Anti-Aircraft Machineguns

 

7,62 mm Maxim of infantry as AA-machinegun

Calibre:

7,62 mm x 54 R

Length of weapon:

111 cm

Barrel length:

72 cm

Weapon weight:

- M/09-09 variation M/1905:

28,25 kg

- M/09-09 variation M/1910:

24 kg (about, depending version)

- M/09-21:

26,5 kg

- M/32-33:

24,0 kg

Mount/carriage:

? Kg, varies

- M/09-09 variation M/1905:

Improvised / in end of metal bar

- M/09-09 variation M/1910:

Improvised / in end of metal bar / tripod

- M/09-21:

Improvised / tripod with long AA-bar

- M/32-33:

Tripod bent to AA-position

Combined weight:

Varied

Fire-rate:

4 x 450/minute

Muzzle velocity:

800 - 810 m/sec

Magazine:

Either 250-round fabric belts and/or

200-round Finnish continuous metallic belts

Traverse:

Unlimited

Max. Elevation:

Varied

Min. Elevation:

Varied

Effective range:

600 m

Maximum range:

1000 m

Country of origin:

Soviet Union or Finland

Ammunition types:

HE, HE-T, AP, incendiary, AP-incendiary

Finnish use: During World War 2 Maxim M/09-09, M/09-21 and M/32-33 were used by frontline troops, which every now and then these water-cooled Maxim medium machineguns were also used as antiaircraft machineguns. For that purpose they were normally equipped with anti-aircraft equipment. In addition especially during Winter War Maxim M/09-09 was also commonly used as anti-aircraft machinegun in home front.

(*) Armour piercing and incendiary bulleted ammunition was rarely used machineguns belonging to infantry of Finnish Army.

Maxim machineguns had already been used against targets also during World War 1. But, as aircraft played very small role in Finnish Civil War of 1918 Finnish Armed Forces did not invest to their use as anti-aircraft weapons during first few years of Finnish independence. When Finnish military got interested about antiaircraft-warfare in mid 1920's this changed fast and Maxim machinegun became integral part of Finnish antiaircraft weaponry. Maxim machinegun was the first Finnish anti-aircraft weapon for which troops were trained to use when Air Defence Draft of Kapitulantti School established in 1st of July 1925 got Maxim M/09 machineguns as their first antiaircraft weaponry. Mounts used with these first few Maxim AA-machineguns had been found among miscellaneous metal junk left behind by Russians to Suomenlinna fortress. However, as number of these found anti-aircraft mounts was very little and they were not exactly ideal for the purpose some development was needed.

Maxim M/09-09 (M/1905 and M/1910):

These were more or less in form of the original Russian Maxim-machinegun. For their main use against ground targets they were equipped with original wheeled Sokolov-mounts. For anti-aircraft use the Sokolov-mount could be equipped with anti-aircraft adapter, which basically was just long bar with attachments and raised the machinegun to suitable height. When the machinegun was also equipped with anti-aircraft sights and shoulder piece the combination formed working, but not terribly effective weapon for anti-aircraft work. But, as there was not anything better available, these had to be good enough. Suojeluskunta ordered several dozen of these anti-aircraft equipment packages for their Maxim M/09 machineguns from Sako 1931 and around the same time Army tested several designs. Some of the anti-aircraft machinegun mount designs tested by Army were to be used with Sokolov-mount, while other mounts had been designed to be used with tree stump or tree trunk. All of these designs were made only in small test-series and none of them ever become standard. During World War 2 Finnish military used these mounts and machineguns as anti-aircraft machineguns in the home front and also some somewhat improvised mounts were introduced for them. Especially during Winter War these machineguns had their own important role in low-level air-defence, as there were shortage of purpose build antiaircraft-machineguns. So about during Winter War Finnish Anti-Aircraft Troops used about 70 of these machineguns as replacement of purpose-build anti-aircraft machineguns.

At 1920's also the Soviets decided that they wanted Maxim machineguns of their infantry to have also antiaircraft capability. However, instead of adding anti aircraft adapter to existing Sokolov-mount like the Finns did, they decided to introduce totally new tripod-type antiaircraft mount. This new antiaircraft tripod for Maxim machineguns was m/1928 designed by Mikhail Kondakov. With m/1928 anti-aircraft tripod they also introduced m/1929 anti-aircraft sights. When each machinegun intended to both roles now demanded both m/1928 AA-tripod weighting about 16 kg and also ordinary Sokolov-mount (another 36 kg) this hardly was ideal long-term solution, so Soviets did not stop searching better one. For time being the Soviets typically issued m/1928 anti-aircraft tripods only for one Platoon in each Machinegun Company (of Infantry Battalion). That better solution came with m/1931 (Vladimirov) Universal mount, which could also be opened as antiaircraft-machinegun tripod. Few years later the Soviets also introduced improved anti-aircraft sight called m/1936 and yet another one called m/1941 during World War 2. Soviet Maxim machineguns, which the Finns captured often had also anti-aircraft equipment with them, so these ended up to Finnish use. Finnish military used these machineguns with antiaircraft equipment in AA-use quite similarly as domestic M/32-33. In other words: While these captured Maxim machineguns were mainly used against surface targets, but also anti-aircraft capability could be used if needed.

