Australian Weapons

Short Magazine Lee-Enfield No 1 Mk III Rifle

Short Magazine Lee-Enfield No 1 Mk III (SMLE) Rifle

(Australian)

Short Magazine Lee-Enfield No 1 Mk III bolt action rifle manufactured in Lithgow NSW. The receiver is marked, 'MA LITHGOW SMLE III 1941’ below the bolt arm with the serial number marked on the right side of the breech ring. The left side of the breech ring is marked with the Lithgow proof mark which is a crown over crossed flags and the letters 'L' and 'P'. The rifle is stocked in Coachwood with no markings on the butt and a series of proof marks stamped just to the rear of the bayonet boss.

The Short Magazine Lee-Enfield (SMLE) was the main battle rifle of the Australian Army for the First and Second World War and also the Korean War. The Royal Australian Navy and Air Force also used the rifle. Australian forces used both Australian made SMLE and British manufactured rifles. The SMLE was replaced by the L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle (SLR) in the late 1950's.

Information from the www.awm.gov.au

50 Calibre Anti-Aircraft Heavy Machine Gun Shells

50 Calibre Anti-Aircraft Heavy Machine Gun Shells

(Australian)

Ammunition; the projectiles and propelling charges used in small arms, artillery, and other guns. Ammunition size is usually expressed in terms of calibre, which is the diameter of the projectile as measured in millimetres or inches. In general, projectiles less than 20 mm or .60 inch in diameter are classified as small-arm, and larger calibres are considered artillery. A complete round of ammunition consists of all the components necessary for one firing of the gun. These normally include a projectile, the propellant, and a primer that ignites the propellant. Other components such as cartridge case, fuze, and bursting charge are frequently included.

In artillery ammunition, a fixed round is a complete round in which all components are securely joined by a cartridge case. (Though brass was used almost invariably for cartridge cases before World War II, it has since been largely superseded by steel.) In semi fixed ammunition, the projectile is detachable from the cartridge case, an arrangement that allows for the size of the propelling charge to be adjusted, after which the projectile can be inserted loosely into the case. In separate-loading ammunition, a complete round consists of three components: the fuzed projectile, the propellant (in several combustible cloth bags), and the primer. This type of round is used in the largest-calibre guns because its separated components are easier to handle.

Complete artillery rounds are further classified according to the type of projectile employed, such as high-explosive, armour-piercing, antipersonnel, nuclear, or chemical.

Large-calibre machine guns

Northern Territory in October 1942. US Browning 50 calibre anti-aircraft heavy machine guns are operating against Japanese air attacks. Here two Australian gunners (left) are being trained by an American gunner. These machine guns are capable of firing hundreds of rounds a minute.

Large-calibre machine guns

(Australian)

The term heavy was applied to machine guns firing cartridges of several times rifle calibre - most often .50 inch or 12.7 millimetres.

Even before World War I, fully automatic weapons were used with ammunition more powerful than rifle cartridges, but such ammunition was not necessary for infantry missions until foot soldiers encountered armoured vehicles. During the 1930s many higher-powered weapons were adopted, although only two had outstanding success. One was the United States’ M2 Heavy Barrel Browning. Essentially a .50-inch version of the .30-inch M1917 Browning (a Maxim-type machine gun produced too late to see much fighting in World War I), the M2 was still widely used throughout the non-communist world decades after World War II. Its cartridge delivered bullets of various weights and types at high muzzle velocities, with roughly five to seven times the energy of full rifle-power ammunition. The weapon was recoil-operated and air-cooled, and it fired at about 450 rounds per minute. It was used by infantry units on wheeled or tripod mounts, but was also mounted on tanks to provide defensive fire against ground vehicles or aircraft.

Information from library.eb.com.au
Image from www.awm.gov.au

Bofors 40mm Anti-aircraft Gun Shell
Bofors 40mm Anti-aircraft Gun Shell

Bofors 40mm Anti-aircraft Gun Shell

(Australian)

The 40mm Bofors is an automatic anti-aircraft (AA) gun first manufactured by the Swedish company Bofors in 1930 (40mm L/60) and is the most prolific anti-aircraft weapon ever made. In the 1950’s it was improved to the L/70 model with an increased rate of fire. 290 guns were manufactured in Australia during WWII and the last Australian Bofors was decommissioned from the RAN in 2007.

