World War II Firearms (USA, Germany & Russia)


Well-known member
  • Jan 17, 2007
    Leeds, UK


    Hand Guns

    Smith & Wesson Model 10

    The original Model 10 of 1899 was built around the 38 S&W Special round--a slightly elongated improvement on the .38 Long Colt with increased bullet weight (158 grains) and increase in powder charge from eighteen to twenty-one grains of black powder. The round's full name is actually .38 S&W Special. A number of the first models were chambered for 38 Long Colt to satisfy a government order. Serial numbers ranged from number 1 in the series to 20,975 at which point (1902), the model underwent substantial changes., in particular the S&W Military & Police Model of 1905 (mfg 1905 - 1942) chambered in .38 Special.

    Changes include major modification and simplification of the internal lockwork and addition of a barrel- mounted locking lug to engage the here-to-fore free standing ejector rod. The 4th change of April 20, 1915 had enlarged service sights that quickly became a standard across the service revolver segment of the industry. Heat treating of cylinders began in 1919.



    The M1911 pistol originated in the late 1890s, as a search for a suitable self-loading (or semi-automatic) handgun, to replace the variety of revolvers then in service. The United States of America was adopting new firearms at a phenomenal rate; several new handguns and two all-new service rifles (the M1892/96/98 Krag and M1895 Navy Lee), as well as a series of revolvers by Colt and Smith & Wesson for the Army and Navy were adopted just in that decade. The next decade would see a similar pace, including the adoption of several more revolvers and an intensive search for a self-loading pistol that would culminate in official adoption of the M1911 after the turn of the decade.


    M1 Garand


    The M1 Garand (officially the United States Rifle, Caliber .30, M1) was the first semi-automatic rifle to be generally issued to the infantry of any nation. Called "The Greatest Battle Implement Ever Devised" by General George S. Patton, the Garand officially replaced the bolt-action M1903 Springfield as the standard service rifle of the United States Armed Forces in 1936 and was subsequently replaced by the selective fire M14 in 1957. However, the M1 continued to be used in large numbers until 1963 and to a lesser degree until 1966.

    The M1 was used heavily by U.S. forces in World War II, the Korean War, and, to a limited extent, the Vietnam War. Most M1 rifles were issued to American Army and Marine troops, though many thousands were also lent or provided as foreign aid to America's allies. The Garand is still used by drill teams and military honor guards. It is also widely sought by the civilian population as a hunting rifle, target rifle, and military collectible. The name "Garand" is pronounced variously as /ɡəˈrænd/ or /ˈɡærənd/. According to experts and people who knew John Garand, the weapon's designer, the latter version is preferred. It is now available to civilians in the original .30-06 chambering, as well as in .308 Winchester.

    M1 M1903 Springfield


    The 1903 adoption of the Springfield bolt-action was preceded by nearly 30 years of struggle and politics, as well as lessons learned from the recently adopted U.S. Models 1892-98 Krag and contemporary German Mauser bolt-action rifles. The M1903 not only replaced the various versions of the Krag, but also the Lee Model 1895 and M1885 Remington-Lee used by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, as well as the remaining trap-door Springfields (Model 1873). While the Krag had been issued in both a long rifle and carbine, there would be only one Springfield type; this was a break from the existing trend.

    The two main problems usually cited with the Krag were its slow-to-load magazine and its inability to handle higher chamber pressures for high-velocity rounds. Which of these was more important is a matter of debate, as is the impact of the Mausers encountered in the 1898 Spanish American War. What is known is that the Mauser design that competed in the 1890s competition with a stripper clip magazine was defeated by the Krag (as well as many other designs) with its rotary magazine reloaded one cartridge at a time. Note that a special sort of stripper clip for reloading the Krag magazine all at once came later. Also, the Mauser model in the trial had about the same muzzle velocity as the Krag.

    After the Krag's adoption, however, there was a trend to greater cartridge power, such as the Model 1893 Spanish Mauser, which generated a flatter trajectory, and a higher muzzle velocity (about 2,300 ft/s) from the 7 x 57mm Spanish Mauser cartridge.

    The ballistics of the .30-40 Krag and the 7 x 57mm Mauser rounds were actually not that much different. Both cartridges had round-nosed bullets; pointed, streamlined bullets (spitzers) were later introduced by France. The smokeless powder used by both was an advantage over the older black-powder rifles still used in the war (on both sides of the conflict), such as issued to volunteers and the local militia. U.S. troops were greatly impressed, however, with the volume of fire that the Spanish troops could produce with their faster-loading Mausers, compared to the U.S. Krags.

