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Thread: Did the British armed forces use airguns in WW2 for training?

  1. #1
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    Did the British armed forces use airguns in WW2 for training?

    I found out the other day from a serious researcher into British military small arms that from 1939-1944 the British armed forces purchased 93,500,000 .177" calibre airgun pellets. Yes, you read that right, 93 million.

    While that pales set against purchase of around one billion rounds of .22" rimfire in the same period, it does suggest that quite a lot of airguns were being used for, presumably, training purposes. That's not something that I can recall ever reading about. Can anyone shed any light?

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    Remember seeing an old war office newspaper advertisement, requesting the loan of .177 air rifles for the duration of the war, that listed the various patterns they required. I think that was WW2 era, but not positive. There was also the New Zealand tank training barrel inserts. Webley Junior air rifles were used for training in jungle warfare schools in Malaya in the 50's.

    I wonder what year the pellets were procured ? - Have heard of Bsa underlevers used for LDV and Home Guard training in village halls. Would imagine quite a lot of that would have gone on on a semi official basis.

    Perhaps they used commercial pellet tins/boxes, like the post war cadet forces - as you think some of the packaging would have survived.

    You don't see any regimental airgun shooting shields either - which you might suspect to come across if it was an official thing.
    Last edited by silva; 13-01-2018 at 01:05 PM.
    "helplessly they stare at his tracks......."

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    Hi,

    Apart from the BSA 'Gun Laying Trainer', I'm not aware of any air rifle being officially adopted for military training in the UK despite some manufacturers claims to the contrary.

    No doubt they would have been used informally by some associated organisations, but probably not by the regular services,

    Regards
    Brian

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    I heard there was a BSA Mill Patt registered in the Welsh Guard Armoury ?
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    Quote Originally Posted by silva View Post
    Remember seeing an old war office newspaper advertisement, requesting the loan of .177 air rifles for the duration of the war, that listed the various patterns they required. I think that was WW2 era, but not positive. There was also the New Zealand tank training barrel inserts. Webley Junior air rifles were used for training in jungle warfare schools in Malaya in the 50's.

    I wonder what year the pellets were procured ? - Have heard of Bsa underlevers used for training in village halls. Would imagine quite a lot of that would have gone on on a semi official basis.

    Perhaps they used commercial pellet tins/boxes, like the post war cadet forces - as you think some of the packaging would have survived.




    You don't see any regimental airgun shooting shields either - which you might suspect to come across if it was an official thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Binners View Post
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    Yes, if he managed to hit that ME109 it would have given it a nasty paint chip.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Binners View Post
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    Yes - Interesting fellow that old Sexton with his Military Pattern. He was a trained marksman and a regular in the first world war. So how much fluke really was involved ?

    Though it was the Messerschmitt that got him in the papers at the time. It came to light that in May 44, just before D-Day, he also shared a Dornier reconnaissance aircraft with the local anti aircraft battery. The war was going better for the Allies then, so it wasn't so much of a propaganda coup. Plus the government was in the process of standing down the Home Guard.

    The rifle, with some fragments of fuselage and a chronograph from the BF109, was displayed in the vestry until the late 1970's. Its last listing is in the Church Wardens Ecclesiastical Inventory of 1978.

    After which building works took place at the church and it disappeared in the refurbishment.
    "helplessly they stare at his tracks......."

  8. #8
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    WW2 Air Rifles

    I know they were definitely issued with broom handles what calibre i don't know? But the $hit we were in during 1940 / 41 we were probably issued with gat pistols as well. I have full series of the war illustrated printed throughout the war unfortunately a hell of a lot of it is total propaganda (political B/S, things haven't changed much there then) to keep up our moral! ie the poster.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daryll View Post
    Yes, if he managed to hit that ME109 it would have given it a nasty paint chip.....
    it makes the 'infamous' Connery/Bond poster look positively professional in its execution....

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    Quote Originally Posted by silva View Post
    Yes - Interesting fellow that old Sexton with his Military Pattern. He was a trained marksman and a regular in the first world war. So how much fluke really was involved ?

    Though it was the Messerschmitt that got him in the papers at the time. It came to light that in May 44, just before D-Day, he also shared a Dornier reconnaissance aircraft with the local anti aircraft battery. The war was going better for the Allies then, so it wasn't so much of a propaganda coup. Plus the government was in the process of standing down the Home Guard.

    The rifle, with some fragments of fuselage and a chronograph from the BF109, was displayed in the vestry until the late 1970's. Its last listing is in the Church Wardens Ecclesiastical Inventory of 1978.

    After which building works took place at the church and it disappeared in the refurbishment.

    Just as a historical footnote - Did you know that the Romney Hythe and Dimchurch railway (15inch track) is actually accredited with shooting down a lone German Stuka dive bomber during WW2?

    Apparently it lined up for a bombing run, then dove into the banking beside the track because the pilot assumed (from the altitude he was flying) that the train was a full scale engine:
    "... It is also thought that a German plane crashed when trying to shoot at the train, the pilot misjudging the height owing to the scale of the train... "

    So - if a model railway can bring down a Stuka, who says you can't shoot down a fighter with an air rifle!!!

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    NZ newspaper advert Sept21 1942


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    Quote Originally Posted by cinedux View Post
    Very interesting, thanks Trevor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cinedux View Post

    Any idea how many were supplied, Trev?

    If anyone is thinking 'Yeah, right' I'd just like to point out that this is the nation that voluntarily assumed rationing, out of solidarity with the Mother country Great Britain.

    ATB, Mick
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    Advert

    Mick,I found this in 'Papers Past'(an interesting site).I've no idea how many guns they rallied-or why they didn't want Greeners.Weird,eh? I do recall sitting up in an old oak in the front garden,tossing acorns at a platoon of Home Guarders carrying broomsticks!regards Trev

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    Quote Originally Posted by cinedux View Post
    I've no idea how many guns they rallied-or why they didn't want Greeners.Weird,eh?
    Could it have been that they didn't want break barrels, only underlevers, perhaps because the rifle practice would have been in the prone position?
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