Hungarian WWII Rifles at RIA (35M, 43M, G98/40)

After the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Hungarian army was armed primarily with Steyr M95 straight-pull rifles and carbines, chambered in the 8x56mm rimmed cartridge. In 1935 they adopted a new Mannlicher turnbolt rifle, the 35M, which used the same 8x56R ammunition and en bloc clips. The rifle was modified in 1940 for production to German specifications as the Gewehr 98/40 (including conversion to 8×57 rimless ammunition and a stripper-clip-fed box magazine). The resulting rifle was good enough that it was adopted by Hungary as well in 1943 as the 43M.

36 Comments

  1. A small point, but Hungary was not occupied by Germany when it was making the German contract rifles, it was in fact a German ally, as part of its futile effort to regain the lands of pre-WWI Hungary. But Hungary was occupied by the Germans in 1944, when they deposed the Regent, Admiral Horthy. Once the Germans controlled Hungary, they then lost no time in exterminating its Jewish population, something which even Horthy had been loath to do.

    • That is an important point as to arms manufacture. The Germans seized the arms factories in Czechoslovakia, and although they were permitted to manufacture, I am sure there was sabotage going on.

      • Czechoslovakia ceased to exist on March of 14th 1938 by act of Slovak declaration of statehood https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slovak_Republic_(1939%E2%80%9345)

        What was left was Protektorate Bohmen und Mahren https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protectorate_of_Bohemia_and_Moravia

        All factories in that territory and their production went under German jurisdiction the next day. There were several armament production plants mainly Skoda Plzen and Zbrojovka Brno in addition to newly established war production plants later. Germans had their presence in all the main ones. As much as some attempts for sabotage took place, they were not common occurrence. Most of staff were actively cooperative.

        • “Most of the staff were actively cooperative” — as if they had any choice under the circumstances. It always amazes me how too easily so many people, especially nowadays, speak so loftily of “integrity”, “upholding one’s principles”, “no compromise’, etc. without taking into account the basic tenets of survival and preserving one’s family under circumstances whereby their very lives, let alone one’s personal well-being, are literally in the hands of an often ruthless, uncaring and whimsical enemy. Then again, the “sages with big ears” who spout this sort of rhetoric are nearly always never stuck in a position whereby they are being subject to such pressures personally, so it is very easy for them to comfortably stand aside and give good advice to everyone else. The worst part of it is that these types pride themselves on their supposed leadership abilities and determination to do what is good and right unless, of course, they — or better yet, their children — actually have a real stake in the issue. It’s quite interesting how the human mind rationalizes a given situation to its personal satisfaction.

          As always, thanks for the great insights and information, Denny!

          • Thank you Earl for appreciative word.

            This forum is (buy intention or not) at cross or several topics, and you can hardly avoid it. Yes, you are absolutely right, this in particular item is area of crowd psychology/ behaviour, more than anything else.

            As much as it may sound unpopular today, people in occupied territories realised there is a momentary way to make it from day to day to sustained themselves and their families – and they did just that, which meant cooperation.
            I recall as a kid, when asking my mother, how they faced reality within moral contents and the answer was simple – it was war! (She experienced being shot at, by the last days of war btw, by German sniper.) I do not think that under circumstances any other nation (or ethic group) would act differently.

    • As well as Hungary, Bulgaria was also an ally of the Germans. Romania, Croatia, Albania, and Slovakia became involuntary “allies” when puppet governments were installed after they were invaded. Something like three quarters of a million Romanian troops were involved in the invasion of the Soviet Union.

      Thailand was an ally of Japan, and declared war on Britain and the US. Rather curiously the US ignored this, so while Britain was at war with Thailand, the US didn’t consider themselves to be.

      Iraq was an ally of the Axis and fought a brief war with Britain. The German and Italian air forces supported the Iraqis from bases in Vichy-controlled Syria. The Iraqi prime minister ended up fleeing to Germany where he formed an Iraqi government in exile. If you read General Slim’s famous book “Defeat into Victory” (his account of the war against Japan in Burma and India), he starts off the book in Iraq, apparently just after fighting ended there.

      There are lots of curious corners of WWII for those who are interested.

      • Actually, the countries (states) you mentioned in first paragraph were willing allies to German Empire. Thus, their governments cannot qualify as “puppet”. This was situation in 1939 and 1940; whatever happened by closing phase of the war is another matter.

        • Whether Slovakia was a willing ally of Germany or not is a matter of interpretation. The independent Slovakian state would not have existed if Germany had not annexed the Czech side of the country, so the Slovakian government owned their existence to the Germans. Naturally that made it “willing” in the strict sense, but it also fulfilled the usual definition of a puppet government very well. In other words, they were in power since the Germans put them there and probably would not have stayed in power long without the Germans.

  2. Okay, stripper-clip loading “saves material” but is a pain in the rear end to perform unless you eject the clip by slamming the bolt (assuming that action can be done by design) after shoving all the rounds into the magazine. An en-bloc clip forbids topping off the magazine unless done carefully and without clips, the rifle is reduced to a single-shot weapon. Which limitation is worse?

