The accuracy of the shooting began to recede into the background, while the soldiers, advancing by the chain, began to teach firing from the course. With the advent of airborne troops, the need arose to create special light weapons.
The agile war also affected the machine guns: they became much lighter and more mobile. There were new types of small arms (which was dictated primarily by the need to combat tanks) – rifle grenades, anti-tank rifles and RPGs with cumulative grenades.
Small arms of the USSR World War II
The rifle division of the Red Army on the eve of the Great Patriotic War was a very formidable force – about 14.5 thousand people. The main type of small arms were rifles and carbines – 10420 pieces. The share of submachine guns was insignificant – 1204. The machine guns, hand and antiaircraft machine guns were 166, 392 and 33 units, respectively.
The division had its own artillery of 144 guns and 66 mortars. Firepower was supplemented by 16 tanks, 13 armored cars and a solid fleet of auxiliary motor and tractor machinery.
Rifles and carbines
The main small arms of the infantry units of the USSR during the first period of the war was certainly the famous trilinear – 7.62 mm SI Mosin rifle of the model of 1891 modernized in 1930. Its advantages are well known: strength, reliability, unpretentiousness in service in combination with good ballistic qualities, in particular, with an aiming range of 2 km.
The trilinear is an ideal weapon for the newly called soldiers, and the simplicity of the design created enormous opportunities for its mass production. But like any weapon, the three-line had drawbacks. Constantly stuck bayonet in combination with a long trunk (1670 mm) created inconvenience for movement, especially in wooded areas. Serious grip caused the handle of the shutter during recharging.
On its basis, a sniper rifle and a series of carbines of the sample of 1938 and 1944 were created. Fate measured the three-line long century (the last trilinear was released in 1965), participation in many wars and an astronomical “circulation” of 37 million copies.
In the late 30-ies, the outstanding Soviet designer-gunsmith F.V. Tokarev developed a 10-charge self-loading rifle cal. 7.62 mm SVT-38, which received the name SVT-40 after modernization. It “lost weight” by 600 g and became shorter due to the introduction of thinner details made of wood, additional holes in the casing and a reduction in the length of the bayonet. A little later, a sniper rifle appeared on its base. Automatic shooting was provided by the removal of powder gases. The ammunition was placed in a box-shaped, detachable store.
Sighting range SVT-40 – up to 1 km. SVT-40 won with honor at the fronts of the Great Patriotic War. It was appreciated by our opponents. Historical fact: having captured at the beginning of the war rich trophies, among which there were a lot of SVT-40, the German army … took it into service, and the Finns created their rifle – Tarako – on the basis of SVT-40.
Creative development of ideas implemented in SVT-40 was the automatic rifle AVT-40. From its predecessor, it was noted for its ability to fire automatically at a rate of up to 25 rounds per minute. The disadvantage of the AVT-40 is the low accuracy of shooting, a strong unmasking flame and a loud sound at the time of the shot. In the future, as the mass receipt of automatic weapons into the army, it was removed from service.
The Great Patriotic War was the time of the final transition from rifles to automatic weapons. The Red Army began to fight, having a small number of RPM-40s – a submachine gun of the design of the outstanding Soviet designer Vasily Alekseevich Degtyarev. For those times, PPD-40 was in no way inferior to its domestic and foreign counterparts.
Designed for the pistol cartridge cal. 7,62 x 25 mm, PPD-40 had an impressive ammunition of 71 cartridges, located in a drum shop. With a weight of about 4 kg, he provided firing at a speed of 800 rounds per minute with an effective range of up to 200 meters. However, a few months after the war began, he was replaced by the legendary PPSh-40 cal. 7.62 x 25 mm.
Before the creator of PPSh-40 – the designer Georgy Semenovich Shpagin was tasked to develop an extremely simple in operation, reliable, technological, cheap in production mass weapons.
From its predecessor – PPD-40, PPSh inherited a drum store for 71 cartridges. A little later, he developed a simpler and more reliable sector horn magazine for 35 cartridges. The weight of the equipped automatic machines (both variants) made accordingly 5,3 and 4,15 kg. The rate of fire of the PPSh-40 reached 900 rounds per minute with an aiming range of up to 300 meters and with the possibility of conducting single firing.
For the development of PPSh-40, it was enough to have several classes. It was easily sorted into 5 parts manufactured by the method of stamping and welding technology, thanks to which during the war years the Soviet defense industry produced about 5.5 million automatic machines.
In the summer of 1942, a young designer Alexei Sudayev presented his brainchild – a 7.62 mm caliber pistol. It differed strikingly from its “older colleagues” PPD and PPSh-40 by rational layout, higher manufacturability and simplicity of manufacturing parts by arc welding.
The PPS-42 was 3.5 kg lighter and required three times less time to fabricate. However, despite the obvious advantages, he did not become a mass weapon, leaving the palm of the primacy of PPSh-40.
The manual machine gun DP-27
By the beginning of the war, the hand-held DP-27 machine gun (Degtyarev infantry, cal 7.62mm) had been in service with the Red Army for almost 15 years, having the status of the main infantry machine gun. Its automation was activated by the energy of powder gases. The gas regulator reliably protected the mechanism from contamination and high temperatures.
DP-27 could only fire automatically, but even the newcomer had a few days to master the shooting in short bursts of 3-5 shots. Ammunition of 47 rounds was placed in the disk store bullet to the center in one row. The store itself was attached to the top of the receiver. The weight of the unloaded machine gun was 8.5 kg. The equipped magazine increased it by almost 3 kg.
