Non-standard, substitute standard, and captured weapons in British and Commonwealth service

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by TTH, Mar 16, 2012.

  1. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    A matter of different perspectives. To me, the juxtaposition of tough Wehrmacht infantry pushing baby prams was quite funny.
    I understand what happened to civilians in 1940 and across the continent for the better part of 5 years but I have no way of knowing the provenance behind that photo. They could as easily have been pulled from a pile of abandoned gear. Neither of us could ever verify an evil or innocuous origin.
    We could equally ascribe a tragic scenario for every piece of captured military equipment depicted in this thread so everyone is free to find offence with almost any wartime image.
     
  2. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    I'm not offended at you at all, don't worry. I just remembered my teacher's story and I remembered what the TT men described too. We now take you back to the regularly scheduled topic of this thread.
     
  3. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    The Hession Rifle

    I believe it said most of the guns were not returned.

    I've always like the message on Maj Hession's rifle.


    upload_2019-5-6_6-56-57.png
     
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  4. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    WE ALL LOVE THE SCREW GUNS: THE 2.75-INCH B.L. MOUNTAIN GUN

    In a previous post, I speculated about the 1939 status of the 2.75-inch mountain gun. The weapon certainly had a rather odd history. It was introduced before the Great War to replace the old non-recoil 10-pdr mountain gun, with which it has often been confused. It was a funny-looking weapon, with a long barrel and recoil tube perched high above the axle. Though 'introduced' into service in 1911, production of the gun was for some reason extremely slow and only a handful were actually in the field in 1914 and 1915 so most of the Indian and British mountain batteries had to fight the early battles of the war with the obsolete 10-pdr. The 2.75 replaced the 10-pdr with the batteries in the Near East and at Salonika during 1916, but perversely the British began to introduce another new mountain equipment just the following year, the 3.7-inch howitzer. The two pieces served side by side in the last stage of the Great War and in India for two more decades. Astoundingly, it took the army that long to fully replace the 2.75 with the 3.7. (20 years--that must be some sort of world record for slowness in replacing a weapon.) According to a history of the Indian mountain artillery which I have read online at least one Indian States Forces battery and possibly two were still using the 2.75 when the Second World War broke out. The 1st Jammu and Kashmir Mountain Battery only began to re-equip with the 3.7-inch howitzer in September 1939. The Bikaner Bijer Battery had been a camel battery armed with the 2.75 and it did not reorganize as a standard mountain battery with the 3.7 until 1941. So, yes, it appears that the 2.75-inch B.L. was indeed a Second World War weapon, if only briefly and marginally. It wasn't a bad little gun, anyway. The HE shell was lighter than that of the 3.7 (12.5 lbs vs 20) but range with HE was nearly the same (5,800 yds vs 5,899) and the 2.75 had better range firing shrapnel, shrapnel still being useful on the NW Frontier. Besides that, the 2.75 was 1/4 lighter than the 3.7 and required only six mules to move against the eight required for the 3.7.
     

    Attached Files:

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  5. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    MYSTERY HYBRID B.A.R.--BRITISH ORIGIN?

    As some here may know, the B.A.R. in its many variants is one of my favorite weapons. (Please don't jump in now and tell me how terrible it was, I know all its limitations and that discussion has already been discussed elsewhere here.) As some may also know, sizeable quantities of the B.A.R. were sent to Britain in 1940 to arm the Home Guard. These guns were the first B.A.R. variant, distinguished by the lack of a bipod, a rear sight similar to that of the M1917 Enfield rifle, a semiauto/full auto selector switch, a thick fore-end with checkering on the sides, and a flash hider which was practically flush with the barrel. In 1939 the US Army introduced a new and supposedly improved version, the M1918A2, and this was the main type used by US forces during WWII and Korea. The M1918A2 had a new rear sight similar to that of the M1903 Springfield rifle, a metal buttplate, a slot for an optional monopod, two rates of auto fire instead of full and semi, a slimmed down fore-end, a magazine guide, a bipod, and much later a carrying handle as well. The M1918A2 flash hider may have been larger and wider too, I'm not certain. Most of these new features just added weight without improving performance. Many old M1918s which had not gone to Britain were rebuilt into M1918A2s, though I have seen a couple of photos of unmodified M1918s in field use with US forces during WWII. Now, in the course of my net browsing, I stumbled across a rather unusual piece which was offered for sale on gunauction.com. (Link is Fully Automatic WWI Winchester Model 1918 Browning Automatic Rifle ). According to the info on the site, this was one of the M1918 guns which was sent to the British. However, at some point in its life it was fitted with an M1918A2 type bipod and possibly a new flash hider as well. (Could you fit a bipod to an M1918 with the original flash hider? Was there much difference between the flash hiders on the different models?) There is no information about who modified this piece, when it was modified, or where it was modified. Everything else about the gun seems to be pure M1918: M1917 Enfield type rear sight, semi/full fire switch, thick fore-end, no monopod, buttplate, magazine guide, or carrying handle. To add further to the mystery, several images of similar guns can be found on the internet. One of these, which was offered for sale on the prestigious James D. Julia auction site, came from the collection of Dolf Goldsmith, author of the seminal work on the Vickers machine gun. The auction site, CLASSIC MARLIN-ROCKWELL MODEL 1918 BROWNING AUTOMATIC RIFLE (C & R). - James D. Julia, Auctioneers , does not say where Goldsmith got it from though, nor does it mention any British markings. I found two more guns of the same type during my browsing, neither of which had any remarks so while I included pics I didn't post the links to those here. One of them had also been given a carrying handle. Can anybody offer me any clues? Are these M1918-with-bipod guns a British WWII modification of the M1918, an interim or early conversion/production type of the M1918A2, or some kind of postwar mongrel slapped together by dealers? And no, I don't have Rock in a Hard Place, the essential work on the B.A.R., but it is on order for me through inter-library loan. I should add that I don't think it impossible that the modification was done in Britain. I have attached an image of a couple of Home Guardsmen with BARs, of which one has a smooth fore-end typical of most M1918A2 production and not at all typical of the M1918.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 16, 2019
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  6. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Mystery 6 Inch Gun 1941--Possible Mark VII on field mounting?

