Monday, October 31, 2011

China and India at War: Study Contemplates Conflict Between Asian Giants

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There are plenty of reasons why China and India won't go to war. The two Asian giants hope to reach $100 billion in annual bilateral trade by 2015. Peace and stability are watchwords for both nations' rise on the world stage. Yet tensions between the neighbors seem inescapable: they face each other across a heavily militarized nearly 4,000km-long border and are increasingly competing against each other in a scramble for natural resources around the world. Indian fears over Chinese projects along the Indian Ocean rim were matched recently by Beijing's ire over growing Indian interests in the South China Sea, a body of water China controversially claims as its exclusive territorial sphere of influence. Despite the sense of optimism and ambition that drives these two states, which comprise between them nearly a third of humanity, the legacy of the brief 1962 Sino-Indian war (a humiliating blow for India) still smolders nearly five decades later.

And it's alive on the pages of a new policy report issued by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi, an independent think tank that is affiliated with India's Ministry of Defense. "A Consideration of Sino-Indian Conflict" is hardly a hawkish tract — it advocates "war avoidance" — but, by spelling out a few concrete scenarios of how conflict may look between the two countries, it reveals the palpable lack of trust on the part of strategists both in New Delhi and Beijing. The report applauds long-term Indian efforts underway to beef up defenses along the Chinese border, but warns that Beijing may still take action:

In future, India could be subject to China's hegemonic attention. Since India would be better prepared by then, China may instead wish to set India back now by a preventive war. This means current day preparedness is as essential as preparation for the future. A [defeat] now will have as severe political costs, internally and externally, as it had back in 1962; for, as then, India is yet again contemplating a global role.

While a lot of recent media attention has focused on the likelihood of Sino-Indian clashes at sea, the IDSA report keeps its scope trained along the traditional, glacial Himalayan land boundary, referred to in wonkish parlance as the LAC, the Line of Actual Control. Since the 1962 war, China and India have yet to formally resolve longstanding disputes over vast stretches of territory along this line. Those disputes have resurfaced noticeably in recent years, with China making unprecedented noises, much to the alarm of New Delhi, over its historical claims to the entirety of the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh — what the Chinese deem "Southern Tibet." The Chinese even rebuked Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for having the audacity of visiting the Indian state during local elections in 2009.

Not surprisingly, it's in this remote corner of the world that many suspect a war could kick off, particularly around the historic Tibetan monastery town of Tawang. India has reinforced its position in Arunachal with more boots on the ground, new missile defenses and some of the Indian air force's best strike craft, new Russian-made Su-30 fighters. After decades of focusing its army west against perennial threat Pakistan, India is tacitly realigning its military east to face the long-term challenge of China.

The report speculates that China could make a targeted territorial grab, "for example, a bid to take Tawang." Further west along the LAC, another flashpoint lies in Kashmir. China controls a piece of largely uninhabited territory known as Aksai Chin that it captured during the 1962 war. Indian press frequently publish alarmist stories about Chinese incursions from Aksai Chin and elsewhere, playing up the scale of Chinese investment in strategic infrastructure on its side of the border in stark contrast to the seeming lethargy of Indian planners. Part of what fuels the anxiety in New Delhi, as the report notes, is the threat of coordinated action between China and Pakistan — an alliance built largely out of years of mutual antipathy toward India. In one mooted scenario, Pakistan, either with its own forces or terrorist, insurgent proxies, would "make diversionary moves" across the blood-stained Siachen glacier or Kargil, site of the last Indo-Pakistani war in 1999, while a Chinese offensive strikes further east along the border.

Of course, such table-top board game maneuvers have little purchase in present geo-politics. Direct, provocative action suits no player in the region, particularly when there's the specter of American power — a curious absence in the IDSA report — hovering on the sidelines. Intriguingly, the report seems to dismiss the notion that China and India would clash in what others would consider obvious hotspots for rivalry; it says the landlocked Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan would likely be treated as a neutral "Switzerland", while Nepal, a country of 40 million that entertains both Beijing and New Delhi's patronage, is more or less assured that neither of its big neighbors would risk violating its sovereignty in the event of war.

Moreover, the IDSA seems to rule out either side encouraging or deploying proxies in more clandestine struggles against the other. The restive border regions on both sides of the LAC are home to resentful minority populations and more than a few insurgent factions. India and China — unlike Pakistan — have little precedent in abetting militant groups and strategists on both sides would be wary of fanning flames of rebellion that no one can put out.

