134 Comments

  1. The ZB-53 seems to have had a good service life and a long production run before the Soviets tried to force them to use AK family members instead of home-grown products. I’m pretty sure that the Czechs and the Slovaks didn’t like having cronies from the Kremlin force their “goodies” into the gun racks… Or am I wrong?

    • You are quite correct. The vz.58 assault rifle in 7.62mm x 39 caliber is one of the best-known examples of Czechoslovakian circumvention of the Soviet Union’s attempts at maximum standardization of weaponry within the Warsaw Pact in order to maintain an underlying independence. It may even have been deliberately designed with a strong external resemblance to the AK-47 and AKM ( although it actually has an entirely different short-stroke gas-operated system with tilting block locking ) to maintain a superficial semblance of conformity.

      • Hi Earl,
        as you mentioned both these rifles…. have to tell you that first time I saw Kalashnikov up-close was during 1968 invasion. It looked unwieldy and kind of crude compared with our rifles. At one point they were also aimed at me – personally. But, no sour feelings are left; it’s long time gone.

        • Hello, Denny :

          Thanks for sharing that personal experience. Politics gone wrong and the deliberate will to power have created no end of misery and suffering for untold millions. I’m just grateful you’re here with us today in spite of what happened.

          • You may be pleased to learn that the same earlier types of AK were used during the Hungarian Uprising. They have remained formidable particularly with the introduction of the M43 round that allow a range of six hundred metres, far beyond the standard four hundred metres established during the Second World War.

      • at first sight of Vz58s in Angola (where they’re the official service rifle) I mistook them for very fancy AKs.

          • A good part of deciding in favor of using the AK family of weapons in the regions you mentioned is the fact that the AK has long been established in large, easily-available numbers, with all the advantages this implies ( logistics, spare parts, ammunition commonality, etc. included ) as a result of past Soviet interventions and / or involvement in said regions. This would tend to preclude widespread use of a different weapon such as the vz.58, even though the vz.58 is itself every bit as good as — and in some respects better than — the benchmark AK.

            I have heard that the units of the Iraqi Armed Forces under Saddam Hussein’s regime, and the post-Saddam governments that followed, that were equipped with vz.58’s really liked their weapons. Unfortunately, in the chaos of the post-Saddam years, the vz.58’s were very badly neglected for a long time due to the massive deterioration in, and virtual dissolution of, the armed forces and their professional standards. The rifles, which had already been subjected to extensive abuse in combat and poor maintenance, ended up being put away with little, if any, thought for proper storage. As a result, the few U.S. soldiers who had a chance to try the vz.58 out in Iraq often came away with a bad impression of the rifle, not realizing what a gem they actually had in their hands.

            Any mechanical device, no matter how well-made, how reliable, how durable and “bulletproof”, will eventually reach the limits of serviceability if abused and neglected for long enough.

          • In my experience, no weapon has seen and endure so much abuse and still retained their serviceability as East bloc weapons principally the ones coming from the Soviet Union.

            What kind of Western or Asian weapon could survive the rigours of the Middle Eastern wars for so many years? Some of the weapons have been refurbished if not remade by the inventories in Serbia and Bulgaria. They are still using the same format. Czech types could not possibly survive such a holocaust of fire and dust. Think of the ZB 29s in the Chinese wars with Japan. How many of them remained in operation after all those years by the onset of the second world war in that part of the world?

            Why did the Isrealis not standardize on the Czech weapons and clones in their war of independence?

          • To begin with, you might want to brush up a little more carefully on the politico-economic and military aspects of modern historical fact concerning the reasons why Israel did not adopt Czechoslovakian weapons en masse, or why the relatively obscure and limited production ZB.29 did not stay in long-term service in China. It had very little, if any, to do with the quality of Czech weaponry.

            Secondly, your sweeping statement about the durability of Czech small arms is incorrect. Just ask anyone who has extensive experience with them, including combat veterans.

            Thirdly, no-one is denying the superior characteristics and outstanding excellence, durability and reliability of Soviet ( and now Russian ) weaponry on the battlefield. I happen to have a great fondness for the practical functionality of Russian ordnance myself, but it does not mean that other types of firearms are necessarily inferior. You have to look at individual weapons and their applications, regardless of country of origin.

            Fourthly, I have extensively used, and happen to own, the AK-47 / AKM, AK-74 and vz.58, among several other types. I am therefore drawing my conclusions based on very hard real world experience with these rifles under the worst possible field conditions, and NOT on emotional precepts or conclusions drawn from theoretical research, hearsay, political biases or mere partial experience.

          • Sir, what is your background and combat experience with these weapons? I pray you share these with me.

          • My uncles who fought in the uncommonly brutal Biafran War are united in their assessments that the Cetme was the best firearm of that conflict. This does not mean that they were disparaging of the merits of the Ak at the time possibly firing the M43 round but they were at pains to state that with the distances of engagement at the time the Cetmes heavier rifle cartridge had more lethal power and was a good man stopper.

            However they did not neglect to enumerate the virtues of the RPD belt fed machine gun..with its heavier comm bloc round, a derivative of the Deptayaev series of machine guns that saw service in both Spain and Manchuria before maturing during the Second World War.

