|Type||Light machine gun|
|Place of origin||United States|
|Used by||See Users|
|Wars||First World War|
Pancho Villa Expedition
Irish War of Independence
Irish Civil War
Russian Civil War
Latvian War of Independence
Spanish Civil War
Second World War
1948 Arab–Israeli War
and other conflicts
Isaac Newton Lewis
The Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited
|Manufacturer||The Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited or BSA|
Savage Arms Co.
|No. built||At least 202,050 (50,000 in First World War and 152,050 in Second World War)|
Light Infantry Pattern
|Mass||28 pounds (13 kg)|
|Length||50.5 inches (1,280 mm)|
|Barrel length||26.5 inches (670 mm)|
|Width||4.5 inches (110 mm)|
|Action||Gas-operated long stroke gas piston, rotating open bolt|
|Rate of fire||500–600 rounds/min|
|Muzzle velocity||2,440 feet per second (740 m/s)|
|Effective firing range||880 yards (800 m)|
|Maximum firing range||3,500 yards (3,200 m)|
|Feed system||47- or 97-round pan magazine|
|Sights||Blade and tangent leaf|
The Lewis gun (or Lewis automatic machine gun or Lewis automatic rifle) is a First World War–era light machine gun.
History[change | change source]
The Lewis gun was invented by U.S. Army colonel Isaac Newton Lewis in 1911, based on initial work by Samuel Maclean.
The start of the First World War increased demand for the Lewis gun. BSA began production, under the name Model 1914. The design was officially approved for service on 15 October 1915 under the name "Gun, Lewis, .303-cal." No Lewis guns were produced in Belgium during the war; all manufacture was carried out by BSA in England and the Savage Arms Company in the US.
Production[change | change source]
The Lewis was produced by BSA and Savage Arms during the war. The two versions were very similar, but there were enough differences to stop them being completely interchangeable. This problem was fixed by the time of the Second World War.
Design details[change | change source]
The Lewis gun was gas operated. 
The Lewis gun used a pan magazine holding 47 or 97 rounds.
The gun fired about 500–600 rounds per minute. It weighed 28 lb (12.7 kg), only about half as much as a typical medium machine gun of the era, such as the Vickers machine gun. It could be carried and used by one soldier.
Service[change | change source]
First World War[change | change source]
During the first days of the war, the Belgian Army had put in service 20 prototypes (5 in 7.65×53mm and 15 in .303) for the defense of Namur.
Aircraft use[change | change source]
The Lewis was the first machine gun fired from an airplane. On 7 June 1912, Captain Charles Chandler of the US Army fired a Lewis gun from the foot-bar of a Wright Model B Flyer.
Notes[change | change source]
- ↑ Canfield, Bruce (October 2016). "1916: Guns On The Border". American Rifleman. National Rifle Association.
- ↑ Skennerton (2001), p. 5
- ↑ Skennerton (2001), p. 6
- ↑ Skennerton (2001), p. 7
- ↑ Skennerton (2001), p. 41
- ↑ Skennerton (2001), pp. 15, 41–46.
- ↑ Ford (2005), pp. 68–70.
- ↑ Smith (1943), p. 31
- ↑ Smith (1943), pp. 28, 32.
- ↑ Hogg & Batchelor (1976), p. 27.
- ↑ Grant (2014), p. 11.
- ↑ Bruce, Robert (March 2000). "The Lewis Gun". Guns Magazine. Archived from the original on 7 August 2009. Retrieved 12 February 2009.
References[change | change source]
- Bullock, Arthur (2009). Gloucestershire Between the Wars: A Memoir. The History Press. ISBN 978-0-7524-4793-3. Pages 62–64, 66, 69-70, 85-86.
- Chant, Christopher (2001). Small Arms Of World War II. London (UK): Brown Partworks. ISBN 978-1-84044-089-8.
- Ford, Roger (2005). The World's Great Machine Guns from 1860 to the Present Day. London: Amber Books. ISBN 978-1-84509-161-3.
- Glanfield, John (2001). The Devil's Chariots – The Birth and Secret Battles of the first Tanks. Stroud: Sutton. ISBN 978-0-7509-4152-5.
- Grant, Neil (2014). The Lewis Gun. Oxford (UK): Osprey. ISBN 978-1-78200-791-3.
- Hogg, Ian V. (1978). The Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia of the World's Firearm. A&W. ISBN 978-0-89479-031-7.
- Hogg, Ian V.; Batchelor, John (1976). The Machine-Gun (Purnell's History of the World Wars Special). London: Phoebus.
- Skennerton, Ian (1988). British Small Arms of World War 2. Margate QLD (Australia): Ian Skennerton. ISBN 978-0-949749-09-3.
- Skennerton, Ian (2001). .303 Lewis Machine Gun. Small Arms Identification Series. Gold Coast QLD (Australia): Arms & Militaria Press. ISBN 978-0-949749-42-0.
- Smith, Joseph E. (1973). Small Arms of the World (10th Rev. ed.). Harrisburg PA (USA): Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-88365-155-1.
- Smith, W. H. B. (1979) . 1943 Basic Manual of Military Small Arms (facs. ed.). Harrisburg PA (USA): Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-1699-4.
- Textbook of Small Arms 1929 (repr. ed.). London (UK), Dural (NSW): Rick Landers: HMSO for War Office. 1999 . OCLC 4976525.
- The World's Work..: A History of Our Time. Doubleday, Page. 1917. p. 195.
More reading[change | change source]
- Easterly, William McCleave; Stevens, R. Blake (1998). The Belgian Rattlesnake: The Lewis Automatic Machine Gun: A Social and Technical Biography of the Gun and Its Inventors. Collector Grade. ISBN 978-0-88935-236-0.
Other websites[change | change source]
- Scans of Lewis gun manual of 1917
- "Lewis light machine gun (USA – Great Britain)". Archived from the original on 2009-02-27. at Modern Firearms
- Animation of Lewis machine gun 1916
- Lewis gun with cooling shroud in demonstration firing