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Why did Britain have bad guns compared to the rest of the world???

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ChaseZachary, Mar 22, 2020.

  1. ChaseZachary

    ChaseZachary New Member

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    Let's take the sten for example, the gun doesn't even look complete, most of its variations through the war looked unfinished and terrible, Germany has their excellent mp40s and stg44s not even going to get into rifles because its a no contest with the kar98k, while the amercians had their Thompsons and grease guns russia had their ppsh-41. So what gives, why was Britain outclassed when it came to guns, even their helmets were still based on their trench helmets from ww1 which were made for trenches. 180 euros to dollars
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2020
  2. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..the Germans are/were well known for fine manufacturing ....my ancestors are German....my father was very precise in doing things ....my father was very sanitary/clean/organized/disciplined/etc -this is what the Germans are well known for ..it's their culture ...
    ...I'm American ......I am a fabricator......I am very, very precise.....I've worked in an Engineering/manufacturing/dept. as a fabricator for 14 years....now I am manufacturing/fabricator.....I see a good percentage of engineers and labor workers who are very far from being precise in their work ...jesus christ!, the engineers I work for now get at least 35% of their programming wrong--time after time --and it's really just a matter of '''proof reading''!!!
    ....we had 1 CAD writer [ not even an engineer--but did engineer work ] who did things very well...out of about 12 engineers at my old job, I'd say 3 were idiots, 3 more were not precise/etc ....others in between
    ..remember, the Germans put out these fine weapons while their country was being pounded day and night...with a naval blockade....


    ..in a nutshell, IMO, it's the German culture of organization/discipline/being precise/etc that created and creates fine manufacturing/engineering in Germany

    here's a quick search on German manufacturing--not that I like NPR:
    How Germany Wins At Manufacturing — For Now
     
  3. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    Hmmmm....the Lee-Enfield was a very highly regarded rifle. The short action made for quick follow-up shots. The rifle was modified slightly over the course of the war to make it easier to mass produce. But I'm not aware of any issues with the L-E (SMLE).

    I think it was early in WWI in which German soldiers thought they had come under machine-gun fire. Turns out to have been British infantry firing their SMLE's so quickly is seemed like machine guns.

    I think the Lee-Enfield stayed in service with multiple countries around the world until very recently. Some were used as sniper weapons.

    The 98K was a benchmark weapon, however, as the war progressed, production standards fell and the quality deteriorated to a degree. Still, an excellent weapon. However, given the choice, I'd pick that lovely SMLE.

    Western Armies were not big fans of submachine guns. They had had limited experience with them and had not developed a real appreciation for the potential utility. I tihnk the USMC developed some appreciation after WWI, but that's about it.

    The Sten was rushed into production after the war started. There was a real need for many firearms, and quickly. It was designed to be simple and quick to make. The USA did the same thing, replacing the elegant (but complex and heavy) Thompson with the M3. Cheap and effective.

    The Sten was a huge success--not perfect by any means. However, it served well in WWII and in later conflicts. It was easy enough to break down and assemble that it was supplied to resistance fighters as parts. Which made it more concealable, too.

    The Sten was popular in Israel well into the 50's (maybe later). It was used in covert operations into the 60's. I'm a bigger fan of the Thompson (with all it's issues), but I'd say the Brits did quite alright with that Sten.
     
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  4. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    The Sten is a poor example to hold up as an example of British weaponry. The SMLE was arguably the best bolt rifle of the war, accurate and rugged, with a ten shot magazine when everyone else had five shot mags. The Bren was without a doubt the best Squad Automatic Weapon of the war. The Inglis High Power was without a doubt the best sidearm of the war (though production didn't catch up until late). British artillery was a close second to American artillery, and not because of the guns, but only because Americans had overly redundant radio nets and plotting systems. Still, British artillery was far better and more accurate than German gunnery. As for the Sten, though far from perfect, they could produce ten for every MP40 that made it into German army hands. Sometimes quantity outweighs quality, and I'd argue that the Sten was a perfect example of that maxim.

    .
     
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  5. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..I see comments mentioning Brit bolt action rifles--the military doesn't use bolt action anymore--for a reason....most are automatics.....the bolt action was ''old technology''--so it's not impressive if they had ''great'' bolt action rifles .....
     
  6. harolds

    harolds Member

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    I'm not sure I totally agree with some of your comments KB. I believe the MG42 with just a bi-pod was better than the BREN. The MG34 and 42 made all magazine fed SAWs obsolete. Some would argue that the MG34 was better than the 42 because of its slower rate of fire but it was also slower and harder to manufacture.

