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32Bravo
12-22-2008, 04:14 PM
Which was the best Section/Squad weapon, Bren or BAR

Bren:


The Bren Light Machine Gun was the standard light machine gun of the Second World War. Developed in the early 1930's in an effort to replace the aging Lewis machine guns that the British Army relied on, the Bren actually had its origins in a Czech design designated as the ZB vz/26. The Czech ZB vz/26 was chambered to fire the Mauser 7.92mm rimless cartridge. As such, British authorities requested that the new light machine gun design be based around the 303 British rimmed-type cartridge.

This difference aside, the Bren Light Machine Gun was put into production shortly thereafter. The internal working components were kept simplified from the outset, making battlefield fixes and maintenance friendly. These qualities would lend the Bren to becoming a well-liked and respected weapon by front-operating infantrymen.

The Bren appeared in several Marks during it's production lifetime. The Mark 1 appeared in August of 1938 and was most like the original Czech design. The Mark 2 appeared in 1941 and made the rear sight a more traditional leaf-type sight for British soldiers. Improvements to the bipod were also made and led to the development of the Mark 3 and Mark 4. The Mark 3 was a lighter derivative of the Mark 2 with the Mark 4 being a slightly different conversion model of the Mark 2 as well.

Post-war variations on the Bren system produced some changes to internal components such as the slide and cocking handle. The Bren would go on to live a long production life and see additional days in the form of the L4 series of light machine guns in service with the British Army. Many Bren Light Machine Guns would go on to be produced in Canada as well, including forms with a return to the 7.92 Mauser cartridge type. The L4A1 - L4A7 series of machine guns is based on the original Bren design and fires the NATO 7.62mm cartridge.

http://images.google.co.uk/images?client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&hl=en&q=Bren+gun&btnG=Search+Images&gbv=2

BAR:


The Browning Automatic Rifle, or BAR, was a direct result of machine gun and trench warfare found in the First World War. The intention was to fill the need for soldiers to have the firepower of a machine gun with the carrying capacity (and accuracy for that matter) of a portable combat rifle. The idea was actually presented by the French, and in 1917, John Browning set out to fulfill this idea. Thusly, the BAR was born and saw some service with combat forces towards the end of the war (1918).

The weapon was not a perfect breeding of the two concepts. For one, it was an extremely complicated design (at least internally), which made it an improbability for mass-production. The weapon also suffered from the fact that it was too heavy to be fired from the shoulder like a conventional rifle. On automatic firing mode, the weapon moved too much to provide much accuracy. The small magazine was also a drawback, containing just 20 rounds. In the end, the weapon system proved to be a mutt of the two concepts, fulfilling the role of neither one nor the other. The system used a gas-operated piston and cylinder along with .30-06 Springfield cartridge rounds in 20 round magazines.

None-the-less, the weapon system proved to have some advantages. Due to the internal complexity, it made for a very reliable weapon under battlefield conditions. It went on to become the standard light automatic weapon for the US infantry during the Second World War (as the M1918A2 in 1940) and was also provided to the British Home Guard in some numbers.

Early versions had a firing selector switch, allowing the weapon to be fired in single shots or in full automatic. Later versions did away with the single shot system and allowed for only two selection rates of fire - one for 350 rounds per minute and the other for 550 rounds per minute. The United States Marines preferred the former selector firing system so changes were made to accommodate that and, after a few other slight modifications, and the BAR proved itself on many fronts, often serving as a highly portable battlefield support weapon.

The BAR was dropped from service in the 1950's and continued on in foreign armies throughout the 1970's. Considering its beginning, it is amazing to see how the BAR evolved into a respected and reliable system throughout nearly half a century. The BAR did also see service in the Korean War. The modern M249 SAW fulfills the void that was left when the M1918A2 was removed from active service with the United States Army.



http://images.google.co.uk/images?gbv=2&hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&q=Browning+Automatic+Rifle&btnG=Search+Images

redcoat
12-22-2008, 04:52 PM
They are both strong and reliable weapons, but the Bren usually gets the vote due to it having a 30 round box magazine instead of the 20 round magazine fitted to the BAR, and the fact the magazine was on the top making rapid reloading easier than on the bottom loading BAR

Nickdfresh
12-22-2008, 10:53 PM
The Bren is the better light machine-gun/support weapon overall since it was designed to be solely at the outset. However, the BAR had some advantages, mainly it was more practicable to be carried as an infantry weapon, and this was done towards the end of the War in the Pacific..

