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Winchester Marine Mount A5 USMC & Army Sniper Rifles WWI
November 20, 2018
10:41 pm
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* It's going to make me post multiple messages to get all the pics of the documents in, so please bear with me.

Several years back I started a case study on the WWI Marine and Army A5 Sniper rifles. Everything I read in the books didn't seem to match up with what little info I could find on them. Many of the books would only have one or two paragraphs on the A5 and a few pics of a Mann Niedner, but not much else. After several years of searching the WRA documents, as well as documents from many archive Archives, I feel very comfortable with providing this research.

A special Thanks goes out to Andrew Stolinski of the Archival Research Group. Andrew has spend a considerable amount of time pulling documents for me from the National Archives. I am a subscriber to his website at https://archivalresearchgroup.com/.. This is a just a small handful of the docs on these A5 snipers, where on Andrew's website you can literally see hundreds on just the WWI Sniper program alone, which also includes documents on the Warner Swasey and the Model of 1918 sniper by WRA.
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Also a special thanks to Tim Plowman for postings a lot of the research on his http://usmcweaponry.com.   Tim is updating this link daily, so more info will be coming out, so check back often. https://usmcweaponry.com/usmc-m1903-a5-sniper-rifle/

Now on the subject of the A5, it has long been assumed that Winchester produced the Mann Niedner style A5 sniper rifle of WWI, but this is not the case at all. It also has been assumed that the Mann Niender was the main A5 sniper rifle of the war. But this is not the case either. The most common made A5 sniper used in the war, by both the Marines and the Army were the A5 scopes mounted by Winchester on bases they named the "Springfield Marine." The "Springfield Marine" bases seem to have been developed between March 1917 and June 1917. They were the answer to a quick fix of the Army's main complaints  the  6'' on center A5 snipers they trialed in 1914/15.

These "Springfield Marine" bases are nearly identical to the later John Unertl O&E bases used by the Marines in WWII on the Unertl Sniper rifles. In fact when you put WRA "Springfield Marine" Bases next to the Unertls, there isn't much difference. John Unertl seems to have copied the WWI Marine design (with minor changes) to be used on the WWII Unertls.

Now it is interesting to note, these were not the intended A5 Sniper rifle of the war, as the Marines had chosen the Mann Niedner style that is commonly known today. The Mann Niedner employed a tapered block design that was created by Franklin Mann and used by Adolph Niedner. The Mann Niedners were a wedge shape design that tightened under recoil and were a very secure way to mount a scope that was first trialed by the Marines in late 1916. A series of unfortunate events happened very early in the war that lead to this style rifle not being built in number, till basically the wars end. Which leads to the reason why the WRA Springfield Marine mounts were the main A5 sniper of the war.

In May/June of 1917, Adolph Niedner was given a contract to mount 1650 scopes on Marine Corps M1903 rifles in Philly. After he completed his first 150, he was going to take a small vacation for about a month and come back and mount the additional 1500. Before leaving, he was witnessed by 3 men saying he wished Germany would win the war, and he would do his part to help with that. Because Niedner was a German Immigrant, and the fear of German Saboteurs was very real in WWI, the FBI were called, and a potential German Saboteur case was opened against him. This effectively fired Niedner from the USMC contract and from that point on he was not involved in the A5 program during the war.

This left the Marines in a tight spot, because they were still developing the ability to work on small arms in house. At this time they still contracted all work to be done on their small arms to others. Such as the Army still did their rebuilds at this time.

After the firing of Niedner, the contract had to be given to someone else. This lead to Winchester awarding the contract on July 2nd 1917 to mount 500 A5 scopes on rifles furnished by the Marines. Winchester used their new special bases that had just been developed in an attempt to win an Army contract for A5 telescopic sights.   The new Springfield Marine bases were the 7.2'' spacing that is common today. As was tradition, because the Marines ended up using them first, they earned the nickname of Marine by WRA. Just as many items did in the day, such as #10 sights.

