A Classic World War One Weapon: The Vickers Machine Gun – In Action (Watch)

A mainstay of the British army, the Vickers machine gun is a classic First World War weapon. The design actually built on a previous gun, invented in the late 19th Century by Hiram Stevens Maxim. The company that produced the Maxim Gun was bought over by Vickers Limited, at which point the weapon was streamlined and improved, until it became the iconic Vickers machine gun we know today.

It was officially selected as the standard machine gun for the British military in 1912. Initially, they were still outnumbered by the old Maxim guns, but after Vickers Limited lowered their prices – allowing the army to buy their weaponry in even greater numbers – that quickly changed.

Although the Vickers machine gun needed a team of about six men to operate it, it was still highly effective in the field, as well as proving extremely reliable. This latter fact made it particularly popular, as it rarely jammed and could always be counted on to fire efficiently, even in adverse conditions.

As well as proving its mettle on the ground, this versatile weapon also found a place in the skies. Although the Lewis gun was the first machine gun to be fired from a plane in flight, the Vickers had some advantages over its popular counterpart. For example, it had a closed-bolt firing cycle, meaning that it was much easier to fire through the propellers of whatever aircraft it was mounted on. Many planes were soon equipped with twin guns, and this became standard practice by the end of the First World War.

In this video, viewers can watch the entire process of setting up, loading and firing a classic Vickers machine gun. The AZ Guns YouTube channel hosts an exciting range of content, covering everything from early 20th Century weaponry to modern-day firearms. If you’re a fan of the Vickers gun in particular, or just have an interest in firearms in general, this video and the channel behind it are definitely worth a visit.

Malcolm Higgins

Malcolm Higgins is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE