Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Armalite AR10

The AR-10 rifle, designed by the Eugene Stoner at the Armalite division of the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corp, seen no significant success at the time it had been introduced, but it still had some historical significance since the AR-10 served as a basis for the further development of the much more successful AR-15/ M16 series rifles. Basically, earliest AR-15 prototypes were no more than a scaled-down AR-10. The AR-10 was intended for the US Army trials for a new battle rifle, to replace the venerable M1 Garand. AR-10, with the first prototype built in 1955, came too late for these trials,and was too unconventional for conservative minds in the US Army, and consequently lost the trials to the T44 rifle, which was adopted in the 1957 as the M14. The AR-10 was ready for mass production by the 1960, but very few were made in USA. A manufacturing license had been sold to the Dutch company Artillerie Inrichtingen. Only Sudan and the Portugal apparently bought some AR-10 rifles for their military, and the production of the AR-10 had been ceased in the early or mid-1960s, with only about 10 000 military AR-10 being ever made.

  The original AR-10 of the late 1950s. Note the three-prong flash hider and a bayonet lug under the barrel

Some two or three decades later, the reorganized Armalite company brought the modified AR-10 rifle back to civilian and police markets. Unlike the original AR-10, the new AR-10B is a semi-automatic only rifle, and it is available in four basic versions. The AR-10B itself is more or less a copy of the original AR-10, with the similar brown plastic furniture and short buttstock, and with the trigger-like charging handle under the carrying handle. The other three models look more like the scaled up M16A2 derivatives, with the same A2-style furniture, sights, and M16-type charging handles. The AR-10A2 has all the A2 furniture and options, while the AR-10A4 has the "flat-top" style receiver with the Picatinny rail instead of the carrying handle. The AR-10(T) is a target grade rifle, with match barrel and trigger and A4-type flat-top receiver.

AR-10A2 is, basically, an upscale AR-15A2 rifle, chambered for the .308Winchester (7.62x51mm) cartridge. Note that the charging handle is above the buttstock, as on AR-15 / M16 rifles. The furniture is similar to the M16A2 rifle, except for the muzzle brake

The AR-10B rifle, a modern "civilian" re-creation of the AR-10. Note the lack of the bayonet lug and the M16A2-type rear sight and pistol grip

The original AR-10, partially field-stripped. The similarity to the latter AR-15/ M16 rifles is obvious

  AR-10(T) - a target grade version of the "new" AR-10, with Picatinny-type rail instead of the carrying handle, and the match barrel

Caliber: 7,62mm NATO (7.62x51mm)
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt
Length : 1016 mm
Barrel Length: 508 mm
Weight: 4.31 kg empty, without magazine and sling
Magazine: 20 rounds
Rate of fire: 700 rounds per minute (original military version)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Gewehr 43 - A Video

German ordnance began looking for a military selfloading rifle to augment the K98k as early as the 1930s, although the pressures of war initially made that development a second priority. By 1941, though, two competing designs from the Walther and Mauser companies had been developed to the point of mass production, as the Gewehr 41(W) and Gewehr 41(M) rifles. These both shared a gas-trap operating system to comply with an HWa requirement that no gas ports be drilled into the barrels. When it came to locking systems, the two designs differed greatly, with the Walther being the more successful of the two. Thousands of examples of both designs were put into field testing, mostly in the East, and it because clear that the gas trap system was not suitable for combat. The Walther company responded with a new version of their design which used a much more modern short stroke gas piston, basically copied from the Soviet SVT-40 rifle.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Saturday, December 7, 2013

M1 Garand .30 Cal. Rifle video review

The M1 Garand .30 Cal Rifle. Called the "Rifleman's Rifle", the M1 Garand was legendary on the battlefield to the point that Patton called it "the greatest battle implement ever devised."

Friday, December 6, 2013

K98 Mauser German WWII Rifle video review

The K98 Mauser 8mm Rifle used by the German Wehrmacht throughout WWII. Issued to troops in 1935 to 1945, this bolt action rifle is a legend.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

SAR-21 assault rifle

The SAR-21 is the latest development of the Singapore's Chartered Industries company, now known as the Singapore Technologies Kinetics division. This rifle was first displayed on public in 1999, at the DSEi '99 defense exhibition. At the present time the SAR-21 is adopted by the Singapore Armed Forces as the standard assault rifle, and gradually replaces the aging M16S1 (Singapore-made M16A1 rifle), and CIS previous SAR-80 and SR-88 rifles. It is also offered for export military and law enforcement sales. At the present time it's hard to judge this rifle, but the available reports are quite favorable, stating that the gun is comfortable to carry and fire, accurate,reliable and has low recoil. While SAR-21 is much shorter than the M16 rifle with the barrel of the same length, the SAR-21 has the disadvantage of the right-side only extraction, with no provisions to change it to the left side(unlike most other modern bullpup rifles, like the SteyrAUG, GIAT FAMAS or the IMITavor).

The SAR-21 represents some kind of mainstream in the turn-of-the-centuries small arms technology. It is of bullpup layout, and utilizes the most conventional gas operated, rotating bolt locked action, with detachable box magazine feeding.

The gas system of the SAR-21 is located above the barrel. The long stroke piston is rigidly attached to the bolt carrier. Rotating bolt has 2 lugs and locks into the barrel extension. The return spring is partially housed inside the hollow gas piston rod and behind it. The charging handle is located above the gun housing, under the scope / carrying handle unit,and folds forward when not in use. The charging handle does not reciprocate when gun is fired. On the SAR-21 P (Picatinny rail) and SAR-21 RIS (Rail Interface System) versions of the basic design the charging handle is moved to the left side of the gun, leaving the place at the top for the sights / accessory rail.

SAR-21 RIS (Rail Interface System), with reflex-type ("red dot") sight and a detachable vertical foregrip.

The housing of the SAR-21 is made from tough, high impact resistant polymer, and consists of barrel section with the barrel / gas system, forearm and sights,upper receiver with the pistol grip and magazine housing, and the lower receiver with the buttplate and the hammer unit inside. All major parts are held together by the push-pins and can be separated for dis-assembly without any special tools.The upper receiver also incorporates a special safety system, which protects the shooters' face in the event of the cartridge case rupture or explosion.

The safety switch is located at the front of the enlarged trigger guard and is of the cross-bolt, push-button type. SAR-21 can provide 2 modes of fire, single shots and full automatic fire.

The SAR-21 is fed using proprietary 30-rounds box magazines, made from the translucent plastic.

SAR-21 field stripped into major sub assemblies

The standard sighting equipment includes an integral 1.5X magnification telescope sight, with the emergency backup open sights formed at the top of the telescope housing. The SAR-21 P and SAR-21 RIS have no integral sights, instead these rifles featured a NATO-standard Picatinny type scope rail at the top of the gun, that can be fitted with wide variety of day and night sighting devices. Another interesting feature of SAR-21is that it incorporates a laser aiming module (LAM, also sometimes referred as a laser pointer) as a standard feature. The LAM is mounted below the barrel, inside the forearm, and can emit either visible or infrared beams. The LAM switch is built into the forearm of the rifle.

