WWII Firearms in Syria Part 2
Like so many other conflicts that have been recently waged in the Middle East, every gun of every sort will find its way into the hands of combatants. Sometimes articles of history too.
MAS-36: French bolt-action rifle designed to replace the Berthier and Lebel. The MAS-36 was accepted for service in 1936 and started issue in 1937, but there weren’t sufficient numbers available by the start of WWII or the invasion of France in 1940
About 1.1 million MAS-36s would be produced, most after the war. The MAS-36 would be France’s primary rifle for much of Algeria and the French-Indochina War. Large amounts of MAS-36s can be found in Syria, though their origin in unclear.
MG42: Nazi Germany’s primary GPMG of the war, the MG42 was designed to rplace the more expensive MG34. The MG42 was cheap and effective, made of mostly steel-stampings and possessing a blistering rate of fire.
The MG42 earned the nickname “Hitler’s Buzzsaw” amongst western Allied troops for the sound it made when firing. It was described as something similar to a person tearing a piece of fabric.
Post-war, the MG42 would continue to serve in multiple different militaries. Though renamed and with slight variations, the MG42 has remained largely the same machine to this day.
Iteratives of the MG42 include the German MG1 and MG3, the Swiss MG51 and SIG MG 710-3, the Yugoslavian M53, the Austrian MG74 and the Spanish CETME Ameli. Designe elements from the MG42 would also influence the production of the Belgian FN MAG and American M60.
Mosin-Nagant: A nearly ubiquitous weapon as the AK series when it comes to irregular warfare, the Nagant served as Russia’s primary rifle from 1890 all the way to 1945, when it was replaced by the SKS and AK series. Not including copies, over 37 million Nagants have been produced.
Virtually every country that received military aid from the Soviet Union, China, and Eastern Europe during the Cold War used Mosin–Nagants at various time. Syria was naturally one of these countries as well as most of its neighbors.
Today, scoped Mosins continue to serve as issue sniper rifles with the Afghan Army, the Iraqi Army and the Finnish Army.
MP40: One of the most recognizable firearms from WWII, the MP40 served as Nazi Germany’s primary submachine-gun for the war. The MP40 was born out of the earlier and almost identical MP38, it was heavily used by infantrymen, paratroopers, platoon and squad leaders.
The MP40s advanced and modern features made it a favorite among soldiers and popular in countries from various parts of the world after the war. It was often erroneously called the “Schmeisser” by the Allies, despite Hugo Schmeisser’s non-involvement. From 1940 to 1945, an estimated 1.1 million were produced.
The curious lip under the barrel is used for stabilizing the weapon when firing over the sides of an APC such as the Sdkfz 251. There’s no barrel shroud or hand guard though, so it was easy to burn one’s self if the weapon is held improperly.
About 200,000 MP40s were captured or surrendered post-war and were then redistributed to the paramilitary and irregular forces of some developing countries. The Norwegian army withdrew the MP38 in 1975, while the MP40 was used for some years more.
Bonus: DIY 23mm anti-everything rifle!