Original U.S. WWI Cavalry Vickers Machine Gun Pack Saddle
Original Item: Only One Available. The horse had always been a major part of the Armed Forces in any country and Cavalry was often the deciding factor in winning or losing a battle before 1916. Horses were therefore readily available to soldiers and were an obvious solution to the problems that faced the men of Machine Gun units when it came to transporting Vickers (or Maxim) guns.
The opening paragraph of the Packsaddlery section in the April, 1918 manual for the Vickers states:
“It is desirable that animals for machine gun packsaddlery purposes should be carefully selected. Those with abnormally broad hips, or with the points of the hips very prominent, should not be chosen.”
This was because the length of the gun and the tripod made it highly likely that any brisk movement would mean, if the horse had those features mentioned above, that the gun or tripod would rub on the hips of the horse or jab into them thus making it very uncomfortable and maybe causing injury.
Although the Vickers machine gun was a British made weapon, it was also used by American (and French) forces during the First World War. Weighing about forty pounds, it required a team of as many as six soldiers to operate, handling such functions as firing, feeding ammunition, and operating the water cooling system. The gun was of limited mobility during battle, and it needed to be mounted on a tripod for use. However, with its firing rate of up to 450 rounds per minute, it was a formidable defensive weapon against approaching forces.
The leather is quite worn, cracked and makes finding any legible markings impossible. There are a few stamps present but we do not recognize them. This example does appear to be extremely similar to those produced by Rock Island Arsenal in the years leading up to WWI.
This pack saddle was designed to carry guns, such as the Vickers, of up to 75mm in caliber. The main body of the saddle consists of two padded leather pieces which are held five inches apart by a steel arch at each end. The steel arches have grooves to which the gun components can be tied. Various other leather straps and steel hooks are present and are used for attaching equipment and securing the saddle to a horse.
This example is in lovely condition though it is in two pieces due to a leather “pocket” being completely torn away and missing which would secure one of the metal arms on the carriage. The leather is torn and broken in many places and it’s just generally “dirty”. Once cleaned up with a few repairs, this would make for a wonderful display!
Comes more than ready for further research and display.
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