32Bravo
12-23-2008, 08:30 AM
However, the BAR had some advantages, mainly it was more practicable to be carried as an infantry weapon, and this was done towards the end of the War in the Pacific..

Not sure what you mean, Nick?

Presumably, the BAR was a lighter weapon than the Bren, and was more able to be used by an individual rifleman, in the rifleman's tactical role?

The small unit tactics of the British rifle section were developed around their light support weapon. First of all the Lewis machine gun and later the Bren. Generally speaking, the LMG/s going firm and giving fire support while the rifle group/s maneuovre, but still able to swiftly manouvre themselves into a better position as the unit advanced, thus, rendering their previous firing position redundant.

For individual riflemen to be using an automatic weapon i.e. an automatic rifle, instead of as a light machine gun, then I assume the tactics were readjusted accordingly as indicated by your comments on the Pacific - which implies a requirement for heavy firepower upclose with the assaulting riflemen?

The Bren was put to good use in jungle theatres, but perhaps the BAR would have been better - I wouldn't know without doing a little more research on the BAR and how it was utilised.

Rising Sun*
12-23-2008, 08:58 AM
The small unit tactics of the British rifle section were developed around their light support weapon. First of all the Lewis machine gun and later the Bren. Generally speaking, the LMG/s going firm and giving fire support while the rifle group/s maneuovre, but still able to swiftly manouvre themselves into a better position as the unit advanced, thus, rendering their previous firing position redundant.

For individual riflemen to be using an automatic weapon i.e. an automatic rifle, instead of as a light machine gun, then I assume the tactics were readjusted accordingly as indicated by your comments on the Pacific - which implies a requirement for heavy firepower upclose with the assaulting riflemen?

The USMC learnt during WWII in the Pacific to base their rifle squad (section) and platoon tactics on the BAR.

Short version here.
http://www.marines.com/main/index/p/the_ultimate_challenge/winning_battles/history/innovations/4_man_fire_team

Longer versions here.
http://www.ww2gyrene.org/weapons_BAR.htm

http://www.ww2gyrene.org/rifle_squad.htm

32Bravo
12-23-2008, 11:04 AM
Time to re-visit my DVD collection and fish out Sands of Iwo Jima. :)

mike M.
12-23-2008, 01:24 PM
I cant really say which one is better but for me I just love the looks of the 1918 BAR.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEo8yRiDU0w

http://tri.army.mil/LC/cs/csi/m1918bar.jpg

A few people may not know that Clyde Barrow of the fammed Bonnie & Clyde from the 30's loved to use the BAR to rob banks. Below are pics of his BAR's, he like to shorten the barrel's and sometimes the butt stock.

Cuts
12-23-2008, 02:44 PM
...

A few people may not know that Clyde Barrow of the fammed Bonnie & Clyde from the 30's loved to use the BAR to rob banks. Below are pics of his BAR's, he like to shorten the barrel's and sometimes the butt stock.

I take it they were fammed on the Ford V8 sedan ?
;)

mike M.
12-23-2008, 03:56 PM
I take it they were fammed on the Ford V8 sedan ?
;)

You mean like this..not sure its a Ford..

32Bravo
12-24-2008, 03:51 AM
I cant really say which one is better but for me I just love the looks of the 1918 BAR.


That does it for me, I want one - to hell with performance. :lol:

ptimms
12-24-2008, 06:08 AM
The BAR was barely lighter than the Bren and the Bren had 28 rds (never put 30 in a 30rd mag my Gramp told me) to the BAR's 20.

Clyde Barrow robbed an armoury I think and the BAR's gave him a massive fire power advantage against normally equipped cops.

Rising Sun*
12-24-2008, 06:13 AM
... the Bren had 28 rds (never put 30 in a 30rd mag my Gramp told me) to the BAR's 20.

And here is authoritative support for that practice.

http://www.awm.gov.au/korea/weapons/bren/

ptimms
12-24-2008, 09:34 AM
He was a Bren Gunner for a long time in Italy and Greece so probably taught by bitter experience.

