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Experimental Lee-Enfield (SMLE) Rifle

with Anti-Aircraft Sights


See also: the early WWI Long Lee-Enfield adapted for Royal Flying Corps aerial use.

and the WWII Spotlight Projector Anti-aircraft training attachment for use with

the S.M.L.E. Rifle, the Lewis Machine Gun, and the Thompson sub-machine gun.


 

Held in the National Firearms Collection at the Leeds Royal Armouries

and originally part of the Enfield Pattern Room Collection

 

This unusual adaptation of a No.1 Mk.III rifle has been experimentally fitted with a set of folding sights

specifically intended for anti-aircraft use.

 

The butt-disk is unmarked.

 

Built up by the Birmingham Small Arms Company on a 1916 " SHT LE " (Short Lee-Enfield) Rifle,

it was trialled during Spring that year.

 

 

The front sighting element is shown, above, raised (but without the windage arm extended), and folded flat, below.

 

 

The rear-sight was pivotted on the original rear volley aperture sight's fitting beneath the safety-catch "dumbell",

but the front volley sight dial and arm was never fitted.

 

 

The large rear aperture also folds neatly down against the stock above the magazine.

 

 

The rifle, viewed from the right-hand-side, with both sights raised.

 

 

Left below: the front sight raised with the windage arm yet to be deployed.

 

Centre: windage, or 'lead' arm extended, viewed from the rear.

 

Right: viewed from the muzzle.

 

 

..................

 

 

The sight picture.

 

The design was configured for an approximate range of 1,000 yards,

and for an aircraft travelling in the region of 110 knots.

This would require full width use of the windage or "Lead" arm

if the target was moving directly across the line of fire,

with an appropriate adjustment for other angles of approach or departure.

 

 

 

The butt-socket marking, with King George V's cipher.

The rifle's action, initially stamped up as a Mk. III *, has had the "*" barred out,

effectively returning it to just a Mk.III. The cut-off has been retained.

 

 

Inset: the Pattern Room tag.

 

A combination of a lack of robustness, problematic operation, and probably likely effectiveness,

meant that any proposed issue to the Royal Fling Corps or Royal Naval Air Service never occurred.

Nor was the rifle seen in the trenches, where it may have been of alternative use.

 

See also: the Long Lee-Enfield adapted for early WWI Royal Flying Corps aerial use.

 

and the WWII Spotlight Projector Anti-aircraft training attachment for use with

the S.M.L.E. Rifle, the Lewis Machine Gun, and the Thompson sub-machine gun.

 

See also: other Experimental and Trials Lee-Enfield Rifles

 

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