26 Comments

  1. Cartainly the hat looks Soviet, no? 35-rd. stock mag. The 71 round drum would probably be a noise-making nightmare while climbing rocks and such. The Iranians also made copies of the PPSh41 too, so there would be those types of submachine gun throughout the Caucasus and Central Asia…

    • The 71 round drum of the PPSh-41 was “inspired” by the 72 round drum (nominal capacity) for the M/31 Suomi SMG. One of the strengths of that design (along with good capacity and reliability for a drum magazine) is that it rattles very little. It was designed with forest combat as a high priority, after all. It’s downsides were cost, uncomfortable shape for carrying (like pretty much all drum and pan magazines) and in case of the PPSh-41, the rather loose Soviet wartime quality control, which lead to reliability problems with some magazines. It was also somewhat more difficult to attach and didn’t provide as natural grip as a box magazine.

      So, the 35 round box was designed as a cheaper, easier to carry and more reliable alternative. The standard Soviet practice once the box mag became widely available was to issue only one drum per soldier, which was supposed the be carried attached to the gun for greater firepower at contact, and box magazines as reloads. This practice was also adopted by the Finnish army in the 1950s when the Swedish 36 round box magazine of the Carl Gustav m/45 SMG was introduced for use with the Suomi SMG (the earlier Finnish box magazines for the Suomi were either unreliable or had a marginal capacity).

        • Which magazine you are talking about? The drum magazine of the PPD-34/38 did have many features of the Tatarek & Von Benkö Trommelmagazin for the Artillery luger, but it wasn’t a direct copy. The drum magazine of the PPD-40 and PPSh-41 was a virtual copy of the Suomi SMG’s 72 round drum, which wasn’t very similar to any previous drum magazine design, although it had some features of the Thompson magazines.

          • The Suomi’s drum does not have any Thompson features. The Thompson drums use a spring-actuated rotor with multiple arms to advance the rounds through the feed track. The Suomi uses a single follower arm attached to the core to advance the cartridges. Also, the Thompson magazine uses a spring that is wound up after filling while the Suomi’s spring is wound while loading.

      • As for “grip”, while you can grip the magazine of the Shpagin or Suomi with your off hand,it’s generally discouraged. Trying to use the magazine as a foregrip to control recoil, especially in the high-RoF PPSh, causes you to unconsciously pull back on the drum, which can bend or break its latch, feed lips, etc.

        The correct manual of arms for these weapons is off hand under the forend behind the magazine, much like a conventional rifle.

        cheers

        eon

        • It may have been “generally discouraged” and in fact Finnish instructions forbade it for the Suomi SMG during the Winter War. However, it was still a common practice during that war without considerable ill effects. Later even the manual were changed so that it was no longer strictly forbidden, because practically everyone ignored the rule anyway, especially for longer firefights, where gripping the barrel jacket (another unorthodox but still common practice) was not practical due to heating of the barrel. Soldiers issued with an SMG usually knew that you were not supposed to pull back on the drum. It could cause feed problems, but thankfully rarely any permanent damage.

          I do not know how the Soviets handled the issue officially, but photographic evidence suggests that gripping the magazine was a quite common among their soldiers as well.

        • I don’t think I’ve ever seen a combat photo or film of a PPSh in action where the gun *wasn’t* being held by the magazine or drum. I certainly fire mine that way. It’s difficult not to.

  2. Yeah, that’s the RKKA boonie hat, my wife has one as pert of her WW II Russian reenactment lay out. The over jacket look a LOT like one of the darker phase camouflage smocks that were issued as well…

    • Very interesting photo, Ian! Thanks for posting!
      The man is most surely a Soviet soldier pictured somewhere in the Caucasus. The Soviets were forced into a crash course on mountain warfare by the German offensive in the Caucasus (Operation Edelweiss) in the Summer of 1942 (moutain warfare was considered before by the RKKA high staff, but it wasn’t a priority).

      At first, they used civilian mountaineering clothing of more or less standard typologies but some elite units, like the 1st Special Mountain Detachment, were quickly issued with a proprietary moutain uniform which I suppose was designed before the war; this included a caractheristic short double breasted jacket, straight woolen trousers and heavy duty mountain ankle boots, that made the men look quite different than the vast majority of their fellow Red Army comrades. One of the pieces designed for mountain use was a hooded windbreaker/smock with elasticated cuffs, available in both khaki and a dark granite grey well suited to mountainous terrain above the tree line. The soldier in the photo seems to be wearing a brand new example of the greyish version (the contrast between the slightly faded cotton twill khaki bonnie hat and the windbreaker smock is quite telling).

      Guns-wise, Soviet mountain troops used Mosin rifles (including a much higher percentage of scoped M1891/30 Mosins than ‘lowlands’ troops) and carbines, a few SVT 40 self-loading rifles and PPSh-41s; ah, and of course, the DP-28 was the only machine gun used (I remember seeing a shot of a Maxim in a mountain setting in an old Russian book, but it could be pre-war propaganda photo).

  3. The 7,62 m Tokarev (30 Mauser) has a to short range to be used for mountin snipin, so this picture is a set up

    • It may be a “set up” in the sense that it’s not taken in combat, but do you suggest that they dragged this guy to the mountains specifically for the photograph and then gave him an “unrealistic” weapon? Besides, The PPSh-41 is well capable of providing suppressive fire out to 250-300 meters and hit man-sized targets out to 200 meters in actual combat conditions. On the range it can reach even farther out if you have one with adjustable sights, but of course in combat you usually do not know the true range of the target.

      • Early PPSh-41 has sight (optimistically) scaled from 50m to 500m, with 10 available distances, later PPSh-41 with box magazines have a sight for 100m and 200m.

        • Yes, that’s why I mentioned that you need a “one with adjustable sights” if you have to shoot much farther than 200 meters. The 7.62x25mm Tokarev is a very flat shooting for a pistol cartridge (the Soviet load was considerably hotter than the original 7.63x25mm Mauser), but of course bullet drop becomes a big problem once you get to longer distances.

      • Good points, guys. Sub-machine guns generally aren’t used to hit targets far away (unless you count the ZK-383, which was developed as a squad-automatic weapon). In the case of this photo, the rear sight is useless for aiming down at opponents hundreds of feet below (the sight is calibrated for targets at approximately the same altitude as the user, where differences in air density and angular offset would not be a concern). I don’t know if acceleration of the bullets due to gravity would offset any angular error due to muzzle rise, but don’t expect to pull off head-shots. Shooting in this position would not be recommended, as it would invite reprisal by artillery or air strikes…

  4. I climbed in the Caucasus about 1982, and there were many monuments along the roads to the Soviet soldiers who fought there. The large snow covered mountains in the photo look like the Caucasus or the Alps, which are the only mountains that are that big and snow covered in Europe. The rope over the shoulder is the very symbol of mountain climbing, and is often shown in climbing photos, simply to tell you that the person is a mountain climber. It makes a person look more heroic. Anybody who has seen Soviet photos or films (like those of taking Berlin) knows that they often staged their images. This picture is to well done it has to have been staged. And sub MGs are sexier than bolt action rifles. Certainly anybody on this forum would prefer to be photographed with a PPSH41 than a MN91 or 91-30.

    • If the M91/30 had a scope, it would be a toss-up… Otherwise the image could be from the Scandinavian mountains as well, which are snow covered for much of the year and surprisingly steep at some places, but the PPSh-41 of course pretty much precludes that.

    • I agree again and certainly wish I had a nice, early, registered PPSH41 and a couple of boxes of stick magazines to shoot for fun and profit.

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