Lewis Gun: Build 1

Custom builds, Inter-War (1918-1939), Lewis Gun, Machine-Guns, Weapons, WWI, WWII

The base gun for this build is an M4. Nothing too fancy, but with lots of options for upgrade parts if needed. The first step to making the transformation into a Lewis is to build the receiver. I have modified plans I was given some time ago to build a replica to take the donor and be made from steel.

_DSF9122

Inside this I will fit a ‘harness’ to hold the donor.

_DSF9123

The drum magazine, on this I’m not sure if it will be functional, but it will be removable so I may do a very high capacity magazine in the future.

_DSF9126

The external detailing is welded on.

_DSF9127

I designed this spacer to mount on the rails, there are two of them to steady the barrel shroud.

 

_DSF9256

Dry fitting the parts, you can see the space where the rear end of the cooling fins are to go.

20170615_153236

I’m also making use of 3D printed parts for the taper on the fore-end. This part was simply much too big to make on the lathe and this system keeps the cost and the weight down.

20170615_155354

The bipod is the next major component. It will need some feet, and hinges made up for the top, which will have to come in a later instalment.

_DSF9296

Also for the next instalment, the design for the back of the cooling fins is complete (a long day’s work making this!) and it will be 3D printed much like the spacers before being painted to look like aluminium. It may even be a project for the new furnace.

Lewis_cooling_fins_2017-Jun-27_06-18-25PM-000_CustomizedView8964933988

 

If you are interested in the history of the Lewis, you can check out the introduction article here

If you like this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

LMG25: Build 2

Cold War, Custom builds, Inter-War (1918-1939), LMG25, Machine-Guns, Weapons, WWII

At the end of the last post, I had most of the large components roughed out for the LMG25. However the cooling ports in the barrel jacket are a little rough at the ends.

_DSF9154

So I welded the outsides edges, so I could grind them down and round out the ends.

_DSF9158

Next I welded up the ejection port.

_DSF9257

And the rear sling swivel, attached to the mount.

_DSF9263

The bipod was an interesting challenge. In order to go from the stowage to the deployed position the lugs all have to rotate, so a little tweaking was needed to make everything move freely.

_DSF9264

The end result is a pretty stable bipod with good movement, allowing the operator to sweep over an arc of fire.

_DSF9265

The dry assembly of the rear sight and ejection port. From this I learned that the ejection port needed a little trimming off the bottom to sit tidily. I also decided to chamfer the edges of the rear sight base to get a deep penetration for the weld.

20170615_161208

The foresight has been 3D printed, it screws into place on the barrel jacket.

20170615_170539

It sits just ahead of the bipod.

20170615_174938

The back-cap is also printed, I may replace this with a cast aluminium version now I have a working kiln.

20170615_175019

Most of the remainder of the work is now detail parts such as the rear sight unit, operating handle and the attachment for the back-cap. 

If you have a thing for obscure Swiss Light Machine-Guns then you can check out the pre-build piece here.

If you enjoyed this content join us over on Facebook and check out our Etsy store. If you have an idea for a custom build of your own get in touch on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com.

Lewis Gun: Introduction

Custom builds, Inter-War (1918-1939), Lewis Gun, Weapons, WWI, WWII

Before I go any further, if you are seriously interested in the history and workings of the Lewis gun, check out C&Rsenal’s video. If you just want a quick overview, you can skip that and carry on reading…

Issac Newton Lewis, Colonel, US Army designed his machine gun in 1911 and spent around two years banging his head against a brick wall trying to persuade the US Ordinance Department to adopt his gun. In 1913 he left the United States and set up shop in Belgium where he received a respectable first order from the Belgians. In 1914 BSA bought a license to produce it and as war loomed Lewis moved his factory to Britain to keep it out of German hands. Lewis’ BSA license proved very profitable: between BSA and Savage Arms around 50,000 Lewis Guns were produced by 1918 and the license granted him commission on every one made.

