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Thread: Soviet with BAR?!?

  1. #1
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    Default Soviet with BAR?!?

    I found this image on a Russian-language site; to me, it looks like it has been colorized, rather than, say, being a "re-enactor" photo, but that's just a guess -- anyway, the soldier is clearly using a BAR. I recognized several other images in the gallery as being either authentic or colorized versions of authentic photos. Sooo....

    I don't recall ever before seeing a photo of/reading about Soviet use of the BAR. Presumably, this is a lend-lease gun from the US (vs. a Polish BAR, for example)? Does anyone know any details about how common Soviet BAR use was? How the guns were distributed, etc? Squad TO&E when a BAR was issued? Any info/suggestions of where to get more info would be appreciated!
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    "...we have met the enemy and he is us." -- Pogo (Walt Kelly)

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Soviet with BAR?!?

    It looks more like the Polish Wz.28 version than a US built BAR

    more info
    http://www.cruffler.com/historic-december00.html

  3. #3

    Default Re: Soviet with BAR?!?

    I'd go for a Polish gun too. The gunner has his hand in a position that indicates a pistol grip.

    I have seen other photos of Soviets with Polish BARs I would say they captured a number of them when they invaded Poland in 1939. Since the calibre is 8mm mauser ammunition wouldn't be too much of an issue.

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    Default Re: Soviet with BAR?!?

    Thanks for the input, guys. I should have looked more carefully: with that grip, it certainly isn't a US-made BAR. And redcoat, thanks for the link as well. Do you know anything more about German usage of the BAR? I have read elsewhere they didn't care much for it, due mostly to the small capacity of the mag (interesting, since IIRC, the FG42 mag had the same capacity...). I have seen photos of Germans firing the gun, but those seem to be on firing ranges. Was the BAR used by the Germans only for training, or did it actually see combat?
    "...we have met the enemy and he is us." -- Pogo (Walt Kelly)

  5. #5

    Default Re: Soviet with BAR?!?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ardee View Post
    I have read elsewhere they didn't care much for it, due mostly to the small capacity of the mag (interesting, since IIRC, the FG42 mag had the same capacity...).
    Compairing the BAR to the FG42 is a common mistake, but still a mistake. The BAR is a light machinegun while the FG42 is a semi-automatic rifle that can go full auto if needed. It is not a light machinegun.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Soviet with BAR?!?

    I know that BARs, as well as M1919 .30 caliber MG and Boys AT rifles were delivered to the Soviets, so Is not really a surprize.

    Maybe the one in the picture was converter to the rimmed russian caliber.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Soviet with BAR?!?

    Quote Originally Posted by Panzerknacker View Post
    I know that BARs, as well as M1919 .30 caliber MG and Boys AT rifles were delivered to the Soviets, so Is not really a surprize.

    Maybe the one in the picture was converter to the rimmed russian caliber.
    We've already established that the gun is a Polish Wz 28 in 8mm. To try and convert a BAR to 7.62x54r would be boardering on madness!

    I'm pretty sure that most if not all of the lend lease firearms supplied to the Red Army, were actually part of the equipment that vehicles were issued with i.e. the m1919's were mounted on American half tracks and scout cars, the m1928s were issued as crews weapons with the tanks, Boys rifles and Bren guns came with the Bren gun carriers England sent.

    The only images of American weapons in use that I've seen is one of Naval infantry armed with m1928s. I'd be very interested in seeing photos of Russian infanty armed with a BAR.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Soviet with BAR?!?

    Hi bas,

    I'd be very interested in seeing photos of Russian infanty armed with a BAR.
    I too would like to see more. But I'm curious as to your statement:

    The BAR is a light machinegun while the FG42 is a semi-automatic rifle
    While "B.A.R." is sometimes credited with standing for other things (e.g., Browning Assault Rifle), I believe the only "real" definition for the acronym is "Browning Automatic Rifle." I've also seen it refered to as a "Machine Rifle." I believe that at least some of the many BARs produced somewhere/sometime in the world have had semi-auto capability, but I'm not sure if any of the US wartime models did (IIRC, they had two speeds of "full auto" fire?). In much of my reading -- maybe even all of it -- the writers continually stress that, although it was often used in the role, it was NOT a light machine gun, nor was it intended to be (at the moment I'm not clearly recalling the differences in the role the writers said it was intended for, but that's a different subject...). I would agree the FG 42 was not a LMG either, but IIRC, it was designed to sometimes serve in that capacity.

