Primary French Rifle of WWI

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Xaviel
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Primary French Rifle of WWI

Post by Xaviel » 17 Nov 2005 03:08

For some reason I can't seem to find the name of the standard rifle that French infantry were issued in WWI. France is one of the few countries involved in WWI whose small arms I don't know much about. If someone knows I would appreciate any information you could provide or a link to a picture of one. Also, was this rifle still used in WWII?

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 17 Nov 2005 11:28

Hello,

I guess you are refeering to the Lebel Mle1886/93 rifle ? But may also be one of the Berthier rifle ...


These carbines and rifle were mostly used in different stages of WW1 only :

Mousqueton Gras d'artillerie Mle1874/80
Type : Bolt action carbine
Total length : 990 mm
Weight (empty) : 3.26 kg
Barrel Length : 702 mm
Caliber : 11x59R mm
Magazine : 1 round
V° : 440 m/s

Carabine Gras Mle 1874/80
Type : Bolt action carbine
Total length : 1175 mm
Weight (empty) : 3.59 kg
Barrel Length : 702 mm
Caliber : 11x59R mm
Magazine : 1 round
V° : 440 m/s

Mousqueton Berthier de cavalerie Mle1890
Type : Bolt action carbine
Total length : 945 mm
Weight (empty) : 3.00 kg
Barrel Length : 474 mm
Caliber : 8x50R mm
Magazine : 3 rounds clips
V° : 637 m/s

Mousqueton Berthier Mle 1892
Type : Bolt action carbine
Total length : 945 mm (1345 mm with bayonet)
Weight (empty) : 3.20 kg
Barrel Length : 450 mm
Caliber : 8x50R mm
Magazine : 3 rounds clips
V° : 637 m/s

Fusil Chassepot Mle 1866
Type : Bolt action rifle
Total length : 1310 mm
Weight (empty) : 4.26 kg
Barrel Length : 797 mm
Caliber : 11x59 mm
Magazine : 1 round
V° : 450 m/s

Fusil Gras Mle 1874/80
Type : Bolt action rifle
Total length : 1305 mm
Weight (empty) : 4.20 kg
Barrel Length : 820 mm
Caliber : 11x59R mm
Magazine : 1 round
V° : 460 m/s


Here are several of the French carbines and rifles that were used in both WW1 and WW2.

Mousqueton Berthier Mle1892 M16
Type : Bolt action carbine
Total length : 950 mm (1350 mm with bayonet)
Weight (empty) : 3.25 kg
Barrel Length : 453 mm
Caliber : 8x50R mm
Magazine : 5 rounds clips
V° : 637 m/s

Fusil Lebel Mle1886/93
Type : Bolt action rifle
Total length : 1307 mm (1820 mm with bayonet)
Weight (empty) : 4.18 kg
Weight (with 8 cartridges) : 4.415 kg
Barrel length : 800 mm
Caliber : 8x50R mm
Magazine : 8 rounds in a tubular magazine + 1 loaded
V° : 701 m/s (Mle1886D cartridge) or 840 m/s (AP cartridge, penetration of 6mm at 400m)
Rate of fire : 13-14 rpm (trials at the Mont Valérien)
Sights : iron sights dialing from 250m to 2400m.

Fusil Berthier Mle1907/1915
Type : Bolt action rifle
Total length : 1306 mm (1826 mm with bayonet)
Weight (empty) : 3.81 kg
Barrel Length : 800 mm
Caliber : 8x50R mm
Magazine : 3 rounds clips
V° : 701 m/s

Fusil Berthier Mle1916
Type : Bolt action rifle
Total length : 1305 mm (1825 mm with bayonet)
Weight (empty) : 4.195 kg
Barrel Length : 800 mm
Caliber : 8x50R mm
Magazine : 5 rounds clips
V° : 701 m/s

Fusil "automatique" R.S.C. Mle1917 / Mle1918
Type : Semi-automatic rifle
Total length : 1330 mm (1850 mm with bayonet) for the 1917 and 1110 mm for the 1918
Weight (empty) : 5.27 kg (1917) or 4.77 kg (1918)
Barrel Length : 800 mm (1917) or 580 mm (1918)
Caliber : 8x50R mm
Magazine : 5 rounds clips
V° : 701 m/s
Principally used during the end of WW1 and the Rif war in Morocco (1921-1926) but also a few in France in 1940 and issued to sharpshooters. RSC means "Ribeyrolle Sutter Chauchat". The RSC Mle1917 was produced in a rush, without lengthy trials and quality improved as defaults were reported from the front line. The main default of the RSC Mle1917 was the chambering for the 8x50R Lebel cartridge, being too easily jammed by dirt. About 80000 were made from various subcontractors, the assembly being carried out at Saint Etienne (5000/month). The RSC Mle1918 was introduced later into the war, mainly a shorter barrel version with all the improvements implemented in the Mle1917 and with the standard Berthier 5 rounds clip system contrary to the Mle1917 dedicated clip.
About 10000 RSC Mle1918 were built with end of production early 1919. The RSC Mle18 was well spoken of by its users. During WW1 the French semi-automatic rifles were distributed to infantry units, 16 per company, to be used by sharpshooters and platoon leaders.
Considering French semi-automatic rifles, 6000 Meunier Mle1910 rifles in 7x59mm were built and delivered to the French army in 1916 (A6 model), giving satisfaction to the end user but ammunition supply was a nightmare, they were used during WW1.