The design itself was based on work done by Samuel Maclean, but between Lewis and designers at BSA it was transformed into a reliable and easy to produce machine. It is gas operated, open bolt with three locking lugs at the rear of the bolt. The most distinctive feature is of course the massive aluminium heat sink/fins/barrel jacket arrangement.

Shot of the Lewis receiver. On the right you can see the barrel jacket and the rear end of the cooling fins. On the bottom of the gun, forward to the trigger is the clock-type main spring.

The idea of this was to wick heat away from the barrel as quickly as possible (quick-change barrels weren’t really a thing yet). The large mass of aluminium took the heat into the fins and the muzzle blast would suck air through from the back towards the front. In theory. In reality the necessity of this sophisticated arrangement is dubious, aircraft Lewis Guns were pressed into service on the ground during WWII, even in North Africa and the guns were found to function perfectly well without.

The magazine is also worth mentioning, coming in 47 and 97 round versions. This Pan magazine is NOT a drum magazine (which relies on a spring to feed, keeping ammunition aligned with the bore) and is manually rotated and indexed as the gun operates.

lewis8

The indexing system for the Lewis. If you want to know how it works, see the C&R video above for the animation.

Last but not least, the mainspring is a spiral clockwork type, mounted in that distinct protrusion from the belly of the receiver. This is very efficient and saves space over a much larger conventional mainspring, also allowing for easy adjustment to account for field conditions to make for reliable firing in all weather.

 

The Lewis gun’s service was long and varied. Before even leaving for Europe, Lewis had put the gun on a Wright Flyer and as a result it has the distinction of being the first machine-gun fired from an aircraft (1912).

During the Great War, Britain used them extensively, eventually outnumbering the Vickers by about 3:1 in spite of being more expensive. That the government was willing to spend so much more on these than an established home-grown piece is a comment on the quality of the design.

Due to its light weight, the Lewis was readily adopted by Air Arms where it was widely used for observer’s defensive guns. It was also mounted as foreward firing guns but had to be mounted outside of the propeller’s arc due to firing from an open bolt (therefore being nigh-on impossible to synchronise to a propeller).

By the Second World War, the Lewis was outdated for the role in which it was originally used. After Dunkirk and the fall of France, Britain pulled its Lewis guns out of reserve where it was used by the Home Guard and for low-level anti-aircraft fire. In the Far East it served with Empire forces on the front lines. Throughout the war it remained in use with the Navy and RAF for air defence from boats.

 

As well as versions chambered in .303 British, there were Lewis guns made in 7.92 and 7.7 Japanese rimmed, the Japanese having copied the design from versions captured in the Far East.

 

The Lewis had some limited influence on other designs, the FG42 taking inspiration for its bolt/piston arrangement and from that the M60. There was also a Lewis pistol, which fired from an open bolt.

 

Links:

Lewis gun firing in slow motion

Lewis Gun video, manuals and pictures

The Lewis Pistol

MG08/15: The last furlong?

Custom builds, Imperial Era, Inter-War (1918-1939), Machine-Guns, MG08/15, Weapons

Thos of you who have followed Vintage Airsoft for some time will recognise this and be like: “Is he STILL working on that?”. Well, yes. I swear if something could go wrong on this build, it did. At least once. 

So, here’s hoping this is the last build post at long last!

One of the problems was the air seal between the gearbox and the hop unit. This it turned out was caused by flex between these parts, resulting in variation from shot to shot.

 

In the end, I re-designed the mounting plate to feature a hop-up ‘vise’ to hold the unit in place really solidly. There isn’t any wobble in this sod. 

_dsf8416

I had to make a few mods to the trigger unit design and the bottom of the baseplate to work together, but now the trigger raises a sear which sets off the microswitch in the gearbox itself.

_dsf8466

In place, clamped down! I’m still using the same feed system as before. 

_DSF8684

The feed tube comes out to meet the magazines.

_DSF9120

Oh yes, new grips. I wasn’t happy with the old ones, one wasn’t quite spot on, but as with all things the second attempt was much better. I’ve used hardwood this time (as opposed to laminate) and cut in cross-hatching for grip.