What followed is very interesting as the Marines received 500 of these WRA mounted A5 rifles by the fall of 1917. It appears they most likely all shipped to France and probably were shipped to the 5th Marine Regiment. In January 1918, because of shortages of sniper rifles with the Army, and the Army not being able to order in time 4000 additional scopes by Warner Swasey because a shortages of lenses, you see the Army order the exact same A5 style rifles from Winchester that the Marines had received in 1917.

In January 1918, the Army supplied Winchester 500 M1903 rifles to have the A5 scopes mounted with Springfield Marine bases. In the Army documents they start to nickname these mountings as the "Marine Corps Mounting" or "Marine Corps Model." Sometimes they even just refer to them as the exact same model used by the Marines earlier.

Without posting 100's of pages of documents on this, I am going to post some of the top ones. To see many more than this, please visit Tim's website above which does a great job, and to see a much more complete inventory of the documents, please subscribe to Andrew's website above. Which will be including new docs as they are discovered.

This will not be the end all to this story as we are still finding documents on these rifles. Andrew just pulled about 400 the other day, and has more trips planned to find more, which will be put on the website when found.

Many of the Marines Corps documents did not survive a purge in 1920 by the Marines, but the Army detailed the whole Marine sniper program of 1917 by WRA, in an attempt to copy it for 1918. You can see some of the Marine documents on Tim's page, or Andrew's site, but those posted here will be mainly WRA and Army.

First and foremost, these are the original pictures taken by Winchester of their "Springfield Marine bases." This is the exact style rifle that was made for the USMC in 1917, and the Army in 1918. In total WRA for sure made 1400 of these rifles. There is no difference between one issued to the Marines as the Army.

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These are the original pics I blew up for more detail.

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These are original WRA drawing of their "Springfield Marine" bases. These are a beefier design that seems to be created in early 1917. For all intensive purposes they are nearly identical to the Unertl 0&E of WWII. There are only minor differences between the two.

 

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January, 1918: The first contract of 500 A5 scopes mounted in the Marine Corps mounting are ordered by the US Army. An Additional 400 will be ordered on April 11th 1918.

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Besides the actual pictures and drawings of the Winchester Marine mounts, it's also proven they were not Mann Niedner in the docuemnts. I am going to expand on the request by the US Army for spare parts for the Marine Corps mounting A5's, to prove they aren't the taper block Mann Niedner style. Here is a request asking for what parts they need for the first 500.

 

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Here is WRA's official response to the US Army which was asking for what parts they will need. WRA declares that if they need any spare parts, to ship the scopes back to WRA so they may supply the parts. This is a key clue to the next document that proves they were not Mann Niedner.

 

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November 20, 2018
10:47 pm
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In the last document it states that if they need spare parts for the A5 scopes, they should return them to Winchester so WRA may install them. This is where it proves they were not Mann Niedner as the Army is in desperate need of the Clamping screws to mount the A5 scopes to the Marine bases. Clamping Screws are the name WRA used for thumb screws. The Mann Niedner conversion does not use Thumb screws as it mounts in a wedge design that tightens under recoil.

This is one document asking for clamping screws for the Marine mount A5's.

 

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This is the better document asking for clamping screws. As they say it's ridiculous to ship an A5 scope back to WRA to have them only screw in a screw. They request they supply a shipment of replacement clamping screws (thumbscrews)

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About two weeks after they request clamping screws, you see Winchester get a contact for 500 replacement clamping screws. This is from the WRA ledger.

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If you have any doubt that clamping screw is a thumb screw. Here is the WRA document detailing that a clamping screw is their name for the thumbscrew to mount it to the dovetail base.

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This is a Mann Niedner USMC A5 conversion. Notice there are no clamping screws (thumbscrews)

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November 20, 2018
10:56 pm
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This is a real Winchester Marine Mount A5 sniper from the WWI era. This rifle has the WRA Springfield Marine bases installed. Notice how it has just the standard A5 scope with the clamping screws.

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WRA steel Clamping screws used to mount the A5 to the Marine bases. These are not available on a Mann Niedner.

