The Chauchat Machine Gun

After the United States entered World War I in April 1917, the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) arrived in France, without automatic weapons or field artillery, to relieve battle-worn English troopsl. The English generals wanted the American troups to report to them. General Pershing did not let that happen.

Angered by that decision, the English issued an inferior French weapon, the Chauchat machine rifle, to the American troups. The Chauchat was poorly designed and manufactured. Forty percent of initial production was rejected and the field performance of the remaing sixty percent was abysmal. The most common problem was a failure to extract after the gun had fired only a few rounds and became slightly hot. Substandard manufacturing made it impossible to interchange parts between weapons. Open-sided magazines were subject to jamming from mud and other battle-ground debris. The recoil was strong enough to break a cheek bone. The weapon was so bad, the troops would through it away and hope to find something else on the battlefield.

America had a superior machine gun, the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) , but general Pershing had been holding back on the BAR until victory was certain; for fear it would be copied by Germany. One of the most significant accounts of the Chauchat’s poor performance was from an American lieutenant who was quoted saying ” I spent the last few weeks of World War I back in the hospital, but I’ll tell you one thing the boys later told me; the day after the Armistice when they got the word to turn in their Chauchats and draw BARs”. “That BAR was so much better than that damned Chauchat. If we had the BAR six¬† months before, it would have saved so many lives”.



* Which supports and barriers were in play?

* What were the dynamics?

* Who, or what, won the Tug-of-War?

* Discuss the outcome with your friends and family.

* Use Post #4 as a reference for the dynamics, and the relationships, between supports and barriers.