            My uncles were fighting in the bush and the engagement distances were beyond six hundred metres..up in north beyond Enugu to Asaba….it was mainly grassland and there was not inclination on their part to allow the Federal soldiers to get any closer. From long range they fired their Bolt Action rifles..the Mausers and they were clawing them down at a full one thousand yards and more..ranges at which the lavishly supplied Nigerians could bring their automatic rifles to bear..mainly the FALs and the Madsens from Denmark. CETMES came a little later. The Nigerians complained to the British that the firepower of the Biafrans was cutting them to ribbons from greater rangers..that was how the CETME came in; the Americans were busy at the time but they found spares to offer them the Brownings. My uncles also used Lee Enfield Mark Four rifles; they confirmed the bolt was not so reliable but it did unleash a mad minute though they always kept in the chamber while they used the feeder strips to top up. They told me Nigerian soldiers always waited until the last round had been expended before they rushed their position to either capture in obedience to the instructions of their white mercenary advisor/officers or to finish them off with a prolonged burst of their automatic rifles. Many a time the biafrans had surprised them by aiming that last round at the torso of the Nigerian soldier who let out a full throated yell before crumpling. My uncles also related tht the small entry point of the rifle round in the front of the torso left a big gaping hole at the back of the cadaver..so it was a powerful round. An assault rifle will not leave such grisly damage like this. It would be a little neater or so but surely not as big as this. With the repeating magazine rifles, they engaged the Nigerians from ranges of a full thousand yards or more. If a pointed rifle round is flying through the air, you will know right away that this was a killer.

          • I did not take on the stories of my uncles. I went to other villages to collate the accounts. I was a school boy in high school then but I was resolved to know more. I will go into their huts or to the council of elders to sit with them over the fireplace so please, Mr LIEW i am not making these up.

            The same men told me that the most reliable of the rifles was the Mauser type for their bolts could ensure more robust charging of the magazine and firing of the round to a longer range than even that of the Lee Enfield Mark three and Four rifles.

            They added that the recoil for the CETME was more powerful than that generated by the Madsen automatic rifle. However greater damage was made by the Bolt Action rifles than the assault rifles though they added that the automatic rifles could still unleash horrific injuries for they still housed the same high powered rifle cartridges. I was small but young with a highly observable set of eyes and a good retentive memory so I am not making these up. I listened very keenly to my uncle and kinsmen. Some of those who were craftsmen came to our house to work; i would go out of my way to ask if they were veteran and if they were..i had to bargain with them..i go to the stream and fetch water for them and they will tell me their story; i only asked one thing..not only did i want to enjoy their stories but i wanted the truth.

          • IF THE Nigerian Army bought three times more ammunition than the British Army used in the whole of the Second World war, what does that tell you?

            The Nigerian army was the quartermaster general for the Biafran Regular and Paramilitary forces. The brutal battles for the forcing of the Niger River has gone into the annals of the war. A lot of Nigerian soldiers were gunned down at the edge of the river and in the middle of the stream. Mnay of them drowned while crossing. Other amphibious operations up and down the Niger river were contested susccessfully and in blood. The Shore batteries reaped a bloody harvest as both coastal and Biafran Naval boats engaged them successfully. Most of the snipiing was carried out by Biafran combatants with bolt action rifles and from long ranges. The Nigerian counter was to bring up the Browning and the RPD types. To the north of Biafra was a rolling plain of grassland strectching all the way to Benue state. That is where the first engagements occurred at a place called Gakem if my spellling was correct. Engagement distances were a full thousand yards or more. No Biafran wanted the Federal forces to come any closer. As the smoke cleared, the Biafrans emerged from the edge of the tree line to check out the dead, stip them of kits and ammo and carry off their fallen weapons. This was how they kitted out another battalion. At the start of the war the Biafrans had less than four hundred bolt action rifles that belonged to the Nigerian police. Ammo was crictically low but most of the volunteers had trained with the rifles as cadets. This was their chance to use it and they did it with relish.

          • During the war in Syria, a GCC sponsor ran out of weapons to supply her proxies involved in the conflict; they turned to Pakistan for an arsenal of weapons. Quickly they were sent to their proxies but within a week all of them had been degraded. This time they turned to UAE who found a middle man to buy Soviet made weapons from Serbia and Eastern/Balkan Europe. More durable, the proxies returned to the offensive and re seized the initiative. Assad’s forces reeled all along the line but the Hezibollah held out; their weapons came from Iran and they still had stocks of more durable Soviet weapons in their inventories. Granted the Iranian types were not as durable but they were quite good for a medium haul in that part of the world, the air corridor will ensure that replacements and new stocks will replenish their proxies. With time Iran has started to produce far more durable weapons though copied and improved from the ones they had procured from the USSR. They would synthesize the production to put in the best from the west and the best from the east in order to give the weapos a chance at better utility for the interim that it is used.

            The Asians may bring in weapon delivery platforms to rival that from the west but that does not mean they are better than those from the west. They are more numerous but they can operate for as long as possible but not at the optimum limit that the Western types could manage. By this time the Asian ones will start to tap out.

            I will give you another example. MIG29s powered by Russian engines are seen as more capable than those powered by engines made or reverse engineered in Asia. Burma/Myanmar made a decision to buy Russian-built types and abandon any pretence to proocure the ones tooled up in China, Why?

            Indian types incorporate the latest advances in Western, Israeli and indian avionics to make their Migs superior to what the Russians have sent to them..but of late there has been some problems, Why?

