Replacing the Bren

By Jonathan Ferguson
Armament Research Services (ARES)

The Post-War British Army Considered Korsak’s Bullpup Design LMG for Infantry Support

This experimental British light machine gun or automatic rifle was developed from 1945–1947 under the auspices of the British Armament Design Establishment (ADE), based at the former Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield in North London. It was therefore the first true Enfield bullpup firearm but is poorly understood today. This is not helped by the baffling duplication of “EM,” or “Experimental Model,” designations by ADE (see “A Note on Nomenclature,” below). This leads to confusion with the later E.M.1 assault rifle. The original E.M.1 was designed by Roman Korsak (frequently rendered “Korsac”) alongside a 7.92 x 33mm assault rifle designed by Jeziora?ski (often misspelled as “Jesieranski” or “Jeziorenski,” including in official documents of the period)—the first British weapon to be designated E.M.2 and not to be confused with the more famous Janson E.M.2.

Korsak was a Polish refugee—one of a number of Belgian, Czech and Polish weapons designers, including Jeziora?ski and Janson; the latter’s birth name being Januszewski—who had come to Britain to escape the Nazi regime. There had been a lack of small arms and light weapon expertise in the country prior to the war, and these immigrants helped to fill that gap. Korsak was one of those who chose to stay on in the UK after the end of the war and became head (CEAD or Chief Engineer & Superintendent of Armaments Design) of a design team based at Cheshunt in Hertfordshire. Janson would later succeed him in this role, and Janson’s rifle would come to the forefront of British small arms design.

As we might expect from a support weapon theoretically intended to replace the Bren gun, the Korsac features a relatively heavy barrel and a bipod but unusually is in “bullpup” configuration. Conceptually and mechanically the weapon is based upon the German FG-42 automatic rifle, an advanced development of the American Lewis gun designed for paratroopers and credited to Louis Stange of Rheinmetall-Borsig. The Fallschirmjägergewehr 42 was already quasi-bullpup in arrangement, albeit with a side-mounted magazine well. The FG-42...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N9 (November 2018)
and was posted online on September 21, 2018


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