How Uziel Gal created one of the most famous submachine guns and why is it weapon now it is in service with one hundred armies of the world
One of the first and most famous models of small arms melee was an Israeli machine "Uzi". It has been produced for more than fifty years, and all this time it has been continuously improved.
The Uzi submachine gun (or rather, a submachine gun, that is, an automatic melee weapon for a pistol cartridge) is considered one of the most popular types of small arms for the entire world history. In the years since the creation of the legendary machine gun, its sales have exceeded $ 3 billion. Today, more than two million barrels of the famous machine gun are in service with the armies and special services of ninety-five countries.
The reasons for such widespread acceptance of the Uzi machine gun, which has become one of the symbols of the twentieth century, are rooted in its original design, compactness, high reliability and rate of fire.
The history of the Uzi submachine gun is inextricably linked to the life of its creator - the Israeli self-taught gunsmith, Lieutenant Colonel Uziel Galya, by whose name he was named. The biography of the brilliant gunsmith is no less complicated and confusing than the story of his brainchild.
From Bavaria to the Land of Israel
Uziel Gal did not always bear that name. He was born in 1923 in the German city of Weimar and at birth he was called Gothard Glass (according to other sources, his real name was Kurt Borkhard). He was born in a prosperous Jewish family - his father Erich had his own business in Munich, his mother Millie was an artist, his younger sister Elsa grew up together with Gothard.
For the whole life of the future gunsmith imprinted passion of his father. During the First World War, Erich Glass was an officer in the German army and kept his army habits in peaceful life — he was a great connoisseur and collector of weapons. The walls of the house in Munich, where the Glass family lived, decorated the old cold and firearms, and the knightly armor from the collection of his father, who carefully examined and repaired all copies of his collection.
Jewish refugees from Germany to the UK, 1938 year. Photo: AP
Passion for weapons, following the example of his father, took possession of a small Gothardt. Already in 10 years he made his first self-made gun, which, however, exploded in his hands and the young designer received severe burns, and in 15 years he designed the original automatic crossbow.
Erich Glass was a staunch Zionist (a supporter of the revival of the Jewish state in the historic homeland) and for the sake of this goal he broke up with his family, going with a group of German Zionists to Palestine. A family that did not share the father’s Zionist views remained in Germany.
The peaceful course of the life of the Glass family, like all Germanic Jews, was disrupted by Hitler's rise to power in 1933. The Nazis continuously introduced new discriminatory restrictions for German Jews, which soon led to the Holocaust.
The first years of the Nazi regime, the Glass family remained in Germany. Gotthard studied at a Jewish gymnasium and planned to join his father in Palestine. The circumstances were extremely unfavorable for Germanic Jews - in Nazi Germany, anti-Semitism intensified, but the paths of exodus were closed by Great Britain, which then ruled Palestine.
The British authorities, in order to please the Palestinian Arabs, completely shut off the entry of Jewish refugees to Palestine, which condemned millions of European Jews to death in the Nazi death camps during the Holocaust.
Such a decision by Great Britain caused outrage throughout the world, and then the British authorities made a truly Jesuit decision - they allowed ten thousand Jewish children from Germany and Austria to be sent to the UK, but they were forbidden to their parents, who were condemned to death.
Eleven-year-old Gotthard was one of these Jewish children, who were accompanied to their UK by parents who had never seen their children again.
In England, exported Jewish children were distributed to families who voluntarily chose to accept small refugees. One of these English families was the family of Roberts' grocer from the town of Grantham. A grocer's daughter insisted on taking a Jewish girl from Germany. As time passes, the grocer’s daughter will be Margaret Thatcher, the prime minister of Great Britain.
On the Land of Israel
In 1936, Gotthard Glass's father managed to get permission from the British authorities to transfer his son to Eretz Israel. Thirteen-year-old Gotthard Glass settled with his father in Kibbutz Yagur near Haifa and adopted the Hebrew name Uziel (Uzi) Gal, under which he will become known to the whole world.
The time was not easy. In 1936, the Palestinian Arabs, led by the agents of Nazi Germany, raised an armed insurgency against the British and the Jewish population of Eretz Israel. The response to the Arab terror was the hostilities of the Jewish underground army of Hagan (Defense), together with the British troops, firmly and resolutely suppressing the pro-Nazi Arab riot.
