54 Comments

  1. This post is not related to the correction request I made earlier that may or may not appear to other viewers.

    I know that the 1935 Fiat-Revelli needed oil due to nasty single stage extraction just like the Breda 30, but according to the Small-Arms defense article about the original Fiat-Revelli 1914, there was no integral oiler in the gun itself (although I’m tempted to think that somebody threw oil on the multi-column magazines before inserting them into the receiver). Can anybody clear this up for me?

    As for the men pictured here, they don’t look like they will be charging out anytime soon. The Fiat was unreliable, the Beretta pistols were nice (and better than the Glisenti), and that Beretta 38 is just too good to pass up. Strangely, Italy also produced an apparently overkill version of 9×19 Parabellum, and with a magazine loaded up with rounds of that kind the effective killing range for the Modello 38 was about 200 meters, where the wooden stock’s weight served to keep the sights on target and the gun from bucking around. By the way, it appears that the Beretta 38 was popular with just about everyone (Axis and Allies alike) in its heyday, if a bit hard to get, since it was expensive…

    Am I wrong in any of this content?

    • The Fiat-Revelli M14/35 had a magazine-loading machine (hand-cranked) that included an oiler-pad setup. So the rounds were oiled as they were loaded, and thus had lots and lots of time to accumulate airborne dust, etc, to go into the chamber with. Weeks or months, even.

      “Hot” 9 x 19mm loads were fairly common for SMGs in Europe back then. The idea being to give the guy with the SMG the ability to shoot it out with a guy with a rifle at a reasonable range, out to 200 meters or so.

      In addition to the Italian 9 x 19 for the M38, the Wehrmacht had the 480c/d code 9 x 19 for the MP38/40 with a MV of 500 M/S in the SMG’s 28.5 cm (9.5in) barrel, some lots of which had bullets with cores of sintered zinc to somehow enhance penetration on hard targets. I’m not really sure how that would work; I’d assume a steel core would do better, but they were having shortages of even mild steel by mid-1943, so this may have been an “ersatz” situation.

      In Italy, the big problem was the number of 9 x 19mm Glisenti pistols still in service. The Glisenti load was in the 9mm Para case but in terms of pressure and MV/ME was closer to a 9 x 17SR Browning (9mmCorto/Kurz/.380 ACP), because the Glisenti was a retarded-blowback action.

      There were also all those early M1919 etc. Berettas in the same chambering, which were straight blowbacks. Any or all of which would, and still will, chamber any 9 x 19mm round.

      Putting standard-velocity (and 42,500 CUP) 9 x 19mm in one would be bad enough. Sticking one of these hot-sopple “+P+” or even “+P++OM*G” “carbine” loads in one could turn it into a frag grenade in the shooter’s hand.

      OUCH!

      cheers

      eon

      • What you are saying about “hot” SMG destined cartridges is true right across the board. For example the 7.62×25 cartridges were in two loadings – one for (recently shown) vz.26 and one for Vz.52 pistol. When shooting stronger round with pistol you soon started to see bulges on sides of slide.

        • Denny,
          This comes up now and then. How can you tell a SMG 7.62×25 round from one for a pistol?

          Is there something on the packaging (wrapping and/or container) or were the guys with the CZ52’s supposed to figure it out when their pistols ‘bulged’?

          Daweo lists Russian rounds in his post but sounds like they are all pistol rounds.

          This stuff has mostly dried up but for anyone who shoots x25 it would be good to know.

          Thanks,
          Gary

          • Shot for vz.24/26 SMG is designated as M48. It is loaded for higher pressure than original Tokarev Ammo.
            http://www.thehighroad.org/archive/index.php/t-60838.html

            If used in M52 pistol is will cause premature wear and possibly bulging on sides of slide where are locking rollers. I believe your chance to encounter this ammunition outside of CR is minimal. If ammo you consider for your vz.52 pistol says 7.62×25 Tokarev, without further designation or warning you should be fine.

