WW1 Cavalry fire arms

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Darren
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Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:44 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

WW1 Cavalry fire arms

Post by Darren » Mon Jun 11, 2018 8:11 am

Hi All,

I'm planning to include French and German Cavalry for my 1914 games.

I've read conflicting articles stating that both French and German Cavalry were armed with carbines and not rifles.
I've also read that one of the reasons that French cavalry were reluctant to dis-mount was that they didn't want face rifles and MG fire with carbines with only half the range.

Based on the weight of evidence, I believe French and German Cavalry were armed with carbines.
Is anyone able to confirm this?

Regards
Darren

Groupe_Franc
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Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:48 pm

Re: WW1 Cavalry fire arms

Post by Groupe_Franc » Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:19 am

Granted this is negative "evidence" but I've only read references to cavalry using rifles being British, notably in Flanders in 1914. The British adopted the Enfield rifle thanks to Boer War experience. The cavalry of other continental armies did not have that experience.

BaronVonWreckedoften
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:28 am

Re: WW1 Cavalry fire arms

Post by BaronVonWreckedoften » Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:20 am

This article suggests that <<Groupe Franc>> is correct.

https://weaponsandwarfare.com/2016/10/1 ... wi-part-i/

I always understood that the Lee Enfield was originally developed as a cavalry weapon, but that its range and stopping power was such that it was considered viable as an infantry weapon, too. This is why it was shorter than the infantry rifles of other nations at that time, and hence it needed a longer bayonet. If true, this would make the development of British cavalry firearms the complete opposite of those in most other nations, who tended to develop carbine versions of the standard infantry rifle. Whilst the above article states that British cavalry marksmanship was "approaching" the levels of the infantry, in fact, teams and individuals from cavalry regiments regularly won the annual Army shooting competitions at Bisley in the pre-war years.

Consequently, if you try to Google German/French cavalry firearms of WW1, you will find nothing specific, and will have to read more extensively about infantry weapons in order to find what the cavalry arms of those nations used. German cavalry in WW1 used the Karabinier Model 1898 AZ (later redesignated the Kar 98a - note the lower case "a"), which was introduced in 1891 to replace the Karabinier 98A - a shortened version of the Gewehr 98 issued to the infantry. The earlier model was replaced due to problems with the heavy recoil and muzzle flash, and the AZ (A means "with bayonet", Z that it could employ a stacking pyramid) appears to have overcome these difficulties.

The French initially tried carbine versions of the Lebel, which proved almost impossible to re-load on the move (both infantry and cavalry versions of the Lebel were muzzle-heavy when loaded), whilst the shortened carbine barrel caused feed problems due to both the modus operandi and the location of the Lebel's tube-magazine. By the start of WW1, the French cavalry was using the 1907 Berthier carbine/rifle, developed by an Algerian railway engineer; this was modified in 1915 for greater ease of production and so that the Lebel's bayonet could be fitted, and in 1916 was again upgraded to take a five-round clip instead of the original three-round one. In pretty much this same form, it remained in service with French and foreign military units right through WW2 and until the 1960s, and with the CRS until the 1980s.

Archdukek
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Re: WW1 Cavalry fire arms

Post by Archdukek » Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:10 am

Hi Darren,
I'd agree with the Baron's and Groupe Franc's comments. My references give both the German and French cavalry as armed with carbines. The British cavalry are unusual in having the SMLE rifle and with their emphasis on marksmanship.

As for the "reluctance to dismount" theory I'd suggest that's also a reflection of the cavalry's recconnaissance role with their main job being to find the enemy and drive in the enemy cavalry screens, not go toe to toe with enemy infantry backed up with machine guns.

John

Darren
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Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:44 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: WW1 Cavalry fire arms

Post by Darren » Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:17 pm

Thank you Gentlemen. I appreciate your assistance.

Regards
Darren

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