Uzi became a direct participant in the events in his native kibbutz. During the day, the kibbutzniks worked in the fields, and at night they beat the attacks of the Arabs in arms. There was no time for school - Uzi from 14 began working in a kibbutz metal workshop, where he not only worked in the repair of tractors and agricultural equipment - there, in secret from the British authorities, made weapons for Jewish combat units, including the most popular submachine gun STEN. Uzi Gal got an important experience of making small arms with his own hands.
In 1942, the Uzi joined in the Palmach. The detachments of the Palmachs (an abbreviation of the Hebrew words "strike companies") played an important role in the war for the creation of a Jewish state. Thousands of Jewish boys and girls voluntarily joined them in order to bring the hour of the creation of the state of Israel closer in arms. In Israel, there is the expression "generation Palmach" - so called young volunteers of those years who are ready to give their own lives for the ideals of Zionism and the Jewish state. The ideology of Palmach was largely pro-communist and pro-Soviet — the Soviet Union and the Red Army were an example for young Zionists.
Uzi became a gunsmith in the detachment "Givat Haim". It was there in the rare free moments Uzi began to develop his submachine gun, glorified the name of its designer.
With the details of his submachine gun, Uzi Gal was captured by a British patrol at the end of 1943. The sentence of the British military tribunal was harsh - Uzi Gal was sentenced to seven years in prison for carrying weapons.
Uzi Gal's term was serving time in the prison of the city of Acre. There, for the first time, a self-taught locksmith had the opportunity to study in absentia the fundamentals of engineering in absentia — he performed several tests on assignments that he received from an English engineering college. After being released from prison two years later under an amnesty, Uzi Gal resumed work on his project in the workshop of Yagur, but the War for the Independence of Israel that began in 1948 for a long time postponed his plans.
He fought on the northern front, in the infantry. First, the detachment commander, then became a platoon commander. In between fights, Uzi continued to work on his project.
Creating a machine "Uzi"
In the summer of 1949, Lieutenant Gal was sent to study at the officer infantry school. 20 October 1949, he sent a letter to the head of the school, Lieutenant Colonel Meir Zora, describing his submachine gun and demonstrated the current model. The Uzi Galya submachine gun had an original design - the Uzi automatics worked on the principle of recoil of a free gate.
"Uzi". Photo: James Keyser / Getty Images
The main feature of such a shutter design is that before the shot its front comes into the breech breech. The shot in the Uzi submachine gun occurs on the bolt vykat (i.e. while moving the bolt forward), because the recoil is directed not backwards, but forward.
The combat experience of Uzi Galya left an imprint on the design of such an important detail of the machine as the store, which is located in the handle, and recharging takes place on the principle of “hand finds hand” - this is very convenient for quick replacement of the store during the battle, especially in complete darkness.
The high reliability of the Uzi machine gun was influenced by the combat experience of its designer — it developed its weapon for extreme fighting conditions in mountain-desert terrain with dust storms and high temperatures.
The production technology of the Uzi automatic machine is extremely simple - most of the parts can be made by cold stamping on universal machine equipment. Care of the machine is also uncomplicated - it is well protected from dust and sand and can be disassembled into only five components.
The design of the submachine gun, developed by Uziel Galem, was a real breakthrough in the shooting business. Compared to traditional weapons, in which the shot takes place with a fixed shutter, it was possible to halve the mass of the machine gun and significantly reduce the overall dimensions of the weapon. It was almost a new word in the creation of small arms.
The head of the officer courses, Lieutenant Colonel M. Zora, immediately praised the new weapon and after a few days addressed the head of the training department of the IDF, Colonel Haim Laskov, with a letter of recommendation.
The letter, in particular, stated:
“I personally checked the weapon and here are my conclusions:
A. Convenient to use (fits perfectly in hand);
B. In instinctive shooting "from the knee" surpasses any weapon I know;
B. High accuracy;
D. There are no misfires, except for misfires associated with poor-quality ammunition. ”
Already on October 31 1949, the Chief of the General Staff, General Yaakov Dori, ordered the creation of a commission to study the production of a new submachine gun.
