300x250 AD TOP

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tagged under:

Countries of WWII represented by their rifles (54 Pics)

This collection began as a simple wish to include one rifle from each participating nation of WWII. Unfortunately I didn't realize the scope of such a challenge. Instead of quitting while I was ahead, I dug in and did a lot of reading. Soon, some minor countries needed to be lumped together into regions (usually colonies). Each country/region is represented by a unique rifle. In cases in which two countries had the same primary rifle, a secondary weapon is selected. While I'm still making decisions on just what to include and how, the projected collection will total at least 64 pieces. Currently the collection is incomplete, so if you don't see a country represented I haven't found the right rifle for it yet.


Q: "Why is that flag under that gun?"
A: See the description above.  Example: The Brazilian Expeditionary Force used US equipment, so Brazil is represented by a 1903A3.

Q: "I see several No.1 MkIII's"
A: I count the EY as separate but yeah, I have two No.1 MkIII*  I'm working on breaking it up.

Q: "Why isn't X gun here?"
A: I'm not aiming for every gun.  Just every country represented.  Also it's incomplete.

Q: "Why isn't X country here?"
A: Again, this collection is incomplete.

Q: "Wasn't the X rifle the primary service arm for Y country?"
A: Yes, it probably was.  But it was also the primary for Z country.  So I chose Y country's second standard rifle, or third, or something they used almost exclusively over the crap every other guy fielded.  The gun is supposed to remind me of the country.
Malaya: U.S. Carbine, Caliber .30, M1 [7.62×33mm]
This little carbine was meant to split the difference between the M1911A1 pistol and M1 Garand rifle for auxiliary troops.  While it is a miniaturization of the M1 Garand, it does differ slightly in function.  The bolt is cycled automatically by a short-stroke pistol instead of the Garand's long-stroke.  Early examples were not paired with a bayonet and had no lug but they began to appear by the end of the war along with the adjustable rear sight.  It also utilizes a detachable box magazine without the expectation of stripper clip feeding. Its advanced design and easy manufacturing meant millions were produced by the American war industry.

The M1 Carbine found its way into the hands of just about every allied nation's troops at one point or another.  I've included it under the heading of British Malaya as a great many were used by the native Malayan Peoples' Anti-Japanese Army.  Their presence created a great tension with the return of the British administration.

POV: http://imgur.com/X3BG61e

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/1orUYN6

Italian North Africa: Carcano M38 Cavalry [6.5×52mm]
The original M1891 Cavalry rifle saw a dusting off in 1938 as it was reintroduced in caliber 7.35.  The Italian military soon realized the logistical nightmare it had created by introducing a second cartridge while already engaged in battles through Africa and entering the European conflict and the 6.5mm chambering returned.

The M38 Cavalry followed the military in every theater. I've elected to group the Italian North African regions under one banner.  Native troops were given a variety of guns and these were prized.

POV: http://imgur.com/Am4zd42

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/rYZdTeC

French Levant: Berthier Mle.16 Carbine [8×50mmR]
The French Mousquetons Berthier were developed by Emile Berthier as cavalry and auxiliary troops' carbine to serve alongside the venerable Lebel rifles.  The overall action is very similar to the earlier Lebel but with an updated magazine, stock configuration, and alterations to ease machining.  Because the Lebel's tubular magazine was next to pointless in a carbine length gun, the Berthier included a Mannlicher-style en-bloc clip fed magazine. The original 3-shot guns were popular and in 1916 many were converted to a 5-shot magazine.  Further carbines were made new in this same configuration.

This Berthier Mle.16 carbine has been included to represent the native recruits for the French Army of the Levant, which included Syria and Lebanon during WWII.

POV: http://imgur.com/uBr9OPT

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/v42Ir8j

French Equatorial Africa: Lebel Mle. 1886 M93 R35 [8×50mmR]
We'll cover the original Lebel rifle a little later (as it is much longer).  The R35 was something of an emergency cost-savings measure.  In a bid to free more modern carbines from colonial forces, France shortened and re-barreled Lebel long rifles.  These were issued as replacement arms to foreign troops.  With war looming the new barrels were ditched and many were just quickly shortened.  This carbine still uses a magazine tube, now reduced to just three from the original eight cartridge capacity. With one in the elevator and one in the chamber it did manage to keep abreast of other arms of the era.

The Lebel R35 was used in a number of regions of the French Colonial Empire, but I've placed it with French Equatorial Africa.  It just seems like they appear often in images from that region during the war.

POV: http://imgur.com/qz6F3i4

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/v723FVw

Canada: Winchester M1894 [7.62x51mmR]
Canada's western coast was sparsely populated and the concern was that the Japanese would take advantage of so much untamed wilderness to invade. The citizens of British Columbia and the Yukon territory were convinced that they, who knew the land, would be the best defense and volunteered to patrol the area. This group became known as the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers and received official sanction from the Canadian government in 1942.
The government approved the purchase of somewhere between 2,000-3,000 Winchester 94s in .30 W.C.F. The men of the militia gave favorable reports of the gun, and it is even claimed in some articles that the men requested them specifically.

These Winchesters were Canadian property marked on the left side of the receiver, at the back of the fore stock, and at the base of the butt stock. All known examples are within the 1,300,000 serial range and were manufactured in 1942. They were also outfitted with special sling swivel bands and British web slings.

Crest: http://i.imgur.com/96QiMLq.jpg

POV: http://i.imgur.com/yqmNgrv.jpg

Historical Image: http://i.imgur.com/yOBbISv.gif

Iran: Mauser M1309 Cavalry Carbine [7.92×57mm]
These Czechoslovakian made Mauser rifles and carbines were bought by the modernizing Iranian military through the 1930's.  All these contract pieces have beautiful Iranian crests with a sword-wielding lion before a setting sun.  Their superior quality was of little benefit against the Anglo-Soviet Invasion of 1941.

