Vickers .5

prototype Vickers .5" Mk.1 heavy machine gun


Vickers .5" Mk.5 tank machine gun


Vickers .5" Mk.3 AA machine guns on Naval quad mount


Vickers .5" Class D heavy machine gun on universal mount


Vickers .5-inch ammunition, L-to-R: 12,7×81 (.5 Vickers), 12.7×120 (.5 Vickers HV) and 12.7х99 (.50 Browning MG, for comparision)



Vickers .5 Mk.3

Vickers .5 HV Class D


12,7×81 (.5 Vickers)

12.7×120 (.5 Vickers HV)

Weight, kg

26 (body) + 6 (water)

45.8 (body) + 9.5 (water) + 228 (single-gun universal wheeled mount)

Length, mm



Barrel length, mm



Rate of fire, rounds per minute

450 700






British industry commenced work on dedicated large-caliber machine guns during early 1920s, and by 1924 British army officially approved a new, 0.5 inch caliber cartridge, developed by Vickers – Armstrong (metric designation 12,7×81, factory designation “.5 V/580”). After several years of test and trials, in 1928 Royal Navy adopted a .5 inch Vickers machine gun for use in anti-aircraft role. Several years later, Royal Tank corps adopted a modified version of same gun for armament of light tanks. It must be noted that original .5 Vickers ammunition lacked in performance, compared to similar cartridges of foreign design, such as .50 BMG (USA), 13,2×99 Hotchkiss (France) or 12,7×108 Soviet. Recognizing this flaw, Vickers company developed a noticeably more powerful cartridge, known as .5 Vickers High Velocity (.5 Vickers HV, metric designation 12,7×120, factory designation “.5 V/690”). It was fired from appropriately enlarged version of the basic heavy Vickers machine gun, known as Vickers Class D. Vickers class D machine guns were offered as a commercial products with several hundred sold for export. British armed forces, apparently, showed little interest in Class D.

The “fifty caliber” Vickers was essentially a scaled-up version of the rifle-caliber Vickers-Maxim gun. Internally it was exactly the same weapon, proportionally enlarged to fire bigger and more powerful cartridge. There were several Marks of .50 caliber Vickers, some used in Naval service and some on certain light armored vehicles of the Royal Tank corps. Unlike its Soviet or American rivals, “big Vickers” guns were never used in direct troop support role from individual “infantry” mountings.


Vickers .5” Mk.3: naval AA gun, often used in multiple (twin or quadruple) deck mountings, with remote trigger and usually fitted with long conical flash hiders

Vickers .5” Mk.5: tank / vehicle gun, with single pistol grip and trigger mounted below the receiver

Vickers .5” Class D: commercial export guns, enlarged version of the standard Mk.3. These were available on several single or twin universal AA mounts.