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Cooling Machine Gun Barrels


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In the 130+ years of machine gun use there have been several methods of cooling machine gun barrels:

 

Early on water jackets were used. This was effective but heavy.

 

The French Hotchkiss machine gun used large cooling rings around the barrel.

 

The Lewis gun had an aluminum barrel shroud. The design was supposed to pull air across the barrel to increase cooling.

 

Heavy barrels were used.

 

How effective the last three methods were is debatable. None of these methods seems to have much use today.

 

The multi barrel guns are not really machine guns since they use external power so are not part of this discussion.

 

Was the barrel shroud on the U.S. M1919 series supposed to aid in cooling?

 

Modern machine guns tend to emphasize weight reduction. But for vehicle mounted guns this is not so important. They could have any of these systems added if they were truly worth while.

 

 

 

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Quick-change barre!s is also a cooling solution.

Does the 'HB' in relation to the M2 .50 mean 'Heavy Barrel' or ' Hydraulic Buffer'?

 

 

Heavy Barrel.

 

Yes quick change barrels help with heat removal. But think of a machine gunner in a humvee machine gun ring mount in the middle of a gun fire fight. No matter how well a quick change barrel is designed it is still tough.

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Quick-change barre!s is also a cooling solution.

Does the 'HB' in relation to the M2 .50 mean 'Heavy Barrel' or ' Hydraulic Buffer'?

 

 

Heavy Barrel.

 

Yes quick change barrels help with heat removal. But think of a machine gunner in a humvee machine gun ring mount in the middle of a gun fire fight. No matter how well a quick change barrel is designed it is still tough.

 

Yes, with an M240, having to reach up and over the receiver to wrestle with a hot barrel is awkward at best and dangerous at worst. The MG42/MG3 shines here; the barrel can be easily changed from behind the gun

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Quick-change barre!s is also a cooling solution.

Does the 'HB' in relation to the M2 .50 mean 'Heavy Barrel' or ' Hydraulic Buffer'?

 

 

Heavy Barrel.

 

Yes quick change barrels help with heat removal. But think of a machine gunner in a humvee machine gun ring mount in the middle of a gun fire fight. No matter how well a quick change barrel is designed it is still tough.

 

Yes, with an M240, having to reach up and over the receiver to wrestle with a hot barrel is awkward at best and dangerous at worst. The MG42/MG3 shines here; the barrel can be easily changed from behind the gun

 

 

But the MG42 does not have a convenient handle for the hot barrel. There is a heat resistant mitten in the ancilliary equipment for the MG42 (or 3 or 74 or...). The receiver also heats up over time making the door(?) on the side jam and stick and you have to really jank it to open and bash it to close. One time on a firing range we had to pull the MG3 into our prepared foxhole to really hammer at it to open the port. And then juggle the hot barrel of course. In contrast a FN MAG or MG5 has a big handle to "manhandle" the barrel. All has its advantages and disadvantages.

 

 

btw current production from FN is the M2HB-QCB. Offered since the sixties. The US Army only introduced the quick-change barrel kit a few years ago as the M2 A1. Improvements at the speed of bureaucracy.

 

 

 

Heavy barrels are still kinda used. Not all multibarrel MGs use external power, both GShG and YakB-12,7 are internally powered.

 

Wanted to point those two out as well. They are powered by the gases from the powder charge and even have a magazine for starting blanks to spin up the action.

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"But the MG42 does not have a convenient handle for the hot barrel. There is a heat resistant mitten in the ancilliary equipment for the MG42 (or 3 or 74 or...). The receiver also heats up over time making the door(?) on the side jam and stick and you have to really jank it to open and bash it to close. One time on a firing range we had to pull the MG3 into our prepared foxhole to really hammer at it to open the port. And then juggle the hot barrel of course. In contrast a FN MAG or MG5 has a big handle to "manhandle" the barrel. All has its advantages and disadvantages."--Panzermann

So true...I have heard that MG42 gunners on the Eastern Front often had badly burned hands from barrel changes in the heat of battle.

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Locally crews during wars used piece of the bent wire to "fish out" barrel.

PKMs handle is great, as it offers leverage when removing barrel, which is important when gun is gunked) but is still needs someone to reach over the receiver.

6 or one, half dozen of other.

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The port door also has a bit of leverage as can be seen on the photo linked by JWB.

 


"But the MG42 does not have a convenient handle for the hot barrel. There is a heat resistant mitten in the ancilliary equipment for the MG42 (or 3 or 74 or...). The receiver also heats up over time making the door(?) on the side jam and stick and you have to really jank it to open and bash it to close. One time on a firing range we had to pull the MG3 into our prepared foxhole to really hammer at it to open the port. And then juggle the hot barrel of course. In contrast a FN MAG or MG5 has a big handle to "manhandle" the barrel. All has its advantages and disadvantages."--Panzermann

So true...I have heard that MG42 gunners on the Eastern Front often had badly burned hands from barrel changes in the heat of battle.

 

I must add that a heat resistant mitten is part of the tools that come with each MG42 (or 3). But in the heat of battle that can get amiss.

 


 

 

ALso the barrel moves when the action cycles. A handle moving out side while firing is not a good idea I think. Another advantage of this design is, that stacking and transporting the spare barrels is easier, because there are no handles sticking out.

Edited by Panzermann
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Heavy barrels are still kinda used. Not all multibarrel MGs use external power, both GShG and YakB-12,7 are internally powered.

 

 

Does any machine gun besides the M2 .50 cal use a heavy barrel?

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Heavy barrels are still kinda used. Not all multibarrel MGs use external power, both GShG and YakB-12,7 are internally powered.

 

 

Does any machine gun besides the M2 .50 cal use a heavy barrel?

 

IIRC most LMG derived from assault or battle rifles will have a heavier (and of course longer) barrel than the rifle version.

Edited by KV7
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Wanted to point those two out as well. They are powered by the gases from the powder charge and even have a magazine for starting blanks to spin up the action.

Mixing up with GSh-6-23 maybe? YakB had spring starter loaded by firing (which made it a spooky bitch to disassemble), don't exactly remember GShG type but not pyrostarters too.
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Other than acting as an additional metal to spread a heat around? Kinda sorta. I doubt Russians would adopt it for Pecheneg if it did not work at all, but if it had some spectacular results we would probably see more widespread use. OTOH, Russins had more "free" weight to play, PKP is 8.2kg vs 7.5kg for PKM. Adding it to MAG would be making it 12+kg weight.

Edited by bojan
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Heavy barrels are still kinda used. Not all multibarrel MGs use external power, both GShG and YakB-12,7 are internally powered.

 

 

Does any machine gun besides the M2 .50 cal use a heavy barrel?

 

Yeah, the French AA-52 / F-1 medium machine gun.

1920px-Mitrailleuse-IMG_1728.jpg

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Pouring water on them is a time honored tradition (if water is widely available, if not other sources of water were used :) ). Local rifle tests from the '60s had part with "forced cooling" (after firing certain amount of rounds) - both in the water and crushed ice (representing snow), to see if it damages barrel.

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Pouring water on them is a time honored tradition (if water is widely available, if not other sources of water were used :) ). Local rifle tests from the '60s had part with "forced cooling" (after firing certain amount of rounds) - both in the water and crushed ice (representing snow), to see if it damages barrel.

:D I heard one soldier mention that, during cold-weather training in Norway, they had to be very careful where they placed hot barrels or they could sink right through the snowpack...

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