      • “SMG loads” for SMG ammunition were par for the course for SMGs around the world post-war as well. The Sterling SMG for example was often used with special loads. I’m not sure what the situation is today though, now that most armies have dropped SMGs as standard infantry weapons.

        This is something to keep very much in mind if you are buying mil surplus ammunition. Surplus SMG loads can be dangerously over-powered for many pistols.

        I think the springs and bolt weights in SMGs were typically sized for the SMG loads, which meant that if you put ordinary pistol ammunition into an SMG, it may not work reliably.

        As for zinc cored bullets, I hadn’t heard of that before, so that’s quite interesting. However, zinc is much easier to form than steel and so would be cheaper and less likely to require major changes to the production process. Steel would make more sense if you have time and money to get the production problems sorted out, but if you needed a solution ASAP (there’s a war on), then zinc may be the answer.

        • “This is something to keep very much in mind if you are buying mil surplus ammunition. Surplus SMG loads can be dangerously over-powered for many pistols.”
          Альбом конструкций патронов стрелкового оружия (1946) describing Soviet cartridges, show 2 types of 7.62x25mm Tokarev cartridge: 7.62mm cartridge with round nose for Model 30 pistol designed by Tokarev (TT) and 7.62mm as above but with armour-piercing-incendiary bullet model 1941 [BALL and AP-I respectively in US parlance] – both have equal pressures, but AP-I has lighter bullet and higher velocity (@10m from muzzle: 420m/s and 455m/s respectively).
          Russian Краткий справочник по патронам стрелкового оружия Красной Армии калибра 7,62, 12,7 и 14,5 мм shows 3 types of 7.62x25mm Tokarev cartridge:
          7.62mm pistol cartridge with round nose bullet – none paint – usage: engaging soft target @ distances up to 50m (pistol) and 300m (sub-machine gun)
          7.62mm pistol cartridge with armour-piercing incendiary bullet model 1941 – bullet tip painted black with red ring – usage: firing @ motorcycles, automobiles and gas tanks
          7.62mm pistol cartridge with tracer bullet – bullet tip painted green – usage: in Red Army sub-machine guns, for target pointing, giving signals, as well firing at living target. Can be used in 7.62mm pistol model 1933 (TT), bullet has red tracer.
          Interestingly this manual refers to sub-machine guns as “avtomat” with “pistolet-pulyemet” in brackets

      • Unlike 9para etc., 380ACP and 45ACP are “true” rimless cases.
        Both are almost straight wall with a head and body of same diameter – anthing less would be RB 😉

      • The Fiat M.35 in 8x59mm fed from 50 round belts (which could be joined together), not from the Fiat M.14 style multi-column magazine. The manual (which I have read) says nothing about a belt loading tool, although that of course does not prove that one didn’t exist. It merely says that both the chamber and the ammunition should be kept well oiled at all times to guarantee reliable functioning of the gun (probably meaning the extraction). As a side; the Italians used olive oil as a lubricant, since mineral oils were all imported. I am not sure, but I speculate non-eatable lamp oil grade was used (olive oil was once a common lamp oil in Europe).

        The manual also says that the most common malfunction with the gun is ammo cook-off, especially at high rates of fire. The M.35, like the M.14, fired from a closed bolt, which was quite unusual for a heavy machine gun. Apparently the much more powerful ammo and the fluted chamber of the M.35 made the cook-off problem much worse than it had been in the original M.14.

  2. Who could have predicted that Beretta would be the manufacturer of all sidearms carried by the U.S.A. military, when they were our enemy in WWII?
    Hitler supposedly said that the Italians win every war, because whichever side wins, that becomes the side their on.

    • Tom, and who would predict every-second-body and his brother would be driving a Toyota? It’s VJ-Day today, and Japan is long ago hanky-dory. So hanky-dory in fact is the whole of the Axis, Japs, Jerrys and Eyeties, that they have a visa waiver program and come to your country as they please, while your former allies, Polish, still have to fork out $180 every five years to get one.

