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Short answer: Its not rust, its brazing.

A quick Google Search took me to a Gunboards from from the before time, here is the gist of it

This SMLE magazine was made from three pieces of steel.
The front back and sides of the case are one piece of bent sheetmetal.
The rib is a separate piece.
The bottom is a separate piece.

As Englishman_ca said, the pieces are brazed together---in the photos below, it is possible to see parts of the joins.
The rib was brazed on to cover the main joint at the back of the case.
 
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