The Vickers was a water-cooled weapon and, therefore, there are many accessories that relate to this area; however, the majority remained unchanged through the service of the gun.

For an overview of the equipment used to keep the gun cool, please watch our video:

There was also the consideration of water itself, and the various mixtures to ensure it didn’t freeze or corrode the gun.

Water

Whilst it may seem unnecessary to write about how water was used in the Vickers machine gun, there are some trials and developments that should be covered, particularly considering the use of water in cold weather conditions and how it was preventing from freezing.

Each water-jacket contained 7.5 pints of water when full. The rate of boiling depended upon the rate of fire.

The earliest considerations to water and how it was affected by freezing conditions, which then caused too much friction on the barrel and the recoiling portions of the gun, were made during the Maxim’s service. Experiments were overseen by the Small Arms Committee and included oil as well as water initially.

124. Materials for Cleaning Arms.

*Clogging of oil used on mechanisms, &c., of Rifles, Machine Guns, &c., in cold weather.

D. of A., 14.5.1904, forwarded the following for consideration and remarks:-

OIL FOR MECHANISM OF SERVICE RIFLE AND MACHINE GUN.

Rangoon oil is supplied for oiling mechanism of rifles and Maxim guns.

On the departure of the Jackson-Harmsworth Arctic Expedition, in 1894, it was decided to supply Mr. Jackson with a Service Magazine rifle to ascertain how the mechanism worked in high latitudes. On the working of the mechanism Mr. Jackson reported as follows:-

“No oil whatsoever must be used on the striking bolt, otherwise even at comparatively high temperature such as minus 5 [degrees] F. the oil becomes very thick and clogs, and the striker fails to strike the cap with sufficient force to explode it. A little paraffin may be substituted with which it works perfectly, strongly and smoothly, even at temperatures of -35 [degrees] F.”

On this C.S.O.F., 6.12.1895, observed:- “The removal of all oil from the firing mechanism and the substitution of paraffin sparingly applied is a precaution that should be inculcated on all troops operating in places where the temperature falls below freezing point of oil.”

No special instructions appear to have been issued in consequence of above, and the question came up again in 1902 on a report of failure of the striker to fire cartridge in consequence of oil clogging it. This was in South Africa. A similar report came from Canada. This was investigated, and it was considered that paraffin would be the most suitable oil to use at low temperatures, and the following instructions were issued on the subject – para. 200 “Musketry Regulations”:-

“Rangoon oil when subject to great cold becomes thick and causes miss-fires by checking the action of the striker; in cold climates, therefore, oil, petroleum, Russian, lubricating (i.e., paraffin oil), will be substituted for Rangoon oil, and may be drawn in lieu of it in places where the temperature falls below 10 [degrees] F.”

A similar instruction was inserted in “Equipment Regulations, Armourers’ Instructions, and Maxim Gun Handbook.”

With a view of having a lubricant suitable for both hot and cold climates, trials are in progress at various stations at Home, Mediterranean, Canada, and the Cape, with oil, petroleum, Russian, lubricating, reported to bear cooling to a lower temperature than Rangoon oil without becoming unserviceable as a lubricant. Trials in mechanism of Maxim guns and rifles are in progress, and such reports as have been received show that the oil, petroleum, Russian, lubricating, is satisfactory.

The Commandant, Hythe, called attention to “The Times” report of the failure of the mechanism of the rifles and Maxim guns to work in the Tibet Expedition – the Chumbi Valley – owing to the freezing of the oil in the mechanism.

The report stated that-

“The effect of the cold upon inanimate objects has been very curious. The most important difficulty is that the Maxim guns and rifles have in some cases been almost disabled by the frost. It was at once obvious that the water-jacket of the Maxims was not merely useful, but a position source of danger. A mixture of run 25 per cent, and water 75 per cent., with sufficient kerosene added to make the mixture undrinkable, has been tried. This, however, freezes into a kind of slush, and the mixture is for the future to be altered to half-and-half rum and water. But this is by no means the only trouble. The oil in the locks of both rifles and Maxims freezes into a clogging mess which has caused endless miss-fires. This difficultly has been overcome by taking out the locks of the Maxims, cleaning them from oil as much as possible, and keeping them warm and dry by wearing them constantly in the breast pockets of the officers of the guns. The men on cold nights take their rifles into their blankets with them for the same reason, a curious sight for anyone who remembers how the men at Modder River had from an exactly opposite reason to lie upon their rifles to keep them still useful. But the difficulties are not even thus over so far as the Maxims are concerned. The normal “pull” of the fusee spring is between 7 lbs and 8 lbs. This has been found to be far too great for these altitudes. Single shots only can be fired thus. The reason has been variously given, but nothing entirely satisfactory has been yet suggested. The contention that cordite loses its force up here is disproved by the fact that the sighting remains satisfactory. Two methods of removing this difficulty have been tried. The fusee spring has in some cases been successfully weakened to 3 1/2 lbs. – or occasionally even less – when the automatic action again assets itself, but at a greater reduced rate of speed. Another ingenious remedy is the attachment to the muzzle of the gun of a small device originally intended for use when the barrel became very much fouled. This restores the action of the lock, with the fusee spring at its normal tension, thus retaining the normal rate of fire. Unfortunately, however, the part has only been supplied with a few of the Maxims at present with the force.”

