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Smith, Maxim, Vixen: 1900

Smith, Maxim, Vixen: 1900

Circa 1900. "U.S.S. Vixen, Maxim machine gun and gunner Smith, who fired 400 consecutive shots at Battle of Santiago de Cuba, July 3, 1898." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Four necessities

The "ummm thing" reminded me of what my Dad said were the four necessities to remember before heading out of the house "Spectacles, testicles, wallet, watch." Something to do with crossing oneself, apparently. Not being Catholic or in possession of the second item, I can't say.

[If my math is correct, you've shortchanged Dad one necessity. - Dave]

Firing rate of Maxim

Trials demonstrated the Maxim could fire 600 rounds per minute, equivalent to the firepower of about 30 contemporary breech-loading bolt-action rifles.


I found 3 USS Vixens in "DANFS Online." None of them is the right date to be this ship, although I can't guarantee I found every example. The site requires searching by ship type before you can type in a name.

Judging by what we can see in the photo, this Vixen is equipped for sailing with a rather schooner-like bow and could be a converted yacht (but it could have steam power in addition). Many vessels were bought into the Navy during the Spanish-American War. The man is wearing "irregular" clothes, not the uniforms we've seen on capital ships of the period with the funny hats. He would not pass any XO's routine inspection for neatness/cleanliness either.

Anyone have more info on Vixen?

[The USS Vixen was a schooner-rigged steam yacht. - Dave]

An interesting vessel

Vixen was a Patrol Yacht. Checked in the Navy Archives and she was gorgeous. Can you find a photo of her to post Dave?

[See above. - Dave]

This is my rifle, this is my gun --

You know the rest.

Well ...

at least it's not loaded.

I hadn't noticed that... um... thing in his hand either,

but it immediately brings to mind an old military adage.

When I was in Parris Island Marine Corps Boot Camp, you NEVER called your rifle a "gun." If you did, you had to run a few dozen laps around the squad-bay with your M14 held above your head in one hand, and your personal equipment in the other, shouting, "This is my rifle, this is my gun. My rifle's for shooting, my gun is for fun."

This is your weapon, this is your gun

And he did all that with just his right hand. Amazing!!

All hands on, ummm

Dave, I can imagine a schoolboy snicker as you posted this.

[Actually I hadn't noticed that until you, um, pointed it out. - Dave]

The "Pom Pom"

An interesting weapon, the Maxim-Nordenfelt 37mm (one pounder) gun, nicknamed the "Pom Pom" for the distinctive sound when firing. A mount of that size is a definite requirement!


Can we get any detail in the reflection on the chrome part of the machine gun? Be interesting to see what it is (camera?)

Not the Usual Maxim

The gun is a "pom-pom," an oversized Maxim firing a 37mm bullet. Really a machine cannon, not gun.

[Not so strictly speaking, any cannon is a "gun." The Maxim one-pounder was, at the time, referred to as a "machine gun." - Dave]

The Modern Traveller

The Modern Traveller, by Hilaire Belloc (1898)

Blood thought he knew the native mind;
He said you must be firm, but kind.
A mutiny resulted.
I shall never forget the way
That Blood stood upon this awful day
Preserved us all from death.
He stood upon a little mound
Cast his lethargic eyes around,
And said beneath his breath:
'Whatever happens, we have got
The Maxim Gun, and they have not.'


is what you call a machine gun, and by the size of the stand it won't come loose.

Four Hundred Shots In One Minute?

I think a Maxim machine gun fires faster than that.

[No one said anything about "one minute." - Dave]

Four hundred shots from a Maxim machine gun is really nothing in a sea battle. I'm saying it's a one-pounder gun not a machine gun.

[It's both. - Dave]

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