Yet what seems to stoke Sino-Indian military tensions — and grim prophecies of conflict — are precisely these feelings of vulnerability. The uncertainties posed by both countries' astonishing economic growth, the lack of clear communication and trust between Beijing and New Delhi and the strong nationalism underlying both Indian and Chinese public opinion could unsettle the uneasy status quo that now exists. Managing all this is a task for wooly-heads in New Delhi and Beijing. But don't be surprised if more reports like this one come out, drawing lines on the battlefield.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Wheeled attack vehicles of the cold war

Chenowth Scorpion Desert Patrol Vehicle

The ultimate SEAL Team joyride - the Scorpion DPV/FAV.

The Scorpion DPV (Desert Patrol Vehicle) is a three-man on-road/off-road vehicle used for many long-range desert operations including close-air support or combat search and rescue missions. Originally designated as the FAV (Fast Attack Vehicle) the DPV has seen service primarily with the United States Navy SEALs through Operation Desert Storm and is assumed to be in current operational use along the fronts in the Iraq War and in Afghanistan. The concept of FAVs in combat dates back to World War 2 where the British Army utilized specially-modified "JEEPS" to shadow the movements, whereabouts and activities of the German Army in the Egyptian Campaign. These systems belonged to the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) whose primary function had become reconnaissance and intelligence gathering.

The Desert Patrol Vehicle (DPV) utilizes a modified construction frame like those found in base off-road race cars. Suspension consists of two frontal shock absorbers and four shock absorbers positioned in the rear. The suspension is controlled primarily by a position-sensitive 'trailing-arm' system. The DPV is actually a 2x4 off-road vehicle, though designed to go anywhere a 4x4 could naturally go. Power is derived from a Volkswagen 2-liter, 200 horsepower air-cooled engine that allows for speeds above 60 miles per hour and a range equal to 210 miles. Range can be augmented by was of a fuel bladder than increased its operational range some 1,000 further miles. The DPV (then as the FAV) was developed in the 1980s with a generous budget and some 120 vehicles were produced as well as militarized motorbikes for special forces use.

The vehicle can be armed with a variety of mission-specific weaponry including the Browning .50 caliber heavy machine gun, the Mark 19 40mm automatic grenade launcher and the M60 .30 caliber general purpose machine gun. Ammunition stores are mission dependent. Additionally, and personal weapons carried by the crew become part of the lethality that is the DPV. Total payload for the DPV is a reported 1,500lbs.

The DPV was first unveiled to American home audiences in the 1991 televised liberation of Kuwait City. SEAL Team members were shown on their DPVs in the Kuwaiti streets complete with the traditional Bedouin headgear in place. The DPVs were able to maneuver across the desert and through the city streets with relative ease, staying ahead of the regular army forces while keeping an eye on Iraqi armor formations, location and defensive positions.

The DPV weapon system is extremely useful as a battlefield scout and reconnaissance vehicle in the special forces role. Other mission roles include target acquisition, surveillance, peacekeeping and deep strike. In large part, the DPV/FAV has been replaced in inventory by the LSV - Light Strike Vehicle.

Specifications for the Chenowth Scorpion Desert Patrol Vehicle (DPV) / Fast Attack Vehicle (FAV)

Overall Length: 13.39ft (4.08m)
Width: 6.92ft (2.11m)
Height: 6.59ft (2.01m)

Accommodation: 3
Weight: 0.7 US Short Tons (680kg; 1,499lbs)

Armament Suite:
1 x 40mm SACO MK 19 Automatic Grenade Launcher
1 x 12.7mm M2 Browning Heavy Machine Gun
1 x 7.62mm M60 General Purpose Machine Gun
2 x Anti-Tank Missile Launchers

Additionally any crew-carried personal weapons.

Mission specific.

2 x AT-4 anti-tank missiles

Engine(s): 1 x Volkswagen 2-liter air-cooled engine developing 200 horsepower.

Maximum Speed: 56mph (90.6 km/h)
Maximum Range: 200 miles (322 km)

NBC* Protection: None
Nightvision: None

* Nuclear, Biological, Chemical

Chaimite V-200 4x4 Armored Personnel Carrier

The Chaimite V-series of APC has evolved into an adaptable battlefield vehicle.

The Chaimite V-200 is a Portuguese-designed and produced 4x4 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) and has the ability to become completely amphibious. The Chaimite V-200 is served by a crew of three made up of a commander, driver and gunner. The gunner utilizes the one-man powered turret system which can be adapted to include a variety of mission-specific armaments (detailed above).

