Browning M2HB .50 calibre machine gun

Cold War, Era, History, M2 .50 Machine gun, Machine-Guns, Products, War on Terror, Weapons, WWII

The Browning M2 has its roots in WWI. By the end of this war, both British and French militaries had large calibre machine guns and the Germans had been in the process of developing theirs. The need had come about with the introduction of armour in aircraft and vehicles that repelled most regular arms.

M2_Browning,_Musée_de_l'Armée

The early Browning designs were only half successful. There were water cooled variants but these were heavy and moves to make them air cooled followed quickly. With some effort and consideration, the design developed until one type of receiver could be used to make seven types of machine gun using different barrels, jackets and internal components. It could feed from the left and right which was important for its use in aircraft and it quickly replaced the .30 Browning, then in use for this role.

Browning_M2HB_Normandy

The M2 has been manufactured and in use since 1933 and the design has remained quite unchanged since. It served through WWII with Allied forces, notably by the Long Range Desert Group and the early SAS in North Africa where it was a popular choice for destroying aircraft on the ground in their signature hit and run raids.

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An M2 aircraft variant in use by the SAS in North Africa, WW2.

It also served in Korea and Vietnam, where it was occasionally fitted with a scope and used as an over-sized sniper rifle. As a closed-bolt weapon it was very accurate by MG standards and it was during Vietnam that the longest kill recorded, at 2000 yards (1800m), was set and stood until 2002.

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It has since served in nearly every war of note and many wars you won’t even have heard of. For Western militaries today, it is usually mounted in aircraft or on vehicle turrets, though it is sometimes to be found protecting bases in Afghanistan, where the exceptional range and accuracy is well-suited to the wide, open spaces.

 

I will be building a Browning M2 for a client, plus a turret mounting for the top of a Land Rover.

 

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Heavy weapons prototype special

Anti-Tank, Area effect, Area-effect, Cold War, LAW, PIAT, SMBL 2" mortar, War on Terror, Weapons, WWII

Nothing too in-depth today, just a short video showing off some of the prototypes we’ve been working on for over a year…

All of these are now available to order by email, we will be putting up pictures of the finished articles in the next few weeks.

If these products are of interest to you, please do get in touch at: enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com or join us on our Facebook page. Don’t forget you can buy many of our complete products via Etsy.

 

LAW M72 V0.2 and v0.3

Anti-Tank, Area effect, Cold War, LAW, War on Terror, Weapons

For those of you who have been following the blog for some time, you may remember the first rendition of the LAW M72 light anti-tank weapon built out of plastic tubing and fibreglass. Since then Vintage Airsoft has been working slowly in the background on several anti-tank weapons including an improved version of the LAW.

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When we say a while, we mean it. This is a photo of the new trigger mechanism housing being bent into shape in the old workshop.

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The housing in shape.

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When products are in development, they undergo a LOT of tweaking and changes in design, this photograph is a case in point. A dramatic change to the design of the shell meant that the original spacer would no longer fit, making it time for a gaffer-tape based solution.

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One of the modified trigger units straight after being brazed.

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This is the sear bar straight after being brazed. The protrusion nearest the camera is the sear, which is pushed down inside the tube above and allows the bar to slide forward under spring tension.

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The sear unit in position under the trigger mechanism housing. At the back is the wire that actuates the firing pin.

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Here you can see the firing pin (screw) and the actuator rod that the wire pulls to depress the pin. It certainly isn’t pretty but it did work. However this mechanism would be unsuitable for field use as it is unsafe to drop. However the principal can be applied to a more elegant system…

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The new trigger mechanism. The transfer bar is pulled forward by a tension spring and is controlled by a sear activated by the trigger.

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In place on the launcher, the tabs attached to the trigger unit can be welded down. The trigger unit can still be removed by undoing the screws and lifting straight out for servicing. There is also a tab that lines up with the hole in the cocking handle through which an R-clip or pin will be inserted as a safety catch.

 

And finally, painted up for testing! This will be painted green for production, but as it is a prototype the finish just needs to protect it from the elements.

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If this product is of interest to you, 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.

 

Oh, for those of you who want to see/hear the dry-firing….

Fairbairn-Sykes Second Pattern selection

Cold War, Edged Weapons, Fairbairn-Sykes Knife, War on Terror, Weapons, WWII

Over the whole production of F-S knives, there was huge variation. Include private purchase and commissioned blades and there are even more. At Vintage Airsoft we are now offering a selection of Second Pattern F-S knife replicas. These have no edge for safe carry as standard but can be sharpened when ordered.

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Handle styles left to right: Mild steel, oil blacked; Brass, oil blacked; Brass, plain.

The handles are available in mild steel and brass, with plans to offer aluminium and stainless steel in the near future.

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The blades are also available in several styles: polished and oil blacked.

