Firearms in the RNZN

Read about the range of Firearms used in the Navy including the Webley Mk VI revolver and the Lanchester sub machine gun.

 

1870-1914

 Snider Artillery carbine. Used 1875-1900

This was selected in 1867 by the British Army and in essence was a system that converted muzzle loaders to breech loaders A carbine was for use by the Royal Field Artillery. It was not a satisfactory system and the introduction of the  breech-loading Martini-Henry rifle in 1871 made these weapons obsolete.

Lee Metford bolt action rifle

Three models issued of this rifle Mk 1 adopted in 1888 with eight shot magazine. Mk I* adopted in January 1892 with revised sights and eight round magazine. The Mk II adopted in 1892 had a 10-shot magazine. Were disposed of during the First World War and replaced by either Lee Enfields or American produced weapons. Used from 1895 to the First World War.

Webley Mk I Revolver

This revolver was adopted by the British in 1887 and is a .442 calibre. Webley revolvers were standard issue for British forces for nearly 60 years.[1] 

First World War  

Lee Metford bolt action rifle used 1914-1918

Three models issued of this rifle Mk 1 adopted in 1888 with eight shot magazine. Mk I* adopted in January 1892 with revised sights and eight round magazine. The Mk II adopted in 1892 had a 10-shot magazine. These weapons were still in use in 1914 in the absence of Lee Enfields.[2] Note that Mk II and Mk II* Lee Metfords were converted to Lee Enfields and known as Rifle No. 1 Short magazine Lee Enfield Mk II (CNVD).[3]

Webley Mk VI revolver 1915-1945

Was first introduced in 1915, and after 1927 also known as a No 1 Mark VI.  Over 300,000 of these weapons produced would have been standard issue for officers in the First and Second World War, made obsolete in 1947.[4] At .455 calibre it is a large cartridge and would have been a fair kick when fired but it had stopping power. It would have been issued for naval service.

Lee Enfield rifle (Short Magazine) Rifle No 1 Mk III. 1914-1955

This was adopted during the First World War, some 2,000,000 made 1914-1918, this model last manufactured in 1943 in the UK. But an Mk III model made in Indian and Australian factories up to 1955.[5]  The Mk III was replaced by Rifle No. 4 Mk 1 (1932) and Mk 1* (1939) that were the standard bolt action rifles used by British and Commonwealth forces during the Second World War.[6]

Second World War

Enfield Pistol No 2 Mk I Revolver

This revolver was produced by Enfield from 1927 to 1938. It was a six-shot revolver of .38 calibre officially adopted by Britain as a personal sidearm in 1932. Two variants were issued in 1938 (Mk I*) and Mk I** (1942). This pistol remained in use until 1957 when it was replaced by the FN Browning High-Power semi-automatic pistol.[7] It was not a great pistol as it had limited range. In most respects they are a copy of the Webley Mk VI in terms of operation. As for the Webley, it would have been issued for naval service.

Sten Mk II

This light submachine-gun was developed at the outbreak of the Second World War as a cheap, easily manufactured weapon for issue to the Armed forces. The Mark II was issued after 1941. The Sten in various marks remained in use in the British forces until it was replaced in 1953.  It was widely issued and also many were given to Commonwealth forces and resistance movements in Europe.[8] It was superseded by further Marks with refinements during the war and was used in the Korean War.[9]

Smith & Wesson pistol (Victory model)

This may be one of 20,000 .45 calibre Model 1917 pistols that were supplied to the British after Dunkirk by America. At this time Britain was purchasing weapons from wherever they could find to requip their forces. There were also supplies of the .38/200 pistol supplied at the same time. They were obsolete by the end of the Second World War and replaced by semi-automatics.

Bren MK I Light Machine Gun

The Bren was developed in the mid 1930s from a Czech weapon and production started in 1937 and was adopted in 1938.[10] This was the main light machinegun used during the Second World War by British and Commonwealth forces. It was designed for fire support to infantry units but was used for AA defence. It remained in service until after the 1960s and was converted to the standard 7.62mm cartridge.[11] It is a rugged, accurate, simple, and reliable weapon and was one of the best light-machineguns to have been used in the Second World War.

1945-1960

Lee Enfield Rifle, No.4 Mark II  

Developed at the end of the Second World War and issued up until it was phased out by the FN L1A1 SLR. Armed forces would have been using it into the 1960s before it was eliminated from front line use.

Lanchester sub machine gun 1941-1950s

It was developed in the interwar period based on the German MP 28 II submachine gun used at the end of the First World War. The Mark I was introduced in 1941 with a selective fire mode and later in the war an Mk I* with automatic fire capability was issued. It was only issued to the Royal Navy and presumably, Commonwealth navies. It is an expensive and difficult weapon to make, therefore was only produced in limited quantities.[12] Never a front line weapon, hence its appeal for use by the Navy.

American .45 Semi Automatic Pistol. Used in Korean and Vietnam Wars.

FN L1A1 SLR (self loading rifle). Used 1962-1990s.

This was part of the NATO standardisation programme in the 1950s. This weapon was produced in the UK known as a Light Automatic Rifle and is a British version of a Belgian weapon.[13] This was a standard weapon introduced in NZ services in the 1960s and only replaced in 1990 by the Steyr.

 

[1] W.H.B. Smith, Small Arms of the World: A Basic Manual of Military Small Arms, Revised eighth ed.,, n.p.: Stackpole Books, 1964, pp. 238-239. See also Ian Hogg, The New Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Firearms, London: New Burlington Books, 1992, p. 64.

[2] W.H.B. Smith, Small Arms of the World: A Basic Manual of Military Small Arms, Revised eighth ed.,, n.p.: Stackpole Books, 1964, pp249-250.

[3] ibid., p. 250.

[4] ibid., p. 239.

[5] ibid., p. 251.

[6] ibid., p. 252.

[7] ibid., pp. 242-243.

[8] ibid., pp. 261-263.

[9] Ian Hogg, The New Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Firearms, London: New Burlington Books, 1992, p. 288-289.

[10] ibid., pp. 96-97.

[11] W.H.B. Smith, Small Arms of the World: A Basic Manual of Military Small Arms, Revised eighth ed.,, n.p.: Stackpole Books, 1964, pp. 279-281.

[12] ibid., p. 261.

[13] ibid., pp. 257-258.