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Boys Mk I AT Rifle
Boys Anti-Tank Rifle
Country of origin

Great Britain

Manufacturer(s)

RSAF Enfield

Designer(s)

Captain H.C. Boys

Year(s) designed

1936 - 1937

Production began

1937

Production ended

1940

Weapon type

Anti-tank Rifle

Caliber

.55 Boys

Action

Bolt action

Overall length

1.58m (62.2in)

Barrel length

0.91m (36in)

Weight

16.3kg (36lb)

Magazine/Cylinder capacity

5

Maximum effective range

300m (330yards)

Used by

Great Britain, Australia, Canada, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Finland, France, Nazi Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Philippines, Soviet Union, United States

The Boys Anti-Tank Rifle was, as the name suggests, a British anti-tank rifle, named for Captain H.C.Boys (head of the design team developing the rifle), who died a few days prior to the rifle's approval for service in November 1937. Commonly refered to simply as the "Boys Rifle", the rifle was originally named the Stanchion until the death of Boys, as a mark of respect.

Design DevelopmentEdit

To combat the recoil caused by the .55 round the barrel was mounted on a slide, with a muzzle brake and shock absorber fitted to the bipod. The Boys Rifle also utilised a padded butt and smaller grip below it, all of which added to the cumbersome weight of the rifle. Despite all of these features the Boys Rifle's recoil was said to be terrific, causing numerous neck strains and bruised shoulders.

In 1942, although the anti-tank rifle, in general, had become obsolete, a short barrelled version had been tested intended for use with parachute troops.

AmmunitionEdit

The Boys Rifle was designed to use a .55 caliber bullet, designed for penetration against armoured vehicles. By 1940 the team developed a tungsten-cored bullet which achieved a muzzle velocity of 990.6m/s (3250ft/sec), which outclassed the original bullet which fired at a muzzle velocity of 747m/s (2450ft/sec).

AdaptationsEdit

Following the war the Boys Rifle was adapted and used, largely experimentally, as a sniper rifle. During the Korean War 1950-53 the United States (using rifles borrowed from Canada) strengthened the action and mounted them with scopes. Firing double charged .55 Boys ammunition the rifles could, reportedly, reach a distance of over 2,000 yards. A similar use was found for the Boys Rifle by Chinese forces at that time.

Main usage and ServiceEdit

Entering service in late 1937, the Boys Rifle saw it's main usage during the early to mid stages of the Second World War. Large numbers were supplied to Finland in 1939 (where it gained popularity for its effectiveness against the Soviet T-26 tanks) during the Winter War in 1939 and 1940.

The Boys Rifle was effective in the early stages of the war, notably against the Panzer I and II tanks, it quickly became obsolete, with armour on tanks and vehicles becoming increasingly thicker. Furthermore the .50 Browning (with use of armour-piercing (AP), armour-piercing incendiary (API), and armour-piercing incendiary tracer (APIT) ammunition) was just as effective against armoured vehicles, and could also be used as an anti-aircraft gun.

Although the Boys Rifle was standard issue to many divisions of the British Army it was subsequently dropped by many. The only notable exception to this was in the Pacific Theatre. The Commonwealth and British forces posted to defend British territory in Japan claimed to have destroyed several tanks (1/14th Punjabis) and was successful in punching holes in walls during the battle of Singapore (1st Cambridgeshire Regiment) although there are no Japanese accounts to justify these claims.

Several examples were sold to other countries, such as the US during the war, aswell as captured units being renamed and used against the Allies during and following the war.

The Boys rifle was renamed in several forces in which it ended up. In Finland it was issued as the 14 mm pst kiv/37. Meanwhile captured units in Nazi Germany were named 13.9-mm Panzerabwehrbüchse 782(e) following their capture after the evacuation of British Expeditionary Forces in Norway and France.

Nations to use the Boys Anti-Tank Rifle were:

  • Great Britain
    Swedish Winter War volunteers

    Swedish 'Winter War' volunteers carrying Boys Rifles

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • China
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Finland - 14 mm pst kiv/37
  • France
  • Nazi Germany - 13.9-mm Panzerabwehrbüchse 782(e)
  • Ireland
  • Luxembourg
  • New Zealand
  • Philippines
  • Soviet Union
  • United States

In september 1965 members of the IRA attacked HMS Brave Borderer in Waterford, Ireland. The Boys Rifle managed to cripple one of the turbines on the Fast attack patrol boat.


ReferencesEdit

Image SourcesEdit

Anti-Tank Rifle MK1 - http://www.dieselpunks.org/profiles/blogs/gnat-against-elephants-the

Winter War Swedish Volunteers - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Swedish_Winter_War_volunteers.jpg

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