In feature films, German soldiers are often depicted as armed exclusively with submachine guns (PP) MP38 / 40, from which the Nazis fire in long bursts, practically without aiming. However, in reality, the proportion of servicemen armed with PPs in the Wehrmacht was lower than in the Red Army. The bulk of the German infantrymen were armed with rifles. In addition, in addition to the MP38 / 40, the Germans had several other types of submachine guns. In the second half of the war in Germany, machine guns were created for an intermediate cartridge, which were quite actively used in hostilities.
In a previous publication devoted to the use of captured German pistols in the USSR, one of the commentators reproached me for the fact that the title of the article did not fully correspond to its content and that too much attention was paid to the characteristics and technical features of the samples in question. However, I believe that without a short description weapons, which was captured by the Red Army, the reader will not have a complete idea of the subject of the story.
German submachine guns
The first PP entered service with the Kaiser's army in 1918, shortly before the end of the First World War. Known as the MP18 (German Maschinenpistole 18), this recoil-based automatic weapon was primarily intended for assault troops. The 9mm Parabellum submachine gun was developed by Hugo Schmeisser and manufactured by Bergmann Industriewerke.
In the combat position, the MP18 (depending on the type and capacity of the store) weighed 4,84-5,25 kg. Length - 815 mm. Barrel length - 200 mm. The original Trommelmagazin 08 was used for 32 rounds. However, later, late-release PPs were equipped with box magazines with a capacity of 20 or 32 rounds. The rate of fire is about 500 rds / min. Bullet muzzle velocity - 380 m / s. Effective firing range - 100 m.
The MP18 submachine gun, despite the laboriousness of manufacture and the problems associated with the reliability of the magazines, generally performed well. Before the end of hostilities on the Western Front, the army received about 10 MP000 submachine guns. In total, more than 18 of them were manufactured at German enterprises. Later, on the basis of the MP17, improved PP were created, and he himself became a role model in other countries. In the interwar period, the MP000 continued to remain in service, and a number of PPs of this type were used on the Eastern Front.
The MP28 submachine gun (German Maschinenpistole 28), which appeared in 1928, was an improved MP18. The main differences between the MP28 and the MP18 were the use of an improved magazine for 32 rounds and the ability to fire single shots. The weight of the weapon was reduced by about 200 g. The rest of the characteristics remain the same.
In 1932, designer Emil Bergmann (after selling the rights to manufacture the MP18 to the Swiss concern SIG) created the BMP-32 submachine gun. In 1934, an improved version of the BMP-32 was developed based on the BMP-34 design. These weapons were supplied mainly for export. A variant known as the MP34 / I chambered for the 9mm Parabellum cartridge was produced for the German police. In 1935, an improved modification of the MP35 appeared, which was adopted by the Wehrmacht in 1939. Externally, the PPs designed by Bergmann are similar to the Schmeisser samples, but differ from them not only in the right-sided location of the store, but also in a number of original design features.
Like the MP18, the MP35 submachine gun uses a blowback system. A distinctive feature of the weapon is the cocking handle, which is located in the rear end of the bolt carrier and resembles a rifle bolt. When firing, the bolt handle remains stationary. A partial pull on the trigger gave a single shot, and a full one - automatic fire. Sights are designed for a range of 100 to 500 meters. The mass of the weapon in the firing position (with a magazine for 32 rounds) was 4,6 kg. Length - 840 mm. Rate of fire 550-600 rds / min.
The MP35 submachine gun had a very high workmanship, good accuracy and stability in automatic fire. Its reliability was higher than that of previous models. The MP35 was delivered to the German armed forces from 1940 to 1944. During this period, more than 40 PPs of this type were produced. During the Second World War, the main part of the MP000 was used by the SS troops.
The most famous German submachine gun from the Second World War is the MP40, created by Heinrich Vollmer. However, this weapon was preceded by other PPs, similar in appearance and design. Since the mid-1920s, the Reichswehr secretly financed the development of new submachine guns, and Heinrich Volmer designed a number of samples, some of which were brought to the stage of mass production.
EMP submachine gun.
In total, at least 10 thousand EMP submachine guns were made in Germany, but the exact volume of production is not known, and most of them were intended for foreign customers. A batch of these submachine guns in 1936 was purchased by the SS, which used these PPs throughout the Second World War.
After the Nazis came to power, Erfurter Maschinenfabrik (ERMA) introduced the EMP36 submachine gun, also known as the MP36. Compared to the MP18 and MP28, it was a simpler and cheaper weapon.
