In 1914 at the outbreak of war, Italy adopted the Fiat-Revelli M1914 – a particularly funky machine gun. The Italian military put up with it through World War I because they didn’t have many other realistic options, but the gun would be significantly revised during the inter-war years and re-adopted as the M1935.
The basic action of the gun remained unchanged, but pretty much everything else was different on this later model:
- The water jacked was removed and replaced with a quick-change air-cooled barrel
- The funky 10-spring box magazine was dropped in favor of belt feed
- The 6.5×52 cartridge was replaced with a more potent 8×59 cartridge designed specifically to allow long range fire from mounted machine guns (ballistics were a 208 grain bullet at 2525fps muzzle velocity)
- Both a cartridge oiling mechanism and a fluted chamber were used to allow reliable extraction with the higher-pressure cartridge
Many 1935 model guns were adapted from existing 1914 guns, but at least a few were made new in the 1935 pattern. Of course, even after all the improvements, the 1935 Revelli was still really no more popular than the original 1914 model, and it was not used after WWII.
The heavy machine gun cartridge was an idea tried by a number of nations (the Swedish 8×63 and Norwegian 8×51, for example) and quickly dropped as a bad idea by everyone.
We also found an interesting piece of video footage on YouTube showing both the 1914 and 1935 Revelli guns: