It is no secret that for many Soviet officers it was very prestigious to own a captured pistol. Most often German short-barreled weapon could be at the disposal of the infantry commanders of the platoon-battalion level and the military personnel of the reconnaissance units. That is, those who were directly on the front line or went behind the front line.
Pistols chambered for 9 × 19 mm Parabellum
Although the armed forces of the Third Reich had many different types of short-barreled weapons, our soldiers usually captured the Luger P.08 and Walther P.38 pistols. For firing from them, a cartridge 9 × 19 mm Parabellum, powerful enough for that time, was used, which at distances (typical for shooting from short-barreled weapons) provided a good stopping and lethal effect.
The Luger P.08 pistol (also known as Parabellum) was adopted by the Kaiser's army in 1908. The automatic pistol is based on the scheme of using recoil with a short barrel stroke. The barrel bore is locked using an original system of articulated levers. In fact, the entire hinge-lever system of the pistol in terms of the device is a crank mechanism, in which the slide was the slide.
9mm Luger P.08 pistol.
At the time of adoption, the "Parabellum" was almost the best 9-mm semi-automatic pistol, and for a fairly long period of time was considered as a kind of standard. One of the main advantages of the "Parabellum" is its high shooting accuracy, achieved due to the comfortable handle with a large angle of inclination and easy descent. Compared to other army pistols of the time, it combined high power with sufficient compactness. All Luger P.08 pistols were of high quality workmanship, good exterior finish and precise fit of moving parts. Metal surfaces have been blued or phosphated. On weapons of early release, the grip cheeks were made of walnut wood, with a fine notch. However, pistols fired during World War II may have dark plastic cheeks.
The weight of the equipped weapon was about 950 g, the total length was 217 mm, and the barrel length was 102 mm. Magazine capacity - 8 rounds. The rate of fire is about 30 rounds per minute. Sighting range - up to 50 m. Bullet muzzle velocity - 350 m / s. For the armament of personnel directly involved in hostilities, a modification was made with a barrel length of 120 mm. From 10 m, a bullet fired from this pistol pierced a German steel helmet. At a distance of 20 m, the bullets fit into a circle with a diameter of 7 cm.
During the First World War, the Lange P.08 pistol was produced, which is also known as the "Artillery Model". Intended for arming the crews of field artillery guns and non-commissioned officers of machine-gun teams. The long barrel and the ability to attach a rigid butt holster to the weapon significantly increased the range of fire.
The "artillery" pistol had a total length of 317 mm and an unloaded weight of 1,080 kg. The bullet left the barrel 203 mm long with an initial velocity of 370 m / s. The pistol could be equipped with a Trommelmagazin 08 drum magazine for 32 rounds. Although the sights of this weapon were designed for a distance of up to 800 m, the effective firing range with a holster-butt attached did not exceed 100 m. Despite the higher cost, more than 1913 Lange P.1918 pistols were produced from 180 to 000. Subsequently, the "Artillery Model" (as pistols with a barrel length of 08 and 102 mm) was in service in the Wehrmacht, in the SS, Kringsmarine and Luftwaffe. The exact number of Lugers produced is not known. According to some reports, they could have been produced up to 120 million copies. According to a number of sources, the German armed forces received about 3 million pistols from 1908 to 1944.
However, despite all the positive qualities of "Parabellum", it had serious drawbacks, the most important of which was the high cost and labor intensity of manufacture. In 1939, for the Wehrmacht, the cost of one pistol with three magazines was 32 Reichsmarks, at the same time the Mauser 98k rifle cost 70 Reichsmarks. In addition, the need to manually fine-tune some of the details required the use of highly skilled workers, which severely limited the volume of production.
In this regard, in the early 1930s, Carl Walther Waffenfabrik began to design a new semi-automatic pistol chambered for the 9mm Parabellum cartridge. At the same time, the developments obtained during the creation of a very successful 7,65-mm Walther PP pistol, which had an automatic mechanism with a free shutter, were used. But due to the fact that the power of the 9-mm cartridge was significantly higher, the automatic action of the new pistol was based on the use of recoil energy with a short barrel stroke. The barrel is locked by a latch swinging in a vertical plane and located between the barrel tides. The trigger mechanism is a double action with an open hammer.
