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MAS AAT-52 (Arme Automatique Transformable Modele 1952)

General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG)

France | 1952

"The French MAS AAT-52 General Purpose Machine Gun faced stiff competition when it appeared in the 1950s, able to find homes in several national armories since."

Authored By: Dan Alex | Last Edited: 07/29/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
Introduced in 1952, the AAT-52 ("Arme Automatique Transformable Modele 1952") became the standardized General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) of the French Army and its colonial forces worldwide. Design work was spurred by growing combat experience with a variety of foreign-born machine guns during the First Indochina War by France which resulted in a need for a French-originated solution of equal form and function to help streamline logistics, supplies and training. Design of the new GPMG fell to the storied concern of Manufacture d-Armes de Sain-Etienne (MAS) and the AAT-52 series was born, continuing service (albeit limited) in the modern French military. It was also adopted by Belgium, the Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Ireland, Madagascar, Morocco, Niger, Somalia and others during its long service life.

As originally designed, the AAT-52 was chambered for the 7.5x54mm French rifle cartridge though the Western shift to adopt a singular rifle cartridge in 7.62x51mm NATO format revised the AAT-52 design which begat the AA 7.62mm "NF-1" designation. These quickly replaced manufacture of 7.5mm types. Despite a slight drop in muzzle velocity with the new cartridge, the machine gun was now of a more standardized form and within general NATO standards.

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Design of the weapon remained largely conventional though the AAT-52 was designed around a lever-delayed, blowback action which proved a departure from the norm in the world of military machine guns. Feeding was through a 50-round, linked belt system which showed some influence from the German World War 2-era MG42 series. The AAT-52 was listed with a rate-of-fire of 900 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity of 830 meters per second with effective ranges out to 600 meters. Maximum range was out to 3,200 meters with sighting through iron sights as standard and improved with use of optional optics for accurized ranged firing. The barrel was air-cooled which put the responsibility of barrel overheating on the gunnery crew to prevent warping and fracturing due to the intense heat generated through prolonged, sustained firing. Overall weight of the system was near 9.75 kilograms with an overall length of 1,080mm (the barrel measuring 600mm long). A carrying handle was typically affixed just aft of the barrel and assisted in barrel-changing. Management of the weapon was through a conventional pistol grip with ringed trigger unit.

As a GPMG, AAT-52 was eventually fielded in a variety of forms to suit the battlefield need. In the light machine gun support role, it was showcased with a folding bipod mounted under the barrel as well as a light barrel assembly to reduce carrying weight. A monopod can also be accepted under the stock, aft of the pistol grip for additional support when firing from the prone position. A heavy tripod with a heavy barrel combination could quickly change the AAT-52 into more of a defensive-minded, fixed machine gun. The machine gun also provide effective as a vehicle weapon, installed as a coaxial system in tank turrets (including the French LeClerc MBT) and similar armored vehicles, on pintle mounts atop open-topped, light-armored vehicles (such as armored cars) and in fixed, forward-firing mounts on strike aircraft (the Fouga Magister) and helicopters.

To date, the AAT-52 has been fielded across many notable conflicts including the First Indochina War (1946-1954), the Algerian War (1954-1962), the Suez Crisis (1956), the Persian Gulf War (1991), the Bosnian War (1992-1995), the War in Afghanistan (2001-Present) and the Libyan Rebellion (2011). The modern French Army has been replacing its stock of AAT-52 guns with other solutions since, including the Belgian FN MAG GPMG series aboard armed helicopter transports and the Belgian FN Minimi for squad support. The weapon has seen modern combat actions in recent operations in Mali involving French and local forces.

The MAC-58 was a proposed .50 BMG-chambered heavy machine gun version of the AAT-52 family which was evaluated but never produced as it would have had to compete on the world stage with the excellent and long-running American Browning M2 heavy machine gun already embedded across dozens of militaries in the world.

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The physical qualities of the MAS AAT-52 (Arme Automatique Transformable Modele 1952). Information presented is strictly for general reference and should not be misconstrued as useful for hardware restoration or operation.
1,080 mm
42.52 in
O/A Length
600 mm
23.62 in
Barrel Length
21.50 lb
9.75 kg
Lever-Delayed Blowback; Full-Automatic Fire Only; Belt Feed
7.62x51mm NATO; 7.5x54mm French
50-round belt
Iron; Optional Optics
Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the MAS AAT-52 (Arme Automatique Transformable Modele 1952). Information presented is strictly for general reference and should not be misconstrued as useful for hardware restoration or operation.
1,968 ft
599.8 m | 656.0 yds
2,722 ft/sec
830 m/sec
Muzzle Velocity
Notable series variants as part of the MAS AAT-52 (Arme Automatique Transformable Modele 1952) General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) family line.
AAT52, Version Fusil Mitrailleur (AAT Legere) - Shortened version of the base AAT52; offered with a bipod, lightweight barrel system folding but and retractable monopod assembly.
AAT52 de 7.62 N-F1 - Based on the original 7.5mm AAT52 but chambered to fire the NATO-standard 7.62x51mm cartridge; offered in field forms of bipod or tripod mounting for mission-specific roles.
AAT52 de 7.62 N-F1 Char No. 1 (Type A) - Coaxial tank or armored vehicle-mounted machine gun.
AAT52 de 7.62 N-F1 Char No. 1 (Type B) - Coaxial tank or armored vehicle-mounted machine gun; waterproof variant.
AAT52 de 7.62 N-F1 Char No.2 - Tank or armored vehicle-mounted alternative; fitted with trigger mechanism, shoulder stock and lighter weight barrel system.
AAT52 de 7.62 N-F1 Avion No.1 - Aircraft/helicopter machine gun mount.
AAT52 de 7.62 N-F1 Avion No.2 - Aircraft/helicopter machine gun mount.
AAT52 de 7.62 N-F1 Avion No.3 - Aircraft/helicopter machine gun mount.
AAT52 de 7.62 N-F1 Avion No.4 - Aircraft machine gun mount; fitted with manual trigger and iron sights.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the MAS AAT-52 (Arme Automatique Transformable Modele 1952). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national small arms listing.

Contractor(s): Manufacture d'Armes de Saint-Etienne (MAS) - France
National flag of Belgium National flag of France National flag of Gabon National flag of Ireland National flag of Morocco National flag of Niger National flag of Senegal National flag of Somalia

[ Belgium; Benin; Burkina Faso; Central African Republic; Comoros; Djibouti; France; Gabon; Ireland; Ivory Coast; Madagascar; Mali; Mauritania; Mauritius; Morocco; Niger; Senegal; Seychelles; Somalia; Togo ]
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Image of the MAS AAT-52 (Arme Automatique Transformable Modele 1952)
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 MAS AAT-52 (Arme Automatique Transformable Modele 1952) General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) appears in the following collections:
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