Sunday, 23 February 2014

Birth of the PPS

CAMD RF 38-11355-806

"To the deputy commander of the Red Army GAU, Major-General of Artillery, comrade Hohlov

Experience shows that the 7.62 mm DT tank machinegun does not provide sufficient volume of fire, due to its 63 round magazine and rapid heating of the barrel. It is desirable to have a belt-fed machinegun, capable of rapidly firing up to 500 rounds.

The PPSh submachinegun is a necessary weapon for tank crews, but is inconvenient to use. The disk magazine is large, and gets in the way. The stock impedes exiting the tank. It is desirable to have a submachinegun with a box magazine that holds 25-30 rounds and a folding stock, like the one on the German SMG.

I ask you to instruct Artkom to begin work on improving firearms for tank crews according to the issues noted above.

Deputy GABTU Chief, Major-General of Technical Forces, Lebedev
BTU Military Commissar, Regimental Commissar Vorobyev"

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Partisan's Companion: The Enemy's Weapons

Earlier, I translated a chapter from the Partisan's Companion dealing with Soviet weapons. This chapter deals with captured German weapons that a partisan group could turn on their previous owners.

"V. Know how to use the enemy's weapons

A partisan must fight not only with weapons adopted by the RKKA, but with the enemy's weapons. Learn to use it, so that you may defeat the German fascists with their own weapons. First, familiarize yourself with the main German small arms.

German Mauser rifle model 1898

Fig. 89. German Mauser rifle model 1898

This rifle is loaded with 5 7.92 mm rounds. It is loaded in the same manner as our rifle, by turning the knob on the right leftwards, and pulling it towards yourself.

The receiver has a slot for a clip with ammunition. The left side of the slot has a groove to press down on the rounds with your finger, pushing them into the magazine.

The rear of the receiver has a flag. In order to put the rifle on safe, raise it. If you turn the flag to the right, the bolt cannot be opened. If you turn the flag to the left, it rifle is ready to shoot.

In order to take out the bolt, turn the handle to the left, use your left thumb to pull back the bolt retainer, and pull the bolt out. When putting it back in, put the extractor above the right groove and pull the bolt retainer to the left.

The sight consists of a front post and a rear sight. The rear sight has four identical scales, measured in meters. Two scales are on the side, and two on the top.

The range of the rifle is 2000 meters. The maximum range of the bullet is 5000 meters.

In order to remove the bayonet, press on the retainer button with your right hand. Fire the rifle without a bayonet. It is mounted on the rifle only in the event of hand to hand combat.

38-40 Submachinegun

Fig 91. 38-40 Submachinegun

The submachinegun has a caliber of 9 mm. A bracket (the stock) is attached to the pistol grip. It can be folded out. This lengthens the SMG, but allows you to fire more comfortably. Here is how to open it: find a button on the left side of the pistol grip, press on it downwards, and the stock will open. 

The end of the stock has a crooked bar that braces on your right shoulder during firing. It is held in place by a mechanical retainer. When you want to open the stock, turn it downwards. Turning it upwards again locks the stock in place. 

Here is how to fire:
  1. Open the stock and shoulder bar.
  2. Brace the bar against your right shoulder.
  3. Grip the pistol grip with your right hand, and the magazine well with your left.
  4. Acquire your target through the sight.
  5. Fire.
Hand Machineguns

All hand machineguns use German and Polish 7.92 mm Mauser rounds.

Know the various Mauser ammunition types

Light bullets have a black rim around the primer. Heavy bullets have a green rim. Armour piercing bullets have a red rim. Incendiary rounds have a black rim, but the tip of the bullet is light or black. Armour-piercing tracer rounds have a red rim, and the tip of the bullet is black.

MG-34 Hand Machinegun

The MG-34 weighs 12 kilograms. Its caliber is 7.92 mm. Effective range is 1100 meters. The machinegun can be fed from a magazine or from a belt. A magazine fits 75 rounds. Belts fit either 250 or 50 rounds. Carefully inspect elements of the the machinegun.

Fig. 92. MG-34 hand machinegun with belt.
Fig 93. MG-34 hand machinegun with magazine.

