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Thought this should be archived.
-CW

bmg17a1 Wrote:

Having received a number of e-mails and calls in response to the confusing SAR article on the Jap T11, 96 and 99 wherein the author claims that the Japs produced and issued reduced load 6.5 ammo for the3se LMGs for combat purposes, I offer the following. Much of the following information comes from a variety of sources, but predominently frmm Edwin Libby's research.
The enduring myth that there was a specific 6.5 Jap round that was produced as a reduced charge for use with particular Japanese combat small arms continues to be repeated today due to reference to older and even some new volumes on Japanese small arms. Authors of various publications continue to pass on the erroneous information without doing any research into its truthfulness. In fact, there never was a reduced charge 6.5 round specifically produced for any purposes by the Japanese at any time, and especially for any combat weapon.
The 6.5 round was initially called the type 30, which was produced prior to 1900 with a roundnose bullet. This was succeeded by the Type 38 6.5 round sometime around 1907 or thereabouts, which used an improved spitzper type bullet. Towards the end of WWI, the T38 6.5 round went through a further modification to produce a bullet that tumbled upon impact. This apparently was a result of the Japanese copying the Brit trend towards more destructive bullets. This last T38 6.5 was used from the advent of the Taisho T11 LMG from 1922 until 1938.
During 1938, the Japanese changed the loading specs of the T38 6.5 round from a single base nitro flake powder to a double base nitro flake powder.
This round produced less flash and smoke from powder burning outside the muzzle. Eventually, combat reports indicated that it was difficult to locate Jap small arms fire from flash and smoke in the jungle and other combat locations so the ammo was analyzed by US ordnance intel. Whether there was any verifiable reduction in flash or smoke form the new round was not determined. What was noted, however, was that the specs of the new 6.5 round were equivalent to the earlier T38 6.5, but, fatefully, that there was slightly less powder in the cases. The reduction in powder load was apparently due to the slightly more efficient powder, but the MV and ME of the round did not change. Further, the Japanese had stamped the boxes carrying the new ammo with a ‘G’ in a circle. This ‘G’ was incorrectly identified as the first letter of the Japanese word ‘Genso ‘ (?) which translated as ‘reduced’. Instead the ‘G’ was to identify the rounds as ‘Glycerine’, indicating the new double based nitro powder.
This has led to the mistaken belief that there was a reduced load round produced by the Japanese for use in some small arms, and, the weapon usually identified as using this round has been the trainer LMGs that were in 6.5. However, the trainers were not designed to use ball ammo, but were specifically designed to use wooden or paper bulleted blanks. Hollow wooden bullets were used to assist in the fullauto function of some of the trainers.
When the Taisho T11 1922 LMG was developed by Nambu, apparently the politics of the Army brass overseeing the new design called for an oiler, although Nambu specifically maintained that the gun did not need the oiler. Nambu got into quite a bit of trouble with his independent ways and attitude, but he did produce the guns with oilers. The Japanese had required an oiler on the Hotchkiss HMGs that they purchased which were copies of the 1900 Hotchkiss HMG strip fed MGs.
Oilers remained on the later Nambu T3 and T92s, although neither needs the oilers with good ammo and under clean conditions. Neither the T96 or the T99 had oilers, although mag oilers were provided for the T99s. IMO, there might have been reason for the oilers due to the fiercely corrosive ammo used in hot,humid Pacific climates that would quickly sludge the internals of an LMG with use and, also, due to inadequate cleaning.
All of the Jap LMGs and HMGs have gas regulators which is the obvious and most logical and reliable way to control combustion effects and other variables in an MG. Making a reduced load for combat weapons makes absolutely no sense at all, and further the Mauser shaped 6.5 and 7.7 cases are no different than any of the rounds use in other MGs without oilers and regulators. All of the Jap HMGs and LMGs are state-of-the-art weapons of their day and use a very reliable and efficient means of delaying opening of the action until pressures have dropped to safe levels. A reduced load round, even if developed, would serve no purpose at all.
With all due respect to the author, the article in SAR on the Jap LMGs is seriously in error about the reduced 6.5 rounds and their supposed use in the T11 and T96, for which there is no basis in fact.
I own and shoot these weapons and have never had any problem with using full load rounds, and would never expect to, any more than I would in a Jap combat rifle. Further, I own and shoot the T99 LMG in both 7.7 and .308 and the T96 in 6.5 and 7.62X39 and have never had any extraction problems or any other problems related to loads. The T3 in 6.5, and T92 in 7mm, 7.92 and the original 7.7 can be fired without using the oiler as well.
The above information on the 65. Jap round comes from Ed Libby, a zealous and dedicated historian of all Japanese small arms/ammo, and his source is from the US WWII Allied Translation Intelligence Service which translated a Japanese manual on the history and development of Jap small arms and artillery ammunition.

