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Hi Folks,

Next installment in the Lithgow count down is the last year, or so, of wartime SMLE production, which was undertaken entirely at Orange (OA), using components manufactured at feeder factories at Bathust, Wellington, Forbes, Orange and of course, Slazenger's in Sydney. For those of you unfamiliar with Australia's geography, these towns, excepting Sydney, lie within a 120 km western radius of Lithgow.

According to Tony Griffith's book on the Lithgow Small Arms Factory, during 1944, 1000 SMLE rifles were produced every week at the Orange factory. This number number was progressively reduced during January and February 1945 to 500 per week, supplemented by reconditioning an average of 350 older rifles per week from March to November 1945, when the Orange factory closed down.

39,000 new SMLEs are recorded as being produced at Orange in 1944/45. With a final batch of 5005 in production year 1945/46.

In relation to specific features of Lithgow SMLE's manufactured in this period:

- serial numbers range from F1 to F39580
- no serial numbers on barrel, or rear sight.
- serial numbers on bolt, action, forend and nose cap
- 1944 stamp on butt and receiver, with MAO stamp on butt (Munitions Australia- Orange).
- high standard of fit and finish
- parkerizing appears to be a slightly darker grey green colour than earlier years.

My 1944 Lithgow (pictured) has a barrel dated 6 '44 and serial number F1436, which places manufacture around early July 1944. This rifle has been prepared for Australian school cadet issue (green stripe on butt indicating "safe to fire") but does not look like it made it the parade ground / range (lucky for me !).

It would be great if others could post pictues of their own 1944, or particularly 1945, production examples.

Cheers,


Mark
 

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Hi Folks,

Next installment in the Lithgow count down is the last year, or so, of wartime SMLE production, which was undertaken entirely at Orange (OA), using components manufactured at feeder factories at Bathust, Wellington, Forbes, Orange and of course, Slazenger's in Sydney. For those of you unfamiliar with Australia's geography, these towns, excepting Sydney, lie within a 120 km western radius of Lithgow.

According to Tony Griffith's book on the Lithgow Small Arms Factory, during 1944, 1000 SMLE rifles were produced every week at the Orange factory. This number number was progressively reduced during January and February 1945 to 500 per week, supplemented by reconditioning an average of 350 older rifles per week from March to November 1945, when the Orange factory closed down.

39,000 new SMLEs are recorded as being produced at Orange in 1944/45. With a final batch of 5005 in production year 1945/46.

In relation to specific features of Lithgow SMLE's manufactured in this period:

- serial numbers range from F1 to F39580
- no serial numbers on barrel, or rear sight.
- serial numbers on bolt, action, forend and nose cap
- 1944 stamp on butt and receiver, with MAO stamp on butt (Munitions Australia- Orange).
- high standard of fit and finish
- parkerizing appears to be a slightly darker grey green colour than earlier years.

My 1944 Lithgow (pictured) has a barrel dated 6 '44 and serial number F1436, which places manufacture around early July 1944. This rifle has been prepared for Australian school cadet issue (green stripe on butt indicating "safe to fire") but does not look like it made it the parade ground / range (lucky for me !).

It would be great if others could post pictues of their own 1944, or particularly 1945, production examples.

Cheers,


Mark
Nice rifle mark. The cadets didnt do much drill with that one must have been in the shooting team rack.
 

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Now see that slightly diagonal dimple under the 1944 in you third pic.
They must have only one casting mould, as that mark is identical to mine

Disregard that, the other rifles in this post don't have it, but their stamps are a bit different also.
 

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My '16 Lithgow is one of those "350 average per week" '45 refurbished rifles. Resembles the description of 1944-45 rifles almost exactly - same parkerized finish, '44 dated barrel, unserialed rear sight leaf. It still has its QLD Maple furniture, but that's about the only remnant of the old rifle.
 

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My '16 Lithgow is one of those "350 average per week" '45 refurbished rifles. Resembles the description of 1944-45 rifles almost exactly - same parkerized finish, '44 dated barrel, unserialed rear sight leaf. It still has its QLD Maple furniture, but that's about the only remnant of the old rifle.
Mark that's very interesting that it has been reparkerized and restocked into it's original wood.
 

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Mark that's very interesting that it has been reparkerized and restocked into it's original wood.
I don't know that it's original beyond the buttstock, which has a matching inventory/stores number to the struck marking on the receiver. That at least is the original wood. The forestock is QLD Maple but the serial number isn't legible. The forestock has the recoil plates so it's been through a '40s rebuild at any rate, so either it was on this rifle when they rebuilt it or it got put on sometime after.

The butt has been sanded but the original 6/17 acceptance stamp, 2/45 rebuild stamp, the inventory number, and a strange 3A marking are still easily seen. The remnants of the 2MD CMF and the 'Roo can be seen in good light.

Atypically, the 3/44 barrel is serialed to the rifle.
 
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