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The SMLE (Short Magazine Lee Enfield) .303 Infantry Rifle


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Lecture by Tony Edwards on the SMLE (Short Magazine Lee Enfield) Rifle to the HBSA (Historical Breechloading Smallarms Association of Great Britain) at the Imperial War Museum 21st January 2011

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The SMLE (Short Magazine Lee Enfield) .303 Infantry Rifle

  1. 1. The Rifle, Short, Magazine, Lee Enfield Its predecessors, successors and accoutrements. Tony Edwards Lecture to the HBSA Imperial War Museum, London 21 st January 2011 Historical Breechloading Smallarms Association of Great Britain
  2. 2. Magazine Lee Enfield Mark I* Carbine Lee Enfield Mark I
  3. 3. Requests from South Africa: Lighter barrel More free floating Lighter butt Longer top handguard Nosecap for better bayonet fixing Better backsight, further forward, larger “V” Better trigger pull-off Bead foresight Higher sights above barrel Loading by Chargers Polished wood furniture
  4. 4. Watkin’s Improved Model 1901
  5. 5. Modified Model A
  6. 6. Modified Model B
  7. 7. SMLE Mark I December 1902 LoC 11715 & September 1903
  8. 8. Pattern 1903 Bayonet 12 inch double edged blade Identical to Patt.’88 except for fitting
  9. 9. Chargers Marks I - IV
  10. 10. SMLE Mark I Cond. November 1903 LoC 11948 Converted from MLM Mk.I
  11. 11. SMLE Mark II Cond. November 1903 LoC 11949 Converted from MLM Mk.II and MLE Mk.I & I*
  12. 12. SMLE Mark III January 1907 Loc 13853
  13. 13. From LoC 13853 26 January 1907
  14. 14. SMLE Mark III – Principal changes: Charger bridge on body Rear sight improved and strengthened, U notch not V Foresight changed to blade and improved New bayonet to extend reach
  15. 15. Pattern 1907 bayonet Based on Japanese Type 38 17 inch blade Hooked Quillon until 1913
  16. 16. |Introductii Introduction of the Ball Mark VII Cartridge Mark VI Mark VII Round nosed Spitzer 215 Gr. 174 Gr. 1970 fps 2440 fps 17.5 tons 19.5 tons
  17. 17. SMLE Patterns Mark I New manufacture Mark I Cond. From MLM Mk.I Mark II Cond. From MLM Mk.II & II*, MLE Mk.I & I* Mark I* New Manufacture and from SMLE Mk.I Mark II* Cond SMLE Mk.II Cond to Mk.I* standard Mark I*** SMLE Mk.I* resighted for Mark VII ammunition Mark III New manufacture Mark IV Cond MLM Mk.II & II*, MLE Mk.I & I* to Mk.III standard Mark I** Naval SMLE Mk.I to Mk.III standard Mark II** Naval SMLE Mk.II Cond to Mk.III standard Mark II*** Cond SMLE Mk.II* Cond to Mk.III standard Mark I** IP SMLE Mk.I* IP, SMLE Mk.I or SMLE Mk.II Cond to Mk.III standard
  18. 18. <ul><li>SMLE Manufacturers: </li></ul><ul><li>RSAF Enfield </li></ul><ul><li>RSAF Sparkbrook </li></ul><ul><li>BSA </li></ul><ul><li>LSA </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SSA/NRF </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lithgow from 1912 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ishapore from 1907 </li></ul>Pre-WWI production: RSAF Enfield 1,000 new and 1,000 converted per week for the army BSA 700 per week for Colonies LSA 250 per week for Colonies Lithgow 100 per week Ishapore 100 per week plus 125 conversions per week
  19. 19. SMLE in World War One
  20. 20. Territorial and Colonial Forces still had MLEs with the Patt.’88 bayonet and SMLEs with the Pattern 1903 bayonet, sighted for Mark VI ammunition
  21. 21. SMLE Mark III* January 1916 LoC 17622 (Production commenced late 1915) Omitted: Long Range sights Windage adjustment Magazine cut-off Lug on firing pin collar Swivel lug in front of magazine
  22. 22. World War One production 1916-17 New Rep’d p.w. p.w. RSAF Enfield 10,000 10,000 BSA 9,000 LSA 2,000 Peddled (SSA/NRF) 1,000 4,000,000 SMLE Rifles delivered in WWI
  23. 24. WWI SMLE Sniping Rifles Principal types were: Aldis Periscopic Prism Winchester Plus a number of other suppliers: Watts Evans Jeffries Purdey Etc. Total 9,788 telescopic sighted rifles accepted
  24. 25. Periscopic Prism Co.
  25. 26. Aldis on Purdey Mounts
  26. 27. Winchester A5
  27. 28. Accoutrements Optical Sights Wire breakers and cutters Grenade dischargers 20 round Magazine Mudflap
  28. 29. Galilean Optical sights Lattey Mark I Others were Martin, Gibbs, Neill and BSA
  29. 30. Wirebreaker No.1 Mark I
  30. 31. Wirecutters No.1 Mark II No.1 Mark I No.2 Mark I No.4 Mark I
  31. 32. Grenade Discharging First grenade was the “J” Pattern, approved as No.3 Mk.I in January 1915. Range was adjusted by angle of rifle and by length of rod
  32. 33. Cup, Grenade, No.1 Mark I
  33. 34. Cup Discharger No.1 Mark I
  34. 35. 20 round Magazine Mark I No.4 200,000 made in 1918 by Linley & Co.
  35. 36. “ Flanders Flap”
  36. 37. SMLE Mark V Not announced in LoC Approx 20,000 made between 1922-24
  37. 38. SMLE Mk.I & Conv. 91,118 SMLE Mk.III 252,998 SMLE Mk.III* 1,333,865 Rifle Stocks in 1924 Nomenclature changes May 1926 Rifle, SMLE Mk.III Rifle No.1 Mk.III Rifle, SMLE Mk.III* Rifle No.1 Mk.III* Rifle, Short, .22 RF Mk.IV Rifle No.2 Mk.IV*
  38. 39. Rifle No.1 Mark VI Prototype in 1923 Troop Trial rifles 1929-31
  39. 40. SMLE .410 Musket Approved for India September 1927
  40. 41. World War Two BSA only organisation making the SMLE Had made mainly foreign contracts during 1930s BSA Smallheath production 1939-1943, but limited by bomb damage “ Dispersal Scheme” overseen by BSA 1941-44 Total c. 160,000
  41. 42. .22 inch Training Rifles
  42. 43. SMLE Aiming Tube Mark I Approved 1906
  43. 44. .22 inch Short Rifle Mark III Approved August 1912
  44. 45. .22 Inch RF Pattern 1914 Short Rifle No. I Approved May 1915
  45. 46. .22 Inch RF Pattern 1914 Short Rifle No. 2 Approved April 1916
  46. 47. .22 Inch Pattern 1918 Approved July 1918
  47. 48. .22 inch Rifle Mark IV, later No.2 Mark IV* Approved November 1921
  48. 49. THE END