Man - machine gun

Man - machine gun

Well, who does not know him! No, I'm not talking about Medvedea, I'm talking about the Maxim machine gun, or the Maxim machine gun will say more correctly. However, I only found out today that this British subject of American origin (Hiram Maxim, Hiram Stevens Maxim) improved the light bulb before Edison and built the airplane before the Wright brothers.

But these of his achievements now no one remembers. His name became a household name in another area: he went down in history as the inventor of the most deadly weapons of the late XIX - early XX centuries.

Let's remember how it was ...

In the spring of 1887, the Steinfeld training ground near Vienna, where the Austrian army was testing new types of rapid-fire weapons, was visited by the high guest. Emperor Franz Joseph arrived personally to look at the weapon, which was predicted a great future. He watched with great approval how the two fighters serve the brilliantly polished five-barreled rifled machine gun, a model of the Nordenfeldt company: one handed in cartridges, and the second, carefully rotating the handle, measured 180 rounds per minute.

The last participant in the test was a fat bearded American - the inventor, the agent for advertising and marketing the only product of an unknown British firm: a squat,short and thick, very ugly shooting device. Hiram Stevens Maxim, dressed appropriately in his morning suit and with a cylinder on his head, sat on a tiny seat screwed to the back support of an awkward tripod, and took hold of the handles on a black metal box from which a single trunk, clad in a casing, protruded water cooling. At a signal, he opened fire. For 30 seconds, 330 bullets knocked out on the emperor's initials - FJ. The smoke was still curled, and the last of the shells barely had time to touch the ground, as Maxim already got up and bowed to the august person. There was complete silence: the emperor and his retinue were shocked and could not find words.

The American dreamHiram Stevens Maxim was born on February 5, 1840, not far from Sangerville, Maine. His formal school education did not gain even five classes. From his father, a skilled carpenter and a self-taught mechanic, he took over the skills of working with wood and metal. Even in childhood, Hiram proved himself to be an inventor: he designed a chronometer, a wheel with spokes for a bicycle and, finally, a mousetrap. Later, he did not shy away from any work - he was a carpenter, a carriage master, a painter, a contractor, a professional wrestler and a barman.For the last profession, he was literally created: he did not drink and was strong enough to expose uncontrolled clients from the institution. In the Civil War did not participate: he was released from conscription after the service killed two of his brothers.

In 1864, Maxim settled in Boston. Here he married and, in order to support his family, got a job with his uncle, Levi Stevens. Hiram quickly solved technical problems, but he didn’t have the patience to distinguish small things from important things. Very often he re-invented the bicycle, and he usually ignored the issues of production and marketing. Levi Stevens made automatic gas generators for home lighting. Maxim was hired as a draftsman, but he immediately thought of how to improve this generator. As soon as Stevens managed to re-equip his production for the manufacture of new items, his nephew came up with a few more improvements and began to insist that the production had to be rebuilt again. When it began to repeat again and again, he was simply fired.

However, he easily found work, first in Boston and then in New York. His favorite elements were gas and steam. Maxim loved steam engines.He designed and manufactured pressure gauges, pipes, valves, engines, vacuum pumps, carburetors, flywheels, regulators and burners. With his own hands, he built a seven-meter steamboat “Flirt” to ride with his son on the Hudson River. In 1873, Maxim started his own business and founded Maxim Gas, convincing A.T. Stewart, the owner of a network of department stores and the richest man in America, to support him. He organized the gas lighting of the post office in Manhattan, a resort in Saratog and hotels in Atlanta, and also designed a bright gas spotlight, which soon began to equip locomotives on all East Coast roads.


Electric tycoon

However, Maxim understood that the era of gas lighting is already a thing of the past. From 1876 he began to work with electricity. His sketches and models made such an impression on the New York financiers that in June 1878 the United States Electric Lighting Company was organized to implement Maxim's inventions. The leaders of the new company wanted to capture a part of the arc lighting market. However, although the arc lamps served well for lighting the streets, they were not suitable for premises, because the carbon electrodes were dangerous, they had to be changed frequently, and the brightness of the light could not be adjusted.Most of the time Maxim was dedicated to working on an incandescent lamp. There was a race between talented inventors - who would be the first to perfect the lamp that could replace the gas horn in homes and offices.

