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M1941 Johnson machine gun

Johnson M1941 LMG

Type Place of origin

Light machine gun United States

Service history
In service Used by Wars 1940 to 1961 See Users World War II,

Production history
Designed Produced Number built Variants 1940 1940 to 1945 9500 M1941 M1944

Weight Length Barrel length 13 lb (5.9 kg) 42 in (1,100 mm) 22 in (560 mm)

Cartridge Action

.30-06 Springfield Short recoil

Rate of fire Muzzle velocity Feed system

200 to 600 round/min variable 2,800 ft/s (853.6 m/s) 25-round, single stack-column detatchable box magazine

The M1941 Johnson Light Machine Gun was an American recoil-operated light machine gun designed in the late 1930s by Melvin Johnson. It shared the same operating principle and many parts with the M1941 Johnson rifle and the M1947 Johnson auto carbine.

The M1941 light machine gun was designed by a Boston lawyer and Captain in the Marine Corps Reserve named Melvin Johnson Jr. His goal was to build a semi-automatic rifle that would outperform the M1 the Army had adopted. By late 1937, he had designed, built, and successfully tested both a semi-automatic rifle and a prototype light machine gun. Each shared a significant number of physical characteristics and common parts, and both operated on the principle of short recoil with a rotating bolt. Johnson's light machine gun was one of the few to operate on recoil operation and was manufactured to a high standard. It was fed from a curved, single-column magazine attached to the left side of the receiver; company brochures list a 25-round magazine as standard. Additionally, the weapon could be loaded by stripper clip at the ejection port, or by single rounds fed into the breech. The rate of fire was adjustable, from 200 to 600 rounds per minute. Two versions were built: the M1941 with a wooden stock and a metal bipod, and the M1944 with a tubular steel butt and a wooden monopod. When firing, recoil forces along with the mass of the weapon's moving parts all traveled in a direct line with the shoulder of the gunner. While this in-line stock can be seen in the M16 rifle today, it was a novel idea at the time. Since recoil was directed back into the shoulder, muzzle rise was minimized. Due to this design, the sights had to be placed higher above the bore.

Johnson LMG in use The weapon has many parallels with the German FG42. Both feed from the left side, and both fire from an open bolt while in automatic, and a closed bolt while in semi-auto. Both weapons were awkward to carry loaded, both with a side-mounted magazine, the Johnson had an especially lengthy single-column magazine, and this feature tended to unbalance the weapons. Despite these

similarities, there is no evidence that either weapon had any effect on the design of the other. Both weapons attempted to solve similar problems, and adopted similar solutions. Prototypes of semi-automatic rifles, 25-round magazine-fed[citation needed], based on the Johnson LMG were also produced. The M1947 Johnson auto carbine is an example.

Johnson sold small quantities of the Johnson LMG to the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. [1] During the Second World War, Specials Forces within the Allies demanded a more portable, lighter, more accurate automatic rifle that provided the equivalent stopping power of the American B.A.R. As a result, this machinegun was adapted as the B.A.R replacement for commandos operating behind Axis lines. Although the quantity sold still remained limited due to small population of special forces. Shortly after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the predecessor of the Israel Defense Forces, Haganah, developed a close copy of the Johnson LMG, the Dror, in both .303 British and 7.92x57mm Mauser. Israeli forces found the Dror prone to jam from sand and dust ingress, and the weapon was discontinued after a brief period of service. Ernesto Che Guevara notably used a Johnson in the Cuban Revolution.

Melvin Johnson continued to develop small arms. In 1955, he was asked to assist Fairchild/ArmaLite in (unsuccessfully) promoting Eugene Stoner's AR-10 rifle with the U.S. Department of Defense, then with ArmaLite and Colt's Manufacturing Company as an advocate for the AR-15. Armalite relied heavily on Johnson's efforts and the AR-15 used a similar bolt design to the M1941 Johnson. The AR-15 is still manufactured today in the guise of the M16 rifle and variants. One of Johnson's last postwar firearms ventures was a 5.7 mm-caliber version of the M1 carbine, aka 'the Spitfire'.[2]


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See also
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: M1941 Johnson (machine gun)

Sturmgewehr 52 Kg/1940 Light machine gun FG42 List of individual weapons of the U.S. Armed Forces M60 machine gun Model 45A M1946 Sieg automatic rifle

1. ^ Pikula, Sam (Maj.), The Armalite AR-10, 1998 2. ^ Barnes, Frank C., Cartridges of the World, DBI Books, 1989

Books and References

Smith, Joseph E., Small Arms of the World, Stackpole Books, 1969. Weeks, John, WWII Small Arms, Galahad Books, 1980. Barnes, Frank C., Cartridges of the World, DBI Books, 1989. Pikula, Sam (Maj.), The Armalite AR-10, 1998. Canfield, Bruce N., Johnson Rifles and Machine Guns, Mowbray Publishing, 2002. Johnson Jr., Melvin, Rifles and Machine Guns of the World's Armies, Fighting Forces, 1944

U.S. infantry weapons of World War II and Korea

Side arms

M1911/M1911A1 pistol Colt Model 1903/1908 Pocket Hammerless High Standard HDM M1917 revolver Smith & Wesson "Victory" revolver Colt New Service Colt Official Police M1903 Springfield M1917 Enfield M1 Garand M1 carbine M1941 Johnson Rifle M1918 BAR M1928/M1928A1/M1/M1A1 Thompson M3/M3A1 'Grease gun' Reising M50/M55 United Defense M42 M2 Hyde Mk 2 M7 grenade launcher Winchester Model 1897 Ithaca M37 Winchester Model 1912 Browning Auto-5 Remington Model 31 M1917 Browning M1919 Browning M1941 Johnson LMG M2 Browning

Rifles and carbines

Submachine guns



Machine guns and larger

Lewis Gun Bazooka M2 flamethrower M1A1 flamethrower .45 ACP .38 Special .30-06 Springfield .30 Carbine .50 BMG


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