The neck of the MP36 store was moved down. True, not strictly vertically to the barrel of the weapon, but with a slight offset to the left. This decision made it possible to overcome the shortage of German-made submachine guns, which was associated with the lateral arrangement of stores. The transfer of the center of gravity to the plane of symmetry of the submachine gun had a positive effect on the accuracy of fire (regardless of the emptying of the store).
After the batch of MP36 entered military tests, it turned out that the weapon in its current form did not meet modern requirements and needed to be improved. Taking into account the wishes of the Wehrmacht's armaments management, a new compact PP with a folding butt was created, designed for tankers and paratroopers. To reduce the weight of the weapon, new technologies and materials were used. The forend was made of plastic, and the pistol grip was made of aluminum alloy. There were no wooden parts in the design of this PP at all: only metal and plastic, which greatly simplified and made the production process cheaper.
The MP38 submachine gun had a revolutionary design for the late 1930s. It became the first mass-produced submachine gun with a folding stock. The front pistol grip and wooden forend used in the MP36 have been omitted from the design. When firing, the weapon was held by the magazine slot. One of the features of this PP is also a moderate rate of fire (depending on the power of the cartridge used, 480-600 rds / min) and smooth operation of the automation, which increased the firing accuracy and controllability. To reduce the rate of fire, a pneumatic recoil buffer was introduced into the design. Although there was no translator for the types of fire, an experienced shooter, measuring the time for pressing the trigger, could achieve single shots. The receiver is cylindrical. On the barrel in the muzzle there is a lower protrusion for fixing weapons in the embrasures of combat vehicles. The metal butt folds down in the stowed position.
MP38 submachine gun with unfolded stock.
The length of the MP38 with the butt unfolded was 833 mm, with the folded stock - 630 mm. Barrel length - 251 mm. Weight without cartridges - 4,18 kg, with cartridges - 4,85 kg. Magazine capacity - 32 rounds. Sights consist of a front sight, protected by a front sight, and a cross-over rear sight, which allows aimed shooting at 100 and 200 meters. The effective firing range does not exceed 100-120 m.
ERMA received a government order for a submachine gun in the first half of 1938. After military trials of the prototype batch, the MP38 was officially adopted in June 1938. The new submachine gun was well received among the troops. It turned out to be much more convenient than the previously available MP18 and MP28. High quality workmanship and well-thought-out design ensured the reliability of the automation. With proper care, the resource of the weapon exceeded 25 rounds. The MP000 was light enough, with the stock folded it had small dimensions, as a result of which it was convenient to manipulate it during the battle indoors and inside combat vehicles. Thanks to a significant margin of safety, this PP could easily digest cartridges of increased power.
Initially, the MP38 was intended for the crews of combat vehicles, paratroopers, signalmen, field gendarmerie, second numbers of machine-gun crews and officers participating in hostilities. But later, other categories of military personnel were armed with these submachine guns. By the beginning of World War II, the German armed forces had about 9 MP000. It is impossible to establish the exact number of MP38 produced, but many sources say that approximately 38 units were produced.
According to the plans of the Wehrmacht command, each infantry company was supposed to have 14-16 submachine guns. Taking into account the fact that the production volumes of the MP38 did not allow to quickly saturate the troops with the required number of PPs, it was decided to develop a cheaper and more technologically advanced model with the same combat and service-operational characteristics.
At the beginning of 1940, the production of the MP40 submachine gun, which was created on the basis of the MP38, but had a more technological design, began. Compared to the MP38, the MP40 contained more stamped parts. Thanks to this, it was possible to reduce the labor intensity of production and reduce the weight to 3,96 kg. Externally, the MP40 differed from the MP38 in a smooth (without ribs) top of the case and a different magazine mount.
The device of the MP38 fuse caused a lot of criticism. In this regard, a new fuse was introduced on the MP40, which was located on the right side of the submachine gun and fixed the bolt in the forward position. Based on operating experience, since 1942, stiffening ribs began to be made on the nest of the store.
During the production of the MP40, changes were constantly made to its device. Some variants of the MP40 released after 1943 lacked the pneumatic retarder and had a reinforced return spring. This, in turn, increased the rate of fire to 750 rds / min and negatively affected the reliability of the weapon.
Some MP40s had a thread in the muzzle of the barrel, which made it possible to install silent and flameless firing devices on them. For effective noise suppression, special Nahpatrone 08 cartridges with a weighted bullet and a reduced powder load were required. With an initial bullet speed of 280-290 m / s, the effective firing range did not exceed 50 m.