Bob Naess

Odie
Gunboards Member

USA
86 Posts

Posted - 06/03/2007 : 12:59:59 AM Show Profile Email Poster
The author is also in error when he claims Gen.Nambu copied a Chinese LMG for the Type 96 and that it was possibly first produced in China-I don't know where he gets his information but I think he had better change sources
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MGMike
Gunboards.Com Gold Star Member

USA
1445 Posts

Posted - 06/03/2007 : 10:40:15 AM Show Profile Email Poster
The short deadlines and penurious sums paid to gun rag writers do not encourage spending time on original research. Many articles are little more than the product of serial plagiarization from other second-hand sources which --if traced back far enough--often can be identified as originating from some misinterpreted pronouncement of W.H.B. Smith.
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bmg17a1
Gunboards Member

USA
91 Posts

Posted - 06/03/2007 : 7:07:28 PM Show Profile Email Poster Visit bmg17a1's Homepage
In regard to the first T96s being manufactured in China, it is possible that the author was referring to the Mukden Arsenal in Manchuria where the Japs had been in occupation since 1932. So it could be possible that some very early T96 production might have occurred there, but since there is no verification I don't know why he speculates, and he even says there isn't any proof.
I agree with MG Mike's comments about the writer's plight of poor pay, thus low motivation, and plagerizing from previous publications. However, assigning the use of "reduced" load 6.5 ammo to the T11 and the T96 without any corroboration from historical research or even from the many owner/shooters and historians familiar with these MGs is carelss. Further, it creates a lot of needless confusion amongst shooters who are now concerned that they might hurt have their MGs with full load rounds. The other errors such as the T11 and the T96 having no primary extraction capabilities, thus needing an oiler, or the T96 having an oiler like the T11 seem just plain sloppy. Again since there are many resources to learn the facts about the guns, without even leaving the computor, it is hard to understand the lack of concern about factual accuracy.
Personally, it is annoying to have to use up my time to answer phone calls and e-mails to try and stanch the flow of confusion and reassure owners that their guns are not being ruined.
I always hoped that with the many owners of all the various types of MGs in the NFRTR, shooting, maintaining and collecting them, that over the years the old myths and errors about these guns would dissolve and they would not be perpetuated in new accounts and publications. Seems to have been a foolish hope......Oh well, I suppose it really doesn't matter.
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MGMike
Gunboards.Com Gold Star Member

USA
1445 Posts

Posted - 06/03/2007 : 9:12:57 PM Show Profile Email Poster
I was about to pose a question here concerning the alleged lack of primary extraction in the T96, but I think Bob has just answered it. Primary extraction is obtained in the T99 LMG simply by a 5 degree angle on the bolt locking abutment (about the same as on an M1917 Enfield) where it engages the square donut locking piece; the bolt is allowed to move rearward about 1 mm before complete unlocking. It's not an unreasonable assumption that the T96 is the same, but I've never examined one in that regard...and I doubt if Monty Mendenhall bothered to check it.

