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Old January 1st, 2012, 11:49 AM   #1

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Italian Infantry Weapons of WWII


Part I: handguns and rifles.


Beretta Mod.1934

It was the standard infantry pistol during WWII;chambered for the so called “9mm Corto”,a shortened version of the 9mm Parabellum calibre.This semiautomatic gun was able to hold 7 rounds in the magazines.It weights less than 650g unloaded.
Click the image to open in full size.
The mechanic of the gun was very solid and reliable and on the Eastern Front,it was even preferred by German soldiers along with the Soviet Tokarev tt33 because the Luger and Walther pistols were more fragile and needed more maintenance.
The Romanian army ordered more than 40 thousand Mod.1934 before and during the war.
It was also considered a good prize and appreciated by Allied soldiers.
The Mod. 1934 was the handgun that made Beretta famous all over the world and was used by the Italian police and Carabinieri until the 1980s.
This weapon acquired a sinister fame when it was used by Nathuram Godse to kill Mahatma Gandhi.


Beretta Mod.1935

This version was chambered for the 7,65mm(.32) and issued to the Regia Marina and the militia in limited numbers.
The biggest difference with the previous model was the fact that the Mod.1935 presented a visible block when the handgun was unloaded,a negative thing,since the enemy was able to know when the weapon was unloaded too.
After the war, it was the main Beretta pistol available on the civilian market.



Bodeo revolver Mod.1889

This revolver,used even during WWI, was based on the French Chamelot-Delvigne Mod.1874(used by the Italian themselves before the Bodeo).
It was chambered for the 10.35 mm calibre(6 rounds),less powerful than the British .41.
This revolver was produced in two versions:the first was issued only to officers and presented a trigger guard,while the version issued to common soldier presented a simpler folding trigger.
Click the image to open in full size.
It was described as a pretty solid weapon,except for the ramrod that was frail.
During WWII was used only by rearguard troops.
There is a lot of confusion surrounding this revolver,since the weapon is also known as Bodego(grammatical misspelling of Bodeo),Glisenti Mod.1889,Tettoni Mod.1916 and Bodeo-Tettoni. Even the cartridge itself is known as 10,35 Bodeo,10,35 Bodego,10,35 Glisenti and 10.40 Bodego Revolver.


Glisenti Mod.1910

A 9mm semiautomatic hadgun produced by MBT(Metallurgica Bresciana Tampini) and issued to the Italian troops in WWI after field tests showed that its performanced were superior to the Colt M1911 and the German Luger P08.
Its stopping power was inferior to the Beretta Mod.1935 and with the latter’s introduction was relegated to support personnel.
Click the image to open in full size.


Some German Walther P 38,chambered for the 9mm Parabellum were usually used by the “special forces”.



Carcano Mod.1891
The standard rifle of the Italian army; just like in most cases(except the USA),it was the same bolt-action that fought in WWI with little modifications.
With 750.529 pieces as 1939 is by far the most common Italian weapon in WWII.
Click the image to open in full size.
It was chambered for the 6,5mm calibre and thus had a stopping power inferior to both German and Allied rifles,on the other hand it was considered more manageable.
During the African campaing(1930s) the Italian troops soon realized that the Carcano suffered from poor stopping power,so 100.000 Mod.1891 were rechambered for the 7.35x51mm and named 1891/38.
This initiative produced confusion since now existed two weapons practically identical but with two incompatibile ammunitions, so the Italian staff decided to officially go back to the 6,5mm caliber to avoid further problems(caliber related problems proved to be a major issue for Italian troops)
Less than 100 thousand Mod.1891 were used Finnish troops during the Winter War, they judged the Carcano poorly,especially for its caliber and during the Continuation War it was relegated to the Finnish Navy.

Click the image to open in full size.
This weapon is famous for being the rifle that Lee Henry Oswald used to kill J.F. Kennedy, President of the United States of America and was even used by many insurgents during the 2011 Lybian Civil War.
Click the image to open in full size..

The Mod.1891 had to further versions:the Moschetto "per cavalleria" ’91 was issued to cavalry corps,it was a lighter version with a slightly different rear sight and an integrated bayonet.
Click the image to open in full size.
The Moschetto Mod ‘91TS was a shortened version of the standard rifle and was used by artillery troops and military engineers.

