Rearm the British Infantry for WWII

There is a reason why the British would become fanatical about the subsequent post war weapon being able to run in the desert -such as the cut outs on the bolt of the Sterling SMG and its over engineered magazine.

Now obviously these would be LL niche items in British service, paratroopers and special forces issue equipment comes to mind. (Looking at you Burma.)

If Mr. Johnson had weapon proofed his rifle and LMG in the Mojave, then it would have helped in another theater where lightweight infantry arms for special forces could have helped.

As it is, a STEN actually made a lot of British sense for the two reasons specified above, but I am not an ergo fan of it. More on the STEN in a moment.

BSA said they could produce the weapon for £5 each (Sten gun MkII cost about half this) - considering that they ended up buying Thompsons at more that £40 each I'd say that was a bargain!
Once again, judging from the milling operations involved I am going to suggest that this needs to be sourced, because I do not see how. The STEN is simple. Hardly more than an over-glorified shooty tube with springs and levers and cast or metal stamped bits welded, riveted and/or screwed to it, and one block of metal that reciprocates with a firing pin on it. It is a headlamp manufacture type simple item to make. I do not even see why it costs twice as much as a grease gun to make. The Kiraly, (see upthread where Gun Jesus takes it apart and shows the operating parts.) has lot of precision milled pieces and precision cut and shaped elements that are expensive to make and proof fit on the factory floor in the assembly process.

But then I always thought the Thompson at $200.00 was a price gouge, too. That bar-stock turned machine pistol should not have been that expensive. And for that price Uncle, for those 1 million or so Thompsons made, could have bought 2.5 million MORE M1 and M2 carbines. Might have something to say about a light rifle in a moment.
For the UK to rearm on such a scale would strain the defence budget to breaking point in the early 1930's, there is also the issue of how it would affect balance of trade as UK production methods were different to the ones used in the US requiring the import of US machine tools and production methods all of which would need to be paid for with cold, hard cash. Don't forget all of the existing weapons in the Empires armouries which cannot be converted so that includes all the existing Enfield rifles as their receivers are too short for .30-06, existing Lewis guns, Vickers-Berthiers in Indian Service etc.
Oh, Canada! Next door to that nation using the weird manufacturing and production tech. It turns out "they" use the same weird manufacturing and production tech, too. Inside the firm so to speak. Do not let the Ross Rifle leave a negative impression.

issue a lot of AT mines Finnish style to the troops until they can be replaced by an effective infantry AT weapon.
This is a no-brainer. Even when the PIAT and 6 pounder comes online; they should become antitank gardeners and sow mines for the Germans to reap.
 
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Now obviously these would be LL niche items in British service, paratroopers and special forces issue equipment comes to mind. (Looking at you Burma.)

If Mr. Johnson had weapon proofed his rifle and LMG in the Mojave, then it would have helped in another theater where lightweight infantry arms for special forces could have helped.

As it is, a STEN actually made a lot of British sense for the two reasons specified above, but I am not an ergo fan of it. More on the STEN in a moment.



Once again, judging from the milling operations involved I am going to suggest that this needs to be sourced, because I do not see how. The STEN is simple. Hardly more than an over-glorified shooty tube with springs and levers and cast or metal stamped bits welded, riveted and/or screwed to it, and one block of metal that reciprocates with a firing pin on it. It is a headlamp manufacture type simple item to make. I do not even see why it costs twice as much as a grease gun to make. The Kiraly, (see upthread where Gun Jesus takes it apart and shows the operating parts.) has lot of precision milled pieces and precision cut and shaped elements that are expensive to make and proof fit on the factory floor in the assembly process.

But then I always thought the Thompson at $200.00 was a price gouge, too. That bar-stock turned machine pistol should not have been that expensive. And for that price Uncle, for those 1 million or so Thompsons made, could have bought 2.5 million MORE M1 and M2 carbines. Might have something to say about a light rifle in a moment.


Oh, Canada! Next door to that nation using the weird manufacturing and production tech. It turns out "they" use the same weird manufacturing and production tech, too. Inside the firm so to speak. Do not let the Ross Rifle leave a negative impression.



This is a no-brainer. Even when the PIAT and 6 pounder comes online; they should become antitank gardeners and sow mines for the Germans to reap.
Anti-tank mines yes, and just high explosive- say fifty pounds high explosive issued to every tenth man. Let the troops figure out uses.
 
I am so impressed that the answer to the OP of rearming the British infantry appears so often to be 'use the same as the USA did several years later'.
Rearming the British infantryman needs decisions taken by 1936 at the very latest so it has to be things known then not 1943.
Britain's nearest and most likely ally in a continental war was 20 miles away not 4,000 miles across an ocean and isolationist to boot.
If anything needs to be common to an allied army it is with the French.
 