The MP40 submachine guns were primarily received by paratroopers, scouts, junior command personnel and armored vehicle crews. In total, by the end of 1944, more than 1 million MP40 were produced. This made it possible to only partially meet the needs for PP, and in the armed forces of the "Third Reich" throughout the war there was a shortage of weapons of this kind. The saturation of German infantry units with submachine guns was not high, the commanders of squads and platoons were armed with MP40s, they were relatively more common among panzergrenadiers, tankers and paratroopers.
Like any weapon, the MP40 had drawbacks: a long, strongly protruding magazine made it difficult to fire from a prone position, which forced it to rise above the ground. The cocking handle located on the left when carrying the weapon in the "on the chest" position pressed the owner's chest, causing him inconvenience. Due to the lack of a barrel casing during prolonged shooting, there was a high probability of burns. However, the main drawback was the continuation of the advantages: the hinges of the folding metal butt turned out to be unreliable and loosened very quickly, which in turn negatively affected the shooting accuracy.
Due to the unreliability of the folding stock and the need to saturate the infantry units with submachine guns, in 1941 Hugo Schmeisser presented the MP41 for testing. This weapon used a wooden stock with a stock, a bracket and a trigger from the MP28 and a barrel with a bolt box, a bolt and a reciprocating spring from the MP40. Unlike the MP38 and MP40, the MP41 had a translator for the types of fire.
The total length of the MP41 approximately corresponded to the dimensions of the MP38 and MP40 with the stock unfolded. The mass in the firing position was 4,6 kg. Thanks to better stability and the ability to fire single shots, the MP41 was more accurate. The serial production of the MP41 was carried out by CG Haenel. But at the same time, the widespread use of MP41 was hampered by the higher cost and worse adaptability for mass production. In total, about 26 copies were made, which mainly went to the SS troops.
At the final stage of the war in Germany, a number of surrogate submachine guns were created, with which they tried to eliminate the shortage of small arms. In most cases, these crafts were of poor workmanship and low combat characteristics. The exception is the Italian PP Beretta M38 / 42, designated MP 738 (i) in Germany. After Italy withdrew from the war, they tried to establish the production of MP 738 (i) at German enterprises. It is believed that the Germans could have up to 150 MP 000 (i) captured in Italy and produced in their own factories.
The mass of the MP 738 (i) in the firing position was 4,14 kg. Weapon length - 800 mm. Barrel length - 213 mm. Rate of fire - 550 rds / min. Conducting single and automatic fire was provided by two triggers. Store for 10, 20, 30 and 40 rounds. Sighting range - up to 200 m.
Comparison of German and Soviet submachine guns
In 1940, the German infantry division in the state was supposed to have 312 submachine guns. As of June 22, 1941, in 1941, the German troops participating in the attack on the USSR could have more than 150 MP000, MP28, MP35 and MP38. By the middle of 40, more than 1941 PPD-85/000 and PPD-34 were manufactured in the USSR.
Taking into account one year of production, it will be appropriate to compare the MP40 and PPD-40 submachine guns. In constructive terms, the Soviet PPD-40 was more archaic, and conceptually had much in common with the German MP18 and MP28. The main parts of PPD-40, like all PPs of the first generation, were made on metal-cutting machines, which led to low manufacturability and high cost. In the MP40, based on the MP38, the proportion of stamped parts was higher. However, the MP40 also turned out to be quite expensive and difficult to manufacture, which subsequently forced the Germans to look for a replacement for it.
The PPD-40 submachine gun was more bulky and had a length of 788 mm, and its weight in firing position was 5,45 kg. Barrel length - 244 mm. Bullet muzzle velocity - 490 m / s. Sights were designed for a distance of up to 500 m, but the effective firing range did not exceed 200 m. The rate of fire was 1000 rds / min. There was a fire translator. The capacity of the drum magazine is 71 rounds.
During the Winter War with Finland, it turned out that the role of submachine guns was underestimated by the command of the Red Army, and therefore, from January 1940, all the shops involved in the production of PPDs were transferred to three-shift work. At the same time, the modernized PPD-40 remained quite expensive and difficult to manufacture. It was quite obvious that the PPD-40 in its current form is a temporary measure, and the Red Army needs a new submachine gun.
Already at the end of 1941, it was replaced by the PPSh-41, more adapted for mass production (albeit less reliable), the development of which began in parallel with the deployment of the mass production of the PPD-40. The Shpagin submachine gun could be produced at any industrial enterprise with low-power pressing equipment, which turned out to be very useful during the Great Patriotic War.