I've included this M1309 Cavalry carbine because it takes up less safe space than the long rifle.

Crest: http://i.imgur.com/9hgibQv.jpg

POV: http://imgur.com/mLfNbEb

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/GKOSnPU

Manchukuo: Arisaka Type 44 [6.5×50mmSR]
The Type 44 was designed as an improvement of the Type 38 carbine for auxiliary and cavalry troops.  Production began in 1911, when cavalry was still king.  The design permitted a mounted soldier one less clunky blade on his belt and kept a bayonet handy.

The Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo was setup in 1932 and carried on through the war.  The native Manchurian Mauser rifles were, for a short time, produced in 6.5 but eventually the Japanese provided armament in the form of Arisaka rifles.  Manchukuo had a heavy cavalry presence and the Type 44 saw wide issuance.

Crest: http://imgur.com/ZjDLlBt

POV: http://imgur.com/Gq9uBm1

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/S9Jvlns

Czechoslovakia: Mauser vz.33 [7.92×57mm]
The vz.33 was a lightened Mauser carbine based on an earlier commercial export.  It was developed to serve the Czech Gendarmerie and Financial Ministry troops.  It is, in essence, a police carbine.

The primary arm of the Czech army was the vz.24 rifle.  This rifle was also used by Romania and the former Czech state of The Slovak Republic.  I've assigned it to the latter and so I'm forced, in order to vary my collection, to use the Czech secondary equipment.  These rifles saw battle as the various internal ministries were called upon (much like our modern National Guard) to defend the country.  Most known incidents of the Gendarmerie fighting were stalling tactics against Hungarian advances.

Crest: http://imgur.com/8d7W7nU

POV: http://imgur.com/t0jLNmm

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/E63pxMM

Germany: Gewehr 33/40 "Mountaineer's Carbine" [7.92×57mm]
Once Germany gained control of Czechoslovakian war time production, they began to standardize it on their own patterns.  They elected to keep the handy vz.33 carbine with some minor changes.  The improved rifle was reinforced with a kick plate to help climbers pull themselves up and a front sight adjusted to German standards.

I've included the G33/40 as Germany's rifle, as the Kar98k is doing duty for some of their foreign volunteers.

POV: http://imgur.com/xyLafrd

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/OnaeKpF

Bulgaria: Steyr-Mannlicher M1895/30 [8x56mmR]
Mannlicher's Model 1895 rifle was a staple of the WWI battlefield as Austria-Hungary's main rifle.  The rifle featured a unique straight-pull action made possible by helical grooves set between a core bolt and outer bolt sleeve.  It fed from an en-bloc clip that would be inserted into the action and became a component of the magazine system.  Once the last round was chambered the clip was freed and fell from the bottom of the gun.

A great many were sold on contract to Bulgaria.  When Austria and Hungary updated their rifles from 8x50mmR to 8x56mmR in the 1930s, Bulgaria did the same.  Additional Austrian M95/30 rifles were supplied by German in 1939.  These were known by the designations 1938g and 1939g depending on original production.

This rifle saw plenty of duty in both wars, but converted stutzens were the standard arm of Bulgaria in WWII.  My example here displays the Bulgarian roaring lion crest, meaning it was a WWI holdover.

Crest: http://imgur.com/ptkS4rv

POV: http://imgur.com/3CfTdzS

Historical Photos: http://imgur.com/rcaiJZE

Britain: Lee-Enfield No.5 MkI [7.7×56mmR]
Pacific fighting taught the British a hard lesson about just how heavy and cumbersome even their new No.4 MkI rifles were.  With dense growth and long marches in store, they opted for a lightened and shortened rifle.  Lots of additional metal milling, a shortened barrel and stock, and muzzle flash hider culminated in this very handy carbine.  It's often repeated that the flash cone is meant to avoid giving away the shooter's position, but .303 erupting from this short barreled carbine would need a 2 foot cone for that job.  It's really meant to shield the shooter's eyes from the worst of the flash so he can quickly make follow up shots.

I've included this carbine under the heading of Britain as they really were never picked up in the colonies.  The No.5 was carried into both the European and Pacific theater and was popular with paratroopers too.

POV: http://imgur.com/HR6OAN4   &   http://imgur.com/SPU6sWp

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/4QOv6E3

Greece: Mannlicher-Schönauer M1903/14 M30 Carbine [6.5×54mm]
The Mannlicher-Schönauer rifle was probably the best development of the Gewehr 88 action.  Steyr's Otto Schönauer joined the venerable bolt gun to a rotary magazine and attempted to lure in export sales.  The smooth feeding action has been a sporting legend since, but military sales were few.  The expensive guns saw only one buyer, Greece.  After WWI the Austrian firm could no longer export martial arms so Greece contracted with Breda in Italy to provide more.  By 1930 the bans had slackened and this little carbine came over from Steyr once more.  As an expediency it still displays the commercial "Mannlicher Schoenauer 1930 system" markings.

Funky Magazine: http://imgur.com/oZicb9o

POV: http://imgur.com/dGSty6Y

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/u8xzmDe

USSR: Mosin-Nagant M38 Carbine [7.62×54mmR]
More about the Mosin Nagant will be discussed further up the collection.  The M38 is a simple shortening of the M91/30 long rifle.  They were an expedient solution for rear guard and artillery troops who didn't want to be tripping over their own rifles.  The front sights were even offset in such a way to prevent the use of the standard pike bayonet of the M91/30 as these guns were not meant for rushing front line attacks.

While the M91/30 was the primary arm of the Soviet Union, the longer rifle is serving another region for the collection.  Instead the the M38 stands as a proud banner.

