Lanchester MkI*: Complete

Complete builds, Custom builds, Lanchester, Products, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWII

So, the Lanchester is finished! And I am in love, though I say so myself.

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Details, the new magazine well closely resembles the original and is an improvement on the Sten original. I have brazed the mag catch head so that when it wears it looks brassy.

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The foresight and bayonet lug. This should take a rubber SMLE bayonet if the owner decides to do so!

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The trigger is set back, the pull is a little unusual but not bad.

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The buttplate, steel, though a brass SMLE buttplate could be substituted in here.

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The rear locking lug is just for looks on this. A hinge is quite hard to do but may be doable in the future. For now you can remove the lock and back cap to replace the battery. Unfortunately the wrist of this stock is too slim to drill through to a larger battery compartment in the buttstock.

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You can check out the build process for this gun here.

 

If you like this build, you may like to take a look at where it came from, the MP18 and its extended family.

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog or join us on Facebook for more! You can buy some of our ready-made products on Etsy. You can also email to enquire about custom or special builds on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com.

 

P.S.: If anyone wants a Lanchester with this awesome period tac-light please DO get in touch. 

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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.

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

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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.

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The external detailing is welded on.

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

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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

TM L96: 308AWS to SMLE conversion

.308 SMLE, Cold War, Custom builds, Lee-Enfield, Rifles, SMLE, Weapons, WWI, WWII

Quite some time ago, a client proposed making an Enfield with the magazine in the right place. Now, this is after the Matrix SMLE (Gas) but before the newer Red Wolf No.4, making it among the few with a magazine in the ‘correct’ place.

The simplest way to achieve this was to take a TM L96, which uses a feed ramp to take BBs from the magazine (located in the correct place for that rifle) forward to the chamber as it is effectively a VSR with an added on magwell/feed ramp system.

The first job was to modify the action/magwell to be as small as possible. I kept trimming it down until it was as small as possible without losing the rigidity required for this system.

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I could then fit to to the fore-stock.

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An original trigger guard was not an option sadly, as it did not fit around the dimensions of the donor.

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As a result, I designed a custom one. My first attempt didn’t quite look right.

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My second attempt was much better though.

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The next step was to attach the nose cap unit and top guards. 

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As with the VSR builds, I fit the metal parts before doing the shaping so that the shape fits around these. In the picture below, you can see the rear top guard has been cut away for the rear sight and sight guard.

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Cut down to size and part of the shaping done.

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It still needs to be shaped round the back end a bit to improve the grip, but the overall shape is coming together. 

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It interested, you can see the other rifle builds 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.

L42A1: Build 3

Cold War, Custom builds, L42A1/Enfield Enforcer, Lee-Enfield, Rifles, Weapons

The receiver in place on the rifle, a little tweaking was of course needed for the stock to fit the new action. Onto the side attaches a steel plate which is tapped for the scope.

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Another improvement is the first use of my newly designed Enfield trigger. This steel trigger drops into the standard VSR trigger unit.

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Although not perfect, it pretty closely resembles the original trigger and certainly gives it a nice pull.

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Another improvement is adding in a thick, steel custom nut. This is much stronger than the regular aluminium screw that is threaded into the original receiver.

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There’s really not much more to do on this now. I have a new scope mount design for the new receiver which needs making but there won’t be much to see on that!

 

It interested, you can see the other rifle builds 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.

New rubber melee weapons

BC-41, Cold War, Edged Weapons, Fairbairn-Sykes Knife, NR40, Products, Weapons, WWII

It’s been a while since I did a post about melee weapons, but there are a few items now available in the Etsy shop which may be of interest to followers of the blog.

 

BC-41

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The BC-41 was an early fighting knife adopted by the British Commandos. Inspired by earlier Trench Knives, this is great for an inexperienced knife fighter who can punch and slash and be fairly likely to do some damage.

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It was fairly quickly put aside in favour of the Fairbairn-Sykes design, which was much more flexible in use due to being able to hold it in a variety of ways. Ideal for the experienced and practiced knife fighter, though some would argue of questionable use to the average soldier.

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You can find the BC41 here.

 

Fairbairn-Sykes

The mould for the Second Pattern died a death recently and I reckoned it was time to do something a little different. The new knife is a First Pattern, though at a glance it could easily pass for a Second Pattern.

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As with the previous model, it is stiffened so that it doesn’t flop about. This is aided by a new rubber I am using for thin blades which is slightly harder.

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It has an optional sheath based on the second pattern version to keep costs down, though it should fit in a repro sheath if you already have one.

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You can find the Fairbairn-sykes here.

 

NR40

For the Soviets among you, the NR40 will serve you well for WWII and post-war impressions. Although it has long since been replaced in service, privately procured ones have remained popular with Russian soldiers.

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Once again, this is stiffened and uses the new rubber mentioned above to maintain stiffness on this relatively thin blade. This is cast from a reproduction but should fit in original and repro scabbards.
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The NR40 is here.

 

You can take a look at the Etsy store for these and other interesting and unusual items, but don’t forget to join us over on Facebook where there’s nearly always something interesting going on.

Lanchester Build: Part 1

Custom builds, Lanchester, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWII

First things first, I draw out the stock template on the wood.

I took the drill to the stock and took out the detailed bits, then sawed through the rest. I’m very much looking forward to the day when I have a bandsaw to do this job…

Over in the metalshop, I bent, tacked and welded the steel parts together. On this build I am making a new magwell, but will be using the original magwell sleeve.

The fore-end of the Lanchester, showing the foresight and sight guards. These will need to be hardened to be much use I think.

Fitting the action to the stock. This is always a long job, but having recently got a hold of some lovely blue oil paint I’m improving my fitting technique and speed quite a lot!

