Vickers machine gun

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Vickers machine gun
Vickers machine gun
general information
Military designation: Gun, machine, Vickers .303
Country of operation: United Kingdom, Commonwealth of Nations
Developer / Manufacturer: Hiram Maxim, Vickers
Manufacturer country: United Kingdom
Production time: 1912 to 1968
Weapon Category: Machine gun
Overall length: 1100 mm
Barrel length : 720 mm
Technical specifications
Caliber : .303 British
Ammunition supply : Ammunition belt
Cadence : 450-600 rounds / min
Fire types: Continuous fire
Number of trains : 4th
Twist : right
Closure : Knee joint closure
Charging principle: Recoil loader
Lists on the subject

The Vickers machine gun ( English Vickers Gun ) is a British machine gun from the Vickers company in .303 British caliber . It was an evolution of the Maxim machine gun developed by Hiram Maxim in 1885 , the patent of which the company had bought in 1896, and has been in production since 1912.


Like the Maxim machine gun, the Vickers machine gun had a knee joint lock, which, however, bent upwards instead of downwards, thus allowing a lower design of the breech block, which led to a weight saving. Like the Maxim MG, it was firing , i. H. Before the shot was fired, the breechblock was in the forward position, which enabled synchronization and thus the use as an aircraft weapon. The Vickers Gun was the standard heavy machine gun of the British Army in World War I and from 1916 the standard on-board weapon of British and French fighters , where it shot through the propeller circle, controlled by an interrupter gear, parallel to the aircraft axis. As a movable on-board weapon, it was also used in other combat aircraft.

The rifle itself weighed between 11 and 13 kg and was 110 cm long; in addition there was the tripod with about 19 to 23 kg. In addition, the weapon was filled with 7.5  pints (4.62 liters) of cooling water. If the barrel got so hot that the cooling water evaporated, the hot water vapor got through a hose into a condensate container, where it became liquid again. Then you could pour the water back into the barrel jacket. The ammunition boxes with 250 rounds each weighed 10 kg. The rate of fire was around 450 to 600 rounds per minute and the operating distance in direct fire was a maximum of 1100 yards (around 1000 m). As an on-board weapon, the MG worked air-cooled and was equipped with an interrupter gear for synchronization with the propeller . Metal disintegration belts from the Prideaux system were used for the on-board MGs.

The Vickers .303 machine gun was also used for indirect shooting at area targets at distances of up to 4500 yards (approx. 4110 m). The equipment therefore included an inclinometer , which was placed on the breech box of the weapon to adjust the weapon to the target. The shown model Clinometer Sight (Mark III) allows an elevation of plus / minus 20 °.

For the Vickers machine gun, the British standard ammunition in caliber .303 British (7.7 × 56 mm) was used; the cartridges usually had to be hand- loaded into the cloth ammunition belts . The weapon required a crew of six, which consisted of the commander who directed the fire, the shooter, the auxiliary shooter (loader) and the informers. The Vickers was popular with soldiers because of its reliability and solid workmanship. Ten Vickers machine guns reportedly fired nearly a million cartridges in 12 hours without jamming during a mission in the Battle of the Somme . 100 runs were used. After that, the weapons still worked perfectly.


In addition to the 0.303-inch version, there was a version with a caliber of 0.5 inches (12.7 mm), which was used as an anti-aircraft gun and tank armament, as well as other versions of different calibers for export.

0.303 in

  • Mark I - standard version, in use until 1968
  • Mark II / III / V - weight-reduced and air-cooled version for aircraft
  • Mark IV / VI / VII - armament of infantry tanks

11 mm

Animation of the recoil amplifier

Variants of the Vickers machine gun were converted to the French caliber 11 × 59 mm R and initially used as an on-board weapon. Anti-aircraft machine guns were later made in this caliber. The reason for this lay in the availability of the ammunition, which was already used by the French in Hotchkiss M1914 with incendiary and tracer bullets for balloon and airship defense.

0.5 in

The Vickers .50 machine gun , often referred to as the "Vickers .50" for short, was basically based on the same design as the. 303-MG, but was set up to use the larger 12.7 × 81 mm cartridge. It was introduced in 1932 and used predominantly by the Royal Navy as an anti-aircraft weapon in the Mark III configuration.

  • Mark I - prototype
  • Mark II / IV / V - tank armament
  • Mark III - anti-aircraft gun (in naval use)


In September 1913, the United States Army tested the Vickers machine gun as a possible replacement for the Benet-Mercie light machine gun. Vickers won the tender - including against the Lewis Gun  - and was then built by Colt in .30-06 caliber as the M1915 .

Individual evidence

  1. Metal Belt Links For WW 1 US M1915 Vickers Aircraft Gun, Phosphate Finish. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on January 31, 2015 ; Retrieved January 19, 2014 .
  2. Chris McNab : Hand Weapons - A Historical Overview . Neuer Kaiser, 2017, ISBN 978-3-8468-2202-9 , pp. 44 f .
  3. Anthony G. Williams: The .5 "Vickers guns and ammunition. In: November 2012, accessed on May 14, 2018 (English).
  4. Frank C. Barnes: 11x59mmR French Gras / 11x59mm Vickers . In: Richard A. Mann (Ed.): Cartridges of the World: A Complete Illustrated Reference for More Than 1,500 Cartridges . Krause Publications, 2012, ISBN 978-1-4402-4642-5 , pp. 394 (English, limited preview in Google Book search).
  5. ^ Neil Grant: The Lewis Gun (Weapon, Volume 34). Osprey Publishing , 2014, ISBN 978-1-78200-791-3 , p. 13.

Web links

Commons : Vickers-MG  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files