The standard SAR-21can be fitted with the 40mm under barrel grenade launchers, either US-made M203 or Singapore-made CIS40GL. The SAR-21 can sport a wide variety of add-on tactical accessories, including vertical "assault" foregrip, tactical lights etc.

Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length: 805 mm
Barrel length: 508 mm
Weight: 3.82 kg without magazine and accessories, 4.44 kg loaded with magazine and 30 rounds of ammunition
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds
Rate of fire: 450-650 rounds per minute
Effective range: about 500 meters

Thursday, November 21, 2013

SR-88 Assault Rifle

The SR-88 assault rifle was developed by Chartered Industries of Singapore in the late 1980s. This rifle, also available in carbine version, with shorter barrel and floding buttstock, have seen limited service with Singapore army and was mostly sold for export. At the present time the production of the SR-88 is terminated and it is being replaced in Singapore army by SAR-21 bullpup assault rifle.

SR-88 is a conventional, selective-fire, gas operated rifle. It uses long piston stroke action with rotating bolt, gas piston and gas cylinder are chromium-plated. Gas system featured three positions gas regulator - two open positions, for normal and harsh conditions, and one closed, for launching of the rifle grenades. Barrel is equipped with flash hider, which also served as a rifle grenade launcher. Lower receiver is made from aluminum forging, and the upper receiver is made from steel stampings. Furniture (butt, pistol grip, handguards) is made from plastic. Standard butt is of fixed type, but SR-88 also available with side-folding buttstock. The side-folding carrying handle is mounted at the forward end of the receiver.

Caliber: 5.56x45 mm (.223 Remington)
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length: 960 mm (810 mm when butt folded)
Barrel length: 460 mm
Weight: 3.68 kg with empty magazine
Rate of fire: 700-900 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds standard (any M16-type magazine will fit)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


During 1970s Singapore Army used US-designed M16A1 assault rifles. In 1976, a company called CIS (Charter Industries of Singapore , now ST Kinetics), began to develop its own assault rifle with aim to supply these rifles for Singapore military and for foreign countries. To save the time CIS invited some engineers from British company Sterling Armament, who used to manufacture US-designed Armalite AR-18 assault rifle, so new Singapore rifle heavily borrowed from original AR-18 design. First prototypes came out in 1978 and the final design was approved by Singapore military in 1984 under the name of SAR-80. This rifle was used to some extent by Singapore Army and also was exported to some countries, including Croatia.

SAR-80 is a gas operated, selective fire weapon of simple construction. It uses short stroke gas piston that pushes the massive bolt carrier with rotating bolt. The bolt carrier rides on two guide rods. Each rod has a recoil spring around it, gas piston rod has its own return spring. The receiver is made from steel stampings. Pistol grip, handguards and buttstock are made from plastic. SAR-80 uses M16-style magazines. Gas drive has gas regulator that can be cut off completely to safely launch rifle grenades from the muzzle.

Caliber: 5.56x45 mm (.223 Remington)
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length: 970 mm (738 mm with butt folded)
Barrel length: 459 mm
Weight: 3.7 kg empty
Rate of fire: 600 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 20, 30 rounds

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fairbairn–Sykes fighting knife

The Fairbairn–Sykes fighting knife is a double-edged fighting knife resembling a dagger or poignard with a foil grip developed by William Ewart Fairbairn and Eric Anthony Sykes in Shanghai based on concepts which the two men initiated before World War II while serving on the Shanghai Municipal Police in China.

The F–S fighting knife was made famous during World War II when issued to British Commandos, the Airborne Forces, the SAS and many other units, especially for the Normandy Landings in June 1944. With its acutely tapered, sharply-pointed blade, the F–S fighting knife is frequently described as a stiletto, a weapon optimized for thrusting, although the F-S knife is capable of being used to inflict slash cuts upon an opponent.

The Wilkinson Sword Company made the knife with minor pommel and grip design variations. The F–S fighting knife was designed exclusively for surprise attack and fighting, with a slender blade that can easily penetrate a ribcage. The vase handle grants precise grip, and the blade's design is especially suited to its use as a fighting knife.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

OTs-14 Groza

The OTs-14 “Groza” (“thunder”) modular assault rifle was developed during the early 1990s by V. Telesh and Ju. Lebedev at the TSKIB SOO (Central Design Bureau for Sporting and Hunting Arms, located in the city of Tula). It was intended for various Special Forces in the Russian army and Internal Affairs Ministry as an dedicated CQB / Urban warfare weapon. It was briefly manufactured in small numbers at the Tula Arms factory during the mid-1990s. OTs-14 rifles saw some action during the first anti-terrorist campaign in Chechnya in 1999, but soon felt out of favor and are no longer made.

"Groza" OC-14 / OTs-14 Assault Rifle in "assault" configuration

The OTs-14 is based on the familiar AKS-74U receiver and action, modified for the larger 9 x 39 subsonic ammunition favored by various SpetsNaz troops. It is fitted into a bullpup layout, with removable trigger / pistol grip unit which could be replaced with an alternative unit integral with 40 mm grenade launcher. In the grenade-launching configuration, a single trigger controls both the 40 mm GL and the rifle itself, with a separate barrel selector. The safety / fire mode selector of AK pattern is retained and in bullpup configuration is especially uncomfortable to operate. The barrel can be fitted with a quick-detachable silencer. Standard open sights are built into the carrying handle, which results in relatively short sight base. The carrying handle also has mounting points for telescope, red dot or night sights.

"Groza" OC-14 / OTs-14 Assault Rifle in "Grenadier" configuration

Caliber, mm: 9x39 SP-6, 7.62x39 M43
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt with 2 lugs
Length: 610 mm (with grenade launcher installed)
Barrel length: 240 mm
Weigth: 2.7 kg in basic configuration; 4.0 kg with attached grenade launcher
Magazine: 20rds (9mm), 30rds AK-47 type (7.62mm)
Rate of fire: 700 rounds per minute

"Groza" OC-14 / OTs-14 Assault Rifle with silencer and telescope sight

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Sherman Firefly was one of the most important Sherman variant

Outwardly, the Sherman Firefly VC series of tank destroyers looked every bit like their M4 Sherman base counterparts. Closer examination however would reveal a system that was finally capable of dealing with the impressive German Tigers and Panthers at distance. The Sherman Firefly would go on to become one of the more important Sherman tank derivatives of World War 2.

The British and Americans were already looking into an upgunned version of the successful Sherman tank, seeing it that it was available in quantity with a progressive stream coming off the assembly lines at a record pace.

The Americans proposed mounting a 90mm main gun to the existing system but were later turned off to the idea of having to redesign an entirely new turret for the new system. Not to leave well enough alone, the British continued to believe that the upgunned Sherman variant was a viable cause an proceeded to mount their own 17-pounder gun into one of their many Shermans in stock. With a new turret design and a little modification to the base Sherman design, the Sherman Firefly was born - this Sherman mounting an impressive 76.2mm main gun along with a single Browning-type 7.62mm machine gun. The Allies finally found an answer to German battlefield dominance.

From the outset, Allied tank crews were at a disadvantage when tangling with the well-armored German tanks, needing numbers and ingenuity to usually overcome their counterparts. This resulted in Allied tank crews zeroing in for a near-point blank hit to the side or rear of the German units. The Firefly now gave the Allies some punch at distance, with the Firefly able to effectively engage targets some 1,000 yards away. As more impressive munitions became available in the latter months of the war, the destructive power of the Firefly became ever moreso something for Axis tank crews to contend with. So definitive was the arrival of the Sherman Firefly that German anti-tank crews and tanks received explicit orders to engage and eliminate Fireflys as the first priority in any given engagement.

The British converted some 600 of their basic M4A4 Sherman tanks into Fireflys with some 160 landing into the hands of American forces. It should be noted that these conversion models basically inherited the armor protection of their base M4A4 models meaning that no additional armor protection was given to the new Firefly design. As such, Firefly tank crews would still have been wary of their own safety when in the line of enemy fire. Fireflys would appear in the Normandy beach landings of 1944 and were later attached to standard tank battalions onwards, though it was initially seen that Fireflys would be fielded as their own squadrons.

Monday, October 14, 2013


OTs-12 "Tiss" compact assault rifle (manufacturer's index ОЦ-12 "Тисс", also sometimes spelled as OC-12 in English-language sources) was briefly manufactured during early 1990s by the TSKIB SOO (Central Design Bureau for Sporting and Hunting Arms, located in the city of Tula). It was intended for police use, and was closely based on the AKS-74U compact assault rifle, with main difference being usage of the large caliber, subsonic 9x39 ammunition, which provided significant stopping power and barrier penetration capabilities at short and medium ranges (up to 200-300 meters). Only several hundreds of OTs-12 rifles were made at TSKIB SOO in about 1993, but the mass production, which was anticipated at Tula arms factory, never commenced. Few OTs-12 rifles are still in use by some Law Enforcement units across the Russia.

The OTs-12 "Tiss" compact assault rifle by design is similar to the Kalashnikov AKS-74U rifle, featuring same gas-operated, rotary bolt action, as well as similar controls and furniture, including side-folding skeletonized buttstock. Main differences include new barrel with muzzle brake / compensator, new bolt and a new 20-round magazine for 9x39 ammunition.

Caliber: 9x39 mm SP-5, SP-6
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length: 490 mm (butt folded) or 730 mm (butt extended)
Barrel length: 200 mm
Weight: 2.5 kg empty
Rate of fire: rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 20 rounds

Thursday, October 3, 2013

TKB-517 Korobov

German A. Korobov, Russian gun designer from Tula, began the development of assault rifles soon after the World War Two,when he designed the TKB-408 bullpup rifle for 1946-47Soviet Army trials. Despite the failure of TKB-408, Korobov continued the development of various assault rifles, both in bullpup and traditional configurations. During late 1940s, he tried gas delayed blowback action in his series of TKB-454 experimental assault rifles, all chambered for standard issue 7.62x39 ammunition. While these rifles displayed some good results in accuracy department, these also showed insufficient reliability. By the 1952, Korobov switched to the Kiraly-type retarded blowback action, with the two-part bolt that uses braking action of the lever, interposed between bolt parts and receiver. This action allowed for significant increase of accuracy, as well as simplification of design and production, compared to then-standard Kalashnikov AK assault rifles.

Korobov TKB-517 assault rifle. The small "tube" above the barrel is a cleaning rod.

During mid-1950s, Soviet Army initiates new trials for improved assault rifle design in the same 7.62x39 M43 caliber. Korobov submits his improved TKB-517 rifle, still based on the Kiraly type delayed blowback action; this weapon was extensively tested against modified Kalashnikov AK rifle, as well a number of other designs, and found to be superior to all. Korobov was found to be most accurate and controllable in full automatic mode (primary mode of fire, according to Soviet tactical doctrine), especially when fired from the shoulder or from the hip. It was also significantly lighter and less expensive to make than modified AK. Nevertheless, Soviet Army preferred less effective, but familiar and already well established Kalashnikov AKM over the more effective and lighter, but entirely new design.

TKB-517 is delayed (retarded) blowback operated weapon, that uses two-part bolt system, designed prior to WW2 by Paul Kiraly of Hungary. In this system, bolt has two parts -lighter breech block with breech face and extractor, and heavier bolt carrier. A two-arm lever is interposed between these two parts; lower arm of the lever rests against the receiver when bolt is fully closed. When gun is fired, pressure in the chamber forces the cartridge case backwards and against the breech face.Bolt begins to travel back, but the lever acts as a mechanical disadvantage,transferring the short movement of the light bolt to the longer movement of the heavy bolt carrier. This action is sufficient to slow down initial movement of the breech face before the bullet leaves the barrel. Once the pressure in the barrel is low enough, the lever breaks the contact with the receiver, and the rest of recoil cycle both bolt parts complete as a single unit. Similar system later has been used in the French FAMAS assault rifle.receiver of TKB-517 has been made from stamped steel, furniture was made from wood. Charging handle was attached to the bolt carrier at the right side. Safety/ fire mode selector was located above the pistol grip, also at the right side of the gun. TKB-517 used standard AK/AKM type magazines, including large-capacity 40 and 75-round ones, developed for RPK light machine gun.

Caliber: 7.62x39mm M43
Action: Delayed blowback
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

US flamethrower during WW2 - The M1 series

There are many ways in which to decimate one's enemy - arguably one of the most terrible being fire. Fire has remained a feared battlefield element since ancient times when it was used to both severely maim an individual or group, frighten those under its reach and bring about destruction to flammable structures. By medieval times, "liquid fire" was in the fold, perhaps most notably utilized by the Byzantine Navy, and continued fire's dominance for centuries thereafter.

The M1 / M1A1 series of flamethrowers saw widespread us by American forces in the Pacific Theater.

Modern day "flamethrowers" were first unveiled by the German Army in World War 1. These cumbersome machines could require up to three soldiers to move the system about the battlefield and, while the psychological effect was there, it was hardly practical in the heat of an offensive. Nevertheless, the these weapons saw first use in the Argonne forest against the French Army as early as 1914 and saw much publicized use against the same enemy in the 1916 campaign at Verdun. Despite the global disgust towards these new weapons of war - perhaps no worse than the chemical agents being lobbed against trench adversaries throughout the conflict - the flamethrower was here to stay, generally accepted by all sides and soon developed (or outright copied) by other nations. World War 1 ultimately ended in November of 1918 and the flamethrower had more or less seen its day in the sun.

Within time, the rebuilding German Army under Adolph Hitler had begun replacing the large World War 1-era systems with man-portable components known under the family name of "Flammenwerfer" throughout the 1930s.

The "flamethrower", as we know it today, had officially arrived. After their use in the opening salvos of World War 2 (seeing ever-improved forms), the British Army brought back into the fold their old World War 1-era flame-throwing developments. Likewise, the Australians put financing into a similar indigenous product all their own. The Japanese Army was also keen on the prospects of the flamethrower as a weapon through use of their Type 93 and Type 100 series. The Soviets had already been developing flamethrowers themselves by 1941. Before America had officially committed to the war effort, plans were already underway to design and develop an indigenous flamethrower system.

