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Charlton conversion


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#1 Blastmaster1972

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 04:41 PM

On a visit to New Zealand, a couple of years back, I came across this interesting weapon, in the Auckland Museum.

Heard of it, read about it in books, saw pictures... never saw a real example before.

The Charlton conversion, or Charlton Automatic Rifle was a way to make a light support weapon out of an SMLE rifle. 10 shot SMLE magazines could be used, as wel as modified BREN magazines. There was an Australian version as well.

Some pics I took:

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Interesting reading:

Charlton Automatic Rifle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Charlton Automatic Rifle

Kind regards,

Jos
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#2 TonyE

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 06:05 PM

The Charlton was one of three attempts to make a self-loader out of an SMLE. Contemporary with the Charlton was the South African Reider from about 1941 which was also tested in the UK.

The reason thta only five are left is that the rest were destroyed in a warehouse fire.

The father of both though is the Howell which dates from the First World War.

I have handles both the Reider and the Charlton but not fired them However, I was fortunate enough to fire an original Howell rifle a few years ago.

Regards
Tonye

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#3 Blastmaster1972

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 06:24 PM

Tony, thanks for your additional info.

The gun in your second pic is the Reider, right?

Interesting stuff, these experimental weapons!

Kind regards,

Jos
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#4 TTH

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 07:03 PM

Great pictures, thanks for posting. The shots I had seen in books didn't do the Charlton justice. Perhaps I am wrong or it's just coincidence, but externally the weapon seems to resemble the Johnson M1941 LMG. I have not heard that it saw any combat though. It would have been interesting to see how it stacked up vs the Johnson, Bren, and BAR.
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#5 AlanDavid

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 05:51 AM

Contrary to what the sign states at the War Memorial Museum in Auckland, the contract was for 1,500 Charlton's and 2,000 to be produced by Electrolux in Australia.

All the NZ conversions were made from Lee Metford or Long Lee Enfield rifles - not SMLE's. The army was so short of old rifles that 725 of the conversions were from rifles impressed or donated by the public. It is quite possible that this would have included commercially made Lee Metford and Long Lee Enfield rifles, perhaps even marked "Lee Speed Patent"; we shall never know.

All the Australian conversions were from SMLE not old pattern rifles.

About 10 Charlton's are known to exist worldwide not including copy's. No doubt a few more will be discovered over the years.

Regards

AlanD
Sydney
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