Competition escalated when, in 1877, Thomas Edison entered the battlefield. The first patent for the incandescent lamp, he began to draw on October 5, 1878. And although Maxim filed his application one day earlier, the court sided with Edison. Maxim hated Edison, in response, the latter spoke of Maxim as a pirate, and after the start of the First World War he called him “the seller of death”. Starting in the 1870s, Maxim’s main goal was to beat Edison.

It should be noted that in this he has achieved serious success. After testing with platinum and other materials for the hair of the lamp, he stopped at an angle. Since the weak points in the fiber would have to quickly burn through, Maxim came up with a way to make the threads more uniform by developing the process of carbon deposition from hydrocarbon vapors. Edison had to copy this already patented method, which gave Maxim a peculiar pleasure. Maxim also patented a regulator that allowed to equalize the voltage on all the lamps in the network. Although he could not reach a full vacuum in the flask, his lamps worked.In the fall of 1880, six months after the Edison Electric Light Company installed the first commercial electric lighting system on the Columbia steamer, Maxima organized the electric lighting of the first building in the United States - this was the Equitable Life Assurance Company building in New York.

Lost war

However, it was already clear that Maxim lost the “electric war”. Edison, unlike Maxim, understood the theoretical interrelationships between voltage, resistance, current and energy loss in incandescent systems and worked not only on incandescent lamps, like Maxim did, but simultaneously on the entire infrastructure - the lamp, generator and network, which should would deliver the current to the lamps.

Meanwhile, the board of directors at Maxima’s company appointed Charles Flint as manager, who quickly realized that U. S. Electric Lighting did not have a common electric lighting system, that its patent basis was not very reliable, and that the company was run by a chief engineer who was driven by a purely personal desire for revenge. Therefore, buying in 1880 the company Weston, which developed electric generators, Flint sent Maxim on a long trip to Europe - ostensibly to acquire foreign patents that would help circumvent Edison's patent protection.In fact, they simply got rid of Maxim. Instead of a share in U. S.E.L. he was given a fee and a decent salary and was appointed head of a subsidiary of Maxim-Weston in London. Offended, but not discouraged, Maxim considered it better to treat this link as a new perspective.

European gunsmith

In 1881, Maxim married the second time, went to Europe with his new wife, and never returned to the United States. A stunning success awaited him at the Paris World Exhibition: a whole issue of the exhibition magazine was devoted to Maxim's achievements in electrical engineering. She and Edison were awarded the Legion of Honor.

Soon, Maxim became interested in a new area. Random phrase, once abandoned by his American interlocutor in Vienna, sunk into his soul. “Drop this chemistry and electricity! - Said his friend. “If you want to make a lot of money, come up with something that will help these Europeans cut each other's throats with greater efficiency.” It seems that this was indeed the case: if investors in America were crazy about electricity, then European financiers were fond of weapons.Therefore, instead of reorganizing the Maxim-Weston plant in London, Maxim rented workshops in Hatton Gardens and began to invent automatic weapons. The energy with which he gave himself up to a new case, apparently, grew out of a vague need to avenge someone for his recent defeat.

The drawings were completed in the fall of 1882, and after 13 months the first working model appeared. Legend has it that the idea came to Maxim when he was still hunting a bear as a boy and realized that giving away a heavy gun is wasted energy. But in fact, the mechanism of the machine gun most of all resembled the design of a two-stroke steam engine - just the kind that Maxim redid a lot in his life. Powder gases played the role of steam, the trigger actuated the valve, and the bolt the piston. With the recoil, the entire bolt moved, simultaneously ejecting the empty cartridge case and feeding the next cartridge. Recoil energy, not expended on these movements, accumulated in the spring - it sent the bolt into place, locking the breech and undermining the inserted cartridge.

