Training equipment

This page describes the equipment used as training aids for the Vickers machine gun. It includes variants and modifications of the service equipment, including the guns themselves, and then the specifically-designed items for training purposes only. For further information on how these items were used, then it will be necessary to refer to the appropriate manuals and the training section of this website.


The Guns

Drill purpose guns were provided for each of the different marks, with some key variants have skeletonised versions as well.

Guns, Machine, Vickers, .303-in, Mk. I, D.P.

  • Cat No. C1/BD 0601, List of changes 18579, GUNS, Machine, Vickers, .303-in., Mk. 1, D.P.

This is a standard Mk. I Vickers MG; however, due to field wear and tear, it is no longer suitable for front line service and has been down-graded to ‘Drill Purpose’ only. This is stamped with ‘DP’ on the worn parts so that they cannot be transferred to other weapons. It would often be painted with white bands on the waterjacket to distinguish it from service weapons. This particular example has also been marked with ‘EY’ on the waterjacket to identify it as suitable for ball ammunition in an emergency only. According to Goldsmith (1994), this was officially approved on 06 March 1917.

Assembled from unserviceable guns or components and marked “D.P.” on the top of the trunion block. Where possible, components are also marked “D.P.” These guns are suitable only for instructional purposes, including stripping and assembling, and under no circumstances may they be used for firing ball or blank ammunition.

Whilst it is possible that these were assembled by local armourers and REME artificers, they were also factory-produced from old weapons being sent back. The following table shows contract data relating to Drill Purpose weapons and includes DP version of the Mk. VI, Mk. VII and .5-inch Mk. V Vickers MGs. The numbers shown are disproportionate to the actual numbers of DP guns available on the collectors’ market. It must be assumed that the majority came from local sources.

DateItemMakerQuantity and Other Details
13.06.1935Vickers Mk I DP without locksEnfield50
22.08.1938Vickers Mk VII DP, LH feedEnfield8
22.09.1938Vickers Mk VI DP, LH and RH feedEnfield45
25.03.1939Vickers Mk VII DP, LH feedEnfield4
26.07.1939Vickers .5″ Mk V DPEnfield4

Despite DP guns not being suitable for field service, it appears that, in times of desperation, they were pressed into service. An example of this is the Battle of France in 1940, and the retreat against the German Blitzkrieg through the Low Countries. Longden (2009) recounts Jim Charters, a former miner and territorial in the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers supporting the 51st (Highland) Infantry Division:

“We weren’t prepared for war. It was a hopeless position, we were short of every damn thing. We took those “drill only” guns to France. It wasn’t a good start.”


Guns, Machine, Vickers, .303-in, Mk. I, Skeleton

  • Cat No. C1/BD 0602, List of changes 18579, GUNS, Machine, Vickers, .303-in., Mk. 1, Skeleton – Convtd. unserviceable Mk. 1 guns

Used for identifying parts and instructing on the mechanism of the gun. The necessary portions of the gun are cut away without inhibiting the action of the gun and enable the action to be cycled and viewed from the outside.

Provided from unserviceable guns or components, the components being sectioned to enable the action of the mechanism to be clearly seen and demonstrated.

As with Drill Purpose guns, Whilst it is possible that these were assembled by local armourers and REME artificers, they were also factory-produced from old weapons being sent back. The following table shows contract data relating to skeletonised weapons and includes versions Mk. VII, .5-inch Mk. V Vickers MGs and skeletonised locks. The numbers shown are disproportionate to the actual numbers of skeletonised guns available on the collectors’ market. It must be assumed that the majority came from local sources.

DateItemMakerQuantity and Other Details
14.06.1938Skn Vickers .5″ Mk VEnfield6
22.08.1938Skn Vickers .303Enfield1
25.03.1939Skn MG Vickers Mk VIIEnfield1
25.03.1939Skn MG Vickers locksEnfield2

The skeletonised gun in the VMGCRA collection has been the subject of one of our video studies.


Gun parts

Lock, Skeleton, Instructional, Mk. I

  • Cat No. C1/BD 0762, List of changes A7792, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .303-IN., MK. I, Lock, Breech, Mk. I, Skeleton

Goldsmith (1994) identifies the introduction of this by List of Changes 24428 of 23 June 1921.

The example in the photo below is deactivated to British standards by having the firing pin shortened and the extractor cut to an angle of 45 degrees to ensure it does not pick up a round of ammunition.

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Attachments, blank firing

Details of the blank firing muzzle attachment can be found in the spares pages. There is also a video of it in use produced by the VMGCRA.

