WW1 intermediate cartridge

In WW1 militaries started to notice that combat was not happening at long ranges because actually being able to see targets beyond a certain distance in combat was highly limited once colorful uniforms and close order tactics were abandoned:
In the spring of 1918, Hauptmann (Captain) Piderit, part of the Gewehrprüfungskommission ("Small Arms Examination Committee") of the German General Staff in Berlin, submitted a paper arguing for the introduction of an intermediate round in the German Army with a suitable firearm. He pointed out that firefights rarely took place beyond 800 metres (870 yd), about half the 2 km (1.2 mi) sight line range of the 7.92×57mm round from a Mauser Gewehr 98 rifle or less for MG 08 machine gun. A smaller, shorter, and less powerful round would save materials, allow soldiers to carry more ammunition, and increase firepower. Less recoil would allow semi-automatic or even fully automatic select-fire rifles, although in his paper he called it a Maschinenpistole (submachine gun). The German Army showed no interest, as it already had the MP 18 submachine gun firing 9 mm pistol rounds and did not want to create a new cartridge.[14]
Apparently an intermediate cartridge was actually developed with this idea in mind:
For the sake of argument let's say the performance of the cartridge is about 1/3rd lower than the parent cartridge, as the weight is about roughly 2/3rds that of the parent case+bullet combo and is used for carbine length rifles and light machine guns like a lightened Bergman:

Now clearly this isn't going to change WW1's outcome by itself, but let's say the change appears in 1916 to save materials and allow for lighter weapons, which then means more ammo carried, improved accuracy, a more mobile unit, etc. and proves itself in combat.

How does this impact interwar weapons development and then WW2 weapons if everyone sees that the concept works in WW1? Might we even see a variety of developments in WW1 for all the major combatants that actually get into service (i.e. not glorified prototypes like the Fedorov Avtomat or the Ribyerolle machine carbine)?
Might everyone have assault rifles and autorifles/lmgs in time for WW2?
 

SwampTiger

Banned
Considering the date of the proposal, this is less likely than the introduction of the Ribeyrolles. The Avtomat was in service, though very limited. Starting from mid-1918, the project would take at least two, and more likely three or four years to reach service units. I doubt the MG 15nA would serve as a better base than the Parabellum MG 14. I wonder why the Germans never built additional production lines for this gun in ground service.
 
Considering the date of the proposal, this is less likely than the introduction of the Ribeyrolles. The Avtomat was in service, though very limited. Starting from mid-1918, the project would take at least two, and more likely three or four years to reach service units. I doubt the MG 15nA would serve as a better base than the Parabellum MG 14. I wonder why the Germans never built additional production lines for this gun in ground service.
Why? The cartridge is super simple and can be made on the same machines as the standard cartridge case, uses the same propellants, and the same bullet. The only difference in the Karabiner 98A would be the length of the receiver and internal magazine. For MGs it would be a bit more complicated to build a lighter weapon from the ground up, but in terms of converting the existing MGs it should be relatively straightforward and should be doable in less than a year.

BTW I wasn't suggesting 1918 as the year for the request to be made, but 1916 after operations research into the fighting in the last 18 months and the demands for assault weapons for the trench assault units that were set up the previous year. The problem with getting the SMG in service was it effectively required building a new weapon from the ground up, while for an intermediate version of the existing 7.92 Mauser cartridge they just had to modify a few parts of existing weapons, which was done many times over throughout history with relative ease, the Chinese even adapted the Bren to a very different cartridge with a different base diameter and caliber! That's a MUCH bigger conversion than what I'm talking about.

And the US conversion of the Garand from .30-06 to 7.62 NATO:

Thanks for mention in the MG14, I forgot about that and yes you are totally right that would be the obvious conversion base. From what I can tell the reason the infantry didn't get it until late in the war was production lines had only been set up in 1913 and only for aircraft use, so they couldn't ramp up production quickly enough to outstrip aircraft demand, which got priority for the light, compact MG. Of course the infantry variant IOTL with ammo, bipod, and ground sights was 23kg if Russian wikipedia is to be believed.
 
