Lewis gun

The Lewis gun (or Lewis automatic machine gun or Lewis automatic rifle) is a First World War–era light machine gun of US design that was perfected and mass-produced in the United Kingdom,[2] and widely used by troops of the British Empire during the war. It had a distinctive barrel cooling shroud (containing a finned, aluminium breech-to-muzzle heat sink to cool the gun barrel) and top-mounted pan magazine. The Lewis served to the end of the Korean War. It was also widely used as an aircraft machine gun, almost always with the cooling shroud removed (as air flow during flight offers sufficient cooling), during both World Wars. The Lewis Gun is the most recognized classic light machine gun in the world.[3]

Lewis gun
Lewis Gun (derivated)
TypeLight machine gun
Place of originUnited States and United Kingdom
Service history
In service1914–1953
Used bySee Users
WarsFirst World War
Easter Rising
Pancho Villa Expedition[1]
Emu War
Banana Wars
Irish War of Independence
Irish Civil War
Russian Civil War
Latvian War of Independence
Polish–Soviet War
Chaco War
Spanish Civil War
Second World War
Korean War
Malayan Emergency
1948 Arab–Israeli War
Vietnam War
Algerian War
The Troubles
and other conflicts
Production history
DesignerSamuel McClean
Isaac Newton Lewis
The Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited
ManufacturerThe Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited or BSA
Savage Arms Co.
No. builtAt least 202,050 (50,000 in First World War and 152,050 in Second World War
VariantsMks I–V
Aircraft Pattern
Anti-Aircraft configuration
Light Infantry Pattern
Savage M1917
Mass28 pounds (13 kg)
Length50.5 inches (1,280 mm)
Barrel length26.5 inches (670 mm)
Width4.5 inches (110 mm)

Cartridge.303 British
.30-06 Springfield
7.92×57mm Mauser
ActionGas-operated long stroke gas piston, rotating open bolt
Rate of fire500–600 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity2,440 feet per second (740 m/s)
Effective firing range880 yards (800 m)
Maximum firing range3,500 yards (3,200 m)
Feed system47- or 97-round pan magazine
SightsBlade and tangent leaf


The Lewis gun was invented by U.S. Army colonel Isaac Newton Lewis in 1911, based on initial work by Samuel Maclean.[4] Despite its origins, the Lewis gun was not initially adopted by the U.S. military, most likely because of political differences between Lewis and General William Crozier, the chief of the Ordnance Department.[5] Lewis became frustrated with trying to persuade the U.S. Army to adopt his design, "slapped by rejections from ignorant hacks", in his words,[6] and retired from the army. He left the United States in 1913 and went to Belgium, where he established the Armes Automatique Lewis company in Liège to facilitate commercial production of the gun.[7] Lewis had been working closely with British arms manufacturer the Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited (BSA) in an effort to overcome some of the production difficulties of the weapon.[4] The Belgians bought a small number of Lewises in 1913, using the .303 British round and, in 1914, BSA purchased a licence to manufacture the Lewis machine gun in England, which resulted in Lewis receiving significant royalty payments and becoming very wealthy.[6] Lewis and his factory moved to England before 1914, away from possible seizure in the event of a German invasion.[8]

The onset of the First World War increased demand for the Lewis gun, and BSA began production (under the designation Model 1914). The design was officially approved for service on 15 October 1915 under the designation "Gun, Lewis, .303-cal."[9] No Lewis guns were produced in Belgium during the war;[10] all manufacture was carried out by BSA in England and the Savage Arms Company in the US.[11]


Lewis Gun Training
U.S. Marines field tested the Lewis machine gun in 1917.

The Lewis was produced by BSA and Savage Arms during the war, and although the two versions were largely similar, enough differences existed to stop them being completely interchangeable, although this was rectified by the time of the Second World War.[12]

The major difference between the two designs was that the BSA weapons were chambered for .303 British ammunition, but the Savage guns were chambered for .30-06 cartridges, which necessitated some difference in the magazine, feed mechanism, bolt, barrel, extractors, and gas operation system.[11] Savage did make Lewis guns in .303 British calibre, though. The Model 1916 and Model 1917 were exported to Canada and the United Kingdom, and a few were supplied to the US military, particularly the Navy.[11] The Savage Model 1917 was generally produced in .30-06 calibre. A number of these guns were supplied to the UK under lend-lease during the Second World War.[13]

Design details

List of parts
Magazynek Lewisa z polska amunicja 792mm
A 97-round pan magazine, as used on a 7.92×57mm Lewis gun, Museum of Coastal Defence, Poland. Note the magazine is only partially filled.

The Lewis gun was gas operated. A portion of the expanding propellant gas was tapped off from the barrel, driving a piston to the rear against a spring. The piston was fitted with a vertical post at its rear which rode in a helical cam track in the bolt, rotating it at the end of its travel nearest the breech. This allowed the three locking lugs at the rear of the bolt to engage in recesses in the gun's body to lock it into place. The post also carried a fixed firing pin, which protruded through an aperture in the front of the bolt, firing the next round at the foremost part of the piston's travel.[14][15]

Singapore Volunteer Force training November 1941
Recruits of the Singapore Volunteer Force training with a Lewis gun, 1941
Lewis gun St Thomas 3
A Lewis gun at the Elgin Military Museum Canada. The rear end of finned aluminium heat sink, that fits within the gun's cooling shroud, can be seen