PICTURE: Soviet Maxim M/09-09 (variation M/1910) equipped with (Vladimirov) Universal-mount (aka M/1931 mount) readied for anti-aircraft use. The weapon is missing its anti-aircraft sight. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (126 KB).

Maxim M/09-21:

Tripod M/21 used with this machinegun was not suitable to antiaircraft-shooting on its own either. M/21 tripod was connected to machinegun by with steel band around machineguns water jacket, but steel band did not offer good attachment point of balance for anti-aircraft use. If original attachment points intended for Sokolov-mount still existed in M/09-21 machinegun then their tripods could be used with anti-aircraft adapter, but there were no such attachment point in Finnish made receivers of these machineguns. So the anti-aircraft adapter was only a partial solution as best, since it could not be used with all M/09-21 machineguns. The adapter used was long bar with attachment kind of system quite similar to ones used with M/09-09. Other anti-aircraft equipment (anti-aircraft sights & shoulder piece) were also very similar to ones already issued earlier with M/09-09 machineguns. If the anti-aircraft equipment was not available or did not fit (in other words: the machinegun had Finnish made receiver) and machinegun was still needed to be used for anti-aircraft role, the only remaining solution was to use the machinegun with improvised mount of some sort. From these improvised mounts used with M/09-21 the "cart wheel under tripod" version seems to have been at least somewhat popular. Finnish military issued these machineguns to frontline infantry units, so typically their anti-aircraft use was only a sometimes needed plus.

PICTURE: 7,62-mm Maxim M/09-21 with improvised "tripod and cart-wheel" arrangement. (Photo taken in Ilmatorjuntamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (126 KB).

Maxim M/32-33:

Tripod M/33 used in these machineguns was designed also for anti-aircraft use from the start. The tripod no longer had extra adapter, but its third longest leg was pointed upwards and carried the machinegun. The extra leg carried among weapons equipment was attached to tripod to replace the longest leg now pointing upwards and system usually used as machineguns support made the whole arrangement rigid. Other AA-equipment (shoulder piece, sights, rest arches and flash hider) were also made for the machinegun. Soon after their introduction some of these equipment proved badly designed, but luckily they were replaced with better ones before Winter War. The replacing process included replacing rest arches with balancing spring, turning bar of AA-sight other way and replacing shoulder piece one that was better shaped. Feeding ammunition all the way from the ground level proved somewhat problematic, so one another piece of equipment added were attachment point and frame that carried ammunition belt box next to machineguns receiver.

PICTURE: 7.62-mm Maxim M/32-33 being used as anti-aircraft machinegun. For this purpose the tripod has been equipped with additional leg, folded into anti-aircraft position and the weapon has been equipped with anti-aircraft sight. However arrangement is missing shoulder piece intended for anti-aircraft use and frame which would hold ammunition box in side of the receiver to improve reliability of feeding ammunition belt. Photo taken on frozen Lake Laatokka / Ladoga in April of 1942. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 83275). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (168 KB).

Final AA-equipment for M/32-33 machinegun included:
  • 4th extra leg for tripod
  • Shoulder piece
  • Anti-aircraft sight
  • Balancing spring
  • Flash hider
  • Frame for ammunition belt box
  • Attachment point to machinegun used with tripod folded to AA-position was the one originally intended for Sokolov mount. Just like with M/09-21 these machineguns were also issued to frontline infantry units, so they were almost totally used only against ground targets. For units issued with them the AA-capability was just a bonus that could be used if needed.

     

    7,62 ItKk/31 VKT

    (7,62 mm antiaircraft machinegun M/31 VKT)

    PICTURE: 7,62 mm M/31 VKT anti-aircraft machinegun in use in Vuosalmi December of 1939. Notice cone-shaped mount (covered with white cloth for camoflage) and sights. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number a109). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (119 KB).

    Calibre:

    7,62 mm x 54 R

    Length of weapon:

    113 cm

    Barrel length:

    72,3 cm

    Weapon weight:

    47 kg

    Mount/carriage:

    57 kg, cone-shaped mount

    Combined weight:

    104 kg

    Fire-rate:

    2 x 900/minute

    Muzzle velocity:

    800 - 810 m/sec

    Magazine:

    250-round disintegrating metallic belts

    Traverse:

    Unlimited

    Max. Elevation:

    +80 degrees

    Min. Elevation:

    -10 degrees

    Effective range:

    600 m

    Maximum range:

    1000 m

    Country of origin:

    Finland

    Ammunition types:

    HE, HE-T, AP, incendiary, AP-incendiary

    Finnish use: About 140 manufactured 1932 - 1940. Used both by Finnish Field Army and home front during WW2. Main Finnish antiaircraft machinegun type during Winter War (1939 - 1940).

