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

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

  1. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Thanks. I think we chatted about the provenance of the Mausers in that Shanghai order once. I think it possible that they may have been obtained from the trade since the C96 was so common in China at that time, but absent more documentation who really knows. As to their use by Aux units, maybe the guns in question were personal possessions, but you'd need to correspond with Clarke about that. As I noted in a previous post, the Palestine Settlement Police seem to have had some. Quite a few Colt Hammerless .32s (M1903) were sent to the UK if I recall. I didn't know SOE got any. Many years ago I read a hardback illustrated book about British airborne forces, the kind of thing what was around a lot in the 70s.This book stated that some .32 Colt '03s went to the airborne, but I don't know if that's true or not.
     
  2. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Do you know if the SMP 1910s in question were in .32 or .380? Maybe I'm wrong, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that a quantity of 1910s were obtained post-Great War for use in Ireland.
     
  3. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    M3 Submachine Gun

    The M3 submachine gun was a very common American weapon in the last year or so of the war. It lasted in US service for decades after 1945, serving in Korea and Vietnam and even beyond. It was used by other powers and was copied by the Nationalist Chinese and the Argentinians but it never seems to have gotten a lot of respect, much less love. American troops were used to the classic Thompson, and they disliked the M3 in large part because it wasn't a Thompson. Our troops called it "the Grease Gun," because that's what it looked like. It was the American equivalent of the Sten, a second generation SMG made largely from inexpensive metal stampings. The M3 was not as robust as the Thompson, true, but it got fewer complaints about reliability than the Sten. The cocking handle on the early guns was not strong enough but other than that the M3 was actually pretty good. Despite using the powerful .45 ACP it had a rather low rate of fire (heavy bolt) and when held properly it was pretty accurate for an SMG. It was also, believe it or not, a British service weapon, at least in the Mediterranean. The MEF retained the .45 Thompson and the M3 was also allotted to the MEF, the guns coming via theater transfer. The attached images show M3s in the hands of the Lancashires of 78th Division in 1945. An original caption says that the M3s were in use by the 78th only on a trial basis, but that can't be entirely right. Some years ago I was researching 168th Brigade of 56th Div and saw a photo in one of the relevant regimental histories (L Ir R, LSR, Royal Berks) of an officer on patrol with an M3. The US-sponsored Kachin Rangers also got some M3s. Anyhoo, here are the pictures:
    2nd Lancs Fusiliers 78th Div April 45 w M3 SMG.jpg 2nd Lancs Fusiliers M3 SMG.jpg Kachin M3 SMG.png
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2021
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  4. Alec1935

    Alec1935 Member

    The cocking handle was eliminated entirely on the M3A1 and replaced by a hole in the bolt you stuck a pinky into to draw the bolt back.

    M3.jpg

    There was also a silenced version that was remarkably quiet in operation.

    Silenced M3.jpg
     
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  5. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Oh yes, I know about the M3A1, but that was mostly a postwar gun and I haven't yet seen any evidence that it got into British hands in WWII. The M3 certainly did.
     
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  6. AlanDavid

    AlanDavid Junior Member

    After a bit of digging it appears there are no known examples of the Model 1910 or 1910/22 with SMP markings, so I am wrong about that. One example of the .25acp Browning Model 1905 with SMP markings is known but its thought only a dozen or so were purchased.

    The RAF certainly had the Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless pistol in .32acp. These were left over from the purchase of over 3,300 of these pistols in 1920/21. Some of these will be found with the letters R.A.F stamped into the frame. SOE certainly used several thousand of these purchased from Colt and then through Lend Lease. Over 10,000 Llama pistols in .32acp and .38auto were used by SOE as well.

    Regards

    AlanD
     
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  7. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Thanks for the response. Well, I did discover a book about the SMP called The World's First Swat Team or something like that. I don't know if you know the book or not but it seems to be a serious work. At any rate, whether specially marked examples existed or not the book (online excerpt of) says that the SMP did have some Browning 1910s in .32 prior to the adoption of the Colt M1908 as standard. As to the Llama...I remember from a previous conversation here that the information on that subject is incomplete. I think you said that SOE definitely had some Model IIs in .32 but that the use of other Llama models in other calibers is uncertain. Is that still the case, or have you turned up anything more definite since the matter was last discussed here?
     
  8. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    This is the book I was referring to: The World’s First SWAT Team
     
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  9. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Maxim Gun on NZ minesweeper

    The Vickers gun officially displaced the Maxim as the British army's standard MG shortly before WWI, though some Maxims soldiered on in the early campaigns until Vickers production caught up. The RN, I believe, continued to use the Maxim throughout the Great War and maybe a bit beyond. I had figured the Maxim to be long out of service by 1939, yet the attached image from a propaganda reel shows one in use aboard a New Zealand minesweeper in 1941 or 42. As mentioned earlier on this thread Britain had converted some captured MG08s to .303 and in the 41-42 Pacific crisis the Australians did the same to some war trophy guns. I am not enough of a Maxim expert to tell if the weapon in the photo is an original British Maxim of the pre-Vickers type or a converted MG08. Would anyone care to hazard a guess?

    Maxim gun type unknown on NZ minesweeper 1941 1.jpg
     
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  10. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    Original photos from my collection.
    Photo 1 US M1 in use in Burma by a chindit unit.
    Photo 2. Captured German truck.
    Photo 3 Captured German truck used by a British BTU.
    burma hut chindit M1 rifle (2) (2018_01_13 18_51_57 UTC).jpg captured german truck. used by british jpg.jpg 4 BTU captured german truck. blood jpg.jpg
     
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  11. AlanDavid

    AlanDavid Junior Member

    Regarding the Maxim, looking at the rear sight it looks to be a British made gun, but I could be wrong.

    As you mentioned the RN used the Maxims in the Great War. The Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield had a Maxim production line which contined to make Maxims up to and including 1917.

    As its a New Zealand mine sweeper, the gun may be from NZ stores in which case it will still be sighted for MkVI ammo.

    Great photo by the way!!

    Regards

    AlanD
     
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  12. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    6 Inch Gun Mark XI

    Back to coast defense guns, at least for the moment. The 6 Inch Gun Mark XI was a fairly widely used RN weapon in the decade before the Great War. It was secondary armament of the King Edward VII class battleships and primary armament for the first "Town" class light cruisers. Australia had several vessels of that class, including the Sydney which ran down the Emden, so it was fitting that surplus Mark XI guns were widely used as coast defense weapons in Australia. Others remained in store after the Great War and these were re-employed in emergency coastal batteries during WWII. Australia had 26 Mark XIs in various emplacements in WWII, and South Africa got a couple also. Maximum range firing the 100 lb. shells was 14,310 yards at 15 degrees elevation from shipboard mountings, I don't know what it was on the coastal mounts. The AWM has some very good pictures of the Australian guns (see below).
    AWM 6235878 6 Inch Mk XI Signal Hill.JPG 6 Inch Mk XI Emery Pt Thursday Island Torres Strait.JPG
     

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  13. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    The Light Hotchkiss

