Saturday, May 18, 2024

A Vickers Machine Gun That Fired 5 Million Rounds: Fact or Myth

The Legendary Vickers Machine Gun Story

In this article, we delve into the intriguing tale of an old WWI-era Vickers machine gun and a group of British Army armorers in 1963 who attempted to dispose of 5 million rounds of obsolete Mk VII ammo by firing the weapon.

The Initial Step

According to lore, a group of young soldiers with the British Army decided to destroy the ammo by firing the Vickers gun, as it was no longer considered fit for military use.

The Firing Experiment

In 1963, they loaded the gun with 5 million rounds and began firing them over a period of seven days. They worked in pairs, switching off every 30 minutes, while a third soldier loaded the spent brass.

Changing Barrels

It’s mentioned that they likely changed the barrel every hour and a half, possibly due to the large number of rounds being fired. The possibility is raised that out-of-spec Vickers barrels were also disposed of during this time.

The End Result

After firing all 5 million rounds, the pre-1920 Vickers gun was taken apart and found to be in working condition. This story has been repeated by numerous websites and is supported by an account from the book The Grand Old Lady of No Man’s Landby Dolph L. Goldsmith (Ch.7, page 188).

Questions and Debates

While the story is widely known, questions have been raised regarding the experiment’s credibility. Some doubts have been cast on the number of rounds fired (5 million) and whether it was a WWI-era gun or a WWII-era one.

The Vickers Legacy

Regardless of the experiment’s veracity, the Vickers machine gun remains an iconic part of firearms history. It was adopted from the Maxim gun and became Britain’s primary heavy machine gun during WWI and continued to serve with distinction until 1968. The Vickers’ reliability earned it a reputation as one of the most reliable heavy machine guns ever produced.