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 used AA-equipped machineguns of these versions also as antiaircraft machineguns. At the same time especially during Winter War Maxim M/09-09 were also used as AAMG 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 WW1. But, as aircraft played very small role in Finnish Civil War of 1918 Finnish Armed Forces didn't invest to their use as AA-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 MG became first Finnish AA-weapon used in training 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 AA-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 AA-use the Sokolov-mount could be equipped with AA-adapter, which basically was just long bar with attachments and raised the machinegun to suitable height. When the machinegun was also equipped with AA-sights and shoulder piece the combination formed working, but not terribly effective weapon for AA-work. But, as there wasn't anything better available, these had to be good enough. Suojeluskunta ordered several dozen of these AA-equipment packages for their Maxim M/09 machineguns from Sako 1931 and around the same time Army tested several designs. Some of the AAMG 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 WW2 Finnish military used these mounts and machineguns as AA-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 AA-troops used about 70 of these machineguns as replacement of purpose-build AA-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 AA-tripod they also introduced m/1929 AA-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 didn't stop searching better one. For time being the Soviets typically issued m/1928 AA-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 AA-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 AA-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 AA-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 AA-use. The weapon is missing its AA-sight. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (57 KB).

Maxim M/09-21:

Tripod M/21 used with this machinegun wasn't 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 didn't offer good attachment point of balance for AA-use. If original attachment points intended for Sokolov-mount existed in M/09-21 machinegun then their tripods could be used with AA-adapter, but there were no such attachment point in Finnish made receivers of these machineguns. So the AA-adapter 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 AA-equipment (AA-sights & shoulder piece) were also very similar to ones used with M/09-09 machineguns. If the AA-equipment was not available or didn't fit (the machinegun had Finnish made receiver) and machinegun was needed in AA-role it could be used with improvised mount. From these improvised mounts of M/09-21 the "cart wheel under tripod" version seems to have been somewhat popular. Finnish military issued these machineguns to frontline infantry units, so their AA-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 (59 KB).

Maxim M/32-33:

Tripod M/33 used in these machineguns was designed also for AA-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: This 7,62-mm Maxim M/32-33 has been partly readied for AA-use gives the basic idea how M/33 tripod was used for AA-work. However the arrangement is missing shoulder piece and ammunition box with its frame. Tripod also has handles, which were not typical in M/33 tripod, but in earlier M/21 (used in Maxim M/09-21). (Photo taken in Ilmatorjuntamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (74 KB).

Final AA-equipment for M/32-33 machinegun included:
  • 4th extra leg for tripod
  • Shoulder piece
  • AA-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 AAMG. Notice cone-shaped mount and sights. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (68 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 two machineguns attached side-by-side that are fed with ammunition from disintegrating belts of 250 rounds located to belt boxes situated on both sides of this machinegun-pair. Also under each machinegun is shell-box for empty shells. New barrel jacket reminds the one used in Lahti-Saloranta light machinegun. Both machineguns of ItKk M/31 have their own handles, which are mix between while original shovel-handle type most used in Maxim machineguns and the traditional pistol-grip type: They are shaped to give pistol-grip like feel and each have trigger, which is operated with forefinger. The receivers of 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 fire-rate of 900 shots/minute/barrel (so 1800 shots/min for whole weapon). In end of the barrels are cone-shaped flash hiders.

    Mount M/31 used was cone-shaped, about 135 cm high and quite heavy, but also quite versatile and allowed the weapon to be installed to just about any kind of fire position or vehicle, including ships, trains and trucks. The cone-mount worked, but it was more suitable to static positions than to needs of Finnish Field Army, which needed antiaircraft machinegun that could be easily moved from one position to another.

    Prototype was finished in 1931 and the weapon went to mass-production in 1933. By late 1937 first production run of 130 was ready. About 10 more were manufactured by autumn of 1940. So after total production of only about 140 machinegun ItKk/31 was replaced by improved ItKk/31-40 in production. During Winter War (1939 - 1940) this machinegun type was the main AAMG type in Finnish use.

    In principle ItKk/31 was a success:
  • Light enough to be still transported relatively easily.
  • Good rate-of-fire (Compare 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 wasn't too powerful either.
  • Tendency of muzzle climb during shooting
  • PICTURE: 7,62 mm M/31 VKT AAMG seen from another angle. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (58 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 they were also re-categorised as ItKk/31-40. The actual combat losses were very small, but because of wearing and re-categorising their numbers kept decreasing even after the war. Their post World War 2 fate 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 with left side feed. 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 wasn't 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 Jalkaväkimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (53 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). Main Finnish antiaircraft machinegun type during Continuation War.

    Main problems of the ItKk/31 had been spotted already well in 1930's. 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 mount problems were totally another matter. The muzzle climb problem was fixed by directing pressure coming from barrel upwards from end of barrel (with muzzle-brake), however this created need to reinforce barrel and barrel jacket also. Around the same time new better sight (M/PNP) was developed. Live fire tests with the antiaircraft machinegun, which had these improvements were done in summer of 1939, but then came Winter War and delayed starting of manufacturing. For a change this delay could actually be considered good matter as it gave time to also plan and introduce new tripod mount. The M/40 tripod mount suited better to needs of Finnish Field Army and become standard mount of ItKk/31-40 machineguns. During production improvements were introduced both to PNP-sight and original M/40 tripod was replaced in production with 2nd version, which was about 10-kg lighter.

    PICTURE: The weapon part of 7,62 mm M/31-40 VKT AAMG with M/PNP sights seen from another angle. The M/40 in this weapon was especially designed for M/31-40 AAMG. (Photo taken in Jalkaväkimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (47 KB).

    As the production finally got running and first production run of 32 M/31-40 AA-machineguns were issued during Interim Peace. Production of these machineguns continued all the way till autumn of 1944 and reached total of 367. They remained as training weapons until 1960's and warehoused until 1986. Last use they presumably had been reserved was as low-level protection of SAM-teams armed with SA-7 surface-to-air missiles. In their mission as antiaircraft machineguns they got replaced by 12.7 mm NSV AA-machineguns. Being withdrawn from use in 1986 most were scrapped in 1988, today only relatively small number still exist in museums and collections.

    PICTURE: 7,62 mm M/31-40 VKT AAMG with late version of M/PNP sights on M/40 tripod. This was the mount type typical to M/31-40 VKT AAMG. (Photo taken in Jalkaväkimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (47 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" equipped with m/36 AA-sight. Note tubing connecting the water jackets and 4 ammunition belt boxes under the machineguns. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (62 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. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (62 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 didn't exactly help reliability either.

    PICTURE: 7,62 mm ItKk/09-31 "organ machinegun" equipped with m/29 AA-sight. (Photo taken in Ilmatorjuntamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (75 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. These weapons were usually used installed to trucks because of their weight. (Photo taken in Maneesi of Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (41 KB).

    OTHER ANTIAIRCRAFT 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: 8 mm AAMG M/36 with its tripod. Maxim M/32-33 on the background. (Photo taken in Ilmatorjuntamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (60 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.

    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. It was intended for 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). Early on durability also proved quite poor and the weapon had to be partly redesigned until improved version passed tests in year 1934. Because of this delay Shkass machinegun didn't 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 more seldom were reparable 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. Most of these improvised AA-machineguns were used by Air Force, but few presumably also saw use in other home front units.

    PICTURE: Shkass machinegun. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (19 KB).

    PICTURE: Closeup of DA-2 antiaircraft-machinegun. Notice how the triggers of both weapons are located in right-side weapon. This particular weapon lacks the usual muzzle brakes and sights. (Photo taken in Ilmatorjuntamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (81 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 aircraft observer. DA-2 was the double-weapon version of this aircraft observers weapon. Like Shkass they were captured from with downed Soviet planes. The single weapon version was adopted to Soviet military use in 1928 and this double- weapon version in 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. 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 using of these machineguns in Finnish Armed Forces.

    PICTURE: DA-2 anti-aircraft machinegun. This particular weapon lacks the usual muzzle brakes. (Photo taken in Ilmatorjuntamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (73 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. Due to their somewhat unusual calibre (mainly used by Finnish Air Force, but not Army) during Continuation War (1941 - 1944) these were used by Finnish Navy and home front units. Photos indicate that the used some as antiaircraft machineguns with improvised mounts. In addition Finnish Air Force had Vickers machineguns (among them 49 modified for aircraft use in early 1930's), most of which were used as antiaircraft machineguns in the home front during World War 2.

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

    - Observers 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 aircooled recoil-action weapons, which pretty much shared the same basic structure features About 80 had been between 1934 - 1936 as observer'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.

    - Observer'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.

    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 observers-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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