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Lee Enfield Rifle

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SM-Lee-Enfield-Rifle-No4

Lee Enfield No.4 Mark I

The Lee Enfield was a bolt-action rifle that was used by Great Britain during World War II.

Description

It had a ten-round magazine and fired the British .303 Cartridge.

The original Lee Enfield known as the MLE had a weight of 4.1 kg and a length of 126 cm.[1] The MLE also had a muzzle veloctiy of 744 meters per second and a rate of fire of 20 rounds per minute. 

The MLE had a good rate of fire for a bolt action rifle and this is what allowed it to continue service with the Royal Army for decades. Although sufficient for the time, the length of the rifle eventually proved to be quite a problem as infantry tactics evolved and changed for more mobile solutions. 

Variants

The first official variants of the MLE series were the LEC and CLLE models which were fundamentally specialized variants for cavalry units. The first main variant of the MLE though was the SMLE version or Rifle, Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield Mk I. This revolutionary design, introduced in 1904, featured a shortened barrel as part of the new Royal Army policy to have an intermediate sized rifle for all of their troops instead of specialized rifles for each.

After the Mk I, the Mk II featuring several minor adjustments was introduced. However, the next real variant that was introduced was the Mk III. Its main features include support for a bayonet, improved iron sights, support for improved ammunition, and a new magazine system. The SMLE Mk III* was fundamentally a more cost-efficient model that had many little components improved for real mass production. 
Canadian Rifleman, Ortona 1943

A Canadian riflemen using a Rifle No. 4 Mk I during the Battle of Ortona

The final variant in the original designation system was the Mk V. It again had an improved sighting system that greatly aided accuracy. In 1926, all SMLE rifles were resignated using "No.". For example, the original SMLE became the Rifle No. 1 Mk III, training rifles became the No. 2 Mk I, the P14 Rifle although not officially in the series became the rifle No. 3 Mk I, and the latest rifle becoming the rifle No. 4 Mk I.[2]

It was easier to produce, had support for a new spike bayonet, was of a stronger design, and was conventionally heavier. The rifle No. 4 Mk I (T) was a sniper variant that had support for telescopic sights while the No. 5 Mk I also known as the "Jungle carbine" was the final variant in the series. Its main changes were a shortened stock and a flash suppressor. 

History

The original MLE was first introduced in 1895 as part of the Royal Army's request for a new rifle. The design soon proved to be a winner having over 17 million models made. It continued to be used throughout the Boer War, World War I, World War II, and even supplied British troops through the cold war. The reliability of the weapon also proved quite favorable with troops. 

References

  1. http://world.guns.ru/rifle/repeating-rifle/brit/smle-lee-enfield-e.html
  2. http://www.militaryfactory.com/smallarms/detail.asp?smallarms_id=128

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