The logic of new projects was simple. At any moment, a war with the Soviet Union could begin, during which Great Britain had to face serious difficulties. The army, as well as the mobilized fighters and the people's militia required a large number of small arms that meet modern requirements. Outdated submachine guns of the last war, not to mention the weapons of the First World War, could not solve all the tasks, and the number of modern systems left much to be desired. Thus, it was required to create a kind of small arms with considerable power and minimal complexity of production. Sterling Armament, already known for its projects of simple and effective weapons, took up the solution of this task.
When creating a new weapon, Sterling specialists decided not to resort to complex technical solutions and to use proven and tested practical ideas. It was proposed to build a new weapon on the basis of developments on Sterling submachine guns, created in the late forties. The problem of effective firing range and power of fire should have been solved with the help of a relatively powerful cartridge. A prospective weapon was supposed to use rifle cartridge 7,62x51 mm NATO. The caliber of new weapons and the name of the company-developer were combined in the name of the project - Sterling 7.62.
Approximately by the mid-fifties, the first version of the project was developed, according to which a certain number of prototypes were collected. In order to simplify their design, as well as to speed up the work, it was decided to abandon the sights, butt and some other details. In fact, the prototypes of "Sterling-7,62" were demonstrators of technology and could not be used in practice without a number of necessary improvements. All this, first of all, affected the appearance of the weapon.
The automatic rifle of the first version in its design largely resembled a submachine gun, taken as a basis. Its main part was a long receiver, made of a metal tube. Inside it were fastened all the main parts, and outside it was necessary to install the shop shaft, the firing mechanism in the casing, etc. The front part of this box was a protective casing of the barrel and had a perforation. In the middle there was a window for the store (below) and a window for the extraction of sleeves (top right). A slot under the fire control mechanisms was made behind the shop window, and small additional covers were installed. In the back of the tube, on its right surface, there was a long slot that opened up access to the reciprocating-fighting spring cavity. The left side of the box had no slots behind the front perforation.
As follows from the available data, the 7,62 mm caliber barrel was placed in the front of the tubular receiver and held in place with a sleeve and pin. The pin connected the chamber with the box, while the sleeve in the muzzle did not allow the barrel to deviate from the correct position. At the rear end of the receiver, there were fasteners for a round lid holding the bolt and return spring into the weapon.
Perspective weapons should have been built on the basis of a semi-free shutter with a braking lever. Such automatics was borrowed from the “basic” submachine gun, but the use of a more powerful cartridge required the introduction of additional means of braking the bolt. The shutter consisted of two main parts, the frame and the larvae with a drummer, moving relative to each other and interacting through a special lever. With its rear part, the shutter rested against the reciprocating-combat spring.
It should be noted that the chosen principle of operation of the automatics caused the formation of an unusual appearance of the weapon. The length of the rear part of the receiver was due to the need to use a relatively long reciprocating spring, capable of suppressing the recoil impulse of a powerful rifle cartridge. It is easy to see how the proportions of the receiver in comparison with the Sterling submachine gun have changed.
The trigger Sterling 7.62 was a slightly modified system of the previous submachine gun. It was changed due to the different length of the weapon parts and some other features of the automatic rifle. Borrowing USM allowed to maintain the possibility of choosing the mode of fire. So, on the left surface of the pistol grip of the rifle was located a small three-position lever, with which the trigger was locked or transferred to the mode of single / automatic shooting. In addition, the borrowing of parts led to the preservation of the method of shooting: the promising rifle was supposed to shoot from the open bolt.
Sterling 7.62’s first model was equipped with detachable box magazines with a capacity of 20 cartridges borrowed from the L1A1 SLR automatic rifle (a British version of the Belgian FN FAL). It was also possible to use the shops from the Bren light machine gun on 30 cartridges. In both cases, the magazine was placed in a small shaft at the bottom of the receiver and fixed with a rear latch.
The first prototype, which was a technology demonstrator, was not equipped with sights and had the simplest accessories. The latter consisted only of a pistol grip, made in the form of two plastic halves, which should be mounted on a central metal part. Using stock, bipod, etc. was not supposed to.
