The Lewis gun derives from patents relating to a gas-operated machine gun developed by Samuel N. MacLean. As the patents stood, the gun would not work. Colonel Isaac N. Lewis, a former artillery officer who developed various fire control instruments during his career, was asked by the Automatic Arms Company of Buffalo, NY, to transform it into a serviceable weapon. He could raise little interest for the weapon in the U.S. and went to Belgium in 1913 and set up the Armes Automatique Lewis company to make the machine gun. Rights to produce the gun were bought by the BSA company in England. At the outbreak of war in 1914, the Lewis Gun was adopted by the British Army, and the entire production of BSA was turned over to the Lewis Gun. One reason for this was that the Lewis Gun could be made six times faster than the Vickers Gun. The cooling system for land guns, as opposed to those in aircraft, was the barrel and the gas piston were surrounded by a number of longitudinal aluminum fins enclosed in a tubular shroud open at both ends. When the gun was fired, the muzzle blast caused air to be sucked in at the rear of the shroud and expelled at the muzzle end, so promoting a flow of cool air across the fins. The Lewis gun entered service in 1915 and remained in service during WWII many given to the merchant marine who mounted them on railings for anti-aircraft and anti-submarine fire. It was replaced for front-line service in WWII by the Bren Gun.
serial # 23253 (barrel); 5038B (bolt)
Birmingham England model 253A126;
weight 26 lbs, 11.8 kg;
barrel length 26.25 in, 667 mm;
total length 50.5 in, 128.3 cm;
Cal .303 British (7.7 mm); magazine – 47 rounds (A/A 96 rounds);
Rate of fire 550 rds/min; muzzle velocity 2450 ft/sec, 747 m/sec;
Disabled and Inspected: Lewis action cannot be cocked. Part of the magazine was removed.