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Darne Modele 1918

Aircraft Machine Gun / General Purpose Machine Gun

France | 1919

"The Darne Modele 1918 appeared too late for service in World War 1 but found operators in the period thereafter as well as in World War 2."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/14/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
Prior to World War 1 (1914-1918), France-based Darne held a focus on commercial sporting weapons. When war came to Europe, the company was asked to produce 3,266 Lewis Guns for the French Army and this commitment then provided the impetus for the concern to try its hand at an in-house, low-cost machine gun design - the Darne Modele 1918. However, the system arrived much too late to see service in the Great war (it was tested throughout 1917-1918) but saw service during the inter-war period as well as into World War 2 (1939-1945).

Company engineers did away with more costly finishes and furnishing common to military weapons of the period in their new design for it was felt that the life of a military service machine gun was inevitably quite short due to general field abuse. An basic inline arrangement was chosen that saw the barrel seated over the gas cylinder and, beyond its conventional gas-operation, the system was fed by belted ammunition - a "true" machine gun. Weight measured around 15lb and the weapon showcased a rate-of-fire of 1,100 rounds-per-minute with a muzzle velocity of 2,300 feet-per-second. It was chambered in the French 8x50mmR Lebel rifle ammunition.

As crude and utilitarian in appearance as the machine gun was, it was found to be a rather reliable and excellent as a hand-held trainable mounted weapon on aircraft - mainly due to its high rate-of-fire. In the same fashion it could be put to service as an Anti-Aircraft (AA) weapon and installed around strategic ground points or on warships as needed.

Production spanned from 1915 until 1922 and about 11,000 units were completed in various configurations to cover various battlefield roles. Most of this production emerged from Spain under the Unceta y Compania brand label during the 1930s, subcontracted from Darne which handled early production - and this only serving to keep manufacturing costs down even more.

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During the inter-war period, there was an attempt to make the Modele 1918 into a viable squad-level support solution but the series did not find the same level of success in the role. This offering sported a wooden shoulder stock, wood-covered pistol grip type appendage and foregrip for added control while retaining all of the effective qualities of the original aircraft gun. One of the primary failings of this form was the high rate-of-fire that made it such an effective aircraft weapon.

The series went on to find additional operators in the post-World War 1 period - Brazil, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania, Serbia, Italy and Spain among others. The Czechs took to local production of the weapon prior to adoption of the homegrown vz. 26 Light Machine Gun series. The British Royal Air Force (RAF) trailed the Darne Machine Gun against others as its next standardized aircraft weapon but settled on a Browning design in .303 British chambering. During World War 2 (1939-1945), captured French Darne Machine Guns by the Germans were redesignated to MG106(f).

The Modele 1919 was another aircraft version but this to mount as a fixed, forward-firing weapon, synchronized to fire through spinning propeller blades. The Modele 1922 was a proposed submachine gun form and the Modele 1923 was offered to the French Army as a vehicle / tank weapon - but lost out to the MAC 1924 series.

The Modele 1933 appeared as a more modern version of the original in the years leading up to World War 2. These were adopted by the French Air Force and Navy in 7.5x54mm MAS caliber. Indeed the Mle 1933 appeared in many French aircraft of the 1930s but the change in caliber made for a less effective airborne weapon. The MAC 1934 succeeded the Mle 1933 in this role

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The physical qualities of the Darne Modele 1918. Information presented is strictly for general reference and should not be misconstrued as useful for hardware restoration or operation.
1,112 mm
43.78 in
O/A Length
600 mm
23.62 in
Barrel Length
18.52 lb
8.40 kg
Gas-Operated; Belt-Fed; Air-Cooled; Full-Automatic Only
8x50mmR Lebel; 7.5x54mm MAS; 7.92x57mm Mauser
200 round detachable ammunition drum; belts
Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Darne Modele 1918. Information presented is strictly for general reference and should not be misconstrued as useful for hardware restoration or operation.
1,640 ft
499.9 m | 546.7 yds
2,600 ft/sec
792 m/sec
Muzzle Velocity
Notable series variants as part of the Darne Modele 1918 Aircraft Machine Gun / General Purpose Machine Gun family line.
Modele 1918 - Original hand-held aircraft model of 1918; chambered for 8x50mmR Lebel rifle cartridge.
Modele 1919 - Fixed aircraft gun with synchronization
Modele 1922 - Proposed submachine gun form
Modele 1923 - Proposed squad machine gun for French Army.
Modele 1933 - Modernized variant in 7.5x54mm MAS for French Air Force and Navy services.
MG106(f) - German Army designation of captured French Modele 1933 guns in World War 2.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Darne Modele 1918. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national small arms listing.

Contractor(s): Darne - France / Unceta y Compania - Spain / Brno - Czechoslovakia
National flag of Brazil National flag of Czechia National flag of France National flag of modern Germany National flag of Nazi Germany National flag of Italy National flag of the Kingdom of Italy National flag of Lithuania National flag of Serbia National flag of Spain

[ Brazil; Czechoslovakia; France; Nazi Germany; Kingdom of Italy; Lithuania; Serbia; Spain ]
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Image of the Darne Modele 1918
Image from the Public Domain.

Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Darne Modele 1918 Aircraft Machine Gun / General Purpose Machine Gun appears in the following collections:
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