In terms of the prerequisites for the appearance of the project Beretta M1918 was no different from other similar weapons of the First World War. The troops needed a compact, lightweight and rapid-firing automatic weapon that could change the balance of forces during battles in the trenches and in other similar situations. The existing “coupled” Villar-Perosa M1915 system, even in a modified form, did not allow to solve this problem, which led to the development of a new weapon.
The creation of promising small arms was undertaken by several Italian enterprises, including the Beretta plant. The development of the new project was led by designer Tulio Marengoni, who had extensive experience with various small arms. The aim of the project was to create a lightweight and compact automatic weapons under the existing pistol cartridge type 9x19 mm Glisenti. Also, apparently, there were demands regarding the simplicity of the design, ease of use, as well as the complexity of production.
General view of the Beretta M1918 submachine gun. Photo of Wikimedia Commons
The tasks were proposed to be solved through the active use of existing ideas and details. So, it was supposed to use the basic units and automation, based on the design of a submachine gun Villar-Perosa M1918. The required rifle ergonomics was planned to be secured by borrowing a wooden box from one of the existing samples. As a result of this approach to design, a new weapon with a sufficiently high performance, suitable for use as a personal infantry weapon, was to appear.
It should be noted that the T. Marengoni design weapons and the Villar-Perosa OVP M1918 product were the first Italian machine guns in the modern sense of the term. "Villar-Perosa" of the first version was a kind of support for infantry, performing the tasks of a machine gun. Beretta M1918 and Villar-Perosa OVP M1918, in turn, became submachine guns to arm ordinary soldiers. Thus, these products deserve to occupy a separate place in stories small arms of Italy.
Being a development of existing weapons, the Beretta M1918 submachine gun retained the main features and nodes of its prototype. In addition, some changes were made to the original design, aimed at improving individual indicators. In particular, "Beretta" and "Villar-Perosa" arr. 1918 was different in the design of the trigger mechanism, which affected the dimensions of both samples. For this reason, the submachine gun T. Marengoni was noticeably shorter than its rival.
Submachine gun Beretta M1918 from the point of view of design was one of the "half" of the product M1915 with a number of changes. The main part of the borrowed unit was a cylindrical receiver with a set of slots, as well as fastenings for the barrel sleeve in the front and the lid in the rear. Inside the receiver were located the bolt, return spring and parts of the firing mechanism. A rectangular casing for the details of the firing mechanism was attached to the cylindrical box from below.
The new submachine gun received a barrel caliber 9 mm with six right-hand rifling. The length of the barrel was 318 mm (35 gauges). On the muzzle of the barrel was provided a device with attachments for front and bayonets.
An interesting feature of the new project was the use of the existing wooden lodge. This detail, with some changes, was borrowed from the Modello 1891 Moschetto Carcano serial rifle. The front part of the box and the upper lining of the trunk was shortened to the required length, after which it could accommodate new mechanisms. The receiver and the barrel were placed in the top groove of the wooden part. It also included several through holes that ensured the operation of various mechanisms.
The automatics of the new submachine gun, as in the case of the base M1915, were based on a semi-free bolt. Inside the receiver was placed a cylindrical gate with internal cavities for mounting the drummer and other parts. On the right side of the bolt, a handle was provided that led out through a curved slot in the wall of the receiver. The shape of this slot with a straight back and a curved down front part was supposed to slow the shutter while moving back under the action of recoil shot.
According to some reports, the Beretta M1918 submachine gun existed and was produced in two versions, differing in the design of the firing mechanism. The first version of this device allowed to fire only single. The second option allowed to shoot both singles and bursts, but for this, two separate triggers had to be introduced into the USM design. Both versions of submachine guns were equipped with the same fuse, made in the form of a movable slider before the trigger. To lock the mechanisms or firing it had to move to the right or left.
Even before the start of mass production and operation of weapons, it was decided to abandon the existing two variants of the firing mechanism. Instead, a new one was proposed, which provided shooting only in automatic mode. In this case, shooting single was only possible with the appropriate skills shooter.