It was a powerful weapon with a target range of 1.5 km and a combat rate of fire up to 150 rounds per minute. In the fighting position, the machine gun was supported by bipods. At the end of the barrel a flame arrester was screwed on, significantly reducing its unmasking effect. DP-27 was served by a rifleman and his assistant. In total, about 800 thousand machine guns were fired.
Small arms of the Wehrmacht of World War II
The main strategy of the German army is offensive or blitzkrieg (blitzkrieg – lightning war). The decisive role in it was assigned to large tank formations, carrying out deep breakthroughs of enemy defense in cooperation with artillery and aviation.
The tank units bypassed the powerful fortified areas, destroying control centers and rear communications, without which the enemy quickly lost its combat capability. The defeat was completed by motorized units of the ground forces.
Small Armament of the Wehrmacht Infantry Division
The staff of the German Infantry Division, in 1940, assumed the presence of 12,609 rifles and carbines, 312 submachine guns, machine guns and machine guns, respectively, 425 and 110, 90 anti-tank rifles and 3,600 pistols.
On the whole, the small arms of the Wehrmacht corresponded to the high demands of wartime. It was reliable, trouble-free, simple, easy to manufacture and maintain, which contributed to its serial production.
Rifles, carbines, machine guns
Mauser 98K is an advanced version of the Mauser 98 rifle, developed in the late 19th century by the brothers Paul and Wilhelm Mauser, the founders of the world-famous weapons company. The equipment of the German army began in 1935.
The gun was equipped with a clip with five 7.92 mm cartridges. A trained soldier could aim 15 times for a minute at a range of up to 1.5 km. The Mauser 98K was very compact. Its main characteristics: weight, length, barrel length – 4.1 kg x 1250 x 740 mm. On the indisputable merits of the rifle say numerous conflicts with her participation, longevity and truly sky-high “circulation” – more than 15 million units.
The self-loading 10-shot rifle G-41 became the German response to the mass equipment of the Red Army with rifles – SVT-38, 40 and АВС-36. Its target range was 1200 meters. Only single shooting was allowed. Its significant shortcomings – significant weight, low reliability and increased vulnerability to pollution were subsequently eliminated. A combat “circulation” amounted to several hundred thousand samples of rifles.
Automatic machine MP-40 “Schmeisser”
Perhaps the most famous small weapon of the Wehrmacht during the Second World War was the famous submachine gun MR-40, a modification of its predecessor – MR-36, created by Heinrich Volmer. However, by the will of fate, he is better known under the name “Schmeisser”, obtained, thanks to the stamp on the store – “PATENT SCHMEISSER”. The stigma simply meant that, in addition to Mr. Vollmer, Hugo Schmeisser participated in the creation of the MP-40, but only as the creator of the store.
Initially, the MP-40 was intended for arming command personnel of infantry units, but later it was transferred to the disposal of tankmen, drivers of armored cars, paratroopers and commandos of special forces.
However, for infantry units, the MP-40 was absolutely not suitable, since it was a weapon of exclusively close combat. In a fierce battle in the open area, to have weapons with a range of shooting from 70 to 150 meters meant for the German soldier to be practically unarmed in front of his opponent, armed with rifles of Mosin and Tokarev with a range of 400 to 800 meters.
StG-44 Assault Rifle
Assault rifle StG-44 (sturmgewehr) cal. 7.92mm – another legend of the Third Reich. This is certainly the outstanding creation of Hugo Schmeisser – the prototype of many post-war assault rifles and assault rifles, including the famous AK-47.
StG-44 could lead a single and automatic fire. Her weight with a full magazine was 5.22 kg. In the range of aiming – 800 meters – “Sturmgever” in no way inferior to its main competitors. There were three versions of the store – for 15, 20 and 30 shots at a rate of up to 500 shots per second. The option of using a rifle with an underbarrel grenade launcher and an infrared sight was considered.
There were some shortcomings. The assault rifle was heavier than the Mauser-98K for a kilogram. Her wooden butt did not withstand sometimes hand-to-hand combat and simply broke down. The flame that emerged from the trunk gave out the location of the arrow, and the long magazine and sighting devices forced him to raise his head high in the prone position.
Until the end of the war, German industry produced about 450 thousand StG-44, which were armed mainly with elite units and SS units.
By the beginning of the 30s, the military leadership of the Wehrmacht had come to the need to create a universal machine gun, which, if necessary, could be transformed, for example, from manual to easel and vice versa. Thus, a series of machine guns appeared – MG – 34, 42, 45.
MG-42 caliber 7.92 mm is rightly called one of the best machine guns of the Second World War. It was developed in the company “Grossfus” by engineers Werner Gruner and Kurt Horn. Those who experienced his firepower, were very frank. Our soldiers called it a “lawnmower”, and the Allies called it “the circular saw of Hitler”.
Depending on the type of shutter, the machine gun aimed to shoot at a speed of up to 1500 rpm at a range of up to 1 km. The battle was carried out with a machine gun belt for 50 – 250 cartridges. The uniqueness of the MG-42 was supplemented by a relatively small number of parts – 200 and high manufacturability of their production by stamping and spot welding.
The barrel, which was fired from the shooting, was replaced by a spare barrel in a few seconds with the help of a special clamp. In total, about 450 thousand machine guns were fired. Unique technical developments, embodied in MG-42, were borrowed by gunsmiths from many countries of the world when creating their machine guns.