Britain’s First Anti-Tank Weapon

The British Army’s first dedicated anti-tank weapon was a rifle grenade. The No.44 Rifle Grenade was developed towards the end of the First World War to take on the emerging threat of German tanks.

A British officer firing a No.3 Mk2 Rifle Grenade (IWM)

The No.44 could be fired from a Short Magazine Lee-Enfield MkIII rifle, the British had developed a plethora of rod and cup discharger based rifle grenades but the No.44 was the first specifically designed with tanks in mind. 

By 1918 the German Army had responded to the threat of British and French tanks by developing their own, the A7V, albeit in small numbers, and by fielding captured allied tanks. 

The A7V was a leviathan at over 3.3m tall and more than 30 tons. It would be crewed by at least 18 men. It was decided that the infantryman needed an effective means of taking on tanks.

A German A7V (US National Archive)

Sources suggest that the grenades were developed by the by the Royal Engineers Experimental Station with input from the Tank Corps. The No.44 was largely based on the earlier No.24 rifle grenade. The British Army had been using rifle grenades with rods since February 1915 with the No.2 rifle grenade. 

No.44 Anti-Tank Grenade (IWM)

A myriad of grenade designs were developed during the war with dozens of designs entering service between 1915 and 1918. Eventually the British Army moved away from using rodded rifle grenades, because of the implications of barrel wear from the friction of the rods, and focused on discharger cup based designs. The No.44’s spiritual descendent, the No.68, introduced in 1940, would follow this trend and be fired from the same discharger cup used by to fire No.36 grenades fitted with a gas check.    

The No.44 grenade itself is made up of a pair of pressed tin plate pieces which make up the top and bottom of the bomb with a rolled sheet of tin making up the central body. The parts were soldered together with a filling plug also soldered into the top of the grenade. The grenade itself contained either Amatol 80/20 or Amatol 83/17 explosive, sources suggest about 11.5 ounces. While externally it may resemble later shaped charges, it was not, the explosive filled the space around the central detonator assembly.

Sectional diagram No.44 Anti-Tank Grenade

The ignition system was essentially a .297/230 cartridge case and a detonator. On firing a release socket moved to allow the retaining bolts to release the striker (or needle pellet) it had been retaining. The striker was then simply held back from the detonator by a spring. When the grenade struck its target inertia cause the striker to over come and compress the spring, allowing the striker to ignite the detonator and set off the grenade’s main filling. Given mass of the bomb and the type of detonator used the No.44 was probably intended for use at very short ranges.

Soldiers firing rod rifle grenades (IWM)

To use the grenade the firer would remove the wire fastening around the grenade to free the canvas vane. This would also allow access to the safety pin. The top plug could be undone and the detonator inserted. The rod was then slid down the muzzle of the user’s rifle. The safety pin could then be removed. A blank cartridge would be loaded into the rifle and when the trigger was pulled the was grenade launched by the gases from the cartridge pushing the rod out of the barrel. The No.44’s flight would be stabilised by the canvas skirt or vane.    

There’s no mention of the grenades in the British Army’s Small Arms Committee Minutes so its development must have been documented elsewhere. It does, however, appear in the List of Changes and is known to have been issued from April 1918 onwards but further primary research is needed to find out more about its development, designers and testing.

No.44 Anti-Tank Grenade (Matthew Moss)

The No.44 remained in service into the inter-war period but does not appear in any of the post-war Small Arms Training manuals. Several were published during this period, the first in 1924 and a second in 1931 – the No.44 appears in neither of them. The final pre-war Small Arms Training pamphlet on grenades, published in 1937, is confined to just the No.36 grenade. According to Ian Skennerton’s book on British grenades there were no No.44s remaining in stores by April 1931 and it was declared obsolete. 

Sources disagree on the number of No.44s manufactured with some suggesting just under 100,000 while others suggest between 125,000 and 150,000. According to Skennerton 9,800 were issued between April and November 1918. A very small amount when compared to the hundreds of thousands of other, more widely used grenades held in stores at the end of the war.  

The German A7Vs were first deployed in March 1918, but only saw their first action the following month. With only 20 A7Vs built and the design proving relatively impractical the Allies had little to fear from German tank attacks. Sadly, there are no readily available records of the No.44’s use or its effectiveness.