The Committee recommend that trials be carried out to ascertain the best lubricant for use at low temperatures on rifle and machine gun mechanisms, and how the water in cooling chamber of Maxim machine gun can be kept in fluid condition when exposed to cold, also if this is the best thing to use under those conditions.

*The rifles could not be traced.

Minute No. 857, 16.5.1904, Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee.

Trials and reports continued.

124. Materials for Cleaning Arms.

Clogging of Oil on Mechanisms, &c., of Rifles, Machine Guns, &c., in cold weather.

Previous Minute 857, 16.5.1904.

D. of A., 20.6.1904, forwarded for consideration:-

“Chemist, W.D., was told on 28.5.1904 that oil, Russian, lubricating, was now under trial, and was asked to ascertain the temperature down to which it could be relied on, and whether at low temperatures smooth working was to be expected between metallic surfaces without lubrication; also with regard to the mixture of soft soap and water for Maxim gun jackets, whether 23 degrees F. was lowest temperature at which it could be relied on, and if there were any other simple cheap mixtures that he could recommend.”

He reported: 14.6.1904:-

“At 10 degrees F. oil, petroleum, Russian, lubricating, has the consistency of syrup, is rather thinner if anything, and remains quite clear. It does not lose its lubricating qualities , but they are such as must be expected from a relatively thick oil. No smooth working can be expected between metallic surfaces without lubrication.

“The freezing point of water can be considerably lowered by the addition of soft soap. Such a mixture would be free from the objections urged against an alcoholic liquid.

“In 1894 experiments were carried out here with such mixtures, and it was found that with a solution of 1 lb. of soft soap in 20 gallons of water the temperature could be lowered to 23 degrees F. before ice formed against the side of the vessel (glass tubes were used inserted in freezing mixture); at 22 degrees F. the contents of the tubes formed a kind of slush. The liquid in this condition would probably not interfere with the action of the Maxim.

“In this experiment the cooling was continuous down to 5 degrees F. Below 22 degrees solid ice began to form from the bottom of the tube; and at 5 degrees F. there was solid ice halfway up the tube.

“The problem of finding a cooling liquid that is efficient at all temperatures and in other respects unobjectionable is an old one and very many experiments and suggestions have been made, but without satisfactory results.”

The Committee recommend that experiments be made to ascertain if the Maxim gun can be fired with water in the jacket frozen, and also if the tensions of the springs are affected by low temperatures.

Minute No. 864, Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, 4th July 1904.

124. Materials for Cleaning Arms.

Clogging of oil in mechanism, &c. of rifles, and machine guns in cold weather.

Previous Minute 863, 4.7.1904.

EXPERIMENTS WITH MAXIM GUN IN JACKET FROZEN,

“A trial was arranged with the Secretary, Explosives Committee, and carried out.

“Two guns and one belt of ammunition were left for 48 hours in a climatic house, in which the temperature varied from 0 [degrees] to 20 [degrees] below zero.

“In one gun 20 per cent. of glycerine was mixed with the water, and when this gun was taken from the house the mixture was found to be frozen into a thick slush.

“Owing to the barrel not recoiling sufficiently this gun would only fire single shots with the frozen ammunition, until about 90 rounds had been fired when it began to work automatically, with a few stoppages, and on the weight of the fuzee spring being reduced it worked correctly, both with frozen and non-frozen ammunition.

“In the case of the gun which was filled with water only, the water had frozen into a solid mass. It was found that the front of the barrel casing had burst open, and that the barrel had from some cause become jammed towards the rear.

“The gun had to be stropped on the range and even then some difficulty was found in getting the barrel home.

“This gun fired over 100 shots singly with frozen ammunition before it commenced to work automatically, with a few stoppages, and then on lightening the fuzee spring it worked correctly, both with frozen and non-frozen ammunition.

“In one gun no alteration took place in the weight of the springs; and in the other the weights were very slightly reduced during the freezing operation.

“Both guns would undoubtedly have fired automatically sooner if the fuzee springs had been reduced in weight before commencing the trial, but this was not done in order to see how many single shots were required to free the gun.”

The Committee would like information as to the cause of the bursting of the barrel casing, particularly as to whether the regulation amount of fluid was added, or whether casing was completely filled. They would also welcome a suggestion as to how this bursting could be avoided in the future.

Minute No. 870, Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, 29th August 1904.

124. Materials for Cleaning Arms.

I. Clogging of oil on mechanisms, &c., of rifles and machine guns in cold weather.

Experiments with Maxim gun with water in jacket frozen.

Previous Minute 870, 29.8.1904.

C.I.S.A., 24.9.1904.

When the barrel casing burst it had evidently been filled quite full as the filling hole was blocked with a lump of solid ice.

A further trial has now been carried with four guns, five pints of water were put into the barrel casings of three guns, and into the 4th (No. 10358), five pints of a mixture of 10 per cent. of glycerine and water.

These guns were put into the climatic house at a temperature of 28 [degrees] Fahrenheit and left there for 144 hours, the temperature when they were taken out being 20 below zero.

Through an error only 10 per cent. of glycerine was used instead of 20 percent. The mixture was frozen quite as hard as the plain water.

No alteration in the weights of the springs took place during freezing. Gun No. 10357 was fired with the fuzee spring at 5 lbs. at which weight it fired correctly before the water was frozen. 240 single shots were fired before the gun commenced to work automatically.

Gun No. 10363 was fired with the spring at various weights from 4 to 7 lbs., and in this case also only the last 10 rounds in a belt of 250 rounds worked automatically.

Gun No. 10364 was placed in the freezing chamber with the muzzle attachment on, and the fuzee spring set at 7 1/2 lbs. This gun commenced to work automatically after 14 single shots had been fired, and the weight of the fuzee spring reduced to 6 lbs.

Gun No. 10358 had a mixture of water, and 10 per cent. of glycerine in the barrel casing; after six single shots had been fired the muzzle attachment was put on, and the gun worked automatically with the fuzee spring at 6 lbs.

In all the guns it was found impossible to move the recoiling portion by hand when they were first taken out of the freezing chamber, and in every case for the first three shots the recoiling parts had to be forced home by hand before the next shot could be fired.

He thought the experiment showed that if the barrel casing was not filled too full there was no chance of its bursting when the water froze, and also that the use of the muzzle attachment got over any jamming of the gun due to frozen water in the barrel casing after a very few rounds had been fired.

He proposed that the following amendments should be made to the handbook for .303-inch and .303-inch converted Maxim, 1903:-

Page 10, line 38, after the word “freezing” add:-

“In climates where the temperature is likely to fall much below freezing point not more than about five pints of water is to be put into the barrel casing (20 per cent. of glycerine mixed with the water will prevent its freezing so quickly); the muzzle attachment for ball firing will be placed on the gun and the fuzee spring will be set at its normal weight.

“When the gun begins to work correctly the weight of the fuzee spring may be increased as found necessary.

“Should the water in the barrel casing become frozen solid, on the gun being fired the barrel will probably not recoil far enough to work the gun, and will remain back for the first two or three rounds.

To remedy thus:-

“Turn the crank handle on to the buffer spring, then bring it back to the vertical position and force the barrel to the front, pulling the belt if necessary, then let the crank handle return to the check lever and fire the gun. This should be repeated until the barrel recoils correctly.”

The D. of A., 6.10.1904, forwarded.

The Committee consider this most satisfactory, and recommend the addition to the handbook for Maxim gun of paragraphs submitted by C.I.S.A. They would further like to be information what lubrication was used in these experiments.

Minute No. 879, Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, 10th October 1904.

124. Materials for Cleaning Arms.

I. Experiments with Maxim gun with water in jacket frozen.

C.I.S.A., 14.10.1904. The guns were wiped over inside with a lightly oiled rag. The locks were dipped into a can of oil and allowed to drain for 24 hours, then the outside of the locks were wiped quite dry, and wiped over with a lightly oiled rag. The ordinary Rangoon oil was used in both cases.

The temperature when the guns were taken out was 52 [degrees] below freezing point, i.e. minus 20 [degrees] F.

The D. of A., 17.10.1904, forwarded.

Noted.

II. Report of Lieut-Gen. Sir M.G. Gerard, K.C.B., K.C.S.I., attached to the Russian Forces in the East.

Previous Minutes 857, 16.5.1904, and 879 I., 10.10.1904.

EXTRACT OF A DESPATCH from LIEUT.-GENERAL SIR M.G. GERARD, dated 27th August 1904.

“Obviously the result of personal experience in the field may largely modify some of the information received, e.g., as to the effect of extreme cold on the working of machine guns.

“I asked Colonel Waters, as having served in the artillery more recently than I have, to collect information on the points connected with that arm, but he has just reported that exact details of the Q.F. field guns are regarded as secret and have been refused him, although as several have fallen into the hands of the Japanese, they are probably by now sufficiently well known elsewhere.

“As to the lubrication used for machine guns and rifles in Russian Service, a well-informed officers tells me that what is termed ‘Rujeney salo’ gun grease, and which he describes as ‘crude, uncleaned glycerine,’ is solely employed. It has an oily, yellowish appearance. I have not yet spoken to any officer serving with mitrailleuses, of which few are used, but am told ‘they believe’ that in great cold the water-jacket is kept empty and a few rounds would warm up the weapon sufficiently to employ water.

“No one has heard of the clogging of rifles or machine guns from extreme cold. It is impossible, however, that such weapons are ever subjected in peace time to similar conditions to those which they may have to stand on service.

“In the German and Austrian armies, on whose eastern frontiers the cold is but little inferior to that in Russia itself, their lubricating mediums are respectively called ‘Mars oel’ and ‘Waffenfelt.’ My informants are ignorant of their exact composition, but believe their basis to be petroleum or glycerine. The former was adopted after trial of several kinds and is said to be the recipe of a private firm. They also have not heard of any case of rifles or machine guns clogging from extreme cold in their service.”

The D. of A., 22.10.1904, forwarded.