For use with the new weapon, detachable box-shaped double-row stores on 25 cartridges were offered. The store should be placed in the upper receiving window of the receiver. Under the action of the spring, the XleNXXX9 mm Glesenty cartridges should have descended on the disilline, where they were picked up by the bolt. For the release of spent cartridges in the lower surface of the receiver there was a hole. In order to improve the safety of the shooter, in order to avoid contact of hot sleeves with hands, a small tubular casing was located under this window.
Submachine gun Beretta M1918 received simple sights, standard for weapons of the time. Above the chamber, on the side of the store, there was an open mechanical sight. The fly was placed on the muzzle of the trunk.
An interesting feature of the submachine gun design T. Marengoni, distinguishing it from other similar weapons, was a bayonet. On the muzzle of the barrel was provided the lower influx with the front and rear faces of complex shape, on which the needle-bayonet was hinged. For safe transportation of weapons, the bayonet could fold. In the transport position, he turned on the axis and lay under the barrel. Before the battle, he had to turn back. Fixing the bayonet in the desired position was carried out due to the complex shape of the influx and spring-latch, engages with its protrusions.
Automation on the basis of a semi-free shutter had quite simple principles of operation. Having placed the magazine in the receiving window, the shooter had to turn off the fuse and withdraw the weapon by pulling the bolt handle up and back. In the rearmost position, the shutter was fixed using the sear trigger. Thus, the shooting was carried out with an open shutter. Pressing the trigger released the shutter. He moved forward, seized the lower cartridge from the store and sent it to the chamber. Passing the front of its trajectory, the shutter, the handle of which slid along the slot of the receiver, turned clockwise by a certain angle. Any means of locking the barrel, for obvious reasons, were not provided.
In the extreme forward position of the bolt, the drummer hit the cartridge primer and a shot was fired. Under the effect of recoil, the bolt moved backward, turning counterclockwise under the action of its handle and the slot of the receiver. At this moment, the liner was removed from the chamber and then released into the lower window. Reaching the rearmost position, the bolt squeezed the spring and hooked onto the sear or (when the trigger was pressed) again moved forward, producing the next shot.
Applied automation allowed to bring the rate of fire to 900 shots per minute. The initial speed of the bullet reached 380 m / s. A relatively weak pistol cartridge allowed effective firing at ranges of no more than 150-200 m. Despite this, the scope was marked for firing at longer distances.
Due to the use of a wooden box with a butt without the possibility of folding the submachine gun Beretta M1918 turned out to be quite long. Its total length (with a folded bayonet) was 1092 mm. The weight of the weapon without ammunition was equal to 3,3 kg, which did not impede transportation and therefore made it possible to make it full-fledged personal armament of infantrymen.
In the conditions of the First World War, the development of new weapons was conducted at an accelerated pace, and the Beretta project was no exception. In 1918, the new submachine gun passed factory and military tests, the results of which were adopted by the Italian army. Being put into service in the 1918 year, the submachine gun design T. Marengoni became one of the first types of weapons of its class. The second contender for the title of the first "full-fledged" submachine gun is the German product Bergmann / Schmeisser MP.18.
Until the end of the First World War, the Italian industry managed to produce only a relatively small number of new submachine guns. However, their production continued after the end of the war. A rather successful design, as well as the absence of serious alternatives, soon made the Beretta M1918 the main submachine gun of the Italian army. Production was conducted in relatively large batches of several thousand pieces.
By the mid-twenties, new submachine guns were firmly established in the range of weapons of the Italian army, displacing other old types of weapons. In particular, they partially replaced the rifles of the Modello 1891 family available in the troops. A new weapon has proven itself well and remained in service for a long time. In addition, according to some sources, some batches of such weapons were produced for delivery to third countries.
In service with the army of Italy, the M1918 submachine guns remained until the early forties. At the end of the 1930s, the replacement of these weapons with newer systems began, but due to the outbreak of the Second World War and due to Italy’s participation in other conflicts, the complete replacement of obsolete submachine guns was seriously delayed.