_DSF9140

Topping up the paintwork. 

_DSF9161

I’m really looking forward to having the finished photos on this at last.

 

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

LMG25: Build 1

Cold War, Custom builds, Inter-War (1918-1939), LMG25, Machine-Guns, Weapons, WWII

The LMG25 is a really weirdly formatted gun, but with a Sten and some modifications I’m hoping to make something really interesting and unique.

Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 00.19.41

As ever, this started with a load of research and design work. There aren’t too many parts to this compared to some of my builds and they nearly all attach directly to the receiver. The first step of construction was to make this receiver, which I made a template for and centre punched for the drill, before cutting the space needed for the donor.

_DSF8702

_DSF8934

The welding begins with the mock-upped ejection port and the trigger grouping/pistol grip.

_DSF8863

I also cut a hole for the magazine feed.

_DSF8935

The magazine well has an awkward and distinctive shape, so it is being 3D printed and will be mounted with metal plates and screws to the receiver.

16810116_587428191446607_1100663209_o

In place it fits quite nicely! This replica takes AK magazines which look the part well enough from a distance.

20170406_150322

Onto the stock. I cut it out in the usual way from the blank, but I can’t cut out the action recess in the usual manner due to the awkward lump at the front of the stock. It would have been possible to have this as a separate piece but it’s not a major issue to work around.
_DSF8964

The pistol grip unit is, fortunately, an entirely separate unit. This means making it is a lot easier than a one-piece pistol grip/stock. It somewhat resembles some of the early semi-auto conversions of bolt-action rifles in this respect of its design.

_DSF8965

There is quite a pleasing curve to the back of this pistol grip which is easily missed.

_DSF8966

This means that all the major working parts are in place. The next important step is to get the working parts actually working! Then we can enjoy the detailing, sights and bipod.

_DSF8967

If you have a thing for obscure Swiss Light Machine-Guns then you can check out the pre-build piece here.

If you enjoyed this content join us over on Facebook and check out our Etsy store, and if you have an idea for a custom build of your own just get in touch with us on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com.

Japanese T89 ‘knee’ mortar

Area effect, Area-effect, Complete builds, Custom builds, Inter-War (1918-1939), T89 'Knee' Mortar, Weapons, WWII

I was recently given this replica T89 mortar replica to convert to fire TAGS. I hope someday to make my own from scratch with a bit more detailing and moving parts.

_DSF8460 copy

The first step is to fit a firing pin. This is quite simple, I tapped two disks and threaded them onto a bolt to create a stable unit. This can be pushed down to the bottom of the barrel.

_DSF8462

The shells are steel tubes with custom-made caps. This is the prototype, there is a second hole in the production versions to allow quick refiling of the TAGs. The bottom plate is held on by spring pressure.

_DSF8463

There are two rows of spacers. The bottom one keeps the shell centred in the barrel, the top, thicker row allows the user to line up the shell before dropping it into the barrel for firing.

_DSF8464

The completed shells.

_DSF8681

I’ll be taking lessons learned from this design to apply to my other mortars and heavy weapons. I’ll also be offering these quickfill shells as an alternative to the standard 2″ mortar shells I’m providing with the SMBL mortar.

 

If you want a mortar of your own, please do get in touch at: enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com or join us on our Facebook page. Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

Spring SMLE: Part 4

Imperial Era, Inter-War (1918-1939), Lee-Enfield, Rifles, SMLE, VSR SMLE, Weapons, WWI, WWII

I’ve had the mould sitting about from previous projects for SMLE magazines. I took a resin cast from this, cut it down to size and added some screws into the top to secure to the gun. I painted it with acrylics, which are great for getting metallic and weathered finishes.

_dsf8698

I’ve removed the rear band assembly to do some detailing and finishing work.

_dsf8716

I thought I would attach a few pictures of the band before being cleaned up here as I forgot to show the build process for this part. I’ll let you work out the details…

_dsf8717 _dsf8718

Markings will be kept simple for this, no attempt to replicate the originals as they would require a very random set of stamps.

_dsf8719

As I’m replicating various Mks of firearm I can’t use the Mk system to denote changes in the designs of the airsoft versions as ‘SMLE No.1 MkIII MkI’ is a bit confusing! However I’m not going to stamp ‘V0.1’ onto this as it would look out of place, so it will be denoted as MkI. Confused yet? Yeah, me too.

_dsf8720

Now it’s clean and marked up, it’s heated up and into the oil it goes for that lovely, black satin finish.

_dsf8721 _dsf8735

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, screwing on the buttplate and some last finishing touches before assembly….

_dsf8810

 

You can see the whole build so far here and a potted history of Lee-Enfield development here.

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

Spring SMLE: Part 3

Custom builds, Imperial Era, Inter-War (1918-1939), Lee-Enfield, Rifles, SMLE, VSR SMLE, Weapons, WWI, WWII

The last SMLE build post was a view of the rear sight on its own. It is now mounted on the rifle, awaiting the rear sight leaf.

_dsf8406

The foresight unit for this is experimental, 3D printed in ABS. This design isn’t perfect but it’s not a bad start!

_dsf8617

The ridge on the back was accidental, I considered cutting a recess for this to fit, but decided against it. I cut this off and filed it flat.

_dsf8618

A view of the back of the foresight, which has slumped a bit in printing. The next version will hopefully be more square.

_dsf8619

I cut a flat section at the end to take the nose cap insert. The back of the insert doesn’t reach the back of the nose cap, so there is a piece at the back cut to a curve to fit this part into. The hole drilled through is for the vertical  bolt that secures the nose cap.

_dsf8673

_dsf8675

In future versions I hope to have wood going further forward into the cap itself, with the transverse nose cap screw going through it. This system is still pretty strong though as it still has a substantial bit of walnut at the front.

_dsf8674

In place, the eagle-eyed among you may notice that the top guard is different to the last picture of it. I’m making a new top guard that is a bit chunkier and rugged than the original for durability.

_dsf8685

There’s still a good bit of material to remove, but this will just be a couple of hours’ work.

_dsf8686

Then some alterations to the rear sight before sanding, oiling and finishing up!
_dsf8688

 

You can see the whole build so far here and a potted history of Lee-Enfield development here.

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

MP18 and family.

Cold War, History, Inter-War (1918-1939), MP28, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWI, WWII

During the stalemate of the Great War, both sides took to the laboratory to try and get an edge on the battlefield and level the massive attack/defence discrepancy in their favour.

To this end each side ended up using to varying degrees: tanks, poison gas, aerial bombardment, advanced artillery spotting, mining, aerial reconnaissance, indirect machine gun fire, mortars… the list is pretty endless.

One area that was somewhat neglected in spite of its potential was small arms development. Repeating, smokeless rifles were still a relatively new thing, and commanders expected to make use of them in a similar way to the way they were used in the colonies. Blocks of men firing into an attacking force while the attacking force tried to get close enough to shoot back. Unfortunately this idea was put paid to by the enemy having very similar ballistic capabilities and ability to hit targets at quite the same ranges.

hms-alacrity_china

Although massed rifle fire at range did play something of a part in the early days of the war, especially at Mons and in the defence of Paris when both sides ground to a halt and entrenchment began volley fire became almost useless.

14th-group

Of course in defence soldiers would line up on the parapet and shoot those missed by the machine guns but once the enemy was in the trench, your rifle that could shoot accurately somewhat further than you could see with the naked eye was only useful when you spun it round and used it as a club.

What soldiers needed was something with a high rate of fire that could deal with the high number of targets at close quarters experienced in trench conditions that didn’t necessarily have the range of a full rifle cartridge and certainly didn’t come with the weight of a typical machine gun of the era.

There were ready-made options. DWM already produced a carbine Luger with the infamous ‘trommel’ magazine for the German Army and a shorter Luger that could be fitted with a stock for the Navy.

2285cf54beeb0dded2b9ff05ad1f60e2

Mauser produced the C96 for both the Austrians and the Germans and was used internationally. This frankly was much better with a stock used as a carbine than as a pistol.