In 1940, the United States Army came down with a requirement for a new man-portable flame-throwing system. The department in charge for the design and development of the new weapon was the "Chemical Warfare Service". However, the department had little-to-no knowledge of how to proceed with the program and nothing of which to go by in beginning their endeavor. As such, they focused their efforts upon the flamethrowers utilized by the Wehrmacht (German Army). A prototype model - the "Flame-Thrower E1" was quickly developed and eventually evolved into the "E1R1" developmental model. Progress was deemed far enough along to send the E1R1 into trials. The E1R1 featured two large vertically-set tanks, each containing the needed fuel and a third, slimmer tank mounted atop and between the two fuel tanks contained the required propellant. The tanks were worn on the back of the operator as a backpack and fed to the "flame gun" dispenser (essentially a pipe) through a flexible tube line. The flame gun was held with two hands, one on the handle-grip type appendage and the other along the forend of the dispenser. A thin hydrogen tank was fitted laterally across the length of the flame gun and supplied the needed ignition. A battery pack was used to ignite the hydrogen by way of a spark, the hydrogen in turn igniting the outgoing fuel supply. A valve located at the aft end of the flame gun - the portion seeing the hose line connecting to the gun - was controlled by the operator.

Operation was such as that found on a rifle, though most often times fired from the hip as opposed to the shoulder. The firing action brought about a stream of "liquid fire" from the muzzle of the flame gun, the liquid fuel ignited at the nozzle end as it exited the gun. The pressurized tank allowed for a steady stream and the operator could "spray" an area in much the same way a person could spray a garden bed with a hose. Most trial images of the M1-in-training showcased the operator down on one knee, the M1 flame gun aimed upwards for arcing fire. In reality, this stance was not always possible.

The M1
The need for a flamethrower for the US Army was such that even some of these evaluation models were featured in operational assaults in Papau before the type was officially approved for active service. The operational evaluation did the project some good, though, for several key shortcomings were soon revealed in the American design. The E1R1 system was prone to breakdowns in the field and proved relatively unreliable in the harsh battlefield conditions. The controls were noted for their ill-placement and the machine was generally not a trusted weapon in the heat of battle. As such, the board took to refining the base design - attempting to produce a more robust and reliable system - and the new weapon was therefore accepted into service as the "Portable Flame-Thrower M1". American was fully committed to World War 2 after December 7th, 1941 following the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and the M1 would soon be put to dastardly use.

The M1 differed only subtly from the E1R1 developmental model, retaining the same basic shape and configuration of the tanks. Production of the M1 began in March of 1942 and the weapon was soon to see action the following January in the Guadalcanal action. In theory, the M1 was a solid design effort with several key ingredients ironed out during its refinement process. However, once in practice, the M1 continued to fail its operators, sometimes at the worst possible times. One of the major drawbacks of the M1 became its ignition system which relied on electrical power supplied to the flame gun via batteries. In testing, this ignition method proved adequate but when pressed into the grimy, violent and unpredictable world of war, this solution was far from perfect. The construction material of each tank was also liable to develop small, unseen holes from general metal corrosion which ultimately allowed both pressure and liquids to unknowingly escape. As such, a special service was opened by the United States Army to specifically manage, repair and inspect all outgoing M1 throwers before their use in combat.

The M1A1
In June of 1943, American was engulfed in World War across two separate fronts - one to the East throughout North Africa/Europe against the forces of Italy/Germany and the other to the West in the Pacific against the Empire of Japan. Development for an improved M1 model was ongoing and deliveries of the new M1A1 soon began. Napalm was now being used as an additive in the tanks to produce a "thicker" fuel store thus increasing the flamethrower's operational range and damage effect. This thicker fuel differentiated the M1A1 from the M1 in that the M1 was categorized by it using "light" fuel. While range of the original M1 was roughly out to 30 yards, the M1A1 could now yield a flame burst out to 50 yards. The operational weight of the M1A1 was also reduced to a more "manageable" 65lbs. Despite the inadequacies of the ignition system inherent in the M1, it remained unchanged in the improved M1A1. By this time, however, American troops had learned to overcome its deficiencies and resorted to lighting their throwers by whatever means they had available - burning paper, matchsticks and even personal cigarette lighters were just some of the published methods. Some 14,000 M1A1s were ultimately produced and delivered to awaiting infantry platoons. Their operations took them across Italy and Germany though their use was severely limited throughout Europe following the end of the Normandy Campaign in 1944. Use of the M1/M1A1 continued throughout the Pacific however.

The M1/M1A1 in the Pacific
The M1/M1A1 were found to be highly relied upon in weeding out the fanatic Japanese defenders on through the required island campaigns of the Pacific Theater. The flamethrower served American Marines well in engaging dug-in foes in foxholes, tunnels and bunkers. Additionally, the flamethrower worked extremely well for clearing out dry cover brush as found throughout the islands. In some instances, the mere appearance of the flamethrower led some enemy soldiers to surrender - such was the psychological power of "liquid flame", even centuries after the Byzantines.

M1/M1A1 Limitations
If there were limits to the reach of the flame-throwing unit, it was in range, inherent danger and portability to the operator himself. The 30- to 50-yard range was an impressive range on the testing and training courses of America. But in the field of combat, this often involved the operator to expose most of his body when engaging suspected enemy positions. This led to the use needlessly putting himself in harm's way. The size of the tanks and general stance of the infantryman called to bear the M1/M1A1 system also made for a juicy target to the enemy in which one solid shot could force the compression tanks to explode, engulfing the operator and those near him in a ball of flame. To add insult to injury, the M1/M1A1 system could weigh in as much as 70lbs - the infantryman called to carry the weapon would have to do so under combat conditions, trudging himself, his gear and the weapon through mud, rocky terrain, woods and humid jungle settings.

Values Despite the Drawbacks
Despite the drawbacks, the flamethrower proved to still have some value. The sheer psychological effect was second to none for there were few enemy soldiers willing to die in a blast of hot liquid flame. There was little escaping fire too, for its crevice-finding ways were similar to that of water - if there was a will, there was a way. And if the flame itself did not reach the intended target, perhaps the heat would - and intense heat has a way of moving a man out from hiding.

The M2
By the middle of 1943, the Chemical Warfare Service had developed more of sense of what the infantryman needed out of his flamethrower, based on after-action reports and feedback. This ultimately led to the development of the much-improved M2 flamethrower series with its new rotary cartridge ignition system. The M1 series was soon-after replaced by the M2 and production surpassed that of both M1 and M1A1 models combined.

End of the Road
Ultimately, all portable flamethrowers were more or less given up in favor of tank-mounted flame guns. This offered better range and protection for the crew and made for a more imposing target to the enemy.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Korobov TKB-408

The TKB-408 assault rifle has been developed by designer German A. Korobov by 1946. This weapon has been designed in Tula, for 1946 Soviet Army trials for anew assault rifle. Usually claimed as a first military-type automatic rifle of bullpup configuration, this weapon, in fact, has been preceded by several designs that appeared during the WW2 in Great Britain and USSR (i.e. Korovin 7.62mm experimental assault rifle of 1945). This weapon was tested by Soviet Army commission in 1946-47, but was found unsatisfactory; eventually, trials were won by Kalashnikov AK rifle.

