Recall that after the end of the war, French troops used German-made captured weapons, and in addition, they initiated the resumption of mass production of the pre-war MAS-38 product. It was also formed a technical task for a completely new weapon. For several years, a number of the country's leading weapons companies have offered their versions of future submachine guns. It should be noted that the specific requirements of the customer led to the emergence of weapons with a very curious design.
The army demanded to create an automatic weapon for the Parabellum mm 9x19 pistol cartridge, which has sufficient firing characteristics in the range of distances up to 200 m. One of the main requirements stipulated weapon ergonomics. Submachine gun should be made convenient for the shooter, not only during the shooting. The weapon had to be folded for transportation and at the same time occupy the smallest possible volume.
All the major arms enterprises of France, including the famous Societe des Armes a Feu Portatives Hotchkiss et Cie, were involved in the work. Having studied its technical requirements and possible solutions, its specialists proposed their own version of a promising weapon with all the desired capabilities. Preparation of the project was completed in the second half of the forties, and by 1949 the finished sample was presented.
A promising submachine gun received the official designation Hotchkiss Universal ("Universal"). Apparently, this name was supposed to reflect the universality of the weapon and the possibility of its use in various arms of service. Thanks to the folding design, this model could be used not only in infantry, but also in airborne or armored forces.
The most successful French submachine guns of that time - to meet the requirements of the customer - received a folding stock and a rotary receiver of the store. The designers of the company “Gochkiss” went further and, trying to reduce the dimensions of the weapon in the transport position, provided additional means for reducing the length. A certain gain in size was obtained through an unusual barrel mounting system and modified automation.
Being translated into a martial law, the Hotchkiss Universal product was supposed to look like other submachine guns of its time. In particular, it was possible to find a certain similarity with the German weapons of the Second World War. It was proposed to use a relatively long barrel, mounted in a large receiver. Bottom on the last fixed store receiver and pistol grip fire control. In the back of the weapon there were fasteners for folding stock.
The project involved the use of a rifled barrel caliber 9 mm. The barrel had a length of 273 mm (30 gauges), which made it possible to obtain some advantages over other samples of that time. The outer surface of the barrel was cylindrical. In the muzzle of the trunk there were two protruding elements. Upper was resistant flies; the lower one was suggested to be used when folding, and also for fixing some elements in the transport position. In the area of the chamber the barrel had a thickening inside the receiver. On this thickening there was a groove to hold the trunk in the working position.
The submachine gun received a simple receiver, consisting of several main parts. Its main element was the upper tubular casing, which contained the bolt and return-combat spring. A detail of a more complex shape joined the front end of such a tube, which had a store receiver and some other devices. In front, another elongated part joined it, supporting the barrel in the working position. Behind the tubular box was closed with a glass lid. A polygonal unit was attached to the tube from below, in front of which there was a magazine receiver, in the back part there were details of a firing mechanism.
The tubular element of the receiver had several windows and slots. In its right wall, in front of it, there was a rectangular window for ejection of sleeves. In the transport position of the weapon, it was closed by a spring-loaded lid. When the shutter was moved back before shooting, the lid independently opened. Below, under the window for ejection of the sleeves, there was a window for the reception of the store. Outside the window for sleeves there was a groove for the bolt handle. Bottom provided slots for parts trigger.
Controls close-up. Photo Sassik.livejournal.com
The automatics of the “Hotchkiss Yuniversal” product was distinguished by its maximum simplicity and used the principle of the free gate. The shutter was a massive piece with a cylindrical top surface and a complex lower part. The shutter had its own drummer on the mirror and was equipped with an extractor. Behind the bolt propped up by a powerful returnable-fighting spring. Cocking the gate was carried out using a side grip, made integral with the movable shutter of the groove. During the shooting the handle should have remained in one place.
The weapon had the simplest trigger mechanism, which ensured the locking of the bolt in the rearmost position. Fire control was carried out using the trigger. To select the mode of fire used a switch made in the form of a pair of buttons on different sides of the weapon. Pressing the button on the right allowed to shoot single, on the left - in turns.
Weapon ammunition was carried out using detachable box magazine with an 32 cartridge capacity. The store was proposed to be placed in the receiving device of the original design, which allowed to drastically reduce the dimensions of the product in the transport position. Under the front of the receiver was placed receiving-U-shaped mine in terms of shape. Below on its side walls there were cuts used in the composition of the castle when assembling weapons.
A rectangular tubular store receiver was installed on the shaft in the shaft. He could swing in a vertical plane, occupying one of the required positions. In the vertical position, he provided the store with a weapon, in the horizontal position - facilitated its transportation. The receiver had a latch to hold the store.
Submachine gun Hotchkiss Universal equipped with an open sight. The fly was located on the rack above the muzzle of the trunk and was equipped with a protective ring. The sight was placed in the back of the receiver and equipped with reversible whole. Due to the limited capabilities of the cartridge, the sight was rebuilt only at 50 and 100 m ranges.
The weapon received an interesting butt and pistol grip. The fire control handle looked like a traditional device, but it was made in the form of a hollow U-shaped device that does not have a front wall. Handle equipped with plastic side plates and installed on the horizontal axis. She could turn forward and up, while putting on a protective bracket with a trigger.
