Some 400,000 F1 SMG examples were produced from 1963 to 1987.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Credit: Left side view of the Lithgow F1 submachine gun
The F1 submachine gun replaced the World War 2-era Owen submachine gun series then in service with the Australian Army. By the 1960s, the Owen series, highly valued by Australian military personnel, was beginning to show its dated origins that were set back in the 1930s. Design of a new submachine gun began in 1962 and resulted in the "X3" prototype - a submachine gun design not unlike the British Sterling Submachine Gun. After the requisite trials, production began in 1963 and well over 400,000 examples were eventually produced by the Lithgow Small Arms Factory based out of Lithgow, New South Wales, Australia. The submachine gun became better known as the "F1" and she would see notable combat actions in the upcoming Vietnam War (1955-1975). The F1 maintained a long and healthy tenure with the Australian military and served a span from 1963 to 1991 before being replaced by the more modern F88 Austeyr Carbine - a shortened form of the F88 Austeyr Assault Rifle. The F88 Austeyr series itself is based on the Austrian Steyr automatic rifle line, modified to suit Australian military requirements. In essence, the F88C Austeyr Carbine is the Australian version of the Austrian Steyr AUG Carbine.
The F1 series naturally shared some similarities with the British Sterling but it featured a left-side bolt handle, modified trigger housing, overhead magazine feed (ala the Owen SMG) and an all-new rear sight. The F1 sported a solid wooden stock and wooden pistol grip about its very tubular frame. The pistol grip and trigger unit was set at the midway point of the design with the magazine feed set ahead and to the top of the receiver. The magazine feed was designed in such a way as to accept the magazine in an overhead fashion, giving the F1 its unique and highly identifiable appearance, unlike the side-mounted fitting found in the British Sterling. The barrel jacket was noticeably perforated with circular perforations and hinged loop rings were situated at the stock and the muzzle for use of a standard-issue shoulder strap. Sighting was accomplished via a pair of iron fixtures, offset to the left of the weapon body to compensate for the top-mounted magazine.
Like other submachine gun and pistols of the world, the F1 was chambered to fire the universally-accepted 9x19mm Parabellum cartridge. The feed mechanism relied on a 34-round double-stacked curved detachable box magazine and Sterling type magazines could be used as well. Her firing action was blowback from an open-bolt design and a rate-of-fire of 600 to 640 rounds per minute was reported. Effective range was out to 150 meters. The F1 weighed in at 3.7 kilograms when empty (sans magazine) and featured a running length of 714mm with the barrel measuring in at 198mm.
In action, particularly concerning Australian military involvement during the Vietnam War, the F1 Submachine Gun proved a robust and reliable weapon where her compact size and high ammunition count could be put to good use in the confines being presented. Jamming became something of a notable issue due to the double-stacked magazines working against the firing chamber over time but it was not enough to damage the good reputation of this excellent Australian weapon.
Manufacturing Lithgow Small Arms Factory - Australia
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