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A Vickers MG fitted with a blank firing attachment being used by the 1st Bn Manchester Regiment in Malaya, 1941.

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Locks, breech, Mk. I, D.P.

  • Cat No. C1/BD 0761, List of changes A7792, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .303-IN., MK. I, Lock, Breech, Mk. I, D.P. – Electro-coppered

Assembled from unserviceable components and are electro-coppered for distinguishing purposes.


Locks, breech, Mk. II, D.P.

  • Cat No. C2/BG 0277, List of changes B 173, GUNS, MACHINE, VICKERS, .303-IN., Locks, breech, Mk. II, D.P. – Electro-coppered. With Mk. II, No. 1 of Mk. II, No. 2, D.P. extractors

An additional training aid to enable the lock to be stripped down properly and reassembled without wear on service components. Goldsmith (1994) identifies that this was introduced by List of Changes B-173 on 19 March 1936 – he does not identify introduction of the Mk. II and fails to identify the status of the Mk. II as being for Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV).

Are similar to the Mk. I pattern, differing only in that they are fitted with Mk. II D.P. extractors for instructional use on A.F.V. pattern .303-in. guns.

As a safety precaution in both patterns of locks, the point of the firing pin is reduced so that it does not protrude beyond the face of the extractor.


“D.P.” Barrels

may only be used in service guns for firing single shots of blank ammunition.

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Tubing, condensor, steam, Mk. III, dummy

  • Cat No. C1/BD 2680, List of changes B 1726, TUBINGS, CONDENSER, STEAM, VICKERS .303-IN. M.G., Mk. III Dummy – For use with D.P. guns

consists of a 6-ft. length of rope, one end being fitted with a wire hook to provide means of assembling the dummy tubing to the plug chain on Mk. I pattern guns.


Short D.P. belt

holding 25 rounds, for use with .303-in. guns, can be made up locally by using the tangs and the good part of an unserviceable 250-round belt. These belts are only to be used with D.P. guns for setting up stoppages, etc.

Instructional aids

Instructional posters

The instructional posters were provided to the Machine Gun Training Centres, Schools and REME Armourer’s training centres.

Copies of all of the training posters held by the VMGCRA have been copied and are available to purchase from the sales page.

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These posters date from 1951.


Spotlight training apparatus

  • Cat No. C1/MG 49A, List of changes C 2873, CASES, SPOTLIGHT TRAINING APPARATUS, Mk. 2 – For 1 App., training, spotlight, .303-in. Vickers M.G., Mk. 1
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6008, List of changes B 3042, APPARATUS, WEAPON TRAINING, SPOTLIGHT, Mk. II – For Guns, machine, Vickers, .303-in., Mk. I. Consisting of spotlight projection; 2 projector clamps; adjusting rod; link; No. 2 link screw; No. 5 bracket with screw; projector sight; gun band; M.G. sound simulator; switch; and Mk. II connector. Without: Bulbs, 6-volt, H (Section W2) Qty 2; Transformer-rectifier Unit, Mk. I (Section W 2) Qty 1.
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6130, …Bands, Gun – Complete with thumb-screw and split keep pin
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6131, …Brackets, No. 5 – With clamping screw
  • Cat No. B2/BC 3760, …Clamps, Projector, Spotlight – With clamping screw; wing nut; and washer.
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6132, …Connectors, Mk. II – Consisting of six branch leads of “Cord, electric, V, twin, 0.001” with six “Tabs, No. 4, B.A. slot”; Bell-push, pear-shaped, Mk. I”; one “2 pin, 2-amp.,” and one “2 pin, 5-amp., H.S. plugs” (Section W 2)
  • Cat No. B2/BC 3779, …Links
  • Cat No. M.T. 5/46593, …Nuts, Hexagon, Projector Clamp – To be demanded as “Nuts, Whitworth Motor Standard, bright steel, hexagon, lock, ¼-in.”
  • Cat No. G1/GA 0721, …Nuts, Wing, Projector Clamp – To be demanded as “Nuts, Wing, B.S.W., No. 5”
  • Cat No. B2/BC 3793, …Projectors, Spotlight – Assembled; consisting of outer tube with lens, lens securing ring and 3 fixing screws; inner tube with cap, 2 terminals (1 long, 1 short), insulating sleeve and lamp socket; and locking screw.
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6132, …Rods, Adjusting
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6134, …Screws, Band, Gun – Thumb, complete with split keep pin
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6135, …Screws, Bracket, Graduated
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6136, …Screws, Bracket, No. 5
  • Cat No. B2/BC 3764, List of Changes B 4152, Screws, Clamping Switch – To be demanded as “Apparatus, weapon training, spotlight, Screws, clamping, bracket
  • Cat No. B2/BC 3766, …Screws, Clamp, Projector
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6137, …Screws, Link, No. 2
  • Cat No. B2/BC 3804, …Screws, Locking, Projector Tubes
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6138, …Screws, Strip, Contact, Switch – Brass. Also for screw, terminal, switch, upper
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6139, …Screws, Terminal, Switch, Lower – Brass
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6138, …Screws, Terminal, Switch, Upper – To be demanded as “Screws, strip, contact, switch”
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6140, …Screws, Traversing – With steel collar and pin
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6141, …Sights, Projector – Consisting of graudated stem; slide; graduated bracket with screw; and traversing screw assembled
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6142, …Simulator, Sound, M.G. – Complete
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6143, …Slides, Stem, Graduated
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6144, …Springs, Contact, Sound Simulator
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6145, …Springs, Securing, Armature, Sound Simulator
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6146, …Strips, Contact, Switch, Lower
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6147, …Strips, Contact, Switch, Upper
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6148, …Switches – Complete with 2 clamping screws
  • Cat No. M.T. 5/15347, Washers, Projector Clamp, No. 1 – To be demanded as “Washers, B.S.W., bright steel, Engineers, &Frac14;-in.”
  • Cat No. C1/BD 6149, …Wasters, Projector Clamp, No. 2 – Countersunk.

