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A somewhat similar situation developed

regarding machine guns. At the beginning of the war our army did not have

a satisfactory weapon of this sort, nor

had the War Department even decided

what type of weapon to adopt. The

Lewis gun, which was the invention of

an American officer, was being used

extensively by the British and its adoption

was urged upon our own War Department.

However, for reasons that have never

been entirely made clear, the Department

decided to attempt to produce an entirely

new weapon and at first declined to use the

Lewis gun at all. An American inventor

named Browning, who had produced many

successful automatic rifles and pistols, designed two types of machine guns; one a

heavy weapon, weighing about 34 pounds,

and the other a lighter one, weighing only

15 pounds, which could be carried and

operated by one man. In some quarters

it was urged that the Department should

make use of the Lewis gun while developing

the Browning, but, for a time, all dependence was placed on the Browning guns.

Tests of the two Browning guns, late

in February, 1918, were deemed highly

satisfactory, but, as might have been

foreseen, their production was greatly

delayed. By the end of the war, 47,000

of both types had been built, but most

of these had been produced during the

late summer and fall, and comparatively

few ever reached the firing line. Meanwhile, under pressure of public opinion

and of necessity, the War Department

had begun to produce the Lewis gun also.

The troops actually on the firing line

used weapons supplied by the British

or the French. As in the case of aeroplanes,

production on a large scale of the Browning

gun began too late for this weapon to play

much of a part in the winning of the war.

At the beginning of the war, the United

States had some 600,000 New Springfield