The gun's aluminium barrel-shroud caused the muzzle blast to draw air over the barrel and cool it, due to the muzzle-to-breech, radially finned aluminium heat sink within the shroud's barrel, and protruding behind the shroud's aft end, running lengthwise in contact with the gun barrel (somewhat like the later American M1917/18 Marlin-Rockwell machine gun's similar gun barrel cooling design)[16] from the "bottleneck" near the shroud's muzzle end and protruding externally behind the shroud's rear end. Some discussion occurred over whether the shroud was really necessary—in the Second World War, many old aircraft guns that did not have the tubing were issued to antiaircraft units of the British Home Guard and to British airfields, and others were used on vehicle mounts in the Western Desert; all were found to function properly without it, which led to the suggestion that Lewis had insisted on the cooling arrangement largely to show that his design was different from Maclean's earlier prototypes.[17] Only the Royal Navy retained the tube/heatsink cooling system on their deck-mounted AA-configuration Lewis guns.[17]

The Lewis gun used a pan magazine holding 47 or 97 rounds.[18] Pan magazines hold the rounds, bullet-noses inwards toward the center, in a radial fan. Unlike the more common drum magazines, which hold the rounds parallel to the axis and are fed by spring tension, pan magazines are mechanically indexed. The Lewis magazine was driven by a cam on top of the bolt which operated a pawl mechanism via a lever.[15]

An interesting point of the design was that it did not use a traditional helical coiled recoil spring, but used a spiral spring, much like a large clock spring, in a semicircular housing just in front of the trigger. The operating rod had a toothed underside, which engaged with a cog which wound the spring. When the gun fired, the bolt recoiled and the cog was turned, tightening the spring until the resistance of the spring had reached the recoil force of the bolt assembly. At that moment, as the gas pressure in the breech fell, the spring unwound, turning the cog, which, in turn, wound the operating rod forward for the next round. As with a clock spring, the Lewis gun recoil spring had an adjustment device to alter the recoil resistance for variations in temperature and wear. Unusual as it seems, the Lewis design proved reliable and was even copied by the Japanese and used extensively by them during the Second World War.[19]

The gun's cyclic rate of fire was about 500–600 rounds per minute. It weighed 28 lb (12.7 kg), only about half as much as a typical medium machine gun of the era, such as the Vickers machine gun, and was chosen in part because, being more portable than a heavy machine gun, it could be carried and used by one soldier.[20] BSA even produced at least one model (the "B.S.A. Light Infantry Pattern Lewis Gun", which lacked the aluminium barrel shroud and had a wooden fore grip) designed as a form of assault rifle.[21]


First World War

Lewis gun drill
Men of the 28th Battalion of the 2nd Australian Division practising Lewis gun drill at Renescure.

During the first days of the war, the Belgian Army had put in service 20 prototypes (5 in 7.65×53mm and 15 in .303) for the defense of Namur.[22]

The United Kingdom officially adopted the Lewis gun in .303 British calibre for land and aircraft use in October 1915.[23]. The weapon was generally issued to the British Army's infantry battalions on the Western Front in early 1916 as a replacement for the heavier and less mobile Vickers machine gun. the Vickers was withdrawn from the infantry for use by specialist machine-gun companies. The US Navy and Marine Corps followed in early 1917, adopting the M1917 Lewis gun (produced by the Savage Arms Co.), in .30-06 calibre.

Notes made during his training in 1918 by Arthur Bullock, a private soldier in the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, record that the chief advantage of the gun was 'its invulnerability' and its chief disadvantages were 'its delicacy, the fact that it is useless for setting up a barrage, and also that the system of air cooling employed does not not allow of more than 12 magazines being fired continuously'. He records its weight as 26 lbs unloaded and 30½ lbs loaded (though later he mentions that it weighed 35 lbs loaded), and that it had 47 cartridges in a fully loaded magazine; also that it was supported by a bipod in front and by the operator's shoulder at the rear.[24] About six months into his service, Bullock was sent on Lewis gun refresher course at La Lacque, and he recalled that the rigour of the training meant that 'everyone passed out 100 percent efficient, the meaning of which will be appreciated when I say that part of the final test was to strip down the gun completely and then, blindfolded, put those 104 parts together again correctly in just one minute.'[25]

The gun was operated by a team of seven. Bullock was the First Lewis Gunner who carried the gun and a revolver, while 'The Second Gunner carried a bag containing spare parts, and the reminaing five members of the team carried loaded pans of ammunition'. Bullock noted, 'all could fire the gun if required, and all could effect repairs in seconds'.[26] Bullock provides several vivid descriptions of the gun's use in combat. For example, on 13 April 1918 he and his fellow soldiers intercepted a German advance along the Calonne/Robecq road, noting 'we fired the gun in turns until it was too hot to hold'[27] and recording that 400 German casualties were caused, 'chiefly by my Lewis gun!'.[28][29]

The US Army never officially adopted the weapon for infantry use[17] and even went so far as to take Lewis guns away from US Marines arriving in France and replace them with the Chauchat LMG[30]—a practice believed to be related to General Crozier's dislike of Lewis and his gun.[31] The US Army eventually adopted the Browning Automatic Rifle in 1917 (although it was September 1918 before any of the new guns reached the front).[32] The US Navy and Marine Corps continued to use the .30-06 calibre Lewis until the early part of the Second World War.[33]

Lewis gun world war I
Australian Soldiers firing at enemy aircraft during the First World War

The Russian Empire purchased 10,000 Lewis guns in 1917 from the British government, and ordered another 10,000 weapons from Savage Arms in the US. The US government was unwilling to supply the Tsarist Russian government with the guns and some doubt exists as to whether they were actually delivered, although records indicate that 5,982 Savage weapons were delivered to Russia by 31 March 1917. The Lewis guns supplied by Britain were dispatched to Russia in May 1917, but it is not known for certain whether these were the Savage-made weapons being trans-shipped through the UK, or a separate batch of UK-produced units.[34] White armies in Northwest Russia received several hundred Lewis guns in 1918–1919.[35]

British Mark IV tanks used the Lewis, replacing the Vickers and Hotchkiss used in earlier tanks. The Lewis was chosen for its relatively compact magazines, but as soon as an improved magazine belt for the Hotchkiss was developed, the Lewis was replaced by them in later tank models.[36]