This apparatus is designed for aiming instruction and comprises a spotlight projector, which can be operated either by the instructor or gunner, and a simulator to represent machine gun fire.

The spot light projector, which is identical with that used with the rifle, is mounted on a steel adjusting rod connected to the gun by a clamping bracket and projector sight.

The clamping bracket fits round the M.G. foresight bracket.

The projector sight which consists of a modified Lewis M.G. tangent sight leaf, fitted to a slotted bracket having a traversing screw, is mounted on the M.G. barrel casing by a hinged band. The leaf and bracket are graduated for elevation and direction in hundreds of yards and degrees respectively, so providing the means for sighting the projector.

The M.G. sound simulator consists of a hardwood box containing an electric bell action and a wooden sound box. Terminals are fitted to the side of the box for attaching the connector.

The switch consists of a fibre base with contact strips and two steel brackets with clamping screws for securing to the lower arms of the M.G. rear-crosspiece. Operation of the M.G. firing lever closes the switch so bringing the sound simulator and spotlight into action.

The Mk. II connector provides the means of connecting the spotlight projector, switch, M.G. sound simulator and transformer, and have a pear-shaped bell push which is incorporated for use of the instructor.


Training frames

When soldiers were learning how to fire at aircraft, it was clearly not appropriate to allow them to fire at aircraft, or even drogues towed by other aircraft. Therefore, there were a number of different items introduced to help them practice. In the late 1930s, these were introduced alongside Pamphlet No. 6 of Volume I of the Small Arms Training series of manuals (which contained the diagrams to be made locally as in the table below).

The items authorised for use by machine gun battalions and machine gun depots were as shown in the table below. It is thought that the spotlight projector is that for the light machine gun and not the Vickers machine gun as it relates to anti-aircraft training.

UnitsModel aeroplane, poles and standsSilhouette of aeroplanes for aiming and firing instructionMoving target for use with the spotlight projectorSpotlight projector
MG Bn510Made locally4
MG depot24Made locallyNil
Adapted from Army Council Instruction 157, February 1939

In May 1940, Army Council Instruction 567 authorised the Small Arms School at Netheravon to possess 10 model aeroplanes, poles and stands, 50 silhouettes and 4 projectors. It also increased the allocation for the MG Bn, MG training centres and MG holding battalions to 10 model aeroplanes, poles and stands, 20 silhouettes and 4 projectors and transformers.

  • Cat No. C1/BE 6845, List of changes B 7242, FRAMES, TRAINING, Single, A.A. sights, Mk. 1
  • Cat No. C1/BE 6846, List of changes B 7242, FRAMES, TRAINING, Target, Fixed, A.A., Mk. 1
  • Cat No. C1/BE 6847, List of changes B 7242, FRAMES, TRAINING, Target, Revolving, A.A., Mk. 1
  • Cat No. C1/BE 6848, List of changes B 7242, FRAMES, TRAINING, Twin, A.A. sights, Mk. 1

Rattle

Used to simulate the noise of machine gun fire during training.

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Sources: