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

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

  1. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    35 guns seems like a lot merely for trial and experimental purposes, particularly when budgets were so strained.

    An alternative hypothesis is that as these were marketed as having a dual anti-aircraft/anti-tank capability they were acquired (at least in the main) to augment the defences of Egypt during the Abyssinian crisis.

    upload_2021-4-21_1-41-24.png
    The British Defence of Egypt, 1935-40. Conflict and Crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean. By Steve Morewood (2004), p.50.


    The Chiefs of Staff memorandum COS 444, 1st March 1936, also mentions “28 Hotchkiss A/T” deployed in Egypt’s fixed defences.
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Well, I think you have something there. In the mid 30s HMGs were also regarded as at least substitute antitank weapons. At that point the 2-pounder was only just on the cusp of adoption and most Italian tanks were not tanks but L3 carriers, so the 13.2mm Hotchkiss might have been adequate.
     
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  3. AlanDavid

    AlanDavid Junior Member

    I can confirm that the 35 13.2mm Hotchkiss guns were purchased. 33 in October 1935 and 2 in February 1936. They were to be a defence against Italian armour.
    This purchase is covered in a book, "Öne Mans Tide", by Ernest Merrill Ransford, who held a number of positions at Enfield and elsewhere. Which pattern of gun they were is not known for sure, as far as I am aware. Also the reason for the purchase of the two guns in 1936; where these the same pattern as the 1935 purchase?

    What we need is a photo of the guns with British troops in theater

    Also of interest in the attachment above is mention of the Vickers Berthier Light Automatic.

    Regards

    AlanD
     
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  4. AlanDavid

    AlanDavid Junior Member

    Does anyone have any photographs of RAF personnel in the Middle East armed with captured Italian small arms, especially rifles?

    Regards

    AlanD
     
  5. Alec1935

    Alec1935 Member

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  6. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Sorry, nothing with the RAF. I do have an IWM shot of Jewish Settlement Police with Carcano carbines and another of the KAR with what look very like Model 91 long rifles.
    large_E_017375_1 Jewish Settlement Police instruction on Carcano carbine.jpg
     

    Attached Files:

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  7. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    The second attached image in Post 460 was obtained from modernfirearms.net, where it is described as the variant purchased [tested in 1930] by the British. It has the buttstock and magazine feed rather than the spade grips and strip feed. The tripod looks quite similar to one used with the Type 93 and also to a wheeled mount offered by the French. Is the Hotchkiss-Brandt company still around and do they have any files which might help?

    The Vickers Berthier is also a puzzle. This gun finally lost out to the Bren in the British Army competition and was adopted by the Indian Army. I had always assumed that the Indian Army was the only British force which used the VB. Could these guns have been in the hands of an Indian cavalry unit? If we could find the OOB for British Troops in Egypt at that time we might get an answer.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2021
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  8. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Oswald's JFK assassination rifle.
     
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  9. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Yes, the one thing it is famous for. The Carcano never had a great combat reputation and a lot of critics scorned it, but Oswald showed that it sure wasn't harmless. Oh, and Ruby's gun was a Colt Cobra with a hammer shroud.
     
  10. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    Tempting to speculate that the later brace were those used for the aviation trials alluded to - needs more digging.

    Could you post copies of the relevant page(s) please Alan?
     
  11. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

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  12. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Early Colt .38 Automatics: M1902 Military/Sporting and M1903 Pocket Hammer

    I will get back to coastal guns, I promise. There's plenty more of them. For now, though, it's back to obscure handguns.

    John Browning's first automatic pistol design for FN, the M1900, was a huge commercial hit. His early designs for Colt, however, were not so successful. Colt and Browning were aiming at the military market and thus a more powerful cartridge than the .32 ACP was required. The resulting round, the original .38 ACP, was not bad at all. As finalized, the round was comparable to the 9mm Bergmann-Bayard or Spanish Largo. The Colt M1900 pistol, which was designed to handle this cartridge, used a short-recoil, tilting barrel action. This was a step up from the blowback used in the FN M1900, but not as strong as the action used later in the M1911. The 1900 Colt design was modified and put into volume production as the M1902. This came in two variations, a military model with a square butt and an 8-round magazine and a sporting model with a rounded butt and a 7-round mag. The M1902 was a large and heavy gun with a 6" barrel, so Colt cut the barrel back to 4.5" to produce the M1903 or Model L, known today as the Pocket Hammer. The 1902 military model never captured the big military contracts Colt was hoping for, though some were sold to the Mexicans and the Chileans. A little over 18,000 were made up to 1927. The 1902 sporting model was a dud on the market and was dropped after only a few years and less than 7,000 examples. The Pocket Hammer was the handiest design of the three and the most successful, outselling both editions of the 1902 combined. Some 31,000 were made up to the official end of production in 1927, and some were still being put together from parts for a number of years. These early Colt .38 autos have been eclipsed by the later Colt Super Auto, which was based on the M1911 and fired the souped-up .38 Super round (the .38 ACP in a much hotter loading). Both the guns and the cartridge, however, enjoyed a small degree of popularity in Britain and the Webley company produced two guns in the 38 ACP cartridge (the Webley-Fosbery and the M1910 automatic). One online authority states that some 900 Pocket Hammers were delivered to the UK up through WWI, and the IWM, Royal Armouries, and National Army Museum all hold examples of the Pocket Hammer and the M1902 in their collections. These guns were never official standard in 14-18, but some were purchased by officers. Colt records show that deliveries of these guns to Britain continued during the Great War and I believe some 30,000 rounds of .38 ACP were also shipped as well. By WWII, of course, the M1902 and Pocket Hammer were both long out of production. Nonetheless, they were not forgotten in Britain and they seem to have obtained a new lease on life. Reference has been made here to the American Committee for the Defence of British Homes. In 1940, when the crisis was at its height, the committee seems to have been willing to consider anything, or at least that's what its ads in US newspapers from this period seem to suggest. That's when you see mentions of oddball calibers like .44-40 and even .45-70. In 1941, however, the ads get much more selective and specific. Among the types listed as desirable in these ads are ".38 Colt automatics, pocket, sporting, and military" --in other words, the Pocket Hammer and both variants of the M1902. I don't know how many were obtained by the committee, but they were certainly considered welcome. Attached are some images of Pocket Hammers and M1902 military models with British proofs, all from the Great War period.
    Colt M1903 Pocket Hammer British proof 1915.jpg Colt M1903 Pocket Hammer British proof 3.JPG
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 1, 2021
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  13. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Learned something new today. Never heard of .38 ACP before

