British Small Arms Development
The inter war years
Tony Edwards
HBSA
February 2013
1939

1918

21 years
Situation in 1918

Large calibre
Vickers gun

Became .5
inch Vickers
Mark I

FarquharHill SLR

Improved
Lewis gun

Improve...
Developed and/or introduced:
.5 inch Vickers
.55 inch Boys
.303 inch Bren
7.92mm BESA
15mm BESA
.380 Revolver
.303 inch No...
Development work carried out on:
Improved Pattern ’14 Rifle
Improved Lewis Gun
.661 inch Gun
.8 inch Elswick
Janacek taper...
Constraints:
War to end all Wars
No Money
Over 2 million rifles in store (SMLE & P.’14)
No Money
Large numbers of Lewis & ...
Large Calibre Vickers Gun

Requirement by Royal Air Force to counter
the new breed of strategic heavy bombers.
- Greater a...
.600-.500 Anti-Tank Rifle
Designed by Godsal at Webley.
.600/.500

.5 inch Vickers
.5 inch Vickers Naval
The Admiralty were the largest user.
.5 inch Vickers approvals:
Ball Mark IIz

May 1925

AP W Mark Iz

July 1927

The proof requirement was that seven out of t...
The Stanchion/Boys Rifle
-

Post WWI interest had waned

-

New requirement arose in1934 when SAC asked to
investigate a n...
-

Initial investigation carried out using 13mm German T-Gewehr
New 13mm ammunition ordered, probably from FN or Sweden
Ge...
.600/.500 inch Godsal

.5 inch Stanchion
.5 inch Stanchion
Renamed Boys in December
1935 after Captain Boys
Hythe trials in September
1935 met AP performance
Consi...
Early 1936 - Calibre increased to .55 inch
December 1936 – W Mark I approved
- penetration: 7/10 to penetrate 16mm armour ...
.5 inch Stanchion

.55 inch Boys
.55 Inch Boys
.55 inch Boys Practice rounds
Improved new infantry rifle
- probably based on Pattern ’14
- possibly using coned chamber system
- AP performance: 15mm a...
.303 Lewis

.276 Enfield

.450/.303
.303 inch

.276 inch

.25 inch
Rifle, Magazine, Experimental, .276 inch
Ainley Rifle
1939
Light Machine Gun Trials

BSA Lewis
Beardmore-Farquhar
Vickers Berthier
The Bren Mark I
Gerlich taper/coned barrel trials
First British trials with Gerlich skirted bullets 1932 and
continued until 1940
9.3mm/7m...
9.25/7mm

15.2/11.4mm

15/11mm
Janacek
Tapered muzzle attachment.
Used in “Little John” adaptors on 2 Pr., 6 Pr. And 17 Pr.
7.92MM BESA
Copy of Czech ZB53 Model 1937
In service 1939 – c 1955

Total Production 59,332
Fired case found on RSAF
range from firing trials of
ZB53 in 1937
15mm BESA
(ZB60)
15mm BESA
(ZB60)
In service 1939 -1945
Weight: 125lbs
Length: 80.75”
Penetration: 18.5mm 100 yards
12.5mm 1000 yards
RoF: ...
Air Service Guns
.303 inch Vickers GO (Class K)
In service 1937 - 1945
.303 inch Browning
In service 1936 - 1945

Total production by BSA and sub-contractors 468,098
20mm Hispano
THE END
.303 inch Incendiary B Mark VII
British small arms development   The inter war years
British small arms development   The inter war years
British small arms development   The inter war years
British small arms development   The inter war years
British small arms development   The inter war years
British small arms development   The inter war years
British small arms development   The inter war years
British small arms development   The inter war years
British small arms development   The inter war years
British small arms development   The inter war years
British small arms development   The inter war years
British small arms development   The inter war years
British small arms development   The inter war years
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British small arms development The inter war years

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This is a presentation delivered to a monthly meeting of the Historical Breechloading Smallarms Association (HBSA) of Great Britain in London, UK. Website: www.hbsa-uk.org
British Small Arms Development during the inter-war years 1918 to 1939. In 1918 had large calibre Vickers machine gun, Farquhar-Hill SLR, improved Lewis gun, improved infantry cartridge, anti-tank rifle.
Developed and/or introduced .5 inch Vickers, .55inch Boys, .303 Bren, 7.92 BESA, 15mm BESA, .380 Revolver, .303 inch No.4 rifle, .303 inch Vickers GO, .303 inch Browning, 20mm Hispano
by Tony Edwards

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British small arms development The inter war years

