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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Gentlemen,

I know that the rear sight with the rotating aperture was used on a few different guns including the Browning M1917, the Hotchkiss M1909 Benét–Mercié, and another that escapes me...

There was one that recently came and went on ebay and I did not have the time to research it to make sure it is the correct leaf graduation for the Browning M1917.

Can I get a few of the Browning experts to take a look at the attached and let me know if this would have been correct for a Browning M1917?

- The distance marks go to 24

- The base seems to be too round at the toe to fit an M1917 topcover

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Not used on the 1917 BMG.
Sight is for the 1909 Benet-Mercie. Windage screw is on the front end of the base.
BMG sight has the windage screw on the rear end of the base.
Windage screw threads on 1909 are much finer than on the BMG sight and the screw threads have a "waist".
The BMG style sight was also used on the .30-06 Colt 1915 Vickers.
FWIW
 

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The sight is known as the Bassel and Blinkner rear sight. According to the book The Springfield 1903 Rifle, it was designed in different sizes for different weapons one of which was the 03 Springfield. The other weapons mentioned were the Marlin M1917 and the Benet-Mercie M1909.

It was designed by John Bassell and Fred Blinkber with patent No. 870,337 in 1908.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Was this sight on all Browning M1917 MGs regardless of who built it?

Would it have been on a Westinghouse?
 

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Although my previously quoted source does not mention the M1917 Browning they were used on them but to what extent I do not know. My copy of a British manual on the M1917 Browning shows a picture of the rear sight and it is a B&B sight on page 24 of the manual. No other sight is mentioned. Prior to the U.S. entering WWII the U.S. sent a number of M1917 guns to Great Britain. From the manual I would guess all were M1917 and not M1917A1. Also the tripod shown is an M1917 and not an A1. I believe the U.S was sending obsolete or not yet updated guns to them. I understand the U.S. Government set up a dummy Corporation to supply England with weapons on lend lease so it would not look like the government was supplying weapons to England directly. Of course this was before the U.S. entered the war.

Correction to my previous post. the Book on the Springfield 1903 Rifle does state that the B&B sight was used on the M1917 BMG.
 

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PhD in Over-Engineering
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Thanks to Armorer for the origin of this sight design. I never saw info as to the designer, but I had noticed the resemblance to the smaller 03 Springfield sight, without making the direct connection. It's a complex bugger, but was apparently considered desirable enough to keep getting used on several machine guns up through the 1917, with appropriate graduation revisions to suit the specifics of each gun. Below I will add a pic of the correct Browning 1917 sight. Yes, all 1917s from Colt's, Remington and N.E. Westinghouse were issued with these sights. The only maker that put an mfg mark on them is Remington, so distinguishing the mfg of an unmarked one is difficult. But given Colt's only made 2500 1917s, versus nearly 40,000 by Westinghouse, you can play the odds on an unmarked 1917 rear sight.

The graduations are to 2800 meters. Yes, meters, not yards. This is due to the fact that the AEF was in France and using French maps where everything was metric. One reason few of these survived in original configuration is that at least 25,000 sight leaves were ordered to be ground and re graduated to yards in 1922. Ballistics testing was done which resulted in the 2600 yard markings, as well as a new combination slide assembly, that became standard in WWII. I have seen plenty of examples of the 1917A1 sights that began life as WWI 1917 leaves. One clue is the leaf is thinner than drawing spec, having been ground and re marked.

Just to fill in one blank, the M1 Ball ammo period resulted in a third range of graduations, to 3400 yards. That was short lived, and by the ramp up to WWII production, the M2 Ball round becoming primary, Ordnance Dept went backwards and re-standardized the 1922, 2600 yard markings. M2 ballistics are identical to the earlier 1906 round, for all practical purposes.

Some of you may have seen WWII 1917A1 sights with an extra marking added in the drift slide slot, showing "M2 & '06 AMM" stamped in. That dates from a period where training was continued with a mix of both M1 Ball and the 1906/M2 Ball spec ammo. Guns were kept with the 3400 yard sight for using up M1 Ball supplies, while other guns used the 2600 yard sight, with that marking added, to clarify which ammo was to be used.

According to Dolf's research- to which I credit most of what I claim to "know"- about 25,000 1917s were kept in service for regular training post war. These got upgrades such as the reinforcing stirrup and new sight graduations, while the rest were put away into storage in unissued condition. As Armorer mentions, some 6,000 1917s were shipped to the Brits in Lend Lease. These were from those unissued stocks in straight WWI configuration. In the late 30s, many more of those unissued guns were shipped to RIA for conversion to 1919A4, or to various arsenals for upgrades to 1917A1 specs. The handful of 1917s that DLO obtained from England, no doubt came from the 1917 stocks that were part of the Lend Lease batch of 6,000. I understand something just north of 200 1917s is what DLO obtained, many of which were rebuilt as transferable 1917s.

I only have this one photo handy, but I can do a pictorial of the various 1917-1917A1 sights from my reference collection if that is desirable. Can get to that this weekend, just let me know if anyone wants it.

Just added pics I filed from web searches some time back. These are examples of the Benet Mercie, Potato Digger and Colt Vickers with their versions of this sight design.
 

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Diggers were fitted with a single notch sight on the elevator and did not use a windage adjustment. Several later commercial and commercial contract Colt BMGs used this same single notch rear sight.
The only MGs to use the forward windage adjustment sight base were the US Benets and the Colt 1915 Vickers.
FWIW
 

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PhD in Over-Engineering
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Good stuff, Bob. Thanks. I have not had opportunity to see the Benet Mercie or Digger models. Have had a look at one or two Colt Vickers. Below are two more pics I found on file. First one came from ajmdreammg42, I think. Not sure which version it is, but hopefully he won't mind that I posted it. Second is one I took of a Colt Vickers.
 

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Yes Rollin. Post a pictorial.

Here are just various examples out of manuals.












Pretty sure this is my site on my gun. Not home right now but I do own a two screw model.











 

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Discussion Starter #12
WOW! Incredible! Thank you so much... everyone! I'll have to review this thread a few times before I start searching again for a sight. Glad I did not buy that one on ebay!

Craig, do you know what manuals those pictures came from? TMs? FMs? Specifically the first two drawings of the 1917 sight.
 

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Good stuff, Bob. Thanks. I have not had opportunity to see the Benet Mercie or Digger models. Have had a look at one or two Colt Vickers. Below are two more pics I found on file. First one came from ajmdreammg42, I think. Not sure which version it is, but hopefully he won't mind that I posted it. Second is one I took of a Colt Vickers.
post away Rollin, would love to see someone make a pictorial of all the different variations. I can take good pics of any of the ones i have
20180301_154303.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Good stuff, Bob. Thanks. I have not had opportunity to see the Benet Mercie or Digger models. Have had a look at one or two Colt Vickers. Below are two more pics I found on file. First one came from ajmdreammg42, I think. Not sure which version it is, but hopefully he won't mind that I posted it. Second is one I took of a Colt Vickers.
post away Rollin, would love to see someone make a pictorial of all the different variations. I can take good pics of any of the ones i have
View attachment 93347
That picture puts a smile on my face.
 

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PhD in Over-Engineering
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That picture puts a smile on my face.
Yeah, but now you know why no one can find 1917A1 Top Covers anymore!


Then again, given my build parts inventory, I may be the pot calling the kettle black.... :eek:
 
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