German submachine gun MP-18. In the mid-twenties, Estonia had a noticeable amount of such weapons. Wikimedia Commons Photos
Many models of small arms were distinguished by a special design that could attract attention. Others in this respect did not stand out, but had a curious history. The latter include the Estonian Tallinn-Arsenal submachine gun. It was a slightly modified copy of an existing sample, but it was notable for a very interesting “biography”.
"9 mm automatic pistol"
Until the mid-twenties of the last century, independent Estonia did not have its own submachine guns. There were a number of German-made MP-18 products in service, however, the development of their own weapons of this class was not carried out and probably was not even planned. But the situation changed dramatically at the end of 1924.
On December 1, 1924, the Estonian underground, associated with the Comintern, attempted an armed uprising. There were attacks on several military infrastructure facilities. One of the goals of the Communists was a military school on the street. Tondi. It was planned to seize weapons for further battles.
General view of the Estonian Tallinn Arsenal. Photo Modernfirearms.net
However, this part of the plan did not work. One of the cadets of the school managed to take a comfortable position and denied the attackers to break into the second floor with dense fire. While he alone held the defense, the comrades managed to arm themselves and come to the rescue. The cadets successfully fought off the attack and prevented the loss of weapons.
According to available sources, the cadet from the second floor of the barracks was armed with a "9 mm automatic pistol." The specific type of this product is unknown and controversy is possible. According to a common version, the underground were stopped by fire from the MP-18 submachine gun - Estonia had such weapons and could be used in battles on December 1.
The battle for the second floor of the barracks showed the practical value of automatic weapons under a pistol cartridge. A fundamental decision was made about the need to produce their own submachine guns for arming the army.
External differences between the two samples are minimal. Photo wwii.space
In 1925-26 The designers of the Tallinn Arsenal, led by Johannes Teyman, developed the first Estonian submachine gun project. Rather, it was about copying the German product MP-18 / I - but with noticeable improvements that take into account the wishes of the army and the technological capabilities of the enterprise.
Later, according to the name of the developer, the new weapon was called Tallinn-Arsenal or Arsenali Püstolkuulipilduja (“Arsenal submachine gun”). Also in some sources there is the designation M23, supposedly indicating the year of the creation of the weapon. However, this version does not correspond to other known data and is probably the result of some confusion.
Soon, the new model was successfully tested and was recommended for adoption. In 1927, an order appeared for serial production in the interests of the Estonian army. A few months later, the first serial products went to the customer.
At its core, the Tallinn-Arsenal submachine gun was an MP-18 / I product with certain modifications. The main design features and operating principles have not changed. At the same time, the changes introduced had a slight effect on the combat and operational characteristics.
The country's leadership is getting acquainted with new weapons. Photo Forum.axishistory.com
Like the base model, Tallinn-Arsenal was an automatic weapon under the pistol cartridge, using the principle of free shutter. The basis of the design was a cylindrical receiver connected to the perforated barrel casing. All this assembly was fixed on a wooden bed. The box magazine was fed into the receiver on the left.
Inside the receiver was placed the simplest system of a massive shutter and a return-combat spring. The trigger mechanism provided for locking the shutter in the rear position; shooting was conducted from the rear whispered. There was still no separate fuse - the shutter was blocked due to the L-shaped branch of the handle groove.
Armed with Estonia at that time was the FN M1903 pistol chambered for 9x20 mm Browning Long. Wanting to ensure the unification of small arms, the army demanded that the German submachine gun be processed to fit "their" ammunition. Under such a cartridge made a new elongated box magazine for 40 rounds. As before, he adjoined the weapon on the left. The receiver and latch did not change.
The original chamber was slightly lengthened under the new 20 mm sleeve, and a groove was added for the protruding rim. We recounted the parameters of the moving parts, taking into account the energy of the new cartridge. The barrel was lengthened to 210 mm, and outside it appeared dales for better cooling. On the original MP-18, the barrel was covered by a casing with many round holes. The Estonian-made casing had several longitudinal rows with three oval holes in each.