British solider firing a cup discharger rifle grenade (IWM)

The A7V’s armour consisted of 5 to 30mm of steel plate depending on location on the tank. This steel plate was not hardened which may have increased the No.44’s effectiveness against it. It may be that the No.44 would have had to have been fired at close range and strike a vulnerable point on the attacking vehicle to have the most effect.

While not the only anti-tank grenade to be developed during the period, the French also developed several rifle grenades, and not as famous as the German T-Gewehr, it does represent Britain’s first dedicated infantry anti-tank weapon. 


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Bibliography:

An Introduction To British Grenades, I.D. Skennerton, (1988)

British Grenade Rifle No. 44 Anti-Tank, AmmunitionPages, (source)

Grenade, Rifle No 44 A.T. (Anti Tank), Imperial War Museum, (source)

Grenade, Rifle, No 44 Anti-Tank (Sectioned), Imperial War Museum, (source)

British No.24 Mk.II Rod Grenade, Inert-Ord.net, (source)

Men Against Tank, J. Weeks, (1975) 

NLAW In Ukraine

NLAW is the British Army’s name for the Saab Bofor’s developed MBT LAW, in the early 2000s the British Army was looking for a more capable replacement of its LAW80. The Saab offering, Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon, won the contract in 2002 beating out several competitors including the SRAW-based Kestrel from Lockheed Martin/BAe. 

British soldier firing NLAW (British Army)

The UK has just announced the transfer of light anti tank weapons to Ukraine in light of the continuing tensions with Russia. As such the UK is the latest nation to announce that they will be providing weapons to Ukraine. They follow US shipments of Javelin Missiles in December 2021, year and we’ve already seen these in the hands of Ukrainian troops. Most recently it has been confirmed that Lithuania plans to supply anti-tank systems to Ukraine too. The UK’s defence minister Ben Wallace stated that: “We have taken the decision to supply Ukraine with light, anti-armour, defensive weapon system”, while this does not specifically name NLAW, this describes the role which NLAW fulfils. 

So what is NLAW? 

NLAW is a disposable, shoulder-fired, single shot system which weighs about 12.5kg or 27.5lbs. It uses a predicted line of sight guidance system which calculates where the target will be when the missile reaches it. Like Javelin it is capable of targeting a tank’s weakest point, its top side.

NLAW (Saab)

The NLAW has two firing modes: Direct Attack, with the missile flying directly to point of aim, useful for engaging static targets. While the second, Overfly Top Attack, uses the Predicted Line of Sight (PLOS) system. The guidance algorithm optimises the trajectory of the warhead on an elevated flight path over the target with the onboard proximity fuze then detonating and firing an explosively formed penetrator down onto the target. 

In British service the NLAW was selected to replace the LAW-80, a 94mm unguided anti-tank rocket, British Army analysis found that in order to provide adequate close range defence against armoured vehicles “significant numbers of NLAW will be required in order to ensure there is sufficient coverage of the battlefield.” This meant the system had to be capable and affordable. Since its delivery and introduction into service in 2009, the NLAW has been the secondary anti-tank weapon of the British Army’s specialised anti-tank platoons’, with the Javelin being their primary. The NLAW is also available for issue as the primary infantry light anti-tank weapon. The British Army describes it as “non-expert, short-range, anti-tank missile that rapidly knocks out any main battle tank in just one shot by striking it from above.” While not cheap, at around £20,000 per unit, NLAW costs significantly less than the longer-ranged, more complex Javelin [estimated at around £70,000 per unit]. It is currently in service with Finland, Sweden, Luxembourg, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. It has seen action during Saudi Arabia’s interventions in Yemen.

A rifleman of 1 Gurkhas fires an NLAW (Corporal Stephen Harvey / UK MoD)

The weapon can engage close range targets at as close as 20m and uses a soft launch system that enables it to be fired from enclosed spaces. It can take on static target at 600m and moving ones at 400m. Technically, NLAW is not an anti-tank guided missile as the missile is not guided by an onboard system once it has been fired. Instead it used a Predicted Line of Sight (PLOS) system which enables it to be used like a fire and forget ATGM. 

