Chauchat Model 1915 Light Machine Gun
|Type||Light Machine Gun|
|Rifling||4 grooves, RH|
|Magazine Capacity||20 rounds|
|Muzzle Velocity||700 meters/second|
|Effective Range||1000 meters|
|In Production||1915 – 1924|
|Country of Origin||France|
In 1914, a French Ordnance design commission, headed by a Colonel Chauchat, came up with a design for a new light machine gun. The design, although unusual, seemed to work satisfactorily in the earliest versions produced in the French Government arsenals. It worked on the long-recoil principle, in which the barrel and the bolt recoiled together for a distance somewhat greater than the length of the cartridge. By 1916, however, the manufacture of the Chauchat had been subcontracted out to a number of firms whose prime incentive was to crank out as many as possible. As a result, the gun was shoddily made, with excessive tolerances, many hand-fitted components, and no interchangeability in parts.
The Chauchat was not a catastrophe exclusively for the French. In 1917, because of some truly unfortunate political maneuvers, the Chauchat was also adopted by the United States Army (French Alpine Chasseurs training U.S. soldier on use of Chauchat on left)! Their military brought 16000 in 8mm Lebel and 19000 in .30-06 Springfield caliber, under an agreement that dictated American acceptance after French inspectors had passed the weapons. Nine American divisions in France were burdened with these guns, and it is estimated that more than half were abandoned on the battlefield after the first stoppage, which usually coincided with the first or second burst of fire.
The main difference between the 8mm Lebel and .30-06 Springfield versions of the Chauchat is the magazine shape. Because the 8mm Lebel cartridge is rimmed and quite tapered, the 8mm Lebel version uses a semicircular magazine. The rimless .30-06 Springfield version requires a strait box magazine. The more powerful .30-06 Springfield cartridge caused the Chauchat to fall apart even more rapidly that its original caliber as shown at this link – click here.
The Chauchat, pronounced ‘Sho-Sho’ by American troops http://ar15upperreceiver.net/complete-upper-receiver-for-sale (U.S. Soldier carrying Chauchat on right), was also sold to Belgium and Greece as the ‘Gladiator’—some say because of the ancient Roman gladiator’s greeting, ‘We who are about to die, salute you.’ In fact, the gun’s original French designation was ‘Fusil Mitrailleur Chauchat Sutter-Ribeyrolle-Gladiator’.