Externally, the PPD-40 and PPSh-41 are similar, both have a receiver fused with a barrel casing, a bolt with a safety lock on the cocking handle, a fire translator in the trigger guard in front of the trigger, a reversible sight and a wooden stock. But at the same time, the PPSh-41 is more suitable for mass production. Only the barrel required precise machining, the bolt was turned on a lathe. Almost all other metal parts could be made by stamping. The production of PPSh-41 did not require materials that were extremely scarce in wartime, such as high-strength alloy steels.
Initially, the PPSh-41 was equipped with drum magazines from the PPD-40. But due to the fact that the drum magazine in combat conditions turned out to be not very reliable, was unnecessarily heavy and expensive to manufacture, and also required individual adjustment for each specific submachine gun, in 1942 for the PPSh-41 they created a sector magazine with a capacity 35 rounds.
Initially, the PPSh-41 sights were the same as on the PPD-40. However, subsequently, a simplified version was produced with a throw-over 100 and 200 meters. A submachine gun with a disk magazine weighed 5,3 kg, with a sector one - 4,15 kg. Length - 843 mm, barrel length - 269 mm. Bullet muzzle velocity - 500 m / s. Rate of fire - 1000 rds / min.
The PPSh-41 became truly massive, about 6 million copies were produced during the war years. This made it possible to saturate the Red Army with inexpensive automatic weapons. Despite some shortcomings and claims to the quality of workmanship, the PPSh-41 has justified itself. Its suitability for mass production, combat and service-operational characteristics fully corresponded to the requirements.
The use of a powerful cartridge 7,62 × 25 mm TT gave an advantage in range over German PPs, the fire from which was fired with 9-mm Parabellum cartridges. Although at a distance of up to 100 m (due to better controllability and a lower rate of fire), the MP38 and MP40 were more accurate when firing in short bursts, then with an increase in the distance, Soviet PPs became much more effective. The effective firing range of the PPSh-41 is almost 1,5 times higher than the German MP40. In addition, the bullet fired from the PPSh-41 had greater penetrating power.
Submachine gun MP41 (r).
Soviet submachine guns were appreciated by the enemy. There are many photographs in which soldiers of the Wehrmacht and SS are armed with PPD-40 and PPSh-41. Moreover, the Germans converted more than 10 captured PPSh-000 under the 41 mm cartridge. The alteration was reduced to replacing the barrel and using magazines from the MP9 / 38. The Germanized PPSh-40 is known as the MP41 (r).
It is worth noting that after the soldiers of the Red Army began to capture the MP38 and MP40, requests from the front began to arrive "to make us the same." Tankers were especially active in this - German PPs with folding butts were much more suitable for placement in tight armored space than PPD-40 and PPSh-41. In 1942, a competition was announced for a lighter, more compact and cheaper PP, but not inferior in characteristics to the PPSh-41. At the end of 1942, the production of the PPS-42 submachine gun began. In 1943, the improved PPS-43 was adopted. PPS-42 and PPS-43 were powered from a 35-round magazine. Compared to the submachine guns previously created in the USSR, the PPS-43 was more technologically advanced, lightweight, reliable and compact.
PPS-43 submachine gun
The length with the stock folded was 616 mm, with the stock folded out - 831 mm. Weight in firing position - 3,67 kg. Thus, with almost the same dimensions as the MP40, our PPS-43 was much lighter. The rate of fire was 550-600 rds / min, thanks to which the accuracy when firing in bursts was better than that of other Soviet serial PPs. There was no translator of fire modes, but with a certain skill (by briefly pressing the trigger), single shots can be achieved. The effective firing range remained the same as that of the PPSh-41. Although PPS-43 was superior to PPSh-41 in a number of characteristics, due to the undesirability of restructuring established production and reducing production volumes, PPS-43 produced only about 500 copies.
The use of German submachine guns in the USSR
Since by the time of the attack on the Soviet Union, sufficiently advanced submachine guns had been created and adopted in Germany, and the outdated MP18 and MP28 were used mainly in police and auxiliary units, there were few of them among the trophies captured by the Red Army. However, more numerous MP35s came across our fighters more often.
Partisan with an MP35 submachine gun
However, due to their greater prevalence, the Red Army and partisans usually captured MP38 and MP40, which we incorrectly called "Schmeiser". This misconception is due to the fact that the inscription Patent Schmeisser CGHaenel was applied on the stores of German PP. That is, Hugo Schmeisser only owned the patent for the store.
