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Charlie Flick

ID This Watercooled MG?

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What is the proper identification of this watercooled machinegun? The water jacket and barrel look shorter in length to me than the watercooled .50 BMGs I have seen, but the ammunition box appears wide enough to hold .50 ammunition.

 

And what is the purpose of the painted stripes on the ammo box?

 

AA watercooled MG ed.jpg

 

Charlie


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It is the M2 AAA tripod

 

An M2 Browning water-cooled .50-caliber machine gun is depicted in an antiaircraft-artillery (AAA) configuration on a three-legged-tripod—upported gooseneck pedestal mount. Note the spade grip configuration usually seen on this weapon. This gun is in action (the water hook-ups are attached). A spare drum magazine can be seen behind the gunner at the far right. This photograph was taken during the Operation Husky invasion of Sicily from early July to mid-August 1943.

m2tripod.jpg

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Salvage Sailor, I must question the Operation Husky photo. It looks like a pre-war training photo due to

gas masks being worn but not steel helmets. Also, the seams and stitching make the uniforms appear to

be the blue denim fatigues. Just my thoughts...


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The gun in question is a Browning M1921 heavy machine gun in .50 BMG on the M1924 anti-aircraft tripod. The M1921 was the first .50 caliber Browning machine gun to be adopted by the US military. It had a 36" barrel, and the muzzle was exposed like on the M1917. This was found to be a poor design choice in service because that left a critical portion of the barrel not being cooled by the water, leading to that section overheating and burning out before the rest of the barrel. When the M2 was designed in the early 1930's, initially also with a 36" barrel, later upgraded with the 45" barrel to get more velocity, it was decided to extend the jacket so that the muzzle is recessed inside it. Also, it was decided to center the barrel in the jacket to distribute the cooling water evenly around it.

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Aha! A M1921. Thanks for the insights, everyone. To my eye that waterjacket looked short and the non-centered barrel a little funny. Big Al's explanation sorted it out for me.

 

Regards,

Charlie


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More accurately it looks to be a MG52A, a bit later model on an earlier tripod. I don't know that any of those specific tripods exist today. I have the gun, original manual from Colts and an ammo box (no stripes). I can't speculate what the stripes are for other than it would differentiate that ammo box from an essentially same spare parts box. My box has no stripes, but I have seen other boxes with stripes depending on how the package was set up. Claims of barrel heating are likely exaggerated and more likely is that M2HB upgrades included the ability to just change out the jacket to water cooled relatively easily. The Colts water jacket is effectively permanently attached to the trunion vs. 3+ easily "screw on" configurable setups with the later model M2 design. MG52's were scaled up 1917's, 52a's (alternate feed) had the slot on both sides to switch feed and handle location in twin mounts. HTH

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Johnson:

 

Thanks for that additional info.

 

Would you happen to have any pics handy of your example? We'd love to see some. Nobody around here ever tires of seeing interesting full auto weapons.

 

Charlie


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I don't have any photos of that gun specifically and don't generally post photos, especially here, with the resizing steps required it's kind of a task.... for me anyhow. Mine, like all the others in the US is also not on what I would call the absolute "period correct" mount either, since none of those seem to have been re-imported back here? If circumstances change in the future I might post some.

Thanks for your patience!

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Charlie,

 

Here are some photos of an MG52 on various mounts. Looks like the shoulder hook, and M67 mount is the same in one of the photos.

 

post-6815-0-03500400-1563415876_thumb.jpgpost-6815-0-36534800-1563415893_thumb.jpgpost-6815-0-19725400-1563415906_thumb.jpg

 

David Albert

dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


NRA Life Member
Past President, The American Thompson Association
American Society of Arms Collectors
Ohio Gun Collectors Association
Carbine Club
Garand Collectors Association

International Ammunition Association
Contributing Writer, Small Arms Review Magazine
Co-Author, "Thompson Manuals, Catalogs, & Other Paper Items" Collector Guide
One of the "Other Authors" of "The Ultimate Thompson Book," by Tracie L. Hill
Eagle Scout, and Member of NESA

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Two more...

 

post-6815-0-03628400-1563415971_thumb.jpgpost-6815-0-59481200-1563415982_thumb.jpg

 

David


NRA Life Member
Past President, The American Thompson Association
American Society of Arms Collectors
Ohio Gun Collectors Association
Carbine Club
Garand Collectors Association

International Ammunition Association
Contributing Writer, Small Arms Review Magazine
Co-Author, "Thompson Manuals, Catalogs, & Other Paper Items" Collector Guide
One of the "Other Authors" of "The Ultimate Thompson Book," by Tracie L. Hill
Eagle Scout, and Member of NESA

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