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This is the WRA Marine Mount rifle in France in very late 1917. The Marine is most likely a member of the 5th Marine Regiment.

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This is the Army with the Marine Mount A5 taken in the WWI era.

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November 20, 2018
10:59 pm
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The whole confusion has been that no one had figured out that WRA ALSO had a mount they named Marine. Everyone has assumed a Marine Mount description had to be a Mann Niedner. But this isn't the case.

Also there is further evidence that the Mann Niedner conversion had nothing to do with WRA and was created and produced by the Philly Marine Depot.

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This document is from the Handbook of Ordnance Data dated November 15th, 1918. This document has long been shown in books to prove that Winchester had produced the Marine mounting, and that Marine Mounting was the Mann Niedner.

Now that you know Winchester had their own style of Marine mounting, and it was not MAnn Niedner. This document takes on a new meaning and makes a lot more sense.

Also the US Marines and the US Army both had seperate contracts for the same number of 500 rifles, many times these two orders have been confused with each other. Even though it's not detailed, the Army did also have an order for 400 additional MArine Mount A5's on top of the 500. So the Army acquired 900 in total. The 400 order is not as detailed in the WRA and Army docs and that is maybe why it was excluded from this.

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Also one more killer document that Andrew found that proves that WRA had nothing to do with the Mann Niedner. Here is the timeline of events prior to this Army document.

- January 15th 1918- The Army orders 500 Marine Mount A5's from WRA

- Febuary 28th 1918- 360 A5 rifles have already been delivered to the US Army, the remaining 140 are done, awaiting shipping orders.

- March 5th 1918- The 79th Infantry receives the first WRA Marine Mount A5's to use

- March 19th 1918- The 500 Marine mount order is complete and all have been received by the US Army.

- April 11th, 1918- The Army orders an additional 400 Marine Mount A5's off WRA.

Then this document happens on April 23rd 1918, the Army had pulled the Mann Patent on his tapered blocks. The same blocks that are on the Mann Niedner. The Army was exploring if they should use his tapered block design for scope mounting. Now if you look above at the dates, why would they need to pull a patent on the Mann Niedner if WRA had provided them the Mann Niedner A5's? There would have not been a need to pull that patent drawing if WRA had provided the Mann Niedner taper blocks. Just a really neat doc and shows why funding trips to the Achives with Andrew yield such amazing results.

By the way when it says it will go with the new WRA sight, they are talking of the WRA Model of 1918 sniper. Which was a sporterized M1917 rifle with a scope based on the Goerz design.

 
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For more document and details on this pleast visit Tim's and Andrew's web pages. Thank you again for taking the time to read my post.
 
 
November 21, 2018
3:02 am
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Very impressive work!

Steve, do you own and have a copy of Col. Brophy's book, "The Springfield 1903 Rifles" in your library?

James

November 21, 2018
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jwm94 said
Very impressive work!

Steve, do you own and have a copy of Col. Brophy's book, "The Springfield 1903 Rifles" in your library?

James  

Yes sir I do.  Many of the books out on the 1903 are not the best, but Brophy's is one of the few that about anything I research in the National Archives, his info is usually pretty spot on.

Brophy did know about these Springfield Marine bases, but just never made the connection that they were the actual sniper of the war, he sort of also talks more on the Mann Niedner variation like most authors did.  

But to be fair so much of the documentation on this stuff has recently just been released to the Archives, so it wouldn't have been there when he was writing his book.  

But I have nothing but respect for him.

November 21, 2018
1:58 pm
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Nicely done, Mr. Norton! 

 

Mike

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November 21, 2018
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steven norton said

Yes sir I do.  Many of the books out on the 1903 are not the best, but Brophy's is one of the few that about anything I research in the National Archives, his info is usually pretty spot on.

Brophy did know about these Springfield Marine bases, but just never made the connection that they were the actual sniper of the war, he sort of also talks more on the Mann Niedner variation like most authors did.  