POV: http://imgur.com/0zpvfEK

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/jasNane

Italy: Carcano M38 Short Rifle [6.5×52mm]
This is the primary Italian rifle after the 1938 update.  The military had decided to go wholeheartedly into a short rifle configuration and ditch all long guns in new production.  Originally these rifles shipped with an iconic folding bayonet, like a large folding knife.  They proved weak, however, and were replaced with a fixed blade.  Many of the folders were brought back to be converted to fixed blades as well, making original folders collectible today.  Like the Cavalry carbine, this short rifle was initially offered in 7.35mm but reverted to 6.5mm.  Many of the original 7.35mm rifles found their way to Finland as Axis war aid.  These were not always well received but saw use.

As the main rifle for WWII nothing could represent Il Duce's regime better.

POV: http://imgur.com/IHm09vD

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/pORSjXY

French North Africa: MAS Modèle 36 [7.5×54mm]
Manufacture d'armes de Saint-Étienne developed this rifle along with the French government in a late attempt to update their small arms.  The 7.5mm cartridge was adapted from an earlier successful machine gun round.  The MAS 36 incorporated a dirt-resistant rear locking lug, staggered 5-round box magazine, dog-leg bolt handle for easy reach, and adjustable rear aperture sight.  This amalgam resulted in a reliable but somewhat awkward looking rifle.

The reliable MAS did not make it far before the outbreak of war and despite being France's main rifle on paper, many more Lebel and Berthier rifles and carbines saw service.  It did, however, remain the standard through the war and many more were produced afterwards.

The rifle did make it into the hands of many North African Spahis and served on with the Free French whenever ammunition was available.

POV: http://imgur.com/pdpnzkL

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/e5LfYNl

Poland: Mosin-Nagant wz.91/98/26 [7.92×57mm]
More about the original Mosin-Nagant M1891 can be found with the longer rifles.  The wz.91/98/26 was an unusual and complicated modification of captured Russian arms that found their way into the new state of Poland.  The short description is that they were rechambered from the Russian 7.62x54mmR to German 7.92x57mm and fitted with Mauser 98 style bayonet lugs.

The primary arms of the Polish military were various Mauser designs.  Each, however, was essentially a clone of another available design seen elsewhere in this collection.  Second behind the Mausers were these unusual Mosin conversions, used by their Gendarmerie and rear-echelon troops.  During the all out invasion they were certainly put to use.  I also like how this rifle visually represents the confluence of German and Russian cultures that could be found in Interwar Poland.

POV:  http://imgur.com/8u3uFEN

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/jxdM4dY
Belgium: Mauser Mle. 1935 [7.65×53mm]
With Germany and Austria under a variety of regulations against production of military firearms, Belgium became the king of Inter War Period Mauser exports.  Despite massive sales of these rifles, the Belgian government delayed in updating their own very dated WWI guns.  Ultimately they decided to remanufacture captured stocks of German Gew. 98 long rifles, ignoring FN's excellent new stock.

MAE began converting in 1935.  Actions were completely ground, rebarreled and restocked.  By 1940 the war was upon Belgium and FN was turned to the task of producing Mle. 1935 rifles from scratch.  Their design is somewhat unremarkable with all the differences from the Kar98K and vz.24 being a matter of fittings and details.  They are, however, somewhat rare and FN variations are scarcer still.

POV: http://i.imgur.com/njUx6YL.jpg

Historical Photo: http://i.imgur.com/d3KvPSc.jpg
Belgian Congo: Mauser Mle. 1889/36 [7.65×53mm]
Belgium's smokeless, small-bore rifle was the Mauser Mle.1889 and saw service in long rifle and carbine form through WWI.  With Germany and Austria under heavy sanctions, Belgium became the new king of Mauser exports and FN's M24 and M30 rifles traveled the world.  The Belgian military, however, still carted around their horribly dated WWI pattern rifles far too long.  In 1935 they adopted a Mauser Model 98 style rifle.  With plenty of Mle.1889 long rifles on hand, they began a program to convert them to the same pattern as their new rifle.  The jacketed barrels were replaced with more modern, stepped design and the overall length reduced.  Despite the creation of the Mle. 1935 and 89/36 rifles Belgium was still fielding original M1889 rifles and carbines in WWII.

The Model 1889/36 saw use at home and in large numbers abroad.  This rifle represents the soldiers of the Belgian Congo, who assisted with the British invasion of Italian holdings in Africa.

POV: http://imgur.com/o1Atjok

Historical Rifle: http://imgur.com/K006Vci
Yugoslavia: Mauser M1924 [7.92×57mm]
Yugoslavia was created at the end of WWI as the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.  The new nation was faced with unifying a people and a military of extremely varied and often opposing backgrounds.  Small arms in the country were a dizzying mix of every sort seen on the battlefields of Europe.  Various factions of the military fought over whether to use French or German arms.  The 7.92mm cartridge tipped the scales and they selected the Belgian Model 1924, intermediate ring, export Mauser as their standard.  An initial run was purchased along with production equipment.  A great many more were made domestically.

Crest: http://imgur.com/kWHmRd5

POV: http://imgur.com/SYsOOl6

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/QYImRLY
Croatia: Steyr Mannlicher M1895/24 [7.92×57mm]
One of the most common rifles available in post war Yugoslavia was the Austrian Mannlicher M1895 straight pull.  As the M1924 Mauser replaced mismatched army weapons, these guns became the standard for the Yugoslavian gendarmerie.

In the late 1930's, with war again looming, the government contracted with FOMU to convert the en-bloc Mannlichers into something resembling the M1924.  7.92mm Mauser barrels, straight from the M1924 assembly lines, replaced the original 8x50mmR.  Sights were also replaced and a full M1924 handguard fitted.  New bolt heads completed the ammo change over.  Permanent en-bloc clips were installed in order to create a fixed magazine.  Metal was milled away to permit stripper clip loading.