Sniper rifle
The rifles issued to the snipers had the special mount for the scope and specially selected rifles with higher level of engineering in order to increase the accuracy. Each rifle was adjusted and fitted with a dedicated scope which had the number of the rifle marked on it. The most common sniper rifle during both WW1 and 1939/1940 battles is the famous Lebel Mle1886/93 rifle but the Berthier Mle1916 is also used. The cartridge usually used is the Mle1886D (created by the captain - later squadron commander - Désaleux) and the Mle1886D a.m. (amorçage modifié = modified primer) with a V° of 701 m/s. The armor-piercing cartridge "cartouche de 8mm à belle perforante (P)" can also be used (V° = 840 m/s) and was able to penetrate 6mm at 400m.

During WW1 the French snipers used a few Winchester A5 scopes (probably very few) and several civilian "lunette viseur Mignon" sights (2.5x magnification) produced by the famous MAS (manufacture d'armes et de cycles de Saint Etienne).
The Puteaux workshop developped then 2 generations of scopes : APX16/17 and APX21 (APX = ateliers de Puteaux), initially for the Lebel Mle1886/93, Berthier Mle1907/15 and Berthier Mle1916 rifles.

APX16
length : 240mm
magnification : 3x
real field of view : 130mm
range dial : up to 800m
reticle : crosshair (+) (the vertical line is fixed and the horizontal line is depending from the range dial)
marking : "A.PX16" followed by the number of the rifle to which the scope is assigned

APX17
length : 280mm
magnification : 3x
real field of view : 130mm
range dial : up to 800m
reticle : crosshair (+) (the vertical line is fixed and the horizontal line is depending from the range dial)
marking : "A.PX17" followed by the number of the rifle to which the scope is assigned
the mounting system is slightly different than for the previous APX16 scope.

In 1921 the APX16 and APX17 scopes are replaced by the APX21 scope.

APX21
length : 280mm
magnification : 3x
real field of view : 165mm
range dial : up to 1200m
reticule : V reticule (V)
marking : "A.PX21" followed by the number of the rifle to which the scope is assigned


Regards,

David

Xaviel
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Post by Xaviel » 17 Nov 2005 19:51

Perfect. That is exactly what I was looking for. Interesting info on the sniper rifles, too. Also, I had no idea that they were still using the Chassepot in WWI.

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 17 Nov 2005 20:14

Well at the very beginning in 1914 several units and especially on the rear had old rifles.

Regards,

David

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Landsturm
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Post by Landsturm » 27 Nov 2005 16:46

For short I`d say that Lebel was the standard, and Berthiers started to appear for frontline troops in 1916.

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The Edge
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Main gun also

Post by The Edge » 28 Nov 2005 13:29

I can only add that French rifles also became main armament of Serbian Army from 1916 to 1918.

Number of rifles taken by Serbian Army:
80,000 of Fusil Mle 1907/15 (for infantry)
1,800 of Mousqueton Mle 1890 (for cavalry)
10,000 of Fusil Mle 1874/80 (for non-combat troops)

David, do you have good photo of RSC Mle 1917/18 rifle?

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 28 Nov 2005 14:05

Hello,

Only for the rifles alone, not on photos with troops.

You can even (but rarely) see them on the shooting range, here a Mle1918 ;)

Image
(source : gunboards forum)

I would also advice this book (here in English version) :

Image
by Jean Huon
216 pages, 299 illustrations
France has always cloaked her military developments, particularly those concerning Ordnance, in a shroud of secrecy. Indeed, so little has been known of French arms developments and their impact on other designers that Proud Promise will obsolete everything in your library shelves on the subject of military autoloading rifle designs and whence they came. Two hitherto misattributed milestones in arms development, both part and parcel of the featured MAS series of autoloading rifles, are the no-moving-parts gas system, universally thought to have been introduced in the Swedish AG m/42B Ljungmann but in fact invented by a Monsieur Rossignol in 1900; and the rear-locking, tilting bolt, invented not by Saive or Tokarev but by the French, in 1926.
Regards,

David

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The Edge
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RSC rifle

Post by The Edge » 28 Nov 2005 14:21

Thanks for a quick reply.

I'm interested only in weapons, not militaria, so... do you have a "clean" one?

(It is still difficult to obtain some books, such as one you suggested, in Serbia)

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 28 Nov 2005 14:33

Hello,

What do you mean by "clean", the rifle alone right ?
What do you want to do with the photos ?
Send me your mail by private mail and I will forward you the few I have.

The book can be ordered via Internet (in French or English version).

Regards,

David

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 28 Nov 2005 14:58

Just by "googleing" a bit you can find photos, even a wartime photo displaying a RSC Mle1917 :

http://armesfrancaises.free.fr/FSA%201917.html

Regards,

David

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The Edge
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More than expected

Post by The Edge » 28 Nov 2005 23:45

Thanks! :D

Last one is a smasher!

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