    The Vickers and Lewis formed the basic MG team for the British infantry in the Great War. For some reason the British cavalry and Commonwealth horse got a different light gun, the Hotchkiss Portative or Hotchkiss Mk I in British nomenclature. The Hotchkiss served through the Great War in the horsy role and found a new part to play as a vehicular gun on early tanks and armored cars. The feed was the usual Hotchkiss metal strip, an articulated belt-strip appearing later for vehicular use. The original cavalry gun, the Mk I, had a large wooden butt which looked like a ship's rudder and a rather slender bipod. (See the photo of the Indian crew below.) The vehicular version, the Mk I*, dispensed with the butt and added a pistol grip. A metal frame butt could be attached to the Mark I* for ground use when necessary. Both guns could be used on a silly-looking mini-tripod, and this seems to have been preferred to the bipod even for the Mark I. Plenty of these guns were still hanging around in 1939-40 and they found many uses. A great many were mounted on ships as light AA weapons, others were used for training, and the Home Guard got some. The Hotchkiss occasionally got into the ground war; one of the attached photos shows one on an AA mounting on the Egyptian frontier in 1941, where Australian machine gunners were working with their South Africans counterparts. The Hotchkiss is infamous in US military history as the 'daylight gun.' We had some for our own troops in .30-06, and when Pancho Villa raided Columbus New Mexico in 1916 the poorly trained crews had the devil of a time getting the guns into action. This was taken by our press to mean that the guns were junk, which they weren't quite. The basic Hotchkiss mechanism was sound enough and the guns had a reputation for accuracy. However, when the Hotchkiss company designed the gun they inverted the action to make it lighter and this made loading the strips a lot trickier. The wonderful Othais and Mae have done a lot of work with this gun on their C&Rsenal youtube channel, and if you are interested in the Hotchkiss (or any other WWI gun for that matter) then you should take a look. The light Hotchkiss was a finicky weapon which absolutely required a very well-trained crew for efficient operation; it wasn't like a Bren or a BAR, something whose basic operational steps at least a recruit could grasp fairly quickly. It was also heavy, awkward, and difficult to lug around, and the mini tripod was a liability. I don't know what the British cavalry thought about it. Nearly all the guns I've seen in WWII photos are the Mark I* vehicular version with the frame butt attached, but some of the Mark I guns with the wooden butt were used in Australia and New Zealand. Even these seem to be cursed with that damned mini tripod.
     

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    Last edited: Apr 13, 2021
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  14. Alec1935

    Alec1935 Member

    Had this rather nice image of a Hotchkiss on the laptop.

    Hotchkiss Portative.jpg
     
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  15. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Very nice. I think that might be from the James D. Julia auction house, that one or Morphy's. They both take nice photos and Gun Jesus works a lot with both.
     
  16. Alec1935

    Alec1935 Member

    I don't know thw application but you sometimes see a second pair of trunnions clamped on to the barrel, perhaps for tank use? It's show in the attached photo. Ignore the red arrow, it's not connected.

    Hotchkiss Portative Barrel.jpg
     
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  17. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Yes, according to Othais of C&Rsenal that trunnion is apparently for a vehicle mounting.However, I have also seen cases where the crows-foot tripod is attached further towards the muzzle instead of at the mid-point of the gun.
     
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  18. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Webley Model 1910 Automatic Pistol .380 ACP

    More obscure sidearms. The Webley company is justly known for its long line of excellent revolvers, but it also produced a series of automatic pistols which deserved more success than they achieved. These guns, which began to appear in 1906, were the victims both of bad timing (the law began to restrict the British home pistol market) and military obscurantism (the British Army resisted automatic pistols longer than any other major force). The Webley autos were designed by William Whiting and came in several basic sizes: small (.25), medium (.32, .380) and large (.38 ACP, ,455). The .25s and .32s sold pretty well (many of the latter going to police forces around the Empire) and the .455 was adopted by the Royal Navy, but the various .38/.380/9mm range guns never had much success and were not made in large numbers. The Webley .380 ACP pistol is known to collectors and historians as the Model 1910, but I don't know what Webley called it in their catalogues. It was little more than a scaled-up version of the .32 Webley automatic, which is known as the Model 1908. The .380 weighed 19.3 ounces, it had a 3.5 inch barrel, and its magazine held seven .380 ACP cartridges. There was nothing wrong with Whiting's basic system and .380 was a more potent and useful cartridge than the .32 ACP of the Model 1908, but the .380 Webley did not sell well. The thing remained in production (or in the catalogue?) from 1910 to 1932 but only 2,129 were made. It did, however, win a couple of police contracts. The South Australian Police bought 250 examples and kept them in service until the early 1960s and the Singapore (Straits Settlements) Police also bought some for their plainclothes officers. Perhaps a few of the Singapore guns popped off at the Japs in 1942.
    SINGAPORE-WEBLEY-and-SCOTT-380-ACP-Model-1910-Pistol.JPG
     

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    Last edited: Apr 17, 2021
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  19. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    The Short Mauser

