Vila Velabita: Croatian Submachine Gun Made in a Shed

At the beginning of Croatia’s Homeland War, a severe need for small arms led to a whole plethora of simple submachine gun designs. Some were made in proper factories with professional tooling, and some were made by a couple blokes in a shed – and the Vila Velabita we are looking at today definitely falls into the “blokes in a shed” category. Designed by one Juraj Đelalije, it takes many elements form the Yugoslav M56 (which in turn took many of them form the German MP40). It is chambered for 9mm Parabellum, using modified Uzi magazines. Only a very small number were made, possibly less than 100 and definitely not more than 200.

A big thanks to the Croatian Police Museum (Muzej Policije) in Zagreb for giving me access to film this cool piece for you! Check them out at:


  1. “(…)takes many elements form the Yugoslav M56 (which in turn took many of them form the German MP40)(…)”
    Due to this I am wondering about Rate-of-Fire of Vila Velabita? Early-war MP40 has relatively low (400…500 rpm), M56 has average one (600 rpm), late-war MP40 …last version of the MP40 bolt is the bolt with the fixed firing pin. In the last phase of the war some experimenting was done with a fixed firing pin machined onto the face of the bolt. The regular telescoping recoil spring assembly was replaced by a shortened MG42 recoil spring. MP40’s that utilized this later version bolt tended to have a very high cyclic rate… according to
    So which Rate-of-Fire was elected by Juraj Đelalije?

    • Which was yet another MP40 knockoff, rather disguised by its MP28 style barrel jacket and 9 x 23mm Largo chambering.



    • “(…)Z45(…)”
      Both have common ancestor which is MP40 (direct for Z-45, via M56 for Vila Velabita), wooden furniture and shrouded barrels. Interestingly, considering that MP40 was spawned by MP38 AND MP38 was spawned by MP36 wooden furniture is for both atavism as their direct ancestors did not have one, but MP36 did. Interestingly both also share presence of muzzle device, despite none of mentioned ancestors sported one, though greatly differing in shape, with STAR using Beretta Modello 38-style muzzle device with multitude of vertical cuts and Vila Velabita using slanted somewhat similar to STEN Mk.I

    • Name is VelEbita, its famous mountain. Vila means fairy, and both joined is a 19th century patriotic folk song.

      First iteration of V.V. smg was of crude looks (it had single stack mag and looked completely different),
      but this one is machine shop or small factory made (I suspect its from some dalmatian shipyard), far from any shed.

  2. Speaking of different levels of quality and different tolerances … has anyone written down a hierarchy of tolerances?
    e.g. precise tolerances in the chamber but who cares how pretty to outside of the butt stock looks.

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