The Chaimite V-200 can also transport eight combat-ready infantry squad members in relative security. The Chaimite V-series of 4x4 armored personnel carriers has evolved into a multi-faceted platform featuring mortar carriers, battlefield ambulances, a 6x6 variant and an anti-tank defense system variant among others.

Specifications for the Chaimite V-200

Overall Length: 18.37ft (5.60m)
Width: 7.41ft (2.26m)
Height: 6.04ft (1.84m)

Accommodation: 3 + 8
Weight: 8.0 US Short Tons (7,300kg; 16,094lbs)

Armament Suite:
2 x 7.62mm machine guns

Other mission specific armament may include:

1 x 12.7mm heavy machine gun
1 x 7.62mm machine gun
1 x 20mm main gun
1 x 90mm main gun
1 x 81mm mortar
1 x 120mm mortar
1 x anti-tank missile launcher system

9,250 x 7.62mm ammunition

Engine(s): 1 x Model M75 V-8 water-cooled petrol engine generating 210hp @ 4,000rpm. A V-6 diesel engine is also available.

Maximum Speed: 68mph (110 km/h)
Maximum Range: 652 miles (1,050 km)

NBC* Protection: None
Nightvision: Optional

* Nuclear, Biological, Chemical

BRDM-2 4x4 Amphibious Scout Car

The BRDM-2 is another Cold War-era export favorite serving worldwide.

The BRDM-2 primarily served as an armored scout car with the Soviet Army during the height of the Cold War. She was a direct replacement to the limited BRDM-1 scout car series and, like many of the Soviet Cold War offerings, the newer BRDM-2 proved a cheap yet still capable system, making it a popular export product the world over. Thousands of examples were ultimately produced and the type was fielded in anger throughout several of the key global conflicts between the years 1960 and 2000. While she still serves with many nations across the globe (mostly Soviet-allied customers), the BRDM-2 now remains a limited product all her own when set on the modern battlefield. Regardless, she has proven herself a combat-capable system and has enjoyed the successes of her rather simplistic yet utterly reliable design.

In 1949, designs were on the boards for a new amphibious light tank to be used in the reconnaissance role for the Soviet Army. This design evolved into the PT-76 which entered service in August of 1952. The PT-76 lent itself well to the blossoming mobile army doctrine of the Soviets and allowed for unprecedented access to both land and water at speed. What the new system would need now is a comparable reconnaissance vehicle that could keep up with the inherent mobility of the new light tank - something which the current Soviet inventory found elusive in the available offerings. As such, the BRDM-1 scout car was born.

The BRDM-1 (originally as the "BRDM" before there was a "BRDM-2") was an initial scout car design that first appeared in the Soviet Army inventory in 1957 (design beginning in 1954). Of note was her 4x4 off-road capability and her amphibious quality, the former aided by a pair of powered belly wheels and the latter coming in the form of a rear-mounted water jet for propulsion. The engine was mounted in the front hull with the crew compartment set to the middle-rear. The BRDM-1 led a healthy existence, seeing over 10,000 examples produced and delivered to a large portion of Soviet allied nations in varied battlefield forms - she was adapted to carry a range of anti-tank missiles as well, improving her tactical usefulness to an extent. However, the BRDM-1 design was inherently limited at its core. She maintained no trainable turreted armament system (the gunner need expose himself to enemy fire to operate the external machine gun) nor was her crew protected from the effects of a nuclear war - prevalent in the Cold War years. Additionally, she was not given night vision equipment, making her a liability in such an environment. To add insult to injury, the BRDM-1 also lacked any sort of specialized reconnaissance-minded vision equipment - considering her role as a reconnaissance scout car, this was a wholly major drawback.

As such, it wasn't long before the BRDM-2 series of scout cars was born to "right the wrongs" of the previous design. The BRDM-2 first appeared in 1962 (a design credited to V.K. Rubtsov) and came online as a direct replacement for the BRDM-1. The BRDM-2 brought along with it several key improvements that made for a better system - including revisions and improvements to the amphibious capabilities, on-road/off-road performance and armament. Additionally, the BRDM-2 was fitted with NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) protection as well as night vision equipment. The engine was moved to the rear of the hull with the crew compartment positioned to the middle-front. A powered turret was added to hold the armament and the powered belly wheels were retained. Production was handled by the Molotov GAZ Plant in Gorkiy, Russia. In all, some 7,200 examples went on to see production (from 1962 to 1989) and, at her usage height, some 40 nations fielded the BRDM-2. She proved a regular at Soviet pride parades during the Cold War and was publically seen for the first time to Western observers in 1966.