Fine work

For all its simplicity, Maxim’s machine gun contained 280 interchangeable parts, most of which had to be manufactured with tolerances that were not yet familiar to England.Maxim sent a telegram to his brother Hudson in America asking him to urgently hire a few American mechanics and send them to Europe on the first ship. Together with five partners (two of whom were Vickers brothers), Maxim established the company Maxim Gun with a registered capital of £ 50,000. Meanwhile, Maxim Hudson equipped Crayford, Kent, with an assembly line.

Taught by bitter experience in a patent confrontation with Edison, from 1883 to 1895, Hiram Maxim designed many British and foreign patents for these weapons - for all possible variations of the recharge principle due to recoil. With further improvements, Max made the barrel rifled, redid the whole mechanism for the .303 caliber, added water cooling, reduced weight through the use of nickel steel, and came up with a universal turret for mounting: the use guide said that the machine gun could be mounted on anything from boats to bicycles. However, later this section had to be reviewed when one stupid lieutenant fastened a machine gun to the back of a mule and set the switch to automatic shooting mode ...

To further improve the machine gun brothers engaged smokeless powder.Black powder formed unmasking puffs of smoke and soot on the inner surface of the barrel. In addition, it did not explode fast enough, which did not allow the rate of fire that the inventors wanted to get. After soaking cotton with nitroglycerin and using castor oil as a binder, the brothers twisted thin hollow tubes, which, when crushed, were saturated with air, which accelerated the combustion process. It was the first implementation of this cordite (smokeless powder).

Recoil force

The mechanism of Maxim had a significant advantage over the designs of competitors. The American Gatling (1862), the French Mitraleza (1867) and the Anglo-Swedish Nordenfeldt (1877) were driven by a special handle, and the ammunition was fed under its own weight from a magazine mounted above the rotating barrels. Their relatively low rate of fire did not justify either the significant weight of the installation or the number of people needed for shooting. Mechanisms were often wedged due to the fact that the shooter twisted the drive handle too quickly (in the heat of battle this happened often), or due to the fact that the cartridge did not want to fit correctly in the chamber.Wet or old cartridges could be triggered late, their powder charge would explode at the moment when the gap for the new cartridge opened. In addition, all these devices were prone to overheating, and had to take breaks to cool the barrel.

In Maxim’s arms, the ribbon with cartridges was fed smoothly into the breech - exactly as much time as the machine-gunner pressed the trigger. To change the tape, it was enough to push the running end of the new tape into the slot. Since the next cartridge could get into the mechanism only after the previous one worked, even a shot delay could not jam the mechanism. The water circulating in the casing around the barrel, gave continuous cooling, but not too heavy apparatus, which together with the frame weighed 27 kg. It is this machine gun laid the basic principles of the design of automatic weapons, which are used in the present.

Gun Baron

In the spring of 1885, Maxim demonstrated his car in action at an exhibition of inventions in South Kensington, and distinguished guests visited the factory. The machine gun looked small and harmless.Lord Walsley, head of the military ministry, even asked Maxim if he could build anything bigger, to which he replied that a larger weapon would not kill people faster. Nevertheless, he really built a big version - something between a gun and a machine gun. He fired explosive shells of 37 mm caliber (each weighed almost 500 g) almost as fast as a standard machine gun. However, the government did not buy this “half-gun”, and Max, being offended, sold it to the Boers in South Africa, where local tribes, against whom they used this weapon, called him “pom-pom”. But observers were more amazed not by the effectiveness of the new product, but by its price. The king of Denmark, watching as “pom pom” swallows ribbons with shells, said: “This gun in two hours will make my kingdom bankrupt”.

However, the technical superiority of the machine gun did not bring profitable state defense contracts to Maxim. The US Army abandoned the acquisition, motivating the decision by a machine gun with too high a fire rate, which would cause problems with the delivery of large quantities of ammunition to the front. In addition, a representative of the competing company Nordenfeldt, Basil Zaharoff, widely used non-market-based methods of competition in the struggle for profitable orders.Before the demonstration of the machine gun in La Spezia in the presence of the representatives of the Italian Navy Zaharoff, a machine gunner was drunk, so that he could not control the weapon at all. Often the treacherous competitor even fell to direct sabotage - slipping substandard ammunition or disabling parts of the weapon.