Some Italian colonial troops were also equipped with Austrian Mannlicher Mod.1890 and 1895 chambered for the 8mm caliber(seized by the Italian troops after WWI).
The old Vetterli-Vitali rifle was instead use during the training(rechambered for the 6,5mm caliber)


Part II: automatic weapons

Beretta MAB 38
Click the image to open in full size.
The official submachine gun during WWII and considered one of the most successful weapons of the conflict.
It was originally intented to be used only by the air force but later extended to the entire army.
Its design was pretty simple and its mechanic very reliable, superior to MP 40s and Thompsons.
The 9mm magazine was available with 10,20,30 and 40 rounds.
Click the image to open in full size.
Its only drawback was the production cost,considered to high for a submachine gun, so in 1942 it was introduced the Mod. 1938/42, without the perforated cooling jacket and with a reduced rate of fire( the original MAB 38 reached 600 rpm,while the Mod 1938/42 fired under 500rpm).
Click the image to open in full size.
It was created even an experimental version,the Mod.1, that presented a folding stock similar to the German MP 38/40.
Up until 1944,around 25 thousand MAB 38 were produced on a monthly basis.
Due to its success, this submachine gun was even used by German forces and later exported in numerous nations(Costa Rica, Argentina, Pakistan, Morocco; Thailand just to name a few).


FNAB Mod. 1943
Click the image to open in full size.
This submachine gun was based on captured SOviet PPSh-41 and chambered for the 9mm caliber.
It was similar to the MAB, but it presented a more complex and modern firing mechanic(it fired from the closed bolt position,just like today’s assault rifles).
Around 7000 FNAB were produced and issued to RSI troops(especially to the Xa MAS, the assault troops of the Fascist Navy).


TZ-45
Just like the FNAB,this weapon was produced during the last part of the conflict and issued to RSI conflict, bu was a really cheap and simple weapon(made with metal stampings).
Around 6000 thousand TZ-45 were made,since the weapon was rudimental,it was scarcely precise at more the 50 meters(the sight device was pretty inaccurate).


Breda Mod. 1930
It was the standard light machine gun of the Italian army(one Mod.30 issued to every squad).
Click the image to open in full size.
Every gunner had at his disposal an extra barrel in order to replace the original after 300 nonstop shots fired(1000 rounds in case of short bursts) but due to its rather slow rate of fire( the cadence of 550 rpm was only theoretical) and the low capacity magazine(just twenty rounds) it wasn’t a common eventuality.
The Breda Mod. 1930 had an unique design and a very complex mechanic,that was both its advantage and its greatest weakness:the weapon had an automatic system of lubrification that if not properly keep under maintenance,rendered the machine gun prone to jam(this proved to be fatal in the African campaign)
Another drawback was the fact that the 20 rounds stripper clips were very frail and if deformed were completely unusable.
The 6.5 mm cartridge also made the Mod. 1930 a less powerful machine-gun than its counterparts.
In order correct the insufficient stopping power,it was created the Mod. 1930S,chambered for the 7.35mm caliber(another different cartdrigde for the Italian soldiers).
The Breda Mod. 1930 was commonly mounted on armoured cars and on motorbike (used by the Bersaglieri,the Italian light infantry).
Click the image to open in full size.


FIAT Mod. 1914/35
It was an updated version of the Mod. 1935, the standard heavy-machine gun of WWI. The new model was air cooled(while the earlier version was water cooled) and was feed with 300 8mm round belts in order to cancel the bad feeding system that affected the Mod. 1930.
Click the image to open in full size.
Despite the fact that this weapon wasn’t exempt from drawbacks,its performances were far superior compared to the Mod. 1930.

Breda Mod. 1937
Click the image to open in full size.
This heavy-machine gun was more sophisticated than the FIAT(it was capable of both semi and full auto fire).Despite it suffered from the same feeding problems of the Mod. 1930,that also slowed down its rate of fire and by the fact that was a pretty heavy weapon(the Mod. 1937 itself weighted around 20kg,plus another 18kg for the support.) it was considered a reliable heavy-machine gun.

