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M1941 Johnson Semi-Automatic Rifle


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" Back in 1946, Israel began studies to develop a new domestically produced Light Machine Gun (LMG). By year’s end, a plant was set up to manufacture it. Israel had purchased the rights and all the tooling machines for the Johnson LMG from the Winchester Arms company. Johnson LMG had been widely used by the U.S. Marines and some Special U.S. Army units during World War 2.

 

In 1947 the tools and blueprints for the Dror LMG were ready. But there were some setbacks that precluded initial production. The rounds were calibrated in inches, not millimeters. The critical issue being that Israel had an inventory of millions of british 0.303" rounds, collected over the years by very hard and extremely dangerous endeavor. Because of that, the Dror’s initial version, was specifically manufactured to operate under British 0.303" standards. That version had a side feeding tray magazine, similar to the original American Johnson LMG.

 

Theoretically, the Dror was to be ready for deployment in 1948 with a 20 round capacity magazine. However, that model presented technical glitches, so, its production was halted. Therefore, it didn’t play any military role during the War of Independence in 1948. By 1950, some Dror LMGs were used for combat simulation testing.

 

The Dror is a recoil, non gas actuated LMG, capable of semi-auto, and full-auto firing modes.

The most distinctive difference between the original Johnson LMG and the Dror, is that the former is a gas operated LMG, while the latter is a recoil type, hence, far more reliable.

 

The Dror is considerably lighter than the Johnson LMG, and like the latter’s rifle version, has a quick interchangeable barrels capability.

 

During 1947 a nd 1948, the Dror was produced in underground workshops by the Hagannah."

 

 

 

...from... http://www.israeli-weapons.com/weapons/sma.../dror/Dror.html

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"In automatic firing, rotation of the bolt tripped the sear releasing the spring-loaded firing pin. For semiautomatic discharge, the trigger had to be pulled with each shot. The Aberdeen report of this model stated: "Test results were generally very satisfactory under normal conditions, but unsatisfactory under adverse conditions of mud, cold and dust."

 

Again the weapon was returned to the factory and in March 1944 its performance showed considerable improvement under adverse conditions. It fired successfully during the standard rain test for 200 rounds, but became more difficult to operate as the trial progressed, finally becoming inoperative after the 383rd round.

 

It failed to fire full or semiautomatic after the dust test with either a clean or dusted magazine. When the weapon had been liberally oiled, a dusted magazine was fired without difficulty. Also 100 cartridges were fired without interruption after 17 hours in a cold room at a temperature of 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

 

The Marine Corps Equipment Board had been testing similar guns at Quantico, Virginia, and this board recommended that the Johnson light machine gun be adopted in place of the Browning Automatic Rifle. The suggestion was not followed for the reasons stated below:

 

"(1) The swift tempo of Marine Corps operations with subsequent limitations on training time available. (2) The fact that the Marine Corps considers itself to be a customer of the Ordnance Department in small arms matters, and consequently, is reluctant to adopt an automatic shoulder weapon which is not an Army standard."

 

The same letter from the Commandant of Marines provided support and recognition of the inventor's contribution:

 

"The Marine Corps desires to lend impetus to the continual development of the Johnson light machine gun, and stands ready to perform such functions in that connection as may be considered desirable."

 

The Ordnance Department at a later date (May 1945) reviewed all the information available and decided to purchase 10 guns and accessories which were delivered and distributed as follows: Infantry Board, 3; Marine Corps, 2; Aberdeen Proving Ground, 2; Headquarters, Army Ground Force, 1; and Small Arms Development Division, 2. All spare parts were sent to the Aberdeen Proving Ground.

 

A final report on the Johnson weapon was made in October 1945, three months after the end of the war. No definite conclusion was cited, but it was intimated that it would be desirable to convert it to a belt-fed machine gun and that research and development were continuing.

