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    Contributing Member mrclark303's Avatar
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    L42A1 rebuilding

    Evening all,

    I've been mulling over what was happening to L42A1's requiring serious rebuild in the early 1980's.

    I would assume that if a rifle required a replacement action body and bolt, it would be returned to Enfield for rebuild in that time frame?

    Logically, I would summise that ROF Enfield, stripped and kept more No4T bodies than required for the initial L42 programme, as it would mean additional capability to meet further orders from the Mod, or perhaps foreign orders?



    Any thoughts chaps?

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    Really Senior Member Alan de Enfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrclark303 View Post
    Evening all,

    I've been mulling over what was happening to L42A1's requiring serious rebuild in the early 1980's.

    I would assume that if a rifle required a replacement action body and bolt, it would be returned to Enfield for rebuild in that time frame?

    Logically, I would summise that ROF Enfield, stripped and kept more No4T bodies than required for the initial L42 programme, as it would mean additional capability to meet further orders from the Mod, or perhaps foreign orders?

    Any thoughts chaps?
    I don't know the answer for the L42, maybe as the MOD would be supplying them to Enfield 'excess' rifles were available, but with the Enforcer (built in the 70's) Enfield did not have sufficient actions of their own to complete the orders, were not prepared to 're-tool' and had to buy 'secondhand' No4's on the open market strip them and build them up into Enforcers.

    There are several know examples of Enforcers using Savage and Longbranch actions - one example.
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    Mine are not the best, but they are not too bad. I can think of lots of Enfields I'd rather have but instead of constantly striving for more, sometimes it's good to be satisfied with what one has...

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    Contributing Member mrclark303's Avatar
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    That's very interesting, thanks for the reply and image.
    On a wider point, I would guess the No4T's were supplied from store to Enfied for rebuild to L42 specs as government furnished equipment?
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    I heard that the supply of actions that Bert Whittaker & later Geoff Hart used to build their specials had been the disposed of left overs from the programme to strip down 4T's & then gauge them to see if suitable for the L42 conversion programme. Bodies that were not deemed suitable or which were supernumerary eventually finding their way into their hands. However, I must emphasise that I only heard this from one source (Geoff Hart) & have never seen it substantiated elsewhere. Certainly, in about 1992 I bought an old hessian sand bag from Geoff. Inside it were four 4T bodies, all with pads on. One was a Trials action & the other three were BSA Shirleys. That is when he told me the tale. Strangely Brown has a keen interest in these derivative rifles - Mick, can you shed any light on this story?

    Apologies John - I forgot to mention this when I pm'ed you yesterday!
    Last edited by Roger Payne; 11-10-2019 at 09:53 AM. Reason: forgot something

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    Contributing Member mrclark303's Avatar
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    No problem Roger,

    I find the whole L42 contract subject fascinating as it really is a bit of a grey area.

    I had one of Geoff Hart's single shot rifles, that certainly utilised a BSA 'T' action body.

    I seem to recall giving the s/n to Mick a while back.

    All this information is invaluable,it helps to create a more complete picture.

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    At the start of the programme the MoD requirement was codified along with the number required, almost 1100. The main Ordnance depots were ordered to submit their stocks of No4T's to Enfield (via a screening process for some unknown reason to an Ordnance Depot near Ash in Hampshire) and they went in batches to Enfield where they were stripped, examined to FTR spec and rebuilt as L42's. The attrition rate was extremely high and it transpired that they would NEVER get the GSR required quantity from the quantity available from Ordnance. A cull was ordered from outside sources such as Police Forces and Ordnance depots abroad who had small stocks but even then it was looking extremely tight. Most were totally worn out and one swell known factory source told me while I was researching this that they could not even reach the basic FR standard let alone the FTR standard.

    As a result of that, instead of a complete replacement programme, the MoD had to slowly replace the No4T's with L4s's on a Command by Command basis in certain theatres (such as BAOR first) and then follow on with a similar situation for the next few years on a rotational basis as and when stocks were available. Germanyicon was replaced first and their old No4T's were inspected (and culled in their hundreds) and so on and on and on. For this reason No4T's were still 'in the system' until into the late 70's and into the 80's while the last of the No4T's were converted. There was very little slack in the system of replacement rifles or spare parts especially woodwork. It was a godsend when the new sniper rifle trials were in hand but as these floundered (let's not even go there...........) the old L42 was withdrawn from its obsolescent status and parts were re-sourced from outside suppliers - including one known to this very forum and sent back into service for reportedly another 18 months (no....., it was nearly 2 years...). No4's were stripped and cannibalised for the No4 Mk1 parts by the big workshop at Catterick who ran a WORP (a War Office Repair Programme) to do this work and these 'new' parts went back to Ordnance to keep the L42 requirement supplied.


    And in case anyone tells you they did, the MoD or Ordnance didn't buy No4T's in from outside to convert. They'd already sold those off as surplus INCLUDING because like other surplus stuff, that they were worn out or couldn't pass the gauging or accuracy tests. So why buy them back when with a bit of careful logistics there would be sufficient stocks.

    The UKicon TA Infantry were the last to get their full compliment. Yes, it was a rifle on the cheap. And talking of things on the cheap, the telescope was on the even cheaper............

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    Contributing Member mrclark303's Avatar
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    Thanks Peter, another thoroughly detailed description from you, always appreciated.

    A rifle on the cheap it might have been, but anyone who has had a chance to shoot a good L42, can attest to it's potential accuracy, not as Lazer as an L96 perhaps, but plenty good enough for government work and certainly better than the No4T.

    We are throwing some light onto the L42 contact story guys.
    Last edited by mrclark303; 11-10-2019 at 08:43 PM.
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    So going by what Peter says, my rifle which recieved a direct hit on the action whilst being carried across LCpl Nige Eyers back on the battle of Tumbledon mountain where he received his injury whilst he had an SMG in the attack, was repaired with bits at Enfield and brought back on line to fill shortfalls after the Falklands War?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Payneicon View Post
    I bought an old hessian sand bag from Geoff. Inside it were four 4T bodies, all with pads on. One was a Trials action & the other three were BSA Shirleys. That is when he told me the tale. Strangely Brown has a keen interest in these derivative rifles - Mick, can you shed any light on this story?
    Roger,
    From memory Bert Whittaker was buying in No.4's from schools who were upgrading, although not necessary to Bert's Whitaker "Special". St Elizabeth's School rings a bell although at the moment I cant find the sale notes in my research papers. (When I croak I dare say the lot will be binned by Mrs SB)

    I also seem to recall seeing papers which indicated he was buying No.4 actions (possibly T's) from Fultons; given that Bert was assembling his Specials in the South London Rifle Club which shares the back half of Fultons building that scenario seems entirely plausible.
    I have no other knowledge of where any of the other rifles came from apart from the serials numbers of actions that Bert's son sold to Geoff Hart. (I have one of Geoff's RFD registers)
    Mick

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    Thanks for that Mick.

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