Monday 22 October 2018

Fabric to Metal

"Approved by the Commander of Artillery of the 57th Army, member of the military council, Major-General of Artillery, Vreydo
August 15th, 1944

Instructions on using the German MG-34 handheld machinegun belt in the Maxim mounted machinegun

Trials of using metallic belts from the German MG-34 handheld machinegun in the Maxim mounted machinegun gave good results in terms of reliability of the machinegun.

1. Reason for usage
  1. A lack of belts for the Maxim gun can be made up for with captured belts.
  2. Metallic belts are not affected by moisture, are easy to load, and are reliable.
  3. The German 50 round belt made from separate links is more convenient in battle. A domestically produced ammunition container can fit a 300 round belt.
  4. Using the German metallic belt does not require any design changes or alterations in the receiver or the belt, which means that both the domestic fabric belt and the German metallic belt can be used.
  5. The ammunition is levelled using the same mechanism when loaded from the German belt, but with a limiter, which allows ammunition to be levelled when using both belts.
2. Loading a German metallic belt

Loading the German metallic belt should be done by hand, in such a way that the limiter is directed towards the bullet. This is the reverse of the method used when loading the MG-34 (see fig. 1).

Then, using the round levelling device in the same way as on the domestic fabric belt, the round is driven forward in the link until the edge of the cylindrical part of the casing is 5-6 mm away from the end of the link (see fig. 1).
  1. An additional limiter made from metal strips is introduced, which is held down by a bolt when filling a fabric belt.
  2. The insert is shortened by 8 mm. Instead of the opening for the screw in the insert, a 10 mm long cut is made. To load a metal belt, the insert is moved into the far right position, to load a fabric belt, the insert is moved to the far left position. In both cases, it is held down by the screw.
  3. A 1 mm thick plate is inserted under the wavy plate that the bullets pass through and that the belt is braced against when rounds are evened out in order to increase the surface area so that the belt limiters of the metallic belt do not slide off and can be braced against the plate.
  4. The exit opening of the levelling device is enlarged by 4-5 mm in length.
3. Loading a metallic belt into a Maxim machinegun

The German metallic belt is loaded in the same way as the fabric belt, but it is necessary for the belt limiters to be on top. The rear shortened claw of the loading mechanism will slide along the cylindrical part of the casing without touching the belt. The front lengthened claw will push the limiter of the metallic part of the belt, moving it forward.

Any other position of the rounds in the belt or the belt in the receiver will result in frequent jams.

Removing the belt from the receiver and pushing it in the other direction when shooting is over is done by tilting it in the receiver into the forward position, where the belt limiters will disengage from the front claw and the belt can be freely removed.

Chief of the 4th Department of the 57th Army, Engineer-Major Kuznetsov."


  1. Oh right, fabric belts were still common for Maxim derivatives even this late - the Brits used them too, though as minor belligerents go at least the Finns had switched over to metal in the Thirties. Bit surprising really given the fabric's higher weight, comparative fragility and susceptibility to moisture and dirt; cost considerations I suppose?

  2. Having a few million left over from the Great War?

    1. Fair enough, but sooner or later those will wear out and need to be replaced right?