Machine Carbine Lanchester.

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Machine Carbine Lanchester.

Richard Ashley
  Folks,
    Whilst I might be the one to throw a spanner into the works, this one is fascinating and concerns the Lanchester Machine Carbine and the Aux-Units.
   I have recently acquired a Mk.1* that belonged to "a fellow in the secret army". I once owned serial No.5 Lanchester with a steel magazine housing, selective fire, 0 to 600 adjustable backsight and a standard of finish to die for.
   These guns were our attempt, far too late, to try to fill a gap ignored by anyone of importance who suddenly realised that we really did need "a gangster gun", firing automatic, pistol calibre and therefore something that had little range, fired a low powered cartridge, would waste ammunition and therefore had no tactical, practiful use in our armouries. 1940 put paid to any of that when we met the Germans equipt with MP38's and '40's. We had a stark choice, buy what was available, design our own or copy somone elses. We did all three, buying Thompsons that used up all  our gold reserves, only a third got here, design our own resulting in the magnificent Sten ? Yes, it was a superb gun even though the magazine was dreadful or copy someone elses. Between the wars thankfully, we looked at those available and favoured the Schmeisser MP (machine pistol) 28 Mk.2. Some wag decided that as we were at war with the makers, they might be reluctant to sell us any so against anything British, we decided to copy it without the Germans permission. The Sterling engineering Co. in Dagenham had the job, it was that or make idler wheels for armoured cars and Sterling decided that George Lanchester shouls lead the design team. He was a tank/armoured car man, not a gun designer but he did his best, resulting in the Lanchester Machine Carbine.
    A navy gun ? Actually no whatever the "experts" might record. The fear was that Operation Sealion, the seabourne invasion would be precided by a massive airbourne invasion of both parachutists and glider forces right accross the country who's job was to drop, consolidate, dig in and defend pockets rather like Market Garden in Sept. 1944. This would enable the seabourne invasion to criss cross the country relieving these pockets and increasing the attack by battle hardened airbourne soldiers.
   Even though parachutist troops feared little, they didn't want to land on hills, outcrop rocks, valleys, rivers, high voltage wires, telegraph wires, trees, buildings in fact anything that wasnt level and clear of obstacles. These equated to airodromes and airports, manned by RAF ground crew. It was these folk that needed a rapid firing gun to shoot at decending parachutists, hence the Lanchester. That the navy eventually had these guns is neither here or there. When they were really needed, these were ground guns, signed over to the RAF to defend whatever was thought to be a threat. That the brass magazine housing must be naval because they love ? to polish brass is nonsence, they were brass because it was easier to cast brass than machine out of steel, rather than the brass Vickers feed blocks, steel in the Great War. The first 120 Lanchesters had steel magazine housings.
   I've recently managed to acquire a Machine Carbine 9mm. Lanchester Mk.1* made in 1943 that most certainly was the property of a former Aux-unit volunteer. Of that there isn't any doubt. This rather spreads the web of kit wider, I can only presume that nobody has related Lanchester to Aux-unit and this example will follow me at end-ex as a Lanchester carbine but I hope it stirs anyone into realising that the hard and fast boundaries can sometimes be seen to be rather too rigid. This gun has no cast iron provenance, just its owners belief that their father although never mentioning his anything in the war apart from service in the Home Guard projects an ever better understanding about whatever.