Madsen machine gun
|Madsen machine gun|
A Madsen light machine gun with spare magazine.
|Type||Light machine gun|
|Place of origin||Denmark|
|Used by||See Users|
World War I
Russian Civil War
Spanish Civil War
World War II
Portuguese Colonial War
various other worldwide conflicts
|Manufacturer||Dansk Rekyl Riffel Syndikat A/S|
|Weight||9.07 kg (20.00 lb)|
|Length||1,143 mm (45.0 in)|
|Barrel length||584 mm (23.0 in)|
|Cartridge||8×58mmR Danish Krag|
.303 British[page needed]
|Rate of fire||450 rounds/min|
|Muzzle velocity||870 m/s (2,854 ft/s) (6.5×55mm)|
|Feed system||25, 30, and 40-round detachable box magazine|
|Sights||Rear V-notch and front post|
The Madsen was a light machine gun that Julius A. Rasmussen and Theodor Schoubue designed and proposed for adoption by Colonel Vilhelm Herman Oluf Madsen, the Danish Minister of War, and that the Danish Army adopted in 1902. It was the world's first true light machine gun produced in quantity. Consequently, Madsen was able to sell it in 12 different calibres to over 34 different countries worldwide, where it saw extensive combat for over 100 years. The Madsen was produced by Compagnie Madsen A/S (later operating as Dansk Rekyl Riffel Syndikat A/S and then Dansk Industri Syndikat A/S).
The design dates to 1880s with the Danish Forsøgsrekylgevær (Self Loading rifle M.1888), meaning "trial recoil rifle", being a precursor design. In 1883 Captain Vilhelm Herman Oluf Madsen (a Danish artillery officer), and Rustmester Rasmussen (a weapons technician at the Danish Arsenal), began working on a recoil-operated self-loading rifle; Madsen developed the idea and Rasmussen fabricated the actual weapons. The rifle used a non-removable stripper clip that used gravity to feed rounds to the action; when the gun was not in use one could fold the clip down to cover the opening. The rifle used the 8×58RD cartridge, first in black-powder and then in a much more powerful smokeless powder version. The design was not successful. An improved design in 1896 gave the rifle an enclosed, but still gravity-fed, magazine. This version saw some 50–60 rifles being produced, but they were only issued to the Danish navy for use by coastal fortifications troops.
Investors formed a company (the Dansk Riffel Syndikat; DRS), in 1898 to commercialise the rifle, and bought the patent rights from Madsen and Rasmussen in exchange for royalties on future production. By this time Madsen had left the project to become Minister of Defence in Denmark. In 1899 Lieutenant Jens Schouboe became the manager for the DRS, and a number of subsequent patents bear his name. Consequently, the Madsen rifle is sometimes referred to as the Schouboe rifle. In 1901 he patented the design for the Madsen machine gun. The original Madsen machine guns used black-powder cartridges that quickly jammed the action. However, once the design was tried with 6.5mm smokeless powder rounds it worked well.
The Madsen has a rather sophisticated and unique operating cycle. The machine gun uses a mixed recoil-operated locking system with a hinged bolt that is patterned after the lever-action Peabody Martini breechblock. The recoil operation is part short and part long recoil. After firing a round to start the open bolt firing cycle, the initial recoil impulse drives the barrel, barrel extension, and bolt to the rear. A pin on the right side of the bolt moves backward in grooves in an operating cam plate mounted to the right side of the receiver. After 12.7 mm (0.5 in) of travel, the bolt is cammed upward, away from the breech (the "short" portion of the recoil system). The barrel and barrel extension continue to move rearward to a point slightly exceeding the combined overall length of the cartridge case and projectile (the long portion of the recoil system, responsible for the weapon's low rate of fire).
After the breech is exposed, an odd lever-type extractor/ejector, mounted under the barrel, pivots to the rear, extracts the empty case, and ejects it through the bottom of the receiver. The bolt's operating cam then forces the bolt face to pivot downward, aligning a cartridge feed groove in the left side of the bolt with the chamber. While the bolt and barrel are returning forward, a cartridge-rammer lever, mounted on the barrel extension, pivots forward, loading a fresh cartridge.
Up to and including World War I
The Madsen was considered expensive to produce, but was known for its reliability. Thirty-four countries bought the gun, in a dozen different calibres, before and after World War I. They were used by all sides in the Mexican Revolution.
The Imperial Russian Army bought 1,250 Madsens for the cavalry and deployed them during the Russo-Japanese War. The Imperial Russian Air Service used Madsens to equip their Morane-Saulnier G and Morane-Saulnier L monoplanes, mounting the gun to fire over the propeller. The German Army deployed the Madsen in 7.92 mm calibre in 1914, arming infantry companies, mountain troops and later storm troopers.
