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Hotchkiss Portable Machine gun M1909 Mark I

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The Hotchkiss Portative light machine gun was designed by famous French arms-making company Hotchkiss in around 1907, and was produced for both domestic use (mostly on early aircraft) and for export. Commercial versions of this gun were also sold to Belgium and Sweden. The American version was known as Benet-Mercie machine rifle, M1909. The British version was known as .303 Hotchkiss Portable Machine gun M 1909 Mark I, officially adopted for cavalry service in 1916. It was again a slightly modified Hotchkiss Portative, adapted to .303 British ammunition; other changes include a separate pistol grip with a simplified detachable metal butt, the bipod was replaced by a light and compact tripod, and a carrying handle was added. Because of its lighter butt and shorter barrel, it was a little lighter that its US or French siblings. It was produced in the UK by the Royal Small Arms factory in Enfield. It was also used as secondary armament on earliest British tanks, with butt removed, and using semi-rigid belts as opposed to rigid strips, used in infantry and cavalry versions. The Hotchkiss Portative is a gas-operated, air-cooled, selectively fired weapon that fires from an open bolt. Heavy air-cooled barrel is fitted into the finned radiator to provide better cooling; the manual for the gun recommended to 'pause firing after about 300 rounds of continuous fire to let the barrel cool down', but also stated that, 'in emergency situations, up to 1000 rounds can be fired without pause through the single barrel, causing no significant harm to the gun'. U.S. forces used the Benét–Mercié at the Battle of Columbus in 1916 (4 guns fired 20,000 rounds total in the engagement), in the subsequent Poncho Villa Expedition in Mexico of 1916–17 and in France. I bought the parts set from IMA since it seems to be the last of the machine gun parts sets being sold. I thought it would be an interesting challenge to make into a display gun. All of the internal parts are massive so I welded everything together and fabricated the feeding mechanism for the strip magazine. I made all of the fabricated parts from heavy gauge nickel silver. The metal has the white color of steel but is much easier to bend, cut, braze and solder than steel. I found a company that supplies re-enactors with dummy machine gun belts, clips and this strip magazine. These strip magazines come in fifteen and thirty round capacity. The gun can also be fed with a belt made up of three round segments linked together. I also found this brass bound leather strip magazine holder. The receiver section of the dummy gun is about two inches shorter than the gun with the original receiver. Here is also a picture of the parts set so you can see what I started with.







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