    I'd also opine that your remarks re. the STEN vs the MP 40 are not correct. If you'd have said the MP 38 I would have totally agreed with you. The MP 40 was the MP 38 made with stampings, which of course are quicker to make than machinings.
     
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  7. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ...as I stated before, the Germans were being pounded day and night/etc ...they did remarkably well producing what they did
    questions for all:
    1. is it because they could not produce MP40s/etc faster or was it because of many restrictive aspects such as:
    a. materials and higher priority went to other projects:
    ..bb: V1 and V2s/panzerfausts/panzerschrecks/MG42s/etc
    -''could not''' meaning the complication of producing MP40s vs Stens....was there a significant difference?
    --I bring up V1s and V2s because this greatly took [ very much ] not only production away from standard weapons production, but also engineering/manpower/materials/scientists/etc

    2. didn't the Germans ''need'' and put more emphasis later in the war on man portable anti-tank weapons and crew served MGs/etc than the Brits and US? ---instead of rifles and SMGs?
    ''more emphasis'' meaning more than at the early stages of the war?

    caps for emphasis only
     
  8. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    the MG had the quick
    ..also, the MG42 had the quick change barrel
    also, many nations used the MG42 design in their future MGs....the M60 had a quick change barrel and a very similar operating system
    ..so, we see a German MG design and engineering copied by other nations
    I've fired/etc the M60 when I was in the USMC
    M60:
    M60 machine gun - Wikipedia
    The M60 Machine gun: And they called it 'The Pig'
     
  9. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    The MP 40 was still a more complex weapon to make than the Sten, and far more expensive. As for the MG42, it was still a crew served weapon even in its bipod role. It still took two men, usually three to keep it running and to carry the ammo. The Bren was a one man weapon, more like the BAR. You might detail extra men in the squad to carry a couple of spare mags each, but once on the ground it was a one man base of fire. It could be fired from the shoulder, it could be fired on the move. The MG 42 had a major problem in that with its extreme rate of fire, it could not be supplied with ammo in any extended engagement. In a fixed position with plenty of ammo it was deadly. In a squad component on the move, it had very real drawbacks.
    I might point out that after the wartime emergency, the British upgraded the Sten to the Sterling which was probably the finest submachine in the world until the MP5 and other closed bolt subguns came along.

    .
     
  10. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    Just for fun, I want to quibble with that assertion:

    1. I'm an American and therefore know for a fact that the 1911 was (is) the best sidearm ever made. Even today's tupperware pistols pale in practical comparison. :bucktooth:
    2. The High Power is a French pistol. John Browning designed, Belgian built, but French specs. So you can't give the Brits credit for that.
    -- Browning had sold the patents for the 1911so he was not able to design the Hi-Power to the same level of perfection as the 1911. He did pretty well nevertheless. ​
    3. The British did have the clunky but reliable Webley revolver. Which was nice. I suppose. :dead:
     
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  11. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    The Sterling was a classic.
     
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  12. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    we were using the 1911A1s into the 80s ..USMC ....
    ...had to go with more rounds per mag though
     
  13. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    John Browning hisself said the High Power corrected the mistakes of the 1911. I too love the 1911, but Browning was madder than hell about US ordnance insistence on adding the grip safety which was/is a stupid and redundant part that was unneeded and unnecessary. He nearly swore (he was a strict Mormon so "nearly swearing" was as close as he could get) when ordnance insisted on adding the arched mainspring housing in the 1920s which interfered with the perfect ergonomics of the original. You'll notice that civilian manufacturers laughingly discarded the arched housing early in the game.
    FN was vying for the French contract, but the specs weren't very specific. They wanted a mag fed semi with an external safety. Browning built the original High Power as a striker fired weapon, without an external hammer, but with the double column magazine that everyone has since copied. The French, who really wanted a French designed gun, then changed it to add an external hammer just as Browning died. By the time Dieudonné Saive (Browning's apprentice) reworked the High Power to a hammer fired weapon, the French had already chosen their own 1935A and S, which are copies of the Browning design with a single column magazine in 7.65 French Long (32 caliber).

    Every successful handgun manufactured today is a copy of the High Power. They use the double column mag of the High Power. They use the tilting barrel of the High Power. Some use the original striker fired mechanism of the High Power (Glock) while some use the later hammer fired mechanism, but they're all iterations of the High Power.
    The original High Power was designed (on paper) in 1926, and in 94 years nobody have been able to improve on that design.


    AluminumNew3Small.jpg
     
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  14. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    I love my Belgian-made Browning Hi-power.

    But my 1911 is more accurate. Or....I'm more accurate with my 1911. Best trigger ever. The 1911 is still in service and running strong.
     
