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Here is my deactivated CSRG Chauchat. CSRG stood for the principle manufacturers, Chauchat, Sutter, Ribeyrolles and Gladiator. This was the standard light machine gun for the French and the US forces for most of WW1. This lightweight weapon weighed 20 pounds unloaded and could fire 240 rounds per minute. The M1915 or Fusil Mitrailleur Modele 1915 CSRG was put into service in the summer of 1916. It was one of the first light weight weapons that could be operated by a single soldier. It incorporated a pistol grip behind the trigger, a collapsible bipod, a detachable magazine, all features that would be used to design future weapons of this type. It was also mass produced, during the war, over 244,000 were made, making it the most produced light machine gun of the war. As well as France, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Italy, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia and the US used these weapons in their armies. 

The Chauchat gained a negative reputation during the war, it tended to stop working when overheated. Additionally the open sided half moon magazines allowed debris to enter the gun action, causing about 75% of the jamming issues. It is widely regarded as the worst weapon from WW1 by most historians. The US forces used this weapon initially until the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was ready for field use. A lot of the failings of this weapon were mainly due to poor construction methods and materials, however the need to get a large volume of weapons to the front often overruled production methods. In fact the French did try to correct the deficiencies, such as improved magazines, both metal and canvas dust covers, however by the time this was done, the war had moved from the static trench warfare to the open ground offensives in late 1918. Subsequently the weapon did perform a lot better as it moved away from the filth of trench warfare. Another nail in the coffin for this weapon was that the standard 2 man team that operated the gun was increased to a 4 man team, to help the flow of ammunition to the gun, however this was one of the primary reasons the French wanted to move away from the M1914 Hotchkiss heavy machine gun as it required at least 4 men. 

The Germans also made use of this gun as they had limited light machine guns save for the MG 08/15, which was much heavier. The Germans also tried to convert the french models to fire the standard German cartridges with limited success. 

With its reputation tarnished from WW1, it was still used as late as the 1960's in the Vietnam war. The last photo shows a metal dust cover that was developed to go over the upper receiver which was made at the end of the war. 

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Here is something not often seen, the Chauchat leather magazine pouches. These were the early patterns used which held 2 magazines each. Today they are pretty much non-exisitent but I did find a vendor in france which makes faithful reproductions. 

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Image of US soldiers in a French village, note the member on the left, he has the Chauchat, pronounced "Show-Show" by the US forces. 

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Images of the Chauchat in action.

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Here is the Chauchat tool and maintenance pouch, very rare and hard to find. There are good reproductions available, however the tools can be tough to find.

(photo source, internet)

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Rare photo of the Chauchat in use by US troops. Here are members of the 137th infantry regiment, part of the 35th division in Alsace in 1918. Note the makeshift barricades. The soldier on the left is wearing the French made magazine bag, which cannot be seen, but the shoulder strap  with the leather buckles is very evident. The pouches were widely used by US forces. A US made puch was later made for the 30-06 version of the gun. 

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Here is the magazine pouch mentioned above. The reverse side had 3 leather loops to attach the wearers belt if desired, however most just used the shoulder strap. 

(photo source, internet)

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Interesting photo showing WW2 German troops with the Chauchat. 

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Waffen-SS troops in the early stages were short of weapons, as the Wehrmacht had first choice and there was hardly anything available for the W-SS, who had to organise their weapons as well as possible, so therefore, old and captured weapons were used. This changed as from mid-war and the W-SS received priority due to their increasing influence and their capability as a troop.

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Here are the pouches made for the US 30-06 version of the Chauchat in WW1. The magazines for this weapon were box shaped, similar to the BAR, but slightly longer in size, which is reflected in the design of the pouches. These came out towards the end of the war and most found today are in unissued condition, as they most likely were never used. 

(photo source, internet)

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Interesting conversion, the M07/15 Berthier carbine was also retrofitted with the Chauchat 20 round magazine for use by the French air service. The US and Germans also had a 20 round magazine for their rifles. This particular gun was used for observation balloon crews and aerial recon planes that were not fitted with machine guns. This modification was not made in large numbers.

(photo source, internet)

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Another nice image of a US officer demonstrating correct standing firing position for the Chauchat, most likely stateside as they are still wearing the peaked hats, but could also be a training camp in North West France. 

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Another nice image of the Chauchat, again in training with US troops. Note that the gun in the foreground has a US m1907 sling installed not the French leather sling. 

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Here is the Chauchat second model special backpack which was ordered in late 1916 and began arriving in April of 1917, with 70,000 made. The second model opened from the rear, as the first model opened from the side. It had an internal perforated metal frame which could hold 8 magazines as well as carry 64 loose cartridges. The right side carrying strap had a quick disconnect, which allowed the pack to be quickly dropped in case of emergency.  In September of 1917, it was modified once more with the addition of a removable pad as complaints were received that it was uncomfortable to carry. These are very rare to find today, I have only seen one for sale in the last few years and it was very expensive. 

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Here is a rare image of the first model special backpack as shown on the members of the 16th Infantry regiment which was training with the CSRG in 1916. The soldier on the right clearly shows the pack opening from the side instead of the rear. 

 

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Image of a US soldier taking apart the weapon for cleaning. In the trenches, this weapon required constant cleaning or it would seize up, usually when you needed it the most.  

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Interesting post war image of Belgian troops with the Chauchat, the Belgians converted the rifle to fire 7.65x54mm and used a box magazine. Note the man behind the CSRG gunner with the VB launcher in his rifle. Belgium had over 3200 of the Chauchats after the war, in 1927 the Belgians re-enforced the receiver, making it stronger, as well as adding a hinge cover for the magazine well, an improved bipod and a cover for the ejection port. 

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Chauchat gunners were also issued a sidearm, known as the Ruby pistol. Officially called the Pistolet Automatique de 7 millim.65 genre "Ruby", the pistol looked very close to John Browning's 1903 hammerless pistol. The Ruby was made in Spain mainly under the  Gabilondo y Urresti company, however over 50 sub-subcontractors were used to fulfill orders. In 1915, the French who were desperate for additional weapons, received Gabilondo's pistol for review, which after testing accepted it into their army. It is estimated that around 300,000 were made for the French forces in WW1. The gun itself was very simple to operate and maintain, however it had a fairly weak cartridge being a .32 caliber. This pistol was carried in a leather holster worn on the gunners back, which was supported by the leather Y straps. These pistols are fairly common to find today as over 750,000 were made in various models up till 1958.

(photo source, internet)

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