But to be fair so much of the documentation on this stuff has recently just been released to the Archives, so it wouldn't have been there when he was writing his book.  

But I have nothing but respect for him.  

Happy Thanksgiving to you and the family.

As mentioned in my last post, your work is very impressive - and let me add, welcome! 

Since you have Col. Brophy's book:

It's possible that Brophy could not say with absolute authority that the (Winchester) Springfield Marine bases (scope blocks) were the only ones used during WWI, (meaning in a combat area), but where does he disagree with your findings?

Also, Brophy was very explicit in his description about the Winchester A5 Mann-Neidner Scope Mount modification, and the fact that Franklin Mann and A. O. Neidner developed this improved method of fastening scopes to rifles. pg. 504-505.  Where does he indicate or assume that Winchester produced the Mann-Neidner style sniper rifle?

Question:  What is your opinion about the history of the 150 completed scope mountings that Mann-Neidner made for the Corps?

James

November 21, 2018
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Happy Thanksgiving to you!  

 

Brophy doesn't ever say clearly what the USMC A5's were, he does state that he thinks the Mann Niedner conversions were done by WRA because of a similarity of the markings on the Model 1918 scope.  Which also was done by WRA.  But they really aren't the similar.  This is on page 505.

He talks about the Springfield Marine bases but never says anything on what they were, or what they were used for.

I honestly think he probably had a clue, he just never knew for certain.   A lot of the documents I have were only released to the archives in 2012.  

 

This is sort of a condensed version of what happened.

 

- Late 1916 Niedner builds several Mann Niedner taper block mounted 1903 rifles for the Marine shooting team guys.  These were used in training on the teams, and the Marines liked them.

- The Marines at this time were developing the ability to work on their own rifles at Philly.  They weren't 100% up and running, but were expanding the Philly Depot at this time to do their own work.  

- May/June 1917 Niedner is hired by the Marines to come in and train them how to mount scopes on their m1903's.  He brings his own tooling or at least uses sets the Marines up with tooling.  He basically sets them up to do the conversion of the MAnn Niender on WRA #2 mounts.  He then mounts 150, probably showing the Marines on how to do it.  He then leaves his tooling and equipment there set up, and leaves for Wisconsin for a vacation.  He was supposed to be gone a month and come back and help mount 1500 more.  After he left, all hell breaks loose.

-June 28, 1918 the FBI came in, declaring Niedner a potential German Saboteur.  They are even worried his rifles have been compromised.  Niedner is fired, and he is never allowed to come back to Philly to disassemble what he set up to produce the Mann Niedner.

-The Marines are still not good enough to do the work themselves, so they must find someone else.

-July 2nd 1917, the Marines give the contract to WRA.  WRA agrees to mount 500 scopes on M1903 rifles provided by the Marine Corps.  WRA uses the springfield Marine bases produced by WRA.  WRA also agrees to train the Marines on how to mount them.  WRA has a huge ego and would never allow another design to be made in their factory.

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-July 1917  The Marines have now traveled to WRA to learn how to mount scopes themselves, and probably work on the assembly of the 500.  Or at least WRA has a training program they detail for them.  An apprenticeship if you so say.  THey also learn how to repair the scope itself, not just mount them.  These WRA trained Marines complete the training program by at least November I can document, but it was probably earlier.  I just know it was done by November 1917 because they detail they are done.

-April 1918, the Marines order a loose 1000 A5 scopes and Springfield Marine bases, but these are not mounted by WRA.  This is an order for loose scopes.  These are going to Philly, who still have all Niedner's equipment and tooling set up to do the conversion to Mann Niedner.  That Niedner left.  It appears the Marines liked the taper block design more than the WRA, and the Marines start to do the conversion to Mann Niedner themselves.  Which they call taper block Marine Corps Style.  This appears to start in the summer of 1918 at the absolute earliest.  There are pics in Nov 1918 of these rifles in Marine Hands at Quantico, and I suspect those Mann Niedner in those pics are fresh made at the depot.  Also replacements going to the AEF in that fall 1918 are armed with the New Mann Niedner rifles produced at the Depot.