MG-08/15 and MG-08/18 Machineguns

Rate of fire: 500 RPM. Range: up to 2000 meters. Weight of the MG-08/15 is 17.9 kg, MG-08/18 is 14.5 kg. The design of these machineguns is largely the same as the Maxim machinegun. When dealing with them, follow the directions in NSD-38 "Maxim mounted machinegun model 1910". 

Fig. 102. MG-08/15 machinegun

Fig. 103. MG-08/18 machinegun

Place the ammunition box on a special rail. It can be found on the right side of the gun.

When firing from the MG-08/15, fire in bursts of 7-12 rounds, and 3-5 rounds from the MG-08/18. The latter is air cooled, and therefore you do not need to replace the water or add lubricant to the lubricant reservoir. 

When disassembling, first remove the upper screw, then turn the stock downwards.

MG-13 Hand Machinegun (Dreyse) 

Rate of fire: 550 RPM. Effective range: 1200 meters. Mass: 12 kg. Magazine capacity: 25 rounds.

Fig 104. MG-13 Hand machinegun (Dreyse)

ZB-30 (ZB-26) Hand Machinegun

Rate of fire: 550-650 RPM. Range: 1000 meters. This is the lightest German machinegun, at 9.6 kg. The magazine holds 20 rounds.

Fig. 105. ZB-30 (ZB-26) hand machinegun

S-18 Soloturn Anti-tank Rifle

Rate of fire: up to 10 RPM. Caliber: 20 mm. 

This self-loading rifle is designed to combat tanks, armoured cars, etc. At a distance of 200 meters, its bullet can penetrate 31 mm of armour. The magazine can fit 5-10 rounds. 

Fig. 106. S-18 Soloturn Anti-tank Rifle

Parabellum Pistol

The Parabellum pistol is the personal weapon of all German army officers. It is available in two calibers: 9 mm and 7.65 mm. 

Load the Parabellum: take the slide with your thumb and index finger and pull it down (fig 107). Figure 108 shows how to release the slide.

Fig 107. How to pull back the slide.

Fig 108. How to release the slide.

The safety is located on the left side of the pistol. It has two positions, the upper and the lower. When the lever is in the lower position, the gun is safe, and cannot fire. Move the lever is in the upper position, where it says "fire" in German, and the gun can fire.

Rounds can be fed into the chamber when the safety is in any position. Insert the magazine into the lower part of the handle. A magazine carries 8 rounds. It is automatically locked with a button.

The Parabellum has an effective range of 50 meters. Place its barrel on your bent left hand for stability. The maximum lethal range of the bullet is 300 meters. 

M-34 Hand Grenade

Mass: 310 grams
Explosion range: 3-6 meters
Fragmentation range: 10-15 meters
Throwing range: 35-10 meters

Fig. 109. M-34 hand grenade.
Fig. 110. How to throw the grenade.

The German model 1934 hand grenade (fig 109) is an offensive impact-detonated hand grenade. The grenades are armed by quartermasters and issued to the soldiers this way.

Throwing the grenade (fig. 110)

  1. Take the grenade in your right hand, like in the image.
  2. Put your left index finger into the ring. 
  3. Turn your right hand 90 degrees (so the safety bar clears the safety bracket).
  4. Pull the ring out.
  5. Throw the grenade.
The grenade is harmless until the ring with the safety bar is pulled out. The grenade has two safeties. One is pulled out with the ring, the other falls out while the grenade is in flight. The grenade will explode when it hits an object. It is forbidden to attempt to disarm this grenade.

M-24 Hand Grenade

The M-24 is an offensive timed hand grenade. It consists of a cylindrical case, in which the explosive is stored, and the handle with the firing mechanism. The grenade has a special loop for carrying it. The grenade weighs 500 grams, and has no protective casing.

Here is how to arm the M-24 grenade. Screw the handle off the case. There is a cylindrical opening in the lower part of the firing mechanism. Insert the detonator there.

Carefully screw the handle back into the grenade, avoiding shaking or hitting it. The grenade is armed (fig 111). 