The Australian Army used both carriage-mounted (towed) and vehicle-mounted anti-aircraft guns and also occasionally used the Bofors in an anti-tank (direct fire) role during WWII. The Australian Navy used the Bofors 40mm guns aboard almost every ship in the period 1940s-1990s and it was the main weapon aboard the Fremantle-class patrol boats into the 2000’s.

Many variants of the 40mm projectile have been developed - the more common types of projectile used in Australia included the following:

  • High Explosive (HE) and High Explosive, Incendiary (HE/I) – normally contained a nose fuse, explosive bursting charge and, for HE/I, an incendiary composition.
  • High Explosive, Tracer, Self Destruct (HE/T/SD) and High Explosive, Incendiary, Tracer, Self Destruct (HE/I/T/SD) – normally contained a nose fuse, bursting charge, incendiary and/or tracer composition and a Self Destruct (SD) feature which destroyed the projectile after a specified time (modern times are approx 17 seconds).
  • Armour Piercing (AP), Semi Armour Piercing (SAP) and Armour Piercing, Capped, Tracer (APC/T) - solid shot; normally no explosive content or fuse.
  • Target Practice, Tracer (TP/T or Prac/T) - n

Information from www.defence.gov.au and www.awm.gov.au

Bofors 40mm Anti-aircraft Gun
Bofors 40mm Anti-aircraft Gun
Oil Bottle for the .303 Calibre Lee-Enfield Rifle

Oil Bottle for the .303 Calibre Lee-Enfield Rifle

(Australian)

Typical MkIII oil bottle for the .303 calibre Lee-Enfield rifle. This one was made at Orange in New South Wales sometime during WW2 (from 1942) because the main ordnance factory at Lithgow was unable to keep up with requirements. Orange was a 'Feeder Factory' and was one of several operating in the area.

The oil bottle is kept in the stock behind a hinged trapdoor in the brass buttplate.

In order to keep a gun in good working condition, a soldier had to continually clean and lubricate all the internal parts of his rifle, especially as the gun was often exposed to harsh elements. Dirt and dust could cause the internal parts to stick or fail. Oiling the bore cleaned any dirt and stopped it from becoming rusty which could alter a rifle's accuracy.

Information from www.victoriancollections.net.au

WWII Machete

(Australian)

Machete with rivetted laminated cross-hatched Bakelite handle and 37.5 cm steel blade. Supplied with stitched and rivetted canvas sheath edged with cotton webbing. The scabbard also has a brass throat reinforcement. On the reverse of the scabbard is stitched a cotton webbing belt loop. The keeper, which is cotton webbing has a snap fastener and is attached to the belt loop. Stamped on the inside of the belt loop is the maker's details.

German Weapons

Mauser K98 Rifle

Mauser K98 Rifle

(German)

The Mauser k98 (the famous ‘Soldiers bride') was issued to every German Soldier before and during World War Two, it’s an iconic German military rifle with a long history and contributes much to modern day rifles.

The Karabiner 98 Kurz (often abbreviated Kar98k, K98 or K98k) was a bolt-action rifle adopted as the standard infantry rifle in 1935 by the German Wehrmacht, and was one of the final developments in the long line of Mauser military rifles.

The rifle was widely used by all branches of the armed forces of Germany during World War II. It saw action in every theatre of war involving German forces, including occupied Europe, North Africa, the Soviet Union, Finland and Norway.

Beginning in the autumn of 1871, Mauser Industrial’s success started, when the German Army accepted the Mauser rifle as the primary fire arm for the entire military establishment. Thanks to governmental support, Mauser’s quickly became very popular throughout the world, which in turn stimulated designers into constantly developing new and improved models over the basic weapon. The best of them is Gewehr 98, rifle which was unveiled in 1898. This was to become the primary rifle of the German army until the end of World War II. The advantages of Mauser rifles, is in reliability of the bolt mechanism, and the precision workmanship that went into each and every weapon. These rifles were successfully converted into “sports and hunting” models which are still in widespread use today because it is possible to shoot a more powerful ammunition, than the standard 7.92 x 57 round it was designed for.

