Thursday, 28 November 2013

WWI and WWII Foreign Purchases

A lot of attention is aimed at the numbers for Lend-Lease aid received by the USSR in WWII, but what about the aid received by the Russian Empire during WWI? Despite being a much less discussed topic, the numbers are, in some cases, much greater than the LL ones. RGAE-413-12-8605 has the info we need.

Import to Russia
Import to the USSR

  1. Aircraft (various)

  1. Aircraft motors

  • 76 mm cannons

  • Cannons of all calibers

  1. Bomb launchers and mortars

  • Machineguns (various)

  • AA machineguns


  • Rifles (various)
  • Submachineguns (various) and AT rifles

  1. Shells (various)

  1. Cartridges (various)

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

DPM-36 Machinegun

Yet another experimental Soviet machinegun, this time it's a pre-war one.

Nothing too weird about it, except maybe a slight resemblance to a certain Czech design. 

It also took Maxim cloth belts. A little strange, but not too abnormal.

Saving the best for last, the paratrooper version! Of course it comes with a bayonet, why would it not?

Saturday, 23 November 2013

MG-42 Guide

"Translation of a German document captured 3 km east of Rosino on December 1st, 1942, among documents of the 10th infantry company, 174th infantry regiment, 81st infantry division.

Directions on shooting from the MG-42 machinegun

The high rate of fire of the MG-42 results in a large consumption of ammunition. Use it with great discipline, and remember the following:

MG-42 as a hand-held machinegun

The high rate of fire of the MG-42 results in difficulty while aiming, due to the shaking after firing. Fire in short bursts. The best amount appears to be 5-7 rounds, as the machinegunner is capable of holding the gun in the direction of the target for that long. After 7 rounds, the dispersion cone deviates from the target, resulting in a larger amount of wasted ammunition.

Conclusion: short bursts with re-acquisition of the target.

In order to prevent the stock from slipping off your shoulder, do the following:

  • Place the bipod well
  • Press the stock firmly to your shoulder
  • Place your feet well
When firing on the move, the machinegunner needs to lean forward. The machine gun must be held by the belt, and must be firmly pressed towards the body with the right hand.

MG-42 as a mounted machinegun

Sustained aimed fire is not possible due to the high rate of fire and shaking of the gun. The dispersion cone moves away after 70 shots. Bursts longer than 70 rounds in length result in a waste of ammunition. Because of this, bursts should be limited to 70 shots, with rapid re-acquisition of the target afterwards. 

The resulting rapid heating of the barrel requires replacing the barrel after 200 rounds. 

In order to impede the shifting of the dispersion cone while kneeling or sitting, it is recommended to place two ammunition boxes on the middle leg of the gun mount.

Signature illegible

Send to:
  1. Army headquarters: 1
  2. All regiments that received MG-42s: 10
  3. All regiments that have not yet received MG-42s: 1
Note: The tactical-technical data on the MG-42 is missing. According to an interrogation from December 4th, 1942 (Bryansk Front), the MG-42 is allegedly a modernization of the MG-34. 

The MG-42 is heavier by one kilogram than the MG-34. Externally, the MG-42 differs little from the MG-34. Allegedly, the rate of fire of the MG-42 reaches 1600 RPM. Verification is required.

Confirmed: Senior assistant of the Chief of the 1st Department of the 3rd Directorate of the Red Army GRU, Colonel Dubenko."

Friday, 22 November 2013

Full Auto SVT

"Conclusions on the proving ground trials of 7.62 mm automatic rifles, converted from semi-automatic rifles, with 10-15 round magazines showed that:
  1. Groups at 100 meters when firing in bursts increase by 3-3.5 times.
    At 300 meters, only 25-30% of the bullets strike a 3x3 meter target.
    At 500 meters, up to 30% of the bullets strike a 3.5-4 meter target.
    While shooting with a 15 round magazine, grouping gets worse, and it is difficult to fire while prone due to the protruding magazine.
  2. When shooting at targets, only the first bullet hits.
  3. The ability to aim is limited to 50 shots over the span of one minute. After that, the barrel overheats, and a mirage effect is achieved, which impedes aiming.
  4. The automatic rifle jams:
    1. With thick grease: 2-4% of the time
    2. With dry parts: 12-14%
    3. In dusty conditions: 14-50%
    4. While aiming up or down: 8-12%
  5. The barrel life is 6000 rounds when firing 50 rounds per minute, after which the rifle was allowed to cool. Continuous fire brings the life down to 150-200 rounds.
As a result of trials, it was concluded that:
  1. Is is not viable to create an automatic rifle from a semi-automatic one by modifying the trigger group.
  2. It is only possible to aim with such an automatic rifle when using a thickened barrel and lightened bipod.
  3. When converting a semi-automatic rifle to fully automatic by only modifying the trigger group, its combat usefulness decreases to less than that of a submachinegun.
  1. Due to the decreased combat usefulness, conversion of a semi-automatic rifle to a fully automatic one is not rational.
  2. In order to reach required density of fire with a high probability of hitting the target, it is better to use submachineguns, which have the advantages of simpler production, higher reliability, compactness, high magazine capacity, larger stocks of ammunition, etc."