Realizing that as a businessman, he had no chance of success, Maxim in 1888 teamed up with Nordenfeldt. The union lasted until 1896, when the British company Vickers bought Maxim-Nordenfeldt. Zaharoff (and in the 1896 deal, his service in the Vickers company) was now to make this machine gun a standard weapon for all the arsenals of the world.

Sir Hiram Maxim

Soon after the merger with Nordenfeldt, Maxim returned to his old habits. Not caring too much about how his business was going, he spent his time only on new inventions - an air torpedo, an electrical system for targeting heavy artillery, time-delayed fuses. In 1894, Maxim-Nordenfeldt lost £ 21,000, in 1895 - £ 13,000. The following year, Vickers bought out a stake in Maxim and other shareholders, and as a result, only Maxim’s subsidiary company managed by Vickers immediately received a profit of £ 138,000 .True, having bought the company of Maxim, Vickers received the rights not only to the machine gun, but also to one of the world's first airplanes.

Having become a British citizen in 1900, Maxim received from the hands of Queen Victoria a knightly title - in recognition of his contribution to arms supply in Sudan (1896–1898) and in the battle of Omdurman (1898).

In 1911, companions, disappointed by Maxim's lack of success in the field of aviation, insisted on his retirement and even changed the name of the company from Vickers, Sons and Maxim to Vickers Ltd. And when Vickers in 1914 finally built his first successful version of the plane - the prototype of the famous Spitfire fighter, which was destined to win the battle for Britain, was carrying a Maxim machine gun.

After the resignation, Sir Hiram Maxim returned to his favorite steam engines. He invented a primitive echoar using steam energy. He also owns the authorship of the steam inhaler - he really helped thousands of people who, like him, suffered from bronchitis. But it was precisely the machine gun that brought fame and wealth to Maxim, which he himself, by the way, always called the “murder machine”.

When Hiram Maxim passed away in 1916, obituaries appeared in only a few British and American newspapers.Newspapers were full of reports of millions of other deaths, most of which were caused by Maxim’s machine gun.

Aircraft designer

In the late 1880s, the British government ordered Maxim to build an airplane - and he enthusiastically set to work. He set up now classical experiments to evaluate the thrust generated by screws of various shapes, sizes and steps, using dynamometers and tachometers of his own design. By 1891, he built a huge hangar in Baldwin Park, Kent. Inside the hangar a half-kilometer rail track was laid with a track of 3 m - for acceleration, another pair of rails with a distance of more than 10 m between them, raised above the ground, was supposed to limit the lift of the aircraft. Two steam engines with a fantastic power density of 1 l were set up on the airplane. with. on 2,7 kg own weight. Machines twisted two propellers with a diameter of 5.4 m, creating a thrust of 900 kgf.

The 3.5-ton airplane reached 38 m in length, its cloth-covered wings had 31 m in span, and the whole structure rose 11 m above the ground. July 31, 1894 final tests took place. The plane with Maxim and two passengers off the ground and flew 200 m.Only safety rails kept him from climbing. At the end of the path, one of the safety wheels was jammed, as a result of the crash, the guide rails and the aircraft itself were smashed to pieces. Maxim did not restore the stand and the device. At the insistence of Vickers in 1910, he built a completely new machine with an internal combustion engine, but he could not get off the ground. Historians are still arguing about the significance of the aviation achievements of Maxim. Skeptics say that he focused on issues of thrust, power and lift, neglecting issues of strength, stability in flight and control. Nevertheless, Maxim’s apparatus did indeed take off, and at least nine years earlier than the Wright Brothers “Flyer”.

Killing machine

The conservative military did not immediately realize that Maxim’s machine gun did not just kill people, but was a mass murder machine. Until the beginning of the twentieth century, the victims of the machine gun were rebels in the colonies, in Africa, India, Egypt, and not trained European soldiers. However, when more than half of the Japanese losses in the Russian-Japanese war were recorded at the expense of the Russian Maximov, the German army began to create a huge arsenal of these machine guns.By the beginning of the First World War, Germany had 12,500 such machine guns, and by the day of the truce there were already 100,000.