32Bravo
12-25-2008, 02:38 AM
The USMC learnt during WWII in the Pacific to base their rifle squad (section) and platoon tactics on the BAR.

Short version here.
http://www.marines.com/main/index/p/the_ultimate_challenge/winning_battles/history/innovations/4_man_fire_team

Longer versions here.
http://www.ww2gyrene.org/weapons_BAR.htm

http://www.ww2gyrene.org/rifle_squad.htm

Not dis-similar to the tactics developed by the British in Burma, stands to reason given th environment:

Writing about his experiences in the infantry during the Burma campaign (Quartered Safe Out Here), the author George MacDonald Fraser stated that one Bren gun was issued to each eight man section. One soldier would be the gunner and another would be his 'number two', who would carry extra ammunition and the spare barrel and change magazines in combat. The top-mounted magazine vibrated and moved during fire, making the weapon more visible in combat, and many Bren gunners used paint or improvised canvas covers to disguise the prominent magazine.

Realising the need for additional section-level firepower, the British Army endeavoured to issue the Bren in great numbers, with a stated goal of one Bren to every four private soldiers.

Another section format would be to use one Bren to four for support and an assault group of four riflemen, one armed with a Thompson.

The Bren's 30-round magazine was in practice usually filled with only 28 or 29 rounds to prevent jams and avoid wearing out the magazine spring, something that was common to other firearms as well. Care needed to be taken with magazine loading to ensure that the .303 cartridge rims did not overlap the wrong way, causing a jam. The rounds had to be loaded the correct way, each round ahead of the previous round. There was also a 100-round drum magazine available for the Bren used in the anti-aircraft role.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Quartered-Safe-George-MacDonald-Fraser/dp/0007105932

YOU may talk o' gin an' beer
When you're quartered safe out 'ere,
An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot it;
But if it comes to slaughter
You will do your work on water,
An' you'll lick the bloomin' boots of 'im that's got it.
Now in Injia's sunny clime,
Where I used to spend my time
A-servin' of 'Er Majesty the Queen,
Of all them black-faced crew
The finest man I knew
Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.

Rising Sun*
12-25-2008, 06:48 AM
Not dis-similar to the tactics developed by the British in Burma, stands to reason given th environment:

Writing about his experiences in the infantry during the Burma campaign (Quartered Safe Out Here), the author George MacDonald Fraser stated that one Bren gun was issued to each eight man section. One soldier would be the gunner and another would be his 'number two', who would carry extra ammunition and the spare barrel and change magazines in combat. The top-mounted magazine vibrated and moved during fire, making the weapon more visible in combat, and many Bren gunners used paint or improvised canvas covers to disguise the prominent magazine.

Realising the need for additional section-level firepower, the British Army endeavoured to issue the Bren in great numbers, with a stated goal of one Bren to every four private soldiers.

Another section format would be to use one Bren to four for support and an assault group of four riflemen, one armed with a Thompson.

I wonder if the USMC was able to implement its four man fire team based on the BAR because American industrial capacity allowed it, but if British industrial capacity wasn't up to implementing a similar system for the Bren?

mike M.
12-25-2008, 01:31 PM
Of course the Bren is a better weapon..it should be it was designed almost 20 years after the BAR. I don't really think its fair to compare the two because of that.
The Bren with its quick change barrel and 10 more rounds over the BAR make it a better weapon, but what I don't like is the mag on top..for me I don't want anything in the way of my view.
Now..if the BAR had a quick change barrel..I think it would be a toss up. like I said the BAR entered service in 1917..the Bren in 1938, the Bren better be the better weapon. :)

Carl Schwamberger
12-25-2008, 02:24 PM
"Realising the need for additional section-level firepower, the British Army endeavoured to issue the Bren in great numbers, with a stated goal of one Bren to every four private soldiers."


"I wonder if the USMC was able to implement its four man fire team based on the BAR because American industrial capacity allowed it, but if British industrial capacity wasn't up to implementing a similar system for the Bren?"

