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delboy

Volley Sights

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Became the proud owner of a deact BSA 1914 SMLE with volley sights :rolleyes: How were the soldiers trained to use such a device as I have tried to use it but it is very hard to see the small bead on the front sight :( So how on earth did this device work and was it any good?

Thx Allan

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Hi Allan

Remember you are not trying to hit an individual, just the oncoming grey mass.

Set the pointer of the dial at the given (by your officer) range, raise the "spoon" of the rear sight until it locks, and with the rifle in a far from comfortable position sight as per the illustration, and as they told my grandfather in training if they get closer than 800 yards, you aint doin' it right.

Gareth

post-890-1178222306.jpg

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There's been previous debate about this. They're an interesting curiosity, and an example of optimism made concrete. I reckon in view of ordinary manufacturing tolerances, coupled with the significant angle of descent of bullets at volley fire ranges, that unless the rifles were exceptionally well calibrated, the shooters very experienced and - above all - the rangefinding precise within 10 or 20 yards, the dispersal of rounds would be such that it's unlikely the enemy would even be aware they were under fire.

There appear to have been a few cases where volley fire at more than 2000 yards was used, but I've never heard of any where it was proved to have had any effect.

Volley sights were dropped from standard rifles for the very good reason that they were valueless. Plenty of opportunities for long-range rifle fire arose later than WW1 - the North African battles in WW2 for example - but no-one ever attempted to revive the idea.

Regards,

MikB

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Hi Allan

Remember you are not trying to hit an individual, just the oncoming grey mass.

Set the pointer of the dial at the given (by your officer) range, raise the "spoon" of the rear sight until it locks, and with the rifle in a far from comfortable position sight as per the illustration, and as they told my grandfather in training if they get closer than 800 yards, you aint doin' it right.

Gareth

Gareth

Thx for the info, makes it easier to understand now ;)

Regards Allan

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There was a long and sometimes animated thread on this in the last two or three months.

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As is the case in all wars, the need to manufacture weapons for ones Armed Forces in the quickest and most cost effective method possible, saw the 'Volley Sight' along with the 'Magazine Cutt-off' dropped from use in production as regards the Enfield No.1 Mk.3 SMLE Service Rifle. It was for ease of production, not as has already been mentioned, quote: 'they were valueless' end quote.

Volley sights were used to very good effect during many of the Victorian British Empires 'Little Wars'. Set at beyond the effective range of an individual soldiers skills, a group in long range volley fire could bring down or greatly depleate a massing enemy or monouvering gun-team.

Seph

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Volley sights were used to very good effect during many of the Victorian British Empires 'Little Wars'.

Let's hear some evidence, then. I've looked in vain for accounts that say anything more than that they were used, without comment on effect. Whereas I do remember reading (and I wish I could find it) an account of range trials against huge canvas sheet targets at volley fire ranges showing very poor results.

But to me it simply stands to reason:- the volley sights are attached to the woodwork of the rifle and can have only the most casual relationship with the boreline, subject to very many conditions capable of varying it. Add to that the fact that they're finger-, not screw-adjusted and have no secure retention of setting, the enormous multiplication effect of small setting errors over such distances, the great difficulty and expense of calibrating the things at ranges where direct impact observation is impossible, and you have a system that is quite frankly laughable. :P:D

Regards,

MikB

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yep, round and round we go, and when the music stops we all grab a chair. I think they are called volley sights because we keep firing off on the damn things.

Although I am intrigued by their retention onto the P14, there must be some written evidence, as to why it was thought worthwhile to include them in what was going to be our last word in up to date military rifles, even if they were all removed not long afterwards.

Gareth

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Volley sights for volley fire? Are people confusing volley fire with the use of Volley sights? Considering WWI was the transitional period in the evolution of warfare, I'm not surprised that Volley sights were included on the SMLE or P14.

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As trutherqw says, there was a long thread on this some while ago.

I accept what MikB says about the cumulative effect of errors of aiming etc., but we must not forget the way that armies confronted each other at the end of the 19th Century and the fact that Britain expected to be fighting massed ranks of so called "savages" as in the Sudan and on the NW Frontier.