    This air-cooled two-barrel anti-aircraft weapon based to Maxim machinegun designed by Aimo Lahti and manufactured by VKT (State Rifle Factory). The whole weapon has pair of two air-cooled machineguns attached side-by-side on the same platform and used as a single weapon. Both machineguns are fed with ammunition from disintegrating belts of 250 rounds, which are placed in belt boxes situated on both sides of this machinegun-pair. Also under each machinegun is shell-box for empty cartridge cases and parts of disintegrating ammunition belt. Barrel jacket design used in this machinegun reminds the one, which Lahti had already earlier used in Lahti-Saloranta light machinegun. This barrel jacket design has 24 cooling holes longitudinal to the barrel. Both machineguns of ItKk M/31 VKT have their own grips, which are mix between while original shovel-handle type most used in Maxim machineguns and the traditional pistol-grip type: They are shaped to provide pistol-grip like ergonomics and each have a separate trigger, which is operated with forefinger. The receivers of these machineguns are pretty much along the lines of traditional Maxim machinegun design, but with Lahti's improvements. These improvements, including new accelerator, feeding mechanism and ammunition belt gave this weapon a remarkable theoretical fire-rate of 900 rounds/minute/barrel (and 1800 rounds/min for whole weapon). Although this also required use of recent Finnish-manufactured ammunition, which had improved cartridge case bottom design. Tips of the barrels are equipped with cone-shaped flash hiders.

    Machinegun-mount used with this anti-aircraft machinegun was cone-shaped, about 135 cm high and quite heavy, but also somewhat versatile and allowed the weapon to be installed to just about any kind of fire position or vehicle - including ships, trains and trucks. However this design had also its limitations. While the cone-shaped machinegun-mount worked, it was more suitable to static positions than to needs of Finnish Field Army, which found need for more mobile antiaircraft machinegun, which could be more easily moved from one position to another. Each weapon was issued in wooden crates with multitude of equipment, which included ten 250-round belts, ten belt boxes, spare barrels, spare bolts, springs and tool set.

    PICTURE: 7,62 mm M/31 VKT AAMG. Notice cone-shaped mount and sights. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (68 KB).

    First prototype of ItKk/31 was completed in year 1931 and first order made in year 1933. That first order was for 130 weapons and resulted the weapon entering to mass-production in that year. By late year 1937 the first production run of 130 weapons was completed. July of 1938 Finnish Armed Forces did the their second and last order for ItKk/31 - this time it was only for 10 weapons to be delivered without machinegun-mounts. But due to Winter War delivery of those 10 weapons did not happen until autumn of 1940. Also Civil Guard (Suojeluskunta) had several dozen ItKk/31 anti-aircraft machineguns loaned from Armed Forces in its training use in circa 1934 - 1938. Last of the ItKk/31 got returned from Civil Guard to Armed Forces After in mobilisation for Winter War in year 1939. Total production of ItKk/31 was only about 140 - 150 weapons with each pair of machineguns used for each ItKk/31 at least originally having consecutive serial numbers. The largest known serial number is apparently around 295 - 314. The earlier mentioned mobility issue caused by cone-mount combined with some other issues noted with some other issues already noted before World War 2, resulted into development of improved version in 1939 - 1940. Year 1940 ItKk/31 was replaced in production with that improved version simply named ItKk/31-40. During Winter War (1939 - 1940) ItKk/31 was the main standard issue anti-aircraft machinegun type in Finnish use.

    In principle ItKk/31 was a success:
  • Light enough to be still transported relatively easily.
  • Good rate-of-fire (when compared to Soviet ItKk/09-31 with its four barrels).
  • Good reliability.
  • But the design also had some obvious problems:
  • Calibre, which had quite a small range and was not too powerful on target either.
  • Tendency of muzzle climb during shooting.
  • PICTURE: Closer look to 7,62 mm M/31 VKT anti-aircraft machinegun. Notice sights. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (90 KB).

    These machineguns remained in hard use until end of World War 2. As the spare-parts in general were made for ItKk/31-40 VKT during that time, large number of ItKk/31 VKT got modified with these spare-parts to such degree, that ultimately they got re-categorised as ItKk/31-40. The actual combat losses were very small, but because of wearing down and being re-categorised their total number kept dropping smaller both during the war and after it. The post World War 2 fate of this anti-aircraft machinegun was the same one as the one of more numerous ItKk/31-40 VKT.