  1. 1. British Small Arms Development The inter war years Tony Edwards HBSA February 2013
  2. 2. 1939 1918 21 years
  3. 3. Situation in 1918 Large calibre Vickers gun Became .5 inch Vickers Mark I FarquharHill SLR Improved Lewis gun Improved Infantry cartridge Anti-tank rifle Scrapped July 1919 Scrapped. Continued Later throughout replaced 1920/30s by Vickers GO Work restarted in 1930s on Boys Rifle
  4. 4. Developed and/or introduced: .5 inch Vickers .55 inch Boys .303 inch Bren 7.92mm BESA 15mm BESA .380 Revolver .303 inch No.4 Rifle .303 inch Vickers GO .303 inch Browning 20mm Hispano
  5. 5. Development work carried out on: Improved Pattern ’14 Rifle Improved Lewis Gun .661 inch Gun .8 inch Elswick Janacek taper bore .276 inch Pederson
  6. 6. Constraints: War to end all Wars No Money Over 2 million rifles in store (SMLE & P.’14) No Money Large numbers of Lewis & Vickers guns to hand No Money
  7. 7. Large Calibre Vickers Gun Requirement by Royal Air Force to counter the new breed of strategic heavy bombers. - Greater armour piercing ability - Larger Incendiary/explosive payload Also requirement by Army for a new antitank rifle.
  8. 8. .600-.500 Anti-Tank Rifle Designed by Godsal at Webley.
  9. 9. .600/.500 .5 inch Vickers
  10. 10. .5 inch Vickers Naval The Admiralty were the largest user.
  11. 11. .5 inch Vickers approvals: Ball Mark IIz May 1925 AP W Mark Iz July 1927 The proof requirement was that seven out of ten shots to penetrate 18mm of armour plate at 100 yards at a normal angle of attack and an additional seven out of ten to penetrate 14mm of armour plate at the same distance at 20 degrees angle of attack.
  12. 12. The Stanchion/Boys Rifle - Post WWI interest had waned - New requirement arose in1934 when SAC asked to investigate a new infantry anti-tank rifle. - Weight to be maximum 35 lbs but ideally much lighter. - To defeat 25mm armour at 200 yards, 14mm at 500 yards normal attack. - Rifle to be ready for test by May 1935. - Consideration to be given to a taper bore design
  13. 13. - Initial investigation carried out using 13mm German T-Gewehr New 13mm ammunition ordered, probably from FN or Sweden German cases also reloaded with British bullets. .5 inch Stanchion rifle given as cover name. - First test rifles made by RSAF Enfield, others by Vickers Armstrong Ltd and BSA Ltd.
  14. 14. .600/.500 inch Godsal .5 inch Stanchion
  15. 15. .5 inch Stanchion Renamed Boys in December 1935 after Captain Boys Hythe trials in September 1935 met AP performance Consideration given to either increase calibre or case capacity to improve AP performance.
  16. 16. Early 1936 - Calibre increased to .55 inch December 1936 – W Mark I approved - penetration: 7/10 to penetrate 16mm armour plate at 100 yards normal attack. Why? .5 inch Vickers could defeat 18mm at 100 yards Even when W Mark II was approved in 1939 penetration was only increased to 19mm at 100 yards.
  17. 17. .5 inch Stanchion .55 inch Boys
  18. 18. .55 Inch Boys
  19. 19. .55 inch Boys Practice rounds
  20. 20. Improved new infantry rifle - probably based on Pattern ’14 - possibly using coned chamber system - AP performance: 15mm armour at 100 yards normal attack, 14mm at 20 degrees. - Velocity c. 3,000 fps.
  21. 21. .303 Lewis .276 Enfield .450/.303
  22. 22. .303 inch .276 inch .25 inch
  23. 23. Rifle, Magazine, Experimental, .276 inch Ainley Rifle 1939
  24. 24. Light Machine Gun Trials BSA Lewis
  25. 25. Beardmore-Farquhar
  26. 26. Vickers Berthier
  27. 27. The Bren Mark I
  28. 28. Gerlich taper/coned barrel trials First British trials with Gerlich skirted bullets 1932 and continued until 1940 9.3mm/7mm calibre With 95 grain bullet – 4,880 fps With 126 grain bullet – 4,375 fps
  29. 29. 9.25/7mm 15.2/11.4mm 15/11mm
  30. 30. Janacek Tapered muzzle attachment. Used in “Little John” adaptors on 2 Pr., 6 Pr. And 17 Pr.
  31. 31. 7.92MM BESA Copy of Czech ZB53 Model 1937 In service 1939 – c 1955 Total Production 59,332
  32. 32. Fired case found on RSAF range from firing trials of ZB53 in 1937
  33. 33. 15mm BESA (ZB60)
  34. 34. 15mm BESA (ZB60) In service 1939 -1945 Weight: 125lbs Length: 80.75” Penetration: 18.5mm 100 yards 12.5mm 1000 yards RoF: 450 rpm MV: 2,940 fps Only 3,218 made
  35. 35. Air Service Guns
  36. 36. .303 inch Vickers GO (Class K) In service 1937 - 1945
  37. 37. .303 inch Browning In service 1936 - 1945 Total production by BSA and sub-contractors 468,098
  38. 38. 20mm Hispano
  39. 39. THE END
  40. 40. .303 inch Incendiary B Mark VII
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