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If it is unclear what happened to the first 150 done by Niedner.  As the FBI was afraid those rifles had been sabotaged.  So it's really uncertain what happened to the first 150.  But the Marines did order an extra 150 cases in the 500 order from WRA.  So it should be assumed the Marines probably still used those 150 by Niedner in France.  

But the biggest thing is, the Marines had 500 of the Springfield Marine (Marine Mount) A5 rifles, and the Army had 900.  This was the main A5 sniper of the war.  The only MAnn Niender that probably were used were the initial 150.  The ones produced later in 1918 probably never made it in time.  But that is not a guarantee, some might have made it late in the war.  But the Mann Niedner would not be the real A5 sniper of the war.  The Winchester produced one would have been.  The Mann Niender would have became common in basically 1919 and up.  It's just overshadowed the WRA version.

Sort of like how the M40A1 is more famous than the M40.  If you didn't have all those pics of the M40 in Nam, most of those were rebuilt into the 40A1.  The same thing happened here.   

November 24, 2018
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Up early here this AM.  Lots of turkey day food and football these past couple of days.

Good stuff about the personal life of Neidner and the timeline you've posted!  Thank you!

Again, reference what Franklin Mann and A.O. Neidner knew about the Mann-Neidner modification to the Winchester A5 No. 2 Mount.  Steve, you and I know what Brophy stated but, for the benefit for us to stay on track on the points I'm making, to include, what Brophy stated about these points, and for or the benefit of the viewers that do not have access to Brophy's book on the 1903 Rifle, they can click on the following link  https://books.google.com/books?id=vb3dDN9FiekC&q=Mann-Neidner#v=snippet&q=Mann-Neidner&f=false  hit "Enter" on the keyboard and see some Mann-Neidner bases as presented in the book...click this block to view page 502.  Viewers can can then scroll up and down to see other pages, unfortunately, some pages are not shown. Cry

On page 502, Brophy shows the Winchester mounts and the Mann-Neidner modifications.  Each picture is described in the caption.  Pictures A, B, C, D and G are identified as 'Winchester' products, whereas pictures E, F, and H are identified as the Mann-Neidner modification of Winchester No. 2 mount, Mann-Neidner modification of Winchester front mount, and Mann-Neidner tapered dovetailed front and rear blocks, respectively.  This information is an indication that the Mann-Neidner modifications and the Mann-Neidner scope bases were designed and produced by Mann-Neidner, and not by Winchester.  On page 504 and 505, all in one short paragraph, Brophy makes the following assertion, "Before World War I, Dr. Franklin Mann (noted rifle experimenter) and A.O. Neidner (renowned gunsmith, barrel maker, and inventor) devised and an improved method of fastening telescopes to rifles.  Their method used bases having a tapered dovetail that tightened the mounts to the bases during recoil.  The special bases were screwed and soldered to the rifle."  This last statement made by Brophy is a very strong indication that he knew the origin of the Mann-Neidner modification they made to the Winchester No. 2 mount, and Mann-Neidner special bases that were screwed and soldered on to the rifle.  Now, Steve, if you have a reference that disputes this part of Brophy's work, please "quote it," for me and any other interested party, but please do not make a statement that you 'think' or 'speculate' this or that. 

Speaking of 'thinking' and 'assertions':  In your last post to me, you state, "Brophy doesn't ever say clearly what the USMC A5's were, he does state that he thinks the Mann Niedner conversions were done by WRA because of a similarity of the markings on the Model 1918 scope. Which also was done by WRA. But they really aren't the similar. This is on page 505."  Correct me if I am wrong please, but I believe that the paragraph that you are referring to on page 505 is the one where Brophy mentions:

"Some of the telescopes that have been identified as being 'Marine Corps' have had the rear mount modified by the addition of a pointer, and the elevation micrometer graduations changed from 'minutes' to 'yards.'  It is believed that these changes were made by Winchester as there is a similarity to the markings on the Winchester Model 1918 telescope mount."  Steve, are you saying that the 'Marine Corps' rear mount and it's modifications are also Mann-Neidner's work?  If not, where in this paragraph does Brophy mention any Mann-Neidner modifications or inventions like their bases.  So, what am I missing on this note, as it appears to me that you have confused the Marine Corps rear mount, which I thought was Winchester manufactured,  with Mann-Neidner's work?