    • Since soldiers are issued their ammunition in chargers/clips, I have never really understood the point of theoretically being able to “top up” a magazine with loose rounds. Where do these loose rounds come from? I tend to agree that a Mannlicher or Garand style clip is probably faster and easier to use.

      • The loose rounds come from the clips, of course, if necessary… But you are right that the “topping up” capability was pretty much a remnant of late 19th century infantry doctrine, which had the magazine acting as a “reserve” for short range engagements.

  3. “After the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Hungarian army was armed primarily with Steyr M95 straight-pull rifles and carbines, chambered in the 8x56mm rimmed cartridge.”
    No, Mannlicher M95 was chambered for 8x50R Mannlicher cartridge, the 8x56mm was adopted in 1931. First adopted rifled for that cartridge was Mannlicher 31M rifle
    http://www.hungariae.com/Mann31.htm

  4. JohnK: “Since soldiers are issued their ammunition in chargers/clips, I have never really understood the point of theoretically being able to ‘top up’ a magazine with loose rounds.” “This comes from the Second Rule of a Gunfight: You can never have too much ammunition or too much gun!” The last thing you want is to need just one more round to finish the job. It can mean the difference in going home in “Tourist” instead of “Cargo.”

    • Well said, Bill. If you were given an M1 Garand, the last thing you would want would be “oh crud, he’s still trying to kill me with a katana” after having shot said maniac with the very last bullet out of eight.

      Weapon of choice questionnaire:

      Given a choice, which of these would be great for town watchmen if an other-worldly “evil empire” were to invade? Remember that we’re talking about guys (and probably a few girls) with minimal training who really need to evacuate their families if everything goes bad. Imperial scouts have been sighted near the river, but they may call for support if attacked. Said enemy reinforcements will probably be regular infantry, shock troopers, and perhaps the armored car (or even worse, a tank or two).

      1. Surplus service bolt-action rifles (Gewehr 98, Mannlichers, Lee-Enfields, etc, even the Vetterlis would be appreciated)
      2. Commercially available bolt-action rifles (including any that chamber Nitro-Express rounds)
      3. Lever-action or slide-action rifles
      4. Shotguns (name your choice)
      5. Pistol-caliber carbines or submachineguns
      6. lots of grenades!!
      7. fire truck with water cannon (“surprise, suckers!” when the baddies break through a barricade)
      8. light anti-tank gun (like the French 2.5 cm SAL 37)
      9. Screw this! We have a few old Renault R35’s sitting in the garage! They may need some repairs and fuel, though, not to mention ammo…
      10. Screw the town’s limited budget and add your favorite toys to this list!

      You will win either by evacuating all civilians before withdrawing from the area or by KILLING EVERYONE ON THE OTHER TEAM!!!!

      Disclaimer: The questionnaire is not a mandatory activity. You are not required to participate if you do not wish to do so. Please keep any and all criticism of this post humane and free of foul language.

      Thank you.

      Cherndog

      • “10. Screw the town’s limited budget and add your favorite toys to this list!”
        Knapsack flamethrower (for example РОКС-2 (ROKS-2) flamethrower) as it don’t need to be accurately aimed, small range wouldn’t be also big handicap in cramped urban space. Also deterrent effect is advantage.

        • I suppose you shoot the enemy radioman to prevent the baddies from summoning the tank and then resort to cold steel when things get too personal.

    • Bill:

      As I said though, soldiers aren’t issued loose rounds, so I think the ability to “top up” a magazine is pretty well theoretical in real life, and I do feel a Mannlicher style charger is easier to use than a stripper type.

      • I think you get the loose rounds from looting your dead friends on the battlefield. If their rifles have partially empty clips, you’ll have to try to get the cartridges out of there or think up some other plan (I assume you’ve taken the dead guys’ ammo boxes already).

  5. I never saw a situation where I could not get extra “loose rounds.” If nothing else I would strip belted ammo from a machinegun supply, use extra rounds from a clip that was not fully used up, etc. With the M1-Garand you ALWAYS pulled a partially used clip and pocketed the extra rounds and put a fresh (aka FULL) clip in the weapon before proceeding. You always had at least one empty clip in your pocket for reloading. During rest-stops (between actual firing) you refilled used clips from these and scavenged supplies. With an M-14 you pulled the mag. (or an empty one) and filled it while resting. If it came to a choice of packing food or ammo, you left the food behind and loaded up on ammo. If a buddy was killed you took his remaining supplies. In no case did you EVER leave ammo behind because if you did someone from the other side would be sending it back at you tomorrow. The only ammo I ever left behind was rounds I had pulled the bullet from and replaced the powder with PETN powder (det-cord explosives) and marked with a black primer area of the case so friendlies would not use it. It was very effective at finding out if their captured M-14 or M-16 could withstand a chamber pressure in the neighborhood of 250,000 psi or not. None ever did that I know of. But ammo is your best life insurance in battle. This also removed an enemy fighter and a weapon from service on their side.