    In a previous post, I mentioned that the British unloaded some old Mark VII 6 inch heavy field guns on the Finns in 1939-1940. I would have thought that would have been the last of them in British service, but what then are we to make of the photograph below? The photo, from the AWM, shows a 6 inch of unnamed mark in Scotland in 1941. The weapon has WWI type traction engine wheels. It lacks the recoil system under the barrel which is characteristic of the Mk XIX, the standard 6 inch field weapon after the Mk VII. On the other hand, none of the images of the Mk VII heavy field gun I've seen have those little hand wheels on the carriage, presumably for brakes. Mk XIX carriages, however, do have hand wheels like that. Is this a Mk VII or perhaps some other older mark of 6 inch slung on to a spare Mk XIX carriage? Ideas, anyone?
    6 inch gun 1941 Britain possibly Mk VII AWM.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
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  7. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    3822383 Mission 204 Maymyo.JPG Mission204China.jpg
    Chinese Short Mauser and ZB LMG with Mission 204

    Back when I started this thread I mentioned that Mission 204 (Australian/British experimental outfit in China and Burma, 1941-42) used some of the Czech ZB lmg series, a standard Chinese weapon, in lieu of the Bren. This is further confirmed by the memoirs of Ralph Tanner of the KOYLI, who served with Mission 204: see Burma 1942

    I have also found some AWM photos of the force's Australian personnel which show them carrying rifles which don't look at all like the Lee-Enfield. They look too short and slender to be P14s or the American M1917, the second of which was or became common in Chinese service. I think they are short Mauser 98 system guns, but the photos are neither large enough nor clear enough to even guess at which sort they could be. The Chinese used several short Mausers, all similar in look and general characteristics--the German Standardmodell (Chiang Kai Shek Mauser), the Czech Brno Vz 24, and the Belgian FN 24/30 series. I'm not enough of a short Mauser expert to speculate about which these are.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
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  8. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    large_000000 6 Inch Mk VII 1918.jpg
    It is indeed a Mark VII gun after all. Some IWM images of the Mk VII from 1914-18 do show the tell-tale hand wheels on the carriage. See the photo above.
     
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  9. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Shanghai Volunteer Corps and Winchester M1897 Trench and Riot Shotguns