      • I wish I could apologize for our obviously corporate-executive-fat-cat-lobbyist-ridden government, but I don’t have that authority. One can only pray that the injustices will be brought to light, for whistle-blowers often become prisoners or assassin-bait.

    • Enemy? What enemy…. it’s about business. Did you read Chapter 22? Business parties are always cozy with each other.

    • “Who could have predicted that Beretta would be the manufacturer of all sidearms carried by the U.S.A. military, when they were our enemy in WWII?”
      Predicting future is at least hard job, with further future being harder to predict. For example Ferdinand Foch in 1911: Airplanes are interesting toys, but of no military value., also see this drawings:
      http://paleofuture.com/blog/2007/9/10/french-prints-show-the-year-2000-1910.html
      depicting how year 2000 looks in 1910 human imagination.

        • “most advanced manned spacecraft would be… a glorified Apollo”
          I don’t see good reason (to spend many $$$) for sending people in space (at least now), considering that we can build robots, which could do their job, but are cheaper to send that human, because:
          – sending each kg cost, robot can be lighter
          – robots don’t die from lack of food
          – robots don’t die from lack of oxygen
          – robots don’t die/blackout from G-force
          – robots don’t die from radiation
          – robots don’t die from too low/too high temperature

          • Sending humans for long range space expeditions is probably not needed from a scientific point of view, but simply having humans is space is advantageous in many ways. Astronauts (and cosmonauts) can perform experiments which are still much too complex for fully automated systems. It’s too bad that stuff like the International Space Station does not interest the greater public too much. I just hope whoever the next POTUS will be, he (or she) won’t pull the plug on the ISS prematurely.

    • Well, the Italians (and the Japanese) were both on the allied side in WWI. It has long been suggested that gaining air bases in Italy was the payoff for buying Berettas.

      • Actually, the Italians started out on the side of the Central Powers in the first go-round, but in 1916 switched sides and spent the next two years trading artillery rounds across the Piedmont with their former allies, the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

        It amazes me to this day that nobody in OKW, let alone Hitler himself, anticipated them pulling the same switcheroo in the second war. Of course, the Allies didn’t anticipate a second German end-run through Belgium in 1940, either.

        cheers

        eon

        • It depends on what time scale you mean. Hitler didn’t expect that Mussolini could be removed from power so easily as he was on 24 July 1943, but as soon as the non-fascist government of Marshall Badoglio took over, the Germans started detailed planning for occupying key areas in Italy (including Rome). By the time the Badoglio government actually announced an armistice with the Allies on September 8th 1943, the plans were already finalized and thus the German takeover and disarmament of the Italian Royal Army went relatively smoothly. Badoglio had also made plans for the defense of Rome against the Germans, but in fear of German spies (fascist sympathizers) he never transmitted comprehensive plans to the Army and the actual defense of Rome was largely improvised. Some unit commanders loyal to the Badoglio government had made their own planning, but there was little overall coordination. Neverthless, the fighting was more than a “token resistance” some poorly informed non-Italian sources make it out to be. In fact the loyal Italian forces defending Rome fought pretty much until their position had become hopeless.

          The later relative ineffectiveness of the Italian army against the German and Fascist forces in Northern Italy was largely due to the distrust of the Allied commanders. Initially the Italian co-belligerent Army had no armor (they were not even allowed to keep their remaining old armored vehicles) and no air force. so they had to rely on the Allies for all armor and air support. In fact it could be said that the Allies trusted the legitimate Italian government even less than Hitler trusted Mussolini’s fascists (the so called Social Republic) in the north (which was not much at all).

    • Legend has it that when Churchill received news that Mussolini had thrown his lot in with Hitler, he’d muttered,
      ” It’s Germany’s turn, we had them for the last war “.

