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Cooling Machine Gun Barrels


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#1 17thfabn

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 2114 PM

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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#2 DougRichards

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 2151 PM

ZSU-23-4 Has / had water cooled barrels.


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#3 R011

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 0431 AM

The air cooled machine guns I've seen have noticably heavier barrels than do rifles. It's even in the designation of the M2HB. Even so, those barrels need too be changed every couple of belts.
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#4 Chris Werb

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 0629 AM

You can go crazy heavy with the barrels. as did some WW1 French, and French usage MGs. It seemed to work out for them.


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#5 shep854

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 1038 AM

Quick-change barre!s is also a cooling solution.
Does the 'HB' in relation to the M2 .50 mean 'Heavy Barrel' or ' Hydraulic Buffer'?
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#6 17thfabn

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 1416 PM

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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#7 shep854

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 1929 PM

 

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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#8 GARGEAN

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 0124 AM

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

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 0615 AM

 

 

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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#10 shep854

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 0658 AM

"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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#11 JWB

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 1157 AM

No room for a handle:

https://qph.fs.quora...c822077a33.webp


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#12 bojan

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 1207 PM

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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#13 Panzermann

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 1513 PM

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, 21 October 2019 - 1514 PM.

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#14 17thfabn

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 1614 PM

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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#15 KV7

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 1622 PM

 

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, 22 October 2019 - 0733 AM.

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#16 GARGEAN

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 0113 AM

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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#17 GARGEAN

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 0115 AM

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


I think PKP can be said to use one.
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#18 Simon Tan

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 0134 AM

Forced air cooling. Like Lewis.
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#19 DB

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 0851 AM

Is there any reliable evidence that the Lewis jacket was effective?
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#20 bojan

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 0900 AM

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, 23 October 2019 - 0901 AM.

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