 

Undoubtedly the Johnson light machine gun was an excellent weapon with many attractive and novel features, many of which were quickly copied by the enemy.

 

The selector switch is located on the right side back of the top part of the trigger. For semiautomatic fire the change lever is rotated into the forward position. If the cocking handle is pulled back to the rear and released, it will chamber the round and lock the bolt ready for single shots at each trigger movement. When the automatic-fire position is used, the bolt will remain retracted at the end of each burst, allowing air to circulate through the open bore.

 

If, after firing a short burst, it is found desirable to recharge the magazine, it may be done by inserting the five-round clips through the loading aperture on the right side of the receiver, regardless of whether the bolt is open or closed. In semiautomatic fire a full magazine can be kept available for an emergency that would call for an extended burst. Loading in this manner is not normally intended for automatic fire, as replacing the magazine with a fresh one is but a matter of seconds.

 

One of the most desirable features on this light machine gun is the gunner's ability to fire semiautomatic with a closed bolt merely by changing the selector switch with finger pressure. Thus shooting was as accurate as with any similarly constructed rifle. Lurching forward off the rear sear, an act that disturbs aim in all guns employing the rear sear for inertia firing, is thus eliminated in this method of single-shot firing.

 

It would seem impossible to make a quicker system of barrel change. On the 1944 model with the bolt at the rear, the point of a bullet is inserted in the latch and shoved forward. This releases the holding catch and forces the barrel forward due to the action of the barrel return spring. The barrel, if hot, may then be shaken all the way out, or withdrawn if it can be handled. To assemble, the cool barrel is shoved down as far as it will go. Upon being seated, the locking latch will be cammed into place holding it secure. During demonstrations a complete barrel change has been done in six seconds.

 

To fire the Johnson light machine gun, a loaded clip is inserted in the left portion of the receiver until the holding catches click into engagement. If automatic fire is desired, the selector switch is set and the cocking handle pulled all the way back or until the rear sear engages its notch in the bolt. When the trigger is pulled, the connecting sear is released from the bolt, allowing it to be thrust forward by compression of the driving spring in the butt stock.

 

After pushing the cartridge out of the magazine, the bolt chambers it as the extractor cams its claw over the rim. Just below final forward movement is halted, the locking cam on the rear of the bolt rotates the latter piece. It is fully secured as the action goes through a 20-degree arc, engaging all eight of the locking lugs. This last movement also releases the firing pin which flies forward, detonating the primer.

 

When the cartridge is fired, the barrel, its extension and bolt locked together recoil for a full one-eighth inch at which point the angled face of the operating cam contacts its corresponding face in the receiver body. This causes the bolt to rotate until the piece is free to recoil. This act is timed to coincide with a high residual pressure in the bore which adds to the speed of the bolt. The barrel, traveling only seven-sixteenths of an inch rearward, is brought back to battery by its return spring.

 

The locking angle on the lugs permits sufficient creep during the act of unlocking. The empty cartridge is jacked hack and freed in the chamber so that the extractor has only to hold it in position for ejecting. This is done when the ejector strikes the base of the round and kicks it out the right side of the receiver. The bolt continues to go to the rear until stopped by the compression of the driving spring.

 

All operational parts are then put in counterrecoil. As the bolt passes the rear of the magazine mouth, its face pushes the next cartridge out of the lips of the feed system and starts to chamber it. As long as the trigger is held to the rear, the cycle will continue.

 

In addition to his light machine gun, Melvin Johnson developed and produced a highly regarded semi-automatic rifle, some 50,000 of which were made and delivered during the war to various Allied forces. He also originated, at the request of the Navy Department, a 20-mm aircraft cannon"

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The most distinctive difference between the original Johnson LMG and the Dror, is that the former is a gas operated LMG, while the latter is a recoil type, hence, far more reliable.

 

The Dror is considerably lighter than the Johnson LMG, and like the latter’s rifle version, has a quick interchangeable barrels capability.