     

    7.62 mm Maxim M/09-31 (tank) machinegun:

    This was a special application of the right hand and left hand side machineguns used in 7.62 ItKk/31 VKT anti-aircraft machinegun. Finnish Army used them in machinegun-version of Renault FT-17 tanks in 1937 - 1943 and as a coaxial turret machinegun in Vickers 6-ton tanks in 1939 - 1940. They used similar disintegrating steel ammunition belts as ItKk/31 VKT anti-aircraft machinegun. The version used in Renault FT 17 was with right side feed, while the one used with Vickers 6-ton tanks was fed from the left side. But since the side from which the individual machinegun was fed with ammunition belts could be changed from one side to another in seconds by simply replacing the feed block of the machinegun, there was not much practical difference between the two versions. One would suspect that the high rate of fire (900 rounds/minute) combined with air-cooling might have caused some problems with overheating, but apparently these were not reported during their short service career. Instead a notably reported problem was unreliability of ammunition belt feed when used in Vickers 6-ton tanks - this seems to have been at least partly due to too long distance between ammunition belt box (attached to left side wall of the tank turret) and the machinegun. When Finnish Army equipped remaining Vickers 6-ton tanks with captured Soviet weapons around 1940 - 1941, all 762 Maxim M/09-31 tank machineguns were replaced with Soviet 7.62-mm DT machineguns.

     

    7,62 ItKk/31-40 VKT

    (7,62 mm antiaircraft machinegun M/31-40 VKT)

    PICTURE: 7,62 mm M/31-40 VKT anti-aircraft machinegun with M/PNP sights. Photo taken in Uuksu July of 1944. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 157804). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (153 KB).

    Length of weapon:

    113 cm

    Barrel length:

    72,3 cm

    Weapon weight:

    55 kg

    Mount/carriage:

    42 kg (1st version) / 32 kg (2nd version), tripod

    Combined weight:

    97 kg / 87 kg

    Fire-rate:

    2 x 900/minute

    Muzzle velocity:

    800 - 810 m/sec

    Magazine:

    250-round disintegrating metallic belts

    Traverse:

    Unlimited

    Max. Elevation:

    +80 degrees

    Min. Elevation:

    -10 degrees

    Effective range:

    600 m

    Maximum range:

    1000 m

    Country of origin:

    Finland

    Ammunition types:

    HE, HE-T, AP, incendiary, AP-incendiary

    Finnish use: Total of 367 manufactured 1940 - 1944. Used both by Finnish Field Army and home front during Continuation War (1941 - 1944) and Lapland War (1944 - 1945). The standard issue Finnish antiaircraft machinegun type during Continuation War.

    As noted 7,62 ItKk/31 VKT anti-aircraft machinegun had some room for improvement and this had been noted already before World War 2. There was not much what could be done to weakness of calibre after plans of domestic 13.2 mm machineguns had not lead anywhere, but the muzzle climb and machinegun-mount related problems were totally another matter. The muzzle climb problem was fixed by changes of mounting system attachment giving the weapon a better balance and by directing pressure coming from barrel upwards from tip of barrel (with muzzle-brake). However this created need to reinforce both machineguns barrels and barrel jackets. Hence this weapon got new structurally heavier machinegun barrels and barrel jackets, which had circular cooling holes. Around the same time new better sight (m/PNP) was developed. Live fire tests with the antiaircraft machinegun, which had these improvements were performed in summer of 1939, but then came Winter War and delayed starting of manufacturing. For a change this delay could actually be considered a positive matter, since it allowed also time for development of new collapsing tripod-type machinegun-mount, which was simply named M/40. This new M/40 tripod mount suited better to mobility needs of Finnish Field Army than the earlier cone-shaped machinegun-mount design and become standard mount of ItKk/31-40 machineguns, but can also been seen often in wartime photographs also with older ItKk/31 machineguns. Further improvements introduced during manufacturing of ItKk/31-40 included 2nd production version of M/40 collapsing tripod-mount, which was about 10-kg lighter than the earlier version. It is worth noting that while official name abbreviation of the weapon changed into 7.62 ItKk/31-40 VKT, the factory still marked their receivers with the same "It.KK/31" marking as before.

    PICTURE: Closer look to 7,62 mm M/31-40 VKT anti-aircraft machinegun. Notice M/PNP sight, barrel jackets and muzzle brakes in tips of each barrel. (Photo taken in Jalkaväkimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (95 KB).

