Darne machine gun
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Captured Darne machine gun mounted as an anti-aircraft weapon
|Place of origin||France|
|Used by||See Users|
|Cartridge||8 mm Lebel
7.5x54mm MAS mod. 1929
|Action||Gas, tilting breech block|
|Rate of fire||1100-1200 rounds per minute|
|Muzzle velocity||830 m/s|
|Maximum firing range||500 m (effective range around 200 m)|
The Darne machine gun is a machine gun of French origin.
The French gun-making company Darne, which became famous for its innovative shotguns, entered the world of military weapons in 1915, when it was contracted by French government to manufacture Lewis machine guns. In 1916 this same company announced development of its own machine gun of indigenous design. This belt-fed weapon was designed especially for rapid manufacturing techniques, and without any unnecessary refinements typical for most contemporary small arms. External finish and appearance of the Darne machine gun was crude, but worked well and its price was much lower than of any contemporary weapon of compatible combat characteristics.
The French Army tested Darne machine guns during 1917/1918, but the Great War ended before production contracts could have been signed. Despite that fact, during the 1920s and 1930s Darne company managed to refine an aircraft variant of the machine gun to the point of its adoption by French and some other air forces for the role of an observers gun. However, there were many more variants of the Darne machine gun, although most others were certainly less successful. For example, in the 1920s and 1930s Darne offered a number of lightweight belt-fed machine guns for infantry or vehicle use. All these machine guns were made to the same concept of least expensive finish, and unlike its aircraft variants found no buyers during the inter-war period.
It was eventually replaced by the MAC 1934 for Air Force use, although the French Navy continued to use them into WWII. Small numbers were also exported to Brazil, Spain, Serbia, Italy and Lithuania, and captured French Darnes were used by German occupation forces for coastal defense. The initial guns were made by Darne in France but it appears that later production was outsourced to Spain, where it could be done more cheaply.
The Darne machine gun is gas operated, firing from open bolt in full automatic only. Breech is locked by tilting the rear part of the bolt up into the mortise cut in the roof of receiver (A la M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle). The Darne machine gun has an unusual belt feed between the gas piston and barrel, using the two-stage cartridge feed system (cartridge withdrawn from the belt to the rear, and then pushed forward into the barrel). The weapon usually has provisions to attach a belt box directly below the receiver to improve handling characteristics of the gun. It must be noted that earlier versions of the Darne were chambered for the 8mm Lebel cartridge, but the weapon was quickly updated to the new 7.5mm French military cartridge. Some export guns were also made in 8mm Mauser, and various other cartridges.
Infantry versions of the Darne machine gun were normally fitted with pistol grip and rifle-type trigger below receiver, and a wooden buttstock. Alternate variants featured skeletonized pistol grip made of metal and a top-folding shoulder stock, also made of metal. Folding bipod or compact lightweight tripod was used to mount Darne machine guns in ground role.
The aircraft variant equipped French aircraft until 1935 when it was replaced by the MAC 1934, except in naval aircraft. Often criticized for its lack of reliability in the aircraft role, like other rifle calibers, the 7.5 mm bullets proved to be too light for air combat in World War II.
- List of machine guns
- List of uncommon WW2 weapons
- List of aircraft of the Armée de l'Air, World War II
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