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Tuesday, September 1st 2009, 6:24pm

British Army 1938

A look at the likely new equipment for the British Army next year and new arms entering development.

Light Tank Mk VI Tetrarch I CS (A14): Armed with 3.7in howitzer

Cruiser Tank Mk V Crusader (A15): Developed by Nuffield from late 1937 as an improved A13 Mk II the A15 utilises Nuffield’s Liberty up-rated to 340hp with a revised Christie suspension system with a new hull and an all-welded turret. A crew of five is carried and the armament consists of the new Ordnance 6pdr QF Mk III gun with a co-axial .303in MG and another in the front hull. Armour is 40-7mm thick and the Liberty powers the A15 to 27mph on roads and 15mph cross country and range is 100 miles although an external tank can increase this to 127 miles. Fording depth is 3.3 feet and trench crossing is 8.5 feet.

L1E3 Light Amphibious Tank: designed by Vickers, attached to hull are two buoyancy tanks. The modified Hortstmann suspension has drum road wheels for improved buoyancy, two propellers driven from sprocket drive and moveable shrouds give directional control. Turret with one .303in Vickers, two crew, powered by a 88hp Meadows ESTB, 4mph in water, 4.4 tons, 15ft x 7ft 8ins x 7.ft ins.

Daimler Armoured Car: Development began in 1938 on a scaled-up Dingo. Carries turret of the Tetrarch light tank, has no chassis, drive via a fluid flywheel torque converter and pre-selector gearbox, has disc-brakes. Power is provided by a 95hp Daimler petrol engine for a maximum speed of 50mph and a range of 205 miles. Armour is 16-6mm thick and weight is 7.5tons.

Karrier Armoured Car: This is the Guy Wheeled Tank built by Karrier Ltd. Due to other commitments Guy could not build more than the first 100 ordered and so the Rootes Group was given the production rights. Guy builds the bodies and supplies them to Karrier who mounts them on their Karrier KT4 artillery tractor chassis. The turret is also unchanged. The armour has been improved to 30-4mm thick and the engine is a 90hp Rootes petrol engine for a speed of 45mph and a range of 250 miles. Weight has increased to 6.85 tons.

In 1938 the Infantry Carrier No.1 Mk II will enter service armed with two Vickers ‘K’ LMGs and radio equipment.

Vickers: 256" British - 6.5x50SR
Bullet weight in grains: 139
Muzzle velocity: 2,500fps
Energy: 1,930 ft/lbs

Enfield Lock: .280" British - 7x43
Bullet weight in grains: 139
Muzzle velocity: 2,530fps
Energy: 1,986 ft/lbs

Rifle No.5 Mk I & II; developed as a trials type for a new semi-automatic rifle. Development began in early 1938 and both marks are different.
Vickers’ No.5 Mk I rifle is not unlike the Rifle No.3 but with a gas-operated system, ten-round clip for the 6.5x50SR bullet and a large conical flash hider. The rifle is 3ft 8.3ins long (barrel is 21.5ins long) and weighs 9.58lbs.
The Enfield Lock No.5 Mk II is smaller and uses bakelite plastics on the stock and fore grip to reduce weight and features a gas-operated system and a ten-round box for its .280” 7x43 bullet. The rifle is 3ft 2ins long (barrel is 22.2ins long) and weighs 9.2lbs.
Both will undergo extensive trials and one will be chosen as the preferred service rifle which be developed from the winning prototype as the No.5 Mk III.


Wednesday, September 2nd 2009, 12:29pm

Of the two cartridges, the .256 seems a more likely candidate at this time, because it's a historically available round at this time. The 7x43 is one that was developed after WWII.

The question I find interesting is whether the UK is looking to replace just it's rifles with rifles chambered in this round (in which case either of them is probably over-powered), or is the UK planning on replacing it's LMGs as well? That's where the 7x43 shone: it was powerful enough for most machinegun work and not completely overpowered for an assault rifle (unlike the 7.62 x 51).

Also, why the K guns on the carriers? Are Ks going to be generally issued to the troops, or are they just for the carriers at this time? I'm doubtful that they're the right choice, seeing as how they did not replace the Bren when they became available after being outmoded for aircraft use.....

This post has been edited 1 times, last edit by "Hrolf Hakonson" (Sep 2nd 2009, 12:49pm)


Wednesday, September 2nd 2009, 2:46pm

The 7x43 round was to replace rifles and submachine guns in the EM-2 with the round being used in the Taden MG to replace the Bren. Would the weapons exist without the influx of Polish and Czech talent? The round would probably still be developed, though without the experience in WWII, I'm not sure.


Wednesday, September 2nd 2009, 2:53pm

The lack of WWII is why I'd suggest the British go for the .256, it's historically available and used, and the British don't seem to have been as interested in the inter-war period in an intermediate cartridge as some other countries (so they're less likely to develop an entirely new cartridge). Before introduction, though, I'd definitely suggest ditching the semi-rim on it, makes it easier on the magazine designers.