            Who knows,…if the INDONESIAN MIGS WERE TO ATTACK THE MALAYSIAN OR CHINESE TYPES, WHO WILL COME OFF WORST? ONE THING is certain..these nations are no easy pushovers as any other external predator will find out in the course of any contest.

          • If the USSR had gone into Afghanistan with the RPD belt fed rather than the RPk magazine fed Lmg, the outcome would have been different to a certain degree.

            Soviet combat experiences in Hungary, Eastern Germany. Poland and Czechoslovakia were by no means definitive. It had to wait for a real war for them to see clearly the folly of their choice of armament for their motorized and mechanized infantry. What was wrong with them making the RPK a belt fed type accommodating the intermediate round back then?

          • Even the IDF had to produce the NEGEV assault LMG to interoperate with the Assault Carbine weapons that their line infantry were using since they were no longer strong enough to bear the GALIL

            No one in the South American Militaries had complained about the GALIL..they are still using them.

          • No islamist movement or insurgency has chosen the VZs for operations. All of them are united on one idea; they swear by the utter reliability of the AK as the only weapon that could retain full automaticity being triggered by an impatient islamic finger.

          • “Deptayaev”
            Degtyaryov

            “What was wrong with them making the RPK a belt fed type accommodating the intermediate round back then?”
            It was magazine fed to be more similar to AK series.

    • “ZB-53(…)AK family members”
      Wait. ZB-53 is tripod mounted, when AK and its derivatives are avtomat, other categories which exist together and do not conflict.

      • Oh sure. It’s not like the Soviets didn’t trash the ZB-53 in Czechoslovakia and replace it with the DShK or anything…

        • “DShK”
          Big-bore machine-gun, still different category. Same category Soviet counter-part is SG-43. I’m not sure what is true:
          ZB-53 is superior to SG-43
          XOR
          SG-43 is superior to ZB-53
          ?

          • I agree. The Egyptian Army has still retained use of this weapon for their inventory. That is possibly the best weapon that has enabled them to face up to the Islamist insurgency in the Sinai.

            The SG was far more rugged and modern in comparison to the long-suffering Sokolov SPM1910 type.

            I can assure you that all the warsaw pact weapons can still find their niche in any kind of war for the new century. How many western weapons of the same era could manage this? Can you tell me of any? These are weapons of a superpower..that could degrade the weapons of any regional power. They are meant for partisans and fall behind groups. All Islamic insurgent groups regard the Kalashnikov as the king of the urban battle theatre. They have not reserved such a reverence for any other weapon so far.

          • “The SG was far more rugged and modern in comparison to the long-suffering Sokolov SPM1910 type.”
            Which is not surprising considering that Maxim is design from 19th century.

            “How many western weapons of the same era could manage this? Can you tell me of any?”
            I am not sure about which era you mean – 1940s-1950s? Then answer might be FN FAL.

            “They are meant for partisans and fall behind groups. All Islamic insurgent groups regard the Kalashnikov as the king of the urban battle theatre.”
            AK never was designed for brawling.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Kalashnikov#Quotes
            M.T.Kalashnikov:
            I created a weapon to defend the borders of my motherland. It’s not my fault that it’s being used where it shouldn’t be. The politicians are more to blame for this.

          • This is where the AK clones either achieve fame or infamy…how many of them are still operable after firing 15 000 rounds?

            Would that be the so called Chinese clone?

    • “ZB-53”
      I read that this design have some reliability issues due to selective rate-of-fire mechanism. It is true or not?

    • Czechoslovakia used only a few Soviet small arms and artillery pieces during the Cold War, even though they were forced to adopt the standard Warpac calibers for a large part. They did use stuff like .32 ACP, which was never a Soviet caliber. They also had their own wheeled vehicles including the OT-64 APCs (with Poland), which were typically better than their Soviet counterparts.

      • Undoubtedly both Czech and Bulgarian clones of the AK were far better. Let us not ignore the Finnish clones made in 1062 and 1977. The Isreali Galils were based on the Finnish type housing the heavy Nato rounds; they did a lot of damage during the 1982 war in Lebanon; what I doubted was whether the dimunitive Isrealis could manage the recoil of this superlative weapon.

        Ergonomically the Warsaw Pact weapons were better than the Soviet Originals but all of them were housed on the same ammunition to allow for enhanced interoperability.

        I want to talk about something that occurred to me last night before I even saw this post. I was wondering what could have occurred had Hitler attempted an invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1938. I think he would have got a pastering..what not with the Zb series of light automatics, SLRs and LMGS. The Japanese learnt a hard lesson when the Chinese KMT Nationalist armies used these weapons with devastating effect in most of the offensive and defensive battles that charactherized the Sino Japanese wars of the time.

        Yamashita was smart enough to collect all these weapons and utilise them for defence of his mountain redoubt in the Phillipines, long enough for the Americans to balk and fall back. Yamashita could have remained in action into 1947 if he had chosen to do so. He had a lot of munitions and well sited Japanese and Czech LMGs hosing the American advance from all directions.

          • I am inclined to agree with you on this point but why did the Sri Lankan Military turn to the west for better weapons when the Chinese staple had helped them to successfully prosecute the long running civil war?