When throwing the grenade, put it in your right hand. With your left hand, unscrew the protective cap from the handle. There you will find a porcelain ball. When swinging the grenade, grab the ball, and pull out the cord (fig 111). Throw the grenade immediately, as it will explode in 4.5-5 seconds.

The range of the grenade is 30-35 meters. The fragments of the grenade fly 10-15 meters. 

Fig. 111. M-24 hand grenade.

How to defuse the grenade? Carefully screw off the handle from the casing. Take out the detonator. Wrap it in paper, cotton, or a rag, and put it in your bag so it is safe from being hit or falling out. Reconnect the handle with the grenade.

Always transport the grenades unloaded. Store and transport the detonators separately. 

Model 1939 Egg-shaped Hand Grenade

This is an offensive timed hand grenade. It weighs 220 grams. 

To prepare this grenade for throwing, extract the fuse with the protective cap from the grenade (shown in figure 112 in the left hand) and inspect the fuse housing. Make sure that it is free from debris. Screw off the safety cap from the distance cylinder (fig 112). Replace it with a detonator. The open part of the detonator may contain wood shavings, cloth fibers, etc. In this case, turn the detonator so that they fall out. If they do not, discard the detonator, as it is unusable. Do not attempt to extract debris from the detonator with any object.

If you have a functioning detonator, slide it on the distance cylinder carefully (fig 113). Then, screw the fuse into the grenade and tighten the nut (fig 114). The grenade is ready for use.

Fig. 112. How to remove the safety cap.
Fig. 113. How to put on the detonator.
Fig. 114. How to tighten the fuse with a nut.

Screw off the safety cap, which remains attached by a cord. Take the grenade in your right hand. Grip the cap with your index and middle fingers, and throw the grenade. Remember that it will detonate 4 seconds after you throw.

Some grenades already have a detonator inserted. Know how to disarm them. Pull the fuse out of the grenade. Carefully take the detonator off and wrap it in a rag. Put the safety cap back on and screw the fuse back into the grenade.

Transport grenades separately from the detonators.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Musical Maxim

Some folks over at VIF2NE discovered a wonderful invention, a Maxim gun hooked up to a record player and a battery. Really? Really really.

Later on, an explanation emerged. A book called "164 Days of Combat" describes how the Hanko (Finnish: Hangon) naval base was defended while cut off from the mainland. As winter approached, the base was gradually evacuated. Remaining soldiers had to somehow hide their numbers from the opposing Finns. From the book:

"On the morning of December 2nd, during the last day of the defense at the Hanko peninsula, a day of psychological warfare against the enemy began. Only 100 men remained in defense by then, two for each machinegun nest of utmost importance, each of which was connected to the command center by telephone. Wire was stretched between the nests, with helmets hanging off it. When a soldier tugged on the wire, it would shake the helmets, creating an illusion of activity in the trenches. There were also wires with tin cans. They were shaken three times per day, during breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the cans made a noise like spoons hitting plates.

The machineguns should periodically fire short bursts at the enemy, even after the soldiers were gone from the peninsula. Here is where the Hankovites got creative. Five record players were found in the empty houses. The record players and the machineguns, armed with an additional device, were connected to truck batteries. The player and machinegun were connected in series. When the record spun, the needle would touch a contact, and the machineguns would fire a short burst. These machineguns could operate independently for almost half an hour.

Dogs were tied to machineguns in ten pillboxes. Chunks of fresh horse meat hung some distance from them. When the dogs would run to the meat, their chains would pull the trigger. The dog would run and hide from the noise, but repeat the process, firing in short bursts.

The craftsmen also came up with other methods. For example, soldiers from the 335th regiment received permission to leave five mined machineguns in pillboxes, each of which was loaded with a very long belt. Five car batteries were taken out, and connected to alarm clocks with contacts every 10-15 minutes. The minute hand, touching the contact, would close the circuit and fire. The machinegunners were gone, but their machineguns, aimed at the enemy positions, kept firing."

The ruse was successful. The Finns did not notice an evacuation until a day after the peninsula was empty.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Mayn 7.62 mm Carbine

"To the chief of the Red Army GAU, General-Lieutenant-Colonel comrade Yakovlev

The faculty of aviational armament in the Zhukovskiy Military Air Academy, under the supervision of a lecturer from the department of gun and machinegun armament Colonel comrade P.I. Mayn, designed an experimental self-loading carbine. The prototype was built by Junior Military Technician comrade A.V. Ivantsov and Senior Technical Lieutenant comrade V.S. Usantsev.

The self-loading carbine uses a 7.62 model 1930 pistol cartridge, and demonstrated satisfactory reliability, accuracy, and precision.

The carbine is simple, easy to operate, does not require a special tool to assemble, disassemble, or manufacture, and can easily be manufactured on ordinary equipment with up to a medium degree of wear.

The carbine has definite advantages in its tactical-technical capabilities compared to the self-loading model 1940 rifle or model 1891/30 rifle for use by artillery, engineering, communications, airborne, other specialized units, and infantry commanders.

I give you the sample of the carbine and ask you to ask the State Committee of Defense about its adoption into service by the Red Army.

The author of the design, Colonel Mayn, and Chair of the department, Brigade Engineer M.V. Gurevich, are sent for a report.

Attachment: description of the self-loading carbine on 5 pages.

Military Commissar of the Academy, Vakin."

"3 samples of the self-loading carbine developed by the Military Air Academy"

Yuri Pasholok writes that the author of the design was inspired by the prototypes of the M1 Carbine from American magazines (which the cutout of American small arms ammunition definitely suggests). The carbine has a rate of fire of 25-30 RPM, range of 300 meters, a mass of 2.8 kg, and had 20 and 30 round magazines. 

Monday, 3 February 2014

39.M Automatic Carbine

CAMD RF 81-12040-276

"As can be seen from attached results, doubling the length of the barrel (from 250 mm to 500 mm) increases the Parabellum bullet's speed from 396 to 409 m/s, or by 9-17 m/s, and changing the cartridge gives an average increase of another 5 m/s. 

It can be concluded that increasing the power of a Parabellum round by slightly modifying it for the 39.M autocarbine was not achieved.

The lengthening of the barrel gave another almost negligible increase in speed (13 m/s on average), which indicates that the solution is ineffective and a barrel length of 500 mm is excessive.

The 39.M round cannot be considered a high power pistol round at all, as it is weaker than some pistol rounds, like the American 7.62 mm self-loading M-1 carbine. 

For example, the 39.M round is less powerful than the domestic pistol round, as with an equivalent barrel length (55-56 calibers), the 39.M barrel provides the bullet with 72.3 kgm of energy, while the domestic pistol bullet achieves 87.0 kgm, or 20.03% greater.

Overall data on the 39.M carbine

The 39.M carbine is an automatic weapon that works on the principle of bolt recoil.

Photo #3. Overall view of the 39.M carbine (with a bayonet and collapsed magazine)."

Sunday, 2 February 2014


I periodically come across aircraft kills credited to AT riflemen, and wonder how such a thing is possible. Turns out, this is how.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Extreme Trials

Kris Reid dug up an interesting Soviet method of trials.

"Task #4.
Scenario: A small unit of submachinegunners on horseback is deployed to pursue the enemy and disorganize his rear.
Target: 3 #27a targets (cargo truck)
Ammunition: 10 rounds
Time: Unlimited
Shooting position: from horseback.
Order of trials:

  1. Shooters mount horses 300-400 meters from their targets. SMGs are ready for combat (loaded, safety off), trot up to the target range, and, after dropping their guns on pavement or hard dirt, stop 50 meters from their target and fire in bursts of 5. 
  2. Same, but do not stop the horses.
Sudayev's SMG had the rear sling mount point disconnected, and fell first on the side of the road, then on the pavement. No damage was found. After the last fall, the horse stepped on the magazine catch and bent it. The SMG was found suitable for continuation of the trials. Shooting was performed from horseback, first from 50 meters away from the target, then while the horse was trotting parallel to the targets. Both shooters fired from the same horse (nicknamed Immennoy)."