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Marlin-Browning M1917 Machine Gun (Potato Digger- M1895)

Item #4003: $14.95
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Marlin-Browning M1917 Machine Gun (Potato Digger- M1895)

24 pages, about 11" x 8", glossy soft-cover in full color. New re-print restored and digitally enhanced from a nice original. Printed on high quality 20# 97 bright acid free paper. Pasrts illustration.

Contents - Index:

  • Pages: 24
  • This is a manual for the operation and maintenance of the Automatic Machine Rifle. It includes:
  • Description
  • Operation and Instructions for the gun (misfires, Stoppages, Precautions, Target Practice)
  • Equipment with the gun
  • Care and Management (Hangfires, Misfires, Closing on cases, other jams etc)
  • Dismounting (parts diagram with parts identities and how to remove them)
  • Components,
  • Mount
  • Tripod
  • Belt Loading Machine
  • Precautions

The Colt-Browning M1895, nicknamed potato digger due to its unusual operating mechanism, is an air-cooled, belt-fed, gas-operated machine gun that fires from a closed bolt with a cyclic rate of 450 rounds per minute. Based on a John Browning design dating to 1889, it was the first successful gas-operated machine gun to enter service.

After Marlin started making the Colt 1914's, it developed an improved version of the M1895 was designed and produced by Marlin Rockwell (currently Marlin Firearms) in 1917 and it was adopted by the US Army as a training weapon and approximately 2,500 were purchased. This improved gun, the Colt-Browning M1895/14, was also called the "Marlin Gun" and "Model 1917". The primary improvement was the use of a detachable barrel, a more generous side plate cut-out and a sliding door on the right side plate opening (also made larger) for easier access. Despite these improvements, the Marlin was limited to 500 rounds of continuous fire due to a tendency to overheat. The Navy also purchased a version of the Marlin gun with a gas piston in lieu of the lever mechanism, although very few if any guns saw service aboard ship.

A second, much more radical version of the M1895 was introduced in 1917 for tank and aircraft use, later designated the Marlin M1917 and M1918. Like the Navy Marlins, these variants used a linear gas piston in place of the 'potato digger' arm and bore little outward physical resemblance to the basic "digger" design. The new reciprocating piston was located parallel to the barrel and below it, allowing the gun to be mounted lower to the ground. Another improvement was the use of aluminum fins as a heat radiator. Most Marlin M1917 and M1918 guns saw use in aircraft as defensive armament. By the last months of World War I, almost 50% of the Spad XIII fighter aircraft in France had their Vickers guns replaced with Marlins. Had the war progressed into 1919 the Marlin would have been the primary U.S. tank and aircraft gun. The M1917/1918 also equipped Thomas Morse Scout aircraft used for advanced training at stateside bases.

The Marlin gun would see postwar use on the machine gun version of US Army's Six Ton Tank, an American copy of the French FT-17. However, the Marlin guns quickly disappeared from U.S. military service after the great success of the .30 Browning machine guns and variants subsequently adopted for air, ground, and shipboard use.