Mannlicher had designed a carbine that, although it looks very C96-esque, operates differently and used a very early form of intermediate cartridge. These were never produced in large numbers and as far as I know never saw service anywhere.

For some reason, the Imperial Army decided to introduce a new firearm instead. There are a few plausible reasons for this, the Luger series and C96 pistols fired at extremely fast rates. Though this could be fixed (especially for the C96) they decided a new design would be cheaper and easier to achieve a desirable result with.*

Thus the MP18/I was born. This is the first dedicated infantry sub-machine gun, though some will cite other early SMGs, the MP18 was the only one widely used and issued in WWI, anything else used at this point really only featured as a footnote in the fighting.

It saw extensive use in the Spring Offensive of 1918, where the Germans took huge (in WWI terms) swathes of territory, exhausting their country’s war effort in the process.

Post-war, MP18s saw use in the Weimar Republic, especially in urban fighting between the  German State, Freikorps and the German Red Army during various uprisings in Munich, Berlin, the Ruhr, Saxony and Hamburg. There was a good deal of rebellion and fighting, especially in the inner cities in between various political factions. During this time, the MP18 saw extensive use, showing a distinct superiority over conventional rifles and pistols in close quarter urban fighting.

spartacists1

 

Around the same time, these submachineguns saw use in South America, China and the Spanish Civil War. These things really got about.

During the early Weimar Republic, MP18s underwent some improvements: the Government took existing MP18s  and modified the magazine wells to take stick magazines rather than Luger magazines and drums. During this later service they were issued with 20, 30 and 50 round magazines. There were also many licensed and unlicensed versions produced, with SIG and Haenel (under Schmeisser) each producing their own versions. Haenel developed it into the MP28 which the Spanish copied, having converted it to 9mm Largo.

There are dozens of descendants of the MP18, the most significant are the MP34, MP28, Sten and the Lanchester. These and their relatives were used internationally all through the late 20th century.  

Although the open bolt submachine gun has fallen out of popular use with militaries and police forces, due to so many being produced you will still find descendants of the MP18 still in service in some parts of the world.

 

Notes:

*This said, the Imperial Army did experiment with a form of the C96 with detachable 40 round magazines. Few were produced, very few survive today.

 

Identification notes:

MP18/I: Slanted magazine well, takes Luger magazines (standard and Trommel). Two-option non-adjustable rear sight. Hooked Op handle

bergmann_mp18-1_submachine_gun_with_drum_magazine_theodor_bergmann_suhl_germany_1918-1920_ad_-_braunschweigisches_landesmuseum_-_dsc04716

MP18 (type two): An MP18 in all respects except that the magazine well has been changed out to take a straight magazine. These should also have ‘1920’ stamped on the magazine well and on the receiver.

MP28/II: An MP18 but with perpendicular magazine well, box magazines and either the MP18 or a straight, tapered op handle with a ball end. Adjustable tangent rear sight.

mp28

Mitraillette 34: An MP28 made in Belgium. Cannot find pictures but expect Belgian markings and proofs.

Sig Bergmann 1920: Rounded Op handle, with bead on end. Collar at front of barrel shroud. Tangent rear sight. perpendicular mag well. Stick magazines.

sigbergmann1920

Tsing Tao: Chinese characters, vertical magazine well. It looks like they also produced direct copies of the MP28.

tsingtaomp18

MP34: straight sides, magwell angled around the circumference of the receiver. Vented foresight guards. Bayonet lug on side. Adjustable rear tangent sight. Hinge behind magazine well to lift top cover. Unusual as has magazine charger at 90 degrees built into the mag well.

mp34_right_angle_front

Lanchester MkI: Brass magazine well (though if still finished this may not be visible). 50 round magazine. Hooked op handle. Vented front sight guards. Tangent rear sight. Bayonet lug for SMLE P07 bayonet. Stock similar in shape to a P14 Enfield.

zlanchester-037683_2

Lanchester MkI*: As MkI but straight op handle, fixed rear sight with two very large sight guards. 

be67b9480990d7b11a60c42974fb5756

Bergmann MP35. You can take a look at the picture to ID this oddity.

bergmann_mp-35

 

The majority of decedents from beyond this point (Stens, Sterlings etc…) are for another article really. This is a rough guide, due to their extensive re-use and circulation there will be variants on variants I am quite sure. I have tried to give you the best chance of identifying different models, sometimes using original and sometimes applying my own nomenclature to differentiate between models. If you see anything that you can prove is incorrect with quality sources, please do get in touch on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com.