Similarly erroneous is the labeling of the barrel lock on the T99 as a headspace adjustment, which it is not. The only headspace adjustment is a washer selectively fitted for thickness and screwed to the receiver face to serve as a shim against which the barrel shoulder is seated. The tapered barrel lock merely draws the barrel up tight against the shim to maintain whatever headspace has already been established. I confess that I cannot figure out the purpose of the incremental numbers on the barrel lock nut, unless they are purely for arbitrary reference to maintain a consistent torque. Anybody know for sure?
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Type 96 LMG
Gunboards Member

48 Posts

Posted - 06/04/2007 : 01:55:33 AM Show Profile Email Poster

Unfortunately, it will be tough to break the chain of misinformation surrounding "reduced charge" 6.5mm. The problem is there is sparse info in general on these weapons and people grab what is out there, correct or not.

Example: I'm looking at a readily available recent reprint of a U.S. mil intel guide from 12/43 and it specifically makes reference to standard 6.5mm not being suitable for the T11 and T96. This ammo, and also the "standard charge" 6.5mm, can be used in the T38, T44 T3, etc. OK, so we know this is not correct.

This same reference guide also has "fascinating" details about differences between the T96 and T99; apart from caliber, the safety on the T99 is on the right side as opposed to the left side for the T96... uh... right...

Flash forward to 2000 and you can see the same info being echoed in a section on Japanese MGs in Hogg's "Machine Guns". I've got a couple of his books where he is saying the same thing.

I haven't looked to see if Chinn's books have anything on the ammunition, but we already know that his volume incorrectly indicates the T96 is a straight copy of the ZB, so...

Monty's articles are usually pretty good, but this one could have used a little more review. I think his production numbers for the T99 are off as well.

With regards to primary extraction, the same style lock in the T99 is present in the T96. The op rod/carriers are darn near the same with a slight difference for the specific firing pin configuration of each gun.

Type 96 LMG
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paul s
Gunboards.Com Silver Star Member

USA
593 Posts

Posted - 06/05/2007 : 08:51:29 AM Show Profile Email Poster
I know of a Mukden 96 with late T-99LMG type barrel lock, I know of a Mukden made T-99LMG, The safety on the t-99LMG must be reversable because I have seen them on the L&R side! So as with anything Japanese there is nothing written in stone!
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Odie
Gunboards Member

USA
86 Posts

Posted - 06/05/2007 : 11:09:56 PM Show Profile Email Poster
I also am aware of a Mukden Type 96 with the 99 style barrel release-It also had a chrome lined bore and a flash hider with right hand threads-All the other 96's that I am aware of with flash hiders have a left hand thread.
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kb0uxv
Gunboards Member

USA
99 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2007 : 02:40:01 AM Show Profile Email Poster Visit kb0uxv's Homepage
Nice post bmg17a1, thank you...I have a 99 in 7.7 and have also wondered about the numbers on the barrel lock nut as MGMike asked.

Does anyone know of a place where one can buy a translated copy of the original type 99 manual? I see originals come up on ebay from time to time, and sometimes Japkrap from the Japanese boards sells reprints...but in Kanji it doesnt do much good other than for the pictures. I emailed the guy from the Dragons of Fire website and he told me that his book might have a translated manual so I am looking forward to that.
Nate in MN
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bmg17a1
Gunboards Member

