LIGHT MACHINEGUNS PART 1:

Lahti-Saloranta, DP and DT

 

7,62 mm Lahti-Saloranta M/26:

PICTURE: Lahti-Saloranta M/26 LMG. This particular weapon is late version, as it has tube-like cocking handle. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (15 KB).

Calibre:

7,62 mm x 54 R

Length:

1180 mm

Barrel length:

500 mm

Weight:

9,3 kg

Fire-rate:

450 - 550/minute

Magazine:

arch: 20

Official abbreviations:

"7,62 pk/26" and "762 PK 26"

Country of origin:

Finland

Prototype:

1925

Production:

1930 - 1942

Finnish use: Used by Finnish frontline troops during World War 2. Finnish standard light machinegun during World War 2. But during Continuation War (1941 - 1944) number of captured M/27 Degtjarev light machineguns used by Finnish Army grew much larger than the number of Lahti-Saloranta.

After Aimo Lahti had developed M/22 submachinegun (prototype of Suomi submachinegun) General Heinricks suggested him designing light machinegun. Lahti got to work and the first blueprints were ready before end of 1923. October of 1924 a committee was named for choosing a new light machinegun for Finnish military. Another friend of Lahti, Hägglund, suggested adding Lahti's light machinegun among weapons it would test. After this Lahti received orders to continue development work of his light machinegun design in Weapons Depot 1 (AV 1, in Helsinki) and (as he had no engineering degree) technical expert was sent to assist him. The technical expert was Lieutenant A. E. Saloranta, who had just returned from weapons-technical course held in Denmark. The first prototype was made between June and August of 1925 in Weapons Depot 1 (AV1) in Helsinki. It was in 7.92-mm calibre and used recoil-action (with short barrel-recoil) already used in older Chauchat and Madsen light machineguns.

First testing done during this had included nine foreign designs, from these Colt-Browning was evaluated to be the best. However as many of the weapons were in some other calibre than 7.62 mm x 54 R (which had been decided as standard rifle calibre for Finnish military already earlier) new tests with only weapons in this calibre were required. A new prototype of Lahti-Saloranta light machineguns was made in 7.62 mm x 54 R and it participated to the new tests. It won the new tests while Vickers-Berthier came second, Hotchkiss third and Colt-Browning forth. However some improvements still had to be done before mass-production and Lahti made them immediately after the tests. After this additional two new Lahti-Saloranta test weapons were made and tested.

As mentioned Lahti-Saloranta M/26 was recoil-action weapon using short barrel-recoil. The weapon used 20-round arch-shaped magazines, which were inserted from below. During Winter War and early Continuation War as many as 90 magazines were to be issued with each of these light machineguns, but as to be expected these formed quite a burden for the whole squad (most of the Lahti-Saloranta magazines were to be carried in eight magazine bags made from canvas). Typically Finnish light machine gunner and/or his assistant usually carried two magazine pouches which each contained five magazines. Finnish military had several loading tool designs for faster reloading of the magazines. As usual to light machineguns it had a bipod. The weapon also had flash hider, which was very much needed as it had only 50-cm barrel. This light machinegun was select fire, meaning it was capable for both semiautomatic and full-automatic fire. Spent cartridge cases were ejected to the right. Barrel had quick-change capacity, which allowed it to be replaced in some 25 - 30 seconds. The rear sight is fully adjustable and has settings 3 - 15 (300 - 1,500 meters). Safety switch is located in front part of the trigger guard. Selector switch is located right in front of it and has two positions: Forward position for full-automatic and back position for semiautomatic fire. With Lahti-Saloranta light machinegun its crew received variety of tools and spare parts (including spare barrel and bolt combination) packed to leather pouches. However maybe the most important of these tools were loading tools - without loading tool filling the magazines of this weapon even close to full capacity is notably difficult because of really strong magazine springs. There were two versions of loading tools. The larger version had bulk and needed to be attached to tree trunk for using it, but it was also very effective. The smaller version was small enough to fit palm of a hand, but it was not quite as fast to use as the larger version.