How does this impact interwar weapons development and then WW2 weapons if everyone sees that the concept works in WW1? Might we even see a variety of developments in WW1 for all the major combatants that actually get into service (i.e. not glorified prototypes like the Fedorov Avtomat or the Ribyerolle machine carbine)?
Might everyone have assault rifles and autorifles/lmgs in time for WW2?
US Ordnance would look at it, and say
'Oh, it's a copy of that Savage 250-3000, but with a .32 caliber spitzer

and then ignore it, as it's not in .30 or based on a 30-06 case
 

Here is a Semi-auto in a 2 gun match.
I've seen this before, interesting weapon. Other than the loading malfunction early on it seems to work well and other than been overly heavy for the cartridge, it seems like it would be a pretty superb defensive/ambush weapon.

US Ordnance would look at it, and say
'Oh, it's a copy of that Savage 250-3000, but with a .32 caliber spitzer
and then ignore it, as it's not in .30 or based on a 30-06 case
Why the .250-3000? More like a shorter, fatter, rimless .30-30
No reason they couldn't make their own .30-06 version. Or for the British to then copy it post-war, as they were highly interested in adopting whatever future cartridge the US would adopt so they could source from them easily.

The BAR in .30-06 'short' would be a highly interesting weapon, same with Lewis' assault phase rifle:
1579482068961.png

Experimental “Assault Phase Rifle” by Isaac Lewis, developed circa 1918 to compete with BAR M1918. It fired the same powerful .30 M1906 (.30-06) rifle ammunition
 
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BigBlueBox

Banned
While it would be tempting to suggest that German stormtroopers cutting their way into France in the Spring Offensive with early assault rifles would lead to the Entente powers copying the idea postwar, I doubt that would be the case. Consider the stubborn refusal of the United States to accept .280 British after WWII despite seeing the STG-44 in action.
 

SwampTiger

Banned
Wiking: I was responding to the mention of semi and/or fully automatic weapons you mentionedin the original post. It would be much simpler using bolt action rifles. However, it would be even simpler to use the well known 7 mm Mauser cartridge. The short/kurz 7.92x42,5 would be an easy switch once the proper headspace, magazines , and tooling were developed.

The problem I have with Lewis' "Assault Phase Rifle" is the lack of objective testing by the US Army or any other army. We only have the testing of Lewis and anecdotal comments on its effectiveness.

As far as alternate calibers, this board has discussed them in detail. All of the mentioned rounds, and several more, could have led to useful semi/full auto firearms.
 
While it would be tempting to suggest that German stormtroopers cutting their way into France in the Spring Offensive with early assault rifles would lead to the Entente powers copying the idea postwar, I doubt that would be the case. Consider the stubborn refusal of the United States to accept .280 British after WWII despite seeing the STG-44 in action.
Here is the thing, the US military of post-WW1 is different than the post-WW2 one. For starters the post-WW1 military nearly adopted the .276 Pedersen and ultimately didn't due to budget concerns from the Great Depression, while the post-WW2 military spent several years redeveloping a shorter .30-06 and actively ignoring any and all innovative developments. Plus the influence of a certain colonel Studler, who was aiming for a star on his shoulder and to be the man who created the next generation cartridge and rifle for the US military, basically killed anything that he himself wasn't in charge of developing. So in the 1920s I could see the US getting on board with something like this, especially if they are doing so from the standpoint of just shortening the existing cartridge and not changing much else. After all during WW1 they did develop the Thompson and BAR as well as Pedersen device, so they were open to innovations.

Also I'm not saying an assault rifle in the StG sense, more like a carbine bolt action rifle and a true LMG meant for assault assault units, rather than a HMG stripped down and shoehorned into the role despite being unsuited for it.

Plus if it shows up in 1916, say at the Somme (where IOTL the Lewis Gun convinced the Germans that a LMG was top priority), making a strong impact on the Entente forces to the point that they try to copy it themselves before the US is even in the war, perhaps the US copies it during WW2 and we see the BAR designed around it, that or the Lewis assault rifle.

Wiking: I was responding to the mention of semi and/or fully automatic weapons you mentionedin the original post. It would be much simpler using bolt action rifles. However, it would be even simpler to use the well known 7 mm Mauser cartridge. The short/kurz 7.92x42,5 would be an easy switch once the proper headspace, magazines , and tooling were developed.

