Have a surplus Soviet Bloc machinegun and no way to use it to shoot down government helicopters coming to strafe your band of freedom fighters? Well, here is a lesson in battlefield ingenuity. Yes, the Syrian rebels are at it again and CJ Chivers of the New York Times details a surplus 14.5mm heavy machine gun used on a rebel Technical (commercial pickup truck used as a combat vehicle, more on those below.)
What is a Technical?
The first technical started came about in world war two. During World War 2, the open expanses of the great and endless deserts of Northern Africa allowed the use of very fluid mechanized warfare. This was the war of the Afrika Korps and the Desert Rats. Modified Jeeps and trucks, heavily armed with machineguns and equipped with as much supplies, ammunition and fuel as they could carry were used by the British in hit and run raids across what is now Libya and Egypt.
Fast forward to the 1980s when Libyan troops under a certain recently deceased and sunglasses wearing dictator invaded its neighbor, the peace-loving country of Chad. Backed by French and CIA assets the Chadian troops took commercial Toyota pickup trucks, armed them with supplied Browning and FN machineguns, and rolled north looking for a fight. The 1986-87 "Toyota War" resulted in a heavy defeat for Libya, which, lost one tenth of its army, and 1.5 billion dollars' worth of military equipment destroyed or captured.
The technical was simple, fast to build with the aid of simple tools A-Team style, and durable. It was the poor-man's assault vehicle and they have been seen across every recent hot war from Somalia, to Libya, to Iraq and Afghanistan, and now they have come to Syria.
The Motorbike-camcorder-HMG Technical in question
CJ Chivers of the NYT's excellent At War series ran across a unique Syrian rebel technical in his travels. This individual gun, mounted on a Toyota Hi-Lux and manned by a Chuck Taylor clad militiaman, was pretty different. A 14.5mm Soviet supplied KPV heavy machine-gun was captured and mounted for use as anti-aircraft artillery. Using a set of motorcycle disc brakes and handlebars on a makeshift tubing stand, the machine gun could be rotated and aimed on a pretty high arc of fire.
Note mount for camcorder/digital camera (red) and motorcycle handlebars. Photo by CJ Chivers, NYT At War Blog, (fair use) Please click link above for full article.
Radically enough, either to replace broken, unmounted, inaccurate, or obsolete sights the top of the receiver was drilled and tapped to accommodate a digital camera tripod. With a commercial off the shelf camera attached to the top of the Cold War-era HMG, its long range zoom and auto focus could be used as an effective sight. Using armor-piercing incendiary tracer ammunition good out past 3,000-meters, the gunner could also correct fire well past what he could see with the naked eye. If the camera had am ambient light increasing night vision capability, you also have a night fighter now. Real time 'gun-camera' footage could also be taken to evaluate and confirm hits and misses as well as provide valuable Intel information and propaganda footage for quick upload to YouTube.
The original was spotted around Tal Rifaat, Syria, but a close copy has already been seen near Jebel, meaning that the idea has spread to other units with similar needs.
Almost makes you want to grab a DShK gun parts kit, an old Nikon, and a bargain beater pickup truck and get ready for the zombies.