TKB-408 is gas operated, locked breech weapon that uses vertically tilting bolt to lock the barrel. Cocking handle is located at the left side of the weapon,above the wooden handguard; it does not reciprocate when gun is fired. Gun fired in full automatic mode and in single shots. Firing mode selector is located at the left side of receiver, above pistol grip. Separate safety switch is located within the trigger-guard, in front of the trigger. Ejection port is located at the right side of weapon, above the magazine, and has flip-down dust cover.There were no provisions for firing from the left shoulder. TKB-408 used proprietary magazines, made from sheet steel. each magazine held 30 rounds and had a forward projection that entered the magazine lock, located at the bottom of pistol grip. Weapon was mostly made of stamped steel, with wooden buttstock and handguard.

Caliber: 7.62x39mm M43
Action: Gas operated, tilting bolt
Overall length: 790 mm
Weight: 4.3 kg
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Korobov TKB-022

The line of TKB-022 experimental assault rifles is one of most intriguing developments in small arms, made in Soviet Union. In many respects these weapons, designed during early sixties by Soviet gun designer G. A. Korobov were many years ahead of its time.Those guns were simply too advanced for conservative-thinking Soviet Army officers who preferred simple, familiar, proven and reliable Kalashnikov assault rifles over anything else. Regardless of that, the TKB-022 is well worth mentioning, if just for the sake of curiosity.

7.62mm Korobov TKB-022 experimental assault rifle, first model in the TKB-022 line, circa 1962

TKB stands for Tulskoe Kosntructorskoe Buro- Tula Design Bureau, an arms-designing organisation associated with Tula arms factory (TOZ), which later evolved into the KBP - large and famous arms design and manufacturing state-owned company. Korobov was one of the more advanced designers at KBP, and he always tried to step ahead of its time. In this case, he tried to create a compact weapon,suitable for motorized troops riding in cramped armored personnel carriers (BMP, BTR) or helicopters. Despite very compact size, this weapon retained full-length barrel (and thus effective range and lethality) of much longer standard assault rifles such as Kalashnikov AKM. In fact, TKB-022 has best barrel length to overall length ratio among most military rifles ever built. During mid- to late sixties Korobov produced several variations of the TKB-022, from TKB-022PM toTKB-022PM5. The last one, the TKB-022PM5, which was produced in 1968, was chambered for then-experimental 5.6x39 ammunition (which latter evolved into 5.45x39). All weapons were tested by Soviet army but turned down on unpublished reasons (most probably because the gun was simply too advanced for contemporary military thinking, but also possibly because no-one at the time could tell for sure if plastic housing would hold its integrity in extreme weather conditions or during many years of storage or use).

7.62mm Korobov TKB-022PM experimental assault rifle, left side, circa 1965

The TKB-022assault rifle is gas-operated weapon with annular gas piston located around the barrel. To achieve minimum length, it is assembled into bull-pup configuration and uses vertically sliding breech block (bolt), rather than traditional and most common bolt that cycles back and forth. Since the movement of the bolt (breech block) in this design cannot be used to extract, eject and load cartridges, Korobov developed a special U-shaped rammer / extractor, that strips the fresh cartridge from magazine, pushes it into the chamber, then,after the discharge, pulls the fired cartridge case back from the chamber. Upon feeding the next fresh cartridge, the fired case is pushed forward and slightly up, into the ejection chute above the barrel. Spent cases finally fell off the gun above the muzzle. Gun was capable of full- and semi-automatic fire, with combined safety / fire mode selector switch located above the trigger on the left side of the gun. The gun housing was made from reddish-brown plastic, with metal structure hidden inside.

7.62mm Korobov TKB-022PM experimental assault rifle, right side, circa 1965

Caliber:7.62x39 mm M43 (also experimental 5.6x39mm)
Action: Gas operated, vertically sliding bolt
Overall length: 525 mm / 20.7"
Barrel length: 415 mm / 16.3"
Weight: 2.8 - 2.4 kg (depending on version) / 6.2 - 5.3 lbs
Rate of fire: 560 rounds pr minute
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Baryshev AB/AVB-762

Anatoly F. Baryshev designed its original delayed-blowback action in early 1960s. His design was very unusual for the time, mostly in the fact that it wasa private effort - a thing, rarely encountered in Soviet Union. Nevertheless, Baryshev managed to find some support in the higher ranks of Soviet Army.Several prototypes were built and tested. New action showed its major advance - a significant decrease in felt recoil, but otherwise it proved to be unreliable under harsh conditions and inaccurate in single shots. Army rejected the design,but Baryshev and his supporters had been trying to promote this design till late nineties. During early 1990s Baryshev also cooperated with Czech company LCZ Group, which manufactured several prototype rifles in calibers such as 7,62x39 and 7,62x51. These rifles were displayed on several military exhibitions, but found no buyers, and apparently were dropped by late 1990s. In the mean time, Baryshev designed an unique large handheld caliber weapon, which fired12,7x108mm heavy machine gun of 30x25B grenade ammunition (change of caliber required change of barrel, magazine and bolt). Because of Baryshev recoil-reducing action, this weapon can be fired from the shoulder, but it still had all drawbacks of all other Baryshev weapons - that is, insufficient reliability and insufficient accuracy in single shots, and accurate burst fire was also all but impossible from such large-caliber but lightweight gun with limited magazine capacity. It must be noted that Baryshev system allowed to build lightweight fully automatic weapons in powerful "rifle" calibers such as 7,62x54R or 7,62x51, which were controllable in full automatic fire; butt his was the only significant advantage of the system over other, more conventional systems.

Diagram from original patent, issued to Baryshev for his delayed-blowback action

Baryshev action is a delayed-blowback system which is fired from open bolt only. Bolt group consists of four parts - bolt with tilting head, inertia piece and locking lever. When gun is fired, bolt group is released and goes forward at once, stripping a fresh cartridge from magazine. At the end of loading cycle, bolt with its head was stopped at the breech, while inertia piece still moved forward, rotating the locking lever and bolt head. The pivoting locking lever struck the firing pin, and fired the cartridge. Recoil of the shot tried to pivot the bolt head, but this movement was resisted by the mass and velocity of the inertia piece. Once the inertia piece was stopped and its movement reversed by the blowback action of the cartridge, it turned the locking lever to disengage the bolt from receiver. Once bolt is released, entire bolt group is moved back under residual pressure in the chamber. This sounds complicated as is, and the system never impressed anyone other than few high-ranking officers in Soviet army.