As their enemies used the mobility of the gun to ambush German raiding parties, the Germans nicknamed the Lewis "the Belgian Rattlesnake". They used captured Lewis guns in both World Wars, and included instruction in its operation and care as part of their machine-gun crew training.[37]

Despite costing more than a Vickers gun to manufacture (the cost of a Lewis gun was £165 in 1915[9] and £175 in 1918[38]; the Vickers cost about £100),[32] Lewis machine guns were in high demand with the British military during the First World War. The Lewis also had the advantage of being about 80% faster to build than the Vickers, and was a lot more portable.[20] Accordingly, the British government placed orders for 3,052 guns between August 1914 and June 1915.[9] By the end of the war, over 50,000 Lewis guns had been produced in the US and UK and they were nearly ubiquitous on the Western Front, outnumbering the Vickers by a ratio of about 3:1.[32]

Aircraft use

Captain Charles Chandler (with prototype Lewis Gun) and Lt Roy Kirtland in a Wright Model B Flyer after the first successful firing of a machine gun from an aeroplane in June 1912.
No. 87 Squadron Dolphin flown by Cecil Montgomery-Moore. A Lewis gun is mounted atop the lower right wing

The Lewis gun has the distinction of being the first machine gun fired from an aeroplane; on 7 June 1912, Captain Charles Chandler of the US Army fired a prototype Lewis gun from the foot-bar of a Wright Model B Flyer.[37]

Royal Aircraft Factory FE2d gunner
Lewis Guns mounted in the front cockpit of the pusher Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2d
Lewis Gun Manual 25th Aero
Lewis Gun Manual used by Sgt. Don L. Palmer of the 25th Aero Squadron.
Albert Ball SE5a cockpit
Albert Ball in an S.E.5a, showing the Foster mount's arc-shaped I-beam rail.

Lewis guns were used extensively on British and French aircraft during the First World War, as either an observer's or gunner's weapon or an additional weapon to the more common Vickers. The Lewis's popularity as an aircraft machine gun was partly due to its low weight, the fact that it was air-cooled and that it used self-contained 97-round drum magazines. Because of this, the Lewis was first mounted on the Vickers F.B.5 "Gunbus", which was probably the world's first purpose-built combat aircraft when it entered service in August 1914, replacing the Vickers machine gun used on earlier experimental versions.[39] It was also fitted on two early production examples of the Bristol Scout C aircraft by Lanoe Hawker in the summer of 1915, mounted on the port side and firing forwards and outwards at a 30° angle to avoid the propeller arc.

The problem in mounting a Lewis to fire forward in most single-engined tractor configuration fighters was due to the open bolt firing cycle of the Lewis, which prevented it from being synchronized to fire directly forward through the propeller arc of such aircraft; only the unusual French SPAD S.A "pulpit plane" which possessed a unique hinged gunner's nacelle immediately ahead of the propeller (and the pilot), and the British pusher fighters Vickers F.B.5, Airco D.H.2, Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2 and F.E.8 could readily use the Lewis as direct forward-firing armament early in the war. Some British single-engined tractor fighters used a Foster mounting on the top wing to elevate a Lewis gun above the propeller arc for unsynchronized firing, including production S.E.5/S.E.5a fighters and field-modified examples of the Avro 504. For the use of observers or rear gunners, the Lewis was mounted on a Scarff ring, which allowed the gun to be rotated and elevated whilst supporting the gun's weight.[40]

Until September 1916 Zeppelin airships were very difficult to attack successfully at high altitude, although this also made accurate bombing impossible. Aeroplanes struggled to reach a typical altitude of 10,000 feet (3,000 m), and firing the solid bullets usually used by aircraft Lewis guns was ineffectual: they made small holes causing inconsequential gas leaks. Britain developed new bullets, the Brock containing spontaneously igniting potassium chlorate,[41] and the Buckingham filled with pyrophoric phosphorus,[42] to set fire to the Zeppelin's hydrogen. These had become available by September 1916.[43] They proved very successful, and Lewis guns loaded with a mixture of Brock and Buckingham ammunition were often employed for balloon-busting against German Zeppelins, other airships and Drache barrage balloons.[37]

1918 Sopwith Dolphin with twin Lewis guns aimed upwards.

On the French Nieuport 11 and later Nieuport 17 sesquiplanes, a Lewis gun was mounted above the top wing (in a similar way as fitted to the British S.E.5a) – sometimes on a Foster mount, which allowed firing directly forward outside the propeller arc. The Foster mount usually incorporated an arc-shaped I-beam rail as its rearmost structural member, that a Lewis gun could be slid backwards and downwards along the rail towards the cockpit, to allow the ammunition drum to be changed in flight – but RFC fighter ace Albert Ball VC also understood that the Lewis gun in such a mount also retained its original trigger, and could thus be fired upwards. He used the upward firing Lewis to attack solitary German two-seater aircraft from below and behind, where the observer could not see him or fire back. It was his use of the weapon in this way, in a Nieuport, that led to its later introduction on the S.E.5/S.E.5a: Ball had acted in a consultant capacity on the development of this aeroplane. The later Sopwith Dolphin, already armed with twin synchronized Vickers guns just forward of the pilot and just above its V-8 engine, could also use one or two Lewis guns mounted on the forward crossbar of its cabane structure, between the top wing panels, as an anti-Zeppelin measure. A few of the Dolphins in use with No. 87 Squadron RAF in the summer of 1918, alternatively mounted their twin Lewises atop the lower wings just inboard of the inner wing struts for an additional pair of forward-firing machine guns; in such a field-achieved configuration, however, neither gun-jam clearing, nor drum magazine replacement were possible on their Lewises during a mission.

Lewis guns were also carried as defensive guns on British airships. The SS class blimps carried one gun. The larger NS class blimps carried two or three guns in the control car and some were fitted with an additional gun and a gunner's position at the top of the gasbag.[44]

Second World War

By the Second World War, the British Army had replaced the Lewis gun with the Bren gun for most infantry use. As an airborne weapon, the Lewis was largely supplanted by the Vickers K, a weapon that could achieve over twice the rate of fire of the Lewis.

In the crisis following the Fall of France, where a large part of the British Army's equipment had been lost up to and at Dunkirk, stocks of Lewis guns in both .303 and .30-06 were hurriedly pressed back into service, primarily for Home Guard, airfield defence and anti-aircraft use.[45] 58,983 Lewis guns were taken from stores, repaired, refitted and issued by the British during the course of the war.[46] In addition to their reserve weapon role in the UK, they also saw front-line use with the Dutch, British, Australian, and New Zealand forces in the early years of the Pacific campaign against the Japanese.[47] The Lewis gun saw continued service as an anti-aircraft weapon during the war; in this role, it was credited by the British for bringing down more low-flying enemy aircraft than any other AA weapon.[48] Peter White indicates that his battalion of the King's Own Scottish Borderers was still using the Lewis on Universal carriers in 1945.[49]

A New Zealand-crewed LRDG truck (equipped with a Lewis Gun) is dug out of the sand, c.1942.

At the start of the Second World War, the Lewis was the Royal Navy's standard close-range air defence weapon. It could be found on major warships, armed trawlers and defensively equipped merchant ships. It was often used in twin mountings and a quadruple mount was developed for motor torpedo boats. British submarines generally carried two guns on single mounts. Although it was gradually replaced by the Oerlikon 20 mm cannon, new corvettes were still being fitted with twin Lewises as late as 1942. Lewis guns were also carried by the Royal Air Force's air-sea rescue launches.[50]

Royal Navy Motor Torpedo Boats on patrol, 1940. A60
A Royal Navy Motor Torpedo Boat with dual twin Lewis guns, 1940.

American forces used the Lewis gun (in .30-06 calibre) throughout the war. The US Navy used the weapon on armed merchant cruisers, small auxiliary ships, landing craft and submarines. The US Coast Guard also used the Lewis on their vessels.[48] It was never officially adopted by the US Army for anything other than aircraft use.[17]

The Germans used captured British Lewis guns during the war under the designation MG 137(e),[51] whilst the Japanese copied the Lewis design and employed it extensively during the war;[48] it was designated the Type 92 and chambered for a 7.7 mm rimmed cartridge that was interchangeable with the .303 British round.[52][53]

The Lewis was officially withdrawn from British service in 1946,[32] but continued to be used by forces operating against the United Nations in the Korean War. It was also used against French and US forces in the First Indochina War and the subsequent Vietnam War.[54]

Total production of the Lewis gun during the Second World War by BSA was over 145,000 units,[17] a total of 3,550 guns were produced by the Savage Arms Co. for US service—2,500 in .30-06 and 1,050 in .303 British calibre.[33]



Letecké muzeum Kbely (9)
Czech Vz 28/L, chambered for the 7.92×57mm Mauser ammunition.



  • Mitrailleur M. 20. In the Netherlands, the Lewis in both ground and aircraft versions was used in 6.5×53 mm R calibre, using a 97-round magazine only.[57] The infantry version was equipped with a carrying handle on a clamp around the rear of the cooling tube. After the German invasion of May 1940, the weapon was also used by Germany under the designation 6,5 mm leichtes Maschinengewehr 100 (h).[58] This Dutch modification of the older BSA redesign would have been extremely simple, as the Dutch/Romanian 6.5mm Mannlicher round has very nearly the same critical dimensions of the case head and rim as .303" British.

United Kingdom

The Home Guard 1939-45 H14697
A British Home Guard platoon in 1941. The soldier on the right is carrying either a Lewis Mk III* or Mk III** with the improvised skeleton stock and fore-stock to make it usable as a ground weapon. The man next to him is carrying the drum magazine.
  • Mark I. The .303 Lewis Mk I was the basic ground pattern model used by British and British Empire forces from 1915 with few improvements.[59]
  • Mark II. This was the first purpose built aircraft version of the Lewis, earlier versions had been improvised from Mk I guns. The cooling fins were omitted to save weight, but a light protective shroud around the barrel was retained. The wooden stock was removed and replaced with a "spade" grip, which resembled the handle of a garden spade. A 97-round drum magazine was introduced which required a larger magazine spigot on the body of the gun.
  • Mark II*. An improved Mk II with an increased rate of fire introduced in 1918.
  • Mark III. A further upgrade of the Mk II with an even faster rate of fire and the barrel shroud deleted, introduced later in 1918.[60]
  • Mark III*. The British designation for the US .30-06 M1918 aircraft gun, some 46,000 of which were imported for the use of the Home Guard in 1940. These guns were modified for ground use by the replacement of the spade grip with a crude skeleton stock and the addition of a simple wooden fore-stock which would allow the gun to be fired while resting on a sandbag, or from the hip while advancing.
  • Mark III**. The designation for the .303 Mark III modified in the same way as the US M1918s.
  • Mark III DEMS. Intended for Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships (DEMS), it was similar to the Mk III** but with the addition of a pistol grip on the fore-stock, so that the weapon could be fired free-standing from the shoulder, from any part of a ship's decks.
  • Mark IV. After all the usable weapons had been reconditioned and issued, there remained a large number of incomplete Lewis guns and spare parts. These were assembled into guns similar to the Mk III**. There was a particular shortage of the fragile "clock" springs for the Lewis, so a simpler spring was manufactured and housed in a straight tube which extended into the skeleton stock. Many of these guns were fitted with a simple and light tripod which had been specially produced.[61]

United States

  • M1917 Lewis. Savage produced a version of the Lewis Mk I for US forces, rechambered for the .30-06 round and with a modified gas operation due to the greater power of the US ammunition. A few of these were modified for aircraft use, when intended for non-synchronized emplacements on an airframe. The US Navy designation was Lewis Mark IV.
  • M1918 Lewis. A purpose built aircraft version of the M1917.

Experimental projects

A commercial venture in 1921 by the Birmingham Small Arms Company was a version which fired the 12.7×81mm (0.5-inch Vickers) ammunition, intended for use against aircraft and tanks. At around the same time, BSA developed the Light Infantry Model which had a 22-round magazine and a wooden fore-stock in place of the radiator fins and shroud; it was intended to be used in a similar way to the Browning Automatic Rifle. Another development was a twin Lewis for aircraft use in which the bodies of the two weapons were joined side-by-side and the drum magazines were mounted vertically, one on each side. None of these projects was accepted by any armed forces.[62]

Lewis had also experimented with lighter, 30-06 calibre, box magazine-fed infantry rifle variants intended for shoulder or hip fire as a competition to the BAR. They were dubbed "Assault Phase Rifle" – what could be understood as the first use of the term "Assault Rifle", despite the weapon being, by today's designation, a battle rifle. Despite being three pounds lighter than it and loaded with very forward-thinking features for the time (such as an ambidexterous magazine release), the U.S. Army still chose to adopt the BAR.[63]

A short-barrelled light machine gun variant was developed at the start of the Second World War. It came with a hand guard and was fed from a 30-round Bren magazines; however, it was decided by the British authorities to concentrate production on the Bren, which had the advantage of a changeable barrel.[64]

Influence on later designs

The German FG 42 paratrooper's rifle used the Lewis gun's gas assembly and bolt design which were in turn incorporated into the M60 machine gun.[54]

The Type 92 machine gun, the standard hand-held machine gun used by Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft gunners in WWII, was essentially a copy of the Lewis gun.


See also


  1. ^ Canfield, Bruce (October 2016). "1916: Guns On The Border". American Rifleman. National Rifle Association.
  2. ^ Easterly (1998), p. 65.
  3. ^ Segel, Robert G. (9 March 2013). "The Lewis Gun". Small Arms Defense Journal. Vol. 5 no. 1.
  4. ^ a b Skennerton (2001), p. 5
  5. ^ Ford 2005, pp. 67–68.
  6. ^ a b Ford (2005), p. 68
  7. ^ Hogg (1978), p. 218.
  8. ^ Huon, Jean (January 1997). "Le fusil mitrailleur Lewis (1ère partie)" [The Lewis light machine gun (1st part)]. La Gazette des Armes (in French). No. 273. pp. 23–26.
  9. ^ a b c Skennerton (2001), p. 6
  10. ^ Skennerton (2001), p. 7
  11. ^ a b c Skennerton (2001), p. 41
  12. ^ Skennerton (2001), pp. 15, 41–46.
  13. ^ Skennerton (2001), pp. 41, 47.
  14. ^ Ford (2005), pp. 68–70.
  15. ^ a b Smith (1943), p. 31
  16. ^ Springfield Armory photo of the M1918 Marlin gun with heatsink fitted Archived 20 December 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ a b c d e Ford (2005), p. 70
  18. ^ Smith (1943), pp. 28, 32.
  19. ^ Smith (1943), pp. 31–32.
  20. ^ a b Hogg & Batchelor (1976), p. 27.
  21. ^ Skennerton (2001), p. 4.
  22. ^ a b Grant (2014), p. 11.
  23. ^ Skennerton (2001), p. 6.
  24. ^ Bullock, 2009, pages 63 and 64
  25. ^ Bullock, 2009, page 70
  26. ^ Bullock, 2009, page 64
  27. ^ Bullock, 2009, page 66
  28. ^ Bullock, 2009, page 69
  29. ^ Barnes, A F (1930), The Story of the 2/5th Gloucestershire Regiment, Crypt House Press, Gloucester
  30. ^ Hogg & Batchelor (1976), pp. 30-31.
  31. ^ Hogg & Batchelor (1976), p. 31.
  32. ^ a b c d Ford (2005), p. 71
  33. ^ a b Smith (1973), p. 270
  34. ^ Skennerton (2001), p. 46.
  35. ^ Khvostov, Mikhail (15 July 1997). The Russian Civil War (2): White Armies. Men-at-Arms 305. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-85532-656-9.
  36. ^ Glanfield (2001), p. .
  37. ^ a b c Bruce, Robert (2000). "The Lewis Gun". Guns Magazine, March 2000/findarticles.com. Archived from the original on 7 August 2009. Retrieved 12 February 2009.
  38. ^ Bullock, 2009, page 63
  39. ^ Driver, Hugh (1997). The Birth of Military Aviation: Britain, 1903–1914. The Boydell Press. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-86193-234-4. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  40. ^ Hogg & Batchelor (1976), pp. 27, 33.
  41. ^ ".303-inch Explosive". British Military Small Arms Ammo – Brock. Archived from the original on 18 September 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  42. ^ ".303-inch Incendiary – Buckingham". British Military Small Arms Ammo. Archived from the original on 18 September 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  43. ^ Leatherdale, Duncan (3 September 2016). "Leefe Robinson: The man who shot down a Baby Killer". BBC News. Archived from the original on 3 September 2016.
  44. ^ Abbott, Patrick (1989). The British Airship at War 1914–1918. Lavenham, Suffolk: Terence Dalton Ltd. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-86138-073-2.
  45. ^ Skennerton (1988), p. 58.
  46. ^ Skennerton (2001), pp. 46–47.
  47. ^ Skennerton (2001), pp. 7–9.
  48. ^ a b c Smith (1943), p. 32
  49. ^ Peter, White (2002). With The Jocks: : A Soldier's Struggle For Europe 1944–45. The History Press. p. . ISBN 978-0-7509-3057-4.
  50. ^ Lambert, John; Ross, Al (1990). Allied Coastal Forces of World War II: Vol. 1, Fairmile designs and US submarine chasers. Conway Maritime Press. pp. 196–200. ISBN 978-0-85177-519-7.
  51. ^ Chant (2001), p. 47.
  52. ^ Smith (1973), p. 512.
  53. ^ Smith (1943), p. 131.
  54. ^ a b c d Skennerton (2001), p. 9
  55. ^ a b Grant (2014), p. 16.
  56. ^ a b "Čs. letecký kulomet vz. L/28" [Czech aircraft machine gun vz. L/28]. vhu.cz (in Czech). Vojenský historický ústav Praha.
  57. ^ Handboek voor den soldaat. 1. Breda: Koninklijke Militaire Academie. 1937. pp. 36–49.
  58. ^ Pawlas, Karl R, ed. (2000). "Das Lewis-Maschinengewehr". Waffen-Revue (in German). Karl R. Pawlas. pp. 33–36.
  59. ^ Grant (2014), pp. 14-15.
  60. ^ Grant (2014), pp. 17-18.
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  • Bullock, Arthur (2009). Gloucestershire Between the Wars: A Memoir. The History Press. ISBN 978-0-7524-4793-3. Pages 62-64, 66, 69-70, 85-86.
  • Chant, Christopher (2001). Small Arms Of World War II. London (UK): Brown Partworks. ISBN 978-1-84044-089-8.
  • Ford, Roger (2005). The World's Great Machine Guns from 1860 to the Present Day. London: Amber Books. ISBN 978-1-84509-161-3.
  • Glanfield, John (2001). The Devil's Chariots – The Birth and Secret Battles of the first Tanks. Stroud: Sutton. ISBN 978-0-7509-4152-5.
  • Grant, Neil (2014). The Lewis Gun. Oxford (UK): Osprey. ISBN 978-1-78200-791-3.
  • Hogg, Ian V. (1978). The Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia of the World's Firearm. A&W. ISBN 978-0-89479-031-7.
  • Hogg, Ian V.; Batchelor, John (1976). The Machine-Gun (Purnell's History of the World Wars Special). London: Phoebus.
  • Skennerton, Ian (1988). British Small Arms of World War 2. Margate QLD (Australia): Ian Skennerton. ISBN 978-0-949749-09-3.
  • Skennerton, Ian (2001). .303 Lewis Machine Gun. Small Arms Identification Series. Gold Coast QLD (Australia): Arms & Militaria Press. ISBN 978-0-949749-42-0.
  • Smith, Joseph E. (1973). Small Arms of the World (10th Rev. ed.). Harrisburg PA (USA): Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-88365-155-1.
  • Smith, W. H. B. (1979) [1943]. 1943 Basic Manual of Military Small Arms (facs. ed.). Harrisburg PA (USA): Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-1699-4.
  • Textbook of Small Arms 1929 (repr. ed.). London (UK), Dural (NSW): Rick Landers: HMSO for War Office. 1999 [1929]. OCLC 4976525.
  • Townsend, Reginald T. (December 1916). ""Tanks" and "The Hose Of Death"". The World's Work: A History of Our Time. XXXIII: 195–207. Retrieved 4 August 2009.