Showing the bottom plate, which I am going to draw around to cut a nice, deep recess for.

I have cut the recess for the bottom plate deep so that the trigger reaches through to the correct depth in the trigger guard. I may need to tweak the trigger design though as at present it is a bit sticky. Far from ideal in an automatic airsoft gun!

I can finally get to my favourite bit: Shaping the stock. The Lanchester has a very slim, feminine wrist on the stock reminiscent of a P14/17 rifle. As a result it will have to rely on Lipos in the back of the receiver which is unfortunate but better than sacrificing the stock strength at the weakest point further. Even when I have carefully selected the grain to flow down through this for maximum strength there’s only so much you can do to keep it strong.

The Lanchester, pretty much roughed out. Now onto the rear sight, locking lugs and detailing!

 

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.

L42A1: Build 2

Cold War, Custom builds, L42A1/Enfield Enforcer, Weapons

Since the last post, some of the 3D printed parts have arrived. The scope mount isn’t bad, the receiver is OK (not shown here) but both need a few tweaks to be perfect.

I’m very pleased with the shape of the 3D printed bolt parts, some minor tweaks and they will be perfect. I need to work out how to get them made in metal though as plastic simply doesn’t have the strength required for the job.

In the meantime I’ll keep using the steel handmade bolts for testing.

The receiver side plate painted. Although this will do for now I have a new design for a side plate integrated with the receiver itself.

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Moving the outer barrel off-centre means a new spacer, but it does improve the aesthetics of the rifle massively. I have also tapered the woodwork a lot more to allow use of the iron sights.

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I am also making new scope mount screws that look more the part than the temporary ones. Deep knurling makes then very nice to grip to tighten and remove, these will be oil blacked for wear resistance.

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The new screws in place. I’m going to re-dip them as the oil loosened up the flux on the joint.

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The bolt is a temporary measure, it will be replaced with a cast one once I have the kiln working.

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In the meantime it looks OK and will be oil blacked to tidy up.

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I have some tweaks to make to the receiver design and scope mount but this is the majority of the work done. The new receiver will have a steel side plate for the scope mount. I hope in the future to cast the rest of this piece.

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As you can see, it takes an original rear sight leaf. while it’s nice and secure for the battle sight, I need to make a locking system for the ladder.

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You can see the other rifle builds 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.

L42A1 Build: Part 1

Cold War, Custom builds, L42A1/Enfield Enforcer, Lee-Enfield, Rifles, Weapons

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With some dimensioned parts, I could get some bits laser cut and underway…

Receiver and scope mount first, this is a pretty simple tap, screw and weld together job by my standards!

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Once this was done, I marked out the lower stock, indicating the depth for each section.

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I then drilled to each depth to rough out the space for the internals. Once I made my way around the outside of each section, I took the rest out by chisel.

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Once it was roughly fitted, I scooped out the lower to expose some more of the receiver.

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I made a spacer/mount for the outer barrel. These parts will all be screwed into place and covered by the top guard.

For the curious, this is the magazine well design for the production rifles I intend to make for customers. I’ve played about with it a bit and it allows for a pretty fast reload with only a little practice, which makes it somewhat better suited to those up-close and personal moments than most VSR builds.

The top guard in place, waiting to be shaped.

So far, the main thing that is annoying me about this build is the barrel, which is a bit too low in the stock. I may have to revisit this at a later date and fit a wider diameter barrel higher in the woodwork, with the inner barrel off-centre.

This replica will make extensive use of 3D printed parts for the detailing. The foresight is closely related to the Sten MkV foresight I produce. The receiver and scope mount are new designs, which should fit around the existing metal parts. Although it is possible to purchase an all-metal replica L42 scope bracket it would cost almost as much as an authentic scope, so this will take a small bore scope suited to the period, maybe with some cosmetic modifications.

 

You can see the other rifle builds 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: Complete.

Complete builds, Imperial Era, Lee-Enfield, Products, Rifles, SMLE, VSR SMLE, Weapons, WWI, WWII

At long last, the first spring rifle is complete! I’m quite pleased with my first attempt at a VSR based SMLE, though there are a few tweaks I shall be making to production versions.

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I think in future versions I shall sit the action lower down in the stock to achieve a lower profile. Then I can add things like a charger bridge, maybe even splitting the back of the receiver for added authenticity.

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This example is using an original rear sight leaf. In future versions I hope to make reproductions to minimise the number of irreparably modified originals. The rear sight will also host the TDC hop adjustment mod, saving you a helpful upgrade.

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I may have to use No. 4 Enfield swivels unless I can find a way to reproduce these, swivels are becoming harder to come by.

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After the success of the 3D printed Sten MkV foresight, I have continued to use this technology here to create the outer barrel impression and foresight unit.

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The barrel has been trimmed down to fit. The VSR barrel is a little long so I removed it, cut and re-crowned it on the lathe.

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Here’s an important feature, I have lined the magazine well with steel which means magazine release should be consistent and not pinched by the wood. Other VSR Enfields don’t have this lining and I have seen magazines get stuck. There is a new design for this which I will use in the production versions to allow very fast magazine changes.

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The fake magazine is solid resin, painted to look right. There is no need to destroy a perfectly good magazine for this build!

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The original buttplate. I’m hoping to make reproduction ones for future versions. As this is an original buttstock you would still be able to fit an original if this happens.

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I’m hoping to improve the bolt handle and back of the bolt shape. However I am pleased with where it now sits, nice and authentic on the rear band you can achieve quite a good rate of fire.

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So, there are some changes to come for production but I’m very happy with this first go!

You can see the whole VSR SMLE build 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. This will be available soon.