An enemy of perhaps several tens of thousand strong might mass at a distance of a mile from the British line, so the effect of a battalion of 1000 men volley firing say two magazines would result in 20,000 rounds falling in a wide area. A rifle firing at 300 yards is a point weapon, but volley firing in this manner is an area weapon.

Also, range finders were available, either with the attached artillery or with the Maxim detachment.

We won't ever agree on this, but I can understand why the volley sights were fitted originally, although I agree that by the time that the Pattern 14 was being designed they were perhaps obsolete. However, the officers specifying the features of the rifle would have earned their spurs in conflicts where the sights may have been effective.

Regards

TonyE

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...there must be some written evidence, as to why it was thought worthwhile to include them in what was going to be our last word in up to date military rifles, even if they were all removed not long afterwards.

Mythology, old chap, that was the reason... :D

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Mythology, old chap, that was the reason

The one thing the treasury will not sanction is expenditure on mythology. If it was thought worth the 1s 4d, it must have cost to make each set, then there was a reason, because the treasury would have squeezed every last farthing out of the P14 budget. Sorry, but I don't buy into the myth about myth.

Gareth

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Mythology, old chap, that was the reason

The one thing the treasury will not sanction is expenditure on mythology.

It will if it doesn't know. And, being composed primarily of accountants, it would be unreasonable to propose that it should.

Sometimes nobody knows. What about Malendrin discs? Turpenite? The Grand Panjandrum? Rocket-propelled tanks?

It's always been possible for astute salespersons to outmythologise the treasury, providing they can produce officers with sufficient bluster and puff to carry the argument. After all, the idea of an armoured, crawling pillbox in WW1 must've looked to many like just another mythical wonderweapon...:D Lucky it got backing from the spinners that it did.

Regards,

MikB

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I have to confess to complete ignorance over Melendrin Discs, or the awful turpentine, Ooops sorry turpenite, but I thought the grand panjandrum, was a wonderful example of the art of black propaganda, so well worth the money. As for the tank....proves my point money spent on something that worked.

Careful though I think we are straying into a war yet to come.

Have to go and prepare my Leach Trench Catapult for a starring role at Ft Nelson's WW1 show, again money well spent on a rediculous contraption.

Gareth

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The AWM currently has a three month exhibition titled "Lawrence and the Light Horse". On display is an SMLE reportedly captured by the Turks at Gallipoli, then captured from the Turks by Arabs and presented by them to Lawrence who used it during the War and presented it to George V after the war. The Queen has loaned it to the AWM for the current exhibition. It has a Volley Sight and I thought the following from Mike Cecil, Head of Military Heraldry and Technology at the AWM might be of interest to members.

"Its a 'Tangential Sight' or 'Long Range Volley Sight 'or 'Long Range Dial Sight'. The 1888 Long Lee Enfield trials rifle paperwork simply calls it a 'Dial Sight', so this is the safest description. They were standard on all .303 rifles until 1915 (including the Long Lee Enfields).

There are two parts: the dial on the side of the timber work 1/2 way along, and a flip up aperture sight that is nestled in behind the safety catch on the left side of the action at the rear. It pivots on the safety catch pin and uses the same external spring to provide tension. When flipped up, the lugs engage notches in the spring and keep the aperture sight erected with a slight forward angle. The Dial Sight part is rotated to the desired (or estimated) distance, from 1700 yards to 2700 yards, and the rifleman sights through the aperture and across the top of the lug of the handle on the dial sight. The rifle is canted up at what seems to be an absurd angle from the line of sight, especially with the longer ranges. You actually sight along a tangent adjacent to the barrel line, rather than along the barrel or at a converging angle as you would with the normal adjustable battle sights (hence one of the descriptions as a 'Tangential Sight')

The Dial Sight was designed to be used with the Magazine Cut Off, a plate that can be pushed across the top of the magazine to prevent the rounds from indexing upwards when the bolt is worked. The idea was that a body of men could engage tightly packed masses of advancing enemy at extreme ranges by firing 'volleys' and loading single shot each time, under the command of their NCO. The 'dropping' of large numbers of heavy 215 grain weight bullets into a mass of men at extreme ranges would start to falter an advance and hopefully cause 'disquiet' among them at least. As the enemy drew closer, the sights would be adjusted, until the enemy were close enough to disengage the Magazine Cut Off and fire more rapidly using the magazine feed over shorter ranges, and using the standard blade and adjustable leaf sight on the top line of the barrel."

