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M1919A4 .30-caliber Light Machine Gun

The air-cooled Caliber .30 'A4 was much more portable than the heavy M1917A1 water-cooled weapon, but also less accurate and less stable. Fully automatic, recoil operated, air-cooled, firing a 174 gr .30-06 round at about 500rpm from a 250-round belt, with an effective range of 1000 yds, this was a key weapon in reinforced platoons in Korea.

USMC: Machine Guns, 1951

Maintenance Manual All Types Browning .30 Machine Gun

M2 .50 Cal MG Photos, specs, links

WWII Small Arms Technical Manual

Muzzle Energy Comparison Chart, Korean Weapons

.30-caliber Air-Cooled Machine Gun

A4 covering evacuation of 5th RCT wounded, August, 1950. The vertical retaining piece restricts range of fire.

.30-caliber Air-Cooled Machine Gun

Humping the A4 in Korean winters was a man's job.

"I was appointed Sergeant because of the expertise I had shown with the handling, employment and fire control of Medium Machine Guns. I could not have had any idea of what commanding ten men in battle might have meant to me mentally, or, for that matter, what close combat with a determined enemy would be like."

.30-caliber Air-Cooled Machine Gun

Ron Cashman at The Hook, 1953

.30-caliber Air-Cooled Machine Gun

M1919A4 .30 Caliber Air Cooled Machine Gun

.30-caliber Air-Cooled Machine Gun
M1919A4 in support of rifle platoon
An M1919A4 in support of a rifle platoon attacking Chinese positions

The A4 at Wolmi-do

Co.K, 35RCT, 25id, North of Han, March 7,'51

The A4 on Scout

Chinese use captured A4,'51

The air-cooled 'A4 was much more portable than its M1917A1 water-cooled counterpart.

Operation Fully automatic, recoil operated, air-cooled
Caliber .30 (7.62 mm)
Ammunition Ball M1; 174 gr bullet, 50 gr charge (.30-06)
Muzzle velocity 853.4 mps (2800 fps)
Capacity 250-round belt
Weight 18.5 kg (41 lbs) with tripod
Overall length 104.1 cm (41 in)
Rate of fire 400 to 550 rounds per minute
Effective range 1000m (1100 yds)

Before the end of World War I, the U.S. Ordnance Department recognized that water-cooled machine guns took up too much space inside a tank. Consequently, the water-cooled M1917 was converted to an air-cooled model by surrounding the barrel with a perforated metal jacket.

As World War II approached, the Ordnance Department was committed to developing an air-cooled machine gun for infantry use. The result was the M1919A4.

At 41 lbs for gun and tripod, the M1919A4 was much lighter than the water-cooled M1917A1 (93 lbs for gun and tripod). On the other hand, the air-cooled weapon was unable to maintain the same level of sustained fire as the water-cooled M1917A1, and did not have the steadiness of accuracy as the heavier weapon. But its light weight and ease of set-up made it much more useful as an offensive weapon than the water-cooled guns.

In fixed defensive positions, however, the water-cooled M1917A1 saw much use in Korea. With anti-freeze in the water jacket, the heavy MG was more reliable in intense Chosin cold, as was particularly observed in the savage Reservoir battles. In any weather, the heavy was also more stable and, under intense attack, its greater sustained volume of fire was much appreciated.

Moreover, the A4 was crticized for slowness of set-up and vulnerability of crew. To meet these weaknesses, the M1919A6 was developed, and saw use in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

Causes of the Korean Tragedy ... Failure of Leadership, Intelligence and Preparation

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