When Yugoslavia fell it was split into a number of smaller states.  These were all essentially occupied by various Axis forces.  The Independent State of Croatia, however, took on a nationalist fervor beyond the others.  The Ustaše's zeal for racial cleansing dwarfed the Nazi's.  Much of their equipment was taken from Yugoslavian stores and new German gifts.  The M95/24 found its way into their naval and second line troops' hands.

Magazine Mod: http://i.imgur.com/7OufK.jpg

POV: http://imgur.com/0Y2ivVT

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/rGWfcV9
Slovak Republic: Mauser vz.24 [7.92×57mm]
Shortly after WWI, Czechoslovakia developed the venerable, and often copied vz.24 Mauser based off the German Gewehr 98.  The handy short rifle became the template for modern Mausers and saw massive exports.

While it was used domestically and in nearby Romania, it was the exclusive service rifle for the war time state of the Slovak Republic.  Slovak marked vz.24 rifles are extremely rare.

Crest: http://imgur.com/Yhb1u8v

POV: http://imgur.com/7Rwzion

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/sbGmv6C
Ethiopia: FN Mauser M30 [7.92×57mm]
Ethiopian arms were another area of extreme diversity.  Given a feudal levy system for national defense, each warlord armed his troops with whatever he could afford and procure.  The emperor's personal army, however, was equipped with a mixture of Belgian and German export Mausers.

Our example is a Belgian-made Mauser M1930.  Nearly identical to the earlier mentioned Yugoslavian M1924, this rifle is a standard large ring configuration.

Crest: http://i.imgur.com/hf1OiYH.jpg

POV:  http://imgur.com/OvTPoIa

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/z2Uycq7
Switzerland: Karabiner Model 1931 [7.5×55mm]
The K31 is often erroneously called a Schmidt-Rubin design.  While the straight-pull operation is the same, the bolt design was all new and done by Eidgenossische Waffenfabrik with no named inventor.  These rifles are renowned for their accuracy and reliability.

Switzerland has been included, despite its neutral status, because it avoided invasion by both sides by maintaining a modern and very potent military.  Swiss planes also brought down fighters and bombers from both sides and Swiss soldiers patrolled their borders and forcibly interned all trespassers.

POV: http://imgur.com/Q3I5VMe

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/WvfAzYW
U.S.A.: Rifle Caliber .30, M1 [7.62×63mm]
The M1 Garand represented a radical departure from standard military doctrine.  It was the first standard issue semi-automatic rifle on the world stage when it was adopted in 1936.  The system is fed an 8-round en-bloc clip which is ejected vertically after the last round is fired.

While we've become accustomed to this piece of history, nothing could be funkier in 1936 than an 8-round, semi-automatic, aperture sighted with elevation and windage rifle that can be field stripped without tools. Go USA!

POV: http://imgur.com/sRLh4al

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/NeEw5ff
Spain: Mauser Karabiner 98 Kurz [7.92x57mm]
In 1935 Germany adopted a Mauser 98 variant with a shortened overall length, bolt take down ring in the stock, simplified sights, bent bolt handle, and side mounted sling. This new Karabiner 98 followed an earlier, longer rifle by the same name, so the term "Kurz," meaning short, was added. Many consider the Kar98k the pinnacle of the 1898 system. Its forward locking lugs are strong, the long extractor robust and reliable, and its cock-on-open action makes for steady feeding.

The Kar98k remained the standard rifle of Germany throughout the war, but I've elected to let the rifle stand for Germany's foreign volunteers. The largest unoccupied, non-belligerent volunteer force being the Spanish Blue Division which served proudly on the Eastern Front.

POV: http://imgur.com/ndijrSj

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/kEVAQot
China: Mauser Type Zhongzheng [7.92×57mm]
Nationalist forces in China swapped from their long-lived Mausers 88 and 1907 when they encountered the Standard Export model.  While this rifle shares features with the Kar98K it is actually a separate descendant from the Gewehr 98.

Multiple arsenals produced the rifle before and during the war.  Because of Japanese attacks, several were moved about, broken down, reassembled, combined, or split up.  These can lead to much confusion.  The example here is from the 1st Arsenal.

Crest: http://imgur.com/OlMtWoM

POV: http://imgur.com/D9JidBV

Historical Photo: http://i.imgur.com/KQ0MDaf
Brazil: U.S. Rifle M1903A3 [7.62×63mm]
During the Spanish-American war, the US realized the limitations of the Krag-Jørgensen when pitted against the Mauser M1893.  Captured examples were dissected and their overall action combined with desirable features from the Krag.  This new design did not differentiate enough from the original Mauser and a lawsuit soon sent $3,000,000 back to Germany.

During WWII the 1903 received some updates in order to standardize usage with the M1 Garand and M1 Carbine.  The most notable change is that the rear leaf sight was swapped with a receiver mounted aperture.  Additional changes continued in order to speed manufacture, such as simplified rifling and stamped steel parts.

The 1903A3 was issued in all U.S. theaters of war.  It was also given to allies and is included in this collection as the primary arm of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force whose volunteers served with US equipment.

POV: http://imgur.com/FbMUyLv

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/8fnAExK
Formosa: Arisaka Type 99 [7.7×58mm]
While the Type 38 rifles and derivative carbines were performing admirably in China, Japan became concerned with the superior performance of the 7.92x57mm cartridge.  Officials ultimately settled on the British .303 cartridge but wisely chose to ditch the rim.  The new 7.7 was paired with a rifle based on the earlier Type 38 but with small improvements to ease machining and including more features for the soldier.  Originally both long and short rifles were produced but quickly disappeared into a universal short rifle adoption.  New features were the addition of rear sight "wings" to aid in mass volley fire at low flying aircraft, a monopod mount for stability (eventually discontinued when proven unnecessary), and a chrome lined barrel.