Although the British army officially adopted the machine gun in 1891 (the US Army waited until 1915), the full horror of this weapon became clear only when the royal troops encountered a properly organized machine gun defense in Gallipolli in the war. When British troops landed on the coast in the Dardanelles, they came under Turkish machine-gun fire (machine guns were sold to a representative of Nordenfeldt, Zaharoff). The general, who commanded the British troops, called the machine gun "the devil's tool." The "devil" himself never tried to hide the murderous power of these weapons. “Only a barbarian will send his soldiers to certain death under the fire of my machine guns,” said Maxim, but his warning was ignored.

Domestic experience

Hiram Stevenson Maxim in 1887 for promotional purposes visits Russia, for testing machine guns at field tests and the Russian military bought for the study several samples of the Maxim machine gun .45 caliber. On March 8, 1888, the Russian Emperor Alexander III shot a machine gun “Maxim”.At the end of the tests, the firm “Maxim, Vikkers and Sons” received an urgent order for the manufacture of 12 machine guns under the 10.67-mm rifle cartridge of Berdan, adopted for supply in the Russian army. Tests were successful and since 1895 the machine gun began to enter service. But by that time, in Russia there was a replacement of standard weapons and ammunition, a three-line (7.62-mm) Mosin system magazine of the 1891 model was adopted by the Russian army. The transition of the Russian army to the new cartridge forced to make changes to the design of the machine gun to unify it with the Mosin rifle.

At the beginning of the existence of the machine gun Maxim in the Russian army, he was assigned to the auxiliary weapon of the fortress artillery. The reason was a very heavy carriage and the overall design of the machine gun looked more like a small gun than a machine gun weighing up to 250 kg.

However, impressed by the results of the use of weapons abroad, the Russian military in 1891 purchased several more machine guns for further testing and study - to the caliber of 10.67 mm (standard cartridges for the Berdan rifle). However, it was just at this time that the Berdan rifles were replaced with Mosin-Nagant three-line rifles of 7.62 mm caliber in the Russian army. Therefore, in the future, machine guns were purchased already in the new caliber.However, the recoil when firing 7.62 mm cartridges was not sufficient for reliable operation of the automation, so it was necessary to install a muzzle, which increases the pressure of the powder gases on the front edge of the muzzle.

Until 1902, machine guns were purchased from Maxim-Vickers, and in 1908, Russia acquired a license from Maxim, Vikkers and Sons for the production of Maxim system machine guns. Production was established at the Tula Arms Plant. The machine guns produced at the Tula plant were cheaper and more reliable than foreign ones, their locks (bolts) were completely interchangeable, which they could not achieve at the British and German factories.

The head of the instrumental workshop Pavel Petrovich Tretyakov and the master Ivan Alekseevich Shepherds established licensed mass production at the Tula Arms Plant. Many changes were made to the design of the machine gun, thanks to which it became easier and more reliable. From 1910 a light machine gun (almost 5 kg) went into the series.

The wheeled machine of the Sokolov system, equipped with a steel protective shield (weighing about 11 kg), became a regular machine for the Russian Maxim machine gun, and even before the First World War a pair of folding legsallowed, if necessary, to raise the line of fire. Sokolov machine allowed shooting only at ground targets. In 1939, the universal wheeled machine of Vladimirov was additionally adopted to the Maxim machine gun, which allowed firing both at ground and air targets. At the machine of Vladimirov, the U-shaped trunk of the machine was replaced with three tubular supports, in the stowed position or in the position for firing at ground targets formed into a single trunk. In the position for firing air targets, these three pillars were separated and unfolded into an anti-aircraft tripod, and the wheels and shield were disconnected.maxim1910_2 It should be noted that the steel shields of machine tools were often removed by machine gun calculations, which made it much easier to lighten the weapon and reduce its visibility.

Sokolov also owns the design of special ammunition boxes, gigs for transporting ammunition, sealed cylinders for boxes of cartridges.

The Maxim machine gun with a machine weighed more than 60 kg, machine-gun belts, machines for stuffing tapes with cartridges, and a supply of water for cooling the barrel were also attached to it. The machine gun has a water-cooled barrel, which was closed with a steel casing, often corrugated, with a volume of 4 liters.After 1940, the neck of the casing was extended, which made it possible to use not only water but also snow for cooling.