    The Kar98K Mauser was the standard German rifle throughout the war and it was made in enormous quantities. It was, however, just one of a range of very similar short Mauser rifles which appeared during the 1920s and 1930s. The Belgian FN company offered the FN 24/30 series, the Czech CZ company produced the VZ 24, Steyr Werke produced the Model 29/31, and Mauser itself had the Standardmodell for commercial sale. In addition to this, the Poles and the Belgian Army had their own proprietary models. These non-Kar98k type guns were distributed all across Europe and in China as well, and during the course of the war many of them fell into German hands. The Germans seized the plants at CZ, FN, Steyr, and Radom and these factories continued to make short Mausers assimilated to the Kar98K type. As a result of all this when you see a picture of a short Mauser in German use it's not easy to determine whether it's exactly a Kar98K or not. The British made extensive use of Italian rifles in part because they got hold of so many of them early in the war at a time when British production of rifles was scrambling to catch up with demand. The British did not begin to capture substantial quantities of short Mausers until the middle years of the war, by which time the post-Dunkirk rifle crisis was well past. The British made captured short Mausers available to European resistance movements, which was a sensible way to use them, but combat use of the Mauser by British troops never seems to have been more than isolated and occasional. Sir John Hackett remembered that by the end of the battle of Arnhem his brigade was mostly using German small arms (Mausers doubtless included) because airdropped supplies of British stuff were insufficient.
    Maj Fotheringam 1st WG w Kar98K 4 Sept 44.jpg N Africa possible Kar98K on right.jpg
     

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  20. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    The Hotchkiss 13.2mm HMG

    This weapon is a bit problematic. To begin with, there seem to have been not one but two 13.2mm Hotchkiss guns. The first was designed by the Hotchkiss company primarily as a light AA weapon, but it was also offered as a potential ground gun on a variety of different mountings. Feed was either by a box magazine or a strip. The French navy bought it and called it the M1929 and installed it on many of their vessels, and the Polish navy got some as well. The French army was less enthusiastic about the heavy Hotchkiss but eventually some were put into the Maginot line and others employed for airfield defense. The latter may have belonged to the Armee de l'Air, I'm not sure. The guns which served ashore seem to have been called the M1930, and the heavy Hotchkiss was also purchased by the Turks and Romanians among others. The Japanese were the biggest enthusiasts for the heavy Hotchkiss. They called it the Type 93, made it in large numbers, and employed it very widely on shipboard, in single and twin AA mounts ashore, and as a ground gun. Now comes the mysterious part. Ian Skennerton found a British contract from 1935-36 for 35 Hotchkiss 13.2mm guns. It has been stated on this thread previously that these were aircraft guns which the RAF was considering for adoption. That information comes from either Alan D or the late Tony E, both of whom have worked hard in this area, I recently consulted George Chinn's The Machine Gun (1951) and Chinn says that Hotchkiss was indeed developing a belt-fed version of the 13.2mm for aircraft use. He further states, though, that despite many years of work the gun was not yet ready when the Germans pushed in. Moreover, the French were extremely secretive about the whole project, and if that is true I wonder why they would have let the British take a look at the gun. The other, original 13.2mm, the M1929-30, may also have been offered to or trialed by the British on a tripod mount. Anyway, I found an unsourced online snippet on modernfirearms.net which says exactly that. The tripod in question (there is an image) looks identical to one which the Japs used for the Type 93; this particular tripod could be quickly adapted for AA use, as seen in another of the attached images. The 13.2mm M1929 was certainly used by some Free Polish and French vessels operating under RN command. British and Australasian forces often encountered the Type 93 in Jap hands, and I have found a remarkable photo of Thomas Blamey chatting with a couple of Australians who are using a twin-mount Type 93 against its former Jap owners at Buna. There is a good but long thread about the heavy Hotchkiss at Hotchkiss 13.2mm Mle 1930 - Axis History Forum
    Hotchkiss Aircraft 13.2mm MG.jpg
     

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    Last edited: Apr 30, 2021
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