The weapon’s operator activates the PLOS system and tracks the target for 2 to 3 seconds in the NLAW’s Trijicon Compact ACOG 2.5×20 sight before firing, the guidance system calculates the predicted flight path to the target to ensure a hit.

The number of NLAW being dispatched by the UK has not been confirmed although several flights of RAF C-17s were made overnight on 17th January, 2022. Footage released by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence showing the arrival of the NLAWs enables us to estimate that each flight could have carried somewhere between 180 and 216 NLAWs.

A still from a Ukrainian MoD video showing the arrival of the NLAWs (source)

 It isn’t clear just how many NLAW systems the UK has stockpiled but it is likely that as missile systems have a limited shelf-life that the older systems may have been transferred first. The terms of the agreement to transfer the NLAWs hasn’t been made public but it was confirmed small teams of British troops had accompanied the weapons to provide initial training to Ukrainian forces on how to use them. This is in line with Operation ORBITAL, the UK’s training mission to Ukraine which was established in 2015, following the illegal annexation of Crimea. Wallace was keen to stress that “this support is for short-range, and clearly defensive weapons capabilities; they are not strategic weapons and pose no threat to Russia. They are to use in self-defence and the UK personnel providing the early-stage training will return to the United Kingdom after completing it.”

The UK has been working with Ukraine not just through Op ORBITAL but also more broadly with a number of agreements being signed in 2021 to support Ukraine’s naval capability. While the usefulness of the NLAWs are confined to close range engagements the move is clearly a symbolic signal to Russia. 


If you enjoyed this video and article please consider supporting our work here. We have some great perks available for Patreon Supporters – including custom stickers and early access to videos! Thank you for your support!


Bibliography:

Next Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapon (NLAW), ThinkDefence, (source)

Britain Delivered Military Weapons to Ukraine, Ukraine MoD, (source)

UK Delivers Light Anti-Tank Defensive Weapon Systems To Ukraine, OvertDefense, (source)

One Shot – One Armored Target. Javelin ATGM, Ukraine MoD, (source)

Statement by the Defence Secretary in the House of Commons, 17 January 2022, UK MoD, (source)

NLAW, Saab, (source)

British Military Aircraft Rapidly Supplying Weapons to Ukraine, UKDJ, (source)

NLAW – The Ultimate Tank Killer, Saab, (source)

NLAW | 2 PARA | Noble Partner, British Army, (source)

Small Arms & Support Weapons, British Army, (source)

Ministry of Defence Major Projects Report 2008, National Audit Office, (source)

The VHS-2 In Iraq

The VHS-2 bullpup rifle manufactured by Croatia’s HS Produkt became one of the most frequently seen rifles during the Iraqi counter-offensives against ISIS during 2015-17. The rifle regularly appeared in news reports and social media posts and became somewhat synonymous with the fighting for Fallujah and Mosul.

A screen capture of combat footage from Iraq c.2016-7 featuring a member of the Emergency Response Division with a VHS-2

Check out the full article accompanying this video at Silah Report.


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Fighting On Film: Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. (1951)

Set the mainsail and sharpen your cutlasses, this week we’re taking on a technicolour swashbuckler set during the Napoleonic Wars. Starring Gregory Peck and Virginia Mayo, Raoul Walsh’s 1951 adaptation of some of C.S. Forester’s classic seafaring novels is stirring stuff! Join us as we unpack this early adaptation of three of Forester’s renowned Horatio Hornblower books.

This week’s film was selected by the Fighting On Film Supporting Cast, each month we offer a selection of choices for our Patreon supporters to choose from, if you’d like to support the show and help us pick films find out more here.

The episode is also available on all other podcast platforms, you can find them here.

Here are some stills from the film:

If you enjoy the podcast then please check out our Patreon here. Be sure to follow Fighting On Film on Twitter @FightingOnFilm, on Facebook and don’t forget to check out www.fightingonfilm.com.

Thanks for listening!

Cold War Weapons: The Off-Route Mine

During the Cold War NATO was understandably interested in capable anti-armour weapons. In this video/article we will examine the Off-Route Mine which features in footage from several British Army training films. They show a team of Royal Engineers setting up an L14A1 off-route mine ready to ambush attacking Soviet tanks.