I'm getting ready for another day of football.  If I don't call you by tomorrow, what would be a good time during the week for you/

James

November 25, 2018
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Hey you can call about any time.  I'm off all day on Sunday and about every night except for Wenesday.

 

I'm not 100% exact on what you are asking about Brophy.  

The way I read the Brophy book is he thinks the Mann Niedner modification was done by Winchester.  I'm getting this from where he says, "Some of the telescopes that have been identified as being 'Marine Corps' have had the rear mount modified by the addition of a pointer, and the elevation micrometer graduations changed from 'minutes' to 'yards.'  It is believed that these changes were made by Winchester as there is a similarity to the markings on the Winchester Model 1918 telescope mount." 

Those two modifications only show up on what collectors call the Mann Niedner conversion, which also have the addition of the taper blocks.  But there is nothing in the WRA docs, or Marine docs, that detail WRA ever had anything to do with any type of conversion of a #2 mount. 

In fact in the Marine docs it details some sight parts were made by some commercial companies.  Several of them are named, but I have never heard of their names.  The only one I recognized was Steven's.  The Marines had a contract with Steven's in WWI, but I can't figure out what it was for.

The Winchester side is pretty easy to document.  I have probably close to a 1000 pages total between the Winchester, Marine, and Army docs that just deal with the WRA mounted rifles.

But the Mann Niender is a nightmare to document.  It appears most of the documents were destroyed even by 1920.  There are only two pics of them taken during WWI, which only one has the actual scope you can see.  

November 25, 2018
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I've read it a couple times and I'm still not quite sure.  I think I might be confusing with all the term's of Marine mounting, special bases, etc.  

It is really hard to explain this, So maybe this will help.

 

I know the books state that WRA was selling A5's to the military pre WWI, but the Army and Marine docs both state they trialed the A5 in small numbers, like five or ten, but neither got more than a few handful prior to 1917/18.  

 

But the first real A5 snipers were the ones the Army purchased in 1914.  There was 10 or 12 I think, I would have to pull the doc again.  But these were made for the Army to trial as a sniper.  I have the serials of these and the shipping docs.  One of them is this rifle below still at the Springfield museum.  In 1915 the report was written on the trial, and other than issues with these scope lense like it being too dark, their biggest complaint was that the blocks were not sturdy enough, and the 6'' on center spacing was problematic.  

This is the 6'' on center A5 from that 1915 sniper test.  These blocks WRA called the "Springfield."  This is the standard commercial blocks that WRA provided till probably the early 20's.   Mostly because of the issues of drilling into a hardened receiver.  That is why they mounted it on the Rear sight base.

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These are WRA "Springfield" bases removed off one of these rifles compared to the actual schematics for them.  

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In March of 1917, WRA details that they haven't sold any A5 sniper rifles, other than to foreign contracts.   They write the Army basically asking why did you not like the results of A5 snipers we sent you in 1914.   Can we please see the results from that trial so we can try to make revisions so we can sell you A5's?  Which literally the only thing on that list of things they could have honestly addressed was the 6'' spacing.  The other stuff was outside of their control, unless they built a whole new scope.  It appears WRA creates their new special bases as a quick band aide fix to try to sell the Army the A5, which these new special bases are beefier and also a 7.2'' Spacing.  These bases are never given a nickname till 1918 by the Army, which the Army just calls them Marine, mostly as a way to say we want what the Marines' had.