      Mussolini’s goons might have had the trains running on time by 10am on the morning of the syndicalists general strike, but getting the wider Italian population interested in a war, was way beyond his abilities.

      Incidentally, regarding participation by certain Italians in the American welfare and warfare state, iirc, there is an Agnelli on the board of the Fe’ral reserve bank.

      • I’ve always found it interesting that the Italians kept on having car and motorcycle races during the war. But given their passion for racing, banning it like the rest of the warring country have have lead to a revolt.

        On the topic of the Alpini, I read a couple of years ago about what their training included and I was amazed at how hard it was. I wish I could remember more detail on it and where I read it.

      • Are you surprised? Basically same idea how to govern, with different façade. Guys on top surely understand each other well.

      • Most Italians were not too interested in Mussolini’s dream of a “New Roman Republic”. Even moderate nationalist were essentially happy with the outcome of WW1, which despite high casualties, did gain Italy most remaining territories which nationalist considered “traditionally Italian”. However, Mussolini’s dream went much beyond a unified nation state. Then there of course were the socialists and communists, who never supported Fascism and like in France, had a sizable following.

  3. Classy-looking and elegant or not, the hard truth about the Italian Alpini is that they were a well-trained, highly-motivated, highly-competent and very, very tough bunch of professionals who would have made the most formidable of adversaries, or equally formidable ( and most welcome ) allies.

    The same would have applied to the Auto-Saharan Companies of the Desert War — soldiers worthy of the greatest respect who have been largely overlooked, grossly under-estimated and mostly forgotten by history. It has always amazed me how so many historians and enthusiasts of the Western Desert campaigns know so much in detail about the efforts of the Allied special forces ( LRDG, SAS, Free French, etc. ) and Rommel’s Afrika Korps, yet know next to nothing about the Italian contribution to those same campaigns, let alone the role of the Auto-Saharan Companies.

    I think this topic may bear much looking into if truth and fairness in the historical context is to be preserved.

    • Yep, that’s right. When Rommel was withdrawing west late in the Second Battle of El Alamein, the Italian units were the ones staying behind to fight. The British found that the Italians could put up quite a fight even with their wheezing outdated tanks, mostly unreliable machineguns (unless you count the Breda 37), and surprisingly nasty anti-tank guns.

      I think a bunch of journalists roughly summed it up this way:

      “It is most interesting to note that during this time we feared the Rommel’s 7th Panzer Division, the biggest danger came not in the panzers that charged at us in the beginning of the battle but in the Italians that were left behind when Rommel ran away. For the Italians, far from being the yellow-bellied incompetent nincompoops we expected to throw down their guns and scream ‘Mommy,’ fought as though there were an impassable wall behind them and that their only means of survival would be to go straight through our own ranks, shooting until they were dead from being riddled with holes, dead from being starved, dehydrated, and exhausted, or simply until they had run out of ammunition.”

      Indeed, when the last of the Italian troops surrendered in North Africa, their commander said that the reason they surrendered was not because they did not wish to fight, but because they were literally unable to continue to fight, having run out of ammunition, food, and water. As he said that, the soldiers under his command marched into captivity with their arms down at their sides rather than up. And I think one of those prisoners would have given Monty and/or Patton a “Luigi death glare.”

      • Thanks very much for your input, Cherndog — you have hit the proverbial nail right on the head, so to speak. The Italian soldiers deserve far greater recognition and respect for their professionalism and valiant efforts ( regardless of whose side they were on ) than they have ever been accorded in the post-war years. I think a good deal of the blame for the current — and totally incorrect — perception of the Italian soldier has a lot to do with the obvious Allied propaganda of the wartime years and its persistent long-term legacy, not to mention the pedantic attitude that the Italians ( and other Southern or Eastern Europeans ) are somehow not quite up to scratch, which is, of course, an enormous mistake in itself.

