How would you improve the M95 Mannlicher?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Fehérvári, Sep 25, 2019.

  1. Fehérvári Well-Known Member

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    Given the pre-WW1 technology and manufacturing capabilities of Austria-Hungary, what kind of improvements would you implement to improve/modernise the Austro-Hungarian Steyr-Mannlicher M1895 rifle? What kind of changes would you include with and without hindsight to the awaiting Great War?
     
  2. Peebothuhlu Well-Known Member

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    At work.

    Might the Steyr model of 1911 be 'Tweaked' forwards a bit?

    Cheers.
     
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  3. SealTheRealDeal Well-Known Member

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    Is the army getting a bigger budget or is that staying at OTL levels?
     
  4. Fehérvári Well-Known Member

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    I'm not exactly thinking about a specific sceniario or that A-H's standard rifle could be completely refitted/replaced with the given military budget. With that being said, the only outlined thing here is A-H experimenting with weapon improvements. If you want to, you can add any kind of details to the sceniario, although I'm primarily interested the technical details.
    Feel free to have your ideas run wild!
     
  5. Some Bloke Well-Known Member

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    IIRC the Mannlicher was also the template for the Ross Rifle, so any developmental tweaks could start having effects in Canada.
     
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  6. Richard V Well-Known Member

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  7. Triune Kingdom Well-Known Member

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    Frankly, there is very little actually wrong with the design of the M.1895. Although it was a straight pull rifle, its action was very stong indeed, and it was relatively quick and easy to operate, though not any faster in practice then other bolt action rifles.

    Greatest problem IMHO, is actually the cartrige that it uses, the 8x50mmR really not the best cartridge they could have used, but they were limited by the fact that they had a nearly 1milion older rifles in reserves/service which used that cartridge. Even with that in mind, the cartridge was still broadly comparable to other cartridges of the time, and there is really no need to replace it, especially if the war is ongoing.

    Really, aside from the cartridge only improvements would be minimal. Things like adopting the carbine version for full scale issue and production, as an universal short rifle and rearanging sights for a lower distance shooting.
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    Though, if AH manages to survive it would be very interesting to see what direction their small arms development might take?
     
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  8. wiking Well-Known Member

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    I have to agree with Triune, the biggest issue is the cartridge, the rifle itself is pretty damn good as is without being a semi-auto.


    Richard's FW video would of course be the next logical step for the rifle besides adding a detachable 20 round box magazine .
    Since the M95 was adapted in the 1920s to use the German 7.92 Mauser cartridge I'd suggest that they do that to standardized logistics between the German and Austrian rifles, which wouldn't be a hindsight issue as much as a funding one.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mannlicher_M1895#Conversions
    Since the 8mm Mauser modified rifle had a shorter barrel, that would help with the other issue of the rifle being overly long.
     
  9. SealTheRealDeal Well-Known Member

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    If there's no change in funding being able to keep those million some odd older 8x50mm rifles in service out weighs whatever marginal gains come of adopting a more modern rifle.
     
  10. Fearless Leader Donor

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    In OTL the Canadians designed an LMG towards the end of the war which utilized 80-90% Ross Rifle parts known as the Huot. Initial tests were very promising and it was much cheaper than the Lewis gun, but it came too late for the war. With some hindsight, I wonder if the KuK could pursue a similar program to increase their infantry's firepower before the war. Of course this is more of a doctrinal shift than any kind of technological innovation.
     
  11. Triune Kingdom Well-Known Member

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    Going for a LMG at this point in time seems to be a step too far, IMHO. Even if they did manage to make it work, how many of them could they actually produce to make an meaningful impact on the course of the war, and what are they not going to have because of it.

    They would be really better off just going with what they had before the war, M.95 rifles and Schwarzlose MGs, which may not be perfect, but are completely adequate to the task before them. Have a reason for A-H to increase the number of MGs per regiment, and actually have the necessary numbers of MGs at hand when the war starts, and A-H infantry would be much better off. They even used Schwarzlose MG as a LMG of sorts, and it seems it was adequate in that role, since it was relatively light for a water cooled MG of the period. If I am not mistaken, by 1918 every infantry company was supposed to have an LMG Platoon, composed out of 4 Schwarzlose MGs/or Italian MGs, though in practice only a relatively small number of units of the A-H army on the Italian front followed this practice, and often these LMG platoons were attached to the assault units.

