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Title: The British Army and the politics of rifle development, 1880 to 1986
Author: Ford, Matthew Charles
ISNI:       0000 0004 2708 8719
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis is concerned with the design and development of British infantry rifles. The specific weapons considered are the Lee-Metford (LEME) first introduced in 1888; the Short Magazine Lee-Enfield (SMLE) brought into service in 1904; the Experimental Model No. 2 (EM2) briefly designated the Rifle No. 9 MkJ in 195 1; and the Section Small Arms Post 1980 (SA80) issued to troops in 1986. Over the past twenty years academic literature has demonstrated that technological determinism has persistently crept into accounts of technical change. By consistently leaving human agency out of the equation, technology has appeared to evolve autonomously and to have determinate effects. Whilst studies of civilian technologies have shown that this way of seeing has serious flaws, very little has been undertaken to show how the same issues arise in a military context. The approach adopted here explicitly aims to highlight and avoid problems of technological determinism by putting human choice back into the story of British rifle design. This is achieved through the identification of key personalities and social groups who had a perspective on, and an interest in, the development of the various systems. Having identified the key actors, their views on each artefact are explored. What emerges is that different groups see a particular technical solution differently. The arguments about what must be included in, and what is irrelevant to, a design of rifle are as a result exposed for further examination. The eventual weapon that emerges from these debates can be seen as a negotiation among the various parties: an artefact around which various perspectives coalesce. What transpires is a detailed picture of the tactical problems each weapon attempts to resolve. This not only indicates how various groups see the battlefield problem but also describes how these same actors want the infantry to fight. -
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available