    .38 ACP - Wikipedia
     
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  14. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Yes, the .38 Super turned .38 ACP into a forgotten round. There wasn't anything wrong with it really, it was comparable to the 9mm Parabellum and nearly identical to the 9mm Largo--in fact Largo and .38 ACP will interchange. There were enough M1902s and Pocket Hammers around even after WWII for US ammo companies to keep loading .38 ACP in the 1950s.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2021
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  15. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    "M1917 .45 Revolvers In World War II

    As it became increasingly probable that the United States would be drawn into the war that erupted in Europe in 1939, the War Dept. evaluated existing military arms in Uncle Sam’s arsenal. One of these, of course, was the M1917 revolver. After the debacle at Dunkirk, a number of arms in our inventory were sent to the British to replace those lost in France. Among these were about 20,000 M1917 revolvers sent to Great Britain circa 1940-41."

    Valuable Service: The U.S. Model of 1917 Revolvers
     
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  16. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Yes indeed, the M1917 Colt was sent to Britain. The M1917 was essentially the Colt New Service revolver adapted during WWI to use the .45 ACP round loaded in half moon clips (we didn't have enough M1911s). The Colt New Service was also ordered by the British in WWI in .455 Webley and some of these remained in use in WWII; Orde Wingate carried one. The RCMP in Canada used the New Service in .455 and also in .45 Colt and the Royal Canadian Navy got some in .45 Colt as well. Additional New Service revolvers were obtained by the BPC during WWII in a variety of chamberings, including .45 Colt, .38 Special, and .357 Magnum.
    Colt NS .38 Special 4 in bbl.jpg Colt NS .455 British.jpg
     

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  17. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Additional info on the M1917:

    Half were made by S&W and based on their Triple Lock like the Colts were based on their New Service model.

    Both New Service and Triple Locks were also chamberd in .455 for the British.


    British and Commonwealth World War I service[edit]

    To cover manufacturing shortages of the Webley Mk VI, early in the war the Ministry of Munitions contracted Colt and Smith & Wesson to manufacture revolvers chambered in .455 Webley. Smith & Wesson were given an initial contract to manufacture 5,000 triple lock pistols, known as the Pistol Smith & Wesson .455 with 6+1⁄2 inch barrel Mark I, it was introduced into British service as a "substitute standard" sidearm on 5 July 1915 alongside the Colt New Service. Subsequent orders, lacking the third locking lug and ejector shroud, totalled 69,755 and were known as the Mark II.[3]

    Smith & Wesson Triple Lock - Wikipedia
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2021
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  18. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Yes, I should have made it clearer that there were in fact two M1917 revolvers, one made by Colt and one by S&W. The basic S&W large frame revolver was known over the years by a host of names: Triple Lock, New Century, Hand Ejector, Military Model, Model 1950, etc. Strictly speaking only the earlier guns (made 1908-1915) can be called Triple Locks. The British ordered them in .455 during WWI, and at their request S&W eventually eliminated the third lock and the shroud for same. Since they were in .455, a standard caliber, these .455 S&Ws were still in British inventory in WWII. The M1917 was the same gun chambered in .45 ACP with the half-moon clip. Quantities of these went to Britain from US Army stocks beginning in 1940, at first I think under cash and carry. A handful of commercial S&Ws were also purchased in 1941 in .45 (though WHICH .45 I don't know).
    1917SWM-061211.jpg S&W M1917 British service 3.jpg S&W .455.jpg
     

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  19. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    For those interested in the Colt and the Smith & Wesson 45/455's, here is a fascinating video by Bloke on the Range. I should note that Bloke did several things in this test which make it more realistic:
    1. He included a novice shooter (wartime conscripts are practically all novice shooters).
    2. The shooters used single-handed grips, which is what men were trained to use in WWI and WWII.
    3. Range was just 10 meters, which is a likely combat range for a military pistol.

     
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  20. AlanDavid

    AlanDavid Junior Member

    Here is the info from the book, One Man's Tide, by Brigadier Ransford, concerning the purchase of the 13.2mm Hotchkiss MG's.

    Regards

    Alan
     

    Attached Files:

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