Beyond The Sprues

Modelling => Ideas & Inspiration => Engineering Dept. => Topic started by: kengeorge on September 14, 2020, 11:22:19 PM

Title: Guns, guns, guns?
Post by: kengeorge on September 14, 2020, 11:22:19 PM
If this is in the wrong place could the moderators move it to the proper location

Hello all esteemed members of the forum, I have a scenario and question to put to you.

I, in the guise of the leader of a small modern military force arrives on Earth, the UK, in the latter part of the 19th century.  My force and I need to train and equip a regular army unit, battalion size, for an upcoming mission. However, the General staff and the War Office instead give me a less than adequate battalion sized unit to get into shape.
Now we can get this unit fit to fight, but circumstances dictate there is a lack of weaponry for them, caused either by the reluctance of the General staff to issue weapons to this unit or an unexplained shortage. But, I am allowed to either procure weapons for my unit outside the military process OR produce my own, through third parties. One other thing, I have also brought with me a complete listing, data and blueprints of every rifle, machine gun and sub-machine gun made between 1900-2020. I need around 1100 rifles and 200-250 SMG's for my force. The time limit? How does 2 months sound?

So using my database, what type of rifle and SMG, could be built quickly and in sufficient volume within my short time frame?
The fixed point is calibre. The rifle needs to fire the early .303 round nose bullet in British military use in that era. There isn't time to develop a pointed nose bullet of a new round to fit the rifle of choice. As for the SMG, I'm erring towards 9x19mm, but I could consider .455 Webly or 7.65mm Mauser as an alternative.

Here is an example of what I'm on about as relatively easy to produce weapons.
Rifle,- AK-47, FG 42, Sturmgewehr 45, Sturmgewehr StG44, Fort Ellis XR-86, TWR LMR Low Maintenance Rifle, L1A1/FN-FAL.
SMG,- STEN, M3, BSA Experimental, EM-2, PPS-42, Uzi, Owen Mk.1-43.
What are your thoughts, opinions, etc?
Title: Re: Guns, guns, guns?
Post by: apophenia on September 15, 2020, 11:36:28 AM
The timing of "in the latter part of the 19th century" makes things tricky. Most of the small arms you're looking at involve stamping and spot-welding components. Modern-style stamping machines were becoming more common in British industry by the 1880s but work on resistance spot welding only began in 1885. Spot welding in industry doesn't seem to have been all that common until the 1930s.

If I'm right about the above, you might be safer going for weapons made with more conventional gun-making techniques. Since your character has the blueprints, he'll know to anticipate Enfield adapt the contemporary Lee–Metford to the coming smokeless powders (and adapt rifling accordingly).

On pistol rounds, my impression was that 455 Webley Automatic rounds didn't exist until just before WWI. If it has to be an existing round, .32 ACP was being produced by FN by 1899. Can't go wrong with Parabellum, of course. For the SMG, construction techniques of the times suggest a future-gazing MP18 or similar type.
Title: Re: Guns, guns, guns?
Post by: perttime on September 15, 2020, 11:38:33 AM
You have 2 months?
You are not going to design, build, modify - and test - it. You are buying off the shelf.
Whatis already in existence for the .303 British?
Title: Re: Guns, guns, guns?
Post by: jcf on September 16, 2020, 05:28:26 AM
Even if you had the necessary machine tools, you won't accomplish it in 60 days.

You can pretty much forget about an SMG, the powder and cartridge technology
would be borderline and the machining of the parts would not be a fast process.

Basically much of what you're talking about would be period bleeding edge tech
and thus very expensive.

Plus a semi-modern equipped battalion for what "mission"? There's no realistic
threat in period that would require that kind of firepower.
Title: Re: Guns, guns, guns?
Post by: kengeorge on September 16, 2020, 07:08:20 AM
First off thanks for the response. 60 days was an arbitrary figure, as I was thinking that would be a minimum amount of time to get a group of unfit soldiers into a credible fighting force. So here is the background.