Baryshev AB-7,62 prototype assault rifle, chambered for 7,62x39 ammunition

   AB-7,62 / LCZ B10 AVB-7,62 / LCZ B20
Caliber 7,62x39 M43 7,62x54R or 7,62x51 NATO
Overall length (stock open / folded) 960 / 710 mm 1000/ 750 mm
Barrel length 415 mm 455 mm
Weight, empty 3,6 kg 3,9 kg
Rate of fire 750 rounds per minute 750 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity 30 rounds 10 or 20 rounds
Czech-made LCZ B20 (AVB-7,62) prototype automatic rifle, chambered for 7,62x51 NATO ammunition

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

PzH 2000 155mm Self-Propelled Artillery

The PzH 2000 (Panzerhaubitze 2000) is the 155mm self-propelled howitzer developed by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) together with the main subcontractor Rheinmetall Landsysteme for the German Army.

KMW received a contract in 1996 for production of 185 units. The first system was delivered in July 1998 and deliveries for this batch are complete. Rheinmetall (formerly MaK) delivers the complete chassis for all series vehicles.

In May 2001, during test firings for the Hellenic Army, the PzH 2000 fired 20 rounds all to ranges exceeding 40km (41.8km maximum). The ranges were achieved using M2000BB Assegai shells from Naschem / Denel of South Africa, in combination with the Rheinmetall DM 72 modular charge system. In November 2002, in live firings in Sweden, a similar range was achieved with Rheinmetall's new long-range RH 40 BB ammunition, also fired with the modular charge system.

A PzH 2000 howitzer turret has been mounted on the deck of German Navy F124 frigate, Hamburg, as a demonstration of the feasibility of the system for naval applications. The concept is called MONARC and requires a flexible elastic mounting.

PzH 2000 howitzer orders and deliveries

Total German Army requirement has been reduced from around 450 units to 260. PzH 2000 has also been selected by the Italian, Dutch and Greek Armies. The Greek Army has 24 systems, delivered between July 2003 and June 2004.

A German / Italian co-production programme with Consorzio Iveco-Oto Melara is providing the 70 units for the Italian Army. KMW delivered two units in 2002. First deliveries of the remaining 68 from Consorzio Iveco-Oto Melara took place in May 2007. The system entered service with the Italian Army in June 2007 and achieved initial operating capability in October 2008. Final deliveries are scheduled for 2009.

The Dutch army signed a contract for the procurement of for 57 units, later reduced to 39 units and deliveries are underway. The surplus 18 units (not yet built) were offered to the Australian Army but were declined.

In September 2006, the PZH 2000 completed its first live-fire combat mission with the Dutch Army in Afghanistan, as part of Operation Medusa. In operations against the Taliban, three PZH 2000 provided fire support at a range of more than 30km.

PzH 2000 155mm L52 howitzer gun

The electrical gun control system, supplied by ESW Extel Systems Wedel, comprises the automatic elevating and traversing drives with semi-automatic back-up, direct laying with electrical instrument control and manual control.

The 155mm L52 gun of the PzH 2000 was developed by Rheinmetall DeTec. The barrel length is 52 calibre and chamber volume is 23l. The gun has a chromium-plated barrel and semi-automatic lifting breech block with integrated 32-round standard primer magazine.

Gun parameters such as chamber temperature are monitored automatically. The PzH 2000 is equipped with a fully automatic shell loading system with ammunition management system.

The chromium-plated barrel is 8m long and is fitted with a slotted muzzle brake which gives increased muzzle velocity and reduces the level of muzzle flash.

The wedge-type breech block is integrated with an exchangeable primer magazine fitted with an endless conveyer for automatic primer transportation, loading and unloading.

Rheinmetall DeTec has also developed a six-zone modular propelling charge system (MTLS), the DM72, which provides for faster handling, less wear on the gun, lower sensitivity to ignition hazards and improved range. In the PzH 2000, up to six MTLS modules form the propelling charge. The maximum range of the L52 gun using the maximum MTLS charges is 30km with the standard L15A2 round and up to 40km with assisted projectiles.

The gun positioning and laying system is produced by Honeywell Maintal and mounted on the gun cradle. The system automatically determines gun direction, position and elevation above sea level. The integrated global positioning system (GPS) receiver and the vehicle's motor sensors form the hybrid navigation system of the PzH 2000.

Automatic shell-loading system

The PzH 2000 automatic shell-loading system can handle 60 rounds of 155mm ammunition. The shells are picked up from the back of the vehicle and automatically stowed in the 60-round magazine in the centre of the chassis.

The shell-loading system is driven by brushless electric servo motors supplied by MOOG. The automatic shell loading system has pneumatically driven flick rammer and automatic digital control, ammunition supply management and inductive fuze setting.

This provides rates of fire of three rounds in under ten seconds and loading of 60 shells by two operators within 12 minutes, including the collation of ammunition data.

The firing rate of the PzH 2000 was 12 rounds in 59.74 seconds, and 20 rounds in one minute 47 seconds, during firing tests in October 1997 with an improved autoloader. The muzzle velocity is determined automatically by means of a radar sensor and is used in the fire control computation.
Fire control and observation

The PzH 2000 can use an automatic mode of operation including the data radio link with an external command and control system. The autonomous fire control functions are controlled by an on-board MICMOS computer supplied by EADS (formerly DaimlerChrysler Aerospace). Using the automatic mode, target engagements can be carried out by a crew of two. Using the fire control data provided by the ballistics computer, the gun is automatically laid and relayed during the mission.

Various backup modes are available which guarrantee system sustainability in case of a component failure. As the lowest backup mode, an optical mechanical backup sytem is available.

The commander has a Leica PERI-RTNL 80 panoramic periscope, which is used in under-armour operations and for target designation in direct laying engagements. PERI-RTNL 80 has day and night vision channels and a laser rangefinder. The gunner is equipped with a Leica PzF TN 80 day and night direct fire sight for direct laying of the gun.

The 736kW powerpack of the PzH 2000 is mounted at the front of the hull and consists of an eight-cylinder direct-injection, supercharged MTU MT881 Ka-500 diesel engine with a four-speed Renk HSWL 284 C gearbox. Three fuel tanks provide a 420km cruise range.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The M56

The M56 (sometimes called the "Scorpion") was a fully tracked 90mm gun developed in the 1950s to provide airborne troops with a mobile anti-tank weapon. As such the system was used by airborne battalions and airborne infantry tank companies in the 1960s. The M56 Scorpion was also known as the SPAT for Self-Propelled Anti-Tank. Hull construction of the M56 consisted of an all-welded and riveted aluminum. The standard 90mm main gun was closely associated with the main gun as found on the M47 Patton Tank.

The M56 Scorpion was developed in to provide airborne elements with a mobile anti-tank weapon.

One major drawback of the M56 was that the crew of the M56 was exposed to the elements, with the exception of the blast shield and a windscreen for the driver. The loader utilized a folding stage from which to stand on to reload the weapon system. Despite this complete lack of crew protection, the system was a formidable piece of mobile artillery, particularly given the fact that it would be made available to frontline airborne units. Couple that with the maximum range of the main gun set out to 1,500 meters and the benefits appear to outweigh the drawbacks. Another major drawback was in the force of the recoil of the main gun which would literally tilt the entire system up and backwards when the weapon was fired along with produce an absorbent amount of dust and smoke in the process.