Minute No. 885, Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, 31st October 1904.

In 1908, there was a discussion as to whether different chemical mixtures could be used to increase the boiling point of water. This was taken from a German technical document that discussed trials with their own Maxim machine guns.

142. Maxim Gun.

*Cooling Apparatus for Machine-gun Barrels.

TRANSLATION FROM “KRIEGSTECHNISCHE ZEITSCHRIFT,” 1908

Method of Cooling the Barrel of Machine Guns

Another method of solving the problem would be the use of liquid carbonic acid. When a stream of fluid carbonic acid is allowed to escape into atmospheric air its temperature falls, owing to rapid evaporation, below its freezing point ( -58 degrees C. = 72 degrees Fah.). in some cases as low as -70 degrees C. (=-94 degrees Fah.).

The writer is of the opinion that this property might be made use of for machine guns. The barrel would still have to be enclosed in a jacket though the latter might be of a smaller size than at present, a free space of an inch-and-a-half round the barrel would suffice. A small steel flask containing liquid carbonic acid might be connected with the jacket by a small pipe or tube. A steel flask weighing in all, some 11 lb. would hold enough carbonic acid to cool a barrel throughout an engagement. A periodical opening of the vent for a short time (say after every 100 rounds fired) might be arranged by means of a system of cogwheels, as as to allow a certain amount of the carbonic acid to flow into the jacket.

But it would amply suffice if the stop-cock of the flask were opened from time to time by hand.

The only danger is that the cooling might be so sudden as to set up alterations in the structure of the steel, affecting its durability.

An incidental effect would be that the carbonic acid, in its passage to the muzzle, would reduce the flask at the muzzle, which would be of the greatest important, especially in night fighting.

One disadvantage is the necessity for carrying a large number of these carbonic acid flasks; but in the writer’s opinion two would suffice for each mounting (in addition to one for each gun), with 18 in the store wagon, and a large reserve with the ammunition columns.

If the present jacket were retained, it would still be possible to have recourse to water cooling if the supply of carbonic acid ran short.

C.S.O.F., 7. 8. 08 –

With reference to above translation, asks if it is considered desirable to embark on any experiments with carbonic acid in any form as a cooling agent for Maxim or other guns.

C.I.S.A., 1. 10. 08 –

It would be worth trying how much carbonic acid per 100 rounds would be required to keep the water in the barrel casing of a Maxim gun just below 212 degrees after it had been brought to boiling point.

D.of A., 8. 10. 08, forwards for recommendation as to what trials, if any, should be carried out.

The Committee recommend that trials as suggested by C.I.S.A. in Minute of 1. 10. 08 be carried out under that officer’s supervision.

Minute No. 1052, Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, 10th November 1908.

A trial took place and it was reported back to the Committee in April 1909.

142. Maxim Gun.

Cooling Apparatus for Machine Gun Barrels.

Previous Minute 1052 / 10. 11. 08.

D. of A., 12. 11. 08, approved recommendation to above Minute.

C.I.S.A., 24. 3. 09 –

The cylinder was fixed in a frame, upside down, above the gun. A pipe led from the cylinder into the water-jacket and was provided with a nozzle having a vent .01 inch in diameter. This small size was necessary to prevent the water being blown out through the steam pipe. This was surrounded by a brass sleeve to prevent the water coming in contact with the nozzle and blocking the vent with ice. The nozzle and sleeve were immersed in the water to a depth of 1 1/2 inches.

On the tap of the cylinder being completely opened the liquid CO2 and not the gas flowed into the connecting pipe, thus ensuring that the evaporation of the liquid took place inside the water-jacket below the surface of the water and that the maximum cooling effect was obtained. On the first attempt the gas cylinder was not placed upside down and it became coated with ice due to the evaporation taking place in the cylinder, whereas with the cylinder placed upside down its temperature remained at little below that of the surrounding air.

Without the attachment and reversing the cylinder it was found that only 250 rounds could be fired for an expense of 5 1/2 lb. of CO2 and the water kept below the boiling point.

With the attachment –

The barrel casing was first filled with hot water, a few rounds fired till it boiled the CO2 was then allowed to flow in.

The following are the results obtained:-

When the gas was allowed to passed into the water-jacket, the quantity of gas required to keep the water below 212 degrees for 100 rounds fired = 2.1 lb.

When the liquid CO2 was passed into the water the quantity used per 100 rounds = .5 lb. and 4 1/2 pints of water was evaporated. Although the water did not boil a considerable amount of vapour came off all the time the CO2 was passed into the water. This was just as visible as steam would be.

Taking these last figures –

The cylinder used weighed about 42 lb. full, and 35 lb. empty, this is, the weight of the contents was 7 lb.

For the expense of this, 1,400 rounds could be fired and 42 lb. weight would have to be carried leaving out the consideration the water evaporated.

If water alone is used as at present 5 quarts would be required for the same number of rounds, that is, one quart of cold water added for each 250 round belt fired, weight only 12 1/2 lb. This would not prevent the water boiling, but would only replaced the amount blown off as steam.

D. of A., 30. 2. 09, forwards for Committee to see.

Seen. The Committee do not suggest any further action.