Note: in the Italian army,the Mod. 1914/35 and 1937 were considered heavy-machine guns, while the 8mm cartridge(7.92mm) was used by the German forces as a standard ammunition.
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Old January 1st, 2012, 12:22 PM   #2

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another brilliant essay METHOD, the MAB 38 was i hear quite popular with german troops as well.
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Old January 1st, 2012, 03:56 PM   #3

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Quote:
Originally Posted by irishcrusader95 View Post
another brilliant essay METHOD, the MAB 38 was i hear quite popular with german troops as well.
Thanks for the appreciation!
The MAB 38's mechanic proved to be superior to MP 38/40 especially on the harsh conditions of the Eastern front,where the Italian weapon was able to sustain colder temperature than the German submachine gun.

I'll continue this thread with anti-tank weapons,granades,mortars and flamethrowers...
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Old January 1st, 2012, 05:12 PM   #4
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I owned a Beretta 1934 years ago. It was a truly beautiful albeit, impractical design. The safety was not readily released with the shooting hand.
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Old January 1st, 2012, 05:23 PM   #5
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Quote:
Note: in the Italian army,the Mod. 1914/35 and 1937 were considered heavy-machine guns, while the 8mm cartridge(7.92mm) was used by the German forces as a standard ammunition.
I have attempted to research just what the difference was between a "light" machine gun and a "heavy" machine gun in the US Army. I could never get a definitive answer. However, if my extrapolation is correct, a heavy machine gun is operated from a fixed position and most often crew-served, and broken down (tripod removed), before advancing. Whereas a light machine gun is capable of being carried and fired when advancing. This definition would make the BAR a light machine gun and an air cooled browning .30 caliber a heavy machine gun although they both fired the same cartridge (30-06). If that is incorrect, someone please explain the difference.
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Old January 1st, 2012, 06:16 PM   #6
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American Machine Guns


Quote:
Originally Posted by dahermit View Post
I have attempted to research just what the difference was between a "light" machine gun and a "heavy" machine gun in the US Army. I could never get a definitive answer. However, if my extrapolation is correct, a heavy machine gun is operated from a fixed position and most often crew-served, and broken down (tripod removed), before advancing. Whereas a light machine gun is capable of being carried and fired when advancing. This definition would make the BAR a light machine gun and an air cooled browning .30 caliber a heavy machine gun although they both fired the same cartridge (30-06). If that is incorrect, someone please explain the difference.
dahermit ,

The Browning water- cooled .30 (belt fed ) was the heavy machine gun . The Browning air -cooled machine gun 1919A (.30 belt fed ) was the light machine gun . The Browning Automatic Rifle .30 ( clip fed 20 rounds ) was automatic rifle that the fire team was built around .
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Old January 1st, 2012, 06:20 PM   #7
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M.E.T.H.O.D.,

Interesting and thorough discussion of Italian small arms in World War II . I have read in a numer of books on the war in North Africa , that British forces used the captured Breda whenever they could find them.
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Old January 2nd, 2012, 05:08 AM   #8

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Part III: anti-tank weapons and mortars


Cannone 47/32
The Italian troops greatly lacked anti-tank weapons,in fact,the 47/32(also known as Mod.35) was the heaviest piece at the Infantry's disposal to fight armored veichles.
This cannon was based on the Austrian Bohler L/32(4.7cm),indeed,the earlier version of the weapon was just a Bohler gun manufactured in Italian soil.
At the start of the conflict, it was a good anti-tank cannon,able to pierce 44mm of steel at 500metres; but as the war progressed,it became less and less effective.
The weapon weighted something more than 270kg and with a trained crew,it was able to fire 12rpm.
Click the image to open in full size.
the first version had pneumatic disk wheels,while the second(and last) version,the Mod. 1939, had steel wheels and an heavier barrel.
Click the image to open in full size.


Solothurn S-18/1000
A Swiss anti-tank 20mm rifle,also known as Carabina S by the Italian forces.
the Swiss manufacture company was in fact controlled by Rheinmetall,in order to bypass heavy-weapons limitations imposed over Germany at the end of WWI.
The S-18/1000 was mainly used in North Africa by indigenous forces and Bersaglieri both mounted or as an indipendent weapon.
Click the image to open in full size.
The weapon itself weighted 55kg, but was usually fielded with 60 extra magazines(of 10 rounds) for a total weight of 130kg.
The Solothurn s-18/1000 was also used by German forces.
Click the image to open in full size.


