varied by the soldier’s religion–Muslims with a pointed kullah skullcap inside the puggaree and Sikhs with a more open version that allowed their uncut hair to remain in a bun atop their head, while most Hindu troops wore a simple turban. Photo via British Empire Uniforms 1939-45.

Sepoys manning a Vickers Machine Gun, Spinwam, south west of Peshawar. The sepoy manning the gun has a .455 Webley in a holster on his belt and a tin mug fastened to the 08 haversack on his back.

Sepoys manning a Vickers Machine Gun, Spinwam, south west of Peshawar. The sepoy manning the gun has a .455 Webley in a holster on his belt and a tin mug fastened to the 08 haversack on his back.

The Vickers was only replaced in the 1960s by the FN MAG 58, termed the L7 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG), which has been affectionately nicknamed the “gimpy” by generations of British troops.

Mr. Vick, however, endures in the armories of many former British colonies. While no longer actively used, the 100+ year old design is still an effective defensive machine gun if needed as long you bring the water and .303.

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as GUNS.com, Univesity of Guns, Outdoor Hub, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the US federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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