    • But Bill, you are describing a situation whereby you are using loose rounds to top up detachable box magazines or chargers. The supposed flaw of the Mannlicher system over the Mauser is that you cannot top up a five or six round fixed magazine with loose rounds. I sincerely doubt this is much of a problem in practice. I would want my soldiers to carry their ammunition in the proper chargers, and not be messing around topping up their rifles with loose rounds. My point is that I think that the Mannlicher system is unfairly criticized because it cannot be topped up with loose rounds, when in practice I think it is a quicker and easier system than using stripper clips.

      • Oops… Well, you do have a point, John. Mannlicher’s clips are more user friendly unless you have a semi-auto that tends to bolt-slam on the klutz who forgets to lock the bolt before loading.

        I guess we should agree on this: En-bloc clips are better for loading speed but necessitate that one not attempt the old topping off practice that was done with Winchesters, Mausers, and Krag-Jorgensens. The topping off issue stems from the times when one had to refill the magazine while opposing forces were within knife fight range. The Mauser and the Winchester can be topped off between long distance contacts with the other team and the Krag-Jorgensen can have its magazine refilled with a round still in the chamber (though until recently, I hadn’t seen a quick way to load a trapdoor magazine due to the lack of a stripper clip guide) just in case some maniac attempts to jump out of a bush to stab you in the heart. Mannlicher’s system just requires different training. It’s okay to top off a clip, but it is totally not a good idea to attempt to top off the clip while it is still in the rifle.

        Loose rounds in Bill’s case come from scavenging after a skirmish in which some friendlies are rendered unable to fight (either wounded or killed). In such a case, putting the loose rounds into empty clips (not the partially filled clips or magazines in the rifles) will then render them full and acceptable by your standards, yes?

        Did I finally put it in the proper light?

        • Yes I guess so. In reality, I do not see that the inability to top up a Mannlicher clip in the rifle is a major disadvantage, set against the ease of loading a Mannlicher. I have always thought that Mannlichers are seen as somehow inferior to Mausers. I am not sure why, maybe because Mannlichers were Austrian and Mausers German?

  6. Most Revered and Respected Grand Master Cherndog: my weapon of choice would be a modernized version of the Chinese repeating crossbow using steel bolts (arrows to the less knowledgeable)with razor bladed as fletching (a.k.a. feathers or vanes)in the manner of the old style Swiss short-bolt weapons. It is silent, it is rapid-fire compared to others of it’s ilk and it is WAY too cool to think about. Of course I would also have my mini-railgun carbine with micro plasma thorium batteries for endurance. At 12,943 fps that should take care of 30-40 with each shot if you can get them to line up and be still

    • Great, you just wiped out the opposing team’s scout party. But one of them managed to radio in a request for that medium tank’s support. I hope your rail gun can take care of something along the lines of a Panther tank. The town watchmen have evacuated their families by now, so I assume it’s about time for me to break out those obsolete light tanks, the fire truck, and the grenades so we can toss one into that enemy tank’s hatch. The fire truck is here to spray the shock troops who accompany the tank once the barricade goes down. The rail gun and the other heavy ordinance will take care of the rest…

  7. Most Revered and Respected Grand Master Cherndog: The mini-railgun at the quoted velocity with a 21 grain projectile will, upon impact, instantly vaporize creating a hyper-velocity shock wave that will tear 14 inch armored plate steel apart and turn it into molten shrapnel that will become a mega-bomb to all surrounding personnel inside and outside the vehicle. This should negate the need for any assistance since the effective range for this weapon is 86 nautical miles. So what’s for lunch after this minor exercise in technology over stupidity and down right bad manners?

  8. AH; a light repast after an enjoyable afternoon of light exercise! How thoughtful of all!!! Anyone find a demijohn of white wine anywhere in the ruins?

    • @ Cherndog & Bill Bullock :

      This brings to mind something that Erich-Maria Remarque had mentioned in “All Quiet On The Western Front” — specifically, how Paul Baumer’s erstwhile comrade-in-arms and scrounger extraordinaire Kat had once come up with four boxes of lobsters for a meal in the midst of warfare in the trenches.

  9. @ Denny :

    I’m very glad your mother survived what could have been a fatal incident, both for your sake and hers, and also because we would not have the privilege of sharing all this on FW with you if it had happened otherwise. Small acts of fate are often the kindest and furthest reaching in human terms.

    • Oh, Earl….

      with me or without, world would be just fine.
      That time I was not around, obviously. The event took place in Prague, where she was assigned to work in particular (war production related) manufacture. Bullet missed her just couple of inches pass her head.

      Since during first days of May ’45 Prague uprising broke out, some local Germans were up in arms to avenge. Their destiny was sealed however. Just couple of weeks later they faced ‘ethic cleansing’ – big time.

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