USA
91 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2007 : 5:37:14 PM Show Profile Email Poster Visit bmg17a1's Homepage
In regard to T96 receivers with T99 characteristics, keep in mind that the receivers are virtually indentical, and internals and lowers will swap between the guns, although barrels wil lnot withut reducing the breech OD of the T99 to fit the T96. The T96 receiver/barrel can be modified with a T99 style crossbolt setup for the T96 barrel.
As for safety's, they will assemble from the right side, but do not function corectly. I doubt safety's were factory produced/assembled on the right, since they also act to prohibit the gun from being cocked when set on safe from the left side of the receiver. My speculation is that the gun with the safety on the right was assembled incorrectly.
As with many wartime production MGs, speed of manufacture became more important as the war progressed with elimination of, or changes in machining processes and some functional details, but there are a finite number of the modifications undertaken and usually they are logical. Also, arsenal modifications after the war are not uncommon, which can be confused with wartime changes.
The use of the "reduced charge" cartridge in the T3, T11 and T96 seems to appear rather randomly depending on which reference book one peruses. Early WHB Smith volumes from the late '40s and early '50s don't mention it. However, Smith does talk about the lack of "primary extraction" in the T96, but notes that the T99 incorporates new design features to overcome the problems with the ammo. Of course, the actions are virtually identical. IMO the problem is not with the gun design, but with the ammo case materials. He also suggests that the headspace setup for the T99 is of little use, but also misunderstands how it works. Ezell inheireted all of WHB's errors, but since he reduced the content on the vintage MGs quite a bit, the errors didn't get passed on.
Cam angles in the locks of the T96 and T99 are the same, and the T3 and T92 HMGs use the same cam agnles between them for 6.5 and 7.7 respectively. The most compelling arguement against the "reduced charge" round being used in any of the 6.5 LMGs and HMGs is that all had regulators, the HMGs had oilers and the LMGs had pretty short barrels. I only have seen a mag oilker for the T99 mags, but have never come across a mag oiler fo the T96. If they were so necssary, it would seem that they would have been very cmmmon, so where are they? Did the troops throw them away, or?
Ian Hogg is the worst offender in his discusson of the 'reduced charge" round, as, not only does he mumble his way around the "facts" of the round, he makes the claim that the 1914 T3 HMG experienced extraction problems so eventually they added an oiler. Well, the T3 started production with an oiler and also had a gas regulator as well. Further, he claims that the T11, that has an action identical to the T3, the T89s and the T92s, had to use the oiler even with the "reduced charge". Taper on the 6.5 round case is about the same as on the 7.92 round, so why haven't all the 7.92 caliber MGs, not to mention other calibers ith Mauser ahsped cases, suffered the same problems?
Anyone have an example of the "reduced charge' 6.5 or references on its ballistics?

Bob Naess
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MGMike
Gunboards.Com Gold Star Member

USA
1445 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2007 : 6:26:21 PM Show Profile Email Poster
So what are the numbered graduations on the T99 barrel lock nut for?
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Type 96 LMG
Gunboards Member

48 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2007 : 7:04:38 PM Show Profile Email Poster
Paul,

I will certainly agree there are variations. I have also seen a Mukden T99 and while I haven't seen a Mukden T96 with the barrel nut adjustment I certainly would like to.

With regards to the safety; You can place one in the right side of the group, but you need to have a recess on the right side of the opening to lock the spring loaded ball (or have a redesigned safety) so the safety will lock in a "safe" or "fire" state; otherwise it rotates slightly. Another issue when installed on the right, the standard safety lever partially hangs over the trigger area when it's in the fire position. Not the best location though maybe someone in the field liked it there.

Again, you raise a fair point with regards to variations. I won't say that there were absolutely no right hand safeties, but I would agree with BMG17A1. FWIW, I think the trigger group in the manual was likely disassembled and then incorrectly assembled either in the field or by army ordnance upon review. If there's data to the contrary showing an alternate safety configuration with safe/fire markings on the right side of group I'd be very interested in seeing a sample.

Back to my original post. The main point of my reference to the right hand safety is:

1)There's not a lot of information out there on Japanese MGs.
2)New MG owners/weapons enthusiasts are looking for any information
they can find.
3)A certain amount of information readily available is "confusing"
or incorrect.

Ideally, you would "expect" a weapons guide written by the military
to be pretty accurate. However, on the next page of the reprint I referenced is a line drawing of a T99. This illustration shows, and identifies by name, the safety on the left side (when they just finished telling me it is on the right). Confusing.

There's also mention of the presence of a stock monopod as a main differentiator between the T96 and the T99. That's certainly a feature, but not across the board later in the war and certainly not what we see in the MG market some 60 years later. I've had more than a few folks ask about how a particular gun can be a T99 without the monopod on the stock.

Like I said, it can get confusing if people looking for information are only referencing some of what is available. Same deal with the barrel nut and flash hider on the T96; folks who are new to the Japanese guns can sometimes associate those features as features only with the T99. There's definitely lots of variation out there.

