In your opinion, how crucial was the creation of the machine gun to the development of warfare since that point in time?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,239
SoCal
In your opinion, how crucial was the creation of the machine gun to the development of warfare since that point in time? In this thread, @Wolfpaw argues that the development of the machine gun would have ensured that colonialism's days would have become numbered even without the World Wars:

AHC: French Algeria and Italian Libya in 2012

Do you agree with this assessment? Specifically, do you think that the machine gun made it significantly easier for underdogs to effectively fight against more powerful foes? Or do you think that this analysis of the importance of machine guns is inaccurate?

Any thoughts on this?
 
Apr 2017
1,654
U.S.A.
Wolfpaw references the AK-47, which is an assault rifle, not a machinegun.
That said, if automatic weapons weren't invented I don't see it as having made much of a difference. You could argue that the small colonial militaries had a bigger advantage using them against the more numerous colonial subjects. After ww1 small arms weren't decisive weapons (although they still mattered), armored vehicles, planes, artillery and numbers are what mattered most. And of course the will to fight, Italy lost Libya as a result of WW2, France gave up an impossible fight. Removing automatic weapons from the arsenal of both sides probably wouldn't have changed that.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,239
SoCal
Wolfpaw references the AK-47, which is an assault rifle, not a machinegun.
He does mention machine guns elsewhere in that thread, though.

That said, if automatic weapons weren't invented I don't see it as having made much of a difference. You could argue that the small colonial militaries had a bigger advantage using them against the more numerous colonial subjects.
That would have been the opposite of what Wolfpaw implied, no?

After ww1 small arms weren't decisive weapons (although they still mattered), armored vehicles, planes, artillery and numbers are what mattered most. And of course the will to fight, Italy lost Libya as a result of WW2, France gave up an impossible fight. Removing automatic weapons from the arsenal of both sides probably wouldn't have changed that.
What was decisive in WWII?
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,630
Are insurgent movements as capable of easily getting it as established powers are?
No.

Compared to small arms artillery weapons are expensive and require training to operate at all (anyone can use an assault rifle, though rifles do require training to use well) and have fairly significant logistical requirements. Besides ammunition, which is not as cheap or easily obtained as rifle ammo, you also need vehicles to tow them and fuel to keep those vehicles moving. Then there is maintenance...both the towed vehicles and the artillery weapons themselves need it to keep functioning for any sustained period in the field.

All of that is going to beyond the means of most insurgencies. It wouldn't be impossible for rebels to field artillery, but they would likely need support from a foreign power in the form of equipment, training, and cash flow. Or perhaps a civil war where the insurgency has overrun much of the country, has control of some of it's armories, and is made up at least in part of people who were once part of that nation's defense forces.

Artillery fielded by insurgents would also be vulnerable to air strikes or counter battery fire from opponents who possess air superiority or who field more well drilled and equipped artillery force.

For most circumstances mortars are going to be much more practical for insurgents. They're more portable, do not necessarily require vehicle transport and if they do repurposed civilian vehicle will do just fine, they're less vulnerable to air strikes, are easier and cheaper to obtain, easier to hide when necessary, have little in the way of maintenance requirements, and are easier to operate for personnel with little to no training compared to the standards of professional military forces. The trade off of course is reduced range and if their opponents are a professional army that fields artillery, the insurgents have less in the way of fire support than their opponents.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,154
Sydney
machine guns were the very spirit of the colonial enterprise
the Maxim was called the gun who conquered Africa

As late as 1879 Zulus could check a colonial force
the Sioux could strike a blow against US cavalry

by the turn of the century only guerilla hit an d run was possible

in South West Africa a platoon of German troops decimate the Herero nation
In the deep Sahara a french squadron of camel riders with machine gun could destroy hundreds of Senussi raiders

there could still be trouble , and there was
but it would be of a police nature , no organized military opposition was viable

Then thanks to the communist movement militant anti-colonialism ,
large amount of modern weaponry reached the farthest corners of the planet
colonies became unprofitable and a drain of men and money on the mother countries
all which was left was prestige , but this is really at a discount
 
Jun 2017
2,974
Connecticut
In your opinion, how crucial was the creation of the machine gun to the development of warfare since that point in time? In this thread, @Wolfpaw argues that the development of the machine gun would have ensured that colonialism's days would have become numbered even without the World Wars:

AHC: French Algeria and Italian Libya in 2012

Do you agree with this assessment? Specifically, do you think that the machine gun made it significantly easier for underdogs to effectively fight against more powerful foes? Or do you think that this analysis of the importance of machine guns is inaccurate?

Any thoughts on this?
No I think it made it much harder, exactly the opposite. While the gun might be the greatest equalizer in terms of one on one combat, it's the opposite when we're talking groups and the machine gun. Two main reasons, A industrial weaponry is less dependent on the skill of the user different skill yields more similar results, this generally favors the side with more people. B industrial weaponry increased the scale of casualties to the point where the smaller countries smaller pool of manpower started mattering and started mattering much sooner than it would have in the pre industrial era where it might have taken decades for said advantages to pay dividends. Killing people faster means the side with considerably less people will start feeling the strain sooner.

Now if you're saying the little group has the machine gun and the big group doesn't, that's an entirely different story(but in the industrial age save colonial wars it's a difficult scenario to imagine). A few machine guns could have potentially taken out the entire Roman Empire. Look at what Cortes band of insane friends(that was probably smaller than the amount people currently on this site) managed to do to the Aztecs with the most primitive guns(not that it wasn't insane luck)? Imagine if you give them a few machine guns?
 
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