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World War II Armed Forces – Orders of Battle and Organizations Last Updated 02.10.2003

Belgian Fortifications, May 1940

Written by
Bernard Vanden Bloock


[ Overview | Deep Defences | Border Defences | Conclusions ]
[ Appendix A: Bunker Types | Appendix B: Weapons | Bibliography ]

Appendix B: Weapons

Maxim 08 Heavy Machine Gun

Maxim 08 Technical Data

Country of Origin:

Germany

Manufacturer:

 Spandau Arsenal, Deutsche Waffen und Munitions Fabrike, Berlin

Role:

Heavy machine gun

Calibre/cartridge

7.92 mm

Type of feed

250 round belt

Weight

26, 54 kg + 31,98 kg for mounting

Overall length

1,175 mm

Length of barrel

28.35 in

Muzzle velocity

892 m/sec (ft/sec)

Rate of fire (cyclic)

Practical: 100 rpm / Theoretical: 450 rpm

Effective range

650 m (maximum range: 3,000 m)

The Maxim 08 machine gun was Belgium’s standard machine gun for the infantry. Twelve of the 18 infantry divisions were equipped with Maxims. Six second-reserve infantry divisions were armed with the Colt machine gun. The two cavalry divisions and the two Chasseurs ardennais divisions used the Hotchkiss. Most of the Maxims in Belgian service were leftovers from World War I handed over by Germany after the armistice. The Maxim was a good, reliable weapon, but heavy and unwieldy.

The machine gun bunkers in the various fortified positions were not garrisoned on a permanent base and remained unarmed until occupied by an infantry unit, which would install its Maxims in the firing ports. To this end, firing ports were equipped with a special fixture, called dispositif Chardome, which allowed the machine gun crew to quickly place their gun in a stable firing position. Basically, the crew first folded the Maxim’s sled-like bipod, and then put the gun to rest on the Chardome mount.

Chardome MG mount - top

A drawing of the ‘Chardome’ Machine gun mount.


Chardome MG mount - top

Top-down view of the ‘Chardome’, showing the plate on which the Maxium was rested. A - a threaded pivot to which the gun’s sled is fastened. B - the machine gun itself. The two holes in C were used with the 08/15 version of the Maxim, which was fitted with a bipod.

The Chardome’s drawback was that it was specially designed for the Maxim 08 and its light version, the 08/15. It could not be used with any other weapon. This created problems in those instances where the bunkers were occupied by Allied troops. On the KW line, for instance, BEF infantry found they could not attach their Bren guns to the fixtures. They were forced to dismantle the Chardome and build a makeshift firing platform with sandbags before they could fire their Bren guns from the bunker’s ports.

Maxim 08 HMG

The Maxim 08 heavy machine gun. (Brussels Army Museum)

Maxim 08/15 Light Machine Gun

The Belgian forts, which were garrisoned permanently and therefore had their own armament, used two types of automatic weapons: the 08/15 ‘light’ variant of the Maxim placed in special fixed mounts and the Browning FM.30 automatic rifle. The former was used in a heavy machine gun role to deny the approaches of the fort to enemy infantry; the latter served as a light machine gun for close defence. Both weapons will be described in more detail in the follow-up article on Belgian forts.

Fusil-mitrailleur 1930 (Fm 30) Browning Mod. 30 Light Machine Gun

FM 30 demonstrated by His Majesty Leopold III

The FM 30 demonstrated by His Majesty Leopold III, King of the Belgians.


Fusil-mitrailleur 1930 (Fm 30) Browning Technical Data

Country of Origin:

Belgium

Manufacturer:

Fabrique Nationale, Herstal (Belgium)

Role:

Light machine gun

Caliber/cartridge

7.65 mm

Type of feed

20 rounds clip

Weight

9,300 kg

Overall length

119.4 cm (47 in)

Length of barrel

61.1 cm (24.07 in)

Muzzle velocity

850 m/sec (2650 fps)

Rate of fire (cyclic)

600 rpm or 350 rpm

Effective range

550 m

This weapon is a modified 1930 version of the famous Browning Automatic Rifle in use in the US army in the first and second world wars. Among other things, the Belgians changed the calibre to 7,65 mm, so the weapon could fire the Belgian standard 7,65 mm mod. 30 cartridge. The “Belgian BAR” as it is sometimes called was the standard squad light machine gun of the Belgian army. It was distributed in all units except the six second reserve infantry divisions which used the Chauchat light machine gun.