9mm P38 pistol next to the holster.
The pistol, created by the company "Walter", entered service with the Wehrmacht officially on April 20, 1940 under the designation P.38 (Pistole 38). This pistol was mass-produced at factories in Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic. P.38 pistols were originally produced with walnut grip cheeks, but these were later replaced by Bakelite ones.
Depending on the year and place of issue, the mass of the pistol was 870–890 g. Length - 216 mm, barrel length - 125 mm. Magazine capacity - 8 rounds. Bullet muzzle velocity - 355 m / s.
In the second half of 1943, the number of 9-mm "Walters" in the active army became more than "Luggers". Nevertheless, both pistols were in service until the surrender of Nazi Germany. In 1944, by order of the Imperial Security Chief Directorate, a version with a P.73K barrel shortened to 38 mm was created and produced.
9mm pistol P.38K.
In total, the armed forces of the Third Reich received about 1 million P38 pistols. During the fighting, the P.38 demonstrated sufficient efficiency, good operational reliability, a high degree of safety in handling, and firing accuracy. Among the advantages of "Walter" can be attributed an excellent combination of combat and service-operational characteristics for its time. The pistol was safe when loaded, the owner could open fire at any time or determine by touch if the weapon was loaded. But, despite the high quality of workmanship and other positive characteristics, traditional for German weapons, the P.38 still had several rather significant drawbacks.
Although "Walter" was easier and cheaper to manufacture than "Parabellum", it still turned out to be quite complex, had many parts and springs. The P.38 grip is too thick for a pistol with a single-row magazine, which makes it not very convenient for shooters with a small hand. In addition, it turned out that the P.08 with a 120mm barrel was superior in accuracy to the P.38, which had a 125mm barrel. The workmanship and finish of the P.38 pistols, produced at the end of the war, were greatly reduced, which negatively affected reliability.
Pistols chambered for 7,65 mm Browning
Unfortunately, the format of this publication does not allow us to tell about all the pistols used in the armed forces of Nazi Germany. But it would be wrong not to mention the widespread compact pistols chambered for 7,65 × 17 mm. During World War II, the most common German 7,65 mm pistols were Walther PP, Walther PPK and Mauser HSс.
After the defeat in the First World War, the production of weapons in Germany was limited by the terms of the Versailles Treaty: a caliber of no more than 8 mm and a barrel length of no more than 100 mm. In 1929, a Walther PP pistol (Polizeipistole) was created at the Carl Walther GmbH company for the 7,65 × 17 mm cartridge, which was popular at that time. The pistol was originally designed as a police weapon and as a civilian self-defense weapon.
7,65mm Walther PP pistol.
The pistol automatics is based on the free breech recoil scheme. This became possible thanks to the use of a relatively low-power "civilian" cartridge. The shutter-casing is held in the extreme forward position by a return spring located on the barrel. Firing mechanism hammer type, double action. Allows a shot both with a pre-cocked and with the trigger released. This arrangement makes the pistol as compact as possible, simple, easy to handle, safe and, with a cartridge sent, makes it possible to quickly open fire.
The design of the firing mechanism includes the release of the trigger and its safety cocking - important for safety quality. There is also an indicator of the presence of a cartridge in the chamber, which is a rod, the back of which protrudes beyond the surface of the bolt-casing above the trigger when the weapon is loaded. Such a device makes the pistol much safer, since the owner can determine if the cartridge is in the chamber even by touch.
The pistol turned out to be quite convenient, relatively lightweight and compact. Weight without cartridges is 0,66 kg. Overall length - 170 mm. Barrel length - 98 mm. Bullet muzzle velocity - 320 m / s. Sighting range - up to 25 m. Magazine for 8 rounds.