While the Type 99 became Japan's official rifle, it never replaced the Type 38 in numbers.  I've included it not for Japan but for the annexed nation of Taiwan.  This nation was Japan's great experiment in complete conversion of a populace and native Taiwanese were encouraged to become "Japanese."  Volunteers' service in the Imperial Japanese Army was more fluid and integrated as they could be fielded anywhere a native Japanese soldier would go.

Crest: http://imgur.com/MeKoWzx

POV: http://imgur.com/7qkB0gE

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/2eorkTv
Union of South Africa: Lee-Enfield No.4 MkI [7.7×56mmR]
While there were a number of trials leading to the adoption of a new pattern Lee-Enfield, war gave the final shove.  The No.4 MkI included a receiver mounted rear aperture sight first experimented on SMLEs in the 1920's.  The blade bayonet was ditched for a simple spike and the receiver shape simplified for rigidity and easy manufacture.  The updated rifle also featured a heavier barrel.

The No.4 MkI was issued broadly and could represent a number of countries.  This one, however, is marked by the Union of South Africa.

POV: http://imgur.com/JilLd6G

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/Sj78ml4.jpg
Australia: Lee-Enfield No.1 MkIII* [7.7×56mmR]
James Paris Lee developed the rear-locking, detachable magazine fed military rifle that ultimately led to this storied weapon. Originally, his designs were partnered with William Metford's unique rifling concept in a long, black powder rifle.  Metford rifling wore too quickly when exposed to modern smokeless powders.  So the Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield came up with a square design and the Lee-Metford became the Lee-Enfield.

Eventually the long rifle proved to be just too cumbersome and the British decided to standardize it and all carbines into one "short rifle" pattern.  The new rifle became the Short, Magazine-loaded, Lee-Enfield (SMLE). Further revisions from conception through WWI evolved the rifle to the Mk.III pattern.  The elimination of the magazine cutoff and some easing of manufacturing made for the Mk.III*.  With the introduction of the later No.4 and No.5 rifles the naming convention was changed to No.1 Mk.III*.  Unfortunately, the wide use of this rifle threatens to break my one rifle per country rule, so variations are going to matter.

This particular rifle was produced in Australia and is a standard No.1 MkIII*.  Given some time and luck I will trade this unfortunate duplication out for an Australian No.1 MkIII* H, which was a heavy barrel modification done for gun clubs during the Interwar Period.  These guns were donated back to the military and production of heavy barrels continued, leading to the H.T. marksman's rifle.

Property Mark: http://imgur.com/Ihnxy6b

POV: http://imgur.com/VncqqFP

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/rYz08LE
Iraq: Lee-Enfield No.1 MkIII* [7.7×56mmR]
In the mid 1930's the Kingdom of Iraq ordered a number of British small arms, including Lee-Enfield No.1 MkIII rifles.  The example I have here is a No.1 MkIII* that was retired from British service and may have been provided to Iraq after the beginning of hostilities.  I would still like to replace it with the standard No.1 MkIII contract with no English proofs if given the occasion as this will slightly vary the MkIII's.

Property Mark: http://imgur.com/pcS5A0Q

POV: http://imgur.com/VncqqFP

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/nihdEtu
India: Lee-Enfield No.1 MkIII EY [7.7×56mmR]
Yet another MkIII variation, this rifle was modified to fire grenades without splitting the wood.  There are two major arguments for the reason behind "EY" and I side with the translation: Extra Yoke.  Copper wire has been wound around the stock and barrel and soldiered together.  An additional heavy bolt has been sunk through the stock under the chamber to increase rigidity.

This particular rifle is just 2 years too new and will be replaced with another later.  Many West African forces favored the reinforced grenade rifle and so this piece honors them.

POV: http://imgur.com/VncqqFP

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/bFxZqBT
Philippines: U.S. Rifle Model of 1917 [7.62×63mm]
Despite the successes of the Lee-Enfield rifle, Britain soon saw the additional advantages of the German Mausers and small-bore, flat trajectory ammunition.  They developed a Mauser-derivative rifle and .276 Enfield ammunition in conjunction with various prototypes until the outbreak of WWI.  Pressed for weaponry, the Pattern 13 rifle was redesigned for rimmed .303 ammunition and contracts were made for the new Pattern 14's production in America.  By the time the contracts wrapped up, the US had entered the war and faced its own shortages.  The assembly lines were kept going, this time in 30-06 and the Model 1917 was born.

The 1917 rifle didn't die off in the Interwar Period.  A great many were on hand at the outbreak of WWII and were given away to allied nations.  Many were also refurbished with Johnson Automatic barrels.  It was also the standard rifle of the fledgling Commonwealth of the Philippines.

POV: http://imgur.com/eRxLNJA

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/ZvGCtfz
Finland: Mosin Nagant M28 [7.62×54mmR]
Once liberated from Russia, Finland struck out on a path to modernize its military to preserve its freedom. The Finns made thrifty use of WWI Russian Mosins and worked through a number of design variations.

I've selected the M28 because of its involvement in both Winter Wars.  This particular shortened and improved Mosin-Nagant was produced from former Russian M1891's for Finland's Civil Guard (separate from the Army and a novel in itself)
Ukraine: SVT-40 [7.26x54mmR]
The SVT-40 was a semi-automatic rifle developed in and adopted by the USSR.  Advanced for its day, this gas-operated, detachable box magazine rifle actually inspired the Germans to improve their Gew.41.