Although, it must be noted that at least early on Finnish soldiers probably did not have very large need to start reloading Lahti-Saloranta magazines during firefight. Originally Finnish Army issued each Lahti-Saloranta M/26 with no less than 90 magazines per weapon - in other words Winter War era light machinegun squad (of seven men) were to carry whopping 1,800 rounds loaded in its magazines. Machinegunner and his assistant were to carry 10 magazines in two magazine pouches, spare parts and tools, while four other soldiers of the squad carried the remaining 80 magazines in eight magazine bags. Needless to say all these magazines burdened the squad to manner, which limited its usefullness in any other role and de facto resulted the whole squad being formed around the light machinegun. While the official number of magazines issued per weapon seems to have remained unchanged, if issued with Lahti-Saloranta, in reality Continuation War era rifle squad seem to have typically carried much smaller number of magazines with them.

PICTURE: Spare barrel holster for Lahti-Saloranta M/26 light machinegun and its contents. Below the spare barrel holster from top to bottom are: Cleaning rod, spare main recoil spring and spare barrel with bolt combination. One of these spare barrel holsters with this contents was routinely issued with each Lahti-Saloranta LMG. (Photo provided by Lemmy). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (117 KB).

PICTURE: Loading tool for loading Lahti-Saloranta M/26 magazines, the large version. Due to very strong spring loading Lahti-Saloranta 20-round magazines to full capacity is difficult with proper loading tool. Magazine was inserted from below, ammunition added from the top and then the handle was cranked manually. (Photo provided by Lemmy). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (138 KB).

VKT ("Valtion Kivääritehdas" = State Rifle Factory) was established and build to city of Jyväskylä in Central Finland for the purpose of producing small-arms to Finnish Army. The production in VKT started in year 1928 and Lahti-Saloranta M/26 light machinegun become the first weapon manufactured there. The first order was for Lahti-Saloranta light machinegun was for 200 weapons. For starting production A.E. Saloranta was sent to lead production of this new light machinegun in VKT at 1927. However starting of production had serious problems - the first light machineguns were not finished until February of 1929 and by end of March only 20 light machineguns had been made. Because of these delays a committee was sent to inspect and approve the first just manufactured weapons from this factory, but a scandal followed. The Committee arrived to Jyväskylä in 3rd of April 1929 and soon found that Saloranta had made several unauthorised changes to light machinegun blueprints - the newly made light machineguns were now different than the ones accepted to production and could not be approved. Saloranta was released from his duties and moved to much lower profile mission of leading Gunsmith School. Engineer K. Veltheim was ordered as new manager of VKT and Aimo Lahti was permanently ordered to supervise production of the Lahti-Saloranta light machinegun starting 17th of July 1929.

The parts modified by A.E. Saloranta in VKT without authorisation:

  • Bolt of the weapon, two modifications
  • Extractor
  • Front sight post replaced with one that could be rotated
  • According Saloranta he had made the unauthorised modifications to the design to improve its reliability, but the committee considered that because of these modifications the weapon was no longer the same that had been earlier approved for production. 4th of April 1929 the committee took part in test firing of the completed Lahti-Saloranta light machineguns in shooting range of the factory and the test results were anything but favourable. The tested light machineguns jammed constantly. Their extractors had been heat-treated improperly and were breaking all the time. In addition this many of the springs used in the weapons were poor quality and their magazines jammed often. Basically the test results suggested that whole production of Lahti-Saloranta light machinegun that far had failed quality-wise.

    PICTURE: Closer look showing receiver area of Lahti-Saloranta M/26. Again this weapon is the late version, as it has tube-like cocking handle (A). Text in side of the receiver reads "VALTION KIVÄÄRITEHDAS Jyväskylä" (State Rifle Factory, city of Jyväskylä). The most important switches in the weapon: B - safety switch, C - fire selector switch, D - magazine release. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (104 KB).

