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Accuracy is overrated. In the chaos of combat, you might not know
where the enemy is – but with enough firepower you can always make
’em keep their heads down. The M60. A classic post-war American machine gun known
for its service in Vietnam – and its role in action cinema. So, what prompted the development of a new
machine gun? What problems did this design face? And what makes it perfect for on-screen action? The end of World War 2 was relief for a world
weary of conflict, but to call what followed ‘peace’ wouldn’t be entirely accurate. Warfare had entered a nuclear age – and the
tactics and equipment used at the start of the war were now woefully inadequate, and
so military budgets were redirected towards research. The greatest lessons from war are taught by
the opposition – and the Americans looked to the tactics and captured equipment of the
Germans to better understand their own shortcomings. German squads consisted of 10 men: one squad
leader, five riflemen, one SMG user for close-range support – and a 3-man machine gun crew. The bolt-action K98k rifles carried by most
of the squad were arguably out-of-date – but that didn’t really matter, as their job was
to protect the MG, carry extra ammunition and spare barrels, and flush the enemy into
its fire. Everything hinged on the machine gun – fortunately,
Germany had a pretty good one. At the start of the war, they used the MG
34 – a belt-fed design that was light enough to be carried by a single soldier, but nonetheless
capable of sustained automatic fire. It was supplemented by the later (and more
famous) MG 42 design; simpler, cheaper, easier to manufacture – and with an astonishingly
high rate of fire that earned it the nickname ‘Hitler’s Buzzsaw’. Comparatively, the American automatic rifleman
was issued with the M1918 BAR: firing at about half the rate from measly 20 round box magazines. It was this difference in suppressive firepower
that post-war America sought to remedy – and so work began on a new machine gun. Designed by committee, and not shy of taking
elements from German designs – early prototypes fused the semi-bullpup configuration of the
FG 42 with the feed system of the fearsome MG 42. Originally intended to fire the Springfield
.30-06 cartridge, the pending standardisation of the shorter, more modern NATO round led
to prototypes being adapted for this new calibre. Tested, revised and re-revised during the
1950s – fending off foreign competition such as the Belgian FN MAG – the new machine gun
was finally adopted in 1957: designated the ‘M60’. One stand-out trait is the weapon’s versatility:
whether vehicle-mounted, on tripod or prone with bipod it remains effective – even while
fired standing from the shoulder. Compared to the BAR and M1919A6, it was a
dream – the perfect compromise between sustained fire and portability. By now, the situation in Vietnam was getting
worse: prompting America to take escalating action in order to contain the irresistible
spread of communism. American soldiers deployed for combat – and
the M60’s first real performance test. Vietnam was a taxing environment, and firing
thousands upon thousands of rounds will quickly identify any flaws in a design. Some parts were surprisingly fragile, requiring
expedient repair in the field – and without diligent maintenance, stoppages and failures
would become frequent. And so the weapon earned rather a mixed reputation
– becoming affectionately known as ‘The Pig’. It was big, it was heavy: a pain to carry,
with a voracious appetite for ammunition – but when things got hairy – its ability to lay
down suppressive fire was very welcome indeed. Alongside the new M16, the M60 became a familiar
sight in war photography – its large size and impressive-looking ammunition belts particularly
distinctive. Public attitude to the war was rapidly souring,
however – and the rising counterculture of the late sixties clamoured for its end. As America’s will to fight evaporated, the
communists redoubled their ferocity – prompting an American withdrawal and leading to the
fall of Saigon. This wasn’t like World War 2 – no heroes,
nor a noble goal – Vietnam was an impotent mess: a foreign war with pointless involvement,
pockmarked with atrocity. The war was over – and America was hurt. It was around this time that ‘New Hollywood’
was emerging – a shift away from safe studio-led projects to a more artistic and daring direction. Films like ‘The Deer Hunter’ and ‘Apocalypse
Now’ were a far cry from your typical war movie – there was no glory in their depiction
of war. Despite the surrounding tragedy, there is
a vein of black humour that flows through these depictions of Vietnam – not to mention
a killer soundtrack. By the 1980s, the counter-cultural hangover
was slowly giving way to a new wave of optimism – and we saw the re-emergence of a proud American
identity: reckless, untamed – and free. The M60 was the logical choice for a chaotic
force like Rambo: strongly reminiscent of Vietnam, and an embodiment of America’s struggle. Sling an ammo belt over your shoulder and
head for the jungle: there’s something about the M60 that screams out for reckless fire
from the hip. Perhaps it’s because the weapon is quite well
suited to it – moreso than most machine guns, at least. American doctrine has long favoured a ‘walking
fire’ concept – the ability to move while still suppressing the enemy – and, like the
Thompson and BAR before it – the M60 was made with this in mind. There’s also the fact that it’s just plain
cool. For a while, the M60 was the king of action
movie firepower – at least, until it was usurped by the Minigun. A vent for all the misgivings and frustrations
pent up over the last decade, the action genre was a Vietnam do-over: a chance to reinvent
the hero; where the good guys win by shooting all the bad guys until they die. The machine gun cobbled together from World
War 2 had led an exciting life – but it would be a relatively short one. Wear and tear took its toll on too many parts
– and as inventory aged, reliability plummeted. Later design variants attempted to address
these issues – the M60E3 and later E4 brought performance up to a more acceptable grade
– but it was already starting to be replaced. Belgian rival, the FN MAG, outperformed the
M60 in testing significantly – firing over three times as many rounds on average before
stoppage or failure. The MAG was adopted by the US as the M240
in 1977, replacing the M60 in vehicle-mounted roles. In 1982, the FN Minimi was adopted as the
M249 SAW, displacing the M60’s infantry role. In 1995, the M240 Bravo stepped in to fill
the demand for an infantry-carried medium machine gun – relegating the M60 to limited
use. It might have been home-grown, but when faced
with plainly better alternatives, ‘good enough’ isn’t nearly good enough. Still, it might have been a mid-century stopgap;
a mishmash of wartime design; and a mascot of an unpopular war – but the pig still performed its duty. A beastly burden – a drudge to hump. Some love it, others hated it – but the M60
never failed to make an impression. An imperfect hero, not without flaw – but
a hero nonetheless. The M60. Get some. Get some! GET SOME!! Thank you very much for watching – and until
next time, farewell.

