Lewis Gun Anti Aircraft fore and rear sight from one of the guns which engaged Baron Richthofen's aircraft

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Corbie Albert Area, Corbie
Accession Number REL/00935
Collection type Technology
Object type Firearm accessory
Maker Unknown
Place made France
Date made 1917-1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Improvised anti-aircraft sights for a Lewis machine-gun, fabricated in the field from sheet brass. The larger of the sights, which is designed to allow for a 'deflection' shot, is the foresight, while the smaller 'peep' sight is the rear sight. The foresight consists of two elliptical rings, one inside the other, with a bead in the centre. The outer ring gives the necessary 'aiming off' for firing at aircraft flying at an altitude of 1000 feet, a speed of 100 miles per hour, and an angle of sight of 50 degrees. The inner ring is designed for firing at aircraft flying at 200 feet, a speed of 120 miles per hour, and an agle of sight of 15 degrees.

History / Summary

The sights were used on one of the two Lewis guns of the 53rd Battery of the 14th Field Artillery Brigade which engaged Baron von Richthofen's aircraft. The sights were donated by Major Leslie Beavis, commanding the Battery, who staunchly believed it was men from his battery who had brought the aircraft down.

The means by which this type of sight was used was described in a pamphlet printed in France in June 1918 and issued by the General Staff, entitled 'The forward area anti-aircraft sight'.