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Sub-machineguns made sense for WW1 aircraft. The pilots are totally unprotected with little more than cloth in between them and the outside. The aircraft were limited in what they could carry, necessitating light weight weapons and ammo. Aerial gunnery is extremely tricky, and was more so in WW1 before it was understood, giving an edge to higher rates of fire.
A light weight weapon with a high rate of fire that can put as much lead in the air as possible is often more effective than harder hitting weapons where the low rate of fire makes hitting the target difficult. Not only is a low power hit worth more than a high power miss, even if it’s not a killing shot bullets impacting on a target will put them into a defensive posture where they’re no longer worried about killing you.