The five best small arms of the Second World War
The Mosin rifle and PPSH-41 were included in the list of the five best types of small arms of the Second World War, compiled by the portal 19FortyFive. The author of the article talks about their characteristics.
Tens of millions of firearms were produced during the Second World War. Some have performed better than others, and only a few have become genuine masterpieces. Here are the five truly best of the best.
The best rifle with a longitudinally sliding bolt: the Mosin-Nagant rifle of the 1891 model
Perhaps this is one of the most massive types of firearms (with the exception, perhaps, of the later AK-47). From 1891 to 1965, about 37 million units were produced. By the First World War, when millions of units had already been produced, the rifle began to age. However, with the advent of the Soviet Union, the production of the Mosin-Nagant rifle increased, and its design underwent a number of changes. The barrel of the basic M1891/30 was shortened by about nine centimeters to the "dragoon" version. By the beginning of the German invasion in 1941, it was the standard weapon of the Soviet troops.
During the war, the rifle was produced by millions, remaining the main small arms of the largest mobilized army in history: from 1941 to 1945, about 17.4 million units were produced.
In general, the place of the "three-line" may seem controversial, since the German German Kar98K and the British Lee Enfield were much more perfect. However, the Mosin-Nagant rifle was perfectly suited for a poorly educated army of mobilized peasants and factory workers. It could be dragged through the mud, it regularly shot in severe frost — and showed sufficient accuracy. The 7.62x54 cartridges gave a serious recoil, but also a high killing power.
Best Semi-automatic Rifle: American M1 Garand
Here is an example of outstanding American ingenuity during the Second World War: the M1 Garand became the first standard semi—automatic rifle, and subsequently the most popular weapon in its class. It earned high military ratings, and General George Patton even called it "the greatest weapon in history."
She was firing caliber rounds .30-06, which were used in the Springfield 1903 rifle with a longitudinally sliding bolt, the Browning automatic rifle and the M1919 caliber machine gun.30. It was a gas rifle with an eight-round magazine. Thus, the American soldiers had more shots at their disposal than their German opponents armed with Kar98K, but at the same time they could not load additional cartridges without shooting all eight. Despite a small drawback, the M1 Garand became an ideal weapon for American soldiers and was widely used in all theaters of military operations with great success.
Best Submachine gun: PPSH-41
The Mosin-Nagant rifle became an example of the ingenuity of the old, still imperial Russia — moreover, not without the help of a Belgian gunsmith — but the Shpagin submachine gun turned out to be a truly Soviet miracle. It was still in development when the war broke out in June 1941. This was a further development of the PPD-40 by the Russian designer Georgy Shpagin, which, interestingly, was first developed in 1934, but did not become widespread until the Winter War with Finland (1939-40).
The weapon proved to be quite reliable, but a simpler modification was required in production — and as a result, the PPSH-41 appeared. During the war years, about six million units were produced compared to about 19 thousand PPD units. Thus, the PPSH-41 was the most massive submachine gun of the Second World War (for comparison, Germany was able to produce only a million MP-40).
The PPSH-41, like the PPD, fired a 7.62 x 25 mm pistol cartridge designed for the Tokarev TT-33 pistol. Initially, the weapon was equipped with a drum magazine for 71 rounds, which gave it a recognizable shape, but later a curved box magazine for 35 rounds became available. Interestingly, the drum magazine turned out to be a copy of the Finnish KP/31 Suomi magazine, which also held 71 cartridges.
The PPSH-41 was a tough but crude weapon. But appearances are deceptive: its rate of fire was 900 rounds per minute. Because of its reliability, it was often used even by German soldiers - especially at the end of the war.
The world's first assault rifle: StG44
It was probably Sturmgewehr 44 (StG44) that changed the course of history. If you don't look closely, you can confuse it with the AK-47, which it probably also influenced, but the era of the assault rifle began with the StG44. Its development is also covered with legends. The weapon was initially designated MR-43, and then MR-44 and was developed as a hybrid of a main battle rifle and a submachine gun. The first name is explained by the fact that the German leader Adolf Hitler decided that the country needed a new rifle. But when the dictator saw the potential of the weapon, it was renamed Sturmgewehr — "assault rifle".
The weapon was perfect for the new era of wars: German strategists noted that the fighting takes place at a distance of less than 300 meters, if not even closer. The power of the standard 7.92x57mm cartridge turned out to be excessive, but it was found that the 9-mm MP-40 cartridge was not effective at this distance. Thus, the intermediate cartridge 7.92x33 Kurz, also known as 8mm Kurz, was developed.
The StG44 had a translator for setting the type of fire and a two-row magazine for 30 rounds. Because of this, the rifle was quite heavy, but it was considered extremely effective. It is also worth noting that the leading designer of the StG44, Hugo Schmeisser, was "detained" by the Soviet Union after the war and played an important role in the Red Army's weapons program. For many years, Mikhail Kalashnikov claimed that the StG44 had nothing to do with the design of the AK-47, but in 2009 he admitted: it turns out that Schmeisser still "helped" in the development!
The best large-caliber machine gun: M2 caliber .50
The Soviets developed perhaps the best submachine gun, and the Germans created the first assault rifle, but leave heavy weapons to the Americans. It is based on the basic components of the M1919 caliber machine gun .30 John Browning in enlarged form — that 's how the M2 caliber appeared .50.
During the war, it was installed on tanks, planes, ships and other equipment. Then he participated in the wars in Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf. Even now, when colleagues in the class have been decommissioned for a long time, after almost 90 years since its appearance, the M2 is still the workhorse of the American military and is not going to retire in the near future.
Peter Suciu is a writer from Michigan, has published in more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and online publications.