Part I: handguns and rifles.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some German Walther P 38,chambered for the 9mm Parabellum were usually used by the “special forces”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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
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).
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).
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).
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.
Despite the fact that this weapon wasn’t exempt from drawbacks,its performances were far superior compared to the Mod. 1930.
Breda Mod. 1937
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.