This group is made up of mainly British Army (BA) soldiers, with a sprinkling of Canadians, Irish and Indian military nationals who have been convicted of misdemeanors in their own regiments and countries, that could've resulted in either demotion in rank, jail time, dishonorable discharge or all three. Instead, these 'convict' soldiers are offered a chance to serve out their time in a sort of 'Penal Battalion' still attached to the British Army but separated physically and literally, on the Isle of Man.

This is the 1st Battalion Isle of Man, AKA 'the misfits/British Foreign Legion' garrisoned near Douglas IoM. These soldiers spend their time reflecting on their misdemeanors, and waiting for their 'sentences' to end so they can return to the mainland without the stain of a prison record or the stigma of a dishonorable discharge.
That's why they don't have any decent weapons. Any rifles contained in the armouries are either worn out, serviceable or just too dangerous to use, so these weapons are for drill and practice only. That's why the Army General Staff (AGS) and the War Office are refusing to let them have anything from the regular army stock, as in spite of my assurances that the soldiers have been 'rehabilitated' and ready to go.

So that's where my problem lies. I cannot purchase the sort of rifles used in BA or RN service, as mentioned above or buying 'foreign weapons' (i.e. European) as it isn't really an option as the 1st Batt. is strictly speaking listed in the BA ORBAT. One option though could be buying North American made rifles, possibly Winchesters for instance.

How can I pay for them? Well I am from the present day, armed with knowledge of metallurgy, technology, medicines, music (?), etc that would be useful to just about anybody who showed an interest and an open cheque book. I wouldn't be too fussy.

I can stretch the time-span to 3-4 months at a pinch, so for instance, any stamped metal guns could be produced like the ones I mentioned in my first post.

One final thing is the significance of the era 'the latter part of the nineteenth century', should've been a big clue.

the 'mission' jcf?..........ULLA!!!
Title: Re: Guns, guns, guns?
Post by: elmayerle on September 16, 2020, 07:52:59 AM
Yes, I can see Winchesters as a definite possibility, exact model depending on precisely where in the latter half of the 19th century you landed.  For revolvers, both Smith & Wesson and Colt would be the front-runners though other, less well known suppliers did exist.  For rapid fire, you would likely be stuck using Gatling guns.  If you landed near the very end of the century, you might be able to acquire the same Krag-Jorgensen rifles the US Army used at the time.
Title: Re: Guns, guns, guns?
Post by: apophenia on September 16, 2020, 09:12:37 AM
Just playing with a couple of ideas for more conventionally-made fire arms, FWIW ...


The rifle is a Lee-Metford (WS). Built under a private contract by Webley & Scott in Birmingham, this was essentially a Magazine Lee–Metford with updates (thanks to your character's 20/20 foresight). To permit the use of cordite in .303 Mark II cartridges, the barrel is rifled in Enfield-style square-cut lands and grooves. That barrel has also been shortened to the SMLE length of 25.2 inches. The box magazine is of the later 10-round staggered style (rather than the Metford single-stack 8-round type). In other words, the Lee-Metford (WS) generally anticipates the Lee-Enfield SMLE.

The submachine gun is the Purdey Machine Carbine Mk I. Unbeknownst to makers James Purdey & Sons, [1] this SMG was based on the design of the future Bergmann MP 28/II. Fitted with a Lee-Metford style stock, the gun mimics the real world Lanchester. Differences include the use of a Lee-Metford rear leaf sight and removal of the RW Lanchester's bayonet mounts (generally useless on SMGs). Most importantly, the Machine Carbine introduced a  staggered-column, curved magazine holding 34-rounds (taken from the RW Stirling L2A3).

For use by specialists, the Purdey Machine Carbine Mk II featured a folding butt stock. This sideways-hinged, tubular butt was based on the RW Carl Gustaf M/45 gun. With this stock folded, the Purdey's normal length of 33.5 inches was reduced to 23.1 inches. Barrels for both Marks of Purdey Machine Carbine were made by Holland & Holland. With no suitable British cartridge available for the Machine Carbine, the new 9 mm Parabellum round was licensed from Georg Luger at Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken.