July 1917, the Marines went to Winchester and said we need someone to mount 500 of our rifles.  This is the Press release of the Marines trialing this new rifle in July 1917.  The pic honestly sucks, but those blocks I think are way too small for the Mann Niender conversion.  Also the rear taper block takes up the whole length of the receiver.  This one is too small and only takes up the rear.  The front handguard looks like the WRA style and not the Mann Niedner, which the Mann they had to cut off all the handguard as the scope slides on from the back side.  The WRA slides on from the front.    

In short, I think this is the press release of the new special bases WRA had just created to the criticism of the 1915 6'' on center report by the US Army.  I think these bases were created sometime between March 1917, and this picture being released.   In the Marine docs, they detail that Major Holcomb approved these new bases produced by WRA for MArine use.

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This are real WRA made "Springfield Marine" bases compared to real ones on a rifle.  I would never try to remove these as there are only a few known to exist.  

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I have one of these rifles with the Springfield Marine bases.  This is compared to the WWI factory pics by WRA.

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This is a Springfield MArine base rifle in France in 1917.  I found there is a 2nd pic of this same Marine.  That is how I knew I was taken in France in 1917.  Reading the catalog it's filed in, it really seems that this pic is probably around December 1917.  The WRA rifles had shipped several months before this pic was taken.

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This is the pic of the rifle taken in France around Dec 1917, compared to the Newspaper press release of July 1917.  I think both are the same type of rifle produced by WRA, and nothing to do with Mann Niedner.  

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This is my rifle compared to the rifle taken in France.  

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This is the Mann Niedner conversion.  Or what we call it.  The Marines never used that term. They called it taper block Marine Corps style.  But the bases are tapered and tighten under recoil.  Franklin Mann created them, but died before the Marines used them.  Niedner and others did use this style bases, so they were not exclusive to the Marines.  

This whole mount started as a factory #2 WRA mount, but it has been heavily modified.  The bottom is cut off, and the tapered bases installed.  The WRA grasshopper spring to hold the scope is discarded and an internal plunger is drilled through the bottom of the base.  The WRA micrometer knobs are discarded and new ones made by someone else are installed.  In addition a pointer made of spring steel.   Niedner introduced the taper blocks to the Marines.  I can document this to his trial rifles of 1916.  But who created the micrometer knobs and that spring steel pointer, is anyone's guess.  There is never a contract with WRA to do a conversion, or WRA selling them replacement parts like that for the A5.  There are mentions that Frankford arsenal created something that one could interrupt as these, so that is a possibility.  Frankford Arsenal had the only optic repair and manufacture work shop of the whole US Army and was 10 minutes from the Philly Depot.  If I had to take a guess, I think Frankford did them.  But I can't prove it.  There are other mentions though too, Steven's, and some other companies that I have never heard the name of, as making replacement parts for sights and such for the Marines.

I think this whole conversion was done in house by the Marines and had nothing to do with WRA.   I think either Niedner or the Marines post 1918 added the tappered block and internal plunger.  The micrometer knobs and spring steel pointer, I think were made either at the depot, Frankford Arsenal, or purchased form some commercial company other than WRA. 

 

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This is the only proof that this style scope was even fielded in the war.  This was probably taken late in the war or possibly even after the war was over.  But all you can say is for certain it was 1918 or later by what the Marines are wearing.

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This is the only thing ever provided by anyone, when someone claims that WRA produced the Mann Niedner.  Because it is saying that WRA made the Special Marine mounting.  Just everyone assumed "Special Marine mounting" was Mann Niedner.  But the WRA Marine Mounting had clamping screws.  Which Mann Niedner did not.

 

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November 25, 2018
5:39 am
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This might even help.  I hate to post all this stuff, because I would like to see Andrew get subscriptions from this, because he did an amazing job finding so much documentation at the Archives.

 

But this is the letter WRA sends the Army in March of 1917.  This is before they have done any A5 snipers for anyone, other than the 10 or 12 trial ones that were 6'' on center, they sold to the Army in 1914.   The field report of those rifles  purchased in 1914 was written in 1915.

This is the letter.

 

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The Army also receives with this letter a price guide and pamphlet on the A5 scopes.  They are doing a sales pitch of what do we need to do to sell you our A5 scopes.    

