By Rick Cartledge
Those desiring to fire Browning .30 caliber machine guns from the standing position have several alternatives. John Moses Browning duplicated the mount holes of the Vickers tripod on his 1917 water-cooled. Both M1917 and M1919 BMGs fit the Vickers tripod, with occasional modifications. The Turkish Vickers tripod also includes an additional anti-aircraft mount.
At the dawn of the 20th century, Vickers introduced their new gun. They commercially marketed it as “the light Maxim.” Vickers later split from Maxim (see Dolf Goldsmith’s The Devil’s Paintbrush and The Grand Old Lady of No Mans Land’). In the early teens, the Turkish government ordered from Britain two battle cruisers and a shipment of Vickers guns. Britain completed the order just before World War I and refused to deliver.
On the eve of World War II, the Turks called on Britain to replace their aging Maxim guns. This time the Turks did not leave England unsatisfied. Grimauli in Belgium did fine tuning and mount modification.
Vickers chambered the guns in 7.92x57mm. Turkey became the only purchaser to receive a special tripod. These magnificent guns and tripods served well for the next forty years. Adapters allowed Turkish soldiers to use the Maxim’s 100-round drum and ZF12 optical sight. Partly a result of the Vickers shipment, the Nation of Turkey remained neutral during World War II.
Research indicates at least seven different Turkish Vickers mounts, that vary in leg length, mount screw dimension, head mount shaft measurements, anti-aircraft extension length, and bolt hole size.
The mount I examined can be described as the short-legged version of the advanced Turkish Vickers tripod. The front legs appear to be consistent through all variations of the tripod. The rear legs come in two different lengths. The bottom rear leg flaps up like those in World War l standard Vickers. The flap’s extra length accommodates the anti-aircraft extension. The extensions come with 22- and 24-inch shafts.
The distinctive large numbered ring identifies the Turkish mount even at a distance. The ring’s middle mounts the swivel head. There are two different mount holes. Moving up the head, one will find two distinctly different mounting shaft widths. Mounting a Browning and some Vickers can require replacement or rebushing and trim.
The elevation wheel at the rear varies from other Vickers in two ways. First, the elevation shaft contains two numbered, necked steel rings. A large painted lever moves one ring. A two-piece brass wheel cover plate also contained numbers. Under the cover plate we found less detailed but corresponding degree markings.
Dolf L. Goldsmith states that the large numbered ring has 1,600 mil markings. “Mil” is a unit of angular measurement used in artillery and machine gunnery and equal to 1/6400 of a complete revolution. The large front ring on the Turkish Vickers tripod serves to coordinate automatic gun fire with artillery.
Dolf further notes that the two-piece elevation wheel cover dated from World War I. The British stopped using the cover in 1916. Thereafter, they employed the less detailed wheel etchings. The tripod I examined possessed later, less detailed markings and the more precise 1916 wheel cover. There are two stops on the wheel. These limit the traverse to any angle. On the neck itself is found the two steel rings. These rings perform exactly the same function as the marked wheel. To set the ring the gunner or his assistant’s head sits below the top of the gun. One of the oldest rules of conflict reads, “The lower you are, the safer you are.” Credits:
Dave Michaels, SARCO, 323 Union ST, P.O. Box 98, Stirling, NJ 07980, 908-647-3800
Dolf Goldsmith, ‘The Grand Old Lady of No Man’s Land’, Collector Grade Publications, % Long Mountain Outfitters, P.O. Box 45, Harmony, ME 04942, 207-683-2169
Kent Lomont. Lomont Precision Bullets, 278 Sandy Creek RD, Salmon, ID 83467, 208-756-6819
Robert Landies, Ohio Ordnance Works, P.O. Box 687, Chardon, OH 44024, 440-285-3481
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V6N9 (June 2003)|