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The Mysterious Lee-Enfield Rifle No.8 (T) - in .22in. RF calibre


See also: The Rifle No.8 standard issue target/training rifle

or a representation of the War Office User Handbook for the No.8 rifle


THE RIFLE


At the turn of the last Century, research by Capt. Peter Laidler,
then of the Small Arms School at Warminster,
revealed that there was once a move afoot to assist sniper training
with the fitment of the No.32 telescopic sight to the No.8 rifle.

We are indebted to him for the information.
 
Captain Laidler (Retd.) wrote of the mysterious No8T rifles…………..

"In June/July 1977, there was circulated a General Staff Requirement (what we call simply ‘a GSR’) of January that year that stated:
’….the sniper gains little in value in shooting in the indoor range or theatre as he cannot use the No.8 rifle fitted with the No.32 telescope or in darkness, with the IWS. It is suggested that fitting the (L42) rifle sight pads to the No.8 rifle would enable the No.32 sight and IWS to be fitted to it for use indoors. ITDU
[Ed: the Infantry Trials Development Unit] are to trial the suggested proposal and to assess the adjustment that would need to be made to the No.32 telescope and the IWS when fitted to and fired using the No.8 rifle at 25 yards.’

The choice of the standard No.8 rifle was because there were plenty in stock and utilizing these would save considerable expense. The idea was not new because, 10 years before, similar No.9 type telescoped rifles had been used for the same purpose. And the current No.8 rifle, when fitted with the No.4 butt, was similar in operation and appearance to the L42A1 rifle. And anyway, if need be, it would be a simple, local exercise to fit a production L42 fore-end and handguard to the No.8 rifle. Indeed, there was still 1959 dated authority, to units engaged in the large scale training of recruits, that, in order to create realism to the shooting training programme, No.4 butts could be fitted to the No.8 rifle…….. but I digress.

Two No.8 rifles were supplied together with several sets of body pads (presumably from stripped/redundant No.4 or L42 rifles). These were fitted at the ITDU workshop. The first thing that became apparent was that the No.8 rifles with tapered body sides (the ex. Fazakerley No.5 bodies, where they utilized old No.5 stocks) were unsuitable for any such conversion.

The long and short of the trials is that what the team wanted was impossible to achieve! They wished that any converted No.8 rifle would stand alone WITHOUT a separate sight, and that the sight would be transferred from the L42 rifle that the sniper was using on the course. There were obvious problems with this. Firstly, NO sniper wanted to upset his finely zeroed No.32 telescope (they were L1A1 by then, but let’s not spoil their paperwork…..) that he KNEW would retain its zero when removed and replaced. Indeed, some refused to remove them once zeroed in! Some trials were undertaken to ascertain what adjustment would be needed to change back and forth on the courses. Alas, they were flogging a dead horse. After all, that’s WHY the telescope is numbered to the rifle in the first place.

Additionally, the fixed focus No.32/L1A1 telescopes were quite incapable of focusing down to such short ranges and have to be adjusted at the objective to do so. Quite why the trials team did not suggest that the idea had some merit providing that a small supply of redundant telescopes were made available is not clear. There were certainly stockpiles (albeit small….) of Mk2/1 telescopes that could have been utilized.

Anyway, the trial ended and in September 1977 and, at the suggestion of the trials team, Lt. Col. Randall put the matter to bed. But the question is still there……… . Have these two enigmatic No.8T rifles emerged onto the commercial market yet? Do you have one still with the pads or the tell tale holes? Don’t all jump up because, while we don’t know the serial numbers, they do carry the engraved markings of the ITDU authority.

......................................................Peter Laidler

__________________________________________

Intriguingly, despite what Capt. Laidler relates being perfectly true, in that the No.8 rifles were almost all built on the lightened action bodies of the No.5 "Jungle Carbine" rifles, one rifle actually on display at the Warminster Smallarms School collection has a No.4 action, which would have been a perfect candidate for fitment of the mounting pads for the No.32/L1A1 'scope bracket.

There is a small hole drilled high up in front of the clip-loading bridge, but no sign that any move had been made to fit pads. The rifle appears to be a Fazerkerly 1952 built model, but with an Enfield "D69" marked on the receiver LHS following the rifle's nomenclature, implying a refurbishment at at the Royal Small Arms Factory at that time. The front barrel band marks are for Enfield 1962.

The rifle is fitted with a "Harmonisation" rear-sight folding leaf.

The serial number is a quite high " A 17262 ".

The serrated rubber butt-plate, moulded on a steel former, and, as one would expect, being a Fazakerly factory product, does not have the BSA "Piled Arms" logo moulded into the cartouche, but bears the presumably contracting manufacturer's initials and the rifle's component part number,

" D.R. Co." over " CR 1194 ".

 

See also: the page on the Lee-Enfield No.5 rifle in .22RF calibre with a No.32 sniper scope.

This rare No.5 rifle, built on the action of one of a small number of prototype BSA rifles
was certainly also capable of being fitted with the IWS image intensifier,
with the appropriate mounting bracket,
and may conceivably have been an experimental model for 'scoped sniper training.
However, it more than likely preceded the IWS by at least twenty years,
which sight was initially used on the 1971 issued L42A1 sniper rifle.

and a representation of the War Office User Handbook for the No.8 rifle.

For comparison, see collective images of the bolts for the Rifles Nos. 5, 6, 7 (British), 8 & 9.

See also the page on the Lee-Enfield No.4T sniping rifle in .22RF calibre.

Click here for a Chronology of Enfield genre Training Rifles, Adapters & Cartridges


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