100 thoughts on “M60.

  1. Me: has M60
    Everyone else in the game: woah! How long did it take to get that
    Me: Has M60
    Everyone else playing phantom forces: omg you f**** scummy M60 user go kys loser

  2. The M60 is still used by other Countries. The Philippine Military is still using this Cold War Relic because they had a Tight budget. Still it proved useful to them. The same MG that Stopped IS Fighters from establishing a Caliphate in the Southern Part of the Philippines.

  3. The americans were taught to wait till they reload of the mg 42 german mg to move. Since its firerate was so fast they didnt have to wait long

  4. Is it me or at the start of the Vietnam part of the video I've been hearing Fortunate Son in the background


  6. Hmm… I have to cross the desert and i need an MG… Hmm… Maybe I'll get the LMG… I mean it is called the "Light Machine Gun"
    *spawns with LMG*

  7. If I'm not mistaken the the MG 42 stands for Maschinegewehr 42, or Machine Gun 42, damn now I thought Machine Pistol 40 was lazy

  8. The post-Vietnam M60 in American film is somewhat honored by its Belgian counterpart, the FN-MAG, in Israeli war-film, "Waltz with Bashir". I won't spoil it for those who have not seen it….

  9. Now don't forget, we had an MG in the war too. Our MG crews were mostly using the legendary Browning M2, an old piece of equipment, sure, but one that's still used today. Hitler can have all the buzz saws he wants, a belt fed .50BMG is going to be a monstrosity.

  10. This guy could talk about literally anything and make it sound interesting. May I suggest that you consider narrating documentaries as a career path?

  11. The most badass machine gun that our grandfathers wielded. Now we have the m60e6, lighter, more reliable, and more modular.

  12. One of my Dad's friends fought in Vietnam and carried an M60 during a few battles. I asked him how he liked the gun and he said "It had it's problems. The fucker was heavy as shit and the amount of time you spent reloading was a kick to the dick because that gun wanted more and more. However, that sound of a cyclic rate of fire on those Vietcong is something I will never forget. Hell, even when I didn't carry it, hearing that thing going off was unmistakable. That thing made cover absolutely useless for the enemy because, well, there was no more after a few rounds. Made ya strong as hell though after a while."

  13. Basically when you're equipping a machine gun in battlefield you're telling everyone that accuracy is overrated

  14. The m60 has a nifty little feature

    You could remove and replace the barrel in around 5 seconds

    My grandpa used one as his gun during Vietnam
    I'm not kiddy when I say they would go in for a gun run on a position he would get the barrel red hot from now many rounds they fired

    So he would take out the barrel and just chuck it out of the helicopter and just slap a new one on

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