Unlike a conventional mine which detonated vertically when a vehicle drove over it, the Off-Route Mine would be tripped by a breakwire set across a vehicles likely path. When the wire was tripped or broken the mine’s charge would be electrically detonated and the blast would project horizontally.

An Off-Route Mine in position (IWM)

What the British termed the L14A1 was developed in the early 1970s by France’s state arsenals. In French service it was known as the ‘Mine Anti char à action horizontale Modèle F1′ (or MI AC AH F1). It was manufactured throughout the 1970s and 80s by GIAT Industries.

The mine was essentially an electrically fired shape charge, it used the Misznay-Schardin effect rather than the Monroe effect. The former relies on a shallower, concave shape charge, which has a copper cone that is super heated by the explosion and fired out towards the target. This gave it the ability to project its cone further and removed the need for it to detonate in contact with the target vehicle. 

An illustration of how the Off-Route Mine works from a British Army manual

The mine had an effective range of between 70 to 80 metres and according to the 1977 French manual the projectile created by the detonation could travel up to 6km. In terms of the mine’s effectiveness the same manual states that 40m was the optimal range but no closer than 2m.

The manual also notes that “the slightest obstacle in the trajectory of the projectile (such as earth or shrubs) considerably reduces performance.” The diagram below from a 1977 French Army manual shows the effect of the mine on 70mm of armour at 40m, with 0-degrees of angle.

Effect diagram from 1977 French Army manual

When detonated the mine could throw fragments in a radius of 100m and could throw armour shards from a successful strike up to 200m from the target. The British mines came in the L27A1 kit which included a pair of the L14A1 off-route mines as well as instructions, the break wires, a night sighting tool, and an adjustable stand for mounting.

The mine’s electorally-powered detonator was powered by D cell batteries, which Sappers complained had to be frequently changed. The mine itself weighed 12kg and was packed with just over 6kg of Hexolite explosive. There was also a training version, the L28A1, which fired a paint-filled sponge to mark the side of the vehicle and confirm a hit. 

A Sapper setting up an Off-Route Mine (IWM)

The Miacah F1 was removed from French service in 2001. An improved version, the F2, was manufactured in 1996 and used by the French until the mines were withdrawn in 2004 due to corrosion. While some mines may have remained in stores, as some have been seen as late as 2016, they contravened the 1997 Ottawa Treaty on anti-personnel mines because the break wire could in theory be tripped by a human rather than a vehicle.

It was replaced in British service by the ARGES off-round Anti-Tank Mine which fired a modified 94mm rocket with a tandem HEAT warhead. In 1997 it was reported that 4870 Off-Route mines were held by British Army stores, in line with the Ottawa Treaty this had been reduced to 0 by 1999.


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Bibliography:

Landmine Monitor Report, 2004, Landmine & Cluster Munition Monitor, (source)
Landmine Monitor Report, 2000, Landmine & Cluster Munition Monitor, (source)
CNEMA Report, 2000 (source)
British Army User Handbook, Mine Anti-Tank Kit L27A1 (Off Route Mine), 1980
French Army MIACAH F1 Manual, 1977

Footage:

Fighting In Woods, British Army training film, 1982, (held by the IWM, DRA 1472)
Fighting In Villages, British Army training film, 1979, (held by the IWM, DRA 1401)

Fighting On Film: Sea of Sand (1958)

Join us as we clamber aboard our trucks and ready the Vickers Guns as we prepare for a raid behind enemy lines with 1958’s ‘Sea of Sand‘. A classic British war film with a solid cast including Richard Attenborough, John Gregson, Michael Craig, Percy Herbert and Barry Foster. Guy Green directs this fictionalised depiction of a Long Range Desert Group raid ahead of the Second Battle of El Alamein. 

The episode is also available on all other podcast platforms, you can find them here.

Here are some stills from the film:

If you enjoy the podcast then please check out our Patreon here. Be sure to follow Fighting On Film on Twitter @FightingOnFilm, on Facebook and don’t forget to check out www.fightingonfilm.com.

Thanks for listening!

Malta’s Service Rifle: The AK

A comment in my recent video about the Royal Bermuda Regiment’s use of the Mini-14 sparked my interest. It noted that Malta, another small island military, uses the AK. I wasn’t aware of this so I decided to do some research.  