    Changes made by Saloranta had also caused more problems and delays in starting of production, as his unauthorised changes demanded all blueprints and tools to be rechecked. Partly due to this the first production run of 200 weapons was not finished until year 1930. Slowly the production speed started to improve. By autumn of 1939 about 4,000 Lahti-Saloranta light machineguns had been made for Finnish Armed Forces. No Lahti-Saloranta were delivered for the Army in 1940 - 1941. The last production run of 500 weapons was finished in summer of 1942. June of 1942 Finnish Army had some 4,600 Lahti-Saloranta light machinegun and the numbers did not increase much from that. During first days June 1944 their number was about 4,760. Quite a few light machineguns were lost in battles of summer 1944 and the hard combat use took its toll, so in August of 1951 only 3,377 remained. After World War 2 Lahti-Saloranta light machineguns remained warehoused until year 1985. Early 1990's most of the remaining weapons were wrecked and some sold to collectors. During the war Lahti-Saloranta M/26 gained very poor reputation among Finnish soldiers, who gave it nickname "accumulated malfunctions model 26". The opinion of Aimo Lahti was the main reason for malfunctions was soldiers lacking instructions for cleaning the storage grease properly from these weapons. In this regard the main problem seems to have been recoil spring package inside butt of the weapon - disassembling of which had been specifically forbidden for normal soldiers. In theory specially trained ordnance personnel should have disassembled this part and carefully cleaned storage grease from there before the light machineguns were sent to military units in mobilisation, but in reality large number of Lahti-Saloranta seem to have been issued to soldiers without this happening. How much of the Lahti-Saloranta's very poor reputation was caused by this or was simple exaggeration? The matter can be debated, but besides storage grease also other reasons for the poor reliability seem to have existed. The consensus seems to be that the weapon had also been build with too tight tolerances to begin with, which made it prone to jam. The 20-round magazine capacity also proved too small. When Lahti-Saloranta was also heavy and expensive to manufacture its lack of its popularity isn't surprising. Only significant positive characteristic of M/26 LMG seems to have been its shooting accuracy, which was exceptionally good. In theory light machinegun M/26 could be fired from the hip or even from the shoulder, but typically it was used supported by the bipod. The weapon is simply too heavily and its muzzle climb too powerful, if fired from the shoulder. Shooting from hip seems to have worked (even if it requires some physical strength from the user due to weight of the weapon) relatively well, but when used this way aiming the fire was problematic was difficult to say the least.

    PICTURE: Two magazine pouches for Lahti-Saloranta M/26 light machinegun shown from different sides (front and back). Each of these pouches contained five 20-round magazines and the soldier with Lahti-Saloranta carried one or two of these pouches. If he carried one his assistant usually had the second magazine pouch. (Photo provided by Lemmy). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (141 KB).

    PICTURE: Magazine bag for Lahti-Saloranta M/26 light machinegun. Each of these bags contained ten 20-round magazines. During Winter War 8 of these bags were to be issued to each light machinegun squad, which had Lahti-Saloranta LMG. (Photo provided by Lemmy). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (143 KB).

    Finland also offering Lahti-Saloranta light machineguns for export, but with little success. Prototypes were designed in variety of calibre options for this purpose. In fact Lahti-Saloranta light machinegun was advertised abroad as a weapon, which could be very easily modified from one calibre to another. But ultimately the only export deal which the Finns succeeded getting for it was for 30,000 M/26-32 light machineguns in calibre 7.92-mm x 57 JS ordered to China. This was also the only significant export deal for small arms that Finnish industry got before World War 2 and would have had considerable financial influence to VKT (the manufacturer), if it would have gone through. But Japanese succeeded diplomatically pressuring the Finns and the deal was cancelled. Because of this only the first delivery batch of 1,200 Lahti-Saloranta light machineguns was delivered to China in 1937 before the deal had to be annulled. Improved version called M/26-31 capable of using also new 75-round drum magazines was developed at VKT for Finnish military, but Finnish Armed Forces were not interested about this new version. So test series of 50 weapons ended up being the only production series of M/26-31. Later even this small series M/26-31 was modified suitable for 20-round box magazine only. Even if the 75-round drum of M/26-31 was still mentioned even in some of the Finnish wartime manuals none of the Finnish wartime Lahti-Saloranta light machineguns was capable for using it anymore and this magazine type was not available to Finnish soldiers. Rather ironically the photo often used for Lahti-Saloranta M/26 light machinegun in non-Finnish publications shows not M/26, but M/26-31 which can be easily recognised from its plate-shaped 75-round drum magazine.