Mortaio Brixia Mod. 1935
This 45mm mortar was also called "assault mortar".
Undoubtedly the most complex mortar fielded in WWII, the Mod. 1935 was equipped with a 10-rounds magazine and with a trained crew it was able to fire 18rpm.
It was also capable of firing ammunitions at two different muzzle velocity.
On the other hand the ammunition was less powerful than other mortars and the range of the weapon was under 500 meters.
Click the image to open in full size.
Every infantry platoon had 3 mortar squads equipped with three Brixia mortars each.
The German name of the weapon was 4.5cm Granatwerfer 176(i).


Mortaio Mod. 1935(81mm).
unlike the Brixia, this heavy mortar was a very conventional weapon, based on Stokes-Brandt Mod 1927 and 1931(already used by the Italians in Ethiopia).
Click the image to open in full size.
This weapon was even intenden as an anti-air weapon,thanks to a peculiar ammunition equipped with a small explosive parachute that exploded at 700-800 meters of altitude.


Part IV:grenades and flamethrowers


Granata OTO Mod. 1935
It was a conventional fragmentation hand-grenade,equipped with a double safety lock.
It contained 63gr of trinitrotoluene and its explosive power was slightly inferior compared to other grenades.
the Mod. 1935 was also manufactured by SRCM and OTO,the main difference betwenn the three models is the different amount of explosive inside the grenade.
Click the image to open in full size.
the Italians also used incendiary anti-tank granades, the OTO Mod.1942.
Click the image to open in full size.




Lanciafiamme Mod. 1935 and 1940
These were the most common flamethrowers used by the Italian forces: they were conventional weapons equipped with 12 liters of flammable liquid and 6 liters of pressurized nitrogen.
the ignition mechanism was at the end of the gun.
the range was around 30 metres with 20 second of non-stop fire or between 10 and 20 brief bursts.


Lanciafiamme da assalto Mod.1941
This weapon was specifically designed for sappers and had a newer design:it consisted of a single body and was used as a rifle.
The ignition mechanism was electric and the weapon weighted less than 10kg.
The range was around 20 metres.
Click the image to open in full size.
The Mod. 1941 is the weapon at the top.
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Old January 2nd, 2012, 06:56 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McGrunt View Post
dahermit ,

The Browning water- cooled .30 (belt fed ) was the heavy machine gun . The Browning air -cooled machine gun 1919A (.30 belt fed ) was the light machine gun . The Browning Automatic Rifle .30 ( clip fed 20 rounds ) was automatic rifle that the fire team was built around .
You seem to classify water-cooled as heavy, and air-cooled as light. However, I point out the the M2 .50 cal. is air cooled and I have never seen it referred to as a "light" machine gun. Also, I have seen the BAR and other automatic full-caliber guns referred to as "light" machine guns. Nevertheless, if you can provide a link to an authoritative source that supports your definitions I would be gateful and convinced. But, according to wikipedia, BAR's, Breda 1930, ect. are light machine guns becuse they are used in "marching" fire and are not crew-served, and have a bipod (not a heavy tri-pod that must be removed and carried by a crew member).

Light_machine_gun Light_machine_gun
Quote:

a light machine gun is defined by its usage as well as its specifications: some machine guns - notably general-purpose machine guns - may be deployed either as a light machine gun or a medium machine gun. Deployed with a bipod, and firing short bursts it is a light machine gun; if deployed on a tripod and used for sustained-fire it is a medium machine gun.

Last edited by dahermit; January 2nd, 2012 at 07:10 AM.
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Old January 2nd, 2012, 09:27 AM   #10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by irishcrusader95 View Post
another brilliant essay METHOD, the MAB 38 was i hear quite popular with german troops as well.
I've heard that too, when Italy surrendered the first thing the German's did was loot the Barretta factory. In several books I've read Allied soldiers were supremely keen to obtain both Italian pistols and submachineguns. The MAB 38 had a double trigger arrangement, one for single shot and the other for auto
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