Automatics Maxim machine gun based on automation with recoil barrel, having a short stroke. As the gunpowder gases are fired, the barrel is sent back, setting in motion the reloading mechanism, extracting a cartridge from the fabric tape, sending it to the breech while simultaneously charging the bolt. After the shot is fired, the operation is repeated again. The maxim1910_3 machine gun has an average rate of fire of 600 rounds per minute, and the combat rate of fire is 250-300 rounds per minute. The spent cartridges are thrown from the weapon forward, under the barrel. To implement such a feed scheme, the shutter mirror has a T-shaped vertical groove for the flanges of the sleeves, and in the process of roll-back, it moves down and up, respectively. The power supply by cartridges is carried out from a canvas (later - metal non-dissolving) tape, from right to left. The slider belt feed mechanism is driven by a moving barrel. The machine gun only allows automatic fire. Shooting is conducted from the closed gate.To control the fire, the machine gun has a pair of vertical handles located on the back of the receiver, and a release button located between the handles.

The machine gun was staffed with a rack-mount sight, which had markings for light and heavy bullets from 0 to 2,200 and 2,600 meters, respectively. Rear sight also had a mechanism for entering side corrections. Additionally, the machine guns could be equipped with an optical sight of the 1932 model with a multiplicity of 2X, for which a special bracket was made on the receiver.

It was used by both infantry and mountain rifle detachments, as well as the fleet. During the war, Maxim’s combat capabilities were attempted to be enhanced not only by designers and manufacturers, but also directly by the troops. The soldiers were often removed from the machine gun armor, thus trying to increase maneuverability and achieve less conspicuity. For camouflage in addition to camouflage paint, covers were put on the casing and shield of the machine gun. In winter, the “Maxim” was installed on skis, sleds, or on a drag boat, from which they fired. During the Great Patriotic War machine guns were attached to the light-weight off-road vehicle “Willis” and GAZ-64.

There was also a quadruple anti-aircraft version of "Maxim".This ZPU was widely used as a stationary, self-propelled, ship, installed in the back of cars, armored trains, railway platforms, on the roofs of buildings. Machine gun systems "Maxim" became the most common weapon of the army air defense. The quad-rifle-anti-machine-gun installation of the 1931 model differed from the usual “Maxim” by the presence of a device for the forced circulation of water and a large capacity of machine-gun belts - for 1000 rounds instead of the usual 250. Using the ring-mounted sights, the installation was able to fire efficiently at low-flying enemy aircraft (maximum altitudes up to 1400 m at speeds up to 500 km / h). These units were also often used to support infantry.

By the end of the 1930s, the construction of "Maxim" was morally obsolete. The machine gun without a machine, water and cartridges had a mass of about 20 kg. The weight of the Sokolov machine is 40 kg, plus 4 kg of water. Since it was impossible to use a machine gun without a machine and water, the working mass of the entire system (without cartridges) was about 65 kg. To move such a weight across the battlefield under fire was not easy. High profile made it difficult to disguise.In addition, significant difficulties in the summer caused the supply of water to the machine gun. For comparison: a single machine gun of the Wehrmacht MG-34 had a mass of 10.5 kg without cartridges and did not require water for cooling. Shooting from MG-34 could be conducted without a machine, which contributed to the secrecy of the position of the machine gunner. It was difficult to use the "Maxim" in the mountains, where the fighters had to use home-made tripods instead of standard machines.

In 1943, the machine gun of the Peter Goryunov SG-43 system with an air-cooled barrel was adopted for service. SG-43 was superior to “Maxim” in many ways; he began to enter the army in the second half of 1943. But "Maxim" continued to be produced until the end of the war at the Tula and Izhevsk factories, and until its completion it was the main machine gun of the Red Army.

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  • Man - machine gun

    Man - machine gun

    Man - machine gun

    Man - machine gun

    Man - machine gun

    Man - machine gun

    Man - machine gun

    Man - machine gun

    Man - machine gun

    Man - machine gun

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