This rifle was a favorite when captured by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and is second only to the PPsh 41 submachine gun when searching photos of this unusual guerrilla army.  In the hands of the Ukrainians the SVT-40 was turned on Germans, Russians and Poles.


Historical Photo: http://i.imgur.com/zbxtIv0.jpg
Mongolia: Mosin Nagant M1891/30 [7.62×54mmR]
More about the original M1891 will be discussed later in the list.  The industry to produce these rifles was already established and its worth had been proven in the battles of WWI.  Then in 1930 the rifle was shortened and the interrupter improved.  Machining of the receiver was also switched up a few years later to speed production.

While this was the principle arm of the Soviet Union, it was also gifted in strong numbers to an eastern ally.  The Mongolian People's Republic fought a number of border disputes with Japanese, Manchurian, and Inner Mongolian troops through WWII.  They were equipped with Russian arms and armor in one of the earlier bids by the Soviet Union at propping up other Communist regimes.

POV: http://imgur.com/5w7Fidd

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/tRks7Dd
Thailand: Mauser Type 46 [8x52mmR]
Production of the Thai Mauser Type 46 began in 1903 under the name RS 121 (taken from a royal calender of the time).  The gun represented a unique hybrid of Mauser, Mannlicher, and Arisaka.  The overall action and magazine are from the Mauser 98, with sights and bands from the earlier 1896.  A sliding dust cover, two-piece stock, and thin bolt handle with a "plumb" knob came from the Japanese Type 35.  The 8x50mmR ammunition and knife style bayonet were derived from the Austrian M1895.

Years later the Thai government switched to a Buddhist calender and the RS 121 was retroactively corrected to Type 46.  In 1926 (Buddhist 2466) an improved spitzer bullet and longer cartridge were adopted.  Type 46 rifles were rechambered and their sights shaved down for the flatter trajectory ammunition.  Both cartridges continued to serve but I would like to swap my original 8x50mmR for an 8x52mmR one day.

Crest: http://imgur.com/LkbGE9M

POV: http://imgur.com/Ore3l5H

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/obwnwRQ
China: Hanyang Type 88 [7.92×57mm]
Colloquially referred to as the Hanyang 88 or Type 88, the Type Han is the Chinese copy of the Gewehr 88. They were identical to their predecessors until 1904, when the Chinese did away with the barrel jacket.  The rifle, featuring an early Mauser-style split bridge receiver and a Mannlicher en-bloc system magazine, remained largely unchanged until production was discontinued in 1944. It soldiered on in service throughout WWII and the Chinese Civil War, despite the introduction of the Type 24 “Chiang Kai-Shek” rifle.

Before, during, and after the war with Japan, China was engaged in a civil war between Nationalist and Communist forces.  By the time of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, the communist forces were suffering heavily.  They did, however, maintain their own state, with several core provinces, as the Chinese Soviet Republic.  Much of their equipment was taken from Chinese and, later, Japanese forces.  This earlier Type Han rifle was a common find for them and so represents this other Chinese nation.

Crest: http://imgur.com/sswgtQi

POV: http://imgur.com/DvESuNc

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/o9dppCv
Mengjiang: Mauser Liao Type 13 [7.92x57mm]
The Liao Type 13 is a rifle that still has a little mystery surrounding it.  Entering production circa 1924 in Shenyang (previously Mukden) it is believed to be an evolution of the Austrian 1912 export Mauser.  It incorporates the Mauser action with an Arisaka-like firing pin and sliding dust cover.  Experts claim the similarities to the Arisaka are coincidental and that the entire design was from Europe.

When Japan setup the puppet state of Manchukuo they began production of Arisaka rifles and imported a great many carbines.  These displaced native "Manchurian Mausers" were donated in the thousands to the Inner Mongolian puppet state: Mengjiang.

POV: http://i.imgur.com/r1Vh1Hf.jpg

Crest: http://i.imgur.com/MQRbcWd.jpg

Historical Photo: http://i.imgur.com/pD9Peld.jpg
Sweden: Mauser M1896 [6.5x55mm]
Unlike the rest of the Mausers featured in this collection, the 1896 is a small ring design based on the 1893 rifle. The smaller, 6.5mm cartridge was chosen for marksmanship as it provided a long, flat trajectory.  Because the Swedish government maintained an official policy of neutrality, the military was slow to update the rifle and its use continued throughout the 1940s.  The only broad change was an adoption of an M38 shortened rifle but not all stocks were converted.

Despite Sweden’s neutrality, I have decided to include the country in the collection because over 10,000 volunteers assisted the Finnish military in their fight against the Soviets during the Winter War. These volunteers carried with them their own rifles and equipment from Sweden, most of which were left in Finland after their withdrawal.

POV: http://imgur.com/VJ2jx4s

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/EIYU0uX
Norway: Krag-Jørgensen M1894 [6.5×55mm]
In 1893 Norway and Sweden were sharing a king and a joint military commission was formed in order to adopt a common caliber for their mutual defense.  They settled on a 6.5mm cartridge but disagreed on a rifle.  Norway wasn't so happy with the partnership and had some national pride in their rifle being sold to Denmark and the USA but Sweden favored the proven Mauser.  Ultimately they both got their way.  Keep scrolling for more on the Krag-Jørgensen as I do have an older one a little further down the collection.

The Norwegian Krag differed in several key ways from the Danish and heavily favored to the American variation.  It features a Mauser-style flag safety on the bolt, drop-open loading gate, and one-piece magazine and action.  While that last bit made for a stronger receiver, it also made the Norwegian Krag very complicated and expensive to machine.  Various long rifles and carbines served from 1894 until the German occupation of the country in WWII.  Unlike Denmark, Norway fought the invasion for several months and even after official surrender a great many participated in resistance movements.

