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Armed forces in World War Two - Britain

Written by Sakhal

Britain 1939 - Army

Individual weapons - Pistols: Enfield number 4 Mk 1 caliber .38, Webley Mk VI caliber .45 / British Colt and Webley caliber .45
Individual weapons - Rifles: Lee Enfield number 4 Mk 1 and several types of the preceding number 1, all in caliber 7.7 mm
Individual weapons - Hand grenades: N36 and N69 antipersonnel, N73 and N74 antitank, N77 and N80 of smoke

Automatic weapons - Submachine guns: At the outbreak of the war there was no provision of submachine guns
Automatic weapons - Automatic rifles: Bren caliber 7.7 mm and Vickers Berthier caliber 7.7 mm (this latter used only in India)
Automatic weapons - Machine guns: Lewis caliber 7.62 and 7.7 mm and Vickers caliber 7.7 mm

Mortars: Mortars of 50 and 76 mm

Antitank weapons - Light: Antitank carbine Boys caliber 14 mm, Hotchkiss machine gun of 25/72 mm and cannon of 40/50 mm
Antitank weapons - Heavy: At the outbreak of the war there were no heavy pieces of specific antitank role
Antitank weapons - Motorized: At the outbreak of the war there were no series motorized pieces in service

Cannons: Howitzers of 94, 95 and 152 mm, cannons of 49 mm (a), 57/50 mm, 76/55 mm (a), 94 mm (a), 114 mm (a), 127 mm and 152 mm. Also a certain number of naval artillery pieces were used for coastal defense

Armored vehicles: 1000 light tanks (Carden Loyd of 1.7 t, Vickers of 5.4 t, Medium Mk II), 146 medium tanks (A15 Cruiser Mk III) plus several types of armored cars and some hundreds of tracked transports Bren

Chemical weapons - Flamethrowers: No models of flamethrowers were in service at the outbreak of the war

(a) Antiaircraft.

Britain 1939 - Navy

Battleships: 1 class Hood of 42000 t, 2 class Nelson of 33900 t, 2 class Repulse of 32000 t, 5 class Queen Elizabeth of 31000 t, 5 class Royal Sovereign of 29150 t, King George V and Prince of Wales of 36750 t (a)

Aircraft carriers: 1 class Eagle of 22600 t, 2 class Courageous of 22500 t, 1 class Ark Royal of 22000 t, 1 class Argus of 14000 t (b) and 1 class Hermes of 10850 t

Cruisers: 13 class Kent of 10000 t, 8 class Southampton of 9000 t, 2 class York of 8250 t, 8 class Leander of 7000 t, 5 class Bellona of 5900 t, 6 class Dido of 5450 t and 4 class Arethusa of 5250 t (c)

Destroyers: 69 units of 1000 t plus 10 units of 1500 t (d), 80 class Amazon of 1350 t plus 9 units of 1500 t (e)

Submarines: 57 units (33 oceanic and 24 coastal)

(a) Just entered into service and still uneffective for combat.
(b) Obtained by transformation of the Italian steamship Conte Rosso and used only for training purposes.
(c) At the beginning of the war there were still in service 22 old cruisers of about 5000 tonnes, some of which were transformed during the war in antiaircraft units, reinforcing their armament.
(d) Units built during the Great War.
(e) Units built between 1928 and 1939.

Britain 1939 - Aviation

Fighter aircraft: Gloster Gladiator, Bolton Paul Defiant (a), Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire

Bomber aircraft: AW Whiteley, Fairey Battle (fighter-bomber), Bristol Blenheim (light bomber), Handley Page Hampden, Vickers Wellington (medium bomber) and Fairey Swordfish (torpedo bomber)

Reconnaissance aircraft: Short Sunderland (long-range seaplane), Hawker Hart (liaison aircraft), Westland Lysander (liaison and observation) and several types of bombers adapted to this purpose

Transport aircraft: At the outbreak of the war there was not a type of aircraft specifically used for transport in the RAF

(a) Firstly used as diurnal fighter, due to some of its characteristics it was soon used exclusively as night fighter.

Armed forces in World War Two - Britain

Armed forces (equipment) of Britain in 1939.

