Madsen machine gun

The Madsen was a light machine gun that Julius A. Rasmussen and Theodor Schoubue designed and proposed for adoption by Captain Vilhelm Herman Oluf Madsen, the Danish Minister of War, and that the Danish Army adopted in 1902. It was the world's first true light machine gun produced in quantity. Consequently, Madsen was able to sell it in 12 different calibres to over 34 different countries worldwide, where it saw extensive combat for over 100 years. The Madsen was produced by Compagnie Madsen A/S (later operating as Dansk Rekyl Riffel Syndikat A/S and then Dansk Industri Syndikat A/S).

Country Name Origin Year
Denmark 1896
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Denmark View
Korea 1904 1905 View

The design dates to 1880s with the Danish Forsøgsrekylgevær (Self Loading rifle M.1888) being a precursor design. In 1883 Captain Vilhelm Herman Oluf Madsen (a Danish artillery officer), and Rustmester Rasmussen (a weapons technician at the Danish Arsenal), began working on a recoil-operated self-loading rifle; Madsen developed the idea and Rasmussen fabricated the actual weapons. The rifle used a non-removable stripper clip that used gravity to feed rounds to the action; when the gun was not in use one could fold the clip down to cover the opening. The rifle used the 8×58RD cartridge, first in black-powder and then in a much more powerful smokeless powder version. The design was not successful. An improved design in 1896 gave the rifle an enclosed, but still gravity-fed, magazine. This version saw some 50–60 rifles being produced, but they were only issued to the Danish navy for use by coastal fortifications troops.

Up to and including World War: The Madsen was considered expensive to produce, but was known for its reliability. Thirty-four countries bought the gun, in a dozen different calibres, before and after World War I.

The Imperial Russian Army bought 1,250 Madsens for the cavalry and deployed them during the Russo-Japanese War. The Imperial Russian Air Service used Madsens to equip their Morane-Saulnier G and Morane-Saulnier L monoplanes, mounting the gun to fire over the propeller. The German Army deployed the Madsen in 7.92 mm calibre in 1914, arming infantry companies, mountain troops and later storm troopers.

Inter-war era: Among the fighting forces with the Madsen in their arsenals in the immediate aftermath of World War I were the Czechoslovak Legions in Russia, fighting the Bolsheviks in Siberia. The Madsen also saw service in China during the Warlord era.

World War II: Madsen machine guns were still in use in April–June 1940 as the Norwegian Army's standard light machine gun in the Norwegian Campaign, 3,500 M/22s in 6.5×55 Krag being available for the defence of Norway. By 1940 each Norwegian infantry squad had one Madsen machine gun, the Norwegians having previously grouped their Madsens in separate machine gun squads.

Post-war: Ireland had a total of 24 Madsen machine guns, all in .303 calibre. They armed the Irish army's Landsverk L60 light tanks, Leyland Armoured Cars, Landsverk L180 armoured cars, and Dodge Armoured Cars. In the 1950s .30 Browning machine guns replaced the Madsens still in Irish service.

Portuguese Colonial War: The Portuguese Army used Madsen machine guns during the Portuguese Colonial War of the 1960s and 1970s. Madsens served as temporary armament for Auto-Metralhadora-Daimler 4 × 4 Mod.F/64 armoured cars, which were Daimler Dingos modified with the addition of a turret-like structure.

Type Light machine gun
Place of origin Denmark
Service history
In service 1902–present
Used by See Users
Wars Russo-Japanese War

World War I

Chaco War

World War II

various other worldwide conflicts
Production history
Designed 1896
Manufacturer Dansk Rekyl Riffel Syndikat A/S
Specifications
Weight 9.07 kg (20.00 lb)
Length 1,143 mm (45.0 in)
Barrel length 584 mm (23.0 in)
Cartridge 8x58mmR

7×57mm Mauser

6.5×55mm

7.92×57mm Mauser

7.65×53mm Argentine

7.62×54mmR

7.62×51mm NATO

.303 British
Action Long recoil-operated
Rate of fire 450 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity 870 m/s (2,854 ft/s) (6.5×55mm)
Feed system 25, 30,and 40-round detachable box magazine
Sights Rear V-notch and front post

End notes