    The U.S. Army attempted to introduce a higher-velocity cartridge in 1899 for the existing Krags, but its single locking lug on the bolt could not handle the extra chamber pressure. A stripper-clip arrangement was also worked out for loading the Krag. It was around the same time that work on a new rifle began.

    The fact that the U.S. was adopting a new rifle after only a few years was not actually much of an oddity, as there was a series of major and rapid improvements in small-arms technology during the late 19th century, and many nations frequently adopted new weapons.

    Submachine Guns(SMG)

    Thompson submachine gun



    The Thompson Submachine Gun was developed by General John T. Thompson who originally envisioned an auto rifle (semi-automatic rifle) to replace the bolt action service rifles then in use. While searching for a way to allow such a weapon to operate safely without the complexity of a recoil or gas operated mechanism, Thompson came across a patent issued to John Bell Blish in 1915 based on adhesion of inclined metal surfaces under pressure. Thompson found a financial backer, Thomas F. Ryan, and started the Auto-Ordnance Corporation in 1916 for the purpose of developing his auto rifle. The principal designers were Theodore H. Eickhoff, Oscar V. Payne, and George E. Goll. By late 1917, the limits of the Blish Principle were discovered: rather than working as a locked breech, it functioned as a friction-delayed blowback action. It was found that the only cartridge currently in U.S. service suitable for use with the lock was the .45 ACP round. Thompson then envisioned a "one-man, hand-held machine gun" in .45 ACP as a "trench broom" for use in the on-going trench warfare of World War I. Payne designed the gun itself and its stick and drum magazines. The project was then titled "Annihilator I", and by 1918, most of the design issues had been resolved. However, the war ended before prototypes could be shipped to Europe.

    Machine Guns(MG)

    M1919 Browning machine gun



    The M1919 Browning is a .30 caliber medium machine gun that was widely used during the 20th century. It was used as a light infantry, coaxial, mounted, aircraft, and anti-aircraft machine gun by the U.S. and many other countries, especially during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Although it began to be superseded by newer designs in the later half of the century (such as by the M60 machine gun), it remained in use in many North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries and elsewhere for much longer. It is very similar in design to the larger .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Machine Gun, which is also a Browning-designed weapon and is still in NATO service.

    Many M1919s were rechambered for the new 7.62 × 51 mm NATO round and served into the 1990s, as well as up to the present day in some countries. The United States Navy also converted many to 7.62 mm NATO, and designated them Mk 21 Mod 0; they were commonly used on river craft in the 1960s and 1970s in Vietnam.

    Nazi Germany


    Walther P38



    The Walther P38 is a 9 mm pistol that was developed by Walther as the service pistol of the Wehrmacht at the beginning of World War II. It was intended to replace the costly Luger P08, the production of which was scheduled to end in 1942.
    The P38 concept was accepted by the German military in 1938 but production of actual prototype ("Test") pistols did not start until late 1939. Walther began manufacture at their plant in Zella-Mehlis and produced three series of "Test" pistols, designated by a "0" prefix to the serial number. The third series satisfied the previous problems and production for the Heer (German Army) began in mid-1940, using Walther's military production identification code "480". After a few thousand pistols the Heer changed all codes from numbers to letters and Walther was given the "ac" code.


    Gewehr 43


    Germany's quest for a semi-automatic infantry rifle resulted in two designs - the G41(M) and G41(W), from Mauser and Walther arms respectively. The Mauser design proved unreliable in combat when introduced in 1941 and at least 12,755 were made. The Walther design fared better in combat but still suffered from reliability problems. In 1943 Walther introduced a new modified gas system with aspects of the G41(W) providing greatly improved performance. It was accepted and entered into service as the Gewehr 43, renamed Karabiner 43 in 1944, with production amounting to just over 400,000. The Gewehr 43/Karabiner 43 joined the ranks of the SVT-40 and M1 Garand as general issue semi-automatic rifles during the war.

    Karabiner 98k



    The Karabiner 98 Kurz (often abbreviated Kar98k, K98, or K98k) was a bolt-action rifle adopted as the standard infantry rifle in 1935 by the German Wehrmacht,and was one of the final developments in the long line of Mauser military rifles.

    The Karabiner 98k was derived from earlier rifles, namely the Mauser Standardmodell and the Karabiner 98b, which in turn had both been developed from the Gewehr 98. Since the Karabiner 98k rifle was shorter than the earlier Karabiner 98b (the 98b was a carbine in name only, a version of Gewehr 98 long rifle with upgraded sights), it was given the designation Karabiner 98 Kurz, meaning "Carbine 98 Short". Just like its predecessor, the rifle was noted for its reliability, great accuracy and an effective range of up to 500 meters (547 yards) with iron sights.

