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Electrolux Charlton: Washing Machine Company Converts Bolt Action to Semiauto

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The Charlton was a conversion of a bolt action Lee rifle into a light machine gun, designed by New Zealander Phillip Charlton. Some 1500 were made in New Zealand, but a bit later it appears that there was an effort to also produce the gun in Australia. The Electrolux company (the same one that makes washing machines and other home appliances today) made a few prototypes.

The Electrolux version is different from the original in a couple ways. While the basic conversion mechanism is the same, the Electrolux is more refined, with a shorter gas system and a fairly clean action cover oven the working parts. It is also semiautomatic only, intended to be a should rifle where the original was made for the LMG role. Electrolux also used standard No1 MkIII rifles as its base, where the originals were made from a variety of mostly worn out Lee Metfords and Long Lees.

The Electrolux contract was cancelled in June 1944, and only a few prototypes were made. This example is in the British Royal Armouries collection, to whom I am grateful for the access and the trust to take it apart for you!

My video on the standard production Charlton:

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