Malta’s military, known as the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) is roughly the size of a brigade. In recent years the Armed Forces of Malta have had a strength of between 1,600 and 1,800 personnel. It has three battalions a maritime squadron and an air wing. Malta is a neutral nation and as such the AFM’s role is territorial defence, internal security and border control.

Malta gained independence from the UK in 1964 and became a republic in 1974, this is when the AFM was founded. With the former link to the UK much of the AFM’s initial equipment was of British origin and the 7.62×51mm L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle was used as the AFM’s service rifle for many years this appears to have changed in the late 1970s early 1980s. The FN FAL-derrived L1A1 is still used as the AFM’s standard drill and parade rifle.

AFM personnel with Type 56/II AK-pattern rifles (AFM)

The AFM celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020 and shared this time line of their uniform and equipment in their service magazine On Parade which gives us some idea of how their small arms changed over time. We can see that the AK-pattern rifles have been in service since at least the 1980s. 

The AFM’s website lists their small arms with personnel being armed with Beretta 92s, a variety of HK MP5s, and what they describe as the ‘AK 47 Variant’. The site lists the rifles as being manufactured by Russia, Romania, China and East Germany. These rifles are all chambered in the 7.62×39mm cartridge.

Where the first AK-pattern rifles came from is unclear, although one source suggests the German and Romanian rifles were bought second hand in the 1990s. From a survey of images and video shared by the AFM in recent years it appears that East German MPiKMS, Romanian PM md.63 and Chinese Type 56/II are in service.

AFM recruits training with Chinese Type 56/II AKs (AFM)

The origins of the Chinese rifles is easy to trace back to a 2003 donation of small arms and light weapons made by the People’s Republic of China. An agreement was signed with China in June 2001 and as part of this a donation of 150,000 Maltese lira-worth of weapons. By 2003, however, it was reported by the Time of Malta that this had increased to 500,000 Maltese lira-worth of weapons. This included Type 56/II rifles, Type 80 general purpose machine guns and RPG-7 clones. The AFM’s acting commander Colonel Carmel Vassallo described the donation as a “dream come true” at the time. It reportedly allowed the entire AFM to be armed with a single type of service rifle.

The reasoning behind the adoption no doubt comes down to financing, Malta being a small island nation does not have an extensive defence budget, reported at 54 million Euros in 2020, and perhaps have chosen to prioritise personnel and procurement of naval and aviation assets over small arms. It is easy to see how the donation of service rifles and other small arms would be welcomed when balancing a modest budget.

AFM personnel with modified AKs (AFM)

Over the last 10 years there have been a number of photos and videos released showing AKs which have been upgraded with some aftermarket modifications. The mods appear to predominantly be sourced from FAB Defense – with their CAA Polymer buttstock and VFR-AK railed forend with a top rail which extends over the top of the receiver cover. This provides the bare bones AKs with some modularity. It’s unclear how widely issued the modified AKs are but from officially release imagery it seems that the basic AK-pattern rifles are more prevalent. In recent years Malta has stood up quick reaction forces and it appears from videos and images shared of the company that they have been equipped with SIG Sauer MCX rifles. 


If you enjoyed this video and article please consider supporting our work here. We have some great perks available for Patreon Supporters – including custom stickers and early access to videos! Thank you for your support!


Bibliography:

‘AK Variant’, Armed Forces of Malta, (source)

‘AFM sees its dream come true’, Times of Malta, (source)

‘The Historical Timeline of Our Uniform’, On Parade 2020, (source)

“The Budget Speech 2020”, Malta Government, (source)

‘Personnel reveal shortcomings inside Maltese armed forces’, Malta Today, (source)

‘China donates 50 sub-machine guns to Malta, including 10 low-light scopes’, Malta Independent, (source)

Footage:

Various released videos, Armed Forces of Malta, (source)

‘Armed Forces of Malta: Recruit Intakes Nos. 131’, Michael Formosa, (source)

Making Mills Bombs

The No.36 or Mills Bomb was one of the longest serving grenades, developed during the First World War it originated from a Belgian design by Albert Dewandre and Capitaine Léon Roland. It was improved by a British industrialist, William Mills, who owned several metal forging factories.