Although the Walther PP did not meet the requirements of the military in terms of power, the great popularity among the personnel of the German police and security services, as well as the success in the civilian market, attracted the attention of the heads of the weapons department of the ground forces. In the second half of the 1930s, due to Germany's abandonment of the restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles and a sharp increase in the number of personnel, the German armed forces experienced a shortage of pistols. The stocks available at that time did not satisfy the needs of the army, and it was still far from the deployment of the necessary volumes of production of regular army pistols. In order to somehow fill the vacuum that arose in the system of small arms, it was decided to start purchasing non-standard service and civilian short-barreled weapons of 7,65 mm caliber.
To be fair, I must say that the 7,65-mm "Walter" was really good. Lighter and more compact (compared to the "Parabellum"), it turned out to be quite suitable for arming officers not directly participating in hostilities. This weapon, due to its small size, made it possible to carry it secretly, which was appreciated by the operational officers of the police and security services, who carried out operational-search activities in civilian clothes. Police "Walters" quite often had crews of armored vehicles, pilots, sailors, couriers and staff officers. Until April 1945, the German state authorities, special services, police and armed forces received about 200 Walther PP pistols.
In 1931, a shortened and lightweight Walther RRK (Polizeipistole Kriminal) pistol appeared, which was created on the basis of the Walther PP, but at the same time had some original features. The design of the frame and the shutter-casing was slightly changed, which received a different shape for the front part. Barrel length decreased by 15 mm, overall length by 16 mm, and height by 10 mm. Weight without cartridges - 0,59 kg. Bullet muzzle velocity - 310 m / s. 7-round magazine.
Pistols Walther PP and Walther RRK were produced in parallel. During the Nazi years in power, Carl Walther supplied approximately 150 Walther RRK pistols to the German army, police and paramilitaries. During the war, they were, as a rule, used by the officers of the Luftwaffe, rear units of the ground forces, as well as by the command staff of the Wehrmacht.
Another 7,65-mm pistol adopted by Nazi Germany was the Mauser Hsс (Hahn-Selbstlspanner pistole ausfurung C). Mass production of this sleek pistol began in 1940. It was developed as a compact self-defense weapon, suitable for concealed carry, and is a self-loading pistol, built on automatic blowback and has a double-action trigger mechanism. The early pistols were of excellent workmanship and surface finish, with walnut grip cheeks.
7,65 mm pistol Mauser HSс.
The mass of the Mauser HSc pistol without cartridges is 0,585 kg. Length - 162 mm. Barrel length - 86 mm. Magazine capacity - 8 rounds. The width is 27 mm, which is 3 mm less than the Walther PP.
7,65mm Mauser HSc pistol with holster.
The pistol shape and sights are optimized for concealed carry. The small-height front sight is hidden in a longitudinal groove and does not protrude beyond the contour of the weapon. The hammer is almost completely hidden by the bolt, and only a small flat spoke protrudes outward, allowing, if necessary, to cock the hammer manually, but practically excluding the possibility of catching the hammer on clothing when drawing the weapon. More than 250 Mauser HSс pistols have been produced in five years. They were mainly armed with senior and senior command personnel, the secret police, saboteurs, officers of the Luftwaffe and Kringsmarine.
A common feature of the 7,65 mm Walther PP / RRS and Mauser HSc pistols was that at a distance of 15–20 m they had better accuracy than the 9 mm P.08 and P.38 pistols. Due to their lighter weight, it was easier to control them, and the recoil and the roar of the shot were easier to carry by the shooter. At the same time, the 9-mm cartridge with a muzzle energy of a bullet of about 480 J was more than twice the 7,65-mm cartridge with a bullet energy of 210-220 J. This (in combination with a larger caliber) meant that the "Parabellum" A 9-mm bullet, when it hits the same part of the body as a 7,65-mm bullet, has a much higher probability of instantly disabling the target and depriving the enemy of the opportunity to fire back.
The use of captured German pistols in the Red Army
How many German pistols the Red Army soldiers and partisans operating in the temporarily occupied territory managed to capture is not known. But, apparently, we can talk about tens of thousands of units. It is quite obvious that in the second half of the war, when our troops seized the initiative and switched to strategic offensive operations, the number of captured small arms increased. Moreover, if rifles, submachine guns and machine guns captured from the enemy were centrally assembled by trophy teams, then the compact short-barreled barrel was often hidden by the personnel.