It is easy to dismiss the BRDM-2 based on looks alone for she maintains a rather utilitarian appearance with little to recommend herself. However, she is a capable wheeled system that has seen use the world over. The design is characterized by her four large road wheels offering full 4x4 support, these set on leaf springs with hydraulic shock absorbers. The wheels are spaced well apart, particularly when viewed in the side profile. Wheel wells are high-arcing and promote flexibility in steering while collecting and deflecting the mud and dust of the terrain. The lower hull is slab-sided along the sides and rear panels but sloped upwards along the front. The lower front hull angles up to the nearly-flat glacis plate. The glacis plate contours into the hull superstructure and allows a forward panel for vision ports afforded to the front-seated personnel. The sides of the superstructure are angled inwards towards the top. The design is capped by a rounded, low-profile, flat-topped, fully-enclosed turret structure that itself maintains relatively unfettered 360-degree rotation (these is only a communications antenna to the forward right-hand side of the design, near the commander's hatch). Headlamps are held at the forward extreme corners of the upper hull glacis plate and partially protected by armored rails. The driver makes use of external mirrors to view his immediate and distant surroundings. The forward armor vision panels can be raised and lowered at operator discretion. When raised, the glass-covered vision port (bulletproof) allows for improved forward visibility. Vision blocks for the crew are set at the upper access hatches as well as the sides of the hull superstructure while the commander and driver also have use of periscopes when the vehicle is fully "buttoned down". The engine is fitted to the rear of the hull unlike the BRDM-1. There is an integrated winch system built into the front hull of the BRDM-2 design as well as a central tire pressure system. The tire pressure system allows the driver to adapt one or all of his road wheels "on-the-fly" to the terrain ahead.

Unique to the BRDM-2's design is the use of a smaller pair of road wheels located along the middle of the hull sides. There systems can be raised or lowered "on-the-fly" by the driver and aid in cross-country performance by applying more surface to the terrain. Upgraded BRDM-2s have removed these belly wheels to make additional internal space for the crew.

Armor protection for the BRDM-2 runs from 14mm to 3mm. 10mm thickness is afforded to the front face of the turret. All other turret sides are 7mm thick. The hull is supplied with thicker armor at the front top and lesser armor along the floor and rear. The hull nose plate alone carries 14mm armor thickness. The rear measures in at 7mm. Armor is of welded steel construction.

Crew accommodations include four personnel made up of the driver, commander, assistant driver and gunner. The driver and commander are seated at the front in a side-by-side fashion with access to a pair of roof-mounted entry/exit hatches. Interestingly, this is the only means of entry/exit for the personnel within the vehicle for the turret holds no hatches of its own, nor do the hull sides. The gunner sits within the powered turret during action but takes a place within the hull during standard travel. The crew has access to a land navigation system and a decontamination kit (the latter to combat the effects of a nuclear battlefield).

Base armament for the BRDM-2 scout car is a 14.5mm KPVT heavy machine gun tied to a co-axial 7.62mm PKT general purpose machine gun. These are both fitted to the enclosed power turret and operate along the same firing arcs with elevation limited to -5 to +30 degrees. In fact, the BRDM-2 makes use of the same turret system as used on the BTR-60PB, BTR-70 and OT-64 Model 2A armored personnel carriers. 500 rounds of ammunition are afforded to the 14.5mm system while 2,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition are carried. Other variations of the BRDM-2 carry anti-tank or anti-aircraft missile system launchers in place of the machine gun armament.

Power is supplied from a rear-mounted GAZ-41 series V-8 water-cooled gasoline engine delivering 140 horsepower at 3,400rpm (a bigger, more powerful engine over that in the BRDM-1). The placement of the engine in the rear makes it less susceptible to incoming enemy fire. Additionally, armor separates the engine compartment from the crew for added survivability. Maximum road speed is listed at 62 miles per hour while operational range is listed at about 466 miles. When fording water, the BRDM-2 can sustain a top speed of approximately 6.2 miles per hour. The vehicle measures in at 5.75m in length with a width equal to 2.75m while carrying a 2.31m height. The BRDM-2 grosses a 7,000kg operating weight and features a 430mm ground clearance. She has full 4x4 wheeled support. Upgraded BRDM-2s have featured improved engines.