            Mikawa, how would you answer? There must have been a reason. The Vietnamese still retain their copies of the rifle of that indomitable struggle and again, they were able to use it and humiliate both the Chinese in 1978 and subjucate the Cambodians.

            However in a recent forage to challenge the Chinese over one of the spratly islands off the coast of the Pillipines, they got the worst of the engagements. The Chinese whipped their asses to raw ribbons and by my reckoning there were no survivors, do you agree with me? There are limits to what the Chinese copy can do.

            I will take you to another field..the Chinese Migs…clones and better types than the Soviet Mig17,19 and 21…the Pakistanis used them to great effect over the Indian Air forces in more than three Indo Pakistani wars but can they withstand the rigours of a long, modern war today? Remember the Pakistani volunteers to the Syrians during the October War used the Soviet types to gain some victories over the IAF, not the Chinese clones. I do not wish to take you so far…but I think we need to know wwhy the Viets and Indoneseians won their wars of independence..the Japanese stragglers who refused to return home and surrender rejioned their former adversaries and covered themselves in glory in all the wars of that region. They used the new Asian nations to wreck vengeance on the White colonists.

          • lenin I suppose the Sri Lankans changed from ComBloc supplied to Western supplied weapons because of political ties. Most of the time governments care more about their friends in industry than what equipment is best for their people in uniform.

          • With respect I doubt that very much. I will give you an example When the troubles began in Sierra leone /Liberia in 1985, the Nigerian Army headed the Ecomog forces to intervene in the conflict brandishing the FAL rifles. In most of the brutal engagements, the Nigerians were decisively outfought by the rebels who had weapon stocks from Ghadaffi.

            This forced the Nigerian Strongman, Babangida to turn to the Ukraine for AK clones. Re-equipped, the Nigerian army returned to the fray and beat the rebels decisively though it took a lot of hardfighting.

            No quartermaster general or inspector of arsenals takes the re-adoption of a new arm lightly. Remember he has to reconsider the stokc of ammo at his disposal. Nigerian now manufactures small arms munitions to meet the needs of the military so why would he have to bring in another calibre?

          • Mikawa Hai

            I will tell you why they made the change…they had concerns about the limitations of the Chinese clones. They wanted weapons that were far more ergonomic and highly accurate.

            Look at Mexico..their elite forces do not use the general standard form of assault rifles anymore..they have a highly accurized version that copied the German HK series to a degree though they deny it.

        • You obviously have a great deal of very good and interesting information to share, so it would be a good idea to make sure you have your facts properly lined up before putting them out on this forum. Understand that many of the readers and contributors to FW are experienced veterans, military historians and firearms technical specialists with a very high level of knowledge and understanding that collectively surpasses that of just about any single firearms website I have come across in decades.

          To wit, the Czechs never made an AK clone, although the Bulgarians have always manufactured AK’s that are on par with the best high-end Russian ones. The East Germans and the Poles, among others, have also made very good AK’s.

          And Mikawa B is right on the money about the Chinese Type 56 AK — it is an outstandingly well-made rifle easily on par with, if not better, than the Soviet original. And herein lies an answer to your question about the longevity of Asian-made weapons. The vast majority of AK’s supplied to the NVA and, eventually, the VC, during the Vietnam War were Type 56’s. I am sure you know that if there was one war that placed a greater premium on reliability and durability more than most, it was the Vietnam War due to the combination of climate, terrain and nature of the fighting involved, and the Chinese Type 56 AK excelled under these conditions, as did the Chinese-made Type 56 version of the Soviet SKS.

          • The operating system of the VZ is very different from that of the AK. Other Warsaw pact nations adopted the gas operation system of the AK to date though I must concede that the Bulgaria AK may be the best of them all, though I am not too sure if I would be offending the input made by the Finns in both 1962 and 1977 wtih the types that they developed and adopted accordingly.

            This is not the place to contend with veterans who have used the weapons but I do stand by the stories that my uncles told me for they were not only there at the front but survived to come home and tell me all about it. They went into action with five ammo shells or a little bit more. What was captured out there was turned against their owners so I would ask you to salute their courage and stop whimpering like an uncircumcised zealot.

            I agree with you that the Chinese type was well made to stand the unrelenting harshness of the sub tropical climes of Asia and they earned their reputation the same way that they repeated the same technical triumph in Afghanistan years later.

            The Sri Lankans also made great use of the Chinese type to bring to a successful conclusion the eternal civil war, almost immediately they turned to the west for better weapons, why? What was wrong with the Chinese weapons they had at the time?

            With regards to the Czech weapons, how successful were they in the hands of the Chinese Nationalists against the Japanese? Did the Hanyang arsenal continue to produce them or did they turn to reverse engineering the Western types? Even the Japanese chose to adopt some features of them to produce their next line of Juki LMGS. NCOS were wielding them as battle rifles to challenge the superior firepower of their Western and Soviet adversaries. The British BREN that was based on the Czech BRNO design..i think it is the zb26 became dated as soon as the second world war broke out. I recall how the weapon could not stand up to the German GMPGS; there was one incident in the port of Calaise or was it the other…where the Irish brigade sent to reinforce the port were lavishly furnished with the Bren guns. In spite of the great resistance the Brens continued to remain in operation until their barrels turned very fiery red hot from overheating.The days of the LMG had come to an end, a conclusion reached by the Soviets after a series of battles on the Mongolian/ Manchurian border in the 1930s. No one recognized it at the time but the high tide of the employment of the LMG came during the Spanish Civil war.

