of the Cameron Highlanders of
Ottawa demonstrate the Vickers
machine gun. Front, left to
right: Major G.F. Clingdon,
Lieutenant-Colonel H.V.D. Laing.
Rear, left to right: Captain
Roger Rowley, Lieutenants W.H.
Armstrong and G.O. Handley.
Lindfield, England, 8 April
by Frank Royal. Department of
National Defence / National Archives
of Canada, PA-138338.
During the Great War, machine guns were
used for both direct fire against visible
targets and in an indirect role to create
lethal "beaten zones" where enemy
infantry could scarcely survive. In such
roles they were weapons of position more
than of maneuver, often sited to deliver
enfilade fire laterally against a line of
advancing troops. The Second World War saw
the use of more mobile light machine-guns
that could move with the infantry in the
attack, thus increasing the rifleman's organic
fire-power. A machine-gun's rapid rate of
fire causes the barrel to heat up and wear
out very quickly, and solutions to this
fundamental problem included air- and water-cooled
weapons with barrels that could be easily
replaced in action.
The Vickers .303 was the same as used during
the First World War, with the addition of
a dial sight to increase accuracy. Its gun
barrel was water-cooled to keep the temperature
down during rapid fire. The Vickers was
normally fired from a tripod but could also
be mounted on a carrier.
||.303 inch (7.7 mm)
||15 kg (without water)
|Rate of fire
||450 to 600 rounds per minute