Minute No. 1074, Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, 19th April 1909.

It was agreed two months later than no further action would be taken (Minute No. 1080 of 19th June 1909).


Containers

When the Vickers machine gun entered service, a bag was used as a condenser. It would later be replaced with a metal can that was the same size and shape as the petrol can of the time.

Early developments

The Maxim machine gun also had a condenser developed for it. An early development was proposed and trialed in 1909. It was proposed by the Machine Gun Officer of the 1st Bn South Staffordshire Regiment and was discussed by the Small Arms Committee before being sent to trial.

142. Maxim Guns.

*Machine Gun Steam Condenser, invented by Lieut. F.S.N. Savage-Armstrong, 1st Bn. South Staffordshire Regiment.

Object and use of above invention

Object:-

1. To prevent the clouds of steam that soon give away the position of Maxim guns in action.

2. To save waste of water from evaporation.

3. To carry a good supply of water in a portable form.

When using this apparatus in its present form, [Drawing produced at meeting] i.e. with cork covering on the brass screw plug, care should be taken that the plug is pressed well into the steam vent, and is not allowed to work loose with the vibration caused by the firing and rush of steam. This plug, of course, if approved could be screwed into the steam vent with little difficulty by any armourer, and so rendered almost a fixture. In sandy soil the tube can be used without the water bag by placing the open end in a hold made by a bayonet and burying it, though the ground, after a time, may become heated and give off steam if another hole is not made. The bag is, therefore, the most reliable.

Care should be taken that the tap (which is only to prevent leakage of water when used with the plug, instead of the usual cork and chain to close steam vent) should be turned on when firing it taking place.

When moving a short distance, from one position to another, the water bag can easily be secured by grasping the neck with the hand; but if moving a long way, or across country, it should be secured by tying up the cord attached to it.

The metallic tubing should stand plenty of knocking about and would be covered in leather of canvas, but till this is done it should not be subjected to a violent longitudinal strain or pull as the joints might be damaged in this way.

The narrow neck of one of the water bags submitted enables it to be used for filling the barrel casing. It will hold more water than the football-shaped article now in use and will pack equally small.

C.I.S.A., 18. 10. 09 –

Captain Byrne, the Assistant I.S.A., thought of this, and tried it some months ago while carrying out the ordinary test for spare part locks. He has been on leave, and has not got out a satisfactory form to put forward.

Captain Byrne found that when firing 450 rounds 1 1/2 pints of water were lost from the barrel casing, and slightly over 1 1/4 pints were added to the bucket of water into which the tube fed. The temperature of the water was 54 degrees before firing and 90 degrees after firing.

The cork-covered tap proposed would be blown out by the steam pressure; it would have to be screwed in or lashed to the barrel casing.

The method certainly hides the steam until the water in the bucket or water bag boils. If these latter were of a good size this would not be til about 1,500 or 2,000 rounds had been fired rapidly.

D. of A., 4. 11. 09, forwards for Committee’s remarks.

The Committee recommend that this be tried at Hythe.

Minute No. 1113, Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, 8th December 1909.

The trial took place and the report was discussed and minuted in May 1910.

142. Maxim Gun.

I. The Savage-Armstrong Machine Gun Steam Condenser.

Previous Minute 1119 / 22. 12. 09.

Commandant, Hythe, 5. 4. 10-

Two guns were used, one fitted with the device (afterwards referred to in this report as A gun), the other in its normal state (afterwards termed B gun). Boiling water was kept in both guns for an hour before firing to hear up the metal, and immediately before firing this water was removed and replaced by water freshly boiled, so that the waterin both guns was as nearly as possible at 212 degrees.

On firing, B gun began to give off steam after 100 rounds, and before 250 rounds had been fired continuously the cloud of steam was visible 1,100 yards away.

With A gun 8 pints of water were put in the water bag. This water was at a temperature of 48 degrees. It was boiling gently after 350 rounds had been fired continuously and, after 750 rounds with three stoppages owing to separations, was giving off a slight haze of steam. This haze would not have been visible 50 yards away, and owing to the fact that the open neck of the bag does not confine the steam and raise it to a high pressure, the haze would not have become visible at any great distance before the loss of water from the water jacket had caused the gun to cease fire.

Supposing the water in the barrel-casing to have been cold to start with, the amount fired represents the equivalent of about 1,200 to 1,300 rounds fired without stoppage of any kind except to change belts.

The amount of water lost by A gun was 3 1/2 pints, or about half the amount required to fill the jacket, while the water in the bag had increased by 2 3/4 pints, the difference being due almost entirely to a slight leakage from the front gland.

B gun, after the equivalent of 850 rounds, had lost 2 pints. The balance in favour of A gun was thus very great, as it had fired 50 per cent. more rounds and had only lost 3/4 of a pint.

In both respects then, visibility and loss of water, A gun was immediately superior, and the device fully proved its value.

The apparatus is, as stated by Lieutenant Savage-Armstrong, very easily portable and the canvas bag is a much more effective article that the rubber-lined water bag now provided as part of the equipment, both in the amount of water it will carry and in durability.