    Before the war had ruined existing plans, Finnish Armed Forces had already ordered 32 double anti-aircraft machineguns in year 1939. When the Winter War ended in March of 1940 State Rifle Factory (VKT) again had manufacturing capacity needed to start filling already made but uncompleted orders. Hence this first production run of 32 weapons was delivered during Interim Peace of 1940 - 1941. March of 1941 Finnish Air Forces made order for 2nd production run, which included 240 complete weapons with set delivery schedule and additional 82 weapons for which the delivery schedule was to be agreed later. June 1941 Continuation War and again changed the delivery schedule with much of the State Rifle Factory capacity needed for other projects. Hence the factory was unable to follow already set delivery schedule with manufacturing of ItKk/31-40 getting seriously delayed and continuing until autumn of 1944. The total production of ItKk/31-40 was 367 weapons with State Rifle Factory as its sole manufacturer. However during the war and years following it the total number of ItKk/31-40 actually got larger with much of the earlier manufactured ItKk/31 now equipped with ItKk/31-40 parts getting re-categorised as ItKk/31-40. As with ItKk/31, also the wartime losses of ItKk/31-40 were relatively small. After World War 2 ItKk/31-40 remained to be used as training weapons until 1960's and set in storage for possible wartime mobilisation until year 1986. Last use they presumably had been reserved was as low-level protection of SAM-teams whose primary weapons were shoulder-launched SA-7 surface-to-air missiles. In their mission as antiaircraft machineguns they finally got replaced by 12.7 mm NSV anti-aircraft machineguns. According inventory made in during procedings about being declared obsolete in year 1986 at that time Finnish Defence Forces still had 435 ItKk/31-40 and only 41 ItKk/31. Being withdrawn from use in year 1986 most were scrapped in year 1988, today only relatively small number still exist in museums and collections.

    PICTURE: Machinegun-barrel of left machinegun in 7,62 mm M/31-40 VKT being replaced. While these weapons were routinely issued with equipment package containing spare barrels, spare bolts and springs, replacing of barrel was neither particularly fast or easy. Notice that while this weapon is ItKk/31-40, it has order type sights. Photo taken in Rukajärvi region in September of 1941. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 50051). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (191 KB).

    Finnish military used large variety of ammunition in 7.62 mm x 54 R calibre anti-aircraft machineguns. The total number of ammunition types and models listed for it contains 29 ammunition types. Following domestic ammunition types were most commonly used:

  • Vj-D-p: HE-tracer. Bullet head painted to either red or white or is unpainted, in which case the detonator cap is red or bottom of cartridge case has been marked with dividing red stripe.
  • D-ps p: AP with steel core and Cu-Zn alloy jacket. Bottom of cartridge case painted black. Also captured Soviet AP-ammunition was used in large numbers.
  • S-sy p: Incendiary with white-phosphorus filling. Bullet tip painted yellow.
  • Basically Finnish military had HE, HE-tracer, AP and AP-incendiary available with both S and D bullets. Only available ammunition with exploding bullets was captured Soviet ammunition.

     

    7,62 ItKk/09-31 "Urkukonekivääri"

    (7,62 mm antiaircraft machinegun M/09-31 "Organ machinegun")

    PICTURE: 7,62 mm ItKk/09-31 "organ machinegun" in Finnish use. Photo taken in Kiestinki region during Continuation War. Notice water tubing connecting the water jackets. Also note four ammunition belt boxes under the machineguns. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 81178). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (177 KB).

    Calibre:

    7,62 mm x 54 R

    Length of weapon:

    111 cm

    Barrel length:

    72 cm

    Weapon weight:

    ? kg

    Mount/carriage:

    ? Kg, column mount

    Combined weight:

    260 kg

    Fire-rate:

    4 x 450/minute

    Muzzle velocity:

    800 - 810 m/sec

    Magazine:

    250-round fabric belts

    Traverse:

    Unlimited

    Max. Elevation:

    +? Degrees

    Min. Elevation:

    -? Degrees

    Effective range:

    600 m

    Maximum range:

    1000 m

    Country of origin:

    Soviet Union

    Ammunition types:

    HE, HE-T, AP, incendiary, AP-incendiary

    Finnish use: Bit over 80 captured from Soviets in Winter War and early Continuation War taken to Finnish use. Mostly used as truck-installed weapon because of weight, but sometimes also used as replacement of ItKk/31 and ItKk/31-40 AAMG.

    PICTURE: Same 7,62 mm ItKk/09-31 "organ machinegun" as previously seen from another angle. This anti-aircraft machinegun is equipped with Soviet m/36 sight. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (138 KB).

    Nikolai Fedorovich Tokarev (son of much better known Fedor Vasilevich Tokarev) designed this quad Maxim antiaircraft-machinegun introduced to Soviet use in year 1931. The Soviets tested several double-, triple- and quadruple-mounts for antiaircraft machineguns in year 1930 and from those tested Tokarev's design proved to be the best. The basic structure of the weapon included four machineguns set side by side on the same mount and had also been introduced by US military already in 1920's, so the basic concept wasn't exactly new. In this Soviet weapon water jackets of machineguns were connected to each other and each machinegun was fed from ammunition belt box of its own. As the calibre and rate-of-fire (1800 shots/minute for the whole weapon) are similar as in Finnish ItKk/31 VKT and ItKk/31-40 VKT machineguns, it is natural to compare them to these Finnish designs and in that comparison Soviet ItKk/31 does poorly. Basic design of ItKk/09-31 had retained water-cooling and rate of fire per machinegun had remained the same, in addition to this because of the four water-cooled machinegun also the mount needed to be stronger to carry that much weight. As consequence this machinegun weighted over 150-kg more than its Finnish competitors and had double the amount of moving parts to break or malfunction. As if this would not have been enough it still used the same old ammunition belts made from fabric as Maxim M/1910, which did not exactly help reliability either.