    Now I am going to get even more esoteric. Some of you will have heard of the Shanghai Volunteer Corps (SVC), the part-time defense force of the International Settlement in Shanghai. The exact military status of this force, like the political status of the International Settlement, is not exactly clear. As the leading foreign power in China prior to the post-1931 rise of the Japs, the British dominated the settlement and seem to have dominated its defense force and police force (the famous SMP) as well. The SVC included White Russian and Jewish units as well as an American company and a Japanese company (though the latter seems to have dropped out and gone its own way, of course). The commanding officer of the force was always British and most of it wore British style uniform and was armed with British weapons; photos show the Russian and Jewish contingents with SMLEs and Lewis guns. The American contingent seems to have been a bit of a hybrid. There was an American company and from 1932 on a Filipino company also, the latter being paired with the former and wearing the same uniform. The uniform was WWI American style, with upright collars and puttees instead of the gaiters which became standard in US forces in the 1930s. The American SVC contingent enjoyed a particularly close relationship with the USMC, which was only natural since the 4th Marine Regiment was stationed in Shanghai until 1941. Armament was mixed, however. Several photos, including one taken in the early 30s during an inspection by Marine General Smedley Butler, show the American SVC company carrying SMLEs. On the other hand, at least 800 M1917 Enfield rifles (P14 in .30-06) were also sent to the SVC at some point. Most interestingly of all, according to Bruce Canfield's book on US combat shotguns in 1934-1935 over eighty Model 1897 Winchester 12 gauge riot shotguns were sent to the SVC. One might guess that the SVC American contingent got them, but Canfield doesn't say so explicitly. Canfield does not mention it, but apparently a number of Model 1897 trench model shotguns with heat shield and bayonet were also given to the SVC (American contingent?) at some point. The SVC trench guns were made under US military contract during WWI but apparently never issued during that conflict. At all events, a trench gun from the same range as the SVC weapons recently came up for auction. Some people consider the SVC a British unit and its cap badge is commonly listed along with such British outfits as the Hong Kong Volunteer Corps. I don't know if that makes the Winchester 1897 trench gun a "British" weapon or not, but we know that the Royal Ulster Constabulary also had the riot gun version.
    post-70-1220319114 Possibly American Company SVC.jpg Winchester 1897 Trench Shotgun possible SVC weapon.jpg
     
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  10. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

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  11. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    The Help! Gun: the 2.95 Inch Vickers QF Mountain Gun

    Here is another little oddity, one I am particularly fond of. We have all seen this gun in action, sort of. Or at least all of us who are Beatles fan have seen it. The 2.95 Inch Vickers Mountain Gun was the weapon used by Klang's (Leo McKern's) cultists to try to kill the Beatles with when the Fab Four were on Salisbury Plain in Help! (1965). It was a funny looking little weapon, and I do mean little. Gun and carriage together weighed just 830 pounds. The usual rounds were 12.5 lb shrapnel or common shell, range was 4.825 yards, ROF was 14 RPM despite a breech mechanism which doesn't look very quick acting. The thing allegedly jumped about when fired, but of of course it doesn't seem to when used in films with blank cartridges. Designed around 1897 by Vickers for the Egyptian Army and offered on the commercial market, the piece popped up in all sorts of odd corners for many years. It was a little like an artillery version of the Madsen LMG, never made in great numbers but used for a long time in many places and many wars. It was adopted in small numbers as a local defense weapon (by the RN?) at British overseas naval bases. About a dozen were later purchased by the Colonial Office and used during WWI by the West African Frontier Force. It passed from British service sometime in the 1920s (I think--wouldn't bet against some still sitting in an ordnance store in West Africa somewhere) but it lingered on elsewhere for a long time after that. The Argentine Navy purchased some as landing guns around the turn of the century and Colombia seems to have gotten some too. So, allegedly, did the Italians. The United States was the largest user, purchasing 132 examples. We used them in the Philippines against the Insurrectos, and a couple went to Mexico with Pershing in 1916. During the 1930s we began to pass the 2.95 to postage stamp states which were friendly to us, such as Cuba and Liberia. Most of those remaining were sent to join the existing examples in the Philippines, where I am ashamed to say that these cute little popguns formed a significant proportion of the field artillery we had to use against the Jap invasion. The Japs captured the survivors and later used them, but at least one example escaped their clutches and was employed Filipino guerillas against the Japs on Mindanao late in the war. Some 2.95s went out to the NEI and were briefly used by the KNIL Later on, the forces of the foul Sukarno used them against the Dutch in 45-49. The Liberian weapons seem to have lasted until 1970 or so. Finally, the Vickers 2.95 has had a vigorous second life as a film prop, appearing in Help!, North-West Frontier (1959, Lauren Bacall, Herbert Lom), Carry on Up the Khyber, Legionnaire (Jean Claude van Damme), and perhaps others. Single examples are preserved in the US at Aberdeen and Fort Sill, at a British museum whose name I forget, at a museum in Prague (Prague? How did it get there?), and in Colombia. The Argentines may have preserved as many as three, and I'd bet that some film prop company has a couple stashed away. There is a clip online of a weapon being demonstrated somewhere in the UK, and Gun Jesus has a clip where he calls the elevation system of the 2.95 "really cool."
    2.95 Inch Help! 2.jpg qf295inmountaingun Gold Coast Regt.jpg 2.95 inch in Mexico 1.JPG 2.95 inch in Mexico 2.JPG vickers295captured by Japs Philippines.jpg
    2.95 inch firing:
    Gun Jesus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-b53isF0RZU
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2019
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  12. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    Would love to have any one of these:

    Winchester Lever-Actions Go To War

    Great Britain

    Great Britain purchased three different Winchester lever-action models: the Model 1886, Model 1892 and Model 1894. The first wartime purchase, by the Royal Flying Corps, was for fewer than 50 Model 1886 Winchesters chambered in .45-90 Win. Special cartridges were developed with incendiary bullets designed to ignite the hydrogen gas in German airships and balloons. The rifles allowed the Royal Flying Corps to counter this airborne threat while they were developing more effective arms.