It may be advisable to make the plug to screw into the barrel casing as suggested by C.I.S.A. (Minute 1113/8.12.09), but though in this trial it was lashed in to avoid any hitch, at the end of the firing it was so firmly gripped that it could not be pulled out by hand.

The length of the tube should be as great as possible consistent with the amount of space which is available for packing it. Then even if the water bag is not for any reason available for condensing the steam, the tube will lead it away to some distance and the cloud will probably be less visible than if issuing from the gun, and will not show the exact position of the gun. A larger nozzle might perhaps be used, so as to allow the steam to expand slightly before issuing into the air. This would reduce its visibility.

The material of the tube will perhaps required consideration as it has to withstand considerable heat and pressure.

D. of A., 25. 5. 10 forwarded for Committee’s remarks.

Minute No. 1142 I, Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, 25th May 1910

An alternative was proposed by Vickers, Sons and Maxim themselves, yet the Committee were not impressed and felt that it shouldn’t be taken forward. This was in July 1910.

142. Machine Guns

I. * Machine Gun Steam Condenser. Messrs. Vickers, Sons, and Maxim’s pattern.

The above-named Company, 19. 5. 10, forwarded a drawing [produced at meeting] of an apparatus for condensing steam for use with the .303-inch Maxim gun, and stated they could undertake the supply of one apparatus only for trial, complete with 20 feet length of metallic piping for 50 sets, they would be prepared to supply them at 6l. each, and also reduce the price of the trial set to the same figure.

An apparatus could be delivered at Hythe in three weeks from order.

The weight of apparatus when filled is 43 3/4 lb.

D. of A., 2. 6. 10, forwarded for Committee’s remarks.

The Committee consider that the weight of this apparatus prohibits its introduction for use in the field.

Minute No. 1154 I, Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, 28th July 1910.

The Savage-Armstrong condenser was then sent for field trials with the 6th Infantry Brigade at Aldershot as part of the experimental machine gun course being developed there (Minute No. 1154 III, 28th July 1910).

Cans, Condenser, Steam

  • Cat No. LV6/MT1 37556W, List of changes A 4200, CANS, CONDENSER, STEAM – Demand as “Cans, petrol”. For Guns, machine, Vickers
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6355, CAN, WATER, 2 GALLON, Clip, pourer
  • Cat No. C1/BD 0261, CAN, WATER, 2 GALLON, Clip
  • Cat No. C1/BD 0262, CAN, WATER, 2 GALLON, Screw, clip
  • Cat No. Z2/ZB 12868, CAN, WATER, 2 GALLON, Screw, clip, Nut, B.A., B.S., square, No. 1 x 3/8
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6362, CAN, WATER, 2 GALLON, Screw, clip, Washer

The condenser can is a standard two-gallon petrol can with a brass filler assembled over the opening of the can. The filler is designed to be inserted into the filling hole of the gun casing and is attached to the can by means of a chain and “S” hook. A clip is provided for its retention when not in use.

The cap of the can is secured against loss by a shackle consisting of a wire stirrup engaging the existing wire holds in the cap to which is attached a split pin and washer to form a swivel, and a length of brass chain, one end of which connects with the swivel and the other end to the “S” hook of the filler which is attached to an eye on the can below the cap.


Fillers, M.G., Mk. I

  • Cat No. C1/BD 0260, List of changes A 3312, FILLERS, M.G., MK. 1 – With brass swivel ring with M.G. chain and 1 M.G. and 1 special “S” hook. For petrol can condenser of Gun, machine, Vickers, .303-in., Mk. 1
  • Cat No. C1/BD 0261, List of changes A 3312, FILLERS, M.G., MK. 1, Clips
  • Cat No. C1/BD 0262, List of changes A 3312, FILLERS, M.G., MK. 1, Screws, clip – With nut and 2 washers
  • Cat No. C1/CA 0867, List of changes C 3928, POURERS, WATER CAN, MK. 1 – With chain and washer; for 2-gallon water can when used with Guns, machine, Vickers, .303-in., Mk. 1
  • Cat No. J2/JA 6543, CAN, WATER, 2 GALLON, Pourer
  • Cat No. C1/BD 0195, CAN, WATER, 2 GALLON, Pourer, Chain, 11 links
  • Cat No. C1/BD 2027, CAN, WATER, 2 GALLON, Pourer, Hook, “S” M.G.
  • CAN, WATER, 2 GALLON, Pourer, Hook, “S” special
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6360, CAN, WATER, 2 GALLON, Pourer, Ring, swivel
  • Cat No. C1/BD 2577, List of changes A 3312, SHACKLES, CONDENSER, STEAM, MK. I – Consisting of wire stirrup; swivel; and 4-in. length of brass M.G. chain; for securing cap of can, condenser, steam for Vickers .303-in. M.G., Mk. I

Bags

Bags, Water

  • Cat No. C2/BG 0005, List of Changes A7766, BAGS, WATER, M.G., MK. I, Rubber; with canvas cover; brass nozzle with plug, M.G. chain and 2 M.G. “S” hooks; and rubber washers large and small.
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0006, List of Changes A7766, BAGS, WATER, M.G., MK. I, Nozzles, With plug and large rubber washer
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0007, List of Changes A7766, BAGS, WATER, M.G., MK. I, Plugs, with M.G. chain and 2 M.G. “S” hooks, and small rubber washer
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0008, List of Changes A7766, BAGS, WATER, M.G., MK. I, Washers, rubber, large
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0009, List of Changes A7766, BAGS, WATER, M.G., MK. I, Washers, rubber, small
    This bag is supplied for use in filling the barrel casings of Vickers M.Gs. in A.F.Vs. It consists of a rubber bag enclosed in a canvas cover having, at the top, a canvas flap with a large brass eyelet. A right-angled brass nozzle, with a screwed plug secured to it by a length of M.G. chain and 2 M.G. “S” hooks, is screwed into the mouth of the bag. The capacity of the bag is approximately 6 pints.