As an amphibious-minded design, the BRDM-2 makes use of a single four-bladed water jet for propulsion in water. The jet is protected by an armor covering when the vehicle traverses land but must be removed before entering a body of water. Though the speed of the BRDM-2 in water is not excellent, it is serviceable and allows for an overall dynamically-minded platform.

While the BRDM-2 extends well beyond its basic scout roles and appears in a myriad of battlefield forms, a few notable variants deserve mention. The BRDM-2-RKhb is a radiological-chemical reconnaissance variant and identified by her carrying of twin rectangular-shaped racks along her superstructure. The BRDM-2U is a command vehicle with specialized communications equipment. Anti-tank forms include the BRDM-2 chassis mounted with launchers for "Sagger", "Spandrel" and "Swatter" anti-tank missile systems. The BRDM-2 has also been converted to fire the SA-9 "Gaskin" anti-aircraft missile system.

As with many of the Cold War implements fielded by the Soviet Union, systems such as the BRDM-2 lack much in the way of "refinements" common to her Western counterparts. Little is given to general crew comfort and the GAZ engine is noted as being a thirsty beast, limiting her useful range. The crew is nary protected from many of the modern battlefield weapons that would be used against her armor, though this helps to keep her somewhat light and mobile. Of particular note is the use of the twin access hatches. These are fitted to the front of the vehicle, forcing a crew to abandon their mount, most likely in the line of enemy fire. Most modern systems feature some sort f emergency exit and this usually fitted to the rear hull.

The BRDM-2 has since become a combat-tested system, and this occurring in a variety of climates and environments and under the direction of a multitude of users. The system was fielded by the Soviet Army in their War in Afghanistan to which some systems inevitably became part of the Afghan National Army, in turn, as captured spoils. The BRDM-2 was also fielded by Arab operators in the Six Day War of 1967, the War of Attrition (1968-1970) and the Yom Kippur War of 1973 against Israel. Israel captured some of these vehicles only to fit the TOW anti-tank missile launcher on the hull superstructures and use them against their former owners. A few retained models were made into museum "victory" pieces. American forces tangled with, and captured, several BRDM-2s during the 1983 invasion of Grenada through "Operation Urgent Fury". The Iraqi Army made use of the scout car in the Persian Gulf War of 1991 with limited success and, later, in the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 with even lesser success. The type also served in the Croatian War of Independence (1991-1995) and the Kosovo War (1998-1999), proving her a viable player in the European environment.

The BRDM-2 has since (at least in theory) been replaced by the BRDM-3 series 8x8 wheeled reconnaissance vehicle. The BRDM-3 is based on the BTR-80 8x8 wheeled armored personnel carrier. The BTR-80 has itself replaced the BTR-60 and BTR-70 wheeled vehicles since its inception.

The United States evaluated captured BRDM-2s following the 1991 Persian Gulf War. One such example resides on display at the US National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Georgia. During the Cold War years, HMMWVs (Humvees) were externally modified to resemble BRDM-2s during identification training / war game exercises. East German BRDM-2s became part of the unified German Army following the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

Many nations have already passed their BRDM-2s to other buyers or scrapped their existing fleets entirely.

Specifications for the BRDM-2

Overall Length: 18.86ft (5.75m)
Width: 7.71ft (2.35m)
Height: 7.58ft (2.31m)

Accommodation: 4
Weight: 7.7 US Short Tons (7,000kg; 15,432lbs)

Armament Suite:
1 x 14.5mm KPVT heavy machine gun
1 x 7.62mm PKT co-axial machine gun

Anti-Tank Missiles ("Sagger", "Spandrel", "Swatter", "Spigot").
Anti-Aircraft Missiles ("Gaskin")

500 x 14.5mm ammunition
2,000 7.62mm ammunition

Engine(s): 1 x GAZ-41 V-8 Water-cooled petrol engine with an output of 140hp @ 3,400rpm.

Maximum Speed: 62mph (100 km/h)
Maximum Range: 466 miles (750 km)

NBC* Protection: Yes
Nightvision: Yes - Infra-red for Driver and Commander

* Nuclear, Biological, Chemical

BRDM-1 4x4 Amphibious Scout Car

The successful BRDM-1 amphibious scout car led to the equally successful BRDM-2 model appearing in the mid-1960s.