 

During 1947 a nd 1948, the Dror was produced in underground workshops by the Hagannah."

...from... http://www.israeli-weapons.com/weapons/sma.../dror/Dror.html

 

The statement that the original JLMG was gas operated while the Dror was recoil operated is simply incorrect. Both were short recoil operated weapons. I can't confirm that the Dror was "considerably" lighter than the JLMG and believe that this is not correct. The JLMG -- M1941 (wood buttstock) -- weighed around 13 to 15 pounds (the manuals, etc. put it at around 12.5 pounds, but my experience is that this is on the "light" side, having owned and fired the '41 JLMG). The JLMG retained the JSAR (rifle) quick barrel change feature. Later models (the M1945 -- sometimes referred to as the M1944-E -- "gas assisted" model with a piston around the barrel) had the barrel change lock at the front of the radiator sleeve. It was a vertical, spring-loaded "bar" that was pushed down to release the barrel. It could be locked in the "down" or release position by moving the sling swivel right or left (not sure which.

 

Note that I also believe that the tooling for the JLMG was acquired from Johnson Automatics rather than from Winchester. While Winchester subsequently acquired a considerable quantity of parts for both the rifle and various models of the LMG, I believe the tooling was sold prior to M.M. Johnson, Jr.'s association with Winchester. Further note that a book by Leonard Slater entitled The Pledge recounts the acquisition of arms by the Haganah prior to Israel's independence. Slater, based on interviews, states that the blueprints for the JLMG were sold to Haganah agents by Carl Eckdahl, Johnson's plant manager, for $10- or 12,000. He would not have done this without the complicity and permission of Johnson. At about that time, Johnson and engineer David Dardick were in Argentina, working on a version of the JLMG to be produced in that country. Johnson's vice-president, Chandler Gardiner, Jr. was in Middle East attempting to sell JLMG manufacturing rights to Iran and Egypt.

 

BTW, I'm the "chief researcher" and co-author of Johnson Rifles and Machine Guns (Canfield, Johnson and Lamoreaux -- Andrew Mowbray Publishers, 2001), the info in that book coming primarily from original sources. I have been told that production of both models of the Dror was approximately 800 pieces and that it was used primarily by the budding Israel navy. This has not been confirmed by what I consider to be reliable sources, notably official Israeli records.

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The statement that the original JLMG was gas operated while the Dror was recoil operated is simply incorrect. Both were short recoil operated weapons. I can't confirm that the Dror was "considerably" lighter than the JLMG and believe that this is not correct. The JLMG -- M1941 (wood buttstock) -- weighed around 13 to 15 pounds (the manuals, etc. put it at around 12.5 pounds, but my experience is that this is on the "light" side, having owned and fired the '41 JLMG). The JLMG retained the JSAR (rifle) quick barrel change feature. Later models (the M1945 -- sometimes referred to as the M1944-E -- "gas assisted" model with a piston around the barrel) had the barrel change lock at the front of the radiator sleeve. It was a vertical, spring-loaded "bar" that was pushed down to release the barrel. It could be locked in the "down" or release position by moving the sling swivel right or left (not sure which.

 

Note that I also believe that the tooling for the JLMG was acquired from Johnson Automatics rather than from Winchester. While Winchester subsequently acquired a considerable quantity of parts for both the rifle and various models of the LMG, I believe the tooling was sold prior to M.M. Johnson, Jr.'s association with Winchester. Further note that a book by Leonard Slater entitled The Pledge recounts the acquisition of arms by the Haganah prior to Israel's independence. Slater, based on interviews, states that the blueprints for the JLMG were sold to Haganah agents by Carl Eckdahl, Johnson's plant manager, for $10- or 12,000. He would not have done this without the complicity and permission of Johnson. At about that time, Johnson and engineer David Dardick were in Argentina, working on a version of the JLMG to be produced in that country. Johnson's vice-president, Chandler Gardiner, Jr. was in Middle East attempting to sell JLMG manufacturing rights to Iran and Egypt.

