Standard Toy Soldier Poses: The Heavy Machine Gunner
No weapon did as much to change the modern battlefield as the heavy machine gun. American troops first encountered them during the Spanish-American War. Machine guns changed things so much in World War I that troops had to resort to trenches for safety. The weapons were considered so powerful that several armie4s regarded them as artillery. This is not to say that there had not been other machine guns. The American Gatling Gun and French Mitrailleuse were two examples of early automatic weapons.
American Infantry companies of World War II included a heavy weapons platoon with three 60mm mortars and three .30 caliber heavy machine guns. Machine guns could be so placed that their fields of fire overlapped, making a lethal and almost impenetrable kill zone. Dead;ly as they were, the heavy machine gun had one drawback. It was primarily a defensive weapon that requires several men to operate and move.
Thanks to the automobile, machine guns could br used offensively. Mounting them in armored vehicles, trucks and cars gave machine guns the mobility to move forward quickly. A small armored vehicle known as a tankette was developed by several countries between the world wars. the size of a large automobile, tracked and lightly armored, it was thought the tankette could act as a mobile machine gun position. Tankettes proved too lightly armored and lacking in mobility to survive the battlefield. Once the war started, most were either scrapped or converted to other uses.
The heavy machine gunner in the bag of army men was regarded as a source of endless firepower.It was thought that a heavy machine gun could shoot continuously so long as it had ammunition. Little boys did not know of overheated barrels, at least until we were old enough to enlist. Our srill instructors made sure we understood the hows and whys of changing a machine-gun;’s barrel.
Several things were tried to deal with overheating. A water-filled jacket was used initially. By World War I, most armies had water-cooled machine guns. The Russians went so far as to include a small hatch into which snow or ice could be inserted. At war’s end, air-cooled machine guns also appeared. They did not totally replace their water-cooled counterparts until after World War II.
These days, light machine guns have replaced the old weapons. Heavy machine guns are mounted on vehicles. Water-cooled machine guns are all in museums. Nonetheless, the need of sustained automatic fire remains a part of modern combat.
Making a prone heavy machine gunner was a challenge for toy soldier makers. An unusual configuration emerged. Variants of it are found in Bergen / Beton. Tim Mee, and Ajax sets.