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Dutch Military Rifle Optics from the 1950s and 1960s

By R.H.G. “Kick” Koster, Pictures by Bas Martens

The Dutch city of Delft is mostly associated with its world famous pottery. “Delft and military optics” doesn’t naturally come to mind, yet that was a major combination.

The former Dutch State Arsenal Artillerie Inrichtingen had an optics division in Delft, which was involved in the production and development of military products. In the late 1960s, this division was acquired by Philips USFA which, in turn, was absorbed by the Holland Signaal conglomerate, which became part of Thalis. There is often confusion with another company, Old Delft, also in Delft, which also produced optics. Old Delft merged in 1990 with Enraf-Nonius, an instrument factory, to become Delft Instruments. This company specializes in optics for camera’s and medical instruments. Old Delft also supplied Optronics (the combination of optics and electronics) to several military organizations, such as night vision equipment for the Dutch armed forces.

However, these are developments of the last 20 years. We are going back to the period shortly after World War II to review the historical items.

The Beginning

We begin in 1957, when the Artillerie Inrichtingen (AI) closed a license agreement with the ArmaLite company for the production of AR-10 rifles. ArmaLite claimed this gun also had excellent abilities as a sniper weapon. It was, therefore, clear that one of the accessories for this new weapon had to be a rifle scope.

In the autumn of 1957 ir. Friederich Jungeling, director of the AI, commissioned the development of such a rifle scope from the head of the optics department, engineer Van der Poest Clement. Van der Poest Clement and his department already had extensive experience in the field of scopes for all kinds of artillery and weapons. In 1951, the Dutch Ministry of War had ordered some 600 scopes for use on the Lee Enfield Mk 4 (T) sniper rifle. The Dutch scopes, called Riflescope No. 32 on a 1950 factory drawing and Riflescope Nr. 32 M3 on an existing specimen from 1951, were copies of the British No. 32 Scope, Mk III. However, they were easily...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N5 (June 2017)
and was posted online on April 21, 2017

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