Bags, Condenser, Steam

  • Cat No. C1/BD 0027, List of changes A 3312, BAGS, CONDENSER, STEAM, VICKERS .303-IN. M.G., MK. 1 – With carrying and closing straps

Bag, Nose, Mk. IV

CollectionInsurance295

Tubing

Protector

  • Cat No. C1/BD 0880, List of changes A3312, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .303-IN., MK. I, Protectors, condenser boss – With chain and swivel

Adapters

These were used to connect the Mk I ‘B’ and later models of the condenser tubing.

  • Cat No. C1/BD 0005, List of changes A7791 and C 2022, ADAPTERS, CONDENSER, VICKERS .303-IN. M.G., MK. 1 – For fixing to condenser boss on Mk. 1 gun; for use with Tubings, condenser, steam, Vickers .303-in. M.G., Mks. 1B and 3

Tubings, Condenser, Steam

There were various patterns of tubing used with the Vickers; the most commonly encountered being the Mk I “B” and Mk III.

Tubing, condenser, steam, Vickers .303-in. M.G., Mk. I

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Tubing, condenser, steam, Vickers .303-in. M.G., Mk. I “B”

Now obsolescent, consists of a 6-ft. length of flexible metallic tubing, to one end of which is soldered a brass elbow joint with a quick-release cap and spring for connection to the adaptor on the condenser boss of the gun. The adaptor is permanently fitted and when the quick-release cap is connected the elbow joint is pressed, by the spring in the cap, into engagement with the steam outlet in the gun.

Tubing, condenser, steam, Vickers, .303-in. M.G., Mk. II.

Patterns “A”, “B” and “C” differ only in the length of the rubber hose, being 13-in., 24-in., and 16-in., respectively. The rubber hose (steam quality) is fitted with a Mk. II quick-release brass elbow joint, winged union nut and ferrule. The elbow joint has a notched spigot for attachment of the rubber hose and spring-operated catch which engages a groove in the underside of the gun condenser boss. Attached to the opposite end, by a notched spigot, is the brass ferule having a flange encircling the coned head which retains the union nut to the tubing. The brass union nut assembles to a roof fitting in the A.F.V.

Tubing, condenser, steam, Vickers .303-in. M.G., Mk. III.

Differs from the Mk. I “B” pattern only in that the flexible tubing is replaced with steam quality rubber hose, being connected to the elbow joint by means of a notched brass spigot fixed in the socket originally provided for the reception of the flexible tubing. The rubber hose is secured by copper wire binding.

The assembly of the [Mk. I ‘B’ and Mk. III] above-mentioned patterns of tubing to the gun is carried out as follows.

Apply the projections of the quick-release cap into the grooves of the adaptor, pressing the cap inward, until the projections are free to rotate around the inner shoulder of the adaptor collar, when, by reaction of the spring, they will automatically engage the locking recesses in the collar, located at 90 degrees to the grooves. Insert the free length of the tubing into the steam condenser can (see cans, condenser, steam) which should be about two-thirds full of water.

Note.- In order to avoid injury, the tubing should be disconnected from the gun when not required for use and, when possible, during transit.

  • Cat No. C1/BD 2671, List of changes A 7133, TUBINGS, CONDENSER, STEAM, VICKERS .303-IN. M.G., Mk. 1B – 3/8-in. x 6-ft.; with Joint, elbow, quick-release, Mk. 1 with cap and spring
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0980, List of changes A 7771, TUBING, CONDENSER, STEAM, VICKERS, .303-IN. M.G., MK. II, “A” – With Mk. II quick-release brass elbow joint with plunger and spring; and ferrule with union joint. With rubber hose 13-in. in length
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0981, List of changes B 174, TUBING, CONDENSER, STEAM, VICKERS, .303-IN. M.G., MK. II, “B” – With Mk. II quick-release brass elbow joint with plunger and spring; and ferrule with union joint. With rubber hose 24-in. in length
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0982, List of changes B 174, TUBING, CONDENSER, STEAM, VICKERS, .303-IN. M.G., MK. II, “C” – With Mk. II quick-release brass elbow joint with plunger and spring; and ferrule with union joint. With rubber hose 16-in. in length
  • Cat No. C1/BD 2672, TUBINGS, CONDENSER, STEAM, VICKERS .303-IN. M.G., Mk. 3
  • Cat No. C1/BD 2673, TUBINGS, CONDENSER, STEAM, VICKERS .303-IN. M.G., Mk. 3, Hose, rubber, 4-ply – 3/8-in. x 6-ft.
  • Cat No. C1/BD 2674, TUBINGS, CONDENSER, STEAM, VICKERS .303-IN. M.G., Mk. 3, Joints, elbow, quick-release, Mk. 3
  • Cat No. C1/BD 2675, TUBINGS, CONDENSER, STEAM, VICKERS .303-IN. M.G., Mk. 3, Spigots
  • Cat No. G2/GB 11186, TUBINGS, CONDENSER, STEAM, VICKERS .303-IN. M.G., Mk. 3, Wire, copper – Demand as “Wire, copper, soft, No. 18 S.W.G.”