I am so impressed that the answer to the OP of rearming the British infantry appears so often to be 'use the same as the USA did several years later'.
Rearming the British infantryman needs decisions taken by 1936 at the very latest so it has to be things known then not 1943.
Britain's nearest and most likely ally in a continental war was 20 miles away not 4,000 miles across an ocean and isolationist to boot.
If anything needs to be common to an allied army it is with the French.
So work with the French on what would become the MAS 40, hopefully with the extra resources speeding up the program by at least a year. Adopt the 7.5 French round at least for European service (the Vickers Gun can be converted to eat anything and the Bren be designed in 7.5 French) using remaining .303 and WWI surplus weapons for colonial service until sufficient stocks of the new standard are available for universal adoption. It still all goes tit's up in May and June 1940 because there's nothing the British Army can do to sort out the mess that is the French Army high command. It would really help if someone rammed home to the government that in the event of war Britain would have to send another B.E.F. to France rather than letting them delude themselves until Spring 1939 that such a deployment wasn't inevitable.
 
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If you want Amph ships, etc, you need a good sized marine establishment!

You need to RM out of capital ship turrets and back on their feet. The merge of RM Artillery and RMLI in ‘22, the RM lost direction. With a cap of 9,500, it could not do much, either.

In ‘35, you need the RM Div, as a full all-arms unit. Gunner stream with guns, and the LI stream in rifle brigades. Each RN base have a Defence brigade, with coastal guns, infantry and RMR to rapidly expand these units.

Combined with 35 NTA, (6 mth conscription then RMR), each formation, can be at 50% manning, easing pressure on budgets.

Considering much of the Landing Craft and above of GB were built in the US, RN can only expect modest Amph fleet units and minor craft.

Older passages ships converted to LSI, and USN style “assault destroyers” would be more realistic.
They need a role. Secure ally on the continent. A major base on Japan's jugular, and no intention to invade Japan. Where is the requirement in the 20s and 30s.
 
They need a role. Secure ally on the continent. A major base on Japan's jugular, and no intention to invade Japan. Where is the requirement in the 20s and 30s.
Italy and the Soviet Union are increasingly likely enemies throughout the 20's and 30's. Either would require amphibious landings to get at.
 
They need a role. Secure ally on the continent. A major base on Japan's jugular, and no intention to invade Japan. Where is the requirement in the 20s and 30s.
Part of the impetus for installing Faisal as king of Iraq, as well as giving control of the British portion of its defense to the RAF was to reduce the cost of holding it. Another idea that was thrown around was a rapid reaction force. If you can quickly bring men into theatre you need less of a standing garrison. The Royal Marines were considered for this. It wouldn’t be amphibious but there are other hotspots in the region that could be. Palestine, Egypt, Ethiopia in 35. It could give impetus to develop RM amphibious landing capability.
 
I am so impressed that the answer to the OP of rearming the British infantry appears so often to be 'use the same as the USA did several years later'.
US arms undergoing development and proof 1937 ==> 1939. And I am more Czech or Italian in my druthers. Also the 30.06 is a WWI round.

Rearming the British infantryman needs decisions taken by 1936 at the very latest so it has to be things known then not 1943.
Britain's nearest and most likely ally in a continental war was 20 miles away not 4,000 miles across an ocean and isolationist to boot.
If anything needs to be common to an allied army it is with the French.
(Data from Wiki)
French pistols?
.32 ACP. Might as well go Belgian FN Browning High Power in 9mm.

French rifles?
Is Britain going to adopt the 7.5/54 cartridge? And is it going to be ready in time? No. That eliminates the MAS-36. OTOH the M1917 and the BAR are there.

French submachine guns?
.32 ACP and not ready in time MAS-38.

French machine guns?

FM-24/29 but in 7.5/54. How about the Hotchkiss M1922? Get that in .303 or 30.06 and it IS available. But the Bren/ZB26 is better. How about the 13.2 mm Hotchkiss? Browning M2 is better. So is the BESA.

French antitank guns?
Already have the Boys. Already will get the Canon de 75 modele 1897. (Sherman and Lee tanks 27,000 THOUSAND of them.)

The 47 mm APX anti-tank gun is interesting. But the 40 mm British AT gun is roughly similar, so...

French antiaircraft guns?
Only decent piece is the Oerlikon.
Maybe the Brandt 60 mm and the Mortar 50 mm model 1935 in lieu of existent British gear. Otherwise... NSA.

