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The aircraft machine guns of Fabrique Nationale are among the finest belts-fed weapons. Both the ground and aircraft weapons are identical in operation, but the demands of aircraft use require considerable refinement. As weight is always a concern with aircraft armament, considerable attention has been given to removing all unnecessary metal through extensive lightening cuts. In the bolt comparison below, you can see that the aircraft bolt has been extensively lightened. Note also the extra belt pawl lever channel and the switch plate which allow the weapon to be fed from the left or right, depending on which side of the plane or cradle the gun would be mounted on.
The Modèle 1930 had the design elements that would define the FN30 series aircraft machine guns throughout its production history. Below are several photos showing the Modèle 1930 in both the fixed and flexible roles on the British made Fairy Fox biplane. The Fairy Fox was in use throughout the 1930s, and may even have seen service as a reconnaissance plane in WW2. It is likely that the later Modèle 1932 was also used on the Fairy Fox.
The flexible Modèle 1930 is shown in the photo and detail above. The airman behind the pilot was referred to as the observer, and the weapon the observer's gun.
Source: FN 100 Years, The Story of a Great Leige Company - 1889-1989, by Auguste Francotte & Claude Gaier, published by Didier Hatier, 1989.

A better view of the observer's gun showing the the sights and ammunition feed system. Note the wind vane front sight. More about these on the Accessories & Sights page.
(FN photo 18-3680, dated July 14, 1934) Source: The Browning Machine Gun Volume II, by Dolf Goldsmith, Collector Grade Publications, Inc., 2006.

(FN photo 18-3680, dated July 14, 1934) Source: The Browning Machine Gun Volume II, by Dolf Goldsmith, Collector Grade Publications, Inc., 2006.
At left is a Fairy Fox with the fixed Modèle 1930 exposed. Synchronizing the rate of fire to the prop speed prevented the gun from firing into the prop blades. You can clearly see the link chute immediately behind the barrel channel, and below that, the cartridge chute. If you look carefully at the photo above you can see these chutes above the lower wing. One has to wonder what problems this might have caused the other aircraft flying through the trail of links and spent cartridges.
The Browning Modèle 1932 was produced in both fixed and flexible models. It can easily be distinguished from the later Modèle 1938 by its vertical buffer. It had a rate of fire of 1,200 rpm.

The fixed (above) and flexible (below) Modèle 1932

Twin flexible Modèle 1932s.
Source: FN 100 Years, The Story of a Great Leige Company - 1889-1989,
by Auguste Francotte & Claude Gaier, published by Didier Hatier, 1989.


A semi-auto Modèle 1932.
Source: Hedgehog Mfg.

Above: Modèle 1932 receivers. Source: Hedgehog Mfg.

The Modèle 1932 assembly line at the FN factory. (FN photo 18-4378 dated January 7, 1937)
This photo provides an excellent look at the Modèle 1932 in several stages of completion.
Note the linking machine in the center foreground. It appears to have been put into service in some
phase of the assembly process. Source: The Browning Machine Gun Volume II, by Dolf Goldsmith,
Collector Grade Publications, Inc., 2006.
In the Modèle 1938 there many refinements to the Modèle 1932. The most easily recognizable refinements are a change from a vertical to a horizontal buffer, and the addition of a second set of mounting points on the bottom plate. The Parts Comparison page has many of the Modèle 1932 & Modèle 1938 parts which give a detailed look at the changes made.

Above: My FN Modèle 1932s.


The fixed (above) and flexible (below) Modèle 1938

Below: A Modèle 1938 on a shortened variation of the MAG58 tripod. Thanks to DRH for contributing these photos.


Left side of bolt showing lightening cuts.

Right side of bolt with the extractor removed.

Top of bolt showing alternate feed switch.
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