Cooling-related gun components

AFV cooling parts

  • Cat No. C2/BG 0183, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .303-IN., MK. VII, Brackets, union, outlet, Mk. II
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0186, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .303-IN., MK. VII, Gaskets, bracket, outlet union
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0187, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .303-IN., MK. VII, Nuts, bracket, outlet union
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0211, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .303-IN., Caps, Union – With disc. For Mks. VI* and VII guns
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0565, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .5-IN., Balls, steam valve – For Mks. IV and V guns
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0816, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .5-IN., Spring, Steam valve – For Mks. IV and V guns
  • Cat No. MT1/33824, List of changes B 3664, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .303-IN., Discs, Cap, union – For Mks. VI* and VII guns. To be demanded as “Washers, fibre, round, ½-in. x 51/64-in. O.D. x 1/16-in. thick”

Steam tubes

  • Cat No. C1/BD 0908, List of changes A7792, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .303-IN., MK. I, Screws, Keeper, Steam tube, Mk. I – Also for Guns, machine, Vickers, .5-in., Mk. I (N.I.V.) and II (Section C2)
  • Cat No. C1/BD 0908, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .5-IN., Screws, Keeper, steam tube, Mk. I – For Mks. I (N.I.V.) and II guns. To be demanded under “Guns, machine, Vickers, .303-in., Mk. I”
  • Cat No. C1/BD 0985, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .303-IN., MK. I, Tubes, Steam, No. 1 – Complete, also for GUns, machine, Vickers, .5-in., Mks. I (N.I.V.) and II (Section C2)
  • Cat No. C1/BD 0985, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .5-IN., Tubes, Steam, No. 1 – For Mks. I (N.I.V.) and II guns – To be demanded under “Guns, machine, Vickers, 303-in., Mk. I”
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0162, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .303-IN., MK. IV A, Tubes, Steam, No. 2 – Complete; with plain head
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0177, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .303-IN., MK. VI*, Tubes, Steam, No. 4
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0188, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .303-IN., MK. VII, Tubes, Steam, No. 5
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0324, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .303-IN., Screws, Keeper, Steam, Tube, Mk. I* – For Mks. IV B, VI, VI* and VII guns
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0401, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .303-IN., Tubes, Steam, No. 3 – Complete, with head recessed for keeper screw. For Mks. IV B and VI guns
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0471, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .5-IN., MK. IV, Screws, Keeper, Steam tube, Mk. II
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0543, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .5-IN., MK. V, Screws, Keeper, Steam tube, Mk. III
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0826, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .5-IN., Tubes, Steam, No. 2 – With valve assembled. For Mks. IV and V guns
  • Cat No. C2/BG 0834, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .5-IN., Valves, steam tube – For Mks. IV and V guns

Sources

  • Small Arms Committee (1904) ‘124. Materials for Cleaning Arms’ in Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, Minute No. 857, 16th May 1904.
  • Small Arms Committee (1904) ‘124. Materials for Cleaning Arms’ in Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, Minute No. 863, 4th July 1904.
  • Small Arms Committee (1904) ‘124. Materials for Cleaning Arms’ in Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, Minute No. 870, 29th August 1904.
  • Small Arms Committee (1904) ‘124. Materials for Cleaning Arms’ in Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, Minute No. 879, 10th October 1904.
  • Small Arms Committee (1904) ‘124. Materials for Cleaning Arms’ in Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, Minute No. 885, 31st October 1904.
  • Small Arms Committee (1908) ‘142. Maxim Gun’ in Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, Minute No. 1052, 10th November 1908.
  • Small Arms Committee (1909) ‘142. Maxim Gun’ in Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, Minute No. 1074, 19th April 1909.
  • Small Arms Committee (1909) ‘142. Maxim Gun’ in Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, Minute No. 1080, 19th June 1909.
  • Small Arms Committee (1909) ‘142. Maxim Gun’ in Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, Minute No. 1113, 8th December 1909.
  • Small Arms Committee (1910) ‘142. Maxim Gun’ in Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, Minute No. 1142 I, 25th May 1910.
  • Small Arms Committee (1910) ‘142. Machine Guns’ in Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, Minute No. 1154 I, 28th July 1910.
  • Small Arms Committee (1910) ‘142. Machine Guns’ in Proceedings of the Small Arms Committee, Minute No. 1154 III, 28th July 1910.
  • War Office, 1940a; 1942; 1944c; 1949a Specific source references can be provided if required.