M1941 Johnson machine gun

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Johnson M1941 LMG
JOHNSONMG1.jpg
TypeLight machine gun
Place of origin United States
Service history
In service1940–1961
Used bySee Users
WarsWorld War II,
Production history
Designed1940
Produced1940–1945
Number built9,500
VariantsM1941
M1944
Specifications
Weight13 lb (5.9 kg)
Length42 in (1,100 mm)
Barrel length22 in (560 mm)

Cartridge.30-06 Springfield
ActionShort recoil
Rate of fire200–600 round/min variable
Muzzle velocity2,800 ft/s (853.6 m/s)
Feed system25-round, single stack-column detachable box magazine
 
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Not to be confused with the Johnston Model D1918 machine gun

Johnson M1941 LMG
JOHNSONMG1.jpg
TypeLight machine gun
Place of origin United States
Service history
In service1940–1961
Used bySee Users
WarsWorld War II,
Production history
Designed1940
Produced1940–1945
Number built9,500
VariantsM1941
M1944
Specifications
Weight13 lb (5.9 kg)
Length42 in (1,100 mm)
Barrel length22 in (560 mm)

Cartridge.30-06 Springfield
ActionShort recoil
Rate of fire200–600 round/min variable
Muzzle velocity2,800 ft/s (853.6 m/s)
Feed system25-round, single stack-column detachable box magazine

The M1941 Johnson Light Machine Gun was an American recoil-operated light machine gun designed in the late 1930s by Melvin Johnson. It shared the same operating principle and many parts with the M1941 Johnson rifle and the M1947 Johnson auto carbine.

Contents

Design

The M1941 light machine gun was designed by a Boston lawyer and Captain in the Marine Corps Reserve named Melvin Johnson Jr. His goal was to build a semi-automatic rifle that would outperform the M1 the Army had adopted. By late 1937, he had designed, built, and successfully tested both a semi-automatic rifle and a prototype light machine gun. Each shared a significant number of physical characteristics and common parts, and both operated on the principle of short recoil with a rotating bolt.

Johnson's light machine gun was one of the few to operate on recoil operation and was manufactured to a high standard. It was fed from a curved, single-column magazine attached to the left side of the receiver; company brochures list a 25-round magazine as standard. Additionally, the weapon could be loaded by stripper clip at the ejection port, or by single rounds fed into the breech. The rate of fire was adjustable, from 200 to 600 rounds per minute. Two versions were built: the M1941 with a wooden stock and a metal bipod, and the M1944 with a tubular steel butt and a wooden monopod.

When firing, recoil forces along with the mass of the weapon's moving parts all traveled in a direct line with the shoulder of the gunner. While this in-line stock can be seen in the M16 rifle today, it was a novel idea at the time. Since recoil was directed back into the shoulder, muzzle rise was minimized. Due to this design, the sights had to be placed higher above the bore.

Johnson LMG in use

The weapon has many parallels with the German FG 42. Both feed from the left side, and both fire from an open bolt while in automatic, and a closed bolt while in semi-auto. Both weapons were awkward to carry loaded, both with a side-mounted magazine, the Johnson had an especially lengthy single-column magazine, and this feature tended to unbalance the weapons. Despite these similarities, there is no evidence that either weapon had any effect on the design of the other. Both weapons attempted to solve similar problems, and adopted similar solutions.

Prototypes of semi-automatic rifles, 25-round magazine-fed[citation needed], based on the Johnson LMG were also produced. The M1947 Johnson auto carbine is an example.

Users

Johnson sold small quantities of the Johnson LMG to the U.S. Army and Marine Corps.[1]

During the Second World War, Specials Forces within the Allies demanded a more portable, lighter, more accurate automatic rifle that provided the equivalent stopping power of the American B.A.R. As a result, this machinegun was adapted as the B.A.R replacement for commandos operating behind Axis lines. Although the quantity sold still remained limited due to small population of special forces.

Shortly after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the predecessor of the Israel Defense Forces, Haganah, developed a close copy of the Johnson LMG, the Dror, in both .303 British and 7.92x57mm Mauser. Israeli forces found the Dror prone to jam from sand and dust ingress, and the weapon was discontinued after a brief period of service. Ernesto Che Guevara notably used a Johnson in the Cuban Revolution.

Aftermath

Melvin Johnson continued to develop small arms. In 1955, he was asked to assist Fairchild/ArmaLite in (unsuccessfully) promoting Eugene Stoner's AR-10 rifle with the U.S. Department of Defense, then with ArmaLite and Colt's Manufacturing Company as an advocate for the AR-15. Armalite relied heavily on Johnson's efforts and the AR-15 used a similar bolt design to the M1941 Johnson. The AR-15 is still manufactured today in the guise of the M16 rifle and variants. One of Johnson's last postwar firearms ventures was a 5.7 mm-caliber version of the M1 carbine, aka 'the Spitfire'.[2]

Users

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Pikula, Sam (Maj.), The Armalite AR-10, 1998
  2. ^ Barnes, Frank C., Cartridges of the World, DBI Books, 1989

Books and References

External links