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Lewis Machine Gun

Right side of an American Lewis machine gun. The barrel is a large diameter tube with fins at the rear. Brown wood pistol grip and buttstock. The barrel is propped up by a metal bipod behind the muzzle. A circular pan magazine sits atop the receiver.

Title: Machine Gun, .30 Cal, Model 1917, Lewis, US, S/N 13096
Accession #: NHHC 1988-32-A
Circa: Early 20th Century
Medium: Metal, Wood
Location: Headquarters Artifact Collection, Naval History and Heritage Command

The Lewis gun is a gas-operated, fully automatic weapon designed by COL Isaac Newton Lewis in 1911. It uses a piston rod to retract the bolt upon firing and a detachable pan magazine to feed ammunition. The magazine lies horizontally atop the receiver housing and rotates clockwise during firing. The gun is air-cooled using a finned, cast aluminum heat sink through which the barrel passes. The heat sink is covered by a tubular shroud with open ends that allow the muzzle blast to draw air into the shroud and over the cooling fins of the heat sink to dissipate radiated heat. A lighter weight aircraft model was also produced without the heat sink and barrel shroud. The US Navy and Marine Corps adopted the Lewis gun in 1917 and used it into World War II. The guns were manufactured by Savage Arms Company and fired the Model 1906 .30 caliber cartridge.

The milled receiver is blued steel and rectangular with a pistol grip and trigger guard at bottom rear and a distinctive rounded housing for the main spring just in front of the trigger guard. A short, tubular charging handle protrudes on the left side of the receiver and an ejection port is on the right side, both just above the mainspring housing. The pistol grip has wood grip panels and there is a triangular wood buttstock with a metal butt plate and a raised comb attached to the back of the receiver. The top, forward portion of the receiver has a short, vertical post for attaching the magazine, which lies horizontally centered on the receiver.

The 47-round circular pan magazine is stamped steel, ribbed for strength and open on the bottom. Magazines were available in both 47-round and 97-round capacity. The barrel shroud is blued steel, tubular and has a finely checked surface. It is open on both ends and bottle-necked toward the muzzle. The rear of the finned heat sink is visible at the back of the shroud. A flip-up, adjustable rear sight is mounted at the back of the receiver and fixed blade sight is mounted on the shroud behind the muzzle. A removable, folding steel bipod is clamped over the forward end of the shroud. 

Left side of an American Lewis machine gun. The barrel is a large diameter tube with fins at the rear. Brown wood pistol grip and buttstock. 
Published: Mon May 06 15:16:53 EDT 2024