Type 96 LMG
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bmg17a1
Gunboards Member

USA
91 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2007 : 12:11:21 AM Show Profile Email Poster Visit bmg17a1's Homepage
In response to MG Mike, the graduations on the barrel bolt nut are there to indicate where the nut was set prior to remvoing the barrel. If the shim remains the same and the headspace corrrectly set, then the barrel can be removed and replaced with the nut returned, hypothetically for example, to four complete revolutions and then set to the 3 position. Fusee spring tension indicators on Maxim MG fusee covers serve such a purpose, so when the appropriate spring tension for the particular gun is set at, let's say 45, then that is a reference that can be duplicated if it is lost for some reason. It is not an indicator of rounds-per-minute as some people believe.
A lefthand safety assembled through the right side of the lower cannot be manipulated to the "safe" position due to the configuration of the cutout on the safety axle and the shape of the trigger sear lever. In order to have a safety on the right side of the lower, a new safety, specifically righthand safety lever would need to be fitted with the correct cutout for use on that side. Of the many, many 96s and 99s I've seen, had through the shop for repair or in inventory, none have had a righthand safety. I do not believe one was ever produced for issue.
Weapons guides written by the military certainly are far from absolutely accurate. Often they were written with only cursory information about a weapon for simplified assessment, and with limited resources. Atleast, in most cases, the military had access to live examples and were able to fire them and do a reaosnable evaluation. Unlike many of the post-war MG reference book authors, with some exceptions, who often only had firsthand experience with a few of the weapons they were describing and had to rely on hearsay or other written accounts. These authors do have my respect and gratitude, as I have learned a great deal from them, and continue to learn, but having had many years of close and personal experience with a wide variety of MGs, it is time to try and eliminate the more egregious errors that have been casually accepted and perpetuated unquestioned. MGs are not complicated and mysterious machines, and it is really very simple to understand them with experience and handling and discern the BS from the reality. Of course, often the history of developement, production and breadth use is far more complex to decipher. Much has been uncovered over the lat twenty years, though, and more will be revealed.......

Bob Naess
Black River Militaria CII
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MGMike
Gunboards.Com Gold Star Member

USA
1445 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2007 : 10:09:32 AM Show Profile Email Poster
Bob: Thank you, your explanation meshes with my hypothesis that the number itself is arbitrary, purely for indexing reference in torquing down the nut. However, unlike a Vickers or Maxim fusee spring setting, it's not a FUNCTIONAL adjustment. If it's too loose the barrel will develop fore-and-aft slop, and if it's too tight, it may cause deformation of the barrel slot and/or the locking wedge and/or the receiver. Obviously there must have been some torque specification used by Japanese armourers, that was then impressed on the using soldiers. But what that would be, I have no idea. It is apparent that finger-tight won't suffice and that quite a range of tension is obtainable with a wrench.

Which leads to the next question: did the Japanese actually use the barrel changing feature in combat? Somehow I doubt it. Only the flip lever of the T96 could be considered truly QC. On the T99, monkeying around in the dark, wet, or mud with a fingers and/or a wrench to loosen and then retighten a hot barrel lock nut on a T99 under combat conditions does not seem practical.
Edited by - MGMike on 06/07/2007 10:11:59 AM
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Odie
Gunboards Member

USA
86 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2007 : 10:24:50 AM Show Profile Email Poster
Each Type 96 and Type 99 came with an extra barrel numbered to the gun-If you check the barrel number on the bottom of the barrel,it will be approx. double the seriel number.The spare parts/repair kit that also accompanied each 99 contained a short handled wrench to fit the nut -I don't know how they arrived at the proper tension for tightening but at least they had the wrench.Jim
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Type 96 LMG
Gunboards Member

48 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2007 : 2:07:36 PM Show Profile Email Poster
Jim,

Question (or two) for you. On all my 96/99 barrels, underneath the chamber, there are two numbers and the showa. The top number appears to tie to the serial on the MG with the showa underneath that and then another number underneath that.

For the most part the lower number does not match anything on the barrel assembly, but I have one 96 barrel (15.2 date I think) where the lower number correlates to a number stamped on the forward surface of the front sight assembly. On another 96 barrel, the front sight assembly is stamped with the same number as the top number and matches the serial number of the MG (15.5).