The new Parabellum cartridges were made by G. Kynoch and Co in Wiltshire. Designated as Cartridge S.A. Ball .354 inch Mark I, the complete round measuring 0.354 by 0.748 inches. Usually referred to as 'Point 35' or 0.35-inch rimless, these automatic pistol cartridges gave flawless performance as submachine gun rounds.


[1] Specifically to meet this order, Purdey took over a machinist shop in Essex. Considered close enough to the London head office, Chelmsford was a more discrete location and had skilled workers available. A new name was needed for this SMG since, in 1889, George Lanchester was only 15 years old.
Title: Re: Guns, guns, guns?
Post by: kim margosein on September 16, 2020, 09:32:59 AM
Wait, wasn't the Maxim MG invented around the 1890s?  Could the Mauser and Luger actions be scaled up to rifle caliber.  However, since they weren't, I imagine there was a reason they couldn't.  IIRC, the Germans developed a cheap simple SMG around 1918, along the lines of the Sten gun.

Title: Re: Guns, guns, guns?
Post by: Volkodav on September 16, 2020, 12:58:52 PM
The elephant in the room, the Mauser C96 and its carbine derivatives.  Back when British army officers were responsible for furnishing their own side arms it wasn't an uncommon sight, Churchill even carrying one during his time in uniform.

Title: Re: Guns, guns, guns?
Post by: apophenia on September 17, 2020, 01:38:08 AM
Kim: The Vickers-Maxim in .303 was a British Army service weapon by 1893 at least ... so, presumably is excluded. That German SMG was the Bergmann MP 18 (from which the MP 28/II and Lanchester were derived).

And Georg Luger did produce a toggle-locked action rifle in 8x57mm Mauser in 1906. (

The RW British Army later tested a few toggle-action semi-automatics. There was the Vickers-Armstrong submitted
Pedersen T1 in .276 which had a toggle-delayed blowback action. And the J.C. White (White Automatic Gun Corporation) 'Experimental' in 30-06. That said, I doubt either toggle action would've performed very well with the required rimmed .303 round. ( (
Title: Re: Guns, guns, guns?
Post by: Kelmola on September 17, 2020, 02:30:29 AM
I don't know if the individual components would require stamping, but the Blyskawica SMG ( was designed not to use welding and to be manufactured in small workshops. Scaling that to use a pistol cartridge available in a given year could be a possiblity. .45 Long Colt?
Title: Re: Guns, guns, guns?
Post by: jcf on September 19, 2020, 08:50:29 AM
I don't know if the individual components would require stamping, but the Blyskawica SMG ( was designed not to use welding and to be manufactured in small workshops. Scaling that to use a pistol cartridge available in a given year could be a possiblity. .45 Long Colt?

Yes, but they all use readily available thinwall steel tubing, not something you're going to have available
in period. Welded pipe is available and the first semi-mass production of seamless steel tube was
in its infancy, but none of it is what we'd consider thin-wall.
Title: Re: Guns, guns, guns?
Post by: buzzbomb on September 20, 2020, 06:51:06 AM
Interesting concept. Some great discussion, much of it enlightening, which for this site.. is quite normal.

SM Stirling went down this path in Island in the Sea of Time, where the Island of Nantucket gets transported back to the Bronze Age. The development of weapons (The Bronze Age was a dangerous place) was priority with very limited manufacturing capability. Clearly replicating their current weapons was not an option. So much earlier and simpler weapons systems were used initially until the manufacturing base could be built up, such as a breach loading Flintlock, an amalgum of modern and practical. Plus there is the training to upskill Bronze Age people to use these weapons.

The proposal here is somewhat broadly similar, but there is greater industrial capacity but not for modern weapons in sufficient numbers. At least there is a core of trained troops in this scenario.
You would have to to think that the Tactics differential between the two time periods would make a difference as well. Force multipliers such as mines and Claymore like devices, should also be considered