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An armourer or armorer (see spelling differences) can refer to two roles. Traditionally it referred to a smith who specialized in manufacturing and repairing metal armour. The word has also come to designate a member of a military or police force who maintains and repairs small arms, and weapons systems, with some duties resembling those of a civilian gunsmith.

With the renewed interest in traditional armour and weaponry, the occupation also involves working with film, stage, and historical and reenactment societies. Period costumes may require reproduction armour, swords, and related equipment.

Contents

Britain

Armourers are the oldest trade in the British Army and trace their heritage back several centuries. Today they form a core role within the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) and work on an extremely wide variety of weapon systems. Typically Armourers are attached to Infantry Battalions, where the Staff Sergeant Armourer also commands the REME Detachment of other tradesman (including vehicle mechanics, electricians, etc).

Within the British Army, Armourers serve with a diverse range of units including: Infantry, Cavalry, Tanks, Special Forces and also in larger REME units providing depth repair.

Armourers have the rank of Craftsman upon starting their trade training, which is the equivalent of Private and they have similar ranks of the remainder of the Army thereafter. As they increase in rank they can follow one of two streams: Artisan or Artificer. As an Artificer they must complete a Selection course and then a 2 year engineering course, where they emerge as a Staff Sergeant (SSGT) and have the potential to reach Warrant Officer Class 1 or even gain a Commission. Artisan Armourers remain in their trade and can achieve Warrant Officer Class 2 as a ceiling.

On a day to day basis Armourers maintain a wide variety of weapons and optical equipments, typically using hand tools. They formally inspect every weapon every six months and advise their end users on all matters of equipment care. Within an Infantry Battalion they are exposed to the maximum varieties of weapons and optical equipment, with only Special Forces possessing more.

Weapons they work on within an Infantry Battalion are:

> Pistols - 9mm Browning and SIG Sauer P226 > Rifles - SA80A2 5.56mm Assault Rifle and the Accuracy International AWM .338 Lapua & .50 Sniper Rifles (complete with Schmidt and Bender Telescopic Sights) > Machine Guns - Para-Minimi 5.56mm Light Machine Gun (LMG), L7A2 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) and Browning .50" (Quick Change Barrel) Heavy Machine Gun > Grenade Machine Gun - 40mm HK GMG > Mortars - 51mm & 81mm Mortars > Anti-Tank Guided Weapons such as Javellin

Historically they have served with distinction. The Sergeant Armourer of the 5th Lancers at Aliwal remainded behind to spike the enemy guns, proving his worth as a soldier as well as a tradesman - a tradition continuing to this day.

Within the British Royal Air Force (RAF), armourers are considered the most specialized of any trade. After spending an initial phase of generic training at RAF Halton with the majority other non commissioned trainees they transfer to DCAE Cosford for their trade specific training. Once qualified they can find themselves employed on a wide variety of tasks, including non trade specific jobs such as the flight line servicing of aircraft. As well as prepping, maintaining and loading aircraft bombs, missiles and aircraft assisted escape systems, they are also responsible for the maintenance of explosive release systems and small arms within station armouries like the L85A2 (SA80), 9mm Browning pistol and the GPMG (General Purpose Machine Gun). Armourers can also volunteer to specialize in Explosive Ordnance Disposal and are often employed on the front line of conflicts clearing airfields form any unexploded ordnance (UXO). They can also work alongside their army equivalents, the Ammunition Technician or ATO, helping to deal with improvised explosive devices. The founder of the RAF, Lord Trenchard, held armourers in high esteem, saying "without armament, there is no Air Force."

Ireland

Irish Army armourers perform advanced maintenance and inspection of all small arms up to and including the 0.5"(12.7mm) HMG (Heavy Machine Gun). They can then go onto further training to become what is known as an Artificer. An Artificer is responsible for advanced maintenance and inspection of heavier calibre weapons, above 0.5". They are part of the Ordnance Corps. Individual soldiers are responsible for daily cleaning and maintenance, but the armourers and artificers (known as "tiffies") maintain mechanisms and sights and even inspect the integrity of the weapons body. Weapons which do not pass the armourers' or artificers' inspection are withdrawn from service to be repaired or destroyed. Ordnance ranks are the same as most branches of the army; Private, Corporal, and so on.

Australia

In a response to the disastrous unloading of the Idomeneus ship in January 1943 - where a wharf labourer died and many other were badly gassed by mustard gas leaking from a drum - the Royal Australian Air Force created a specialist unit, the Chemical Warfare Armourers. Their role was to handle, maintain and move upwards of 1,000,000 chemical weapons imported into Australia to counter a possible Japanese threat.

United States

The title "armorer" was formerly part of several Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) designations across the services. Even where the title has disappeared, those with duties similar to those of earlier armourers are often referred to as such.

Notable armourers

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