On the same axis with the handle fixed folding stock. Its front part had the shape of a plug with holes for mounting on the axle. The butt itself consisted of two tubes interconnected by means of fasteners and springs. On the butt there was a lock bracket. The shoulder rest is U-shaped and made of metal and wood.
To fold the submachine gun Hotchkiss Universal, it was necessary to do a few simple operations. At first it was necessary to fold the store. To do this, it was proposed to rotate with the receiver, using the existing axis. After that, the store could be moved back up to the stop in the receiver. In this position, the store was not fixed: it had to be held by other parts.
Then it was necessary to move the lever in front of the receiver, after which it was possible to push the front protrusions of the trunk and push it inside the receiver. At the same time, the barrel with the bolt went back and squeezed the reciprocating spring. In the offset position, all these parts are also fixed by the barrel latch. To fold the butt it was necessary to delay its back, opening the existing lock. Then the butt turned down and forward. Moving, the butt folded the pistol grip, and in the extreme position its brace was engaged with the teeth of the shop shaft. The back plate, in turn, covered the store. The butt plate and the lower lip of the barrel did not allow the store to move from its place.
The transfer of weapons into martial law was carried out in reverse order. At first, the butt was folding, when moving back, the handle was lowered into the working position, then the latch released the barrel and bolt forward, and the store returned to its place. The shooter could have cocked the bolt, selected the fire mode and started firing.
The product "Hotchkiss Yuniversal" should have had a minimum size in the transport position. This task was successfully solved. The full length of the submachine gun in fully unfolded form reached 776 mm. When folded the butt it was reduced to 540 mm. The offset of the barrel allowed "save" even 100 mm. The total height of the folded arms did not exceed 12-15, see. At the same time, unlike some other folding models, the Hotchkiss design did not have “intermediate positions”. When the butt was folded, the shooter could not work with the trigger, and therefore had to lay out the weapon completely before shooting. The mass of the product without ammunition was 3,63 kg.
A new submachine gun with a free shutter could do about 650 rounds per minute. The relatively powerful cartridge 9x19 mm allowed to get the effective range of fire to 150-200 m - significantly more than the samples that were in service with obsolete ammunition.
A promising submachine gun Horchkiss Universal was tested in 1949, and soon received a recommendation for adoption. As advantages of this weapon, relatively high combat characteristics and folding design were noted. The latter, as it was believed, could be of interest in the context of the rearmament of paratrooper paratroopers and crews of combat vehicles.
At the same time, the project had a number of drawbacks. First of all, the weapon was too difficult to manufacture and, consequently, expensive. To ensure the possibility of folding had to use a number of new parts of different configurations that complicate production. In addition, the presence of only two weapon positions could be considered a disadvantage - it could be completely folded or completely unfolded. The gun-gun from the "Hotchiss", unlike some competitors, could not shoot with the butt folded.
In 1949, there was an order to take a submachine gun into service with some branches of the armed forces of France. Quite quickly, Societe des Armes a Feu Portatives Hotchkiss et Cie did not fulfill the largest order of the army, and the future of an interesting project was in doubt. Soon the interest of the "universal" submachine gun showed the army of Venezuela. The next few batches of serial weapons were sent to South America.
Venezuela was the first and last foreign customer for Hotchkiss Universal products. No other country wanted to buy such weapons. Even during the tests, it was determined that, together with the characteristic advantages, such weapons have fundamentally inherent flaws. Such features of the project as a result affected its commercial success. French gunsmiths received only two orders. In 1952, the developer company produced and transferred to Venezuela the last batch of submachine guns, after which their production was discontinued.
Not the most numerous “Gochkiss Universal” submachine guns were limitedly used by armies both during training events and during real armed conflicts. In the middle of the last century, France, trying to keep the colonies, started the war in Indochina. Airborne units armed with folding submachine guns participated in the battles of this war. As far as is known, such weapons, in general, proved to be no worse than other samples of their class.
Submachine gun folded. It should be noted that the store is not shifted back until it stops and is not held by the protrusion of the barrel. Photo Forgottenweapons.com
The political situation in Venezuela in the same period was unstable. The struggle for power and political contradictions led to various consequences, including armed clashes. According to some reports, in a series of battles, the Venezuelan soldiers used French-made small arms.
For some time, Hotchkiss Universal submachine guns were in service with two armies, but over time they were abandoned. The first such weapon was written off by France. In the fifties and sixties, the French industry created several new models of small arms, which differed from the existing submachine guns with higher characteristics and other possibilities. Not later than the seventies, the French army refused to produce "Universal." Armed with Venezuela, this weapon was a little longer, but also was written off due to moral and physical obsolescence.
Like some other types of weapons of their time, the Hotchkiss Universal submachine guns, after being decommissioned, went into storage or were sent for recycling. A significant part of the collected products was eventually destroyed. The remaining samples were distributed between museums and sold to collectors. In addition, a certain market for used spare parts for such weapons has been formed abroad.
One of the main requirements of the French army to advanced weapons was to reduce the size and facilitate transportation. Different solutions to this task were implemented in several projects at once. Perhaps the most interesting option for folding weapons was the Hotchkiss Universal submachine gun. However, improved ergonomics were obtained at the cost of complicating and increasing the cost of construction, as well as due to the lack of some desirable features. As a result, the real prospects of the project were worse than expected. The weapon received some distribution, but still could not make a worthy competition to other models of its class.
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