Further reading

  • McCleave Easterly, William (1998). The Belgian Rattlesnake: The Lewis Automatic Machine Gun: A Social and Technical Biography of the Gun and Its Inventors. Collector Grade. ISBN 978-0-88935-236-0.

External links

Avro 521

The Avro 521 was a British two-seat fighter first flown in late 1915, based on the 504. Only a prototype of the Avro 521 was built. It was powered by a 110 hp (80 kW) Clerget engine, with provision for a .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis Gun in the rear cockpit.

Avro 529

The Avro 529 was a twin-engined biplane long-range bomber of the First World War. Two prototypes were built but no production ensued.

Avro 549 Aldershot

The Avro 549 Aldershot was a British single-engined bomber aircraft built by Avro.


A bipod is an attachment, usually to a weapon, that helps support and steady it. The bipod provides significant stability along two axes of motion (side-to-side, and up-and-down).

Bipod comes from the Latin and Greek roots bi and pod, meaning "two" and "foot, or feet" respectively.

Blackburn Baffin

The Blackburn B-5 Baffin biplane torpedo bomber was a development of the Ripon, the chief change being that a 545 hp (406 kW) Bristol Pegasus I.MS radial replaced the Ripon's Napier Lion water-cooled inline engine.

The Baffin was designed by Major F A Bumpus to meet a Fleet Air Arm requirement as a conventional two-seat single-bay biplane of mixed metal and wooden construction with fabric covering. It had swept, staggered, equal-span wings, the lower having an inverse gull to provide clearance for the torpedo while retaining a short undercarriage. Armament comprised one fixed, forward-firing 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun and one free-mounted .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun in the rear cockpit, plus one 2,000 lb (910 kg) bomb, or 1,576 lb (716 kg) Mk VIII or Mk IX torpedo, or three 530 lb (240 kg) or six 250 lb (110 kg) bombs.

Charles Graham Robertson

Charles Graham Robertson VC MM (4 July 1879 – 10 May 1954) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Robertson first served with the Imperial Yeomanry during the Second Boer War. Robertson was 38 years old, and a lance-corporal in the 10th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, British Army during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 8/9 March 1918 west of Polderhoek Chateau, Belgium, Lance-Corporal Robertson having repelled a strong attack by the enemy, realised that he was being cut off and sent for reinforcements, while remaining at his post with only one man, firing his Lewis gun and killing large numbers of the enemy. No reinforcements arrived, so he withdrew, and then was forced to withdraw again to a defended post where he got on top of the parapet with a comrade, mounted his gun and continued firing. His comrade was almost immediately killed and he was severely wounded, but managed to crawl back with his gun, having exhausted his ammunition.He served in World War II in the Home Guard.

