This prototype Winchester shown off by Ian over at Forgotten Weapons dates from 1918, a time when John Browning was working on his .50 BMG round and the Germans had their own giant T-Gewehr 13mm Mauser rifle in the trenches of Western Europe with the aim of sniping early armored vehicles.
The now-99-year-old elephant gun was dubbed a “swivel rifle” by Winchester and looks about as steampunk as the most goggle-wearing fan of Jules Verne could imagine. Termed simply as a “bolt gun” in patent paperwork by inventor Edwin Pugsley, this space rifle is as funky as they came– but predated the Barrett .50 cal by almost a century.
I had a really interesting interview last week with Mae from C&Rsenal, primarily about their massive Mauser M1918 T-Geweher anti-tank rifle, but also about curios and relics in general.
The footage above is from a US Army training film for officers and NCOs covering various stages of marksmanship training. The film discusses the make up of rifle squads and section and the deployment of their rifles and automatic rifles. It’s kind of dry (its an Army training film from 1935) but it’s good stuff if you are a fan of BARs (assault firing!) and M1903s (remember, the Garand was not adopted until 1936).
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Isaac Newton Lewis took a failed design and ran with it, producing one of the best light machine guns the world saw in the first half of the 20th Century.
The Buffalo Arms Company or Buffalo, New York in 1910 was high and dry. They owned a series of patents to rather forward-thinking gun designs, to include a 37mm auto cannon and a huge tripod-mounted, gas-operated, water-cooled machine gun in .30-40 Krag, both of which were produced by one Samuel MacLean. Unable to get these off the drawing board and into production, BAC approached Lewis and asked him to moonlight.
At the time Lewis was the director of the U.S. Army Coastal Artillery School at Fort Monroe and known as something of an inventor and accomplished engineer in his own right, having designed the Depression Position Finder– the Army’s fire control device to aim artillery over distance, as well as electric lighting systems, modern electric windmill generators, and chart plotting systems.
The gun he came up with, while based on MacLean’s original patents, was altogether different.
One of the most iconic US military firearms of the 20th Century was the Browning Automatic Rifle, better known by GIs in both World Wars as the BAR. Sadly, most of these guns were torched up and trashed in the 1960s, but if you look hard enough, you can find out for your very own. Officially designated “Rifle, Caliber .30, Automatic, Browning, M1918,” this 16-pound light machine gun was revolutionary when it was introduced in the tail end of the First World War. At the time, the US Army grew from 200,000 to over 4-million in the span of about 18-months. Far outstripping all of the arsenals of weapons, the new Doughboys needed a machinegun capable of being mass-produced, then carried into the field in huge numbers. It was to be used along with such wonder weapons as the Thompson submachine gun, Pedersen-device equipped Springfield rifles, armed airplanes and modern field artillery to scour No Man’s Land of the Kaiser’s storm troopers…
Well, today its been a little revamped.
Read the rest in my column at Firearms Talk
Mort Künstler is one of the most respected military art masters in modern US history. Odds are if you have ever stopped and admired a Civil War painting, it may have come from Mort.
You may recognize his art from this painting of the CSS Hunley just before its last mission
Or in his more modern works such as this one of the Alaska Air National Guard
But what you may not know is that he cut his teeth on a whole ‘nother category of military art.
Born in 1931, he started off doing covers for men’s adventure magazines (aka pulp fiction type books) in the 1950s and 60s. Although he often used pen names, some of his better works he signed his own to and they are just really great stuff.
With that in mind, what follows is a few of his works from back in the pulp days. You see a lot of Tommy Guns, and a good bit of guest appearances from BARs, M1s, M3 Grease guns, Short Magazine Lee Enfields, and of course, Luger P08s.