The FM mod. 30 was also widely used in forts and bunkers where it was attached to a special fixed mount. More on this in the follow-up article on the forts.

C 47 L/30 D - 47 mm Anti-Tank Gun

47 mm Anti-Tank in firing position

A towed C 47 in a firing position near the Leuven train station. Leuven, defended by British troops and some Belgian elements, saw heavy fighting on 14 May.


C47 at the Brussels Army Museum

C47 at the Brussels Army Museum

 

C 47 L/30 D - 47 mm Anti-Tank Gun Technical Data

Country of Origin:

Belgium

Manufacturer:

Fonderie Royale de Canons, Herstal (Belgium)

Role:

Heavy anti-tank Cannon

Calibre

47 mm

Overall length

Unknown

Length of barrel

1,435 m

Rate of fire (cyclic)

Unknown

Traverse

20°L / 20° R (towed version) 8° L / 8° R (bunker mount) 20°L / 20° R (sphere mount)

Elevation

- 3° to +20°

Muzzle velocity

675 m/sec (AP) / 450 m/sec (HE)

Projectile weight

1,560 kg (AP) / 1,665 (HE)

Practical range

Unknown

Effective range

2,000 m

The C 47 is the main anti tank gun in use in the Belgian army in 1940. It was used in three different roles: towed anti tank gun in the field army, fixed anti tank gun in bunkers and forts, and motorised gun aboard the Belgian T-13 light tank destroyer. It was an effective gun by all accounts, markedly superior to the German 37 mm gun, but perhaps not as good as the French 47 mm.

C 47 gun fitted on special bunker mount

The C 47 gun fitted on its special bunker mount. The chariot the gun is fitted to is mounted on rails to absorb the gun’s recoil, much like in the ships of the 18th century. What you see is a reconstructed bunker interior as shown at the Brussels army museum. The gun and the chariot are vintage WWII material though ,with only the aiming system missing).

C 60 L/50 – 60 mm Anti-Tank Gun

C 60 L/50 – 60 mm Anti-Tank

A C 60 interdicting one of the anti tank moats of Fort Battice (PFL I). Spent casings were automatically thrown into the bin on the left and evacuated to a special chamber underneath the gun compartment.


C 60 L/50 - 60 mm Anti-Tank Gun Technical Data

Country of Origin:

Belgium

Manufacturer:

Fonderie Royale de Canons, Herstal (Belgium)

Role:

Fortress anti-tank Cannon

Calibre

60 mm

Overall length

Unknown

Length of barrel

300 cm

Rate of fire (cyclic)

Unknown

Traverse

20° L / 20* R (sphere mount)

Elevation

- 20° to +5° (sphere mount)

Muzzle velocity

900+ m/sec

Projectile weight

3,020 g (HE) or 3,600 (AP)

Effective range

3,000 m

The C 60 was used exclusively as a fixed anti tank defence in some of the forts (Eben-Emael, Battice) and a few bunkers directly attached to forts. There was no towed version of this weapon. Since none of the forts were ever attacked by tanks, it is pretty certain that the C 60 was never used in its primary role as an anti-tank weapon. It was used extensively by the forts to fire HE ammunition. The gun was equipped with a special aiming device for indirect fire.

According to veteran Maurice George, artillery instructor at Fort Battice, the trajectory of a shell fired by the C 60 would drop just one mil after 1,000 m.

 


This article first appeared in World War II Online - Technical Publications.
Copyright 2005 Bernard Vanden Bloock
 
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