Original U.S. WWI Canvas Machine Gun Cover for Colt-Vickers M1915 & Browning M1917 - dated 1918

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. By the early 1900s, the U.S. military had a mixed collection of automatic machine guns in use that included M1895 "potato diggers", 287 M1904 Maxims, 670 M1909 Benét–Mercié guns, and 353 Lewis machine guns. In 1913, the U.S. began to search for a superior automatic weapon. One of the weapons considered was the British Vickers machine gun.

Field tests were conducted of the Vickers in 1914, and the gun was unanimously approved by the board for the army under the designation "Vickers Machine Gun Model of 1915, Caliber .30, Water-Cooled". One hundred twenty-five guns were ordered from Colt's Manufacturing Company in 1915, with an additional 4,000 ordered the next year, all chambered for .30-06. Design complexities, design modifications, and focus on producing previously ordered weapons meant that when the U.S. entered World War I in April 1917, Colt had not manufactured a single M1915.

Production began in late 1917 with shipments to the Western Front in mid-1918. The first twelve divisions to reach France were given French Hotchkiss M1914 machine guns, and the next ten had M1915s. The next twelve divisions were to have Browning M1917 machine guns, but there was a shortage of parts. By August 1918, thirteen U.S. divisions were armed with the Colt–Vickers machine gun. 7,653 guns were issued during the war out of 12,125 produced in total. War damage losses reduced the number of M1915s in the U.S. inventory to about 8,000 total

At the same time, continued needs for machine guns led to the development of the legendary Browning Machine gun design, which was a completely new design that had no relation to the Maxim "Toggle Lock" design. The Browning design was extremely robust, and the M2 .50 cal version of the Browning is still in wide use today, 100 years later. The first version fielded by the U.S. was the M1917 Water Cooled Design.

The M1917 saw limited service in the later days of World War I. Because of production delays, only about 1,200 Model 1917s saw combat in the conflict, and then only in the last 2½ months of the war. Some arrived too late for combat service. For example, the 6th Machine Gun Battalion, fighting as part of the Second Division did not exchange their Hotchkiss M1914 machine guns for Browning M1917 machine guns until 14 November, three days after the armistice. The U.S. equipped about a third of the divisions sent to France; the others were equipped equally with Hotchkiss machine guns bought from the French or the British Vickers machine guns built by Colt in the US. Where the Model 1917 did see action, its rate of fire and reliability were highly effective.

As the U.S. fielded a variety of guns, they designed covers that worked with several different guns. The Colt-Vickers M1915 and Browning M1917 were both water cooled designs, and roughly the same size, so a canvas cover was designed to fit both.

This cover is marked with black stenciling on the side:

M.G.,M. 1915 &

BROWNING M.G., M. 1917

The inside of the cover has a round maker stamp that reads K - T - CO / 1918, which is next to a large ink stamped U.S. ordnance "Flaming Bomb.

The condition of the cover is good, and it definitely shows wear from use in service. There are some stains, holes, and tears as shown, from both age deterioration and from wear. The original securing buckle for the rear end of the cover is unfortunately missing.

A great chance to pick up a rare piece of field gear for your WWI Colt Vickers or Browning Machine gun.

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