    PICTURE: 7,62 mm ItKk/09-31 "organ machinegun" in Finnish use. Photo taken in Ontroila June of 1944. Notice that the Finns have modified the weapon making it air-cooled by cutting holes to water jackets and removing water tubing. It also seems that each machinegun has been equipped with muzzle-booster to further increase maximum rate of fire. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 151743). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (138 KB).

    During World War 2 the Soviets had these anti-aircraft machineguns were in large-scale use, so naturally the Finns ended up capturing quite a large number of them. Finnish military used bit over 80 of the captured ItKk/09-31 anti-aircraft machineguns during World War 2. Finnish military seems to have found them two kind of use. Some of the captured machineguns the Soviets had installed on trucks and the Finnish troops kept some of them in similar kind of use - the weapon was too heavy to been transported easily otherwise anyway. However most of them they were used as static anti-aircraft machineguns - often as close-range air-defence against strafing aircraft in heavy anti-aircraft gun batteries. The ones that were used on trucks seem to have been served with the field army, while the ones used in static role seem to have been used mainly on the home front. Some of the weapons were also modified as air-cooled machineguns by perforating their water jackets, removing water tank and equipment needed for circulating the water. As reliability of this machinegun wasn't as good as with these Finnish AA-machineguns, it wasn't terribly rare for one of the four machineguns to malfunction. This modification was likely made to reduce weight of the weapon. Malfunctioning of just one machinegun was actually more serious problem than it might sound - recoil of the three still working machineguns pullet the aim sideways and made correctly adjusting aim of the fire during shooting practically impossible. After World War 2 the remaining (bit over 70) weapons remained storage for possible wartime use, until declared obsolete in year 1952. After that their mounts were scrapped and the Maxim machineguns used in them moved among the normal Maxim M/09-09 medium machineguns.

    PICTURE: 7,62 mm ItKk/09-31 "organ machinegun" on top of a Ford truck also equipped with wood carburator. These weapons were usually used installed to trucks because of their weight. (Photo taken in Maneesi of Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (158 KB).

    OTHER ANTI-AIRCRAFT MACHINEGUNS:

    8,00 ItKk/36 (8,00 mm antiaircraft machinegun M/36): This Swedish antiaircraf machinegun basically had two 8 mm x 63 Browning machineguns set side-by-side on the same tripod-type mount. The machineguns weighted 54 kg and tripod mount weighed 28 kg. Rate of fire was 2 x 500 shots/minute and weapon was fed from 250-round fabric ammunition belts. Handles used were the typical shape handle-type and the weapon had ammunition boxes on both sides of the machineguns. The weapon had the usual kind of antiaircraft-sights, but also ordinary machinegun sight for shooting ground targets in left side machinegun. During Winter War Swedish volunteers armed with these few of these weapons served in air-defence of Turku and Swedish volunteer SFK units. In some manuals and documents this weapon is listed as 8 ItKk/39 CGG. The CGG in this name came from the name of weapons manufacturer - Carl Gustafs Stads Gevärsfaktori. Ammunition types used included HE-tracer and AP.

    PICTURE: Swedish 8 mm anti-aircraft machinegun M/36 with its tripod. (Photo taken in Ilmatorjuntamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (151 KB).

    Lewis anti-aircraft machineguns: Relatively large number of Lewis machineguns had ended to hands of Finnish Air Force before World War 2. By World War 2 weapons were already somewhat outdated as aircraft weaponry, so Finnish Air Force decided to use double installed Lewis machineguns as anti-aircraft machineguns. With 2 x 550 shots/minute rate-of-fire and 47-round drum magazines these weapons were still quite suitable to this role. The machineguns were used in side by side configuration with somewhat improvised mounts and issued as low-level air-defence weapons of airfields during WW2. Using of these weapons ended with ending of World War 2 and after warehousing last of them were sold abroad in 1957.

    PICTURE: Shkass machinegun used as improvised anti-aircraft machinegun. Photo taken in Lappeenranta June of 1941. (SA-photo archive, photo number 20433). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (237 KB).