    In any case, my comment was about magazine size, rather than the gun per se. I freely admit my knowledge about firearms is almost entirely restricted to "book learning," so maybe the magazine size is important relative to the role being played by the weapon? But if so, they both still seem to have been non-LMGs sometimes used as LMGs. The FG 42 carried a bayonet, which the BAR did not. I'm not sure of other differences that would affect their "role," with the possible/probable exception of weight, with the FG42 weighing a bit more than half of the BAR. But the weight advantage, as I understand it, seems to have been off-set by the stability of the gun, with the side-mounted magazine of the FG42 being a sizable drawback?

    In any case, I've read several times that the BAR and FG42 should not be compared, but I'm not clear on the reasoning behind it, as relative to either the things I mentioned, or something I've missed. Can you elaborate a little on it, or show me a thread where this was specifically discussed?
    Last edited by Ardee; 09-09-2008 at 03:06 PM.
    "...we have met the enemy and he is us." -- Pogo (Walt Kelly)

  9. #9

    Default Re: Soviet with BAR?!?

    The BAR was designed during WWI to provide mobile automatic fire support for troops as they crossed no-mans land towards the German trenches. This was one of the many crazy French miliary tactics that the American army adopted.

    In this role the BAR was to be fired from the hip as can be seen by the metal cup on the gunners' belt (as seen in this photo)



    These tactics of course fell out of favour by the end of WWI but the American army was still left with the BAR, which was still a reasonably servicable weapon for an army that focuses more on individual marksmanship than overall firepower. And keep in mind that at the time there weren't many really great light automatic weapons available for armies to use (the best ones like the Bren and the DP didn't come around till the late 1920's).

    Also America wasn't a super power at that time, and her armed forces weren't designed to be a factor in world politics. As far as many Americans were concerend the Europeans could keep on killing themselves. This is evident in the reluctance of the US to enter WWII.

    So why bother scrapping the BAR.

    The reasons you can't compare the BAR to the FG.42 are:
    - The FG.42 was designed from the ground up to be an individuals weapon. The hope had been to completely replace the Kar.98k with the FG.42
    - German Paratrooper squads would still retain their MG.34 / MG.42 universal machineguns
    - The FG.42 was ment to be fired in semi-auto only so the 20-round magazine is an advantage not a hinderance. Full-auto was available in emergancy situations.
    - Ignore the bi-pod thats as useful in semi-auto as it is in full-auto.
    - The BAR is full-auto only so the 20-round magazine is a hinderance. Even if it has the fast and slow setting. Yes an experienced gunner could get off single shoots with practice but thats irrelevant.
    - The BAR was not designed to be an individual weapon, its too heavy and was never going to replace the 1903 Springfield or m1 Garand
    - The BAR and the Browning 1919 were the US infantries only options for light machineguns.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Soviet with BAR?!?

    I see you points, and thank you. The only point I'm not clear on is the BAR not being designed as an individual weapon?
    "...we have met the enemy and he is us." -- Pogo (Walt Kelly)

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Soviet with BAR?!?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ardee View Post
    . Do you know anything more about German usage of the BAR? I have read elsewhere they didn't care much for it, due mostly to the small capacity of the mag (interesting, since IIRC, the FG42 mag had the same capacity...). I have seen photos of Germans firing the gun, but those seem to be on firing ranges. Was the BAR used by the Germans only for training, or did it actually see combat?
    My info is that the Wz. 28 was mainly used in second line units fighting against Soviet Partisans, though by late war I should imagine that it saw at least some service with front line units, as the Germans were desperate for weapons of any type by this time.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Soviet with BAR?!?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ardee View Post
    I see you points, and thank you. The only point I'm not clear on is the BAR not being designed as an individual weapon?

    I was under the impression that it was briefly considered, but the idea scrapped because of US high command fears of ammunition usage along with the very practical matter of if being too heavy for the average rifleman...

    I could be wrong though. Interestingly, the US Army also developed a full automatic-conversion kit for the M1903 Springfield!

  13. #13

    Default Re: Soviet with BAR?!?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ardee View Post
    I see you points, and thank you. The only point I'm not clear on is the BAR not being designed as an individual weapon?
    Normally for an individual weapon the rifleman is able to carry his rifle and ammunition load (along with the rest of his gear) on his own. Because LMGs and GPMGs are considerably heavier and more ammunition hungry than a rifle the gunner carrys the weapon and some ammo, his second carrys the spare barrel and extra ammo. Additional ammunition is then spread out amongst the other members of the unit.