Britain 1943 update - Army

Automatic weapons - Submachine guns: Lanchester Mk 1 and Sten, both of caliber 9 mm
Automatic weapons - Machine guns: Besa caliber 7.92 mm (a) and Besa Mk 1 caliber 15 mm (b)

Antitank weapons - Rockets: PIAT caliber 87 mm
Antitank weapons - Cannons: Of 40, 57, 76 and 88 mm
Antitank weapons - Motorized: Self-propelled Archer of 75 mm

Cannons: Of 40 mm (c), 75 mm (c), 88 mm (e), 94 mm (d), 95 mm (e), 105 mm, 114 mm (c) and 140 mm; howitzers of 94, 95 and 180 mm

Armored vehicles: Tanks Churchill of 37.88 t, Crusader of 19 t, Valentine between 17.7 and 18.5 t, Cruiser of 15 t, Cavalier (f) and Centaur (f)

Chemical weapons - Flamethrowers: Two models of flamethrowers were tested in combat in small numbers in 1943, but they were immediately retired to be modified

(a) For light armored vehicles.
(b) For heavy armored vehicles.
(c) Antiaircraft.
(d) Antiaircraft produced in two versions, Mk 1 and Mk 6.
(e) Self-propelled.
(f) Produced in small number and little used in operations.

NOTE: It has not been included the American material obtained by means of the Lend and Lease Law.

Britain 1943 update - Navy

Battleships: Duke of York, Anson and Howe of 35000 t

Aircraft carriers: Implacable and Indefatigable of 32100 t, Indomitable of 29730 t, Illustrious, Victorious and Formidable of 23000 t

Cruisers: 1 class Newfoundland of 8718 t, 3 class Superb of 8000 t, 2 class Fiji of 8000 t, 2 class Diadem of 7400 t and 3 class Dido of 5450 t

Destroyers: 5 class Milne of 1902 t, 5 class Napier of 1760 t, 1 class Venus, 2 class Ulster and 2 class Troubridge, all of 1710 t, 2 class Rotherham of 1705 t and 7 class Britain of 1450 t

Submarines: 7 class T of 1090/1575 t and 3 class S of 715/1000 t

Britain 1943 update - Aviation

Fighter aircraft: Westland Whirlwind (a), Blackburn Rock, Fairey Fulmar (naval fighter), Bristol Beaufighter (night and heavy fighter) and Hawker Typhoon (a)

Bomber aircraft: Bristol Beaufort (b), Fairey Albacore (b), Fairey Barracuda (b), Avro Lancaster, Short Stirling and Handley Page Halifax

Reconnaissance aircraft: De Havilland Mosquito (also used as fighter-bomber), De Havilland Dominie (c) and Miles Master (c)

Transport aircraft: Bristol Bombay (also used as bomber) and Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle

(a) Fighter-bomber.
(b) Torpedo bomber.
(c) Also used for training.

Armed forces in World War Two - Britain

Armed forces (equipment) of Britain in 1943 (update).

Britain 1945 update - Army

Individual weapons - Rifles: Number 4 Mk 2, number 4 Mk 1/2 and 1/3, and number 5 Mk 1, all of caliber 7.7 mm

Automatic weapons - Machine guns: During the war the British war industry did not develop, excepting the two Besa, new types of machine guns, but 79632 weapons (Marlin, Vickers, Lewis and Browning) were received from North America

Antitank weapons - Cannons: Vickers of 75 mm and HV of 77 mm
Antitank weapons - Motorized: Self-propelled Avenger of 76 mm (a)

Cannons: Of 88 mm (d), 94 mm (b), 94 mm (d), 95 mm (d) and 133 mm (b)(c)

Armored vehicles: Tanks Centurion of 48.7 t, Comet of 35.7 t, Challenger of 33 t and Cromwell of 28 t

Chemical weapons - Flamethrowers: Backpack type "Ack Pack" of 22 kg

(a) Delivered to the Army, but never used in combat.
(b) Antiaircraft.
(c) Generally in twin mounting.
(d) Recoilless.

Britain 1945 update - Navy

Battleships: Vanguard of 50000 t

Aircraft carriers: 2 class Implacable of 32100 t, 3 class Majestic of 17700 t and several auxiliary units obtained by transformation of merchant ships

Cruisers: 2 class Manxman of 2650 t

Destroyers: 8 class C, 11 class Zambesi, 9 class Wagner, 4 class Valentine, 6 class Ulster and 4 class Troubridge, all of 1710 t

Submarines: 1 class A of 1120/1620 t, 13 class T of 1090/1575 t and 14 class S of 715/1000 t

Britain 1945 update - Aviation

Fighter aircraft: Supermarine Seafire (naval fighter), Fairey Firefly (polyvalent) and Gloster Meteor (a)

Bomber aircraft: Hawker Tempest (assault aircraft)

Reconnaissance aircraft: Supermarine Sea Otter (liaison seaplane)

Transport aircraft: Avro York

(a) Turbojet fighter, it was used to neutralize the V-1 flying bombs, but it had no chance to be used in combat.

Armed forces in World War Two - Britain

Armed forces (equipment) of Britain in 1945 (update).

Categories: Statistics - World War Two - 20th Century - [General] - [General]


Website: Military History

Article submitted: 2015-08-09

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