Among the fighting forces with the Madsen in their arsenals in the immediate aftermath of World War I were the Czechoslovak Legions in Russia, fighting the Bolsheviks in Siberia. The Madsen also saw service in China during the Warlord era.
Paraguay bought the Madsen in the 1920s and early 1930s as that country quietly girded for war with Bolivia over mutual claims to the Gran Chaco region, and it served in the Paraguayan army in the Chaco War (1932–1935). Almost 400 were on hand when the war began, and the Paraguayans bought more as the war progressed. Bolivia also fielded Madsens of the same calibre as Paraguay (7.65×53 Mauser) during the conflict.
The Argentine Army detachment that protected neutrality along the border with Paraguay and Bolivia during the Chaco War used the Madsen in combat operations at least once in 1933 in the course of an engagement on the southern bank of the Pilcomayo river against members of the Maká tribe commanded by deserters who had looted a farm in Argentine soil, killing some of its inhabitants. When Brazil acquired some 23 CV-35 tankettes from Italy in the late 1930s, it armed a majority of the vehicles with twin-mounted 7 mm Madsens.
It was standard equipment (in 6.5 mm) with the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL) during the inter-war period. The Imperial Japanese Army used some after capturing them during the Dutch East Indies Campaign.
World War II
Madsen machine guns were still in use in April–June 1940 as the Norwegian Army's standard light machine gun in the Norwegian Campaign, 3,500 M/22s in 6.5×55 Krag being available for the defence of Norway. By 1940 each Norwegian infantry squad had one Madsen machine gun, the Norwegians having previously grouped their Madsens in separate machine gun squads. Each Norwegian infantry battalion had a standard complement of 36 Madsens, in addition to nine M/29 heavy machine guns. However, many Norwegian soldiers did not like the Madsen as it had a tendency to jam after only a few rounds in this calibre, leading to it gaining the nickname Jomfru Madsen (English: Virgin Madsen). The Germans used captured Madsens for second line units throughout the war, and Danish production continued for the German armed forces in the 8×54mm Jørgensen calibre until 1942. The Danish Army did not retire their last Madsens until 1955.
Ireland had a total of 24 Madsen machine guns, all in .303 calibre. They armed the Irish army's Landsverk L60 light tanks, Leyland Armoured Cars, Landsverk L180 armoured cars, and Dodge Armoured Cars. In the 1950s .30 Browning machine guns replaced the Madsens still in Irish service.
Portuguese Colonial War
The Portuguese Army used Madsen machine guns during the Portuguese Colonial War of the 1960s and 1970s. Madsens served as temporary armament for Auto-Metralhadora-Daimler 4 × 4 Mod.F/64 armoured cars, which were Daimler Dingos modified with the addition of a turret-like structure.
Continued use in Brazil
The Brazilian Military Police of Rio de Janeiro State used Madsens into the 21st Century. Although some of the Brazilian guns were captured from drug traffickers and pressed into service (mostly old weapons originating from the Argentine Army, as well as some stolen from museums), the majority of the Brazilian police Madsens came from the Brazilian Army; in the 30's they were commonly used in the wars against banditry in Northeast (bandit groups named "cangaceiros");these guns were originally 7x57mm Spanish Mauser weapons re-chambered to fit 7.62 mm NATO. Official sources state that the Brazilian army retired the Madsen machine gun in 1996. It was reported that the last Madsen guns were finally retired in April 2008 as the police transitioned to more modern guns with faster rates of fire.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (December 2010) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- Brazil[page needed]
- Bulgaria[page needed]
- Colombia
- Republic of China: Madsen M1916 and Rexer variants
- El Salvador
- France[page needed]
- German Empire
- Nazi Germany
- Italy[page needed]
- Empire of Japan
- Lithuania[page needed]
- Russian Empire
- Spanish Republic
- United Kingdom
- Kingdom of Yugoslavia[page needed]
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- News article about Argentine guns found with drug dealers[permanent dead link] (in Portuguese)
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- The Madsen Machine Rifle (PDF). Copenhagen, Denmark: Danish Recoil Rifle Syndicate.
- (in Russian) Семён Федосеев, "Российская карьера ружья-пулемёта «Мадсен»", Мастерружьё, 2010 issue 2 pp. 48–57, issue 3 pp. 58–64, and issue 6 pp. 42–51 (No. 155, 156 & 159). HTML version of the article: part 1, part 2, part 3
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Madsen machine gun.|
- Deactivated Guns on the Madsen, retrieved Apr 20, 2007
- Madsen Light Machine Gun, retrieved Apr 20, 2007
- The Madsen Light Machine Gun on the Eastern and Western Front 1914-17, retrieved April 20, 2007
- High resolution photo from Tøjhusmuseet, Copenhagen
- Forgotten Weapons - Madsen Semiauto LMG