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This is the Army field report of 1915 of the WRA A5 rifles.  The only thing on this you could easily fix quickly is the 6'' spacing.  

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About 3 months after this WRA letter and response by the Army of sending 1915 field report, the Springfield Marine bases first show up, which are 7.2'' and are a beefier design.  To WRA, these are new special bases.

 

This is something so interesting, because we can really even prove that WRA didn't modify the #2 mount by the pricing.  Because WRA didn't do anything for free.  They charged for everything.   On that pamphlet above that they sent the Army in 1917, this is the pricing.   I take this as, Style A is $27 plus #2 Mount for $1 more.  So the total is $28 for the A5 scope, #2 mount, and bases for whatever rifle you are mounting it on.

 

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The USMC actually got a discount on the scopes compared to this pamphlet.  They paid only $25.50 each for the A5 scope, #2 mount, and special bases to attach it to a Springfield rifle.   Then WRA changed them $4 to drill and tap the rifle for the bases and install them.   This is the last half of the contract of 500.    So in total the Marines paid $29.50 to have WRA provide all the parts and mount the A5 scopes to their rifles.  Which there is no way WRA modified that #2 mount to Mann Niedner and then charged them less for it than they did commercially.

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Adolph Niedner was paid $10.00 Per rifle to mount the scopes.  He was paid a total of $1500 and mounted only a 150 rifles.  Where he got the scopes to mount is never provided, but it appears the Marines had received the scopes off someone else.  Which I have two hunches where the scopes came from.   It is not detailed as well what he supplied for the $10.  

 

The Army on the other hand paid more for their Marine Mount A5's.  They paid a whopping $37.00 each rifle, for the scope, #2 mount, special bases, and having WRA mount them.  So the Army paid $7.50 more per rifle than the Marines had.

November 25, 2018
3:01 pm
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Oh forgot to add one very interesting thing I noticed.

 

On that 1915 Army trial they detail that the A5 scope will hit the bolt, unless you cycle it.

 

I've found a lot of A5 scopes where this ring outlined below has been removed.  When this ring is cut down, the A5 scope will not hit the M1903 bolt.  I've been able to identify this in pics, and I've even found it on some Mann Niedner conversions.

The Mann Niedner is a taller mount and has no need for this modification.  The bolt clears fine.  But my hunch is the A5 scope was on an earlier WRA model, and then later on had the #2 mount swapped or converted to a Mann Niedner.  There really isn't any explanation other than that for the modificaiton on a Mann Niedner.

This is the modification.  When it is done the A5 scope clears.  I think if you see an A5 scope like this, that is probably a way to tell it was once military and on a 1903 at one time.  I can't think of many commercial rifles of the day that the bolt would have hit the scope that required this modification.

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November 25, 2018
7:07 pm
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Steve,

You have answered my statements and questions.

Keep up the good and rewarding work, my friend.

James

November 25, 2018
9:25 pm
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jwm94 said
Steve,

You have answered my statements and questions.

Keep up the good and rewarding work, my friend.

James  

Thank you sir.  If anyone has a question, I'm always happy to help if I can.  I sort of became obsessed on this topic, as the books just never had more than a few paragraphs and something never felt right.

By the way, seriously give me a call sometime James.  I want to pick your brain on what you might have saw.  The Marine docs really stop in the mid 50's at the archives and not much is there on the Garand snipers.

November 26, 2018
9:41 pm
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Steve,

Not completely relevant to this discussion but did you receive the second sniper document I sent you from the Ord Sgt working at WRA during WWI?

regards,

Curt

November 27, 2018
4:23 am
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CPC said
Steve,

Not completely relevant to this discussion but did you receive the second sniper document I sent you from the Ord Sgt working at WRA during WWI?

regards,

Curt  

I just wrote you Kurt.  For some reason it hit my spam box.  I have no idea why.  But thank you so much for that!  That is the most complete and descriptive look at the thoughts a WWI sniper I've ever seen!  That is a very interesting read!

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