Italian Infantry Weapons of WWII

The distinctive feature of the
Italian Army in World War II… was its poor and insufficient armament. Even though weapons produced at the famous
Italian arms factory Beretta were of the highest quality… the rest were known for their very low quality and obsoleteness. Since the Italian industry of the 1930s… was undermined by financial crisis and government bureaucracy… the production of weapons did not meet Mussolini’s imperial aspirations. The Glisenti M1910… was a standard pistol of the
Italian Army in World War I… but remained in service until the end of World War II. It fired a unique 9x19mm Glisenti round. It was quite unpopular in the army as it was considered a second-rate pistol. However, since the army was in desperate need for pistols… the Glisenti was issued to Army Reserves and Carabinieri Units. The Beretta M1934… was the most commonly used pistol
in the Italian Army during World War II. The pistol was made in two versions… The most common type… was chambered for 9x17mm quarto short rounds. And the less common version
was the M1935… which fired 7.65x17mm rounds
and was for the Air Force and Navy. The Beretta M1934 was a blowback action. Relatively small, very light, but had less power than most service pistols of the war. Because of its good quality… the Germans continued the production of the M1934… when they took over the Beretta factories in 1943. As with all other armies in the war… the Italians also used the old designed… single-shot rifles to arm infantry units. In their case, it was one of the
most outdated service rifles… the Carcano M1891. Since it was introduced in 1891… not much had changed about the
rifle until the Second World War. Its main features were a modified Mauser design bolt… and Mannlicher (Schönauer) magazine
holding six rounds. The magazine was loaded via loading a clip that couldn’t be ejected until the last round was fired. The Carcano fired old 6.5x52mm rounds. With a round nose bullet, they were obsolete
even during the First World War. During the Ethiopian campaign of 1935-37… Italian commanders realized all the weaknesses of the round. So they decided to introduce a new quite unusual… 7.35x51mm round. Rifles manufactured or modified to fire the new round were designated as M1891/38. However in 1940… it was realised that the Italian industry was not capable of producing large quantities of new rounds. So the Italians decided to switch back to the old 6.5mm rounds… and production of the 6.5mm chambered rifles. During the War, the Italians used several different versions of the Carcano rifle with two different calibers. Thanks to the engineers at the Beretta Factory… the Italians had one of the best
submachine guns of World War II. The Beretta M1938 submachine gun resembled
many contemporary submachine guns… but it was its quality of materials and
finishing that made it special. The weapon consisted of a long
polished wooden stock… with a steel tubular body and long barrel
protected by a perforated jacket. The first variant… the M1938A… had four slots cut into the muzzle compensator. All parts were made from machined steel, which added to the overall quality. The Beretta M1938 fired a standard
9x19mm parabellum round. There were several sizes of magazines holding 10… 20, 30, or 40 rounds. A trademark of [the] Beretta M1938 as well
as all other Beretta submachine guns… was the double trigger system. The rear trigger was used to fire full auto …and the one in front for semi-auto fire. With quality parts and a well-balanced mechanism… the M1938 was known as a weapon that rarely jammed and was therefore very popular among soldiers. It was also considered as a valuable war trophy. As the war took its toll on the Italian weapons industry… the high production cost of the M1938 had to be reduced. This led to the Beretta M1938/42… and subsequent variants that followed. The wooden stock was shortened… its firing mechanism simplified… and perforated barrel jacket was removed. The new machine gun still had the distinctive shape of the Beretta… but it was a far lower quality. However, it was also much cheaper… so it was produced in much larger quantities. The weakest category of the Italian arsenal of small infantry weapons… goes to its machine guns. The leader in machine gun production in Italy
was the Breda Company. They begun producing machine guns during World War I and continue to develop them after the war. One of their weapons was the
Breda M1930 Light Machine Gun. It was a weapon of quite awkward appearance
and very poor quality with a number of flaws. One important drawback was that the weapon recoiled violently as did the barrel. The rear and front sights were mounted to the body of the gun to compensate for this… and had to be re-zeroed each time
the barrel was changed. Another awkward solution… was a fixed folding magazine that was fed with stripper clips containing twenty 6.5x52mm rounds. The problem with such a magazine was that if it was broken, the entire weapon couldn’t be used. The biggest fault however, was also connected to its rounds… empty round cases were prone to jam inside the breech during firing. In order to limit this problem… the manufacturers provided the Breda M1930 with a small oil reservoir for greasing rounds before loading. The problem was that it made the entire mechanism too greasy… so it picked up a lot of debris and dirt. This drawback was especially obvious in Africa… where sand regularly stuck to oily parts
causing frequent jams. Being the only Light Machine Gun in the Italian Army… M1930s were deployed to every infantry squad. Due to its numerous drawbacks, it was the most unpopular weapon among Italian soldiers… and as soon as the war ended, it was
withdrawn from service. This machine gun was a modified
version of the Revelli M1914. Even though the weapon earned a
bad reputation during the First World War… the Italians had a narrow choice of machine guns
in the 1930s. M1914 were taken out of warehouses and were modified by replacing water-cooled with air-cooled barrels… and by introducing the new
more powerful 8x59mm round. The ten rounds strip feed box magazine
was updated to a belt feed. Although engineers did their best to
evade potential problems… the FIAT M1914/35 was no better than its predecessor. It had a low rate of fire, and it also had problems with oil and dirt… and was prone to malfunctions. Despite all its drawbacks… It was still produced in great numbers
and used until the end of the war. The Breda M1937 was the best Italian machine gun
of the Second World War. But it was still far from competing with other machine guns of the time. Unlike the two other machine guns… the M1937 was a gas-operated weapon and was therefore reliable in action. It also had problems with case extraction, but it was not as serious as the M1930 and M1914/35. A distinctive feature of the Breda M1937 was that it was fed by ten tray cassettes or strips. The interesting thing about these trays was that after each round was shot… the gun’s mechanism reinserted the empty case back into the tray. The reason behind this was so that the cases could be recycled at factories. While economical… this design feature could slow down the gunners assistant when reusing these trays in the heat of battle. Another drawback of the system was
that the trays only held 20 rounds… which meant that machine gun crews had to reload the weapon after each short burst. During World War II… Italian soldiers used three hand grenade models all carrying the same designation: Even though they had the same principle of operation, they were different in design and complexity of mechanism. The simplest and the smallest was the OTO Modello 35. (OTO Mod.35) It was loaded with thirty six grams of TNT and a lint ball filled with shrapnel. The more sophisticated and powerful design was
the Breda Modello 35. (Breda Mod.35) It was loaded with 63 grams of TNT and was larger. The SRCM Modella 35 (SRCM Mod.35) had
the most complicated mechanism. It had a charge of 43 grams of TNT which was wrapped with wire that dispersed into shrapnel after the explosion. The Modello 35 hand grenades were offensive grenades and had an explosive radius of 10 to 15 meters. They were also distinctive for their red color… which was the Italian official color code for the explosive. The interesting feature of all three models was
that they had an impact fuse… unlike standard hand grenades of World War II that had a timed chemical fuse. This meant that the Italian bombs were designed to explode immediately on impact. With a double safety system, Modello 35 grenades were very reliable… but misfires happened from time to time. In such occasions, they were still a threat since they were prone to detonate once they were picked up. It was because of this nasty habit… that British soldiers in North Africa nicknamed them “Red Devils”. What’s your favorite Italian
infantry weapon of World War II? Leave a comment below. Subscribe for more history videos… Hey guys, check out this Simple History merch on Teespring. There’s t-shirts, mugs, stickers, phone cases
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