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These are marked on the cross guard with a subtle identifying marker.

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And this slightly off-the-wall version, which is a sharpened model with a blued blade and polished brass handle. The handle on this particular one is more in line with the ‘fatman’ knives which were produced for men with larger hands who found the standard grip too small.

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You can buy any of these knives through Etsy, if you want something specific outside of our standard knives then you can drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss.

 

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Kukri- Floppy replica!

Cold War, Edged Weapons, Imperial Era, Kukri, Products, War on Terror, Weapons, WWI, WWII

When showing off the original kukri replica, a good number of people commented that on their airsoft sites don’t allow for solid melee weapons and that they have to be flexible.

The people spoke, we listened! As a result, this foam cast version is now available on our brand new etsy page.

_DSF6362Original resin model bottom, foam above.

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Flexible enough for safe use in the field!

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So, we hope you like it! If you want to buy your own kukri you can do so here.

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Kukri-Replica

Cold War, Edged Weapons, Imperial Era, Kukri, Products, War on Terror, Weapons, WWI, WWII

The first job is to create a mould from which I can make a resin casting.

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Mould making has been quite well covered elsewhere on the net by people much more expert than I so I shan’t go into detail here. I then poured a resin into the cavity which, when hardened produced a hard but semi flexible blade.

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Much like an airfix model, once the flashing is removed it takes shape very quickly. A bit of filing and sanding here and there gets a smooth surface overall. I then sprayed it black as a base coat.

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I then layered up the paints as I would for a plastic model.

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Blue-tack makes a great masking tool, allowing a really clean, sharp edge to certain areas._DSF6342

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After an initial dark brown coat on the handle, I dry brushed a light brown paint over then top to create the impression of the light tropical woods used in older kukris.

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A finishing touch was the varnishes, different types for different parts of the knife to give the correct finish for the materials the paint is impersonating.

I’ll be making a few of these as training knives and airsoft knives. Just email us on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com and join us on Facebook. Don’t forget you can follow the blog and get updates straight to your email inbox!

Kukri- Introduction

Cold War, Edged Weapons, Era, History, Imperial Era, Kukri, Products, War on Terror, Weapons, WWI, WWII

The Rev. J. G. Wood in The Natural History of Man (1870):

“The Goorkha ‘kookery’ is of a very peculiar shape. Both the blade and hilt are curved. The blade is very thick at the back. From the back it is thinned off gradually to the edge, which has a curve of its own, quite different to that of the back, so that the blade is widest as well as thickest in the middle, and tapers at one end towards the hilt and at the other towards the point. The steel of which the blade is formed is of admirable temper, and for the greater part of its surface is burnished like a mirror. The point of the kookery is as sharp as a needle, so that the weapon answers equally for cutting or stabbing. In consequence of the great thickness of the metal, the blade is exceedingly heavy. It may be imagined that a blow from such a weapon as this must be a very terrible one. The very weight of the blade would drive it half through a man’s arm, if it were only allowed to fall from a little height. But the Goorkhas have a mode of striking which resembles the ‘drawing’ cut of the broadsword, and which urges the sharp edge through flesh and bone alike. In the hands of an experienced wielder, this knife is about as formidable a weapon as can be conceived. Like all really good weapons, its efficiency depends much more upon the skill than the strength of the wielder; and thus it happens that the little Goorkha will cut to pieces a gigantic adversary who does not understand his mode of onset. The Goorkha generally strikes upwards with the kookery, possibly in order to avoid wounding himself should his blow fail, and possibly because an upward cut is just the one that can be least guarded against.“Years ago, when we were engaged in the many Indian wars which led at last to our Oriental empire, the Goorkhas proved themselves most formidable enemies, as since they have proved themselves most invaluable allies. Brave as lions, active as monkeys, and fierce as tigers, the lithe, wiry little men came leaping over the ground to the attack, moving so quickly, and keeping so far apart from each other, that musketry was no use against them. When they came near the soldiers, they suddenly crouched to the ground, dived under the bayonets, struck upwards at the men with their kookeries, ripping them open with a single blow, and then, after having done all the mischief in their power, darting off as rapidly as they had come. Until our men learned this mode of attack, they were greatly discomfited by their little opponents, who got under their weapons, cutting or slashing with knives as sharp as razors, and often escaping unhurt from the midst of bayonets. They would also dash under the bellies of the officers’ horses, rip them open with one blow of the kookery, and aim another at the leg of the officer as he and his horse fell together.”

