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Boys Anti-Tank Rifle

Discussion in 'Weapons & Technology in WWII' started by Mahross, May 19, 2004.

  1. Mahross

    Mahross Ace

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    The forerunner to projectile based anti-tank weapons. Many coutries develpoed them. This was britians version.

    --------------------------------------------------

    The Boys was the only anti-tank rifle to serve with the British Army. It was designed in the mid 1930's when this type of weapon was popular everywhere. It used a bolt action feeding from a top mounted magazine and it all it's parts were robust and heavy, but it did weight 36lb (16.5 kg) which was substantial load for one man to carry.


    The barrel and breech were mounted on a slide which recoiled along the top of the stock and so absorbed some of the considerable force from the firing a 0.55-in (14mm) round. A muzzle break was also fitted to reduce the recoil still further. The weapon was supported on a monopod at the front and this too has a form of shock absorber built into it. The round was developed from a big-game rifle cartridge and was specially designed and used a belted cartridge case to withstand the firing stresses. The bullet was steel cored, although later versions had a tungsten core.

    The armour penetration was never impressive and the Boys was virtually obsolete before it entered service. It did see action in France in 1940 and in Burma and Malaya in 1941-42. It was also mounted in armoured cars and Bren Gun carriers in Egypt and Libya in 1941, where it proofed a good anti-personnel weapon in rocky terrain when rock fragments were produced by indirect fire. It was eventually replaced by the PIAT in 1942.

    [​IMG]

    http://www.btinternet.com/~ian.a.paterson/equipinfantry.htm

    I remember reading somewhere that this was used as a sniper rifle by some units. Anyone know any details?
     
  2. TheRedBaron

    TheRedBaron Ace

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    A/T rifles were used as sniper weapons but mainly by the Germans and russians for anti-sniper work as I should imagine they would blow holes in just about any cover! You seem to see photos of them mainly in urban areas which would suggest the 'rock fragment' principle...
     
  3. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    One of the weirdier users of the Boys was US Ranger battalions which all got an issue (right off I can't say how many)of these weapons for some reason. They were no more popular there than with their British users.
     
  4. Stefan

    Stefan Cavalry Rupert

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    Here is an article I wrote a while back on the Boys AT rifle, an interesting weapon and slightly under-rated I reckon it was responsible for the first Panzer kill of the war after all.

    The Rifle, Anti-Tank, .55inch, Boys

    Soon after the first British tanks rolled across no-mans-land in World War 1 the Germans realised that if they made a rifle that was a bit more powerful than the standard Mauser they could puncture the armour of even the heaviest tanks of the period. In 1934 the British war office looked at Germany and saw the increasing threat posed by the fledgling panzertruppen. Thus it was decided to modernise the Mauser AT rifle to create a portable infantry weapon that was capable of knocking out any tanks they encountered.

    In 1936 work on an AT rifle named the Stanchion was complete but just as it was about to enter production a member of the small arms committee who was one of the principle designers of the weapon died. It was decided to rename the stanchion the in honour of Captain Boys and so the Boys Anti Tank rifle entered production. This .55 inch calibre weapon was very powerful by 1930’s standards making some method of reducing recoil necessary. Thus the barrel was fitted with a muzzle break and when fired the entire mechanism rolled along a cradle against a very powerful buffer spring. There was also a thick rubber pad in the stock.

    The Boys still had a viscous kick and new recruits were often told gruesome stories of injuries suffered by firer of the Boys rifles, ranging from athletes foot to shattered spines. In actual fact the recoil was quite tolerable if the weapon was handled correctly. The problem arose when the firer loosened his grip on the weapon (something the deafening report hardly discouraged) and the rifle took over, lashing out with the combined force of the recoil and the expanding buffer spring causing a nasty bruise that would last for weeks. This simple fact is true of most small arms, the key being good weapon handling. If you hold the weapon tightly into your shoulder the recoil assembly will take the force of the recoil.

    The Boys saw action in most theatres of war perhaps seeing the most successful service in North Africa where it easily able to puncture the front armour of most Italian tanks. In Europe however it was not overly successful being designed to lie in wait for its target to approach, something hardly possible against the massed panzers of the German blitzkrieg. The last successful action in which the Boys was involved was in Malaya in early 1942 when it was used by the 1/14th Punjabs to destroy two Japanese light tanks at a road block.

    There was a Boys Mk.2 with shortened barrel, feather filled butt pad and aluminium parts, which made it smaller and lighter for use by airborne troops. Unfortunately this increased the volume of the report, decreased the penetration of the round and made it an appalling weapon to fire. Luckily by the time it was approved on July 4th 1942 a new and better weapon, the PIAT, was on the way.
     