As a weapon of the Italian army, Beretta M1918 products were first used in World War I. Later this weapon was used during the Italian-Ethiopian war. In addition, the Italian Volunteer Corps, which participated in the Spanish civil war on the side of the Franco, was armed with such machine pistols. The last armed conflict "Beretta" M1918 was the Second World War. By the time this war began, Italy had begun to rearm, due to which the old weapon was used sparingly. It is possible that in the future a certain number of old Italian-made submachine guns could get into third countries and be used in numerous local conflicts of the second half of the last century.
In the twenties, the Beretta M1918 submachine gun became one of the main types of small arms of the Italian army. Such rearmament could not fail to attract the attention of other structures of the country. In the late twenties, the Italian police ordered the gunsmiths new version of the existing submachine gun with a number of improvements and changes. The police demanded to transfer the store's receiving window to the bottom of the weapon, remove the automatic fire and make some other changes.
To meet the requirements of the police, the designers of the Beretta company had to solidly redo the original project. The result of these works was the emergence of weapons, known as the M1918 / 30 carbine. As is clear from this index, weapons upgrades ended in 1930. At the same time, mass production and supply of weapons to the customer started.
In accordance with the requirements of the new customer, we had to use a lot of improvements of all major weapon assemblies. At the same time, the general layout, bed, bayonet, etc. remained largely unchanged. The receiving window of the store was moved to the bottom of the receiver. To avoid contamination of the weapon, the window was covered with a sliding cover. Changing the position of the receiving window had a corresponding impact on the design of the mechanisms of the power supply.
In the new project, it was decided to abandon the shooting with an open bolt, which required a remake of automation. The shape of the shutter was changed, inside which updated grooves for the drummer and other details appeared. The side handle for cocking disappeared, as well as the slot in the receiver. It was now proposed to cock the weapon with the help of the tail stem of the bolt with the ring brought out through the hole in the rear cover of the receiver. The absence of the old handle and the slot in the receiver changed the principle of the shutter: now it should not rotate when passing the front of the trajectory.
The 1930 carabiner of the year could fire only with single shots. To control the trigger mechanism next to the trigger preserved movable slider fuse. In the right position, he blocked the descent, in the left allowed firing.
The M1918 / 30 police carbine was supposed to use detachable box magazines with a capacity of 25 cartridges (standard for basic army weapons) or shortened to 12 cartridges. The type of ammunition remained the same - Glesenti 9x19 mm. The characteristics of the weapon, in general, also did not change. For obvious reasons, the rate of fire has fallen sharply.
Carabiners based on a submachine gun were supplied by the Italian police and used to increase the firepower of the units. The operation of this weapon lasted for several decades. There is information about the export of such systems. According to reports, Beretta M1918 / 30 carbines were shipped to Argentina. In addition, over time, the Argentine company Hafdasa acquired a license to manufacture such weapons. Licensed carbines are known under the name Hafdasa C-1. As in the homeland, this weapon was used by the police and was in service for a long time.
In some sources it is mentioned that in 1935, T. Marenghoni developed a new modification of the submachine gun M1918, which was distinguished by the design of automation, the lodge, the firing mechanism, etc. In addition, there was a perforated barrel casing. In the future, the development of this weapon led to the emergence of a submachine gun M1938 or MAB 38. This product was put into service in the late thirties and later replaced the outdated system arr. 1918
The operation of the Beretta M1918 submachine gun began at the final stage of the First World War, and the last cases of the combat use of this weapon date back to the beginning of the Second World War. Thus, the first full-fledged sample of an Italian-developed submachine gun was convenient enough to be in service for more than two decades. In addition, in the second half of the thirties, the M1918, with certain reservations, became the basis for a new submachine gun.
According to various sources, from tens to several hundred thousand Beretta M1918 submachine guns and M1918 / 30 carbines were produced. This weapon was actively used by the army and the police to develop a resource and replace it with newer models. As the write-off most of the submachine guns and carbines was disposed of as useless. Until our time, lived a relatively small number of copies of such weapons, which are stored in museums and private collections.
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