Some sources mention the refinement of the trigger, which provided the opportunity to choose single or burst shooting. However, these data do not find confirmation.
Tallinn-Arsenal differed from MP-18 / I in the form of a wooden box. The gunsmiths abandoned the pistol projection on the neck and made some other minor changes.
One of the surviving museum "Tallinn-Arsenals". Photo Forum.axishistory.com
The resulting submachine gun was slightly shorter than the base sample (809 mm versus 815 mm), but heavier - 4,27 kg versus 4,18 kg (without magazine). Due to the refinement of automation, the rate of fire was brought up to 600 rds / min. The effective range of fire remained unchanged.
The Arsenali Püstolkuulipilduja submachine gun was adopted in 1927, and then an order appeared for the serial production of such weapons. The weapon should have been a developer. The Estonian army required a large number of new automatic weapons, but due to limited funding, it was necessary to restrain their desires. Soon a new order appeared, this time from the police.
The production of submachine guns lasted only a few years and was curtailed in the early thirties. During this time, the army and police received no more than 570-600 new model submachine guns from the Tallinn Arsenal. However, against the background of the total number of power structures, even such a quantity of weapons did not look unacceptably small.
Museum submachine gun. Photo Guns.fandom.com
From a certain time, Estonia tried to bring its “development” to the international market. Individual copies were handed over to third countries for testing. However, orders did not follow, and the only buyers of Tallinn-Arsenal were their own security forces.
The serial production of Tallinn-Arsenal was distributed between army units and police departments. Due to insufficient numbers, they did not become the main weapon of the army and did not supplant the rifles, but nevertheless improved the overall firepower of a number of units.
The new weapon was actively used at shooting ranges and during field exercises - and demonstrated all the positive qualities of automatic systems. However, it quickly became clear that it has a number of problems. An elongated store turned out to be unreliable and caused problems with serving. Dales on the surface of the barrel hardly helped cooling, but complicated production. There were also other disadvantages.
He, a view from a different angle. Photo Forum.axishistory.com
Finally, by the mid-thirties the design of weapons was obsolete. At the heart of Tallinn-Arsenal was a submachine gun from the time of the First World War, and since then the weapon thought has managed to move forward. Both the MP-18 and its Estonian counterpart could no longer compete with modern and promising models.
In the mid-thirties, the Estonian army began searching for a new submachine gun to replace the Tallinn Arsenal. These events ended in 1937 with the adoption of the Finnish-made Suomi KP-31 product. Then they signed a contract for the supply of imported weapons. Before joining the USSR, independent Estonia managed to get 485 ordered submachine guns.
In connection with the adoption of a new model, the old weapons were decommissioned and sold. Several submachine guns were sent to Latvia. One sample went to Japan. Probably, the Estonian army planned to interest foreign armies and sell unnecessary weapons. Third countries did not want to buy it - but almost all of the remaining submachine guns were acquired by a certain private company.
Probably, one of the most interesting episodes in the “biography” of Estonian submachine guns is associated with the activities of this company. A certain amount of such weapons - according to various sources, from dozens to all the remaining items - soon ended up in Spain, in the hands of Republican fighters. How exactly and by what routes the decommissioned products came from Estonia to Spain is not known.
The Spanish Civil War includes the latest references to the Tallinn Arsenal in the armies and battlefields. Apparently, later this weapon was not used by anyone. The samples left in storage were sent to the scrap, although some products managed to survive and go to museums.
First and second
In terms of design and technology, there was nothing remarkable about the Tallinn-Arsenal submachine gun. However, this sample had a very interesting story. It was the result of Estonia’s first attempt to launch its own production of modern automatic weapons, even if using someone else’s design.
This experience was not entirely successful, and after a few years, their own submachine gun was replaced with an imported one. However, work on the independent creation of weapons did not stop. In the late thirties, the Tallinn Arsenal developed a submachine gun, known as the M1938.