        The plain truth of the matter is that, all else being equal, a particular group or nation will fight just as hard, or harder, than any one else under similar circumstances if they feel there is sufficient reason to do so regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, affiliation or whatever.

      • The toughest Italian formation at 2nd El Alamein was probably the Folgore paratrooper division, which was pretty much an elite formation. The Folgore did have somewhat better equipment that standard Italian infantry, for example a large number of Beretta MAB 38A SMG’s, which the Italian soldiers considered vastly superior to the Mod. 91 (Carcano) rifles in almost all conditions (not just for CQB). With it’s dual trigger setup the MAB 38 was very well suited for fast switching between accurate semi-auto and full auto fire.

    • Earl, I could not agree more with your sentiments. The very term for a large formation of aircraft, a balbo, was derived from the great Italo Balbo. the last great successful calvary charge was Italian Calvary, approximately 600, that defeated 2,000 Russian soldiers armed with machine guns and mortars. That was 23 August 1942!! The Ilalians defeated the Russian infantry and re-established the line to the German allies. Savoia!!!!!!

  4. I’m trying to figure out of that officer’s pistol is Beretta Mo. 1934 or one of the earlier models? When I blow up the photo it’s too fuzzy to be sure.

  5. It is also an indication of how high the morale level is in a front-line unit that these Alpini are able to indulge in a little self-deprecating humor — they obviously need no-one to tell them who they are and what they are capable of.

    Having said that, at least as far as the setting for the photograph is concerned, does it appear to have been staged on a drop-type, cinematic background? That is the impression I am getting upon closer examination, although I will be the first to say I might be wrong.

    • I can’t tell if you’re correct or if this photographer was told to edit his film due to something else having once been in the picture that is conspicuously absent… Or the trees could just be really far away.

  6. Thanks Denny,
    I found the information in the link on the M48 loading.

    But the poster claims the CZ 52 with the deep cuts for the rollers is stronger than a TT33. Could he be wrong about the ammo too?

    Does anyone know if the M48 ammo was imported to the US. What kind of headstamp would it have or would the original packaging have M48 on it.
    Thanks,
    Gary

    • You are welcome Gary.

      Me as part of general populace cannot guarantee you nothing. What I would suggest is to turn with your inquiry to Czechpoint https://www.czechpoint-usa.com/

      They should know who imported ammunition for vz.52 pistols and what kind they were and most importantly what to avoid. My own belief is that the best for your pistol would be S.B. made FMJ ammo.
      Take care!

  7. Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!!!>>> These are Not “Alpini” but MVSN ( “Black Shirts”). Whilst the Hat Badges are hard to see, the Collar tabs ( and the Black shirt) on the Gunner behind the M1914/35 Fiat Revelli has “Fasci-Littori” on his tabs…typical of the MVSN ( Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale), the Fascist Party’s “Private Army”
    ( Not part of the RE ( Regio Esercito).

    Also, the Dark/Black Hat Band is also typical of the MVSN. Regular Alpini had a Light coloured Band. Also, the “Plus-four” type trousers, are typical of the MVSN, in the Mid to Late 1930s.

    The Alpini Hat Badge is a “Hunter’s Horn”, quite distinct.

    Other Wrong item: The Revelli 1914 MG had a Multi-clip Box mag 5-round clips arranged in rows in a Box structure, total 50 rounds, and carried in a custom made Wooden Chest…so no dust etc could accumulate. Loose ammo to fill Mags supplied in 50 round nested cartons.

    Fiat M35 conversion was to Belt Feed ( Flexible steel Link, able to be broken by pulling cartridge, and twisting out interlocking links out of “lock”. Belts 100 or 250 rounds, wound on spool; Leather Locking and Lead tab; spool carried in Box or Canvas Bag. Lubricated as entered the Feed Plate ( same as Breda M37 MG.)

    Great Photo, obviously Posed for Propaganda Purposes.

    Doc AV

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