The M219 machine gun is a (sort-of) blast from the past. I say (sort of) because I remember it as a gun that never really ran.
The M219 was a derivation of the M73 machine gun. It was a n air-cooled, recoil operated machine gun that fired the linked 7.62 NATO cartridge. It was designed to be coaxially mounted in armored vehicles, including the M60 series tanks, the M551 Sheridan ACAV, and the Engineers M728 CEV.
Oh, what a turd this little gun was. A coaxially mounted mounted machine gun is mounted beside the main gun of an armored vehicle, and is linked mechanically to the main gun so that it points along the same axis as the main gun. The tank gunner controls the coax from his position in the vehicle.
This little gun was supposed to be a product improvement of the M73 gun, but seemed to take all the design flaws of the M73 and amplified them. Perhaps the ones I was using were worn out (this was during the Carter years) but the gun just never seemed to work. Sometimes it would fire a whole belt, sometimes it would fire single-shot, and sometimes it wouldn't fire at all.
I got out of tanks in 1977, assigned to push troops in the 4th Brigade at Knox. Thence to a variety of staff positions. When I got back to Knox in the mid 80s for the Advanced Course, the Army had scrapped the 219 in favor of FNs new M240 machine gun. The M240 was a delightful little weapon that could be mounted as a coax, or dismounted and used in other roles.
|M240 mounted in M1 Abrams|
The M240 is still in use today, and by all accounts is a fine machine gun. I thought it was a huge improvement on the M219, if for no other reason that it fired when the gunner asked it to fire.