The BRDM-1 series of amphibious scout cars first appeared in the late 1950s and would serve as the principle armored car in service with the Red Army until eventually being replaced by the equally successful BRDM-2 series. The BRDM-1 developed into several successful anti-aircraft variants mounting a variety of missile systems and was completely amphibious with its built-in waterjet at rear. The BRDM series of scout cars would be the definitive scout car for the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War and be exported en mass to several Soviet-friendly nations.

Development of the Soviet BRDM-1 was spurned along by the need to replace their aging World War 2-era BA-64 series of armored cars. The BRDM-1 appeared as a 4x4 vehicle with a front mounted engine and roof-mounted hatches (earlier models were open-topped). Interestingly, the BRDM-1 featured an extra twin set of road wheels which could be lowered by the driver. Additionally, the driver could control tire pressure through an integrated regulation system for customized off-road or ditch crossing performance.

Standard armament for the BRDM-1 was initially a single 7.62mm arrangement though some models were fitted with an additional 12.7mm anti-aircraft heavy machine gun. In that arrangement, the heavy machine gun was mounted forward whilst the 7.62mm caliber type was to the rear of the crew compartment. Crew accommodations amounted to the driver and up to four passengers depending on the role and mission. Power was derived from a 6-cylinder gasoline engine generating some 90hp.

The BRDM-U became a Command Vehicle and was distinguished from other BRDM-1s by the integration of four antenna instead of the usual one. The BRDM-1RKhb served as a radiological and biological reconnaissance vehicle in the event of a nuclear war and was distinguished by two rectangle-shaped packs held at rear of the vehicle. Anti-tank launcher models consisted of AT-1, AT-2 and AT-3 launchers fitted on the roof and raised when ready to fire. Each progressive design featured an increased engagement range and an increase missile count.

The BRDM-1 was later replaced by the similar BRDM-2 series of amphibious scout cars.

Specifications for the BRDM-1

Overall Length: 18.70ft (5.70m)
Width: 7.38ft (2.25m)
Height: 6.23ft (1.90m)

Accommodation: 5
Weight: 6.2 US Short Tons (5,600kg; 12,346lbs)

Armament Suite:
1 x 12.7mm DShKM MG anti-aircraft machine gun mounted at front
1 x 7.62mm SGMB MG at rear mounting

Not Available

Engine(s): 1 x 6-cylinder gasoline engine producing 90hp.

Maximum Speed: 50mph (80 km/h)
Maximum Range: 311 miles (500 km)

NBC* Protection: None
Nightvision: Yes - Driver

* Nuclear, Biological, Chemical

Monday, October 17, 2011

Walther MKb.42(W) assault rifle

In 1939 HWaA (German Army Weapons command) issued a contract for the development of a "Maschinen karabiner", or machine carbine (MKb for short), chambered for the new 7.92 x 33 Kurz cartridge, to the company C.G. Haenel Waffen und Fahrradfabrik. In 1940 another company joined in the development of this new type of small arm; the famous German arms manufacturing company Carl Walther, known for its fine and popular pistols. Walther had already been engaged in the development of intermediate-cartridge firearms since 1936, when it produced self-loading carbines for an experimental 7 x 39 cartridge. Later,Walther developed several automatic designs in "full-size" 7.92 x 57, and one of these experimental prototypes, the 7.92 mm A-115, served as a starting point for its 7.92 mm Kurz rifle. Walther began to developits own Maschinenkarabiner as a private venture, but in 1941 receivedofficial approval from HWaA for further development in competition with Haenel, the first MKb.42(W) rifles being delivered to the army in thesecond half of 1942.

In late 1942, the first small batches of both Haenel and Walther weapons, designated MKb.42(H) and MKb.42(W) respectively, were sent to the Eastern front, for trials against Soviet troops. Initial results were promising, with the Haenel rifles being generally preferred due to their better reliability. The Walther design, which showed better single-shot accuracy, was rejected as unsuitable on the grounds of its questionable annular gas piston system. No further development in this field was apparently taken by the Walther organization, which was already very busy delivering its P.38 pistols to the German army.