 

BTW, I'm the "chief researcher" and co-author of Johnson Rifles and Machine Guns (Canfield, Johnson and Lamoreaux -- Andrew Mowbray Publishers, 2001), the info in that book coming primarily from original sources. I have been told that production of both models of the Dror was approximately 800 pieces and that it was used primarily by the budding Israel navy. This has not been confirmed by what I consider to be reliable sources, notably official Israeli records.

 

 

Bob, I agree with you 100%. In fact, the type 1 Dror and M44 JLMG were interchangeable parts-wise. The major difference being the magazine tray and barrel. The mag trays were cobbled together from sheet metal and actually had spacers to offset the additional length of the .30-06 cartridge which the receiver was originally designed for.

In memory of 1LT Julius C. Goldman, XO of F/330th, 83rd Infantry Division 1944-45.

Looking for ETO/MTO P-47 and Tactical Reconnaissance Unit photographs and any items associated with WWII Jewish fighter pilots.

Curator of Arms & Armor at the National Museum of the Marine Corps

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Don't want to send anyone into full-on Indiana Jones mode,but I recall in high school reading that 75 cases of Johnson LMG's went missing off the docks of New York in 45' and that the Italian police recovered one of them in Sicily in 1960 during a raid.I never heard of any others being ever recovered,though a marine friend of mine told me he was sure a Johnson was used against his unit in Afghanistan.He said the weapon in question looked like the Johnson a friend of my Dad had that we had shot as teens.

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This is an unpublished photo that I've had since the early 80's, that I believe to be from Raider / Paramarine operations in the vicinity of the Piva Trail, on Bougainville in late '43.

 

The water jacket on the Browning has written on it "This way to hell".

 

If you look past an toward the right end of the HMG water jacket, you'll can make out a Johnson LMG laying on the edge of the fighting hole, muzzle to the upper right.

 

Along the bottom edge of the picture is a stack of Johnson LMG magazines.

 

This is the only unposed front line combat photo with a Johnson in it, that I personally have found on the loose.

 

A great thread guys !! Keep it goin' !!

 

Best regards,

Paul

 

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7.92 Israeli Dror Machine Gun

 

Back in 1946, Israel began studies to develop a new domestically produced Light Machine Gun (LMG). By year’s end, a plant was set up to manufacture it. Israel had purchased the rights and all the tooling machines for the Johnson LMG from the Winchester Arms company. Johnson LMG had been widely used by the U.S. Marines and some Special U.S. Army units during World War 2.

 

In 1947 the tools and blueprints for the Dror LMG were ready. But there were some setbacks that precluded initial production. The rounds were calibrated in inches, not millimeters. The critical issue being that Israel had an inventory of millions of british 0.303" rounds, collected over the years by very hard and extremely dangerous endeavor. Because of that, the Dror’s initial version, was specifically manufactured to operate under British 0.303" standards. That version had a side feeding tray magazine, similar to the original American Johnson LMG.

 

Theoretically, the Dror was to be ready for deployment in 1948 with a 20 round capacity magazine. However, that model presented technical glitches, so, its production was halted. Therefore, it didn’t play any military role during the War of Independence in 1948. By 1950, some Dror LMGs were used for combat simulation testing.

 

The Dror is a recoil, non gas actuated LMG, capable of semi-auto, and full-auto firing modes.

The most distinctive difference between the original Johnson LMG and the Dror, is that the former is a gas operated LMG, while the latter is a recoil type, hence, far more reliable.

 

The Dror is considerably lighter than the Johnson KMG, and like the latter’s rifle version, has a quick interchangeable barrels capability.

 

During 1947 a nd 1948, the Dror was produced in underground workshops by the Hagannah.

 

 

...from... http://www.guncity.co.nz/7.92-israeli-dror-xidp212634.html

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