To determine if a barrel is the spare, which number under the chamber should be referenced?

Does the presence of the bottom number (sometimes almost double the top number as you've indicated) indicate said barrel is the spare? Does the bottom number indicate the number of the spare barrel or have you ever seen any relation in that number located at the bottom to a number stamped on the front sight assembly?

Appreciate any insight on this you'd care to share.
Type 96 LMG
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paul s
Gunboards.Com Silver Star Member

USA
593 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2007 : 2:56:25 PM Show Profile Email Poster
Pics of my 99 safety, there is some wear on the left side showing it was switched some where along the line, field modification by a Japanese GI?


Download Attachment:
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Download Attachment:
119.43 KB

My other 99


Download Attachment:
202.79 KB
Edited by - paul s on 06/07/2007 3:13:26 PM
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bmg17a1
Gunboards Member

USA
91 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2007 : 4:10:46 PM Show Profile Email Poster Visit bmg17a1's Homepage
RE: Paul's 99 with the righthand safety

The safety on your lower is a lefthand part. The top is slanted deliberately to function in the thumbnail cutaway milled under the cocking handle lower receiver rail, just above the safety pivot hole. This was a means of preventing the cocking handle from being retracted when the safety is on. I can't tell from the pics, but I'll bet dollars to donuts that side of the longer edge is grooved, since that would be towards the back when assembled on the left side of the gun to give better thumb grip when applying the safety.

If you disassemble the trigger and safety, are there two small dimples, at about 10 and 2 o'clock for the spring loaded detent on the safety to engage on the top arc of the right receiver safety assembly hole?
Can you post a closeup of the trigger assembly? I'd like to see the shape of the trigger sear bar, and if it has been altered. I have quite a few of these and they are all the same. They will not fit correctly to allow the safety to funciton in 'safe' when the lefthand safety is installed on the right side.
Since, IMO, the safety is a lefthand part, it was not a factory variation, but assembled either by a lefthand GI or just incorrectly assembled by someone who did not know its correct location.
Any help is greatly appreciated.

Bob Naess
Black River Militaria CII
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Mongo63A
Gunboards Premium Member

USA
112 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2007 : 5:44:17 PM Show Profile Email Poster Visit Mongo63A's Homepage
Damn I enjoy threads like this even though I'll most likely never own a Jap 99.
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Type 96 LMG
Gunboards Member

48 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2007 : 9:00:56 PM Show Profile Email Poster
Paul,

Very interesting. Would definitely like to see more detail on the trigger, safety and also info
about the recesses in the safety axle hole in the group that Bob mentioned. Is that a Nagoya group and are all the internals numbered to the group?

Type 96 LMG
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Odie
Gunboards Member

USA
86 Posts

Posted - 06/08/2007 : 01:50:54 AM Show Profile Email Poster
96 LMG- From what I have observed,the top number will be the serial number of the gun and the lower number(usually almost double the top number is the number of barrels that have been made in that run or series. I haven't seen enough barrels to determine how the spare barrel was marked or even if it was-I have seen several combat pics of LMG crews and one of them was usually carrying a spare barrel assembly in a canvas and leather carrier-Jim
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Firearms
Gunboards Super Premium Member

USA
511 Posts

Posted - 06/14/2007 : 12:43:40 PM Show Profile Email Poster Visit Firearms's Homepage
I just read the article, sorry I’m late on this.
He got the history all wrong too.
The 918 incident happened in 1931, not 1929.
The Type 41 was produced in 1952 and in 30-06.
It’s an evolution from 7.92 Bren supplied by Inglis.
If China had T41 in 1930s, then we need to rewrite the history- the Bren would have been a copy from a Chinese gun rather than developed from ZB series.
An interesting fact was that even though Chinese made 10s of thousands ZB-26 copies, they never had a destination for the gun.
The author was wrong on history of the Shanxi produced Thompson SMG article published a year or two ago. I wrote an email to SAR but received no reply.
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