The problem I have with Lewis' "Assault Phase Rifle" is the lack of objective testing by the US Army or any other army. We only have the testing of Lewis and anecdotal comments on its effectiveness.
The automatic weapon in the OP was for a LMG and I did mention a carbine version of the Gw88.
The problem with the 7mm Mauser, despite being a slightly different cartridge than the 7.92 in dimension, was that it wasn't in production so the barrel making equipment wasn't available, while it was still a full powered cartridge that weights nearly as much as the 7.92 and has only slightly less recoil.
The point about the Kurz cartridge is that the adaptation doesn't require special tooling, just adjustments of the existing tools and perhaps some additions to say the magazine to shorten it so the same one could be used.

Fair enough about the Lewis rifle.
As far as alternate calibers, this board has discussed them in detail. All of the mentioned rounds, and several more, could have led to useful semi/full auto firearms.
Right, but I'm curious about how a proven intermediate/kurz cartridge would then impact on interwar developments, because IOTL during WW1 just about everyone realized it was a good idea to be explored, but it took until WW2 to really get over institutional barriers to even try it in combat and then it revolutionized post-war weapons development. It would seem that post-WW1 if the idea was proven in WW1 that this could touch off a revolution in developments during the 1920s-30s rather than militaries keeping with the 1000m range to kill a horse obsession.
 

SwampTiger

Banned
The issue is developing a light MG for squad/platoon use. Does this use the 7.92x57 or the new intermediate cartridge. If it uses the intermediate cartridge, the issue of horse killing will rear its ugly hooves. Keep the standard cartridge for LMG use. Either increase employment of the MG 08/15 for ground use or start new production lines for the MG 14.
The use of a lighter cartridge for use by the PBI is good, but does very little for actual combat power. The Germans would have certainly seen the efforts the Entente made to bring semi-auto rifles onto the battlefield. They made an attempt themselves. The lower powered cartridge may allow the development of a better semi-auto rifle by the Germans. By 1918 however, the Germans are in no shape to win the war. At best, they are looking for a stalemate. This new weapon system, with adequate LMG's may allow such a stalemate, but I doubt it.
If Germany had such a combination available for the 1917 campaigns, using Stosstruppen tactics, they may have delayed the end of the war for another year or two. By 1918, nothing can save them.
Between the wars, the continental powers will increase investigation into such weapons and cartridges. The French stopped after the war when conservative leaders felt the 8x35 Ribeyrolle not effective enough out past 400 yards. They then developed the 7.5. This may push the French to continue such development.
 
The issue is developing a light MG for squad/platoon use. Does this use the 7.92x57 or the new intermediate cartridge. If it uses the intermediate cartridge, the issue of horse killing will rear its ugly hooves. Keep the standard cartridge for LMG use. Either increase employment of the MG 08/15 for ground use or start new production lines for the MG 14.
The use of a lighter cartridge for use by the PBI is good, but does very little for actual combat power. The Germans would have certainly seen the efforts the Entente made to bring semi-auto rifles onto the battlefield. They made an attempt themselves. The lower powered cartridge may allow the development of a better semi-auto rifle by the Germans. By 1918 however, the Germans are in no shape to win the war. At best, they are looking for a stalemate. This new weapon system, with adequate LMG's may allow such a stalemate, but I doubt it.
If Germany had such a combination available for the 1917 campaigns, using Stosstruppen tactics, they may have delayed the end of the war for another year or two. By 1918, nothing can save them.
Between the wars, the continental powers will increase investigation into such weapons and cartridges. The French stopped after the war when conservative leaders felt the 8x35 Ribeyrolle not effective enough out past 400 yards. They then developed the 7.5. This may push the French to continue such development.
For squad/platoon use the intermediate would be it. For company and above it would be full powered due to range and optics availability to actually be able to use the full range. There really wasn't a 'horse killing at 1000m' issue by 1915/16.

Why keep the standard cartridge for LMG use??? The full power was unneeded and never really used (sight limitations), plus the ammo weighed significantly more, limiting how much a LMG team could carry. Mobility was probably more important sustained fire, so having lighter ammo and the same number of rounds increases mobility and helps limit fatigue.

I think part of Germany's problem in WW1 was the Hindenburg Program, which siphoned off resources at a critical moment, the later half of 1916, when the armaments boom was derailed by the insistence of H-L to increase the number of factories without the resources necessary to actually operate them; resources when into building new factories which were ultimately useless instead of more production and incremental increases in production capacity. The same problem existed in aircraft engine manufacturing in WW2 as well.