A No.36 Grenade (Matthew Moss)

It entered service in late 1915 as the No.5 Mk1 and continued to be improved during the war with several iterations before it finally became the No.36M Mk1. We’ll look at the Mills bombs development more closely in a future video/article – today, with the help of some 1940s newsreels from New Zealand we’re going to look at how they were manufactured. While the newsreel doesn’t state the factories featured they were made by a number of factories including Anderson Engineering in Christchurch (these were marked with an “A” below the filler plug), Booth Mcdonald, of Christchurch (marked BM), Scott Brothers, also of Christchurch (marked SB), and Mason & Porter, of Mt Wellington, in Ackland (marked MP).

William Mills’ 1916 Patent for the grenade.

In the first newsreel, courtesy of Archives New Zealand (Weekly Review No. 70 (1943)), we see No.36 grenades being cast – the newsreel takes a slightly humorous approach of describing the process as a recipe – making ‘pineapples’ – a slang name by which grenades were sometime’s known. The factory is using the sand casting method with a pattern pressed into the sand and then removed. The two halves of the grenade’s body are pressed into sand, a pressed sand core could then be placed inside which would allow the grenade’s body to be poured hollow to allow room for explosives and detonator. If we again pause here we can see a machinist is centring and counter-sinking the filling hole’s first thread for its plug.

Cast grenade bodies ready for filling (Archives New Zealand)

The footage includes a brief shot we see a woman factory worker drilling out the top of the grenade’s body and perhaps de-burring the side of the safety lever holder. In the next shot we see more machinists at work with one lady linishing the body of the grenade, removing imperfections from the casting on a grinder or polishing wheel and in the background some women a working on milling machines or drill presses. 

Women factory workers linishing the grenade body castings (Archives New Zealand)

At the very end of the film we can see the grenade bodies are stacked ready for the next phase of production. Sadly, we don’t see the threading of the filling hole or base in this film nor the painting or filling of the grenades.

In the second newsreel (Weekly Review No. 63 (1942)), however, which celebrates the production of 1 million grenades, we do seem more of the production process. In this short segment we see how the grenades are filled and how they work. We see the cast bodies of the grenades being transported on a conveyor after being shellacked to keep moisture out. If we pause here we can see this worker packing a case with “gascheck” discs and fuses.

Loading grenades, fuses and gas checks into a transit case (Archives New Zealand)

The gas check disc and a 7 second fuse was used when the grenade was being fired from a rifle’s cup discharger, while a 4 second fuse was favoured when throwing by hand. In this final clip we see the internals of a grenade – which was filled with just over 2oz of explosive through the round filling-hole (on the side opposite the safety lever) which was then screw plugged. The newsreel then concludes the grenade segment by showing the striker spring inside being compressed and a No.27 Detonator, with fuse, being inserted into the sectioned grenade.

We’ll examine more British grenades, including the No.36 in future videos and articles.


If you enjoyed this video and article please consider supporting our work here. We have some great perks available for Patreon Supporters – including custom stickers and early access to videos! Thank you for your support!


Bibliography:

Weekly Review No. 63 (1942)

Weekly Review No. 70 (1943)

W. Mills, ‘Grenade and Other Like Apparatus’, 4 Apr. 1916, US Patent #1178092, (source)

NZ Mills Grenades, Lexpev.nl, (source)

No.36 Mk1 Grenades, MillsGrenades, (source)

Rare Prototype Spotted In Action: MCEM-2

Recently, while looking though British Army Cold War training films, I stumbled upon something I never expected to see: a clip of an MCEM-2 firing! I was searching through British Cold War training films and watching a 1953 film titled ‘Village Clearing’ at first it seemed pretty standard fair albeit showing an impressive set-piece of tanks attacking a village. And then about 8 minutes in I spotted something unusual, the prototype MCEM-2, in the hands of one of the village’s defenders.

A screen capture of the MCEM-2 from ‘Village Clearing’, © IWM DRA 1078, (source)

The 1953 training film shows a company size attack by the Royal Welch Fusiliers on an enemy strongpoint but then shows a section/squad assault on a building. The opposing force or OPFORCE are wearing airborne HSAT helmets and are armed with American weapons including M1 Garands, some first pattern M1918 BARs and a lone MCEM-2! This was likely done to differentiate the British troops from the OPFORCE – either they wanted a generic look or didn’t have any soviet weapons or kit available as is seen in later training films. My guess would be that the prototype may have come from the British Army’s Small Arms School Corps Collection which has historically maintained a working collection of foreign, historic and prototype weapons for familiarisation and training purposes.