    To allow all standard-issue Lee-Enfield rifles to be available for the front, Winchester repeaters were also purchased by the Royal Navy, and they were used shipboard for guard duty and mine clearing, the details of which are unknown. The Royal Navy acquired 20,000 Model 1892 rifles in .44-40 Win. and approximately 5,000 Model 1894 carbines in .30 WCF (.30-30 Win.). Those Winchesters, along with some Remington Rolling Block rifles, were replaced in 1915.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2019
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  13. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    I think I saw one of these at the West Point museum mounted on a flat heavy iron rectangular platform without wheels, similar to a large mortar base plate. I can't find any pictures of it. Does that description ring any bells?
     
  14. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    I don't know what you saw at West Point, but I don't think it was a 2.95. There are two in the US, one at Fort Sill and another at APG. The thing you mention sounds a little like a German minenwerfer from WWI.
     
  15. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    I think you are right. The one at West Point had the barrel almost level with the floor but it looked something like this

    upload_2019-6-20_21-16-21.png
     
  16. AlanDavid

    AlanDavid Junior Member

    Bofors 37mm Anti Tank Gun.
    Some of these were acquired by the UK, possibly from a Sudanese contract which was taken over.

    In British service they were called, QF MK1 37MM.
    Some saw British service in 1940 in France, before Dunkirk and also in the Western Desert.

    Does anyone know how many were purchased in total and if they all came from Sweden or from other licensed manufacturers?

    Regards

    AlanD
    Sydney
     
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  17. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    From MC (39) 9 - 7/12/1939 [CAB 83/2/3].

    Some 250 37 m.m. A.T. Equipments were ordered from Poland, of which 80 had been delivered up to the outbreak of war.


    The notion of a Sudanese order has been around for a long time but I have not been able to identify its original source and I am sceptical. Why would a small, cash-strapped, colonial force require modern anti-tank guns in 1939? Apart from odd relics of armoured cars, the nearest potentially hostile armoured troops were up in northern Libya or in the horn of Africa, and 18-pdrs were more than capable of dealing with the Italian L.3.

    In discussion of the Operation Compass fireplan in December 1940 Farnham mentions 24 equipments “originally intended for the Sudan Defence Force”. This could simply mean that some of the 80 received from Poland had been earmarked for the Sudan but were retained by the Western Desert Force.

    I have never heard of these guns having been deployed to France Alan and think this too is doubtful. Where did you find this suggestion?
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
  18. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

  19. AlanDavid

    AlanDavid Junior Member

    Hi Richelieu

    I found the reference to use in France on page 12 of, British Anti Tank Artillery 1939 - 1945, by Chris Henry. One of the New Vanguard series put out by Osprey.

    11 guns were used mounted on 15cwt trucks in the battle of Beda Fomm on 5th February 1940.

    There is a quote about a Bofors being hit by a shell but still remaining serviceable taken from The Royal Artillery Commemorations Book,

    Here is a link to a post on these guns from the HMVF site, with some god photos of markings on the guns.

    Bofors 37mm anti tank gun

    I think you are right about the guns Britain got being diverted from use in the Sudan rather than being a Sudanese order as such.

    Was the Bofors 37mm round the same as the U.S. 37mm round and if so which came first?

    Regards

    AlanD
    Sydney
     
  20. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    The Bofors and the US M3 gun had completely different development histories. From what I've read online in various places, the Bofors dated back to some work the company had done with some Krupp designs from the early 1920s. The project lay fallow for years but revived in the early 30s. The gun was ready for service in 1935, the Dutch I think being the first customers. The M3 came along later and derived not from the Bofors but to some slight extent from the German Pak 36 (Rheinmetall, not Krupp), two examples of which were purchased for US evaluation. The first M3s did not reach service until 1940 I believe, by which time the Bofors had been in service use for half a decade. Given the listed differences in MV I doubt that the ammunition for the two guns was interchangeable. The cases were also of different lengths. See this excellent page on 37mm and 40mm guns in British service: 37MM AND 40MM GUNS IN BRITISH SERVICE
     
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