  5. Fredd

    Fredd Member

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    So it seems The Polish Ur AT rifle was much better:

    Maker: Panstwowa Fabryka Karabinow, Warsaw,Poland
    Caliber: 7.92 mm x 107 DS
    Action type: Bolt-action repeater
    Capacity: 4
    Length: 1760 mm (69.3")
    Barrel length: 1200 mm (47.24")
    Weight: (empty) 9.5 kg (20.9 lb)
    Muzzle velocity: 1275 m/s (4183 m/s)*

    Higher muzzle velocity and smaller caliber allow to reduce recoil and weight with similiar performance.

    source: http://hem.passagen.se/dadkri/Wz35.htm

    source: http://www.geocities.com/Augusta/8172/panzerfaust6.htm

    same source about Boys:
    So Boys could penetrate only 12mm at 100m and 10mm at 500m while Polish Ur 15 mm at 100 m. Don't forget about difference in caliber 7.92 mm versus 13.9 mm. Almost twice bigger caliber!
     
  6. Tony Williams

    Tony Williams Member

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    The Boys was rather better than that. This is an extract from the Appendix on anti-tank rifles in 'Rapid Fire: the Development of Automatic Cannon, Heavy Machine Guns and their Ammunition for Armies, Navies and Air Forces', by yours truly [​IMG]

    "The two nations which provided the lineal successors to the Mauser were Britain and the Soviet Union. In Britain, the first experimental AT rifle, the .600/500" Godsal, was actually a contemporary of the Mauser M1918, but was not proceeded with. Little then happened until the mid-1930s, when much experimentation resulted in the Boys Rifle, a bolt-action weapon of brutally functional appearance, chambered for a new .55" (14x99B) round which was similar in dimensions to the .50" Browning cartridge except for the larger calibre and the belted case.

    The cartridge was available in two service AP loadings, the W Mark 1 and the improved W Mark 2. Even the performance of the latter was not a great deal better than the Mauser's, with penetration of 20mm at 100m range and 70° striking angle. Later in the war a 45.5 gram tungsten-cored shot was developed which was fired at 945m/s. It was far more effective, but came too late for service use.

    The Boys saw extensive use, with BSA producing nearly 69,000 of them. They were fitted to light armoured vehicles as well as available in a shortened version for paratroops. Despite their ubiquity, their unpleasant firing characteristics and ineffectiveness against all but the thinnest armour meant that they were never popular."

    There are two photos of cartridges for anti-tank rifles in the Ammunition Photo Gallery on my website. In this first one, the Boys round is the sixth from the left (the left hand one is the 7.92x57 German rifle/MG round for comparison, the one on the far right the .50 Browning):
    [​IMG]

    This next one covers ammo for 20-24mm AT rifles (there's a .50 Browning first, to show the scale):
    [​IMG]

    Tony Williams: Military gun and ammunition website and discussion
    forum
     
  7. TheRedBaron

    TheRedBaron Ace

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    The airborne version was never used in action. Or at least its not mentioned in any reports I have.The PIat was available, so its role was negated.

    Personally I think that any anti-tank rifle aint even worth carrying. Gimme a panzefaust any day. They may be of some use against very light armour, but lets face it, that dont mean much after '40. RAther than an anti-tank rifle, the Browning .50 seems a better bet for anti-sniping or sniping work! At least it can chuck lead out!

    But I guess the BOys and others were better than nothing. After all Russian gunners used to shoot the optics on Tigers with their A/T rifles...
     
  8. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson "The" Rogue of Rogues

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  9. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    One of the secrets to shooting any rifle with extreme recoil is to shoot with your spine in a more or less upright position. You can do this kneeling or sitting, like the fellow in the video above. This allows your upper body to flex which takes most of the pain out of the recoil - your upper body becomes a shock absorber.

    I see this at the range all the time. People like very large rifles here and you'll see people sighting in something like a .458 at the range, with their body hunched rigidly over the table at about a 45 degree angle and then "bang" followed by groans... If you shoot the same rifle with your back perpendicular to the ground (from a higher rest), it really isn't that bad - your shoulder flexes back some inches and spreads out the recoil impact.

    I wouldn't want to shoot a Boys rifle from a prone position...
     
  10. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson "The" Rogue of Rogues

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    For lack of a better place to put it...

    Friend or Foe: WW2 British Army Tank Identification Training Film.
    Thanks to: http://www.youtube.com/user/PeriscopeFilm

    This early generation of tanks is what the Boys Anti-Tank Rifle was designed to combat.

    Good film. Especially the second half.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukuIYjHYOUQ
     
  11. Don Juan

    Don Juan New Member

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    Ad Hoc firing trial of Boys rifle against Panzer I, North Africa Dec. 1941, as part of visit to Libya by Lt. Col J.A. Barlow and Major R.D. Neville.

    Tank successfully penetrated from 300 yds from side, front and rear.

    View attachment 20744

    Photos referred to:

    View attachment 20745
     

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  12. Don Juan

    Don Juan New Member

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    See below experience in France 1940 with Boys Rifle, from left to right, 4/7 Dragoons, 5 Inniskilling Dragoons, 13/18 Hussars, 15/19 Hussars:

    View attachment 20746
     

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