History disagrees over the advantages of the intermediate cartridge for combat power, otherwise everyone would still be using full powered, large caliber battle rifles. The limitation with the semi-auto rifle was that they used full power battle rifle rounds and the construction as a result was more complex and required too many resources to be practical for WW1 mass production. Which is why I didn't advocate for WW1 semi-autos. The Entente might be able to pull it off...but their standard cartridge was rimmed, which makes using a 'short' cartridge a bit too difficult considering the resulting taper. Now if they used the .30-06 case as a base for their short cartridge they could make it work.

By 1918 they could actually still win, but they'd have to have a different strategic/operational plan for their 1918 offensives, so an intermediate cartridge weapons family wouldn't help there. I doubt it would help any more in 1917, though maybe for the Caporetto offensive.

The Ribeyrolle was killed off by the gun malfunctioning constantly and never being made reliable, even with the inventor working on it for years. Since the 8x35 was his proprietary cartridge that killed off the concept. Not sure if the case being based on a US patented cartridge was also a factor in terms of cost either. The terrible ballistics of the heavy 8mm Lebel flat base bullet also didn't help, especially when France was going to caliber shift down as well (which would have actually helped the cartridge's ballistics..), so there was just a bunch of stuff going against it that had nothing to do with the concept of the cartridge.
And yes, it may well give that cartridge a fighting chance.

If we are talking post-war developments, I've always been interested in what a 6.5mm intermediate would do.
 
The terrible ballistics of the heavy 8mm Lebel flat base bullet
I have heard of some testing, that under 400 yards, flat base bullets are more accurate than boattailed that do far better at 1000.

Given the ranges of WWI combat, that round was 'good enough' for accuracy, as is the current Russian 9x39mm
 
I have heard of some testing, that under 400 yards, flat base bullets are more accurate than boattailed that do far better at 1000.

Given the ranges of WWI combat, that round was 'good enough' for accuracy, as is the current Russian 9x39mm
I've heard the limit is about 300m for flat base advantage over boattailed, but then the Soviets tested their 7.62x39 bullet thinking the same thing and found the boat tailed bullet did better in accuracy. Of course then the Yugoslavs did their version of it and opted for a smaller flat base bullet.
It's kind of a moot point though, because for general infantry rounds it's not actually marksmanship that is useful in combat, but volume of fire as Project SALVO found out; they ended up even recommending that tolerances be loosened because match grade accuracy was wasted in combat due to aiming errors resulting from snap firing at fleeting targets which weren't necessarily very visible in combat conditions anyway.

For WW1 ranges I still haven't found a good report on normal combat ranges, but I'd imagine that they'd be similar to WW2 ones once people started using cover, not clumping up, and of course got rid of the very visible uniform colors.

The 9x39 is probably too slow and rainbow shaped in ballistics for most ranges outside of urban areas or extended SMG ranges, but the quiet of the cartridge/suppressed rifle makes them very interesting as a potential option.
 
Gun Jesus has thoughts on the advantages of the intermediate cartridge:
(time 26:36 question about the SKS)
 

SwampTiger

Banned
I agree on the Ribeyrolles needing a smaller, lighter bullet. The French had designed a 7 mm bullet before the war. It should have used that one. I never cared for the Mauser cartridge case shortened. Too much case taper. They should have gone to a narrower case as a base. Lengthen the case to make up capacity. See the Czech 7.62x45 for a really nice case. It could have used more pressure and a smaller caliber bullet.

The problems for an intermediate LMG include its lack of range and penetration. The LMG is the center of the squad's firepower. You limit the entire squad without the extended range of the full power LMG.

The 7.65x20 is more powerful than the 9x17 and 9x18. It is less powerful than the 9x19 and 7.63x25. It results in a very nice SMG cartridge for trench use. Not a weakling.

The Germans waited too long to make effective changes to equipment. They did make good changes to tactics, which we still see today. Either way, Hindenburg plan or not, they were going to lose the war once the US joined.

Project SALVO's aim was to get more hits. The idea was to get two bullets out on the correct trajectory before the recoil effects spoiled the aim.
 
Gun Jesus has thoughts on the advantages of the intermediate cartridge:
(time 26:36 question about the SKS)
call this serendipity,
he tore your ideas a new one in the same video @ 0:16:13 and 0:32:35
logistical capacity affects everything, and that's a massive veto on the the idea of trying to deal with providing 2 different rifle cartridges to the front lines
 
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