• 1942 British Lanchester Mk1 Submachinegun

    1942 British Lanchester Mk1 Submachinegun

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    Caliber: ....................... 9x19mm (9mm Parabellum)
    Rifling & Twist: ............. 6 groove, RH twist
    Barrel Length: .............. 8.0 in, 203 mm
    Overall Length: ............ 33.5 in, 851 mm
    Weight: ....................... 9.57 lb, 4.34 kg
    Magazine Capacity: ....... 50 rounds
    Rate of Fire: ................. 600 rounds/min
    Muzzle Velocity: ............ 1,245 ft/s, 380 m/s
    Qty Mfg: ...................... 95,469 total production from all makers, Mk1 and Mk1* included (produced 1941-1942)

    Source: .... The Sten Machine Carbine by Peter Laidler, ISBN 0-88935-259-3; Wikipedia.

    1942 British Lanchester Mk1 Submachinegun

    (29 picture virtual tour)
    Observations: (by "Claven2 & drm2m")
    Note: Pics of gallery SMG provided courtesy of Milsurps.com member "Claven2", article pics provided by drm2m.

    The First World War had demonstrated to the world the utility of the submachine gun. The Germans, in particular, had put the MP18 to good use with its 9mm parabellum cartridge and 32 round detachable snail drum magazine. The MP28 brought further refinements after the war, primarily by doing away with the temperamental and difficult to produce snail drum magazine in favor of a much simple box magazine.

    In 1940, after the set backs of Dunkirk, the British Ministry of Defense began to see the seriousness of the situation in europe and to recognize the value of the submachine gun, which hitherto had been thought of as a classless thug-weapon unworthy of widespread use by the British Tommy. Initially, the Royal Air Force began to push for some form of submachine gun for airfield defense with a strong preference for a copy of the expensive and difficult to produce German MP38. As the development of an entirely new or overly complex weapon was not feasible in a very short timeframe, it was decided to directly copy the German MP28, captured examples of which were reverse-engineered. Given the pressing need, the navy decided to join with the RAF in adopting the new weapon, and played a key role in its design. This "new" submachine gun was given the name Lanchester after George H. Lanchester, the man tasked with development and production of the gun at the Sterling Armament Company. Ultimately, only the Royal Navy would deploy the Lanchester in significant numbers.

    Note the similarities of the mechanism to that of the MP28
    (Lanchester on left, MP28 on right):

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    This weapon was eventually produced in two versions, Mk.1 and Mk.1*. The Mk1* was a simplified version of the original Mark 1, which omitted the fire mode selector (full auto only) and used cheapened sights. As an intersting side note, the Lanchester Mk1 rear sight was also used on the DelIsle Commando Carbine. The Lanchester was initially issued with a 50 round magazine identical in function to the later Sten 32 round magazine, and in fact the magazines are interchangeable (see comparisson photo in the gallery for visual comparissons between the Lanchester, the Sten MkII, and their respective magazines).

    Lanchester 50 round magazines:

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    Issue Lanchester magazine pouch:

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    The first contract to produce the Lanchester submachinegun (Mk1) was issued on June 13, 1941 for 50,000 guns at 14 Pounds each. The final contract was issued on October 9, 1943.

    There were four Lanchester Assembly plants, though Lanchester assembly contracts were actually awarded to only three firms. Sterling assembly of the Lanchester was split between the Sterling Engineering Co Ltd in Dagenham (code marked S109) and the Sterling Armaments Company in North Hampton (code M619)

    Quantities Produced:
    Sterling (two factories; codes S109 and M619): at least 74,579
    Greener (code M94): 16,990.
    Boss (code S156): 3,900

    Some early guns do not appear to be code marked at all except by serial number prefix of ‘S’, ‘A’, or ‘SA’.

    Production over 28 months averaged 3,410 per month. According to contract records, Sterling was to have made guns serially numbered from 1 to 9999, then (S) A1 to about A64580.