          • I’ve read that the Chinese type 56 AK clones are the prefered AK type for U.S. special forces. Also they were chosen to rearm the Iraq army. I personally adore my Norinco NHM91.

          • I have other information that US contractors have bought Bulgarian clones to sell/send to third parties for proxy conflicts.

            Perhaps the Chinese have been able to incorporate new features to attract foreign customers. The US first bought Ak stocks from Egypt then settled for solid reliable replenishments from China to support the Afhan resistance.

            They were durable and did serve well with the Sri Lankans as they contested the Jaffna peninsular but immediately after the war, they turned to the west for better weapons, WHY?

          • “Chinese type 56 AK clones are the prefered AK type for U.S. special forces”
            This might be done as a part of maskirovka – denial. Even if someone will found such weapon, it will not point who used it.

          • Is the Chinese clone the best or is
            iit the cheapest to acquire on the black market and the arms bazaars?

            Is it not possible that the Bulgarian types are still good enough?

            for goodness sake, no one has given any consideration to the Finnish clones let alone the East German ones?

    • The Czechs make great firearms. They definity didn’t need the Soviets help to design and develop tooling to produce battle implements.

  2. A discssion of the guns used by the various mercenary groups in Africa at that period might be of interest. Both Biafra and the short lived Katanga experienced what today ar called “Contractors” Mike Hoare comes to mind. Much was once written of their exploits but nothing I can recall about their guns…

  3. I have read references here and there in the narratives to FALs at least. And one retired merc who used a Thompson as his primary on occasion.

    • Never heard of him! No I am recalling an article written by someone who came home with an intact cranium .

  4. From what I hazily recollect (since I was interested in world events since childhood), Biafra started as a splinter nation of Nigeria with not a specific support of USSR and any of its allies. Actually, the mentioned bloc typical supported African countries unity. One thing I recall for sure is that it ended in humanitarian disaster, specifically famine. Where is pre-eminent importance of money for guns as means of power, is hardly left for bread/rice.

    Anyway, here is line from Wiki:

    “There was no official support for the Biafran army by any other nation throughout the war, although arms were clandestinely acquired. Because of the lack of official support, the Biafrans manufactured many of their weapons locally…”

    If any ex-Czech arms made it there must have been by dealing of international trade or mediators.

  5. The chaos that empire creates and stores up.

    The Igbo, Yoruba and Fulani were all independant peoples, perhaps there wasn’t peace between them at all times and in all places, but in pre empire times, none expected to dominate the others.

    The Igbo people in the Niger delta didn’t even expect to dominate each other; they usually had no kings, only oracles and judges sought out for their wise counsel.
    Like the Kikuyu and Somali, they had an anarchist culture, rule of law rather than rule of men.

    The crushing and subjugation of Biafra (and the underlying oil) has to be one of the most brutal and inhuman of 20th century wars.

  6. They also invented their own hardware eg the Ogbunigwe/mass killer land mine that decimated Federal Troops in many ambushes for instance Agbagana and the Second Owerri Operation.

    In my view, this nation could have emerged as a black regional power had it not been for the conspiracies of the USA, USSR, UK AND France.

    Can you imagine them returning to war with the proliferation of East bloc weapons? They are one of the most intelligent African fighters.

    Other projects that were on the pipeline or went into production was the Shore Battery that defended that was a part of the coastal defences, the flying ogbunigwe and a distinctive Biafran AFV called the Red Devils with an armament of a belt fed machine gun. Another was the Ojukwu Catapult with a range of 25 yards.I took a fancy for their uniform,that could blend in with the cassava fields of the terrain. I believe they were one of the first African nations to design an indigenous camouflage uniform. Very ingeniious, they, in my opinion, humiliated the Arabs by sustaining their struggle for three years. There was a critical moment in 1968 when an influx of French Weapons could have turned the tides of war, mainly in the southern sector. Formidable opposition from a Nigerian Division equipped with AK rifles, RPD belt fed machine guns and 122mm artillery guns was just too much for them. They had to keep falling back. I am not certain what could have occurred if they reverted to guerrila warfare; my father went to Enugu to visit Colonel Ojukwu to advise him to turn to the Soviets for weapons and abandon all that he knew about Sandhurst. One can only conjecture what could have occurred had Ojukwu heeded this advice. At the time my father was one of a few intellectuals who knew the truth of the contributions made by the Eastern Front to the outcome of the second world war. I read a book from his library about the second world war authored by G. Deborin.

    Unlike the lavishly equipped Arab armies that lost significant chunks of territory in the 1967 six day war, the Biafrans could have managed significantly with one tenth of all the hardware and software the Soviets offered to both the Vietnamese and the Egyptian/Syrians.

    There was an invasion of the Western Region that could have taken them all the way to Lagos, thereby terminating if not complicating the ongoing process of the civil war. Had it not been for the betrayal by Ifeajuna and Banjo, the armoured cars would have gone beyond Ore to Apapa Wharf. Sixteen of my uncles took part in this war and fifteen survived. One was killed by a sniper; He was a very tall man. I was fortunate for other families lost fifty percent of volunteer/conscripts in that war, in a few cases none of the mensfolk returned. Night after night and during the day, when I came back from school I actively sought out the veterans of this struggle to hear their stories. Can you imagine a slim, strappy 14 year old walking miles to seek out these splendid band of veterans and to hear from them their first hand account of the struggle.

    I do not know if I am writing so much but I would like to visit the Biafran Museum at Umuahia. The artefacts of war bears silent but palpable testimony to the brutality of that struggle I still believe the Federal troops lost more men than the biafran paramilitaries and regulars did. One can learn of the struggle from the book of Major General Alexander Madiegbo.. The Engineer Major who engineered the successful ambush of the Nigerian Division at Agbagana …a certin Major Oji comes from Mbano. My in law hails from this LGA, principally this was the key reason I consented to him marrying my only sister. For those who returned, they had to bury their weapons in the ground. I happened to help with the excavation of a Mauser K98 rifle…boy was it heavy! One thing that caught my attention was the bolt and the lugs. It must have been an effort to brandish the weapon at the time. Another rifle I examined was the Mark Four Lee Enfield rifle. Many veterans told me of how this repeater magazine rifle caused havoc among the lines of federal troops. A final weapon I heard of being regaled was the Spanish Cetme with a heavy Nato Round, far more powerful than the Danish Madsen by far.I hope I have not forgotten to talk about the French MAB 49 semi automatic pistol and possibly the MAT49 sub machine gun that French Intelligence had brought into the conflict. Time fails me to talk about the MINICON LIGHT ground attack aircraft and their gallant Swedish- Biafran aviators.

    Good bye everyone and keep in touch.

        • I think you are correct. It must be one of the MABs that you have mentioned but it did see service in Biafra among the officer corps, intelligence and field officers. The French will not sustain the airlift of munitions so all the weapons fell into disuse.

          The Biafrans on the southern fronts could have used the French weapons to push Adekunle’s marine codo division back to the bight of Biafra and could have succeeded in order to reestablish link with the outside world

          On the contrary, my uncles told me that the firepower of the Aks with the Nigerian Division on the northern front was formidable but they did state that the Cetme housing the German Mauser round gave as good as it got. The Aks were housng the intermediate Comblc ammo. Another dangerous weapon was the RPD ligh machine gun feeding on belts. The heavy 7.62 by 54R was quite fearsome. Just imagine this round flattening and cutting through the bush and jungle with such ferocity the fear of the Lord was re instituted in one’s soul. In my view the Cetme was more powerful than the Madsen…the Cetme was a testament to Spanish-German technology.. a fall back on the MG42 operating system.

  7. There were limitations to the FAL in the bush wars but the South African variant..the R3/4 was a hardy weapon with long-range strikes on the semi-automatic mode. Many mercenaries came to a grisly end during the Biafran war. Three of my relatives put paid to that during the conflict and I can share their stories with you. The Isreali experiece with the FAL led to the development and adoption of the Galil Auto rifle. Fortunately most of the white mercenaries were such good shots with their semi auto rifles, it did make a difference with the black militaries flush with Czech and Soviet Assault rifles. The Biafrans could have done much better with one twentienth of all weapon stocks sent to the MPLA in Angola. To this day Fidel Castro continues to rue with regret when he recalls how incompetent they were during the Bush Wars.

    Just imagine a nation in the northern hemisphere had supported this nation with hardware and software/ if not just hardware, they would have forced the Federal Government to come to the peace table sooner than later. I recall the day Marc Goosens was killed in action. They should have left his body in the field rather than risk bringing it back to headquarters. Taffy Williams and Rudolf Stern still retained fond memories of these gallant fighting men.

  8. I talked to a guy who was conscripted to the Rhodesian army. His unit was in a short/medium range ambush but they managed to break the ambush and routed them. Oddly a lot of the guerrillas were shooting very high and they asked the prisoners why the AK’s sights were set for max range, the shooter said they did that because it made the rifles shoot faster!

      • The Zimbabwean guerillas, just as the ones in the rest of South Africa, have never mastered the use of their superlative rifles. All the White soldiers had to master the use of the semi automatic FAL rifle, every shot had to count. That was the key to the many victories that they garnered during that era. The Biafrans could have done far better with this rifle; some of them were able to capture AK from the Northern Division led by Colonel Bisalla. They told me it was a formidable weapon. An isreali elite trooper used the weapon to wrest control of Mount Hermon from the Syrian Commandos during the Yom Kippur War. He told me it was and still is a very reliable weapon. Another isreali who was involved in a maritime operation against Egyptian forces on a fort nestled on an lsland on the Nile river told me how they managed to dip into the water before the clambered on the beach of the island. Almost instantaneously both sides opened fire but the Isrealis had the drop on them and the Russian weapons, though wet, never let them down. He told me he could not conceive the western Fal or the Israeli Uzi being able to operate right away after they emerged form the sea water of the Red Sea.

  9. I wonder if those kind of 3rd-world “technical” machine gun mounting platforms are properly engineered and manufactured — or maybe more like something slapped together from scrap metal welded up in a some local garage?

    A heavy machine gun mounted atop a long steel pole protruding from a pickup truck bed will of course tend to bob back and forth, perhaps brutally so if the gun’s rate of fire just happens to match the vibrating frequency of the pole.

    There’s also the proper vehicle preparation. The bigger the gun, and the lighter the vehicle, the more the vehicle is going to rock as it’s being fired. Suspension upgrades, such as stiffer springs and anti-roll bars and stouter spring dampeners would improve roll resistance, as would a lower gun axis (a Congo Pygmy might be the ideal technical machine gunner in that respect).

