For collectors of machine guns, especially the old classic machine guns, accessories are as much of the “hunt” as are the guns themselves. More often than not, certain accessories are rarer than the gun it is associated with and a collection that includes rare accessories can greatly increase the value of the entire collection. Searching the tables and bins at gun shows, Knob Creek and the SAR West show, collectors are always on the lookout for that special or rare accessory to compliment their collection. Sometimes the seller doesn’t know the rarity and value of such an item and it can be bought for a song: however, most times that is not the case. Nevertheless, finding that rare accessory is a thrill and a source of enjoyment that compliments the collecting experience.
One such rare accessory is the cast brass Lewis gun adapter for the Vickers Mk IV tripod. When the Lewis gun was adopted (LoC §17484, October 15, 1915), the British were quick to introduce an adapter for mounting the Lewis gun on the Mk IV Vickers tripod. While the Lewis gun is a light machine gun that utilizes a bipod, it still fires the full power of the .303 rifle caliber cartridge. There were times when it was pressed into service in the medium/heavy machine gun role where a more stable platform was needed for firing over the heads of advancing troops, or for longer range indirect, enfilade and defilade fire – particularly if one or more Vickers guns were out of action. However, it was not well suited for this roll as it was an air-cooled light machine gun and could not sustain the volume of fire that the Vickers could put out. It was actually a little better suited when used in the anti-aircraft roll. Nonetheless, there were other, better, field expedient means in which to put the Lewis in action for that purpose.
Ultimately, the adapter found little usage and was discontinued and the remaining stock most likely melted down to reclaim the valuable brass. No production figures are currently available, but this Lewis gun accessory is very rare with only a handful known to exist in museums and private collections and commands a high price on the collectors market.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V14N8 (May 2011)