A screen capture from ‘Village Clearing’ showing a section of Fusiliers preparing to attack, © IWM DRA 1078, (source)

The MCEM-2 or Machine Carbine, Experimental Model No.2 was developed by a Polish engineer, Jerzy Podsedkowski. Work on the design began in 1944 but it was not seriously tested until after the end of the war. We can see from this brief clip that Podsedkowski’s design was small, compact and innovative. It fed from an 18 round magazine which like the later Uzi, Sa.23 and RAK Pm.63 was inserted into the pistol grip. While this kept the weapon compact and theoretically holster-able the MCEM-2’s high rate of fire, around 1,000 rounds per minute, meant that it was expended extremely rapidly. 

The MCEM-2 disassembled (via Firearms.96.lt)

The MCEM-2 (Machine Carbine Experimental Model No.2) was a small, compact, innovative design. The weapon had a holster stock and a wrap-around breech block which was inclosed in a tube metal receiver. We can see the bolt in this photograph. In 1946 Podsedkowski, assisted by another Polish engineer, Aleksander Ichnatowicz, improved the MCEM-2, seeking to slow its rate of fire with a heavier bolt. The MCEM-2 was tested at the Royal Navy’s Gunnery School at HMS Excellent in August 1946. Excellent’s Commandant Michael Le Fanu, later an admiral and First Sea Lord, noted in his report that it was a “well engineered weapon, handy to carry about and suitable for use by seamen” but did note that “the high rate of fire makes the weapon uncontrollable in automatic and dangerous in the hand of semi-skilled users.”

Despite improvements the new MCEM-6 was eventually rejected with a Harold Turpin design favoured before it too was rejected. Hopefully, we’ll be able to take a look at some of these designs upclose in future articles/videos. 

My thanks to Firearms.96.it for their assistance.


If you enjoyed this video and article please consider supporting our work here. We have some great perks available for Patreon Supporters – including custom stickers and early access to videos! Thank you for your support!


Sources:

‘Village Clearing’, IWM, (source)

MCEM-2, Firearms.96.lt, (source)

MCEM-2, Historical Firearms, (source)

What Links Calculators to Javelin Anti-Tank Guided Missiles?

What connects calculators to the Javelin FGM-148 Anti-tank guided missile? That might sound like an odd question but what links one of the most successful scientific calculator companies and one of the most widely fielded modern infantry anti-tank weapons is the company which developed them.

Texas Instruments is a household name, especially in the US, better know for its calculators than weapons of war but from the 1940s through to the 1990s they were leaders in defence electronics.

Javelin FGM-148 (US Government)

Javelin was developed by Texas Instruments in cooperation with Martin Marietta (now Raytheon and Lockheed-Martin). In the mid-1980s it beat off competition from Ford Aerospace and Hughes Aircraft to win the US Army’s AAWS-M (Advanced Anti-Tank Weapon System—Medium) program to replace the M47 Dragon. So while the company’s calculator division was running television adverts featuring Dracula the Texas Instruments’ defence arm were developing a next generation anti-tank guided missile.

In June 1989, Texas Instruments and their partner company Martin Marietta were awarded the AAWS-M development contract and the Javelin was adopted as the FGM-148. Javelin continued development and testing throughout the 90s before entering service.

The infrared guided man-portable fire-and-forget anti-tank missile has been in service with over a dozen countries for over 20 years and is still produced under the joint venture between Raytheon Missiles & Defense and Lockheed Martin.

Skipper II AMG-123 (Texas Instruments)

Javelin wasn’t the only weapon Texas Instruments had a hand in developing, they also developed the AGM-88 Harm air-to-surface missile, AGM-123 Skipper anti-ship missile, the AGM-45 Shrike anti-radiation missile, the AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon and the Paveway laser-guided bomb. Texas Instruments’ involvement in the defence industry ended in 1997, when they sold off their defence division to Raytheon in a deal worth $2.95 billion at the time.

This short video came from some ongoing research I’m doing at the moment for an upcoming video on another missile called Javelin! Stay tuned for that.


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