Uzi received two workers and a workshop, where he finally completely devoted himself to work on his project. A year later, the first prototype of a submachine gun was ready.
Uzi Galya was distinguished by modesty, combined with personal courage in battle. He desperately opposed to having his name assigned to an automaton. However, the TAAS company, a weapon manufacturer, rejected Galya’s request not to give the machine his name, citing the fact that, in addition to the name Uzi, this is also an abbreviation of the words “My power in God” in Hebrew.
In the 1951 year, the IDF tested the Uzi, in 1953, it began mass production, and in 1955, the machine was finally adopted by the IDF. Already in 1953, the Uzi was tested in combat - they were armed with special forces during retaliation operations in Gaza. The Sinai 1956 campaign of the year only confirmed the remarkable fighting qualities of the new machine gun, which were armed with paratroop units.
Triumph of Uziel Galya
Many years of work designer finally received recognition. In November 1955, Uziel Gal was awarded a special order of the Chief of the General Staff for military invention, in 1958, he was awarded the State Prize of Israel.
Unique weapons are interested all over the world. In 1956, the Uzi submachine gun was presented at a competition in the Netherlands and won first place, beating such eminent competitors as the Swedish machine gun "Karl Gustav" and the British "Sterling".
In 1958, the Uzi was adopted by the Dutch army. During the visit of German Defense Minister Franz Joseph Strauss to Israel, Uziel Gal showed his machine gun to that. Strauss, who was a Wehrmacht tank officer during the war, immediately appreciated all the advantages of the Uzi machine gun - compact and reliable, he most fully met the requirements for personal weapons of tank crews. Soon, "Uzi" was adopted by the German armored forces.
The “Uzi” machine gun and its modifications “Mini-Uzi” and “Micro-Uzi” were adopted by the armies and special services of almost a hundred countries. Among the famous of his "users" is the presidential guard.
Uziel Gal (left) and Josef Strauss, 1958 year. Photo: Moshe Pridan / AFP / East NewsUziel Hal (left) and Josef Strauss, 1958 year. Photo: Moshe Pridan / AFP / East News
Revenues from Uzi's sales amounted to billions of dollars, but Uziel Gal refused his author's remuneration - he believed that he had simply fulfilled his patriotic duty and the billions of dollars received should serve the state.
Uzi Gal continued to design weapons. Its design bureau has developed dozens of modifications of the Uzi for a wide range of combat use.
From 1957, Uzi Gal led the development of a new assault rifle. It was a keen competition with another outstanding Israeli designer - Israel Galili (Balashnikov), whose design bureau led the development of similar small arms. The Giants Fight ended with the defeat of Uzi Galya - the military technical committee of the General Staff adopted the IDF assault rifle Galil, the brainchild of Israel Galili’s design bureau.
In 1976, Lieutenant Colonel Uzi Gal retired. For seriously ill daughter, Irit needed medical assistance in the United States, where the Gal family moved. In the US, Uzi Gal continued the design of small arms. For the weapons company Ruger, he created the MP-9 submachine gun based on his previous designs. During the filming of the blockbuster "Terminator II: Judgment Day" Uzi Gal was a consultant for Lynda Hamilton on military affairs and handling weapons.
9 September 2002 of the year Uziel Gal died at the 79 year of life. He was buried with military honors in Israel, next to his wife and daughter in the kibbutz Yaghur cemetery.
With the demise of the ingenious designer, the story of his brainchild did not end - for decades the state-owned IMI (Israel Military Industries) continued to develop new modifications and manufacture small arms under the world-famous Uzi brand. Recently there has been developed a submachine gun "Uzi-Pro", which promises to be the same world hit as its legendary ancestor.
The submachine gun Uzi Pro also uses automatics with a free gate. The barrel of the weapon is made by stamping from steel sheet, the body of the firing mechanism is made with a pistol grip and the trigger guard is made of high-strength plastic. The Picatinny rail is mounted on the cover of the receiver, on which you can mount a telescopic sight and other accessories, such as a laser pointer and others.
According to Uri Amit, the general director of the IMI concern, in a modern war, such powerful and compact weapons as the Uzi-Pro is an indispensable element of equipping special forces soldiers and combat units.