National Factory of War Arms
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FN30 series ground MGsModele 1932 aircraft MGParts comparison  of variantsFixed and flexible backplatesArmorer's kits, etc.FN30 semi-auto buildFN mounts and cradles

   Some of John Browning's finest work came out of his collaboration with Fabrique Nationale in Belgium. Since my interest is in the .30 caliber Browning machine guns, that is the main area of focus here. It taxed my meager researching skills to find information on even this narrow topic. Fortunately, Dolf Goldsmith's excellent Volume II of his three volume series on the Browning has become available since I started this. It covers the Brownings manufactured outside the United States and has in depth coverage of Fabrique Nationale and their Browning production. Through numerous conversations with Dolf before and after publication of his book I have been able to piece together some information that will give an overview of the FN MGs. You will find a link to Dolf's books under the Sources section near the bottom of this page for further reading on this and other Browning .30 caliber related topics.
   When John Browning was refining his gas hammer, and the later gas/recoil-operated machine guns, he approached the U.S. military hoping to interest them in adopting this new technology. Unfortunately the United States military was not ready to move beyond mechanical gun operation, such as that employed by the hand cranked Gatling gun. Looking for other buyers, in 1898 John Browning entered into a relationship with Fabrique Nationale D'Arms De Guerre (National Factory of War Arms) in Belgium to sell to the European market. In the years that followed, some of the finest weapons Browning ever designed came out of that factory. Fabrique Nationale d 'Armes de Guerre had been established in 1889 to manufacture 150,000 Mauser rifles ordered by the Belgian Government. They were a young company and eager to expand. The collaboration would last until John Browning's death in 1926, though FN would continue to build Browning's guns for decades, and still manufacture the .50 caliber machine gun to this day.


The FN factory in Herstal Belgium in the early 1900s.
Source: FN 100 Years by August Francotte & Claude Gaier


The FN cartridge factory, 1908.
Source: FN 100 Years by August Francotte & Claude Gaier
Twin FN38s
Twin Aircraft Modèle 1932s.
Source: FN 100 Years by August Francotte & Claude Gaier

An excellent example of the exquisite embellishment seen on the finer FN sporting arms.
A note about the various FN30 machine gun models. The FN 30 designation was used to denote the caliber of this weapon series - .30 caliber. Many variations were produced during its production from 1932 to 1958. There were both ground and aircraft models, and refinements were made over the years. All were considered to be FN30s. Certainly the company employees must have had some form of nomenclature for identifying the various versions, at least among themselves, but nothing has surfaced which can verify this.
Here in the United States we have informally referred to the ground guns as FN30s, and divided the two most common versions of the aircraft guns (all part of a Portuguese contract) as the FN38 (earlier variant) and the FN39 (later variant). In Dolf Goldsmith's Volume II of his series The Browning Machine Gun, he has chosen to refer to the earlier version as the Modèle 1932, and the later version the Modèle 1938, the years those models were designed. This is the nomenclature I will use, and hope this will not prove too confusing for those familiar with the earlier designations.
Special thanks to Steve (MCP) for proof reading the content of this site and
bringing to my attention a truly astounding number of typos and inconsistencies.

I wish to thank Robert Sauvage of FN in Belgium and Grégory Desauvage of the Liège Arms Museum for their generous help in providing information for this project. For information on the weapons systems currently offered by Fabrique Nationale, you can visit their Herstal Web site at http://www.fnherstal.com/html/Index.htm, or their United States Web site at http://www.fnmfg.com/.

The bulk of the component parts photos are courtesy of Kris Hartwig of Hedgehog MFG.

Thanks also to Dolf Goldsmith for his generosity in sharing information with me. For further reading about the FN Brownings, as well as the myriad manufacturers worldwide, you cannot do better than The Browning Machine Gun - Volume II, by Dolf Goldsmith, published by Collectors Grade Publications. It can be purchased from Dolf by contacting him at oldbullfrog1@yahoo.com

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