    This is one of the break throughs that came with assault rifles, the lighter ammunition allowed soldiers to carry enough rounds on their person to feed their own automatic weapon.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Soviet with BAR?!?

    The BAR falls into some sort of strange twilight zone in its use. The 20 round magazine made it less usefull as a squad or platoon LMG, but its weight made it difficult to use as a indivdual weapon. Still I've run across accounts by veterans and supporting photgraphs of it used as a assualt rifle. That is the soldiers using it took the bipod off and were in or close to the front of the advance rather than further back. Despite its weight the full auto and high powered cartidge made it a sort of 'super SMG'. The US Army offcially issued only one per rifle squad throught the war. Veteran infantry units usually scrounged more and it was not unusual to find two in a squad.

    The USMC started a bit different and ended a lot different. Intially the BAR were in a seperate squad of each plt. A fourth squad of eight men carried four BAR & four rifles. There was a additional squad of this configuration in the company HQ section. In 1943 the BAR were redistibuted to the rifle squads on the basis of two per, and the rifle squad split into two fire teams with a BAR each. In early 1944 the squad was split again into three teams and another BAR added. So, a USMC rifle platoon had as many BAR as a offcially equipped US Army company. This reflected a overal trend in the USMC. In 1944 there were six MMG or LMG in the rifle company. The US Army rifle company still had only two MMG in its establsiment. Usually the USMC battalion commander would 'pass down' the MMG & HMG in his heavy weapons company, so the USMC company commander often had up to ten MG under his control.

    I dont think that any of this was because the BAR was a superior weapon, but rather it was the only thing in the class available to the US Army or USMC company.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Soviet with BAR?!?

    ... but rather it was the only thing in the class available to the US Army or USMC company.
    Okay, that raises another interesting (to me, anyway) question: what about the Johnson LMG? I understood it was liked well enough by the soldiers, and was used by specialized forces in the ETO as well. But I've have gotten the impression that the USMC more or less abandoned the weapon after the initial phases of the war? Or is that a misconception -- I just don't seem to recall reading anything about Johnson LMG use in the Pacific in the mid-late war?

    Because LMGs and GPMGs are considerably heavier and more ammunition hungry than a rifle the gunner carrys the weapon and some ammo, his second carrys the spare barrel and extra ammo.
    I knew that was how soldiers in armies using the Bren, etc., worked , but I didn't know the BAR was treated that way. Interesting....

    The US Army offcially issued only one per rifle squad throught the war. Veteran infantry units usually scrounged more and it was not unusual to find two in a squad.
    Hi Carl, you seem to know a lot about US squad TO&E; any chance your knowledge extends to other nationalities? Anyway, I've also read that in v. late 44 of 45, the US Army in the ETO did change to a two-BAR-per-squad organization? Or maybe that was just for specialized units, paratroops or whatnot? I did get the impression it was "official," but.... And it certainly isn't easy finding in-depth sources dealing with this subject. Any recommendations?

    Interestingly, the US Army also developed a full automatic-conversion kit for the M1903 Springfield!
    I don't think I've heard of that! Was it actually used in combat, or just an experimental sort of thing?

    ...but the idea scrapped because of US high command fears of ammunition usage....
    Funny how many nations sang songs like that one, isn't it? I seem to recall that argument rising again and again in discussions of arms development/adoption by armed forces....

    It seems like the idea of extra ammo/mags being carried by other squad members is the key to whether or not a weapon is a crewed/individual weapon? I had always thought it was a little bit more involved than that: but then, I hadn't known the BAR was treated that way either. I guess my impression was also shaped by accounts of "assault rifle" use (though nobody said anything I recall concerning removing the bipod!). For example, a local newspaper recently had an article about a local USMC vet, who described his combat experience with one and how soldiers were "always" looking to abandon their garands in favor of the BAR' greater firepower. The vet was a late-war rifleman, but he observed how he always wound up holding a BAR after an action -- and the same thing with other soldiers as well. I wonder what happened to such field-acquired weapons: confiscated because of the ammo consumption concern? I mean -- if this was just the individual's preference in weapons, why didn't his NCO make him a BAR man instead of always returning a rifle to him? Maybe that would be a topic for another thread -- how soldiers were/were not able to deviate from standard organization tables and use personally-acquired weapons?
    "...we have met the enemy and he is us." -- Pogo (Walt Kelly)

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