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34th Infantry at the Kum

At the Korean War outset, we used the light and heavy machine guns mostly at much shorter ranges than their best tactical deployment. One unpleasant consequence was that, since we did not at first have smokeless powder, and our enemy did, this was equivalent to setting off an aiming marker for the enemy's choice of return fire.

MG position overlooking the Kum river

34th Infantry, Ansong River, 7/50

But the North Koreans broke through, and Taejon fell

American forces used the light and heavy machine guns mostly at a few hundred yards or less, contrary to their design concepts. This was the nature of the battles our company and platoon sized forces faced. Not possessing smokeless powder at the start of the KW, when this MG was first fired it was equivalent to setting off a small smoke bomb and shouting "here we are". These troops would have been immediately detected, and brought under counter-fire by the excellent NK mortars.

The North Korean armies used smokeless powder. They were well supplied with the Maxim heavy machine guns, with metal shields, by the USSR, and used them in large quantities in the Pusan Perimeter battles. The NK, well trained and largely veterans of China's civil war, would site these weapons at long distances to place grazing fire on slopes we were attacking. Beyond hearing range, using smokeless powder, sighted in with great professional accuracy, the first inkling our troops would have that they were under aimed fire would be when their comrades' bodies and faces were suddenly torn and shattered.

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