The Sterling 7.62 rifle of the first version had a fairly simple principle of operation. In order to fire, the shooter had to place a magazine on the 20 or 30 cartridges into the receiving shaft and move the bolt to the rearmost position, placing it on the sear. By unlocking the trigger and selecting a shooting mode, the shooter could fire. When the trigger was pressed, the bolt shifted to the front position with the help of a reciprocating spring-loaded spring, took the cartridge from the store and sent it to the chamber. In the extreme forward position of the bolt, the drummer hit the primer, making a shot. Under the effect of recoil, the bolt rolled back, while it was braked with a lever and frame, and the sleeve was ejected. In the rear position, the shutter was again blocked by the sear and was ready for a new shot.
Tests of the first experimental rifle showed the viability of the ideas used, but the use of these weapons in practice was not possible due to the absence of some important details. In addition, according to some data, despite the simplicity of the design, the Sterling-7,62 of the first version was too complicated and expensive for mass production and did not have significant advantages over other types of weapons of that time. For this reason, it was decided to modify it in accordance with the requirements of equipment and technology. Thus began the development of the second version of the automatic rifle.
The concept of an automatic rifle on the basis of a semi-free shutter was recognized as successful, but a number of details needed to be improved in order to reduce the cost of production. One of the ways to save, apparently, was the use of lower quality and expensive springs. This, in turn, required to change the design of the receiver and bolt. It was also decided to shorten the front of the receiver, which served as the barrel housing. Such adjustments, as well as the introduction of some new details led to a noticeable change in the appearance of the weapon.
The second version of the Sterling 7.62 rifle was distinguished by a tubular receiver of a smaller length, characterized by a shortened perforated section. The design of the store's receiving shaft was changed, and a window for ejection of sleeves, made in the form of a separate stamped part, was installed on the right upper part of the tube. The rear slot now began at a short distance from the ejection window, in the front part (of a discharged weapon) a small handle of the bolt was pulled out.
The internal mechanisms of the rifle, apparently, were also slightly modified due to changes in the dimensions of the receiver and higher requirements for the manufacturability of the structure. First of all, the diameter of the return spring has increased. Also changed the size and shape of parts of the shutter. Nevertheless, the automation still used the deceleration of the semi-free shutter with the lever, the shooting was carried out from the open shutter, and the trigger provided two modes of firing and locking mechanisms.
Behind the perforated barrel casing, a fly appeared on the left of the barrel box mounted on the axle. The latter made it possible to raise the fly to the working position or lower it to the transport in order to avoid damage. At the level of the mine store on the left surface set the bracket with a mount for additional equipment, probably the sight. Another mount in the form of a vertical part with a hole was located directly above the pistol grip.
The Sterling-7,62 automatic rifle of the second version was not equipped with a butt or other fittings, but in its design mounts for additional equipment were provided. In the front part of the barrel casing, we provided for bipod fasteners, another pair of fasteners for additional tools was located at the bottom of the back of the tubular box.
According to some sources, the second version of the rifle could be equipped with a removable butt with a butt pad, which facilitates shooting with an appliance, as well as sights of various types. Considered the use of open or diopter sights, as well as night systems of various types. Thus, with all its simplicity, the perspective rifle could be used for solving problems in difficult conditions, and also had some elements of modularity.
The second version of the simplified rifle was tested and, in general, arranged for its creators. The further fate of the project Sterling 7.62 depended on the opinion of a potential customer in the face of the military department of Great Britain. It is not known exactly how the fate of the new weapon was decided, but in the end the military refused it. The possibilities of industry really did not allow in the shortest possible time to release a large number of modern weapons, allowing to arm both the existing army and the mobilized fighters and the militia, but the military-political situation in the world still made it possible not to resort to such harsh decisions.
Shortly after testing, all prototypes of simplified two types of rifles were sent to the warehouse. The potential customer showed no interest in these weapons, and the development company no longer needed experimental products released. Therefore, a few rifles could only go to the storage or disposal. Fortunately, several Sterling-7,62 rifles were not melted down and have survived to our time. Now they are museum exhibits.
The Sterling 7.62 project is of great interest with technical and historical points of view. It was created to ensure the mass production of simple but effective small arms, which affected the main features of rifles. At the same time, the British designers managed to quite successfully solve the problem and offer the customer the simplest, but usable weapon, although it has some specific features. Nevertheless, the situation made it possible to dispense with such “ersatz” and produce only full-fledged weapons. As a result, Sterling 7,62 went not to the army, but to the warehouse, but still managed to remain in history.
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