    Submachine Guns (SMG)



    The MP 40 was descended from its predecessor, the MP 38, which was in turn based on the MP 36, a prototype made of machined steel. The MP 36 was developed independently by Erma Werke's Berthold Geipel with funding from the German Army. It took design elements from Heinrich Vollmer's VPM 1930 and EMP. Vollmer then worked on Berthold Geipel's MP 36 and in 1938 submitted a prototype to answer a request from the German Armament services for a new submachine gun, which was adopted as MP 38. The MP 38 was a simplification of the MP 36, and the MP 40 was a further simplification of the MP 38, with certain cost-saving alterations, notably in the more extensive use of stamped rather than machined parts.

    Other changes resulted from experiences with the several thousand MP 38s in service since 1939, which had been used in action during the invasion of Poland. The changes were incorporated into an intermediate version, the MP 38/40, and then used in the initial MP 40 production version. Just over 1 million would be made of all versions in the course of the war.



    The MP18.1 manufactured by Theodor Bergmann Waffenbau Abteilung was the first practical submachine gun used in combat. It was introduced into service in 1918 by the German Army during World War I as the primary weapon of the Stosstruppen, assault groups specialized in trench combat. Although MP18 production ended in the 1920s, its design formed the basis of most submachine guns manufactured between 1920 and 1960.

    The firepower of this new class of weapons made such an impression on the Allies that the Treaty of Versailles specifically banned further study and manufacture of such light automatic firearms by Germany

    Machine Guns(MG)




    The MG 42 (shortened from German: Maschinengewehr 42, or "machine gun 42") is a 7.92mm universal machine gun that was developed in Nazi Germany and entered service with the Wehrmacht in 1942. It supplemented and in some instances, replaced the MG 34 general purpose machine gun in all branches of the German Armed Forces, though both weapons were manufactured and used until the end of the war.

    The MG 42 has a proven record of reliability, durability, simplicity, and ease of operation, but is most notable for being able to produce a stunning volume of suppressive fire. The MG 42 has one of the highest average rates of fire of any single-barreled man-portable machine gun, between 1,200 and 1,500 rpm, resulting in a distinctive muzzle report. There were other automatic weapon designs with similar firepower, such as the Hungarian-Gebauer single-barreled tank MGs, the Russian 7.62mm ShKAS aircraft gun and the British Vickers K machine gun. However, the MG 42's belt-feed and quick-change barrel system allowed for more prolonged firing in comparison to these weapons.

    Soviet Union


    Nagant M1895


    The Nagant M1895 Revolver was a seven-shot, gas-seal revolver designed and produced by Belgian industrialist Léon Nagant for Tsarist Russia. The Nagant M1895 was chambered for a proprietary cartridge, 7.62x38R, and featured an unusual "gas-seal" system in which the cylinder moved forward when the gun was cocked to close the gap between the cylinder and the barrel, providing a boost to the muzzle velocity of the fired projectile. Other Nagant revolver designs were also adopted by police and military services of Sweden (7.5 mm M1887), Norway (M1893), Poland, and Greece (Περίστροφον M1895).




    The Mosin–Nagant (Russian: Винтовка Мосина, ISO 9: Vintovka Mosina) is a bolt-action, internal magazine fed, military rifle that was used by the armed forces of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and various other nations, most of them from Eastern bloc. It gets its name from the Russian Artillery Colonel Sergei Ivanovich Mosin who designed the bolt and receiver, and the Belgian Emile Nagant, who designed the magazine system. His brother, Leon Nagant, was a rifle designer. Also known as the Three-Line Rifle , in reference to the 7.62 mm calibre, it was the first to use the 7.62x54mmR cartridge.

    As a front-line rifle, the Mosin–Nagant served in various forms from 1891 until the 1960s in many Eastern European nations, when the sniper rifle variant was replaced by the SVD . The Mosin–Nagant is still used in many conflicts due to its ruggedness and the vast number produced.

    Submachine Guns (SMG)



    The PPSh-41 (Pistolet-Pulemyot Shpagina; Russian: Пистолет-пулемёт Шпагина; "Shpagin machine pistol") submachine gun was one of the most mass produced weapons of its type of World War II. It was designed by Georgi Shpagin as an inexpensive alternative to the PPD-40. The PPSh operated with simple blowback action, had a box or drum magazine, and fired the 7.62x25mm pistol round. It was made with metal stampings to ease production, and its chrome-lined chamber and bore helped to make the gun very low-maintenance in combat environments.

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