    Considering the vast number of tech’ed-out Toyotas that ISIS likes to parade around their conquered cities in Iraq and Syria, many brandishing 14.5x114mm guns, it seems like there might even be a large and profitable market for such vehicle upgrade kits.

    On the other hand, since these things are likely to be blown up in short order anyway, maybe the prevailing attitude is more like “why bother?”

    • Please do not forget that the technicals in Somali and Chad were successful in challenging a highly mechanized military adversary. They mount all types of support weapons; their mobility is worthy of mention. Libya was brought to grief in Northern Chad; the American forces and the UN could not sustain the effort in spite of the heavy investment in hardware and software.

      I think the East BLOC weapons have demontrated greater variability and longevity in a variety of roles. The Nudarev 14.5mm has been quite useful in forcing the initial reverses in the Arab isreali wars, forcing the Jews to ask for the American 12.7mm types as most urgent of all hardware for the new battles.

      • “Nudarev 14.5mm”? I think you are referring to the 14.5mm KPV HMG, which was manufactured by the Degtyarev concern. You may be getting the nomenclature mixed up with the Nudelman-Suranov or Nudelman-Rikhter series of aircraft guns, which comprised mostly automatic cannon.

        As for the Israeli use of Western 12.7mm HMG’s, the standard type in service has always been the Browning M2HB 0.50″ HMG, which has been in Israeli service for as long as the 14.5mm KPV has been in service in Arab hands. At any rate, the last line of your statement is not exactly relevant, because the KPV outranges and outguns the M2HB anyway.

        • “Nudarev 14.5mm”
          Never heard about that before. As pointed you probably mean KPV or if you want use designer name it will be Vladimirov 14.5mm.

          “KPV outranges and outguns the M2HB anyway”
          It did, but apparently not enough to provide need for development of new 14.5-mm weapon system – when 12.7mm are developed (“Utyos” machine gun and newer “KORD” machine gun).

          • The effective range of both 14.5mm and 12.7mm heavy machine guns is limited by the sights more than external ballistics, and of course also by the line of sight range in a given terrain. Both are quite effective up to 2000 meters and even more if you can see the target. For 2000+ meters you will need at least 8x magnification and preferably more, especially you are targeting human sized targets. The practical situations where such ranges can be utilized are also relatively rare.

            12.7mm ammunition takes up much less space than 14.5mm, which is an important consideration. 12.7mm machine guns can also be man portable, whereas carrying 14.5mm MGs and their ammo, while possible, is much more of a challenge.

            14.5mm has one clear advantage over 12.7: armor penetration. For targets like APCs, field fortifications and even IFVs 14.5mm is clearly better. However, with the proliferation of APCs and IFVs armed with 20mm and bigger autocannons, the importance of HMGs in the anti-armor role has been diminishing in modern mechanized armies.

          • Comparing apples to apples, so to speak, the Soviet 12.7mm x 108 cartridge has more case capacity, and therefore greater potential for further development, than the Browning 12.7mm x 99 cartridge. This is probably one of several compelling reasons why Russia has chosen to pursue the development of new generations of HMG’s in this caliber. The other, has Euroweasel has pointed out, is the size and weight factor, which affects man-portability. In that light, the KORD appears to have broken much new ground for this particular genre.

          • “APCs and IFVs armed with 20mm and bigger autocannons”
            Indeed in the weapon for armored vehicles, KPVT was replaced by 30mm gun 2A42 and 30mm gun 2A72 in never vehicles.

            “In that light, the KORD appears to have broken much new ground for this particular genre.”
            There exist experimental hand-held big-bore machine gun known as 6П62 firing 12.7×108, feed from box magazine, photo:
            http://comitcont.narod.ru/pul/018pul.htm

          • Thanks for the information, Daweo — as usual, you really know your stuff when it comes to Russian weapons systems. I was thinking in terms of weapons approved for service adoption, though.

          • Thank you my friend, a Daniel has come to judgement.

            The Germans had the 15mm for the MGFF gun…the Russians had to furnish a counter so they must have renecked the 12.7mm to meet this demand.

          • “15mm for the MGFF gun”
            MG FF is 20mm weapon, not 15mm.

            “renecked the 12.7mm to meet this demand”
            If you think about 23×115 for NS-23 cannon it is child of 14.5×114 not 12.7×108.

          • I think our new contributor is having some difficulty distinguishing between the 20mm MGFF on the one hand, and the 15mm MG151 (and perhaps the later 20mm MG151/20) on the other — in the same way he does not realize that Hans Joachim-Marseille’s Bf109F was equipped with a 15mm MG151 in the propeller spinner and two 7.92mm MG17’s in the engine cowling, and certainly not the 30mm (!) MK103.

          • Lenin: the 14.5×114 cartridge was developed for anti-tank rifles in the USSR, and it was not based on any earlier cartridge (according to Tony Williams, who should know). It was most definitely not inspired by the German 15×96 for the MG 151 aircraft heavy machine gun. Their intended uses were completely different as well, with relatively little overlap even later (the MG 151 was eventually used for some AA applications, but not many, and it was never used as AFV armament).