    7,62 ItKk/38 ss Shkass (7,62 Täh.Kk.Shkass) (7.62 mm Aviatsinniy skorostrelniy pulemet sistemi Shpitalnogo-Komaritskogo obr. 1932 g.): This Soviet 7,62 mm x 54 R calibre machinegun had highest rate-fire (1,800 shots/minute) of all machineguns used that time. From technical viewpoint it was gas-action full-auto machinegun with revolving feed drum holding ten rounds. It was intended Dfor aircraft use and first prototype was finished in 1930. Name of the machinegun came from last names of its developers - B.G. Shpitalny and I.A. Komoritsky. Year 1932 Shkass machinegun was approved as aircraft weaponry for Soviet military. The weapon was belt-fed gas-action machinegun capable of automatic fire only. As far as rate-of-fire was concerned Shkass machinegun was highly developed for its time. However the extremely high rate of fire came with a price: The machinegun needed to be used with ammunition made especially for it, or otherwise it would not function reliably (special ammunition had thicker cartridge cases and more strongly attached bullets to withstand the rough treatment given by mechanism of this machinegun). While officially approved for Soviet military use already in year 1932, early on the design suffered durability issues and thad to be partially redesigned until improved version passed tests in year 1934. Maybe the most serious issue of early version was that its regular solid recoil spring was unable to stand the pressure until being replaced with woven triple-strand recoil spring design. At least partly because of this delay Shkass machinegun did not become common in Soviet aircraft until year 1936. Soviet industry manufactured Shkass machineguns in three versions - syncronised version (which could be installed to hull of an aircraft), wing-version (which could be installed to wings of an aircraft) and observer's version, which was manually used. During World War 2 Finnish military captured undamaged Shkass machineguns from downed Soviet aircraft and as the downed aircraft were more seldom reparable than their machineguns Finnish Air Force found itself with excess Shkass machineguns. Observer's version of Shkass (weighting about 10,5 kg) could be easily adapted as antiaircraft machinegun with improvised mount, so small number of them were issued to that use. When it came to Finnish troops using these machineguns as more or less improvised anti-aircraft machineguns, Air Force was the main user but few machineguns may have also seen use with other home front units.

    PICTURE: Closeup of DA-2 antiaircraft-machinegun. Notice how the triggers of both weapons are located in right-side weapon. This particular weapon is lacking sight and muzzle brakes. (Photo taken in Ilmatorjuntamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (143 KB).

    7,62 ItKk/DA and 7,62 ItKk/DA-2 (Degtyareva Aviatsionniy and Degtyareva Aviatsionniy 2): DA was Soviet machinegun variation of Degtjarev machinegun for use of machinegunners in aircraft. DA-2 was the double-weapon version of this weapon with two DA-machineguns installed side by side. Like Shkass they were captured from with downed Soviet planes. The single weapon version was adopted to Soviet military use in year 1928 and this double-weapon version in year 1930. Finnish Airforce captured small number of these weapons during World War 2 and used them with improvised mounts as antiaircraft machineguns until end of the war. The DA-2 version weighted about 18 kg, it had pistol grips and used same 60-round drum magazines as DT tank machinegun. The theoretical rate of fire for DA-machinegun was 600 rounds per minute with DA-2 having twice the rate of fire. When it came to DA-2 its right side weapon had two triggers,one for each machinegun, which allowed firing of both weapons by using just right hand for the job. Unlike the single version this weapon also had large muzzle brakes added to reduce recoil of the weapons. With its 2 x 650 shots/minute rate-of-fire the weapon was quite well suited to this kind of use. When World War 2 ended, so did the career of these machineguns with Finnish Armed Forces.

    PICTURE: DA-2 anti-aircraft machinegun in use of 106th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battery. Photo taken in Saari July of 1941. (SA-photo archive, photo number 26890). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (150 KB).

    Vickers machineguns as anti-aircraft machineguns: During Winter War (1939 - 1940) Great Britain donated 100 Vickers machineguns in 7.7 mm x 56R (.303 British) calibre to Finland. These were standard issue Mk 1 water-cooled medium machineguns delivered with standard tripod design for infantry use. Due to their somewhat unusual calibre (mainly used by Finnish Air Force, but not Army) during Continuation War (1941 - 1944) these machineguns were issued to Finnish Navy and home front units. Photos indicate that the used some as antiaircraft machineguns with improvised mounts. In addition Finnish Air Force had air-cooled Vickers machineguns (among them 49 machineguns modified for aircraft use in early 1930's), most of which were used as antiaircraft machineguns in the home front during World War 2.

    Aimo Lahti's 7,62 mm aircraft machineguns as anti-aircraft machineguns:

    PICTURE: Machinegunner's version of L-33 machinegun being used as anti-aircraft machinegun. Soldier with the machinegun is famous Finnish pre-war competition shooter Olavi Elo. Photo taken during Winter War. (SA-photo archive, photo number 4148). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (116 KB).