  15. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    The German P-38 seems like a nice pistol, too.

    I've never shot one, but I've used the M9 and own a 92FS, direct descendent I think.
     
  16. harolds

    harolds Member

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    The MP40 may have been more complex but it worked! That has to count as something. The STEN didn't get the bugs worked our until the end of the war.

    As for the MG 42: Both the BREN and the MG 42 (as a SAW) had two-man teams but often casualties within the squad made it so that the gunner was alone. The number 2 man carried extra ammo and was there to take over when (not if) the gunner got hit. In the heavy MG role the MG42 crew had an extra man to carry the tripod.The rate of fire issue was easily taken care of by training the gunner to have a light finger on the trigger. Having shot 2-3 of these things I can say that it's entirely possible to do so.
     
  17. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    There are two issues here.

    #1 It depends on what basis you evaluate weapons.
    a. The Lee Enfield may not have been as good a target rifle as the Canadian Ross or German K98. However, it was reliable had a ten round magazine and you could fire 25 aimed shots a minute.
    b. The Bren was a good LMG. Far better than the BAR as a section weapon. Good enough to be taken by choice in 1982 to the Falklands.
    c. The STEN was cost effective. Although production quality was poor, it was comparable to the MP 40 and could be fired from the prone position. Cheap to make under wartime conditions and dropped in large numbers to partisans. Most soldiers prefer not to think about their weapons being built by the cheapest bidder and would rather have the gold plated version. Read any James Holland book for his argument about the pointlessness of German over engineering.

    #2 During rearmament in the 1930s British first priorities was the air force. They wanted bombers as a deterrent and later fighters for air defence. The Navy came second and the fleet needed modernising. The army came third. There was no plan for an expeditionary force in Europe until after Munich. There were lots of rifles and helmets from WW1. The deficiencies were tanks, anti tank and anti aircraft guns and radios. Furthermore after June 1940 they had to replace all the equipment left at Dunkirk. Ever since 1900 modern propellant and recoil systems meant that artillery in some form would determine the outcome of land warfare. Relative advantage in small arms, or guns as you call them, could not alter the outcome of the war. Britain spent its development effort on technology that would make the most difference. Here are some of the war winning technological designs.

    a. Aircraft engines. The Rolls Royce Merlin enabled the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire to win the Battle of Britain and powered the Avro Lancaster de Haviland Mosquito and P51 Mustang for the air war over Germany. A version of the same engine eventually allowed the British to build a decend tank - the Centurion.
    b. Standardized cost effective merchant ships that could be built quickly. The Liberty Ship was a British design.
    c. Radar technology or detecting aircraft, ships, surfaced submarines and mortar bombs in flight. Radar permitted engagements of targets in all weathers from surface to surface nd air, air to air and surface. Oh and a new type of lethal fuse action for field and AA artillery.
    d. Armoured engineers . The British developed a class of AFVs that cleared paths through minefields, destroyed obstacles and crossed gaps.
    e. Some really good artillery. The 25 pounder, 5.5" Gun, 3.7" Heavy AA Gun,. 6 Pounder (57mm) and 17 pounder Anti tank guns all compare well with the competition.
    f. Light AFVs The Universal Carrier was the most widely built AFV of all time.100,000 were built for a wide variety of mostly unsexy tasks like towing anti tank guns and carrying OP parties, mortars and machine guns.

    The British also spent a lot of development effort on making the best use of scarce materials. E.g. the 40mm Bofors gun made under licence in the UK had a simplifed design and used techniques which minimized the amount of metal machined.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2020
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  18. James Stewart

    James Stewart Active Member

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    Germany had very high production standards and as far as weapons went it was often the Army who set the specifications and they were prone to changing them, wee tweaks and " this will make it perfect" edicts which tended to complicate and dislocate production, a process which was already overly expensive in costs materials and associated man-hours.
    There is a school of thinking which goes along the track of German engineering being the best, which it often was and that it follows that what they produced were the best weapons, often no better than those which were aimed at them.
    The MP-38 and 40 were lovely guns but in Russia dirt duct and a hard life worked against them, jamming became a problem and care and maintenance was required, much more so than their Russian counterpart.
    The Sten was cheap rugged crude by German standards, it too could jam but in a wartime economy when costs materials and production were needed it worked.
    The MG-42 was a great gun, needed a lot of ammunition but it was a great weapons system, the heavy tripod, if you were carrying it, would not be the love of your life.
    The Bren - the Germans had a respect for it if I am correct it was initially produced in the Czech State ( Bruno), if the Germans captured Bens they too used them.
    The .303 as has been said in skilled hands was a force to be reckoned with.
    The Luger iconic but the P-38 which replaced it less complicated and better.
    The MP-44 too little too late.
    The 88mm was a killer no doubt about it but so was the 17lb gun . Had the 3.7 inch AA gun been used in an AT role it would have been just as good, the 25 lb field gun was outstanding as were the heavier Art.guns used by GB, perhaps not as sexy looking as the German ones but good enough to do their job well, easy to produce and to maintain.