In the initial period of the war (due to the total lack of individual domestic automatic weapons), captured PPs in the Red Army were in great demand. Although there was often a shortage of 9 mm Parabellum cartridges, German-made submachine guns were often considered as a reserve, when repelling enemy infantry attacks in close proximity to their positions.
In the memoir literature there is a description of cases when, at critical moments of the battle, our soldiers put aside their rifles and fired from captured PPs at the German infantry, which approached our trenches at a distance of less than 100 m.
Before the saturation of the infantry units with domestic-made submachine guns, the German MP38 / 40 often served as the personal weapon of the commanders of the platoon-battalion level, they were also used by the military personnel communicating with the headquarters, military postmen and crews tanks... For some time, German PPs were used in parallel with the PPSh-41.
The fact that the commanders of the units, through whose area of responsibility the Soviet units were orderly out of the encirclement, demanded the surrender of individual captured automatic weapons, testifies to how much the German SMGs were valued in our infantry in 1941. At the same time, the weapons laid down by the state remained on hand.
In Soviet reconnaissance and sabotage groups and partisan detachments operating in the German rear, fighters were often armed with captured PP. Sometimes this was preferable to using Soviet weapons. In the event of the use of 9-mm rounds, it was possible to replenish the ammunition by capturing it from the enemy. In addition, the shots from the MP38 / 40 did not unmask the scouts so much as they were easily recognized by the characteristic sound of bursts from Soviet submachine guns.
By the beginning of 1943, the role of captured PPs in the system of small arms of the Soviet infantry decreased. Nevertheless, due to the fact that after the loss of the strategic initiative by the Germans and the transition of the Red Army to large-scale offensive operations, our troops began to capture more German submachine guns.
The enemy weapons remaining on the battlefield were organized in an organized way by trophy teams and sent to the workshops created in the rear, where troubleshooting, sorting took place, and, if necessary, repairs were carried out. Weapons suitable for further use were preserved and sent for storage. After the end of the war, there were more than 50 German submachine guns in Soviet warehouses.
Although in the second half of the war, Soviet industry was able to adequately saturate the PPSh-41 and PPS-43 troops, the German PPs were in the army until the end of hostilities. Often, supernumerary captured submachine guns were used by crews of armored vehicles, vehicle drivers, signalmen and specialists from various technical services.
Subsequently, part of the MP40 suitable for further use was transferred to the newly formed armed forces of the countries that found themselves in the Soviet zone of occupation. There is also information that a certain number of MP40s as military assistance in the second half of the 1940s were sent to the Chinese communists, who were fighting the armed formations of the Kuomintang. These PPs in China were operated on a par with the already existing in significant quantities 9-mm MP28 and MP34 submachine guns, produced in China under license.
MP40 submachine gun at the Beijing War Museum of the Chinese Revolution
A number of sources say that the release of the MP40 was established at Chinese enterprises. The Chinese version differed from the original German weapon in the worst workmanship and in some details.
Another conflict in which captured German submachine guns were seen was the war in Southeast Asia. At the first stage of hostilities, the Soviet Union, as part of the provision of gratuitous military assistance, transferred to North Vietnam significant amounts of German small arms that were in storage.
Submachine guns used by Vietnamese partisans: at the top is the Soviet PPS-43, below the MP40 and K-50M, which was created in North Vietnam on the basis of the PPSh-41.
It must be said that the German-made 9mm submachine guns were well suited for jungle warfare. The MP40 remained in service with the Viet Cong throughout the Vietnam War, although by the late 1960s it was largely supplanted by more modern designs. Part of the MP40 delivered from the USSR was repulsed by South Vietnamese and American troops.
Subsequently, these PPs, along with other samples, were repeatedly demonstrated at exhibitions of weapons seized from partisans. A number of MP40s were used by South Vietnamese police forces, and after the fall of Saigon, they again went to the North Vietnamese army.
According to a number of sources, a small number of German PPs produced during World War II are still in the warehouses of the RF Ministry of Defense. In "new" Russia, on the shelves of weapons stores, you can sometimes find the MA-MP38 rifled "hunting" carbine, the manufacturer of which is the Molot Arms enterprise. MA-MP38 completely repeats the appearance and operation of the MP38 submachine gun. Magazine capacity - 10 rounds of 9 × 19 mm Parabellum.
In accordance with the requirements of the current legislation, the product has the possibility of only single fire, with the butt folded, the possibility of firing a shot is excluded, on the muzzle of the barrel and in the cup of the bolt by punching, markings are applied.
To be continued ...