I wouldn't really expect the EM-2 to exist, no. I'd expect the design to be a more conventional one than the bullpup EM-2, more along the lines of the SAFN or some of the other pre-war/early post-war semi-autos.

I know what the 7x43 was intended for historically, the question is what is the WW British Army intending it for.


Wednesday, September 2nd 2009, 2:53pm

There is no Bren gun, the only LMG in use is the Vickers-Berthier which is in use with the Army and RAF (was, now retired). The 'K' designation covers the RAF type but it a shorthand for all the family (saves me writing Vickers-Berthier all the time) but in Army service the specs are for the LMG as given elsewhere.

As RA, says without Czech and Pole influence several weapons won't appear like Bren and Polsten.

The light round will over time become the standard round but the Army wants the rifle question settled first before it embarks on a new MG family. It will take a looong time to replace all the Army equipment and Lee-Enfields will be around for a few years yet (mainly TA forces).

Any problems with the rifles? I hashed them up with specs from other semi-auto types and hope they are not too far off the mark.


Wednesday, September 2nd 2009, 3:07pm

If you're going to use the 6.5x50 in machine guns as well that's a bit of a problem as it doesn't have the range, striking power or accuracy. In a semi-automatic rifle, the 0.303" should be fine. Italy has the historical 7.35x51 adapted from the 6.5x52. Its a nice round but falls off at longer ranges due to the relatively large calibre. Machine guns (at company level) use the much more powerful 8x59 round.


Wednesday, September 2nd 2009, 3:28pm

Agreed on the 6.5, I guess I would be biased towards the 7mm anyway given hindsight. It would be expensive to change calibres twice!
There will be no EM-2, yet, just a version of the rifles outlined above.
As I say its rifles first and then MG, using the same calibre is common sense but at the moment its all the trial stage.

As for MG I don't think I'm likely to better the glorious old Vickers, really it's the Berthier that needs replacing/augmenting.


Wednesday, September 2nd 2009, 3:37pm

The .303 shouldn't be too bad as a continuing rifle round, but I'd still kinda lean towards a new round. We've already seen several countries divert from their historical service rifles, and we have ahistoric countries adding their own invented rounds...

The .256 British round would be fairly ideal for a semiauto rifle, less so for an automatic/assault rifle.

I tend to have my own quirky opinions on small arms due to my own shooting preferences. IMHO, the .30/06 is the perfect rifle round because I don't perceive much recoil from it. A lot of folks think I'm insane and think it's way too powerful. A few of my shooting buddies thought anything larger than 7.62x39 was Too Much Gun. (Granted, I'm shooting ought-six from Isabella, my M1 Garand, and the huge weight of that rifle definitely contributes to the solidity and perceived lightness of the round.) There's no perfect round: you have people like me who'd opine "All these new rounds are sissy!" and others who'd whine "It still recoils too much!" (Something similar happens with me and handguns: my perception of recoil for the .45ACP and the 9mm is really wacky. I barely even feel the .45 because it's such a big "long push" compared to the "fast snap" of the 9mm.)

Ireland is not going to buy a semiauto rifle at this time, but I'm definitely interested in seeing the results of the British decision. Once the FN FAL is introduced that's the rifle I intend to buy, probably in whatever round the British adopt.


Wednesday, September 2nd 2009, 3:56pm

Eh, the problems of the 6.5mm Arisaka aren't, really, germane to the .256 British, the round itself is capable of being just as powerful, accurate, etc as the 7x43, there's more space in the case for powder than the smaller round and the smaller diameter bullet will have better exterior ballistics for a given weight than the larger. I'm not really sold on either as a MG cartridge, both of them give up too much power for that, but using either does simplify ammunition supply.


Wednesday, September 2nd 2009, 4:06pm


Originally posted by Hrolf Hakonson
Eh, the problems of the 6.5mm Arisaka aren't, really, germane to the .256 British.

IIRC the 6.5 Arisaka got a bit of a bad reputation for several reasons:
- The Japanese Army didn't care about semiauto rifles until WWII was going very badly for them
- The Japanese didn't use good powder in their 6.5x50.
- History was written by the victors.

I'd say it's a sure bet that the British 6.5x50, whether OTL or WWTL, will be a superior round to the 6.5x50 Arisaka.


Saturday, January 23rd 2010, 11:41am

In a bid to gain more export orders Vickers has embarked on a modernised Type E.

The Type G has a slightly revised hull, 18ft long and weighs 10.2 tons. It has Christie type suspension for a top speed of 35mph and the turret can accomodate a gun up to and including 47mm and a co-axial MG. A crew of three is accomodated and the Type G is equipped with the latest radio equipment and vertical stabilisation for the main gun. Armour is 6-20mm thick.
The type is available now for export.