    A gentleman whom I have met in Normandy - he has a mindblowing collection of aircraft special equipment from WW2 and an equally impressive collection of Army radio gear from all sides - his view on German gear - good but far too complicated, British gear great designs but poor quality of build, American the reverse lesser designs but excellent productions standards.
    Radar was a GB success story on par and better than anything that German could produce cm. radar was a GB invention it played a major part in the bombing war and made U boats visible on the surface when twinned with an airborne searchlight.

    A major german failure in WW2 - the torpedo it was not until well into the war that they had one which actually worked.
    Although moving a little off-topic GB did beat German in terms of some ship designs cruiser and destroyer wise. On the opposite side the Greman S- Boot was the best , beating anything else.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2020
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  19. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    "It's not the saw, it's the carpenter."
     
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  20. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    A few comments here:
    • The MP40 is not unreliable. I've read very few accounts of MP40 unreliability. It is an open-bolt submachine gun with an enclosed recoil spring. It is a simple and robust firearm. Although not discussed here I should note that despite what some say, the MP40 was not expensive to produce (those saying this are likely confusing it with the MP38 which had a milled reciever tube with various ornate features).
    • While the MP40 is a much more pleasant firearm to use, the Sten is hardly the steaming pile of crap that some make it out to be. Sten was a simple and robust firearm which was the successful output of a program to design. A very simple and very cost-effective SMG. The alleged propensity to jam is attributed to the double stack, single feed magazine (which was also used with the MP40). Feed reliability is increased when the magazine is loaded to a few rounds below maximum capacity (28-30 cartridges as opposed to 32). One repeated rumour of the Sten was it would "do a mag dump" when dropped, and some enterprising troops would throw them into a room to kill the occupants. This nonsensical.
    • The MG42 is the best GPMG of the war (admittedly, that's not saying much because at the time the only other GPMG was the MG34).
    • The Bren was based on (read: "nearly identical copy of the action" ) the Czech VZ26 LMG. At the time of its introduction the VZ26 was arguably the best LMG / squad automatic weapon in the world.
    • The P38 was a very good service pistol and certainly better in most ways than the Luger.
    • The MP44 would not have changed the war regardless of when it was produced. Like the MG34/42 it was a revolutionary weapon but it is not small arms which decided WW2.
    • The Lee Enfield No4 Mk1 was an excellent service rifle. It's sights are far better than the German 98k, as is its ergonomics and magazine capacity. ".303" is a misnomer -- there were many service rifles in .303 calibre ranging from the early Lee pattern rifles, Lee Enfield, and the Arisaka Type 99.

    Now, moving back to the original poster's comment that "Britain had bad guns" . That is wrong. Very wrong.

    • The Lee Enfield No4 Mk1 was arguably the best bolt-action battle rifle in existence. "Oh, well it was bolt action. Why didn't they have semi-autos". That is not a fair comment: a grand total of one country had a semi-auto rifle has standard issue in WW2. That was the M1 Garand, which took a staggering amount of time and effort to perfect. Compared to the service rifles of other countries: the No4 Mk1 is bounds ahead of the Carcano M91 series and it's derivatives, the 98k, and the Mosin Nagant
    • The Sten was very good. It was crude but war isn't a beauty contest. A cheap, robust and effective weapon is what the British wanted and that's exactly what they got. Many unreliability complaints stem to the double-stack single-feed magazine which was used in most SMG designs of the time. Not loading the magazine to maximum capacity led to an increase in reliability.
    • The Bren was perhaps the best squad automatic weapon of the time (for clarification: a weapon which was operated by a single person... in contrast to a belt-fed GPMG like the MG34/42). Two other competitors are the VZ26 and Japanese Type 96/99.
    • The Vickers was long in the tooth and obsolescent by the outbreak of war. It should be noted that it was a supremely reliable machine gun but it was a generation behind the curve.
    • Likewise, the British were a generation behind when it came to firearms. The Webley Mk4, Mk6, and Enfield No2s were obsolescent. However, the British were well aware of this and had wisely adopted the Browning Hi Power by late in the war. The BHP was the best combat sidearm of the era.
     
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