Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Standsch├╝tze Hellriegel 1915 light machine gun. Little is known about the weapon, which doesn't appear to have progressed from the prototype stage.

This was an Austro-Hungarian water-cooled light machine gun produced during World War I in very limited prototype numbers.

The light machine gun could be fed from standard box magazines, or from a large drum magazine which was not actually connected to the weapon and instead fed the cartridges through a flexible chute. The unusual appearance of this drum magazine has led many people to assume it is belt fed, however this is not the case with the rounds being unconnected from one another and are propelled along the drum and feed chute by a spring.

Note the drums in the backpack on the soldier at the left.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The US Model 1918 Chauchat

US M1918 Chauchat 

The French Model 1915 Chauchat machine rifle was one of the first light, automatic rifle-caliber weapons designed to be carried and fired by a single operator and an assistant, without a heavy tripod or a team of gunners. They were  issued to the American AEF during WWI. 

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French Model 1915 Chauchat

The muddy trenches of northern France exposed a number of weaknesses in the Chauchat's design. Construction had been simplified to facilitate mass production, resulting in low quality of many metal parts. The magazines in particular were the cause of about 75% of the stoppages or cessations of fire; they were made of thin metal and open on one side, allowing for the entry of mud and dust.

In hopes to correct the problems the US M1918 Chauchat was redesigned to use a box magazine and chambered in 30-06. Development and production were rushed, and a large number of guns went out the door with incorrectly sized chambers. They were cut slightly too short, which meant that the neck of the cartridge case was jammed too tightly into the end of the chamber. Upon firing, the case would stick in the chamber and its rim ripped off by the extractor. The barrels also did not have extractor cuts in the barrel face, which didn’t help anything. They functioned so poorly that few, if any, made it into combat.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Probably the least known of the early automatic pistol designs is the Mannlicher Model 1896/03, manufactured by Steyr.

The pistol is called the Model 1896/03 due to the fact that it was originally developed in 1896 (at the same time the 1896 Mauser pistol was) however it was not commercially introduced on to the market until approximately 1903.

The design went through several stages, starting with the short-lived M-1894 blow-forward action model, followed by a fixed barrel and finally a delayed blowback in several variations. This process continued until around 1904 or 1905.
These later Mannlicher pistols have several other unique features such as a barrel that screwed into an upper receiver, vs the one-piece design of the 1896 Mauser, it has an internal hammer with a small short external cocking indicator on the rear of the pistol. The front sight and front sight base are actually a complete separate unit that is secured to the barrel via a key on top of the barrel.

The following pistol is fairly unique in that it has a 6 inch long barrel with an adjustable rear sight graduated from 50-200 meters that is base actually machined directly into the top rear section of the upper receiver. Most of these models have a simple notch.

It is fitted with the desirable detachable magazine box which allows the pistol to be loaded with strippers just like the rest of the Mannlicher rifle and pistol designs, as well as just removing the detachable magazine.

It also has a slotted back strap, obviously intended to be developed as a substitute for a short rifle, like the Mauser and Luger pistol carbines.


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Sunday, September 10, 2017

This is an extremely rare pistol that was produced in very limited numbers and commonly referred to as the Schwarzlose "toggle-top" pistol by collectors.

The Schwarzlose M-1900 was never put this pistol into production and it is estimated that only a very few prototype pistols were actually manufactured, so that the company had a working design to use for filing the patent. This design was patented under British Patent 6056/1900. It is assumed that this pistol was manufactured only to protect the action design.

This pivot pin/toggle joint design was later used in the Schwarzlose machine gun which was a standard issue firearm in the Austro-Hungarian Army throughout World War I.

The design uses a delayed-blowback type mechanism (where the breechblock is not locked) where the pivot pin/toggle joint is positioned above breechblock and frame. So when the pistol is fired, the complete toggle mechanism raises up to extract the spent cartridge and then closes, strips a round from the magazine and sits on top of the receiver.

Have an interest in firearms & firearms development the 18th century? Click HERE to visit my blog on the subject.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Maschinen Pistole Modell 1918, or M.P.18.I in short, was developed by German small arms designer Hugo Schmeisser while working at the factory of Theodor Bergmann.

The weapon was developed in 1917 on request from Imperial German Army, which required a compact, yet highly effective weapon for short-range fighting in trenches of World War One.
Schmeisser’s design was a simple and effective blowback operated, full automatic only weapon that fired from open bolt which fired the standard Luger pistol cartridge. The tubular receiver was attached to the front of the wooden stock, and could be pivoted barrel down for maintenance and disassembly.

Prototypes were with double-row box magazines which held 20 rounds, but Army insisted on adoption of a 32-round snail-drum magazine (TM08), originally produced for the Luger P08 "Parabellum"pistol.

This awkward magazine was probably the main drawback of the weapon, as it was awkward to carry, load and manipulate, and quite unreliable in combat.

Nevertheless, weapon historians feel, that around 25-30,000 of M.P.18.I submachine guns were built before Armistice in 1918, and likely no more than 12,000 of those reached German troops at the fronts.

Soon after the end of WW1, Schmeisser converted his weapon back to more convenient and reliable box magazines and he added a manual safety, located on the left side of receiver, behind magazine housing. This weapon saw limited use by police of Weimar Republic.

It must be noted that M.P.18.I is considered as the world's first practical submachine gun, and it set the pattern for most weapons of its class.