Action: http://imgur.com/XdglJjR

POV: http://imgur.com/eHaoW8L

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/9JNdjfN
Korea: Arisaka Type 30 [6.5×50mmSR]
Japan reached out to the West for influence on their Type 30 Arisaka rifle.  It was designed by commission and included Mauser and Mannlicher influences from a number of firearms and a few unique features of its own.  Outstanding among these were the light, two-piece stock, receiver shaped to help leverage the bolt in place, and a distinctive hook shaped cocking piece.

The Type 30 had long been retired from active service by the time WWII kicked off but many remained in stores.  Some were converted late in the war to more modern patterns.  Original rifles and carbines were also dusted off and issued to rear guards.  One particular set of users were conscripted Koreans who were regularly put in charge of enemy POWs.  So this gun represents the annexed country of Korea and its many forced soldiers and laborers.

Crest: http://imgur.com/qspTOWW

POV: http://imgur.com/doRRMxs

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/sHt1cXU
Shanxi: Arisaka 6-5 Rifle [6.5×50mmSR]
This particular gun is a Type 38 clone made in the Shanxi Province of mainland China.  Because of the quality and exacting details of these copies, it's believed that retired Japanese equipment was purchased to produce these guns.  It also helps they are made to a Type 38 pattern that had been abandoned years before in Japan (variations in sights and safety knob).  The writing on the chamber translates to "6 5 Rifle."

Its inclusion might bring some controversy, but I have it here to remind me that China was a BIG place with a great many personalities at play.  Yan Xishan was something of the last surviving Chinese warlord and his military and political maneuverings kept him in power despite Chiang Kai Shek's rise.  While Shanxi was, technically, just a province of Nationalist China it is apparent that it served another master.  So in order to remember all those extra micro countries that came and went in the Northeast of China I've kept a piece just for Shanxi.

Crest: http://imgur.com/4rkA7lq

POV: http://imgur.com/6E3eyVk

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/xkOr59N
Burma: Arisaka Type 38 [6.5×50mmSR]
While the previous Type 30 was designed by committee and the Type 35 that followed was a direct evolution, the Type 38 was a complete overhaul and almost entirely new design by then Captain Kijiro Nambu. The Mauser-like forward locking lugs are shallow and wide, providing a larger locking surface. The bolt handle is nested in the receiver (like the Type 30) and acts as another emergency lug. Steel requirements were more severe than even Western nations and so this quality rifle is the strongest bolt action in this collection.

The bolt was made with the minimal number of moving parts and is powered by a single spring that moves against the firing pin and the rear safety knob. This knob also serves as a shield against vented gases from ruptured cases and is designed to be of minimal obtrusiveness and to be manipulated easily by gloved hands. The Type 38 was also intentionally designed for field service and repair and can be disassembled with no special tools.

While it was the most common rifle in the Japanese military, I've elected to let a more obscure firearm take its place. This rifle, used and cancelled from service, represents arms provided to the Japanese puppet State of Burma.

Crest: http://imgur.com/fRfWqSG

POV: http://imgur.com/6E3eyVk

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/okFb8ni
Japan: Carcano Type I [6.5×50mmSR]
We've covered the Carcano and the Arisaka.  This is a bit of both.  Due to shortages of small arms, the Japanese Navy decided to reach out to its Axis partner Italy in order to fulfill its need for rifles.  Their solution was to pair a Carcano bolt and action to an Arisaka everything else.

These rifles saw little fighting and can generally be found in good condition.  They were used at least once though at the Battle of Kwajalein.  So Japan gets an oddball and the collection gets a little weirder.

POV: http://imgur.com/fMbgKXW

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/9bAvga1
The Netherlands: Mannlicher M1895
When Germany release the Gewehr 88 they included a patent-protected modified Mannlicher magazine. Steyr sued and won the rights to produce the 88 and under Otto Schönauer the rifle was improved. The new design drew Romania's attention and later The Netherlands bit as well with small modifications. Their newly adopted rifle was initially produced at Steyr but rights were bought for production at Hembrug.

Numerous carbines and other variations abound. This rifle is the original continental Model 1895.  These long rifles, many antiques, were used in the defense of the Netherlands.

POV: http://i.imgur.com/uptGmrH.jpg

Historical Photo: http://i.imgur.com/jsJNXmF.jpg
Dutch East Indies: Mannlicher M1895 KNIL [6.5×53mmR]
The Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch Leger) oversaw the Dutch East Indies with the help of native conscripts.  Their equipment was drafted from the same factories and general patterns as the continental army, but with slight variations in stocks and bayonet fittings.  This particular long rifle is exceptionally rare as most were lost to war or  a post-war conversion to a .303 short rifle.  The differences from continental rifles are small and the easiest one to note is the "L" shaped finger groove in the stock.

This rifle represents the native Indonesians who suffered invasion and kept up an active resistance through the war in the Pacific.

POV: http://imgur.com/8c6CDOu

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/KR4TX8a
Albania: Carcano M1891 [6.5×52mm]
Italian officials first settled on the 6.5mm cartridge, then invited Mannlicher to adapt his 1888 magazine system to the problem. After that they developed on blueprints from Salvatore Carcano for an action derived from Mauser's Gewehr 88 split bridge receiver. In order to save on barrel wear, gain twist rifling was implemented and kept a military secret for many years. This came in handy decades later when many long rifles were converted easily to accurate carbines.

By WWII the M1891 long rifle had been replaced by a number of short rifles. A great many WWI surplus rifles, however, had been sold to the Kingdom of Albania. These guns were briefly turned on their creators during the Italian invasion. They were also re-appropriated by the conquerors for issuance to puppet Albanian and Balkan region troops.