    Though, A-H would be also better off with a bit more artillery on hand, not to mention if somebody waited...
     
  12. Fearless Leader Donor

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    Admittedly, the creation of an LMG based off the M.95 is a product of hindsight, but well within the parameters of the OP.

    That being said, A-H was not without it's share of revolutionary military thinkers (IIRC one of the first tank designs was proposed to the KuK forces but rejected as it would scare the horses). One could argue that an LMG based off the M.95 could theoretically massively increase the infantry's firepower at a much lower cost than adding additional Schwarzlose MGs if you had enough time do properly design it and get it issued. Assuming something of a Huot clone, another advantage would be the commonality of parts which has a logistical and training advantage. I'd also imagine that it wouldn't be too difficult to have a belt-fed version drawn up as well for use in stationary positions and aircraft though I'm not a gun engineer so I could easily be wrong. All of this could be sold as something of a cost-saving measure though.
     
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  13. wiking Well-Known Member

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  14. Triune Kingdom Well-Known Member

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    You might have a point there, but I am still somewhat of a mind that going with a combination of bolt action rifle and HMG might be the best thing for the A-H. While some savings could be made by reusing at least some parts and machine tools as used by M.95, it still means adding yet another weapon to the mix, requiring its own production line and other things weapon needs. We also must consider just how many LMGs would AH need to actually make an impact on the course of the war, how many LMGs would be needed to outfit a part of its army, and how many of them would be issued to various formations? Are we talking one per inf.platoon or more, would they even be issued as an organic weapon to the platoon, or would it just be seen as an ersatz Schwarzlose, and issued instead of it? Though, one might argue that cavalry would take a liking to it, since it would be much easier to set it up and get it ready to fire, then water cooled Schwarzlose.

    In my mind, infantry weapons need a certain amount of mass to actually make a difference, and unless A-H could churn them out in the thousands, I would really not bother. Instead investing in expanding the production of the Schwarzlose could reap much greater benefits, even if A-H troops have to use it as an Ersatz LMG.

    Lastly, if I am not mistaken, it was not a tank that scared the horses, but an armored car, and a rather nice design TBH. But then again, being a boring person that I am, I would argue that AH could be better served by increasing the production of trucks and artillery tractors, and forcing their automotive producers to expand production facilities, something they refused IOTL.

    I am a firm proponent of Boring, But Practical, and while SMGs are often hailed as be all and end all for WW1, I strongly disagree. Fighting was not only done in the trenches of the Western Front, and in the East manouver warfare was still around, and I doubt thatvwe would see much use out of SMG on the wide open spaces which generally characterized the Eastern Front.
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    Sorry for the derail, but I really think that AH needs a SI badly. Yes Neptune is doing his FJ SI, but he is still stuck in the era of BP muzzleloaders, and the other one, with Karl I/IV died due to author getting banned.

    Would we really need a SI though? What could we see happen if Conrad von Hotzendorf is sent back from the moment of his death in 1925, to the time he first became a Chief of Staff in 1906? He would be much more politically canny, perhaps avoiding being sacked from that position, and he would certainly push his modernization agenda, while at least partially knowing what needs to be done to make sure that KuK Armee is better prepared for any future conflict.
     
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  15. Fearless Leader Donor

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    I'm more or less in your camp regarding boring but practical, but what you're proposing is outside of the parameters specified by the OP.

    I guess what I was thinking was that the Mannilicher Automatic Rifle conversion of the M.95 would be ideally produced instead of the Schwarzlose with belt-fed and magazine fed versions. Savings from using existing parts would be used to produce additional units compared to OTL's Schwarzlose production. Assuming something of a Huot clone the difference wouldn't be that large as the Huot had a cyclical rate of 475 rpm and early models of the Schwarzlose had a cyclical rate of 400 rpm. Though later models pushed the Schwarzlose up to 530 rpm that's not significantly higher than 475rpm and IMO doesn't offset the other advantages of an LMG. Whether the Habsburgs could produce something like a Huot is an open question, but it doesn't seem like that revolutionary of a design.
     