It was common for soldiers to present trophy pistols to respectable commanders. "Lugers" and "Walters" often had snipers, military scouts and soldiers of sabotage groups as additional weapons. As a rule, it was easier for the underground workers and partisans operating in the deep German rear to get 9 × 19 and 7,65 × 17 mm cartridges than for Soviet weapons. Often, captured pistols became the subject of a kind of bargaining, when the commanders of the units exchanged for them various scarce property from the quartermasters, as a result of which a large number of unaccounted short-barreled weapons were formed in the hands of the rear officers.
I am sure that readers will be interested in comparing the German pistols mentioned in this publication with the revolver of the Nagant system mod. 1895 and Tokarev's self-loading pistol arr. 1933.
The Nagant revolver certainly surpasses all semi-automatic pistols in terms of reliability. Even in the event of a misfire, one could simply pull the trigger again and quickly fire the next shot. In addition, the revolver, when fired with a preliminary platoon, demonstrated a fairly high accuracy. At a distance of 25 m, a good shooter could put bullets in a circle with a diameter of 13 cm. But with all the advantages of a revolver of the Nagant system, a shooter armed with it could fire 7 shots in 10-15 seconds, after which each spent cartridge case had to be knocked out of the drum with a ramrod and loaded drum one cartridge.
The TT pistol could fire up to 30 rounds per minute, which roughly corresponded to the rate of fire of German self-loading pistols. But at the same time, the German samples significantly exceeded the TT in terms of ease of handling and were much more comfortable when shooting. The ergonomics of the TT leaves much to be desired. The handle angle is small, the handle cheeks are thick and rough. Although the fixed pistol demonstrated very good combat accuracy and at a distance of 25 m the dispersion radius did not exceed 80 mm, in practice it was impossible to achieve such accuracy. This was due to the fact that the trigger on the TT was tight and sharp, which, combined with poor ergonomics and powerful recoil, significantly reduced the shooting accuracy when using the pistol by an average shooter.
Perhaps the biggest drawback of a TT is the lack of a full-fledged fuse. Because of this, numerous accidents have occurred. After a large number of unintentional shots due to the fall of a loaded weapon, it was forbidden to carry a pistol with a cartridge in the chamber.
Another drawback is the poor fixation of the magazine, which in combat conditions could lead to its fall out of the handle and loss. Despite the fact that a very powerful cartridge 7,62 × 25 mm with an initial bullet speed of 420 m / s and very good penetration was used for shooting from TT, its stopping effect was significantly lower than that of the 9 × 19 mm cartridge.
German 9-mm pistols "Parabellum" and "Walter" had a resource of up to 10 rounds, and the Soviet TT was designed for 000 rounds. However, such a large shot could only be found in the weapons used in the shooting ranges. In practice, in most cases, no more than 6 shots were fired from pistols in combat units (before they were decommissioned or transferred to storage). In part, the shortcomings of Soviet pistols and revolvers were compensated for by the fact that they were much easier and cheaper to manufacture.
Post-war use of captured German pistols
After the end of the war, many German-made pistols remained in the USSR, and not all of them were legal. A significant number of captured weapons ended up in the hands of criminals. The NKVD / MGB officers who fought the bandits needed a convenient, compact, but at the same time relatively powerful weapon. In this regard, in 1946-1948, several tens of thousands of 7,65-9-mm pistols entered service with the operational staff of the USSR Ministry of State Security, where they were operated until the early 1960s, when they were replaced by domestic 9- mm pistols PM. In addition, the captured 7,65 mm Walther PP and Walther PPK pistols have long been the personal weapons of diplomatic couriers. Several thousand pistols were donated to award funds and used as personal weapons in the prosecutor's office and other government bodies. Currently, Walther PP and Walther PPK pistols are on the list of weapons that can be awarded to law enforcement officials, deputies and high-ranking officials. In total, in our country, there are about 20000 premium pistols and revolvers on hand.
To be continued ...