POV: http://imgur.com/8UFI36d

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/8uKLTPY
Latvia: Ross Rifle Mk.III [7.7×56mmR]
The Ross series of rifles were a scramble made by a great commercial arms designer and manufacturer trying to force his vision into a military role.  The Mk.III was expected to resolve the last of the issues from the Mk.II, but fell short due to tight chambers, small bolt stops, and a bolt that could be assembled incorrectly.  All of these issues were corrected before the end of WWI but it was too late and the gun was dropped.

Existing stores found their way to Britain and were given away as allied aid.  Latvia received a fair number of Ross Rifles and P14s in .303 but these were of little use when the USSR came a knocking.

POV: http://imgur.com/JebAvYu

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/TeYpcpU
French West Africa: Lebel Mle.1886 M93 [8×50mmR]
A confluence of designs revolutionized the firearms industry with the near simultaneous introduction of smokeless gunpowder and copper-jacketed ammunition.  These advances were combined by Nicolas Lebel in an 8mm small bore cartridge which was soon paired with a gun.  The "Lebel" 1886 rifle was actually more an evolution of the earlier Gras and Kropatschek rifles, with no help from Nicolas.  Being the first smokeless small bore it launched a wave of competition in arms development that didn't slow until after WWI.

The rifle featured a sturdy, forward locking bolt, later modified in 1893 to help vent ruptured case gases.  It loaded from a tubular magazine which could carry eight cartridges; another in the elevator and one in the chamber brought the total to 10.

Even before WWI the Lebel was showing its age, but it soldiered on and was still in ready supply at the outbreak of WWII, especially in the colonies.  This piece sits in my collection for the French West African colonies who found themselves caught between Vichy and the Free French forces before being dragged across Europe in order to liberate France.

POV: http://imgur.com/8hYvijx

Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/t5AXE7v
Estonia: Mosin-Nagant M1891 [7.62×54mmR]
This rifle is often thought to be a hybrid design shared between Sergei Mosin and Léon Nagant. However, Nagant's contributions are minimal and at least one, the interrupter, is disputed. The name was popularized by Mr. Nagant in the Western arms industry and Russia permitted it in a bid to remain in good standing with European designers. It features a rugged and simple bolt action and single-stack magazine. Because of its use of rimmed ammunition it has been paired with an interrupter to ease feeding. The Mosin-Nagant, through its various updates, has the distinguished honor of being the longest serving rifle in the collection.

With the collapse of Tsarist Russia, the M1891 rifles were scattered into a myriad of armies. Former states readily adopted the rifles on hand and by the time WWII was beginning to boil the unmodified M1891 was still the primary arm of Estonia. After Poland was secured, Soviet forces turned on the Baltic states. While capitulation was quick, guerrilla resistance continued beyond WWII.

POV: http://imgur.com/4d5LDZv
Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/90Lrr5b
Denmark: Krag-Jørgensen M1889/10 [8x58mmR]
The two Krag-Jørgensen rifles in the collection represent the furthest departure from the bolt action norm. These unusual guns feature horizontal magazines set under the action that feed around the left side. When combined with the single-lug, short traveling bolt these rifles become one of the fastest and smoothest feeding rifles in military history. Their unique magazines are well suited for loading loose rounds and can be topped off with one still in the chamber. While bulky in appearance, they're also easy to use with a gloved hand. Krags were also particularly handy when used as single loaders with the magazine in the "off" position as was popular in military doctrine at that time. Because the cartridges were fed sideways into the action, a smooth, rounded bolt way awaited a singular round. Unfortunately their limited compatibility with stripper clips, overall weak action strength, and complicated and expensive machine time meant they never saw wide acceptance on the world stage.

Denmark was the first country to adopt the Krag-Jørgensen rifle in 1889 as it narrowly beat out the American Lee. These Danish guns feature the, then vogue, barrel jacket from the German Gewehr 88. They're also unique amongst Krags because Denmark specifically requested the drop open loading gate be made to swing forward instead. It's presumed this was to facilitate clip loading but it was never all that smooth an operation. The initial safety for the Danish Krag was just a half cock position on the large cocking piece. This was unsatisfactory and in 1910 nearly every one was fitted with a thumb safety behind the bolt. These guns sat silent in neutral Denmark until the German invasion of WWII. Even then very few were used in defense.

Safety: http://imgur.com/XTW0XTk
POV: http://imgur.com/kRzpZnB
Historical Photo: http://imgur.com/3anf5sp
Italian East Africa: Vetterli M70/87/15 [6.5x52mm]
This gun should have never made it into WWII and is a testament to military thrift. The newly formed nation of Italy was still pulling itself together when they adopted the 10.4mm Vetterli single-shot, black powder rifle. In 1887 it received a few updates including the all important inclusion of a magazine. Finding herself short of small arms in WWI, Italy released rear-guards' Carcano rifles to the front and rearmed them with surplus Vetterlis. In order to standardize on ammunition, the Vetterli rifles were reworked to chamber the 6.5mm smokeless cartridge by boring the barrel and inserting a rifled sleeve. The old 1887 Vitali magazines were pulled and Carcano replacements were installed. These black powder guns were not designed for the pressures of even the 6.5mm smokeless cartridge and were emergency use only. After the war, however, Italy opted to keep them on hand.

Fascist Italy thirsted for colonies and through the mid thirties conquered broad swaths of territory in Africa. Wherever they marched they would pick up local auxiliaries in the form of Ascari. These troops were often issued inferior arms like the converted Vetterli. My example here is actually branded on the stock with the AOI marking of Italian East Africa (Africa Orientale Italiana).

Stock Stamp: http://imgur.com/ZOQK9vM

POV: http://imgur.com/meUbnzn Historical

Photo: http://imgur.com/ClNtxub


Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.