The M56 had a lifespan with the United States 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne up until the 1960's to which the system gave way to the M551 Sheridan. Despite this replacement, the M56 was in fact fielded in the Vietnam War in limited numbers, yet relegated to the fire support role. The chassis would also be featured in several less noteworthy roles including that of an APC, mortar carrier and a recoilless rifle tank.

Designation: M56 Scorpion

Classification Type: Airborne Self-Propelled Anti-Tank Gun

Contractor: Cadillac Motor Car Division of General Motors Corp - USA

Country of Origin: United States

Initial Year of Service: 1953

Monday, August 19, 2013


In mid-1970s, Soviet Navy adopted an underwater APS assault rifle for its combat divers, to provide underwater security against enemy frogmen and specially trained sea animals (i.e. dolphins). The APS, while successful in its narrow niche, had its set of inherent flaws, so, during the late 1990s,a severely modified version of it appeared in Tula, in the form of the experimental ASM-DT “dual medium” amphibious assault rifle.

The key improvement of the ASM-DT is that it uses a 5.45 mm rifled barrel with relatively shallow rifling, which allows to fire both standard 5.45 x 39 spin-stabilized ammunition, and modified underwater hydrodynamically stabilized ammunition, which is also based on 5.45 x39 case, with long projectile of about 5.4 mm in diameter.

To achieve this, the magazine housing of the ASM-DT is fitted with a sliding magazine catch, which can be positioned at the rear of the long magazine port to hold the deep underwater magazines, or in the middle of the magazine port to hold the relatively shallow (front to back)AK-74 magazines. In the latter mode, the rear, unused part of the magazine housing is closed by a spring-loaded dust cover. To avoid problems with the remaining water in the barrel when firing the 5.45 x39 in air, the chamber has special grooves that lead from the chamber forcing cone forward, into the rifling grooves. When the standard 5.45mm cartridge is fired, a small amount of powder gases run through the grooves ahead of the bullet, effectively blowing the remaining water out of the barrel. The rest of the action is similar to the APS, but the muzzle is fitted with AKS-74U-style muzzle device / flash hider. The overall performance of ASM-DT with underwater ammunition is similar to the APS, while in air and with standard 5.45 x 39 ammunition, it is roughly on par with the AKS-74U and greatly out performs the APS.

Caliber: 5.45 mm (5.45x39 for above water firing and 5.45mm special underwater ammunition for submerged firing)
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length: n
Barrel length: n
Weight: kg
Rate of fire: ~600 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds (for above water configuration) or 26 rounds (for underwater configuration)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bersa Thunder 380

Bersa Thunder-380 pistols are manufactured in Argentine by Bersa S.A. company, as a compact self-defense side arms for civilians and police. Being inexpensive and of good quality, these pistols offer a good level of protection with decent ergonomics. These pistols must not be confused with larger and more powerful Bersa Thunder 9 and Thunder 40 pistols from the same company.

Bersa Thunder-380.

Bersa Thunder-380 pistols are simple blowback operated, with the return spring located around the barrel. The trigger is of double action type, with exposed hammer. The safety switch is located at the left side of the frame, and, when engaged, automatically decocks the hammer. There is also an internal firing pin safety, which blocks the firing pin unless the trigger is pressed. Magazine release button is located above and behind of the trigger guard, at the left side of the frame, and just below of the slide stop lever. Single stack magazine holds seven 9mm (.380) or nine 7.65mm (.32) rounds. Deluxe versions of the Thunder-380 are equipped with extended magazines, which hold nine rounds of 9mm/.380 ammunition. Front sight is integral to the slide, rear fixed sight is dovetailed to the slide. Latest production pistols also feature an integral key lock, located above the trigger, on the left side of the frame.

With extended clip.

Type: Double Action
Calibers: 9x17mm Short/Kurz (.380ACP) and 7.65x17SR (.32ACP)
Weight unloaded: 560 gram
Length: 168 mm
Barrel length: 90 mm
Capacity: 7 (9mm) or 9 (7.65mm) rounds standard

Monday, August 5, 2013

AS "Val" (silenced)

The Special Forces, generally known as “Spetsnaz” (after the Russian term “Voiska Spetsialnogo Naznacheniya” – Special Purpose Troops), always played a key role in Soviet Military Doctrine. One of the aspects of every Special Forces is that they prefer to operate stealthily, with as little sound and flash as possible from their weapons. The first generation Spetsnaz weapons were no more than AK and AKM rifles, fitted with quick-detachable sound suppressors, and loaded with special subsonic ammunition with heavy bullets. Apparently, this was not enough, since in the mid-1980s the development of new, more effective silenced weapons was initiated. At first, designers from TSNIITOCHMASH in the city of Klimovsk developed a special-purpose 9 mm subsonic-cartridges, known as 9x39 SP-5 and SP-6, based on necked-out 7.62 x 39 case. These cartridges were fitted with heavy (about 16-17 gram) standard “ball” or armour piercing bullets, with muzzle velocities about 280-300 meters per second.

AS "Val" silenced assault rifle, with shoulder stock opened

Having the ammunition, the team at TSNIITOCHMASH, lead by P. Serdyukov, developed a family of integrally silenced 9 mm weapons, which included the VSS “Vintorez” silenced sniper rifle and the AS “Val”silenced assault rifle. Both weapons are based on the same action and integrally silenced barrel. AS is widely used by Russian Army recon units, as well as by MVD (Internal Affairs Ministry) and FSB (Federal Security Bureau) Special Forces.

AS "Val" silenced assault rifle, with shoulder stock folded

The AS is a gas operated, integrally silenced weapon. The receiver is machined from steel forging for improved strength. The long stroke gas piston is located above the barrel, and rigidly attached to the bolt carrier. The rotating bolt has six lugs and locks into the receiver. The front part of the barrel, ahead of the gas port, has several sets of holes, drilled at the bottom of the rifling grooves. These holes are used to bleed some of the gun gas into the integral silencer. The trigger unit is somewhat similar to that of the Czech-made Sa. Vz.58 assault rifle, and is striker-fired. The safety lever is similar to the one found on all Kalashnikov-type rifles, but the fire mode selector is a separate cross-bolt type button, located within the trigger guard, just behind the trigger. The open sights are graduated up to 400 meters in 25 meter increments, but the actual effective range is about 200-300 meters due to the rainbow-shaped trajectory of the subsonic bullets. The AS is optimized for high performance armor piercing 9 x 39 ammunition, designated as SP-6, but can also fire “ball” type SP-5 ammunition, intended for VSS sniper rifles. The pistol grip and the short forearm are made from polymer, the skeletonized, side-folding butt is made from steel tubing. The AS rifle has a standard side-mounted rail for optical, night vision or red dot scopes. It has no provision for mounting a bayonet or a grenade launcher. The integral silencer could be easily detached for maintenance, repair, or compact storage, but the rifle shall not be fired with the silencer removed due to safety and reliability issues.

