Barr and Stroud Rangefinders (Infantry)

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by ugly, May 3, 2007.

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  1. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    One for the General, quite literally.
    This is the battered but still reasonable possibly not working properly) 85 cm range finder calibrated in yards to 20,000.
    close up

    This is the one I got for less in its transit case, unused I'd say its that good. I think this is a later model as its a 1m base calibrated in metres out to 20,000. These both were issued to the MG platoon and probably left in the universal carriers or TCVs as they are not fun if you have a 56lb tripod to shift.
    These were the subject of a very good lecture at the IWM for the HBSA.
  2. Are they WW1 kit?

  3. Profs Barr and Stroud invented this type of optical rf in about 1880, they were swiftly adopted by navies, obviously they were much longer than the man portable device.

    However, just before WW1 the small manportable rf were issued to the Army, to be precise RFA and presumably RGA, not sure about RHA. There's a chapter on them in the Handbook of Instruments 1914, I think Pen & Sword may offer a reprint (probably without amendment 1). The role of these rfs were for measuring range from observer to target. To understand why this was useful (arty procedures were different in those days) visit and look at the Pre-1914, Maps & Survey and possibly 1914-18 pages.

    These range finders remained in RA service until the 1970s, being used by regimental surveyors. Range finding with them to 20000 metres is, of course, a joke (not least because the army used yards not metres).

    I wasn't aware that they were ever used by anyone except artillery. I'm a bit suprised they were used by MG platoons, not least because such things basically never existed in inf bns. In WW1 MGs were the province of the MG Corps (IIRC bns had just a sect of 2 guns before this) and in WW2, while some types of bn had them they were mostly in the divisional MG bns. The old man was in such a bn for a couple of years (before they were converted to arty) and while he often extolled the benefits of the 'Long Carry', range finders never got a mention.
  4. We had a Barr & Stroud in the Survey Stores of 3 RHA in Devizes back in 1974-76.

    I was a Regtl Surveyor back then and the thing never left the stores.

    Ah, happy memories of "Azimuth by Polaris" on the Plain when, after poring over the calculations, a small whisp of cloud would obscure Polaris at the appointed time!

    Remember PIM anyone?
  5. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    Yes and no, for infantry they came in if I recall as a result of machine guns being deployed in the Boer War and the older RA methods of range finding left troops exposed to fire. I attended a brilliant lecture at the IWM on these and I suggest anyone that is interested I can scan the write up on the lecture and post it.
    They served through to the end of the Vickers MMGs so I suppose 1960 ish. Perhaps any old sweats reading this could enlighten us.
    The Wild rangefinders, swiss made are very expensive and difficult to find. The yanks pay a lot for them and they arent as good in my opinion as the Barr and Stroud. Barr and Stroud were very shrewd business men as well as brilliant engineers. They effectively did away with the UK opposition and sourced their glass from the French on an arrangement where they supplied rangefinders in exchange. They supplied all the entente powers and post action reports from Jutland showed that the ammo was at fault, the range being accurately predicted. Clever use of Patent law ensured that the Germans had no option but to buy Swiss or use the periscope type which werent as accurate.
    The Yanks by the way use them for ultra accurate rangefinding when doing very long range shooting such as 2000m against Gophers and Ground Hogs with .50 cal rifles.
    I have some instructions from a yank website but I also have a Naval range finder which relies on knowing your height above sea level.
    Simple triangulation.
  6. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    I did see a lovely AAA range finder/predicter on e bay, I didnt have the funds to meet the reserve sadly and it was withdrawn.
  7. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    e bay
    1941 patent date on this unit!
  8. Oi I wanted that! Now everyone's going to want it.
  9. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

  10. One sold recently for £26. I would have paid more than that. What do you reckon for one then?
  11. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    I have finished a bid on a sh1tty one for £50. That was almost twice the cost of my immaculate in the box one!
  12. These photos take me back to early boyhood, where these were flogged off via Exchange & Mart etc for about a tenner each. Remember my uncles getting hold of one and trying to explain to me how it worked.

    I know now; but wish I'd listened more attentively to men who'd used it under theatre conditions.

    Happy memories . . . . .
  13. You must let me know where you shop!

    Withams have a Wild (Swiss) one but want a tender bid in excess of £100 for it!
  14. Your garden furniture could do with a coat of teak oil, and your lawn looks a bit on the patchy side. CO,s parade for you old boy!!!
  15. Witham's have a Wild Heerburg in their sale next week. Lot 497. Looks complete in transit case.