Cheers

Chris

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The AWM currently has a three month exhibition titled "Lawrence and the Light Horse". On display is an SMLE reportedly captured by the Turks at Gallipoli, then captured from the Turks by Arabs and presented by them to Lawrence who used it during the War and presented it to George V after the war. The Queen has loaned it to the AWM for the current exhibition. It has a Volley Sight and I thought the following from Mike Cecil, Head of Military Heraldry and Technology at the AWM might be of interest to members.

"Its a 'Tangential Sight' or 'Long Range Volley Sight 'or 'Long Range Dial Sight'. The 1888 Long Lee Enfield trials rifle paperwork simply calls it a 'Dial Sight', so this is the safest description. They were standard on all .303 rifles until 1915 (including the Long Lee Enfields).

There are two parts: the dial on the side of the timber work 1/2 way along, and a flip up aperture sight that is nestled in behind the safety catch on the left side of the action at the rear. It pivots on the safety catch pin and uses the same external spring to provide tension. When flipped up, the lugs engage notches in the spring and keep the aperture sight erected with a slight forward angle. The Dial Sight part is rotated to the desired (or estimated) distance, from 1700 yards to 2700 yards, and the rifleman sights through the aperture and across the top of the lug of the handle on the dial sight. The rifle is canted up at what seems to be an absurd angle from the line of sight, especially with the longer ranges. You actually sight along a tangent adjacent to the barrel line, rather than along the barrel or at a converging angle as you would with the normal adjustable battle sights (hence one of the descriptions as a 'Tangential Sight')

The Dial Sight was designed to be used with the Magazine Cut Off, a plate that can be pushed across the top of the magazine to prevent the rounds from indexing upwards when the bolt is worked. The idea was that a body of men could engage tightly packed masses of advancing enemy at extreme ranges by firing 'volleys' and loading single shot each time, under the command of their NCO. The 'dropping' of large numbers of heavy 215 grain weight bullets into a mass of men at extreme ranges would start to falter an advance and hopefully cause 'disquiet' among them at least. As the enemy drew closer, the sights would be adjusted, until the enemy were close enough to disengage the Magazine Cut Off and fire more rapidly using the magazine feed over shorter ranges, and using the standard blade and adjustable leaf sight on the top line of the barrel."

Cheers

Chris

Just regarding the .303 rifle you mentioned, I recall seeing this rifle in the Imperial War Museum in London, on display in the Middle-East section

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The Dial Sight was designed to be used with the Magazine Cut Off, a plate that can be pushed across the top of the magazine to prevent the rounds from indexing upwards when the bolt is worked. The idea was that a body of men could engage tightly packed masses of advancing enemy at extreme ranges by firing 'volleys' and loading single shot each time, under the command of their NCO.

I wonder where they get this from, since (as quoted by another GWF member):

Hi Des,

IAW Musketry Regs Part I, 1909 with 1914 Amendment, Page 104, Para 264.

Section 53 - Use of the Safety Catch and Cut-Off

Troops armed with rifles fitted with safety catches will invariably set the catch to safety before movement. The use of the cut-off is to be confined in their case to occasions when they are not actually engaged with the enemy, when it may be employed for the purpose of charging the magazine without inserting a cartridge in the chamber, or to unload the rifle while retaining cartridges in the magazine. It is never to be used to enable the rifle to be used as a single loader, and is not to supeceded the safety catch.

Hope this helps

Aye

Tom McC

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HERE just for the record is the last go around on this...

Chris

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