No. Small arms for the Brits were not a great a problem as automotive production. As the first quote indicates the Brits did consider increasing the number of BREN in the company. So, did the US Army on a informal basis. Experinced infantry companys and battalions accquired extras and by late 1944 the veteran divsions often had enough to provide two per squad. The USMC allocation of the BAR extends back into the 1930s. I've seen photographs and text from a document made by the 4th Marine Regiment. It proposed either a four man or a five man team built around the BAR. It is not clear if this derives from earlier thinking along this line, or due to the nature of the 4th Marines actions in China. The Regiment routinely had to post small guard detachments and riot control groups of a very small size. Ensuring every corprals guard had a BAR made sense in that context.

The USMC also used a different TO/TE in the 1930s than the US Army. There were no MG in the rifle company. There were more BAR. The TO/TE still in use in 1942 had four BAR in a seperate eight man squad in each of three platoons, and a fourth BAR squad in the company HQ element. This placed a total of 16 BAR in the company vs the nine or ten in the US Army rifle company.

Another point to ponder are the tactics the USMC squad used when the number of BAR went to two in the 1943 TO/TE & three in the 1944 versions. The BAR was used more as a assualt rifle than as a support weapon. The shorter ranges brought about by working with a small tactical element and the frequent use of trench or assualt techniques meant long range sustained fires were less used. This is bourne out in photographs of the Marine riflemen in combat in 1943-45. It is very common to see the BAR with the bipod folded or missing, and the BAR gunner firing from hip or shoulder rather than from a prone position. The latter case suggests he is firing at range to cover an assualt team, the former more like he is part of the assualt element & firing at a relatively close target.

Terry_214
12-27-2008, 11:58 AM
Bren for me. The BAR had a tough time finding a useful purpose.

The Bren was designed from inception to do just one job, and it did it.

Nickdfresh
12-27-2008, 04:31 PM
Bren for me. The BAR had a tough time finding a useful purpose.

The Bren was designed from inception to do just one job, and it did it.

Actually, the BAR was useful for shooting people with...

Rising Sun*
12-28-2008, 04:19 AM
Actually, the BAR was useful for shooting people with...

Soldiers often regard this as a handy feature in a military firearm.

Terry_214
12-28-2008, 11:07 AM
LOL.

alright guys yes it could propell a bullet.

But you know hwat I mean, in WW1 it was seen as a squad weapon.

In WWII it was confused bewtween a personal/squad weapon.

Example:-
D-Day US airbourne forces drop into Normandy without ANY BAR!
British Forces did carry the Bren. And the US paras did carry a squad weapon, just not the BAR.

Why? Because there was no clear doctine for the use of the weapon at this time.

Thats why I made my comment about confusion over the use of the BAR.

I could be wrong.

Nickdfresh
12-28-2008, 06:17 PM
LOL.

alright guys yes it could propell a bullet.

But you know hwat I mean, in WW1 it was seen as a squad weapon.

In WWII it was confused bewtween a personal/squad weapon.

Example:-
D-Day US airbourne forces drop into Normandy without ANY BAR!
British Forces did carry the Bren. And the US paras did carry a squad weapon, just not the BAR.

Why? Because there was no clear doctine for the use of the weapon at this time.

Thats why I made my comment about confusion over the use of the BAR.

I could be wrong.

Minor tactical doctrine stuff aside, the BAR was still a very effective weapon. It wasn't as effective as the Bren in a sustained fire role, but it was good enough.

Most US infantry I've heard talking about the BAR speak very lovingly of it. And as far as small unit infantry tactics, the US Army virtually rewrote the rules in the field and they varied greatly from their training --which focused on an outdated, precision, "one shot, one kill" style shooting-- to a more realistic area suppressive fire mode in actual combat. That's across the board. But soldiers I've seen interviewed testified that they used to pair up BARs, and fire and reload intermittenly. The BARs use in the Pacific is also hard to marginalize as the Marines used the weapon to great effect and this gave them a huge firepower advantage the Japanese could never match.

The reason the BAR was used in great numbers by the US airborne forces was that they carried a different version of the .30 cal. M1919A6 that was almost a modern general purpose machine-gun. This really should have been issued to US forces across the board. Though certainly not as effective as the MG42, the Browning they carried could be used far more easily than the M1919A4 as it shared the emphasis on mobility and ergonomics with its bipod, buttstock, and flash suppressor...