Reliability of the Mauser’s bolt locking system depends on three locking-lugs. Two in front lock the bolt socket on barrel inlet (prior to the rounds entry into the bore) and one in the rear of the rounds opening. It uses the standard four bolt movement system. However this system is uncomfortable for most experienced riflemen to operate as you must move the whole arm to reload rifle.

A better solution was introduced in Lee-Enfield rifle, where the rifleman used only his wrist to reload the weapon. That’s why Mauser rifles never achieved the high firing rate of the Lee-Enfield rifles; those results were obvious on the battlefield when compared to the Lee-Enfield and the M-1 Garand rifle.

The first model of Gewehr 98 rifle, the so-called “long rifle” had a total length of 125 cm and a barrel length of 74 cm. Soon in development was a shorter version for artillery, cavalry and soldiers, whose primary task was not fighting “with rifle in hands”. This soon replaced the Gewehr 98 rifle and became the standard version of armament for the entire German army. The Rifle 98 was modified several times, which resulted in the model ‘Karabiner’ 98k that became the standard rifle of Wehrmacht during WWII. It provides a non-removable magazine for 5 rounds 7.92 mm and with a muzzle velocity of about 860 m/s.

The Mauser 98k was a very popular rifle in the German army. It was the final modification of Mauser 98 rifle, developed way back in 1898. The Mauser 98k was very similar to all its predecessors, but its barrel was shorter being 60 cm length; in 98 models it was 74 cm in length. In 1935 it became the primary Wehrmacht infantry weapon. Production continued through until the end of war with approximately 11 million weapons produced in several versions. Minor modifications were made such as to the bolt, and even a mid-late war economy version with the omission of the bayonet lug, sight hood and a laminated wood stock, but nothing significant was changed to the mechanism

The Mauser rifle has existed in many sport versions throughout the world, quite a few examples were brought home by the allied servicemen at the end of the Second World War. These were then modified for use by civilians for hunting purposes.

Information from www.panzeraufgd.co.uk and www.militaryitems.com

Mauser Bayonet

Mauser Bayonet

(German)

The 98K bayonet was designed to be mounted on the 98K Mauser rifle. There is a version of the 98K bayonet that was created for parade use only. Not meant for combat.

The design of the K98 bayonet consists of a metal pommel with a press catch button. This is a spring loaded device whose function is to disengage the bayonet from the rifle. The button is round on one end and rectangular in the other side. The pommel was often stamped with marks such as “eagle” shapes made of multiple lines.

The bayonet was issued with different types of handles. They had grips manufactured of Bakelite and wood. This practice was maintained for most of the wartime.

The scabbard was made of metal. A frog stud is placed near the throat area. The finial consists of a “ball” shape structure. It was in this section that the “eagle” shapes formed by lines were commonly applied. Additional markings on the scabbard were placed in the throat area. They included year, serial number and manufacturer’s identification.

The frog was made of leather. Tropical versions, like the ones used by the Afrika Korps, were often made of khaki colour canvas. Heavy duty cotton stitching and rivets were used in the construction to increase the durability of the frog.

The blade is made of blue tempered steel. It is of single edge construction for most of its length except when it reaches the tip, and then turns into a double edge design for the last few inches. The back of the blade is flat.

A blood groove extends and covers approximately 70 percent of the length of the blade. This feature is fairly thick when compared to the other bayonets.

The German K98 bayonets marking system was very complicated. The different ways in which the bayonets could be marked depended on the manufacturer and the year in which the item was produced. A combination of letter codes and years were used from 1934 to 1945 in order to identify the bayonets.

The bayonets markings consisted primarily of letters and numbers. A slash often separates one code from another. The number of markings available is truly staggering!

The scabbard was also marked by the manufacturer. In some cases the markings were identical to those found on the blade.

Bayonets were marked with a “K” prefix code for the year of 1934. They were marked with a “G” prefix code for 1935. The actual year began to be stamped in 1936 but primarily in the scabbard. The years may have been represented with the last two digits (i.e. 36 for 1936) or the entire four digits.

The quality control of the production of bayonets was so strict that even the tang of the bayonet was marked with the production numbers. Removing the grips from a bayonet reveals how the markings were stamped. The guard plate is also made of blue steel. Two spring flaps are present; each has holes for the screws.

Information from www.militaryitems.com

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