The MKb.42(W) is a gas-operated, magazine fed weapon. The gas system has an annular gas piston, located around the barrel, inside the stamped annular handguards. A rotating bolt of somewhat complicated design locks to the barrel via two lugs. The hammer-fired trigger unit allows single shots or fully automatic fire, and the MKb.42(W) is fed using the same 30-round magazines as its rival, the MKb.42(H). The MKb.42(W) fires from a closed bolt.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Heckler & Koch G3

During the early to mid-1950s West Germany, like the other NATO countries, faced the need for rearming its army for the newest common 7.62x51mm NATO caliber small arms. Initially, Germans preferred the Belgian FN FAL rifle, and adopted it circa 1956 under the designation of G1. Due to obvious reasons Germany wanted to manufacture its military rifles, and attempted to buy a manufacturing license for FAL, but Belgium rejected the deal. So, Germany turned to the another design, available from Spanish company CETME, and known as the CETME Mod A rifle.
 Earliest variant of G3 rifle with flip-up rear sight and metallic ventilated handguards

Germany bought the manufacturing license for the CETME rifle and transferred it to the Heckler und Koch (HK) company, located in Oberndorf. HK slightly modified the CETME design, and in 1959 the Bundeswehr (W.Germany Army) finally adopted the CETME / Heckler-Koch rifle as G3 (Gewehr 3 - Rifle, [model] 3). Since that time and until the 1995 the G3 in various modifications served as a general issue shoulder weapon not only for German Armed forces, but also for many other countries. Those include Greece, Iran, Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey and many other countries. Total of more than 50 countries during the last 40 years issued the G3 to its forces. The G3 was or still is manufactured in countries like the Greece, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Portugal and others. The key reason of high popularity of the G3 is that it is much simpler and cheaper to manufacture,than its major contemporary rivals - Belgian FN FAL and US M14.
G3A3 with drum type rearsight, plastic ventilated handguards and fixed stock

HK itself continued to produce and offer the G3 until the year 2000 or 2001, when it finally disappeared from HK catalogs and web-sites. However, the HK still manufactures a wide variety of firearms, based on the G3 design but of different purposes and calibers, like 9mm MP-5 submachine guns, 5.56mm HK 33 assault rifles, 5.56mm and 7.62mm HK23 and HK21 machine guns, PSG1 sniper rifles etc. In general, the HK G3 rifle can be described as one of the best 7.62mm NATO battle / assault rifles - reliable, versatile, controllable, non-expensive and, finally, very popular. For the civilian markets, HK producedthe semi-automatic only versions of the G3, initially known as HK 41 and later as HK 91.
G3A3 with attached bayonet and plain plastic handguards of more modern appearance

The G3 rifle is a selective fire, magazine fed rifle, built using delayed blowback action, developed by German engineers at Mauser Werke late in the 2nd World War and refined in Spain, at the CETME company. Initial models of the G3 rifle were quite similar to CETME rifles, and even had "CETME" markings on the receivers (until 1961 or so). The G3 is built using as many stamped parts as possible. The receiver is stamped from sheet steel. The trigger unit housing along with pistol handle frame, also are stamped from steel and hinged to the receiver using the cross-pin in the front of the trigger unit, just behind the magazine housing. Earliest G3 rifles also featured stamped handguards and CETME-type flip-up rear diopter sights. In the mid-1960s the initial design was upgraded to the G3A3 and G3A4 configurations.
G3A4 - retractable butt version of the G3

These rifles had ventilated plastic handguards and a drum-type rear diopter sights, marked from 100 to 400 meters. The G3A3 was a fixed butt version, with buttstock made from plastic, and the G3A4 was a telescope butt version, with retractable metallic buttstock with rubber buttplate. Late German production G3A3 and G3A4 models were built using new trigger units, integral with restyled pistol grip and triggerguard, made from plastic. The shortest version of the G3 was the G3KA4, similar to G3A4 but with shortened barrel. Every G3 rifle can be equipped with detachable bipods, claw-type detachable scope mounts. Long-barreled versions can be fitted with bayonet or used to launch rifle grenades from the barrel. Folding cocking handle is located on the special tube above the barrel, at the left side, and does not reciprocate when gun is fired. The safety / fire selector is located above the triggerguard on the left side of the trigger group housing and usually is marked "S - E - F" (Safe - Single shots - Full auto). Latest models could have selectors marked with colored icons.
G3KA4 - the shortest G3 variant with retractable buttstock and most modern integral pistol grip / trigger unit made entirely of plastic

Caliber: 7.62mm NATO (.308 win)
Action: Roller-delayed blowback
Weight: 4.5kg
Overall length: 1023 mm
Barrel length: 450 mm (315 mm on G3KA4 model)
Magazine capacity: 20 rounds


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