"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." That phrase has been around a long time and so has the Browning M2 .50 caliber machine gun. During World War One the typical machine gun was a water cooled .30-6 weapon with a heavy water jacket encasing the barrel
for cooling. General John Pershing wanted a gun with more punch and asked the Army Ordnance Bureau for a new machine gun of at least .50 (12.7mm) caliber and a muzzle velocity of at least 2,700fps (820 mps). At first they re chambered eight
experimental Colt machine guns to take a French 11mm round but the velocity proved too low and the round was too light. Firearms inventor John M. Browning, who had already designed the standard US handgun, the .45 Model 1911, had already
developed a 30-06 machine gun designated .30-06 M1917. He started working on a .50 caliber machine gun design, pattered on his M1917 design. His early design also had too low velocity. After the war ended his design .50 caliber M1921 met the
requirements but with the war over, didn't go into production until 1929. As with earlier guns, the M1921 was water cooled. Water jacketed guns were bulky and crews needed to carry extra canisters of water for cooling the barrel. What was needed was
an air cooled .50 gun. Browning died in 1926 but his .50 caliber design continued to be developed. The Browning Machine Gun .50 caliber M2 (nick-named the Ma Deuce) was developed by 1933 and entered production with Colt. One of the variants was
an air cooled version designated HB for heavy barrel. The air cooled version had a thicker barrel and greater surface area to dissipate heat, eliminating the water barrel. The weight of the air cooled gun was initially 84 pounds (38kg) compared to 121
pounds (55kg) of the gun with a water jacket. Before World War Two a lighter, quick change barrel was introduced, lowering the gun's weight to 60 pounds. The Browning Machine Gun M2 is still with the US Army and US Navy. One USN gun
currently used is twin barreled and mounted on a modern design of the tripod pedestal. You probably won't find them on a nuclear carrier but they sure can be handy in smaller combatants such as USCG cutters of riverine combatants. One of the newest
releases from
Black Cat Models is the modern Browning .50 M2 on the modern tripod in 1:350 scale. With Black Cat Set AC350056d you get six of these modern .50 guns with splinter shield and tripod. These are extraordinarily detailed one-piece 3D
printings, which really doesn't get any finer. When Ma Deuce speaks, you had better listen.

Steve Backer
Huntsville, Alabama