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Thread: London Small Arms Co - changeover from No.1 MkIII to MkIII*

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    Contributing Member desperatedan's Avatar
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    London Small Arms Co - changeover from No.1 MkIII to MkIII*

    In searching recently for my first No1 MkIII*, I ended up deciding to look for an LSA made version, primarily as they apparently made so few MkIII*s (1918 only) and also as I have an LSA made MkI***.

    Judging from its serial number (O97601) I have acquired what I believe is a very early example of an LSA made MkIII*.

    From my reading (e.g. Skennertonicon, Stratton, Lance's recent most excellent SMLE book) and researches online it appears that the changeover from the MkIII to the III* occurred somewhere between serial O91520 (the latest 1918 MkIII serial I've found so far, an example sold at auction in the US in 2021) and my rifle O97601. On the assumption that LSA stopped making the MkIII at a certain serial and commenced the III* thereafter that's only 6081 of a difference.

    This also got me wondering when the 1918 serials began as its often stated that LSA began making the MkIII* in the second half of 1918. The latest 1917 and earliest 1918 examples I have found so far are:

    1917 MkIII - serial O888xx (as shown on the old EFD rifles website)
    1918 MkIII - serial O89822 (DP example with the Imperial War Museum London)

    so the first 1918 rifle must lie somewhere between those two.

    If we split the difference and assume around O89000 was the first 1918 rifle, that would mean my rifle is 8600 after that. Skennerton reports that LSA made 89,990 rifles in 1918, an average of 7500 a month.

    Therefore it could well be possible that my MkIII* was made in early 1918 rather than the second half of the year. If that's the case and as LSA made 89,990 rifles that year it got me wondering if LSA made more than the 50,000 MkIII*s as stated elsewhere? However the latest serialed MkIII* I've found online was P448xx so it looks like the 50,000 is correct.

    I think I'm wrong in assuming that LSA switched from III to III* at a certain point in time and more probably they continued to make the MkIII while starting to make the MkIII*. All I need to do now is find some 1918 MkIII examples with 'P prefix serials to back that up!

    Anyhow enough hypothesising and rambling on my part so here's some pictures of my MkIII*. It's all matching numbers on the body, barrel, bolt, nose cap and rear sight with LSA "X" inspectors marks on the key parts. It's clearly spent some time in South Africa judging from the 'arrowed U' mark, lost the ears on the front top wood and sadly the butt has been sanded to within an inch of its life before a liberal coating of coffin varnish was applied at some point in its history. I'm not sure yet whether to leave alone or to try and remove it.


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    Quote Originally Posted by desperatedan View Post
    lost the ears on the front top wood
    I think Peter L said that was an acceptable mod for armorers if the wood projections had been damaged. Yes, I'd do a liquid strip of the varnish, wouldn't involve any further alterations after.
    Regards, Jim

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    Legacy Member 5thBatt's Avatar
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    Its very likely there will be an overlap of serial numbers MkIII vs MkIII* as they would not have been assembled in a single file production line.

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    Contributing Member desperatedan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5thBatt View Post
    Its very likely there will be an overlap of serial numbers MkIII vs MkIII* as they would not have been assembled in a single file production line.
    Thanks, yes that's what I suspected too but in trying to reconcile numbers it's often been stated that LSA made 50,000 MkIII*s, all in 1918 and Skennertonicon states that LSA total production in 1918 was 89,990.

    This implies that almost 40,000 MkIII rifles would have been made in 1918, and even allowing for overlap with III* production and mine being near the end of the "O' serials - 99999 being the max - most of these 1918 IIIs should therefore have been 'P' prefix.

    However I've not yet come across a 'P' serialled MkIII, only III*s with that prefix. Does this mean that LSA made more than 50,000 MkIII*s, is the 89,990 total wrong or if not why have so relatively few 1918 rifles of either Mk turned up?

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    Contributing Member desperatedan's Avatar
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    Sorry Doug, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be seeing in a Knowledge Libraryicon article about a Mk1?

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    Quote Originally Posted by desperatedan View Post
    Sorry Doug, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be seeing in a Knowledge Libraryicon article about a Mk1?
    Yes, it's one of the first LSA 1903's ... thought you might be interested ...

    1903 Mk1 LSA Enfield

    Regards,
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    Contributing Member desperatedan's Avatar
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    Thanks Doug. Appreciate the link. It's a good article.

    My apologies, my mind was focused on MkIII*s and when I replied I assumed that KL piece contained a nugget about the mysteries of MkIII/III* production.

    Best wishes

    Kevin

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    Legacy Member WillSarchet's Avatar
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    Just got in three 1918 LSA action bodies from Century. Serials as follows;

    1918 MkIII - P3506
    1918 MkIII* - P10658
    1918 MkIII* - P11775

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    Quote Originally Posted by WillSarchet View Post
    Just got in three 1918 LSA action bodies from Century. Serials as follows;

    1918 MkIII - P3506
    1918 MkIII* - P10658
    1918 MkIII* - P11775
    Thanks Will, so a 'P" serial MkIII, that's very helpful. Incidentally I've just come a cross another 1918 'P' serial MkIII on a forum elsewhere - serial P9913, a deact which I think is in the UKicon.

    So the overlap in MkIII and III* production in 1918 is potentially over around 12,000 serial numbers O97000-P10000. I'm also wondering if LSA did actually make far less than 50,000 MkIII* within the reported 89,990 total rifle production for 1918. This total implies that the 'P' serial range should stretch as far as P79000 but the latest I've some across so far is P448xx as mentioned in my first post.

    For my own curiosity I'll keep digging, but happy to be corrected if I've got the wrong end of the stick!

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