    Writer's personal (limited) experiences concerning shooting with two individual Lahti-Saloranta M/26 light machineguns: I was surprised how little I enjoyed shooting with this weapon in the first time. Second time it went quite a bit better. When compared to modern military weapons it didn't do too well. The ergonomics seem somewhat clumsy, the bipod felt quite flimsy and single stage trigger proved very heavy. The bipod seems to move all over the place and getting the weapon supported well on it is somewhat difficult. Leaving the weapon unattended on the bipod also does not guarantee that the weapon does not fall to its either side - the bipod is not stable enough to support it alone. The sights are the normal open sights configuration and the rear sight has wide U-shaped notch, which works quite well. Changing magazine is easy. Arming the weapon requires not just pulling the cocking arm back, but also returning it forward. Having two important switches close to each other (safety switch and selector switch) does not exactly impress me after years of experience with weapons that had only one switch for both of these functions. This light machinegun may be accurate, but its recoil is surprisingly strong and sharp considering weight of the weapon. Shooting from a trench (standing on trench while weapon was on its bipod on side of the trench) was not too easy, but when shooting from prone position the recoil was much more controllable. After about 400 - 450 rounds (fired without cleaning) the first weapon started jamming repeatedly - it failed removing cartridge cases and new cartridges started turning cartridges sideways while it was trying to feed them into the chamber. Shortly said Lahti-Saloranta did not inspire too much confidence.

     

    7,62 mm light machinegun M/27 Degtjarev "Emma":

    (Pulemet Degtjareva Pehotnyj - DP)

    PICTURE: Degtjarev M/27 light machinegun Finnish style. All these weapons had been captured from Soviet military during World War, but this individual weapon had been equipped with Finnish-manufactured butt and universal issue rifle sling. Also spare magazines are Finnish-made, while origin of magazine carrier remains uncertain. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (91 KB).

    Calibre:

    7,62 mm x 54 R

    Length:

    1270 mm

    Barrel length:

    605 mm

    Weight:

    9,1 kg (includes bipod)

    Fire-rate:

    500 - 600/minute

    Magazine:

    plate-shaped drum: 47

    Official abbreviations:

    "7,62 pk/ven." and "762 PK D"

    Country of origin:

    Soviet Union

    Prototype:

    1923

    Production:

    1928 - 1944

    Finnish use: Finnish military captured some 8,400 of these light machineguns during Winter War and Continuation War. Degtjarev m/27 was the most common light machinegun in use of Finnish front-line troops during most of the World War 2.

    Also Soviet military noticed that Maxim machinegun was often too heavy for offensive use. They had some captured foreign light machineguns, but too few in number and acquiring spare parts for them was not exactly easy. So in 1920's they decided to do something about this. The first light machinegun the Soviets introduced was Maxim-Tokarev designed by F.V. Tokarev (who later designed also TT-33 pistol and SVT-38, SVT-40 and AVT-40 rifles). As the name suggests Maxim-Tokarev was basically lightened version of Maxim-machinegun modified somewhat in somewhat easier to transport form in the same spirit as German MG-08/15 and MG-08/18 machineguns. But just like MG-08/15 and MG-08/18 it served only temporary solution at best. Hence only 2,450 Maxim-Tokarev light machineguns were manufactured before its production ended in year 1927.