 

If this content interests you, subscribe to the blog or join us on Facebook for more! Don’t forget you can buy several of our ready-made products on Etsy.

The LMG25 Furrer

Cold War, Custom builds, Inter-War (1918-1939), LMG25, Machine-Guns, Weapons, WWII

The LMG25 is a Swiss Light Machine Gun adopted, as the name suggests, in 1925. It is a real oddity, even for a time when LMG designs were far less standardised than today.

2911f7d87f8fe97e_large

This Swiss soldier will get a very warm thumb if he opens fire now.

It was developed at Waffenfabrik, Bern by Adolf Furrer over seven years and was produced until the end of WWII. It served into the 1970s with the Swiss military, so must have been a pretty serviceable firearm to have hung around for so long.

9a332718e1440472_large

So, why is this an oddity? Well, the magazine is on the right-hand side, when most side-feeders (though not all) feed/fed from the left. There was a monopod at the back for support during sustained fire which wasn’t an uncommon idea at the time, but this could be moved to the front and used as a foregrip, which was.

lmg25assault

Monopod used as a fore-grip in the assault role.

But most interesting of all, this is a toggle-locked design. There are very few toggle locked guns due to the complexity and expense of manufacture as it is. There are even fewer rifle-cartridge toggle-locked guns (especially that went into production). As well as the high level of accuracy required for these to function, they also need to have a very strong recoil spring and a conventional toggle-lock doesn’t provide great purchase when cocking. The LMG25 has a separate operating handle to aid with this.

lmg25-28

The LMG25 is also interesting because as well as being toggle-locked it fires as you would expect a support weapon to do, from an open bolt. It is the only firearm of which I am aware that is both of these.

lmg25-8

The open toggle. When opened, it kicks open the two-part dust cover. Anyone familiar with the Luger will recognise the parts of this.

Just in case this wasn’t different enough for your liking, it is also unconventional in that the barrel does not stop once the toggle is broken open but keeps moving backwards. The shell is still ejected as the toggle moves much faster than the barrel.

dustcover1

The dust cover in the closed position below, and open above. It is in two parts to fit around the toggle. Very Swiss. 

In spite of all this strange-ness and the alleged complexity of toggle-locked guns (over-egged by those who have spent no time with them) it is very simple to field strip. One large nut at the back of the receiver allows you to remove the recoil spring, then pull out the barrel assembly. What about the bolt? Well the bolt/locking mechanism is all part of the barrel assembly on this so the whole lot pulls out together. Neat for cleaning in the field.

lmg25-14

The barrel/bolt/locking unit, showing the extravagant fluting on the barrel normally hidden by the shroud.

lmg25-26

Top view of the toggle when removed from the receiver.

While beautifully made, this type of gun never really caught on. It served the Swiss well, where money was no object for a relatively small army but for any other military the expense would have far outweighed any advantages. 

lmg25-3

Of course due to never being adopted outside of its home country, which didn’t participate in any conflicts during this period (or ever since about 1847) it never saw active service so it is difficult to say how it would have performed. 

 

If you want to see some footage of the LMG25, Ian at Forgotten Weapons has a nice video talking through one in Belgium here:

He also has some awesome footage of another LMG25 firing, including a lovely bit of slow-motion:

Don’t forget to check out Forgotten Weapons’ page on the LMG 25 here for more information on the gun and high-res pictures.

Vintage Airsoft will be building an LMG25 over the next few months with progress posted up here.

 

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog or drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our complete products through Etsy.