9 July 20 Our Glorious History, and Occasional Dead-Ends! President Theodore Roosevelt in1904 nixed the idea of a “cleaning-rod/bayonet” combination for the new bolt-action rifle (1903 Springfield) that was replacing the Krag-Jorgensen, so the Ordinance Board instead went with a long bayonet/knife, which endured through the end of the Korean War! A shovel-like “bolo/bayonet,” which doubled as an entrenching tool, was also briefly entertained, but garnered no enthusiasm! ***** The Chauchat Light Machinegun (chambered in French 8mm Lebel, later in 30-06) acquired a poor reputation among Americans to whom it was hurriedly issued upon their arrival in Europe in 1918, and for good reason. Magazines with open sides fairly invited contamination and subsequent stoppages, and its slow rate of fire was pretty close to semi-auto! The chief advantage of the Chauchat was ease of manufacture! It was crude, simple, and cheap! They could be manufactured and issued-out much faster and cheaper than could any of the alternatives (BAR, Lewis Gun, Madsen, Hotchkiss, 08/15 “light” Maxim) at the time The BAR inspired the current American M240. The Lewis Gun inspired the German MG42, which inspired the American M60. The Madson stuck around (in various upgrades) through the 1950s, but was never particularly popular, and inspired nothing else. The Chauchat and Hotchkiss were genetic dead-ends. They died after WWI and never inspired any other gun. Nothing from the Chauchat, nor the Hotchkiss, is seen on machineguns today.*****The “Pederson Device,” which converted the 1903 Springfield Rifle (a version was also made for the 1917 American Enfield) into a 40-round (double-column, double-feed) 30-caliber, semi-auto, blow-back “pistol,” was specifically designed for the Grand Allied Offensive scheduled for the spring of 1919. It was kept a top secret, so Germans didn’t find out! If fact, it was called a “pistol” to conceal its real form and intent. The cartridge used by the Pederson Device was the 7.65×20 “Longue,” (long), later adopted by the French as a pistol/SMG cartridge. Long-since out of production and virtually unknown today. Upon seeing it secretly demonstrated in France in 1918, American General Pershing wanted a million Pedersons! However, when the Great War ended in November of 1918, interest in the yet-unfielded Pederson Device quickly evaporated, and with it the necessity for secrecy. As the Great War had progressed, “trench warfare” was giving way to “maneuver warfare,” making the Pederson Device less relevant in future wars, at least in the eyes of the then-current generation of American war planners. Over 100k Pederson Devices were initially ordered from Remington, but only 65k were delivered by 1920, very few while the War was still going on. None were ever issued, and all went into storage. In what field-testing that did take place during the 1920s, the Device performed poorly. In any event, all were declared “obsolete” in 1931 and subsequently destroyed. Fewer than one hundred survive today. The Pederson is a delicate and complex system. How well it would have worked during actual WWI trench warfare is dubious, but we’ll never know. That is because in actual combat, the Pederson Device, as noted above, never saw the light of day, was never issued, never used, and the vast majority of WWI soldiers (on either side) never saw a copy, nor were aware they even existed!*****With 20th Century military rifles, sling attachment-points on the stock and forend were typically on the bottom, in order to facilitate over-the-shoulder carry (muzzle up or down) by foot-mobile infantry. Muzzle-down carry is seen in many WW1 and WWII photos of American and British troops, more common the closer one got to the front, and active fighting. Muzzle-up carry became necessary when the rifle had a bayonet attached, particularly a long bayonet, which was the fashion of the era, as noted above. Side-mounted sling attachment-points were demanded by the Cavalry, as it facilitated carrying the rifle across the horseman’s back as he rode. “Quick-detach” slings, popular today, were seen on Japanese Arisaka Rifles as early as the 1930s Most modern Operators prefer slinging the rifle, muzzle down, across the front, in order to facilitate control and quick access. For this kind of carry routine, side-mounted sling attachment-points are best.*****The VZ58 Rifle was manufactured by the Czechs between 1958 and 1984 and enjoyed an excellent reputation. “VZ” stands for “Vazor,” which translates to “Model” Most of the post-war Warsaw-Pact militaries, including of course the USSR, chose to adopt some version of the Soviet Kalashnikov Rifle and manufacture it locally (under license), or import it from Russia. Czechoslovakia had a sophisticated machine-tool industry throughout the 20th Century, which is why Stalin was so anxious to absorb it at the end of the War. The Czechs decided to design and adopt their own military rifle, and the Communist government there enjoyed enough political autonomy to buck Soviet objections. The VZ58 was the result. It is chambered for 7.62×39 but is lighter and thinner than the AK, and its 30-round magazines look similar, but are not interchangeable, nor are any internal parts interchangeable. Unlike the Kalashnikov, the VZ58’s bolt locks to the rear as the last round is fired. The VZ58 is gas-operated (short-stroke) and uses a “wedge-lock” system, rather than a rotating bolt. A million were manufactured during its 26 years of production, proved very reliable, and they found their way into all corners of the world. Many are still in (unofficial) service to this day! Out of production since 1984, the VZ58 was never “modernized,” nor produced in any caliber other than 7.62×39 In Czech military service, it was superceded by the Bren805, which bears no resemblance.*****The last American Civil War veteran, Albert Woolson, enlisting in the First Minnesota Heavy Artillery Regiment in 1864 (at the age of fourteen), died in Duluth, MN in 1956, at the age of 106! Jones Morgan was the last surviving American veteran of the Spanish-American War. He participated (with Teddy Roosevelt) in the Battle of San Juan Hill in Cuba. Enlisting at age fourteen in 1892, he was assigned to the 9th US Cavalry Regiment. Morgan died in 1993 in Richmond, VA, at the age of 110! The last American WWI veteran, Frank Buckles, who enlisted in the US Army (at the age of sixteen) in August of 1917, died in Charles Town, WV in 2011, also at the age of 110! /John