France’s effort after World War I to develop an effective light machine-gun led to a weapon whose action was based on that od the BAR but altered to suit the new French 7.5-mm cartridge. The first model was the Fusil Mitrailleur model 1924. The design was modern and used an overhead 25- 26- round boy magazine. Separate triggers provided single shot or automatic fire.
Neither the gun nor the cartridge was fully developed before introduction to service, resulting in barrel explosions. The solution was found in reducing the power of the cartridge and beefing up some of the weapon’s parts to create the Fusil Mitrailleur model 1924/29.
A special variants of the model 1924/29 was produced, initially for use in the Maginot Line defences but then also dog tanks and other AFVs, as the Mitrailleuse model 1931. The model 1931 had a peculiarly shaped butt and a prominent side-mounted 150-round drum magazine. The internal arrangements were the same as those of the model 1924/29, even if the overall length and barrel length were increased. In static defences, the increased weight was no handicap and the model 1931 was produced in large numbers.
France’s defeat in June 1940 yielded large numbers of model 1924/29 and model 1931 weapons that the Germans used as the leicht MG 116 (f) and Kpfw MG 331(f) respectively. Only a relatively few remained in French hands in the Middle East and North Africa. After 1945, te modele 1924/29 was returned to production and remained in service for many years.
The German booty of 1940 meant that many model 1924/29s and model 1931 machine-gun were later incorporated into the defences od the Atlantic Wall, and the model 1931 was especially favoured by the Germans as an anti-aircraft weapon. But for all this widespread use the model 1924/29 and model 1931 were never entirely trouble-free,and their cartridge was generally underpowered and lacking in range: maximum useful range was only 500 to 550 m instead of the 600 m or more of many contemporary designs.
Technical specification of Fusil Mitrailleur model 1924/29
|Fusil Mitrailleur model 1924/29|
|Calibre:||7.5 mm (0.295-in)|
|Weight:||8.93 kg (19.7 lb)|
|Length overall:||1007 mm (39.6 in)|
|Length of barrel:||500 mm (19.69 in)|
|Muzzle velocity:||820 m per second|
|Rate of fire, cyclic:||450-500 rpm|
Technical specification of Fusil Mitrailleuse model 1931
|Mitrailleuse model 1931|
|Caliber:||7.5 mm (0.295-in)|
|Weight:||11.8 kg (25 lb)|
|Length overall:||1030 mm (40.55 in)|
|Length of barrel:||600 mm (23.6 in)|
|Muzzle velocity:||850 m per second|
|Rate of fire, cyclic:||750 rpm|