Charlton Automatic Rifle

The Charlton Automatic Rifle was a fully automatic conversion of the Lee–Enfield rifle, designed by New Zealander Philip Charlton in 1941 to act as a substitute for the Bren and Lewis gun light machine guns which were in severely short supply at the time.

Closed bolt

A semi or full-automatic firearm which is said to fire from a closed bolt is one where, when ready to fire, a round is in the chamber and the bolt and working parts are forward. When the trigger is pulled, the firing pin or striker fires the round; the action is cycled by the energy of the shot, sending the bolt to the rear, which extracts and ejects the empty cartridge case; and the bolt goes forward, feeding a fresh round from the magazine into the chamber, ready for the next shot.

When World War I era machine guns were being tried for use on aircraft, the Lewis gun was found not to be usable with a gun synchronizer for forward firing through the propeller, due to its firing cycle starting with an open bolt. The Maxim style arms used by both the Allies, as the Vickers machine gun and Central Powers, as both the rectangular-receiver lMG 08 and lightened-receiver LMG 08/15 Spandau gun, and Parabellum LMG 14 gun—as well as the improvements introduced by Swedish armaments designer Carl Gustave Swebilius to the American M1895 Colt–Browning machine gun for aircraft use, creating the M1917 and M1918 Marlin-Rockwell machine guns for the USAAS in World War I—all fired with a cycle starting with a closed bolt, and since the bullet firing from the gun started the firing cycle, it was much easier to set the synchronizer to trigger the gun only when the propeller's blade was not directly in front of the gun's muzzle.

Fairey Gordon

The Fairey Gordon was a British light bomber (2-seat day bomber) and utility aircraft of the 1930s.

The Gordon was a conventional two-bay fabric-covered metal biplane. It was powered by 525–605 horsepower (391–451 kW) variants of the Armstrong Siddeley Panther IIa engine. Armament was one fixed, forward-firing .303-inch (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun and a .303-inch (7.7 mm) Lewis Gun in the rear cockpit, plus 500 pounds (230 kg) of bombs. The aircraft was somewhat basic; instruments were airspeed indicator, altimeter, oil pressure gauge, tachometer, turn and bank indicator and compass.

Foster mounting

The Foster mounting was a device fitted to some fighter aircraft of the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War. It was designed to enable a machine gun (in practice, a Lewis Gun) to fire over, rather than through the arc of the spinning propeller. It took several forms when applied to different aircraft types, but all shared the feature of a quadrant shaped I-beam rail on which the gun could slide back and down in one movement. The primary purpose was to facilitate the changing of spent ammunition drums, but some pilots also found that the mounting permitted the gun to be fired directly upward or at an angle, permitting a fighter aircraft to attack an opponent from beneath.

Hawker Hedgehog

The Hawker Hedgehog was a three-seat reconnaissance biplane, to be used for naval scouting, produced to meet Air Ministry Specification 37/22.

It was designed in 1923, and had its first flight the next year, piloted by FP Raynham.

The crew consisted of the pilot, an observer and an air gunner. Construction was typical of the period: a wooden structure covered with fabric. The powerplant was a nine-cylinder Bristol Jupiter IV radial engine driving a two-bladed wooden propeller.

While testing was successful, on completion of the flight tests, the project was cancelled. This was due to the Hedgehog's performance not being sufficiently better than the existing aircraft used for Naval reconnaissance, the Avro Bison and Blackburn Blackburn. Consequently, only one prototype was built. The armament of the aircraft was one fixed forward-firing .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers gun and one .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun on a Scarff ring in the rear cockpit. The aircraft was fitted with floats that contained wheels to enable use as an amphibian. The wings could be folded, so that the width was reduced to 16 ft 7½ in (4.87 m) for storage.

John McNamara (VC)

John McNamara VC (28 October 1887 – 16 October 1918) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

He was 30 years old, and a corporal in the 9th Battalion, The East Surrey Regiment, British Army during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

On 3 September 1918 north west of Lens, France, when operating a telephone in evacuated enemy trenches occupied by his battalion, Corporal McNamara realised that a determined enemy counter-attack was gaining ground. Rushing to the nearest post, he made very good use of a revolver taken from a wounded officer and then, seizing a Lewis gun, he fired it until it jammed. By this time, he was alone in the post and, having destroyed the telephone, he joined the nearest post and maintained a Lewis gun until reinforcements arrived.He was killed in action near Solesmes, France, on 16 October 1918.

List of common World War II infantry weapons

This is a list of infantry weapons which were in mainstream use during World War II (1939–1945).

Meldrick Lewis

Meldrick Lewis is a fictional character on the television series Homicide: Life on the Street, played by Clark Johnson. The character is loosely based on Baltimore detective Donald Waltemeyer and appeared in the series for its entire run. Lewis had the very first and last lines of the series.

Born on September 10, 1962, Lewis was raised in Baltimore's Lafayette Court housing project. In 1996, he watched its demolition and kept a brick from the rubble as a memento. He attended Lake Clifton High School from 1976 to 1980. It is indicated he was raised Baptist, but his wedding was performed by a member of the Universal Life Church.

Lewis joined the homicide unit in April 1990. His first partner in the series was Steve Crosetti, who occasionally irritated him with his arcane historical interests and demeanor. The two usually got along well, however, so Crosetti's later suicide deeply unnerved Lewis. At first he refused to even believe it could be a suicide, reasoning that Crosetti, a devout Catholic and devoted father, would never violate his faith and abandon his child. In time he accepted Crosetti's suicide but still felt a certain dismay that he had never known Crosetti was "in that kind of pain" and apparently felt he could not tell Lewis about his problems. Stan Bolander comforted Lewis by saying that in giving up his prized vintage yo-yo as a gift to Lewis, Crosetti was in his own way saying goodbye.