    Sterling-made MK.1 Lanchester guns are marked on top of the magazine housing as follows:

    [‘S’ indicates Sterling manufacture and ‘A’ indicates serial number prefix]
    12028A (serial number shown on the gun below.)
    C.F. 39
    [Unknown code followed by small numbers]

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    The actual year of manufacture of any particular Lanchester can be found stamped in small almost indistinguishable numbers next to the “crossed flags” military proof mark on the top of the rearmost magazine housing flange that encompasses the casting. The gun in the gallery above is stamped "42" for 1942.

    The 50,000 Lanchesters that formed part of the first contract of June 1941 were nearly all for the Royal Navy. The first order was originally supposed to be split 50-50 between the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force, but this did not take place. By this time the British Army had supplies of the Thompson, and they made it quite clear that the Thompson was what they wanted, so the Army kept the this American-produced SMG. The Royal Air Force would ultimately receive 2,000 newly acquired Smith & Wesson 9mm carbines (SMGs), for the defence of aerodromes and airfields springing up around the country at that time.

    A later modification of the Mk 1 appeared as the Mk 1* during the latter part of the war. The fire-selector lever was eliminated on this weapon and it was capable of full-automatic fire only. Furthermore, many of the Mk 1 Lanchester's were altered to conform to the Mk 1* specification and had their selector lever removed at the factory.

    The breakdown of production numbers between the Mk 1 and Mk 1* remain unknown at this time. This is likely due to post-manufacture factory alterations of the Mk 1 guns to Mk1* configuration.

    Here we see the Lanchester Mk1 field stripped for cleaning. Note the MP38/MP40 style bolt and striker mechanism inherited from the MP28:

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    Collector's Comments and Feedback:

    1. After service with foreign forces, ex-Royal Navy Lanchesters have appeared on the international market in the last couple of decades. These are often marked with two broad arrows, point-to-point, stamped just before the serial number. The point-to-point arrows, which appear as a six-pointed star, are sometimes accompanied by the letter ’S’ and is a standard "Sold out of Service" marking. These series of marks authenticates these guns as former UK Government ordnance stores sold to foreign governments........... (Feedback by "drm2m")
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 1942 British Lanchester Mk1 Submachinegun started by Badger View original post
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. RossM10's Avatar
      Not a technical comment, but could we perhaps have our Union Flag shown the right way round?
      Warning: This is a relatively older thread
      This discussion is older than 360 days. Some information contained in it may no longer be current.
    1. reded69's Avatar
      Gun Geek Fact:
      The 2000 Smith&Wesson 9mmP Light Rifles this article mentions, were probably never issued to the RAF or anybody for that matter in the end. After they arrived in the UK, tests showed that the guns didn't work with the 9mmP that the British produced(a similar situation found with MP40s and Sten gun ammo issued to French Foreign Legion Paratroops in 1949). I guess the British version of the metric system didn't quite match up with the European original. All but 80 of the guns were destroyed and the contract canceled.
      Smith&Wesson was left in massive debt, having spent $870,000 to ready the production line for the Light Rifles already. With the US government's help, the Brits set up a new contract with S&W that began the massive production of the Victory model revolvers: 200,000 in .38-200 caliber for the British; 600,000 in .38 Special for the US.
      Personal opinion: I think the Brits should have converted or had produced all their .38 revolvers to use 9mmP in half moon clips like the 1917 .45 ACP S&W/Colt revolvers of WWI. It would have spared their ammo factories the task of producing a third pistol round(alongside .45 ACP and 0mmP)and simplified ammo supply.The .38-200 wasn't considered satisfactory by most especially after the round was modified to fit Geneva Convention guidelines with a lighter 178 grain bullet.
    1. painter777's Avatar
      [/COLOR]CF... Civilforsvaret (Civil Defense) of Denmark.

      This was bought by Denmark for CF use.
      The brass receiver housing from a Lanchester Mk.I. The ∋∈ marking indicates the gun was released for export. The “A”: after the serial number indicates the gun had “non-interchangeable parts” with other Lanchesters, a problem with these highly-crafted firearms.


      The brass receiver housing from a Lanchester Mk.I*. The M/94 stamp indicates it was part of W.W.Greener’s subcontract, and the stamp on the rear flange is 1942. This particular gun has the ∋∈ cleared-for-export marking and a post-WWII “S” (sold) indicating it was actually exported.

The SMLE 1903-1989