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Mallet Time

Here are some document excerpts regarding the PTRD bolt-action anti-tank rifle, that a lot of modern milsurp collectors might feel empathy with.

"Recent reports from the fronts, regions, and armies remark on cases where Simonov and Degtyaryev ATRs do not work
Experience shows that when using PTRs in summer conditions, even when maintaining them according to section 1, there are rifles that do not extract freely. In order to continue use of the weapon, authorize soldiers to apply wooden mallets."

"Experimental PTRD from factory #74. 610 rounds were fired in various conditions, and 189 extractions (31%) had to be performed with a mallet. The report stated "This PTRD works unsatisfactorily in any conditions". Another PTRD from the factory earned the review "This PTRD works exceptionally unsatisfactorily in any conditions". Out of 275 shots, 264 needed a wooden mallet (96%).
The third PTRD managed to surpass that result. "The lifetime of the rifle was 43 shots. Every extraction needed the mallet. After extracting the 43rd casing, the bolt handle fell off.""

Saturday, 16 November 2013


Here's some Austrian body armour from 1918. Looks kind of silly, right? There is a reason for that.

Bam! The infantryman is now a pillbox!

A sort of mobile pillbox, even. I wonder how well that assembly would move if it didn't have any snow to slide on.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Lend-Lease Gun Supplies

While flipping through a report on Soviet SPG design, I came across a table of Lend-Lease weapons, including some small arms.

CAMD RF 38-11369-1

The first column is the item name. The following 4 columns are the amounts to be shipped along with vehicles (numerator) and the amounts to be received (denominator). The 6th column is the total sum. The 7th column is the missing number. The items themselves are as follows:

76 mm howitzer
76 mm gun
75 mm gun
57 mm gun
40 mm gun
37 mm AA gun
105 mm mortar
50.8 mm mortar
25.4 mm flare gun
13.97 mm Boys ATR
12.7 mm Browning MG
11.43 mm Thompson SMG
7.92 mm BESA MG
7.7 mm Bren MG
7.62 mm Browning MG

Interestingly enough, the amount of weapons shipped as spares for the vehicles is on a different spreadsheet, and in a different order. In this table, the numerator is how much was received, denominator is how much was distributed, and last column is how many extras they have.

105 mm mortar
50.8 mm mortar
13.97 mm Boys ATR
12.7 mm Browning MG
7.62 mm Browning MG
11.43 mm Thompson SMG
7.92 mm BESA MG
7.7 Bren MG

"The table shows that the spare weapons arrived unevenly. For example, BESA MGs and Thompson SMGs arrived in such amounts as to completely satisfy the need for them, and some remained in warehouses: 419 BESAs and 2872 Thompsons.

12.7 Browning MGs came in insufficient numbers. We only received two spares in this period, and many M4A2 tanks that came back for repairs had to be shipped out without them."

And here is another spreadsheet, for spare barrels. This table also lists delivered and used numbers, with leftovers in the last column.

76 mm howitzer
76 mm gun
75 mm gun
57 mm gun
40 mm gun
37 mm gun
12.7 mm MG
7.62 mm MG
7.92 mm MG
7.7 mm MG
11.43 mm SMG

Saturday, 9 November 2013

SMG Tests

In December of 1941, the Soviets decided to test a bunch of SMGs. The SMGs were as follows:
"Model 1940" (PPD)
"Model 1941" (PPSh)
Bergman BMP-34 #260
Schmeisser 18/28 #77598
(They also had something called an Esti, but no ammunition for it).

The first column is the distance (100 meters). The second column is the SMG name (same order as above). The third column is the type of fire, alternating between single shot and burst. The fourth column is the radius for 100% of the shots. The fifth is for the most precise 50% of the shots. The sixth and seventh are for the center of the groups, relative to aiming.

Conclusions: the Neuhausen SMG shows best results, PPD SMG shows the worst.

Monday, 4 November 2013

More on proper gun cleaning procedure

Some choice excerpts from a 1940 report on the readiness of the Kiev Military District.

