Exerpted with permission from “Machine Gun” by Max Popenker and Anthony Williams:
In 1938 and 1939 the Red Army fought a series of little, but victorious border
battles against Japanese forces in Manchuria. Among captured equipment, the
Japanese Type 11 LMG attracted attention of Red Army experts, because of its
hopper-type feed, that used standard rifle clips instead of magazines.
Several ordnance experts insisted on adoption of the similar feed system for
Degtyarov DP light machine gun, instead of the large and clumsy pan
magazine. Degtyarov team quickly responded with improved DP-type weapon
which was made in small numbers for filed trials.
The popular legend goes to say that eventually this gun was presented to
high-ranking Red Army officers during an official meeting. It was accepted
rather enthusiastically, but then one of officers quietly took the pencil
from the table, and took prone position behind the gun on the carpet. He
then put the pencil on the edge of the hopper, and dropped the feed cover.
Falling cover, powered by rather heavy spring, broke the pencil in two with
one sharp blow. Present officers quietly examined the remains of the pencil,
and nobody insisted on the adoption of the “improved” LMG any more, as it
took very little imagination to see what could happen with fingers of
unlucky operator during loading of the hopper – and author can confirm that
from his own experience with similar gun that survived in museum collection
We cannot say if this story is true to any extent, but the fact is that
resulting weapon was overly heavy, poorly balanced and proved to be
insufficiently reliable, so it never was put forward for adoption.