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First things first, I admit I have a bit of an obsession with the kukri. They are really stunning tools as well as formidable weapons. For those unfamiliar with the kukri, they have their origins in Northern India. Here the Goorkhas, a local tribe, dominated their neighbours in battle and forged their own respectable little mountain empire which we would now call Nepal. When the British East India Company came into conflict with these vicious mountain men they learned the hard way what they could do:

“A British officer, armed with a long regulation ‘spit’, ran his sword through a Goorkha. Notwithstanding his agony, the wounded man literally forced his way up to the weapon’s hilt, until he could close with his adversary, cutting him down with his kookri (Nepaul knife) and falling dead beside him.” (Gen. Orfeur Cavenagh, The Native Army in India, 1879.)

As a result of this they made the unusual decision to make peace and ally themselves with the Goorkhas and even employed them as soldiers, considered widely in much higher esteem then the average sepoy (Indian soldier in Colonial pay). Since then they have served British interests loyally up to this day. ‘Ghurkas’ as they are now known also serve in the Indian Army and Shanghai Police.

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Their weapon of choice has always been the Kukri, a complete history of which could take a whole blog, never mind one post. Suffice to say that this blade has been used to pacify Indian mutineers and rioters, Europe in WWI and WWII and in the East against Japan. Even in recent years Gurkhas deployed to Afghanistan have used their Kukris in close quarter combat with the Taliban.

Gurkhas at kit inspection showing kukri in France during World War I[1/4th] Gurkhas at kit inspection showing kukris [Le Sart, France].

I have been experimenting with replica knives for Airsoft and re-enactment purposes for a while now and thought this would make a fun project. More to follow next time…

The bolt-action rifle

Cold War, Custom builds, Products, Rifles, War on Terror, WWI, WWII

With the advent and popularisation of centrefire ammunition, militaries around the world welcomed in a new era of accuracy and power. As smokeless powder replaced other propellants, a higher accurate rate of fire became not only possible but necessary to overwhelm the enemy.

British Lee-Metford or 'Long Lee', predecessor to the Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield (SMLE).

British Lee-Metford or ‘Long Lee’, predecessor to the Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield (SMLE).

The weapon of choice most armies turned to to arm their infantry was the bolt-action rifle. The best known being the British Lee Metford/Enfield series of rifles, the German Mauser mechanism and the Russians welcomed in Belgian firearms designer Leon Nagant in order to pilfer his feed mechanism! (OK, this story is a lot more complicated than that but I won’t go into that here).

There are advantages and disadvantages to all these mechanisms, the Enfield by all accounts had the highest rate of fire, The Mauser is a very solid, reliable mechanism and the (Mosin-)Nagant which is a solid mechanism with a good reputation for accuracy.

Gewehr 98 (G98). Predecessor to the Karibiner 98k.

All of these rifles served their countries well throughout their service lives. Consider that these mechanisms were all designed around 1890, the Lee-Enfield served the UK until around 1990 (100 years of service) and was still being used by India as of 2010, the Mosin-Nagant is still in use by a number of countries. The Mauser is harder to pin down on military use but it is still widely used for sporting rifles.

So it would be fair to say that these rifles deserve a fitting tribute in Airsoft too. Although good quality bolt-actions are available they are not often suited well to the Vintage Airsofter. Some are gas-powered and struggle in cold weather, others load through the fore-grip rather than the magazine so lose out on authenticity and ‘feel’ when being shot and some shell-eject which although look good are not practical for skirmishing.

Mosin-Nagant M28/30 rifle, one of the Finnish Nagant variants.

Mosin-Nagant M28/30 rifle, one of the Finnish Nagant variants.

Here at Vintage Airsoft we are developing a spring mechanism that will feed from a magazine in the ‘correct’ location. If you are interested, do let us know as we are looking for ‘backers’ to help us speed up the development of this system. It isn’t far off a functioning prototype at this stage and once it is functional we will be able to produce the main bolt-actions of the Second World War and many other rifles besides.

Do contact us on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com if you would like to know more about this project, we would love to hear from you!

M72 Trigger mechanism housing

Anti-Tank, Cold War, Custom builds, LAW, War on Terror, Weapons

Yesterday and today I have been working on the trigger mechanism housing for the M72 rocket launcher.

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I started off by heating the plastic on my home-built vacuum former heater, which was very effective except for the outside 10cm of the plastic which was frustrating as this was exactly where the edge of my mould sat at both sides! If I had been switched on instead of enjoying the exotic fumes produced in my under-ventilated workshop I would have moved the mould so that it sat diagonally rather than straight but what’s done is done!

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After a few false starts I got the plastic soft enough to work and formed the rough shape. However either the seal wasn’t good enough, the suction too weak or the mould not being well ventilated enough to pull in the plastic onto the details.

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As a result I spent this afternoon with a heat gun and a short plank pushing the plastic onto the form.

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Looking a bit tidier now though I say so myself!

In future I’m seriously considering just building this part from fibreglass like the original, I doubt it would take as long and it can’t be more unpleasant fumes-wise!

*DISCLAIMER* Don’t try this at home, parts of this build are not good for your health and come with a fire risk built in.