French armored cars?
Laffly and Panhard "in lieu of" British equivalents and I want to emphasize it, that I have no respect for British WWII trucks at all. The French ones were runners.

French light tanks?
Nope. Not a one. Does not fit British doctrine.

What about the rest of the French armor line up?

Medium tanks
Cavalry tanks
Armored combat tanks
Heavy tanks
The Somua S35 and maybe if the bugs are fixed in it the AMC 35. The rest are entirely unsuitable or will not be ready in time.

That is France. How are the choices?



Jeff Arnold's West: Slim Pickens

McP.
 
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So work with the French on what would become the MAS 40, hopefully with the extra resources speeding up the program by at least a year. Adopt the 7.5 French round at least for European service (the Vickers Gun can be converted to eat anything and the Bren be designed in 7.5 French) using remaining .303 and WWI surplus weapons for colonial service until sufficient stocks of the new standard are available for universal adoption. It still all goes tit's up in May and June 1940 because there's nothing the British Army can do to sort out the mess that is the French Army high command. It would really help if someone rammed home to the government that in the event of war Britain would have to send another B.E.F. to France rather than letting them delude themselves until Spring 1939 that such a deployment wasn't inevitable.
You'd just love the British Army to throw itself into complete disarray, now wouldn't you? Italy and Japan tried to change calibre and look where that got them. The British Army was supported quite well by a British industry which manufactured .303in. The Empire had decided to follow suit. .303in wasn't going anywhere very fast, it was the calibre. There was no momentum to replace it.
 
A simple piece of hardware that could have been invented in World War I
The claymore anti-personnel Mine.
It could not be used offensively but it would be good in defending positions it would have been extremely useful in the defense of France and in North Africa
 
A simple piece of hardware that could have been invented in World War I
The claymore anti-personnel Mine.
It could not be used offensively but it would be good in defending positions it would have been extremely useful in the defense of France and in North Africa
Requires plastique explosive to make it work. That wasn't invented until after WWI.
 
Italy and the Soviet Union are increasingly likely enemies throughout the 20's and 30's. Either would require amphibious landings to get at.
After 1919 no one has any appetite for adventures in the USSR except the Germans and the Japanese, neither of which had sane or stable leadership.
 
This is a no-brainer. Even when the PIAT and 6 pounder comes online; they should become antitank gardeners and sow mines for the Germans to reap.
There was a lot of back and forth movement in the desert, and IIRC the British were sometimes delayed by minefields thay had laid previously. I recall a case in which they were delayed by a false minefield they had placed a few months ago.
In theory records are kept, but in the confusion of war records get lost, people move to other TO or get killed, and you end up running into a mine field the guy you replaced laid when it was his turn to retreat.
I would say lots of AT mines make a lot of sense for the guys with the least tanks, in this case, the Germans.
 
You'd just love the British Army to throw itself into complete disarray, now wouldn't you? Italy and Japan tried to change calibre and look where that got them. The British Army was supported quite well by a British industry which manufactured .303in. The Empire had decided to follow suit. .303in wasn't going anywhere very fast, it was the calibre. There was no momentum to replace it.
Japan and Italy tried changing their major rifle caliber.
However, history shows that nations can add calibers.
GB added 7.92 to .303”, 9x19mm & .45 to .38.
US added .30 carbine! (Millions of carbines!)
Germany added 7.92x33mm

All kept the main rifle caliber.

Post war the same.
 
Requires plastique explosive to make it work. That wasn't invented until after WWI.
It's a portable Fougasses, that was a hole in the ground with black powder at the bottom, a fuze, and rocks ontop, pointed towards the enemy.

any primitive explosive would work, , like BP or guncotton, but modern explosive is safer for the squad to carry around.

So for the UK, that means you have an open steel box with RDX cast inside, then some ball bearings ontop and then a frangible cover, with a port in the back for the blasting cap connection

You still need a blasting cap and a hand cranked magneto/detonator
 
There was a lot of back and forth movement in the desert, and IIRC the British were sometimes delayed by minefields thay had laid previously. I recall a case in which they were delayed by a false minefield they had placed a few months ago.

In theory records are kept, but in the confusion of war records get lost, people move to other TO or get killed, and you end up running into a mine field the guy you replaced laid when it was his turn to retreat.

I would say lots of AT mines make a lot of sense for the guys with the least tanks, in this case, the Germans.
It is France 1940 and there are a lot more Germans than you on ground where any field expedient fortification is going to need all the help it can get. Think like an American civil war Union soldier with Robert E. Lee breathing down your neck. Land mines are your friend!
 
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