How was the submachinegun utilized in WW1?

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
6,107
Also, slight error in your post about the MP18 and Chauchat being the "only" responses to portable auto-fire. The BAR would like to have a word with you...
I'm well aware of the BAR, including that it never made it to the war in time, so we have no records of its use in WWI combat. The thing is you can compare how the Chauchat and the MP 18 were actually used.

And if the BAR is to be considered here, then the Thompson SMG REALLY should be the first stop for comparison with the MP 18, since it was actually an SMG.
 
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Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
6,107
And the Lewis Gun.
Which unlike the MP 18 wasn't an SMG, and unlike the the Chauchat wasn't an assault rifle, since it was and LMG.

But by all means, compare the Lewis, the Chauchat and the MP 18. The differences in how they worked and were used should be instructive. Which really was my point.
 
May 2019
385
Earth
I'm well aware of the BAR, including that it never made it to the war in tome, so we have no records of its use in combat.
What? Where on earth did you hear that the BAR never made it into combat use? It was used by US forces from September 1918. The 79th Infantry Division had them during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

The thing is you can compare how the Chauchat and the MP 18 were actually used.
Well, I started this thread out of an interest in learning more about how early smgs were deployed during WW1, not about how man-portable automatic fire was developed and used. That's an interesting discussion in itself, but for the purposes of this thread, I'd really like to focus on how the early smgs that saw service during WW1 were adapted into the way that people back then viewed machineguns and their roles. The smg, unlike the Chauchat, fit a short-range niche that no other fully-automatic weapon really did at the time. Unlike the Chauchat and the BAR, it did not have the same stopping power or velocity to be effective in an lmg role, but was lighter and easier to control on full-auto, which made it better suited to close-quarters combat. And, being fully automatic, it was further set apart in this role from other close-combat weapons like the Winchester Trench Gun or the various service pistols of the time.

And if the BAR is to be considered here, then the Thompson SMG REALLY should be the first stop for comparison with the MP 18, since it was actually an SMG.
The Thompson never saw service during WW1, so is outside my scope for this thread.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,667
Sydney
the Chauchat was the grand-mother of all squad infantry weapon ,

again the terminology can lead you astray , it wasn't a light machine gun it was an automatic rifle
so was the BAR ( of uncertain usage )
the Lewis was certainly closer to a modern light machine gun though the light version was developed as an assault rifle
the only certainty is that they were using rifle ammunition and were individual weapon in a squad (with a carrier )
for my money if it is portable and belt fed it's a light machine gun
if it's magazine fed it's an assault gun
this type later type of weapon was deemed indispensable on the modern 1918 battlefield by everyone

the MP 18 was a machine pistol , it used pistol cartridge
there was no clear need for it and was an experimental development for storming position by very special troops
the US extensively used trench gun like the Winchester 1897 for the same purpose
none of those weapons were mainstream in the way the automatic rifle was
 
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May 2019
385
Earth
none of those weapons were mainstream in the way the automatic rifle was
As I've said before, not mainstream doesn't mean not interesting for me. The Villar Perosa and the MP18 represented the beginning of a new breed of firearm, and I'm curious to learn more about how they were deployed during WW1.
So you've nothing more to add about the Villar Perosa in Alpine use then? Guess I'll have to keep checking other forums...
 
May 2019
385
Earth
you can feast on this
Watched it, no mention of the Villar Perosa or any other smg.

Wikipedia, when speaking about the Alpini and other mountain troops, mentions that among the ski troops "Each company had 18 dog sleds: six configured to carry wounded and twelve to carry the company's six Villar Perosa submachine guns with their ammunition."
source: Alpini and Mountain Artillery formations in World War I - Wikipedia

If their source is to be believed, it seems the Villar Perosa was intended to be used in greater numbers than what you mentioned in your previous post:

the numbers are hard to come by but it would seems that at 3 nominally issued per battalion and one per chosen company as a reality
Of course, I could believe the actual numbers in use were lower than the recommended numbers, but I'd still like to ask what source you found for that figure if you don't mind. Any resources on this subject are of use to me.

The book 'The Italian Army of World War I' by David Nicolle (Osprey, 2003) says on page 23 that among the Arditi each platoon was equipped with two Villar Perosa smgs. It would be interesting to hear more about the Arditi using these guns, and how they used them. It would make an interesting comparison with the Sturmtruppen and their MP18s...
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
6,107
What? Where on earth did you hear that the BAR never made it into combat use? It was used by US forces from September 1918. The 79th Infantry Division had them during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
How many? :)
 
May 2019
385
Earth
How many? :)
In the 79th Infantry? No idea. You can find some initial productions stats for the BAR (including how many were delivered before the end of WW1) here: M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle - Wikipedia

From the above:
By July 1918 the BAR had begun to arrive in France, and the first unit to receive them was the US Army's 79th Infantry Division, which took them into action for the first time on 13 September 1918. The weapon was personally demonstrated against the enemy by 2nd Lt. Val Allen Browning, the inventor's son. Despite being introduced very late in the war, the BAR made an impact disproportionate to its numbers; it was used extensively during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and made a significant impression on the Allies (France alone requested 15,000 automatic rifles to replace their Chauchat machine rifles).

US Marines briefly took possession of the BAR. Troops from the First Battalion of the Sixth Marines had talked the "doggies" of the US Army's 36th Division into trading their BARs for their Chauchats. However, complaints from officers of the 36th resulted in the issuance of a command from Marine Lt. Col. Harry Lee on 9 October 1918: All Browning guns and equipment in Marine possession were to be turned in.