"There is a lack of respect for proper storage and maintenance of weapons. Some units have very poor understanding of their automatic weapons and their disassembly, to the point where AVS automatic rifles and Degtaryev SMGs turned out to have active rust in the gas system, which spread to the barrel, and many other parts. The condition of DP machine guns is the same."

"Out of rifles owned by elements of the 79th infantry division, after 4 months of use, 29% developed rust in the barrels. 14% of DP machine guns have poor condition barrels."

"139th regiment: the command staff are not confident enough to disassemble new model rifles for removal of dirt and rust.
496th division: does not know the purpose of cuts on the screwdriver tip, does not know how and why lye is used. The timetables do not dedicate time to learning small arms.
41 division: command staff do not know the meaning of different colours of bullets, does not know the rules for inserting rounds into belts.
253rd regiment: is not proficient with the self-loading rifle or PPD. Does not know how to clean firearms and does not know the meaning of cuts on a screwdriver.
10th regiment: artillerymen insist that lye is not used when cleaning firearms.
97th division: the command staff are not proficient with the optical sight for the Maxim gun, optical sight for the sniper rifle, and various new types of firearms. Several commanders do not know how to remove the bayonet from the model 1891/90 rifle.
The junior command staff also have poor knowledge, but better knowledge of weapons used in their units.
Knowledge of cadets is poor. They do not know automatic rifles at all, and are only capable of carrying a rifle and pulling the trigger. Knowledge of firearms is poor, and artillerymen completely do not know DP machine gun and revolver parts. Machine gunners do not know rifle parts and how to disassemble one. To my great shame, cadets of regimental schools know firearms worse than privates, and still manage to graduate as junior commanders.

I do not have to mention the junior commanders' knowledge of rules of cleaning weapons. This is the only possible outcome, as a commander that does not know anything about his weapons cannot pass on his knowledge to his subordinates."

Friday, 1 November 2013

Poor Procedure

"From 6th to 26th of December 1940, the Artillery Department of the Army performed a check of technical condition, storage, and safety of their inventory...

...135th infantry division: the condition of the weapons is unsatisfactory, aside from the 791st regiment. 13-40% of the weapons require repairs...The storage conditions and maintenance are unsatisfactory, 10%-79% of rifles have pitting in the barrels. The commission was shown rifles and revolvers with rust in the barrels: 497th regiment: 8 rifles, 3 revolvers. 791st regiment: 6 rifles, 1 DP, 11 Nagants. 276th regiment: 23 revolvers. 119th brigade: 28 rifles, two Nagants.

There are, sadly, commanders like Jr.Lt. XXX from the 791st regiment whose unit only has 6 rifles, and, when inspected, all were rusted, as was his personal Nagant revolver, which had three empty casings in the drum. The lieutenant claims he did not clean it since he last fired it 3 months ago.

Lubrication is often done improperly. External parts are thickly lubricated, while the barrels remain dry, or lightly oiled. Gas systems of DP, DT, and SVT-38s are frequently improperly cleaned...

...In October, a junior commander of the 9th company, 497th regiment, comrade YYY left rifle #VD 6486 (1939) in the city of Kovel outside of a washroom, and when he returned, it was not there. The fact that the rifle was missing was only discovered in December of 1940 by this commission. Cook ZZZ lost rifle #LE 3483 (1938), nobody knows where and when. 

The division lost 70% of their cleaning tools and materials. Political chief comrade NNN moved a sniper rifle and a Nagant revolver to another unit without any documents. 497th regiment lost 3000 rubles worth of inventory. None of these facts were investigated, and the commander of the 497th regiment did not report them to anyone. 
Inventory of armament and ammunition is maintained in a discretionary fashion. Inventory in warehouses of the division is absent. The division's inventory does not match that of its units. The biggest difference is in the 497th regiment (18 rifles, 1 revolver, 1 ammunition crate, 34703 rifle rounds, 148 76 mm shells, 1410 TT rounds.
January 14th, 1941
The division has rusted weapons. The first battery has 7 rifles with rusted barrels..from the 30 inspected revolvers, 13 were rusty. Personal weapons of Lieutenants XXX, YYY, ZZZ, and starshina NNN were also rusty.

February 28th, 1941
During inspection, the following had rust in the barrels, on external parts, or had dirt and scum, debris, or even hay and oats: 1019 rifles, 381 Nagant revolvers, 24 DP machine guns, 13 Maxim machine guns, 15 50 mm mortars, 4 120 mm mortars."
CAMD RF 326-5109-12