...the Vickers Machine gun in detail photographs
'Going the Whole Nine Yards' is a phrase many people will have heard of, but not known its' origins. Going back to WW1 and life in the trenches, then it refers to the length of a full 250 round ammunition belt fired by the Vickers machine gun. To go through a complete belt, firing non-stop, was said to have 'gone the whole nine yards'. Something for you to save up for a quiz evening maybe.
I was fortunate enough to get hold of this example this year, thanks to Peter Bailey and Gill Bull of Bull Models, and I set it up to take this set of pictures. The tripod alone weighs 52lbs (about half a hundredweight), solid metal. the idea of having to manually carry that by one person, all day, in conditions like the North African Desert or the jungles of the Far East would be a task I am relieved to only have to imagine. The gun itself, with the water mfilled jacket would be another 42lbs.
In addition to direct fire, the tripod mounted Vickers was also good for firing beyond visual range. If you had a known distance to a track or crossroads for example, the gun could accurately lay down interdiction fire to help upset any enemy movement on the track or junction. Over all a very reliable weapon, which served the British Army from WW1 through to the 1960s. Remembering they were heavy to cart around, they were also mounted on Carriers as well.
This de-activated example I set up in my back garden, where it attracted the attention of my daughter, who is seen above. The set up included the use of an old petrol can for use as the condensor on the water from the jacket , a few spent cases were littered on the ground, and some deactivated rounds put in an ammunition belt to give an idea of what it would look like. To add to it, an example of a single ammo box and a double one, still in original colouring.
The Vickers was developed from the original Maxim machine gun, and entered service in the British Army in 1912, only being declared obsolete as late as 1968. Made to a high specification, it was elaborately engineered. The result of that however was a very reliable weapon. Failure in action was almost unheard of. There could be stoppages to clear, but not actual failure. The most often quoted example is from the Somme in 1916, when 10 Vickers fired over 1 million rounds in a 12 hour period. Lots of barrel changes and copious quantities of water, but one of the guns managed an average of 10,000 rounds per hour over the 12 hour period, and was still operational at the end of it. Thus are such reputations of reliability born.