Déjà 100 ans

Publié le par Philippe Lepape

M1903A1 Sniper RifleM1903

            The '03 was put back into production during World War II by the
            Remington Arms Co.

            Early Remington '03s (top) resembled those made previously by
            Springfield and Rock Island.

            Remington simplified manufacture with the M1903A3 (also made by
            Smith-Corona). The '03A3 was the basis of the M1903A4 sniping rifle
            (above, bottom) — America's principal sniping rifle of World War II.

            The ".30-06.30-03 and .30-06 Ammo

" (right) was a big improvement, using the German
            "Spitzer" bullet and reformulated powder which greatly reduced the
            severe ".30-03" bore erosion.

M1903A1 Sniper Rifle, with Unertl telescopic sight
            100 Years Of The '03 Springfield
            Bruce N. Confield, Contributing Editor
            American Rifleman

            From a general historical perspective the year 1903 is perhaps best
            known for the Wright Brothers' epic flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C. In
            the history of U.S. military arms, however, 1903 will always be
            remembered as the year that one of the most venerable service rifles
            was adopted. Anywone with even a modicum of interest in the subject
            is aware of the famous "United States Rifle, Caliber .30, Model of
            1903," better known to several generations of American shooters and
            servicemen as the "Springfield '03" or, simply, the '03". No U.S.
            military service rifle has had a term of service to equal that of
            the '03. Even though supplemented by large numbers of M1917 "U.S.
            Enfield" rifles in the World War I, the M1903 remained a significant
            part of the arsenal of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) until
            the Armistice in 1918. "Between the wars," the M1917 was relegated
            to the war reserve stockpile while the '03 remained the standard
            rifle in U.S. military service.

            In 1936, the semi-automatic MI Garand was standardized. Because the
            MI was in very short supply until the early 1940s, the '03 remained
            the predominate American service rifle for almost 40 years and saw
            front-line combat service through the end of World War II. Even
            though the standard bolt-action service rifles were largely replaced
            after World War II, sniping variants of the '03 saw combat use in
            Korean War — and some even saw issue as late as the Vietnam War.
            Clearly, the'03 was no "ordinary" military rifle.

            The genesis of the MI 903 can be traced to the Spanish-American War
            of 1898. Regular U.S. Army units were primarily armed with the
            then-new .30-40 Krag-Jorgensen rifle that was the United States'
            first bolt-action, smokeless-powder service rifle. Our Spanish
            adversaries were equipped with late-model Mauser rifles, which had
            very strong actions and were capable of being clip-loaded. The U.S.
            Krag, on the other hand, had a bolt with a single locking lug that
            limited the power of the cartridge, and the Krag was not easily
            adaptable to clip-loading. The war revealed the Krag's deficiencies
            and the advantages of the Mauser, which resulted in a
            reconsideration of the U.S. service rifle.

            The U.S. Army Ordnance Department evaluated the Mauser rifle and
            fabricated several prototypes based heavily on the design. Extensive
            testing revealed that the modified Mauser design was a great
            improvement over the Krag, and, on June 19, 1903, the "United States
            Magazine Rifle, Caliber .30, Model of 1903" was approved for
            adoption as the standard U.S. military service rifle. It had a 24"
            barrel that allowed it to be used by both the infantry and the
            cavalry, thus eliminating the need for separate rifles and carbines.

            The M1903 was initially chambered for the "Model 1903" cartridge,
            typically known as the ".30-03.".This rimless ,30-cal. round was
            more powerful than its predecessor but caused severe bore erosion.
            It was also fitted with a rather flimsy sliding "rod bayonet."

            The MI 903 was put into production at Springfield Armory and Rock
            Island Arsenal. Rock Island experienced some delays, but the rifles
            were soon flowing from Springfield's assembly line. Nonetheless,
            problems were encountered with the rod bayonet and the hot-burning
            .30-03 cartridge. President Theodore Roosevelt was a particular
            opponent of the rod bayonet concept and called the device "... about
            as poor an invention as I ever saw." In early 1905, '03 production
            stopped in order to redesign the rifle to eliminate the troublesome
            rod bayonet and adapt it to a knife bayonet. The "Bayonet, Model
            1905" was adopted in April 1905. The cessation of production •was
            also utilized to develop improved sights, which were adopted and
            given the "Model of 1905" designation.

            Although some 74,000 of the original rod bayonet '03s had been
            manufactured, only a relatively few had been issued. Most of the
            original "rod bayonet" rifles were recalled to be retrofitted for
            the new M1905 knife bayonet and sights, and production with the
            "1905 improvements" resumed.

            Problems with the .30-03 resulted in production again being halted
            in order to adopt a new cartridge. The .30-03 had a round-nose
            bullet eventually proven to be inferior to the sharp-pointed
            German-developed "spitzer" bullet. In October 1906, a vastly
            improved cartridge with a "spitzer" bullet and reformulated powder
            to reduce the .30-03's severe bore erosion was adopted as the
            "Cartridge, Ball, Caliber .30, Model of 1906," now widely known as
            the ".30-'06." Existing barrels were rechambered for the new
            cartridge and all subsequent M1903s were in .30-'06.

            With the modifications of 1905 and the adoption of the .30-'06, the
            M1903 was in the general configuration that would be in production
            at varying levels for almost 40 years. From the time of its adoption
            until World War I, the M1903 was manufactured with a craftsmanship
            rivaling the best custom-made sporting rifles of the era. The
            wood-to-metal fit and overall quality were superb, and the rifles
            featured finely blued metal parts and f lawlessly Grafted wooden

            By about 1911, all branches of the U.S. armed forces were primarily
            armed with M1903s.The accuracy, fire-power and reliability of the
            '03 soon made it very popular with the majority of its users. The
            '03 also proved its mettle as a competitive target rifle as well,
            including use in Olympic matches. The first standard-issue U.S. Army
            sniper rifle, an M1903 fitted with a prismatic Warner & Swasey Model
            of 1908 "Musket Sight" was adopted during this period. Prior to
            World War I, the M1908 W&S sight was replaced by the slightly
            improved M 1913 variant, which was the primary U.S. sniping arm of
            the war. The U.S. Marine Corps did not adopt the Warner & Swasey
            scope and, rather, utilized M1903s fitted with Winchester A-5

            By WorldWar I, the M1903 was firmly entrenched as the standard
            American military service rifle. Rock Island had previously stopped
            production after 1913, and the '03 remained in limited production at
            Springfield. Just prior to America's entrance into the war,
            manufacture of the '03 was greatly increased at Springfield and
            resumed at Rock Island. It was soon apparent that their combined
            production would be insufficient to arm the rapidly expanding armed
            forces. A slightly modified version of the British Pattern 1914
            rifle was adopted as a supplemental service rifle and given the
            designation "U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, Model of 1917." The M1917 was
            made in much larger numbers than the '03 during World War I, and, by
            the time of the Armistice, the majority of the AEF was armed with
            the "American Enfield." Even so, the '03 saw widespread use during
            the World War land provided excellent service to our "Doughboys."



            After the war, it was decided to retain the '03 in favor of the
            M1917. There were several factors that went into that decision
            including the fact that the '03 had better target sights (as opposed
            to battle sights). Also, post-war labor troubles in the civilian
            plants argued in favor of the '03, since it was manufactured in
            government-owned facilities.

            The '03 remained in service "between the wars" and saw action around
            the globe in the 1920s and 1930s, including such locations as the
            Caribbean, Central America and China. The '03 also reigned supreme
            as a match and target rifle. In 1929, the "M1903AI"was adopted,
            which was essentially an M1903 action in a "Type C" full pistol-grip
            stock. Very few M1903AI service rifles were manufactured in the
            1930s, and most rifles of this type were National Match and other
            special target rifles. In 1936 the semi-automatic MI Garand rifle
            was adopted, and new '03 production came to a virtual halt at

            By Pearl Harbor, there were relatively few M1s in inventory, and the
            predominate service rifle was still the '03. Most of the United
            States' early battles of the war, especially in the Pacific, were
            fought primarily with the bolt-action Springfield. Large numbers of
            World War I and earlier vintage '03s were refurbished by ordnance
            facilities for use in World War II. As production increased, the
            Garand began to be issued in growing numbers, but a surprising
            number of '03s remained in front-line use. Large numbers of '03s
            were also used for training purposes.

            In late 1941, the Remington Arms Co. was given contracts for new
            production '03s using the tooling previously utilized by Rock Island
            Arsenal. A number of cosmetic or non-essential features were
            eliminated or modified. Eventually, the barrel-mounted rear sight
            was replaced by a simple peep sight mounted on the receiver. This
            final pattern was adopted as the "M1903A3." Large numbers of
            M1903A3s were made by Remington and the Smith-Corona Typewriter Co.
            Even though rather crude by pre-war standards, the '03A3 was a
            strong and serviceable rifle that could be made much faster and much
            less expensively than previous M1903 variants.

            A sniping rifle version of the '03A3 was adopted as the "M1903A4"
            and put into production by Remington. The M1903A4 was the only
            sniper rifle to see significant service bv the U.S. Army in World
            War II, and it was used in virtually all theaters of the war. During
            World War II, the Marine Corps modified some of its rifle team
            M1903Als to sniper configuration by the addition of an 8X Unerti
            target-type telescope procured under special USMC contract. The USMC
            M1903AI/Unertl sniper rifle was the best U.S. sniper rifle of the
            war and saw quite of bit of use in the Pacific theater by Marine

            Large numbers of M1903s were issued for use as grenade launching
            rifles. The "MI" launcher standardized for the '03 could be used to
            launch many types of rifle grenades, including fragmentation, smoke,
            pyrotechnic and antitank, and a number of '03s remained in
            front-line service for that purpose through the end of the war.

            Some of the M1903A4 sniper rifles remained in inventory and were
            rebuilt and fitted with updated telescopes, primarily the "M84." The
            Marines also retained their M1903AI/Unertl sniper rifles, and they
            saw rather widespread use in Korea. It is interesting to note that
            the M1903A4 sniper rifle saw combat use as late as the Vietnam War
            and Technical Manuals for them were printed as late as 1970—almost
            seven decades after the '03 was adopted! Even today, '03s are used
            by some drill teams and color guards, so its appeal extends into
            another century.

            While the U.S. military has been blessed with a number of effective
            and reliable service rifles, few, if any, have served our fighting
            men as long or as well as the venerable '"03."

Commenter cet article