Rifles by countries and continents. Part of 22. France: the heiress of Lebel
MAS-36 rifle. (Army Museum in Stockholm)
They began this work at the beginning of the 20s of the last century, and four years later they adopted the cartridge 7,5x57 mm MAS mod. 1924. They began to design a rifle for it, but then the previous cartridge was abandoned in favor of the new ammunition - 7.5 mm Cartouche Mle.1929C (7.5x54 mm). What the French did not suit the earlier, a little longer sample now can not be said, but, apparently, there was some reason. The main thing is that now the French gunsmiths had a new rifle cartridge of a smaller caliber compared to the old one, and it was under them that they began to create a rifle, which for many years had to replace all the previously used samples.
The assignment of a team of gunsmiths and designers led by captain Monteil on the basis of the tactical and technical requirements drawn up by the French Ministry of Defense in 1930 was simple. It was necessary to create a new rifle for the French army, taking into account the experience of the First World War and the local conflicts in the colonies that took place in the French Republic. It was noted that the average height of the soldiers of this war was 1,7 m, therefore the Lebel rifle with a bayonet was higher than the height of such a soldier and therefore uncomfortable in the trenches. The military required universal small arms for the ground forces, intermediate in size between a rifle and a carbine, and equally suitable for participation in a maneuverable battle (including jungles and settlements), and in a positional war. It was also found that the shooting of rifles during the First World War, the soldiers were mostly lying down or standing in a trench. Moreover, the marginal distance of fire was 1000 m. That is, it turned out that maneuverability for the new rifle is more important than the range. Five years later, the first prototype rifle, which had the designation "Modèle 34B2", entered the tests. It was armed with 17 March 1936, and its mass production began only 31 March 1938. Until June, the 1940 of the year for the army and the Foreign Legion produced only 250 thousands of rifles.
Riberol rifle arr. 1917
The Vichy government was able to rearm MAS-36 with only parts of the French army in southern France and in Corsica, but these rifles were no longer enough for soldiers in North Africa. But some of their number was in the hands of the “Gaullists” from the “Free France” of General Charles de Gaulle. But after the Germans finally disarmed the French army in 1942, all of these rifles hit either the Wehrmacht, or ... the poppies. The Germans captured rifles in France were designated as Gewehr 242 (f), and used them in units stationed in the same France in order not to carry ammunition. That is, their release did not stop either during the war or after it until the 1953 year. After that, they were kept in warehouses for a long time, and were practically used in parts of the presidential guard and gendarmerie.
Well, it is clear that in the territory of most of the former French colonies, these rifles were kept in large numbers as a memory of the past colonial past of these countries.
Since 2011, in Syria, a number of MAS-36 rifles from the warehouses of the mobilization reserve fell into the hands of anti-government armed groups. In June, MAS-2016 rifles were used for military training of local self-defense forces in the Afrin area of Syrian Kurdistan in June. So this rifle, despite its considerable age, somehow, but still continues to fight!
If we look closely at the MAS-36 rifle, then ... its obvious similarity to the Lebel M1927 rifle (and the M1886 / 93 R35 musket) will certainly strike the eye, although their butts and aiming devices are completely different. The reason is the presence of a powerful receiver, because of which, like the Lebel rifle, the box turned out to be not intact, but split, consisting of three parts - a butt with a half-pistol handle, forearm and its lining, fastened with two rings. It was considered that such a construction is more technological, since there are always more short wooden bars than long ones and, moreover, short ones less “leads”. At first, these parts were made of their walnut wood, but after the war they switched to cheaper birch! With regard to the finishing of metal surfaces, there could be used and phosphating, and burnishing, depending on the time of release.
Modernized Lebel M1927 rifle
The rifle's structural basis is a receiver made by milling, that is, it is very durable, but it gives the rifle extra weight, so even though it turned out short - the length of the entire 1020 mm (that is, the length of the SKS karabiner and our karabiner sample. 1938 year) but it weighs 3700 gr., that is pretty decent. The barrel has four right-hand rifling.
The bolt, traditionally locked with a turn to the right, has two lugs at the back of its stem, like English Enfield. USM is also normal, shock type and without fuse. It's amazing, but true.
Parade of soldiers of the French Foreign Legion with MAS-36 rifles (Lambesis, 1958).
Due to the fact that the stops are at the back, the shutter has been shortened, and the shorter the shutter, the shorter its stroke, and, consequently, the recharge. It affects the reload speed and the location of the shutter handle, which on the MAS-36 is literally at its very rear end, so the designers had to bend it specifically so that it would be somewhat closer to its middle. But this trick did not help even more comforts than the rest of the bolt-bolt rifles she had acquired. That is, everything is decided by the training of the shooter, as it often happens.
Sights are arranged more rationally. On the same R35 musket, the sight is placed on the barrel, so its aiming line is quite short. The MAS-36 has a sector diopter sight, installed at a distance from 100 to 1200 meters and is measured in 100 m at the rear of the receiver, so that its aiming line is much longer. The fly is placed in a powerful ring earpiece behind the wooden stem lining. It is alleged that it turned out to be too wide for tagging further than 300 meters, but at this distance it is wide or narrow does not play a big role.
French gendarmes from the CRS unit with MAS-36 rifles (beginning of 1970-x).
The MAS-36 magazine accommodates 5 cartridges, and its feed mechanism is copied from the Mauser design. Well, no one invented anything better, simpler and more reliable, and time has clearly proved this. The magazine is filled with ordinary plate clips or one cartridge each. In the upper part of the receiver there is a groove for the holder, and for convenience, the arrow on the left in the wall of the box has a deep groove for the thumb. In front of the store there is a button. If you press it and then press the cover down, it opens, which is also convenient: this way you can quickly discharge the magazine.
The MAS-49 / 56 rifle in the hands of the National Guard guards at the Elysée Palace.
A separate story deserves a new rifle bayonet, imbibed, so to speak, the experience of a variety of rifles from many countries and peoples. And what did the French do on its basis? And here's what: a triangular needle bayonet (baionnette modele 1936) of the original design. In the stowed position, it is stored in the position of the tip back in a special tube located under the barrel inside the forearm. In this case, to fix the bayonet in a combat or field position using the two buttons-latches on its handle. Pressed one - took out the bayonet, inserted and ... the second retainer secured it. I did the same thing in reverse order - I fixed the bayonet in the tube under the barrel.
Bayonet to MAS-36 rifle.
In fact, the French already had a triangular bayonet for a rifle Gra arr. 1874, although the blade was still T-shaped. Whereas the bayonet to the MAS-36 is exactly triangular, without a handle and crosshairs with a bow. That is, it is impossible to consider him the heir of the old traditions.
Modification MAS-36 M51 got the opportunity to fire rifle grenades: the barrel with annular nozzles and a special sight. The fly with the earbud on it had the shape of a letter W with a short middle “stick”.
One of the fasteners of the bayonet on its handle. The second is on the opposite side from the other end.
In general, the rifle "turned out." It was technologically advanced, quite comfortable, short and light. We can say that this rifle is pure utility, which, of course, is good. But ... for all that, she appeared too late to be appreciated. The time of manual reloading rifles is definitely expired!
To be continued ...
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