  10. Perhaps it is worth noting that the Chadian Rebesl were able to use the 23mm automatic cannons to inflict a defeat on the South Africans during the battle of N Jamena a few years ago.

    The South Africans never forgot. They had chosen to ignore the results of the bush wars in Namibia, Angola and Rhodesia.

  11. @ Lenin Chigbundu :

    As for your equally sweeping and all-inclusive statement about the IS preference for the AK, and how none of them seem to want the vz.58, I would say that you need, once again, to brush up on the facts. That IS fighters swear by the AK shows simply indicates that they have had the sense to choose an outstanding weapon with good availability and logistical support ; this is absolutely no reflection on the vz.58 or its equally outstanding qualities, but merely an indication that it is not as readily available because it was produced in much smaller quantities by a relatively small nation that did not have the advantages of large-scale, highly-intensive intervention and influence — directly or indirectly — that would have resulted in a more widespread adoption of the vz.58, assuming it could even manufacture the sheer quantities required to back up the extent of that adoption.

  12. From Urban Dictionary:

    soft troll

    “The soft troll is the counter part to the more provocative, traditional trolling used to incite anger and hostility. The goal of the soft troll is to inflate the ego of the reader and to gain readership. Commenters cannot resist displaying their superiority and even go so far as to display their comments on social networking sites. What results is a mass intellectual “circle jerk” of people who, while smart enough to correct the mistakes of the poster or point out the obvious joke the poster was illiciting, are not self aware enough to realize that it was all set up. There is no damage done to the posters themselves, they will go on thinking they are quite clever. The true spoils of such a troll go to those who ascertain the true goal of the poster. A symbiotic relationship emerges where all parties walk away feeling superior over the other.”

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=soft%20troll

    • “Illiciting’? Unless this is a typographical error, I believe “eliciting” would be the correct word. Of course, “illiciting” might have been deliberately included as a form of “soft trolling” in itself :).

      • An automatic cannon, would by far, be more lethal to a suicide bomber than any of the heavy machine gun armaments. There is no place for a semi-automatic cannon in this kind of scenario.

    • Well said…what I ought to arrange is a duel in a meadow by the forest. I ll appoint the seconds and you both can duke it out.

  13. Weapon of choice scenario:

    If you had to man a weapon with absolutely no tech support from NATO or from the former Warsaw Pact, which would you pick to hold the line at a vital security checkpoint? Beware of suicide bombers.

    1. Chinese Type 24 Maxim gun
    2. ZB vz.60 HMG
    3. Browning ksp M/36 chambered for 8×63 patron M/32
    4. Type 93 13 mm HMG
    5. 25 mm Hotchkiss anti-tank gun
    6. Cannone-Mitragliera da 37/54 (Breda)
    7. QF 6-pounder Nordenfelt
    8. 10.5 cm leFH 18M
    9. Or per the usual, screw the budget and add your favorite toys to this list

    This activity is completely voluntary. You are not required to utilize overkill measures 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

    • “no tech support from NATO or from the former Warsaw Pact(…)screw the budget”
      Then use Swiss weapon, as Switzerland was not aligned with NATO and not aligned with Warsaw Pact. For example W+F MG 51.

      • I beg it will be difficult to find 7.5×55 mm Swiss in the middle of Africa, or Asia, or in Latin-America.
        However I saw a photo of the Corsican National Liberation Front, with a STG57 laying on a table in front from some members!
        Same occured in Kosovo 1999, where KLA militants (UçK) were wearing old fashioned swiss TAZ 57 uniform and handling STG90 rifle (alongside a lot of BDU copies and ZASTAVA M70 + Chinese Type 56 AK).
        Watch again “Lord of War”

      • You will still find that the Russian 23mm is far more powerful than the Swiss 20mm. I do not know if this is a good place to relate an experience but I will take you back to the Second WORLD war…THE USAAF used the heavies and the fitment was made standard in all of their fighters if not a mix as in the earliar series and this mentalality will see a repeat during the Korean war but that would change when they brought in the colt 20mm guns still they could not manage. One had to wait for the Vietnam war before the gatling 20 would improve the performance of the weapon fit for all time.

        At a certain stage during the second world war, doubts were being raised about the continuing competence of the 20mm cannon. The Germans had reverted to the MG108 cannon that fired the 30mm cannon projectile..one to three rounds could disable or bring down a vermot or multiple engined bomber. Twenty to thiirty rounds of the 20mm would suffice for the same result..so tell me how many piston engined aircraft could carry more shells in their gondolas to sustain the effort and how many of them could still fire the weapon while on the climb..only the jet powered aircraft could manage this.

        In spite of the Korean war, many analysts had started to work on the medium automatic cannon for the 30mm shell…the SIX Day war will open accounts and retain the relevance of the weapon for all time. The Russian VVS had been using the 23mm, the 30mm and the 37mm plus the 45mm types to give more lethality to their fighters but with the small shape of the aircraft and a questionable high measure of power, they aircraft could not maintain formation or cENTER of gravity in flight…the MIG15 would change all of this at one stroke.

    • I would request a pair of water cooled Vickers gun set up for 7.62 x 54R with PKM belts or 7.62 x 51 with STANAG belts plus 2 full armorer’s kits. The excellent sustained fire capabilities of the Vickers, combined with the ability to rotate guns for servicing or caliber changes should keep me going as long as my ammunition and cooling water hold out.