Lewis remained without a partner for a time until partnering with Mike Kellerman, who transferred into Homicide from the arson unit at the start of Season 4. This partnership initially worked reasonably well, but had some strains as Kellerman slid toward alcoholism and humiliation when he was falsely accused of having taken bribes while in his previous position. As Kellerman kept his problems less secret than Crosetti, Lewis was able to stop a potential suicide attempt.

Lewis and Kellerman had earlier found themselves arguing with each other over a Nation of Islam group acting as a private security force in a Baltimore City housing project. During a homicide investigation, the Muslims baited Kellerman with racial remarks, and it did not help when Lewis agreed with the Muslims' presence in the projects as because of them, there were fewer homicides in the projects. Lewis nonetheless forced the Muslims' leader to answer both him and Kellerman (the leader would only speak to Black homicide detectives about the identity of a murder suspect) during an attempt at turning the two against each other.

When Kellerman and Lewis were finally able to snare drug kingpin Luther Mahoney for drug trafficking and murder, Lewis beat up Mahoney until he grabbed Lewis' gun. However, Kellerman and Terri Stivers showed up in time to prevent Mahoney from killing Lewis, and Kellerman shot and killed Mahoney during an ambiguous standoff. Although Lewis initially approved of Kellerman's actions, he later decided they could no longer be partners.

During Season 6, Lewis got into an altercation with Mahoney's sister Georgia Rae and was suspended. He persuaded fellow detective Paul Falsone to feed him information about the organization, which he used to start an internal war that eventually led to a bloodbath for both the police and the criminals. Kellerman finally admitted the truth about the Mahoney shooting - that the man had not been pointing Lewis' weapon at anyone when Kellerman shot him - and resigned in order to keep Lewis and Stivers from losing their jobs. Kellerman then asked to borrow Lewis' gun so he could commit suicide, but Lewis refused to give it to him.

In Season 7, Lewis developed problems with his new partner, Rene Sheppard, when she suffered a brutal beating and had her gun taken from her by a suspect, who shot at Lewis and nearly killed him (the bullet nicked the crown of his trademark hat). Lewis refused to partner with any of the female detectives in the unit until the final episode, in which he and Sheppard achieved a reconciliation of sorts and began to work a crime scene together.

According to the Season 4 episode "I've Got a Secret," Lewis had a mentally ill brother named Anthony, who was institutionalized roughly 20 years earlier as he was a danger to himself and others. Lewis confessed to Kellerman that he did not intervene on one of Anthony's suicide attempts, and even briefly hoped it might succeed as it would end Anthony's suffering and the hardships he put on the rest of the family. Lewis estimated that he last visited Anthony in 1978; he tried to do so again during this episode, but Anthony refused to see him.

Lewis had a harshly realistic view of the job, and was openly critical of Tim Bayliss for putting so much of his emotional energy into the unforgiving field of police work.

In 1996, Lewis married Barbara Shivers on extremely short notice. The couple eventually split up. Those who knew Lewis were unsurprised at the breakup; in fact, up to the moment of the wedding many of his co-workers (particularly John Munch) assumed the engagement was a hoax.In October 2013, Lewis attended a roast for Munch in New York City following his retirement from the NYPD. Lewis jokingly told the audience that "we [Munch's former colleagues] ran his butt outta B-more."

Put That Light Out!

Put That Light Out! is the seventh episode of the fourth series of the British comedy series Dad's Army. It was originally transmitted on Friday 6 November 1970.

Roland Elcock

Major Roland Edward Elcock VC MM (5 June 1899 – 6 October 1944) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Elcock was born on 5 June 1899. He initially enlisted in the British Army in October 1914 when he was 15. Being underage for army service, he was discharged when his real age was discovered. He worked as a clerk in Wolverhampton before re-enlisting at the age of 18.

He was 19 years old, and an acting corporal in the 11th Battalion, The Royal Scots (The Lothian Regiment), British Army during the First World War, and was awarded the VC for his actions on 15 October 1918 south-east of Capelle St. Catherine, France.

Corporal Elcock was in charge of a Lewis gun team, and entirely on his own initiative he rushed his gun up to within 10 yards of enemy guns which were causing heavy casualties and holding up the advance. He put both guns out of action, capturing five prisoners and undoubtedly saved the whole attack from being held up. Later, near the River Lys, this NCO again attacked an enemy machine-gun and captured the crew.He later achieved the rank of major after enlisting in the British Indian Army during World War II. He died in October 1944.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Scots Museum, Edinburgh Castle, Scotland.

Saunders T.1

The Saunders T.1 was the first aircraft built by the Saunders Company, a two-seat single-engined biplane with unusual monocoque fuselage construction. Only one was built.

Supermarine Seagull (1921)

The Supermarine Seagull was a British amphibian biplane flying boat developed from the Supermarine Seal by the Supermarine company. The Seagull was constructed of wood. The lower wing was set in the shoulder position and had two bays. The engine was mounted in a nacelle slung from the upper wing and powered a four-blade propeller in tractor configuration. The fuselage had an oval cross-section and had a planing bottom with two steps.

Vickers F.B.5

The Vickers F.B.5 (Fighting Biplane 5) (known as the "Gunbus") was a British two-seat pusher military biplane of the First World War. Armed with a single .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun operated by the observer in the front of the nacelle, it was the first aircraft purpose-built for air-to-air combat to see service, making it the world's first operational fighter aircraft.

US infantry weapons of World War I
Side arms
Light Machine Guns
Heavy Machine Guns
Side arms
Edged weapons
Machine guns
Hand grenades
Grenade launchers
British Commonwealth small arms of World War II and Korea
Side arms
Rifles &
submachine guns
Machine-guns &
other larger weapons
Small arms cartridges


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