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  16. wiking Well-Known Member

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    I would suggest you check on the utility of the SMG on the Eastern Front in WW2. Also the WW1 Eastern Front was mobile for periods and places, but was often very bogged down in trench warfare. Mobile or not SMGs have a use especially before the era of the assault rifle.
     
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  17. SealTheRealDeal Well-Known Member

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    Early Rosses were indeed based on the Mannlicher action, the Ross Mk III (which was the one actually used in WWI, and accordingly in the Huot conversion) used a different action. So Mannlicher and Ross innovations don't necessarily translate to each other.

    Austria-Hungary wasn't industrially weak, they certainly could produce thousands of Huot equivalents (if such a conversion was possible). The question is, given the Common Army's tight budget, what aren't they doing instead.

    Wasn't that a PoS?
     
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  18. wiking Well-Known Member

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    Prototypes aren't usually good, that's why you refine them. Though not sure if that was why it was cancelled.
     
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  19. Triune Kingdom Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I did went beyond what OP asked for, I apologize. Though, putting aside LMG idea for a moment, A-H did play around with semi-automatic firearms before the war, so if the design is particulary good, and reliability is close enough to the M.95, then we perhaps could see some sort of a small scale production. Though I wonder about the ammo capacity, since people in charge might demand that any firearm designed uses existing ammunition loading methods, and I wonder how they incorporate en-bloc clips as used by Mannlicher series of rifles. Conservatism of the army at this period might be strong enough to stop any possibility of detachable magazine, thus forcing them to muddle along with 5 round magazine. But then again, we could easily end up with something very much like the French RSC-1917/1918 series of rifles, which used quite a lot of components of older Lebel rifle, including the 8x50mm Lebel cartridge.

    So with that in mind, and if all the stars align, but then again it is Alternate History with a bit of hindsight, I could easily imagine the following course of events:
    -Introduction of a more powerful, modern cartridge, an earlier version of 8x56R cartridge, and rechambering of all M.95 rifles for it, and at the same time converting them to something along the line of Postwar M95/30 or 31.M. Older rifles, such as M.1888/90, which are not strong enough to be using the newer cartridge are to be sold off, Bulgaria for example did use it, and some cash would be nice to have, even if they sell them off at much lower prices.

    At the same time, while the conversion process of M.95 is going on, and new-build versions are produced, interest the KuK Armee in the semi auto weaponry, and considering the relatively limited size of the regular army (roughly 450k in peacetime), it could be within their reach and means to at least partially equip the troops with it by the time war starts? I doubt that there would be enough of them to completely replace M.95, but then again, if the production facilities are completely switched over to producing the M.19XX semi auto rifle, they might have no choice but to continue producing them for the rest of the conflict.


    Yes, SMG could be useful, more then I assumed at first, but there must be a better option then Hellrigel. Something along the lines of MP18 would suit them much better, if only because of the weight of the weapon. But how can you get a SMG before WW1? Maybe something related to police units could do the trick, if they demand a weapon that is handier then the rifles and carbines they are using at this point in time, and that shorter automatic weapon firing pistol cartridges might be seen as more suitable for policing duties then Full Caliber weapons used up to that point in time? Then with the weapon already in some kind of limited use and production, there is a less of a leap to adopt it to military use then such an untested weapon as Hellrigel. First issued to Military Police units, but as Jaegerkommando units are raised, and there is recognized a clear demand for a fully automatic portable firepower, we could see it adopted for full scale military use.
     
  20. M79 Well-Known Member

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    A) Add a detachable box magazine of 10-20 rounds [Lee-Metford, UK, 1888]

    B) Add the delayed blowback of his earlier Model 93 with the recoiling barrel already proposed in the model 91

    C) Return to earlier Mannlicher proposal to use 7.92x57 Mauser rounds instead of 8x50 R rounds

    D) Maybe if the delayed blowback mechanism doesn't work out then maybe the recoiling action is added from the Model 85?

    E) Continue work into semi-automatic design using this rifle as a stepping stone if at all possible
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2019
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