Tag Archives: 455 webley

Protecting HMs frontiers, via Vickers

While the sun may have never set on the British Empire (until 1956, anyway), the Brits were big fans of using technology to their advantage to allow units with small footprints to control large areas.

From 1912 through the 1950s, the water-cooled .303 caliber sustained fire Maxim machine gun variant produced by Vickers Limited, best known just as the Vickers, filled the bill.

Manchester Regiment sit with their wwi era Vickers gun during a demonstration of preparedness for jungle warfare in Malaya, circa August 1941

1st Battalion, Manchester Regiment gunners sit with their WWI era Vickers gun during a demonstration of preparedness for jungle warfare in Malaya, circa August 1941. They would become POWs in just a few months.

Weighing in at over 40-pounds (sans bullets and water) old Mr. Vick was a beast, but by nature of its water jacket could fire almost forever or until your ammo supply ran out, making a static defense point able to control everything in a 360 degree arc out to 1,000 yards with accuracy, with grazing fire a death sentence for infantry trying to move on the emplacement.

When using plunging fire, especially when sited from elevated positions, the Vickers could reach out and produce a beaten zone over 4,000 yards away. As such, these guns were equipped with pretty effective and advanced for their time clinometers on which trained crews could calculate angles of slope (or tilt), elevation or depression of their target and match their gun to make an intersection of brass and body.

It was simple, the machine gun in its truest form.

A Vickers machine gun post, June 1919. Of the 13 British infantry battalions that served during the 3rd Afghan War and the Waziristan uprising (1919-1920), nine were Regular and the rest Territorial. Photo: National Army Museum via Under Every Leaf.

A Vickers machine gun post, June 1919. Of the 13 British infantry battalions that served during the 3rd Afghan War and the Waziristan uprising (1919-1920), nine were Regular and the rest Territorial. Photo: National Army Museum via Under Every Leaf.

Vickers machine gun emplacement in a sangar, North West Frontier Province between the wars. The pouches on the back on the No. 2 (with his hand up) are for clinometer and the foresight bar deflector - seldom seen in the field. The headdress of British Indian troops was normally the khaki puggaree which varied by the soldier's religion--Muslims with a pointed kullah skullcap inside the puggaree and Sikhs with a more open version that allowed their uncut hair to remain in a bun atop their head, while most Hindu troops wore a simple turban. Photo via British Empire Uniforms 1939-45.

Vickers machine gun emplacement in a sangar, North West Frontier Province between the wars. The pouches on the back on the No. 2 (with his hand up) are for clinometer and the foresight bar deflector – seldom seen in the field. The headdress of British Indian troops was normally the khaki puggaree which varied by the soldier’s religion–Muslims with a pointed kullah skullcap inside the puggaree and Sikhs with a more open version that allowed their uncut hair to remain in a bun atop their head, while most Hindu troops wore a simple turban. Photo via British Empire Uniforms 1939-45.

Sepoys manning a Vickers Machine Gun, Spinwam, south west of Peshawar. The sepoy manning the gun has a .455 Webley in a holster on his belt and a tin mug fastened to the 08 haversack on his back.

Sepoys manning a Vickers Machine Gun, Spinwam, south west of Peshawar. The sepoy manning the gun has a .455 Webley in a holster on his belt and a tin mug fastened to the 08 haversack on his back.

Vickers machine gunners of the Manchester Regiment lay down suppressing fire for attacking infantry near Hotton in Belgium, 7 January 1945 note clinometer

The Vickers was only replaced in the 1960s by the FN MAG 58, termed the L7 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG), which has been affectionately nicknamed the “gimpy” by generations of British troops.

Mr. Vick, however, endures in the armories of many former British colonies. While no longer actively used, the 100+ year old design is still an effective defensive machine gun if needed as long you bring the water and .303.

His Majesty’s victorious revolver team

Found this image on the interwebs and was kind of fond of it, so I thought I would share.

(click to embiggen) and for the record, I am upset that there are no monocles visible.

(click to embiggen) and for the record, I am upset that there are no monocles visible..but their are swagger sticks aplenty.

The officer bottom left front, sports the badge of the 21st (Empress of India’s) Lancers (1901 – 1922) in his pith helmet. However this photo is of the 12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales own) Pistol Team in Cairo, Egypt, with the Duke of Connaught’s Cup in the 1930s. Revolvers of course are .455 caliber Webley MKVI’s. The cup was for a series of revolver matches run by the British army in Egypt and India from 1920 to 1939.

Founded in 1715, the 12th RL has an impressive lineage. The  Duke of Wellington served with the regiment as a young subaltern before his rendezvous with Napoleon. In 1928, the 12th Lancers gave up their horses and were equipped with armoured cars (as the Brits say, rather than “armored cars”), taking over vehicles left in Egypt by two Royal Tank Corps armoured car units, so these very dashing cavalrymen pictured above were mounted on tin horses. They went on to fight in Europe in 1940 from inside hopelessly outgunned Morris CS9 armored cars, shielding the withdrawal at Dunkirk. They later fought at El Alamein with Montgomery and were amalgamated with the  9th Queen’s Royal Lancers to form the 9th/12th Royal Lancers in 1960. This unit still exists attached to the 7th Armoured Brigade, the Desert Rats.

As far as the Cup itself goes, Connaught was fond of promoting pistolcraft. As the Governor General of Canada in the 1912 he started an earlier revolver competition there, with the passing of a cup to the winner each year. This event remains today.

The Webley MkVI Brutal Brit Manstopper

Perhaps no other revolver screams ‘British’ louder than the .455-caliber Webley six shooter. This wheelgun was the go-to sidearm of the King’s military for generations and once you look at it, you can see why.
The British Army had been in the revolver game for more than thirty years before the Webley came on the scene. Starting with the Adams revolver of the 1850s (models of which popped up in the US Civil War) and moving onto the disliked and slow to reload Enfield .476-caliber six-shooter, a reliable handgun was increasingly needed in the Victorian era. This was the days when young British officers on colonial duty in far off and exotic lands needed sturdy, and effective firepower to stop charges of irate local warrior types in situations where numbers were very much relative. For instance, in the Battle of Isandlwana in 1879, 1800 British and colonial troops faced 20,000 Zulu warriors and were overwhelmed.
The redcoats needed a capable handgun that could be reloaded ricky tick, so they turned to Webley…
Read the rest in my column at Firearms Talk.com

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