    - Machinegunner's machinegun L-33: In early 1930's Finnish Air Force had shortage of suitable aircraft weaponry, so Aimo Lahti got the task of designing suitable machineguns. The aircraft machineguns he designed were air-cooled recoil-action weapons, which pretty much shared the same basic structure features About 80 had been between 1934 - 1936 as machinegunner's machineguns for Finnish military aircraft. During World War 2 many of these machineguns were used by Finnish Air Force as antiaircraft machineguns with improvised mounts.

    - Pilots machinegun L-34: This machinegun was to be installed to planes wings or hull, but still it used 75-drum magazines, so it become outdated and got replaced by foreign designed belt-fed aircraft machineguns already before World War 2. Only 32 were ever made. During Second World War Finnish Air Force used them as antiaircraft-machineguns with improvised mounts.

    - Machinegunner's machinegun L-33/36: Few dozen of these machineguns were made between 1936 - 1939. Main use for them during World War 2 was as anti-aircraft machineguns in gunboats and smaller crafts of Finnish Navy. The small crafts they were mainly used were Isku-class (Thornycraft) motor torpedo boats and some of the VMV-patrol boats. Finnish seamen called this machinegun with nickname "Mikkihiiri" (Mickey Mouse). These machineguns were also used as secondary weapons (coaxial turret machinegun + hull machinegun) in Landsverk 182 armoured car of Finnish Army and Sisu armoured car of Finnish Police. This machinegun was a full-auto only weapon with air-cooled barrels and 75-round plate-shaped drum magazines. Since this machinegun was originally designed to be used against aircraft, it had quite a high theoretical rate of fire - 930 rounds/minute. After the war these machineguns remained warehoused until 1980's.

    - Anti-aircraft machinegun L-33/39: This further development from 3rd version of L-33/36 observers machinegun was manufactured 1943 - 1944 and about 150 were made in that time. Starting from 1944 they were used in the same small ships of Finnish Navy and Coastal Guard as also L-33/36. Issuing them happened so late 1944 that it is doubtful if they saw real battle use or not. L-33/39 remained in use of Finnish Navy until late 1980's.

    Captured large-caliber Soviet aircraft machineguns:

    12,7 ItKk/Dss: Finnish military captured only very small number of 12.7-mm DShk m/1938 machineguns. During Continuation War Finnish Navy and coastal defence seem to have used a few of them. The weapon could be used also as anti-aircraft machinegun when equipped with its tripod mount. Ammunition types used in captured DShk and Berezin machinegun included AP, AP-incendiary, AP-incendiary tracer and exploding bullets.

    12,7 ItKk/Bss: This is captured machinegunner's version of 12.7-mm Berezin aircraft machinegun. During Continuation War Finnish Air Force seems to have used small number of these weapons as antiaircraft machineguns installed to improvised pole/stake-like mounts.


    SOURCES:

    Raimo Vehviläinen, Ahti Lappi and Markku Palokangas: Itsenäisen Suomen Ilmatorjuntatykit 1917 - 2000 / The Anti-aircraft Guns of Independent Finland 1917 - 2000.

    Raimo Vehviläinen: Ilmatorjuntamuseo-opas.

    Pentti Palmu: Yön yli päivään, Suomen Ilmatorjunnan vaiheita 1925 - 1990.

    Ilmatorjuntajoukot 1925 - 1960 by E. Peura, Niilo A. A. Simojoki, J. Lapinleimu, O. Ranta, V.

    Rantalainen and L. Pamppunen.

    Ahti Lappi: Ilmatorjunta ilmasodassa 1794 - 1945.

    Pekka Kiiskinen and Pasi Wahlman: Itsenäisen Suomen laivaston laivatykit 1918 - 2004.

    D.N. Bolotin: Soviet Small-Arms and Ammunition.

    Talvisodan historia series, parts 1 and 4.

    Jatkosodan historia series, parts 1 and 6.

    Markku Palokangas: Sotilaskäsiaseet Suomessa 1918 - 1988.

    Military manual: Ilmatorjuntatykistön Ampumatarvikkeet by Ilmavoimien Esikunta, Ilmatorjunta Osasto.

    Military manual: Ilmatorjuntamies 1950.

    Military manual: It-joukkojen erikoisohjeita (30th of December 1939) by Ilmapuolustuksen Esikunta.

    Article: Ilmatorjuntatykistömme 1925 - 45 by Jalmari Lapinleimu in Kansa Taisteli magazine vol. 11/1976.

    Antti Honkala: Mikkolanmäki - Uittamo - Ruohonpää, Siamilaistykkipatterit Turussa.

    Special thanks to Ilmatorjuntamuseo (Finnish Antiaircraft Museum), Tuusula.

    Special thanks to Sotamuseo (Finnish Military Museum), Helsinki.

    Special thanks to Jalkaväkimuseo (Finnish Infantry Museum), Mikkeli.


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