Lewis Machine Gun
Lewis Machine Gun
Manufactured: 1913
Industry: The Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited or BSA
Region of Origin: United States
Cartridge: .303 British .30-06 Springfield
Range: 3,500 yards (3,200 m)
Rate of Fire: 750–950 rounds/min
Users: Echo Park (Only one used by far)
Years Active: 1913-1953

The Lewis Gun (or Lewis Automatic Machine Gun) is a World War I–era light machine gun of American design that was perfected and widely used by the British Empire. It was first used in combat in World War I, and continued in service with a number of armed forces through to the end of the Korean War. It is visually distinctive because of a wide tubular cooling shroud around the barrel and a top-mounted drum-pan magazine. It was commonly used as an aircraft machine gun, almost always with the cooling shroud removed, during both World Wars.

History Edit

The Lewis Gun was invented by US Army Colonel Isaac Newton Lewis in 1911, based on initial work by Samuel Maclean.

Despite its origins, the Lewis Gun was not initially adopted by the American military—most likely because of political differences between Lewis and General William Crozier, the Chief of the Ordnance Department.

Lewis became frustrated with trying to persuade the US Army to adopt his design and so ("slapped by rejections from ignorant hacks", as he said), retired from the army. He left the United States in 1913 and headed to Belgium (and shortly afterwards, the UK). He established the Armes Automatique Lewis company in Liege to facilitate commercial production of the gun.

Lewis had been working closely with British arms manufacturer The Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited (BSA) in an effort to overcome some of the production difficulties of the weapon. The Belgians quickly adopted the design in 1913, using the .303 British round, and in 1914, BSA purchased a licence to manufacture the Lewis Machine Gun in the UK, which resulted in Col. Lewis receiving significant royalty payments and becoming very wealthy.

The onset of World War I increased demand for the Lewis Gun, and BSA began production (under the designation Model 1914). The design was officially approved for service on 15 October 1915 under the designation "Gun, Lewis, .303-cal." No Lewis Guns were produced in Belgium during World War I; all manufacture was carried out by BSA in the UK and the Savage Arms Company in the US.

The Lewis was only produced by BSA and Savage Arms during World War I, and although the two guns were largely similar, there were enough differences to stop them being completely interchangeable. BSA-produced weapons were not completely interchangeable with other BSA-produced Lewis guns, although this was rectified during World War II.

The major difference between the two designs was that the BSA weapons were chambered for .303 British ammunition, and the Savage guns were chambered for .30-06 cartridges, which necessitated some difference in the magazine along with the feed mechanism, bolt, barrel, extractors, and gas operation system.

Savage did make Lewis Guns in .303 British calibre; the Model 1916 and Model 1917 were exported to Canada and the United Kingdom and a few were also supplied to the US military, particularly the navy. The Savage Model 1917 was generally produced in .30-06 caliber, a number of these guns were supplied to the UK under lend-lease during World War II.

Trivia Edit