AS "Val" silenced assault rifle, partially disassembled; note that barrel is significantly shorter than integral silencer

Caliber: 9x39 mm (SP-5, SP-6)
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt with 6 lugs
Length: 875 mm / 615 mm (stock open / folded)
Barrel length: 200 mm
Effective range: 400 meters
Weight: 2,96 kg empty
Magazine capacity: 10 or 20 rounds

The blog owner of World Guns prepares to fire AS "Val" silenced assault rifle

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

APS assault rifle

The APS (Avtomat Podvodnyj Spetsialnyj = Special Underwater Assault rifle) was developed during the early 1970s at TSNIITOCHMASH(Central Institute for Precision Machine building) by the team lead by V. Simonov. APS has been in active service with combat divers of the Soviet and Russian Navy since circa 1975.

APS rifle, with butt collapsed; note crude non-adjustable iron sights and unusual magazine

The APS is designed for special underwater cartridges, which fire 5.66 mm needle-like projectiles 120 mm long. The projectiles are stabilized using a hydrodynamic cavity, generated by the flat point of the projectile. The cartridges use standard 5.45 x 39 cases, sealed from water. The APS itself is a relatively crude, smooth bore arm, with a gas operated, rotating bolt action, fired from an open bolt. Single safety / selector switch is located at the left side of the receiver and allows for single shots and full automatic fire. The gas system features a patented self-adjusting gas valve, which allows the gun to be fired both underwater and in atmosphere. The simple trigger unit allows for single shots and full automatic fire. The rate of fire under water, as well as the effective range, depends on the actual depth. Sights are crude: a non-adjustable open notch rear and post front. The retractable buttstock is made from steel wire. The most complicated thing in the whole design is the feed system, which includes several parts to avoid double and even triple feed with the extremely long projectiles. Unusually deep (front to back) magazines are made from polymer and hold 26 rounds.

It must be noted that while APS could be fired "above the water", it should be done only in the case of emergency. According to the available sources, the expected service life of the APS when fired "in the air" degrades severely, and the effective range is limited only to several tens of meters. So, the APS is useful only under the water, where it is quite effective.

Caliber: 5.6x39 mm MPS
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length: 823 mm (butt retracted), 615 mm (butt collapsed)
Barrel length: n/a
Weight: 2.4 kg less magazine; 3.4 loaded
Rate of fire: 600 rounds per minute (in air)
Magazine capacity: 26 rounds

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The M3 / M5 series light tanks

The M3 / M5 series (commonly known as the "General Stuart") was an Allied design classified as a light tank and appeared through the early and middle years of the Second World War. The system was under-gunned and lightly armored but fast and reliable enough to warrant a good opinion of her crews. The system would appear of combat value up until 1944 when it was basically outclassed by even the lightest of German counterparts. The General Stuart served with American, British and Soviet forces alike and appeared in several forms throughout its production life.

The General Stuart series of light tank had little combat value by 1944 but nonetheless played a large role in early Allied operations.

Development of the General Stuart stemmed from the American post-World War 1 development of small infantry support tanks, namely the M2, which appeared by the 1930s. This system was an adequate infantry tank for its time, mounting a respectable 37mm main gun and good protection for advancing infantry. By the 1940s however, the system was simply outclassed by its German performers and was relegated to secondary roles, most notably the training of tank crews.

This did not signify the end of the American light tank development program for the invasion of Europe spurned American warplanners to come up with a redesigned version of the M2 in the Light Tank M3 - appearing with an increase to armor and combat weight whilst still retaining the 37mm main gun and machine guns. The M3 entered production and would see no fewer than 5,800 examples by series end.

Britain was a primary user of the M3 system (along with the US Army and the Red Army, te latter via Lend-Lease) and designated it as the "General Stuart" or simply "Stuart". Stuarts under British control served as the Stuart I, Stuart II, Stuart III, Stuart IV, Stuart V and the Stuart VI. The Stuart I and II differed mainly between the gasoline and diesel engines offered for each design while the Stuart III and Stuart differed similarly but featured a gyro stabilized main gun and a power traverse turret assembly. The Stuart V mainly offered up an improvement to armor protection while the Stuart VI was based on the revised M3, becoming the Light Tank M5 series, and featured a twin-Cadillac engine design along with a re-engineered turret.

Armament for the base M3/M5 series centered around the single 37mm main gun mounted in the turret. This main armament was retained throughout the entire lifetime of the vehicle though some variants would appear with the turret completely removed and instead housing more anti-infantry 7.62mm machine guns. Beyond the main gun, the crew of four had access to no fewer than five 7.62mm machine guns elsewhere in the standard design. This would include a bow-mount, coaxial mount, turret roof mount for anti-aircraft defense, and two in driver-controlled sponson mountings.

In the end, the Stuart appeared where ever it was needed and with three of the larger Allied armies. It earned a favorable reputation that would go on to solidify its place in World War 2 history. Though outclassed by many of the German platforms, the Stuart series nevertheless retained the qualities and capabilities admired by a tank crew on the battlefield.

Designation: Light Tank M3 / M5 (General Stuart)
Classification Type: Light Tank
Contractor: American Car & Foundry Company - USA
Country of Origin: United States
Initial Year of Service: 1941

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bersa Thunder & Thunder Mini

Bersa pistols are manufactured in Argentine by the Bersa S.A. company. Thunder pistols are available, in several different versions. The Thunder-380 pistols are of simple blowback design, while more powerful Thunder-9, Thunder-40 and Thunder-45 pistols are of locked breech design. Thunder series pistols are relatively compact and handy, yet they offer significant capacity with major pistol calibers, combined with good, fully ambidextrous ergonomics. Bersa pistols also are relatively inexpensive and offer decent reliability, making them good personal defense firearms. The only differences between Thunder and Thunder-mini pistols (which also sold as Thunder Ultra-Compact) are size and magazine capacity. The Ultra-Compact .45 pistols are roughly intermediate in size between standard and mini pistols, and, unlike smaller caliber brothers, they have a single stack magazine.

Bersa Thunder Nine (caliber 9x19mm Luger, Bersa Thunder 40 looks exactly the same).

Bersa Thunder 9 pistols are standard issue pistols for the Argentinean Federal Police and the Buenos Aires Province Police.

Bersa Thunder Mini 9mm left side

Bersa Thunder-9, Thunder-40 and Thunder-45 pistols are locked breech, short recoil operated firearms of Browning type. barrel is locked to slide by single large lug, which engages the ejection port in the slide. The unlocking is caused by the cam-shaped underbarrel extension. Trigger is of double action type, with exposed hammer and ambidextrous frame mounted safety, which decocks the hammer when engaged, then locks the slide and sear. The action also features a firing pin safety, which blocks the firing pin until the trigger is pressed. The slide release lever also is ambidextrous, and the magazine release button can be easily mounted on the either side of the grip. magazines of the 9mm and .40SW versions are of double stack type, .45 caliber magazines are single stack. Sights are fixed, with front sight integral to the slide and rear dovetailed to the frame. Latest production pistols also feature an integral key lock, located above the trigger on the left side of the frame, as well as accessory laser / light rail on the frame below the barrel.

Bersa Thunder Mini 9mm right side



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