    The weapon that replaced Maxim Tokarev was Degtjarev light machinegun, whose development V.A. Degtjarev had started in year 1923. Degtjarev's weapon had showed great potential already in tests made in summer of 1924, but the design still needed further development. Further testing made in September and November 1926 succeeded revealing problems, which were then fixed. When tests for selecting light machinegun for Soviet Red Army were organised in January of 1927 the Detgjarev's light machinegun proved very good, but still the Soviets decided to improve the design before introducing it to production. Testing continued in summer and spring of 1927 with Degtjarev's light machinegun excelling - especially so when it came to reliability. Developing of the weapon still continued during these tests and the last improvement (reinforced bolt carrier) was not introduced to the design until October of 1927, when manufacturing the first field test series of 100 weapons had already begun. In fact the test results were so favourable that the Soviets decided to start mass-production in Kovrov already when the field testing was still unfinished. So manufacturing of DP (= Degtjareva Pehotnyj = Degtjarev of infantry) started in year 1928 and continued until improved version called "DPM" replaced it in production soon after World War 2.

    DP light machinegun was full-auto only gas-action weapon with gas-piston. Its barrel had been designed to be replaced fast with another one when necessary, but the usual equipment Soviet issued with them does not seem to have included spare barrels. Amount of gas getting to gas-piston could be adjusted with gas-regulator. Both front and rear sights are adjustable and rear sight has settings 1 - 15 (for 100 - 1,500 meters). Safety used in this weapon is located behind trigger guard and locks the trigger unless it is pushed simultaneously with the trigger. Magazine release switch is located to base of rear sight. The weapon uses 47-round plate-shaped magazine placed on top of receiver. The magazine weights 1,6-kg empty and 2,8-kg full. Usually the weapon was issued with two magazine containers (made from sheet metal), each of which contained three magazines. In addition to these the Soviets could also carry the magazine in canvas bags manufactured for the purpose. Finnish Army issued typically six or nine magazines with each of these machineguns, year 1943 the official number of magazines issued per weapon was six. Finnish soldiers were usually issued with two or three captured Soviet magazine containers, their Finnish-made copies (or captured Soviet-made) magazine bags. Although period photos suggest that also other suitable bags, such as Finnish standard issue bread-bag could be used as magazine bags for this light machinegun. Other equipment typically issued with each weapon included two spare barrels and box containing tools. The Soviets made minor changes to DP light machineguns during production and they manufactured also several sub-versions designed for use in aircraft (DA, DA-2), armoured vehicles (DT) and as antiaircraft-weapons. The DPM light machinegun, which replaced DP in production was accepted to weaponry of Soviet Red Army in late August of 1944. Later DPM was replaced in Soviet use with RP-46, which was basically belt-fed version of DPM light machinegun. Even later (starting 1960's) PK light machinegun replaced both DPM and RP-46.

    PICTURE: Degtjarev M/27 light machinegun. Notice original Soviet butt in this weapon. (Photo credit Gun Pictures.net website). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (44 KB).

    Finnish troops captured over 3,400 Degtjarev M/27 light machineguns during Winter War and during Continuation War (mostly during early part of it) additional some 5,000 more were captured. June of 1944 captured Degtjarev M/27 light machinegun already outnumbered Finnish domestic Lahti-Saloranta M/26 LMG by good 2 : 1 ratio, even Finnish spare-part production and maintenance procedures were organised for this weapon. Finnish troops favoured LMG M/27 as it was much more reliable than Lahti-Saloranta and had larger magazine capacity. The weapon itself was light, accurate, structurally simple, effective and durable. Maintaining and repairing it was also easy. However the magazines were quite difficult to reload and the ergonomics were not too great if used any either way than from its bipod. Aiming this light machinegun from the shoulder was basically impossible - firing from the hip by using the sling as support was quite possible, but even then supporting arm didn't have much of a choice for suitable grip for the supporting left hand. Spent cartridge cases get extracted below the weapon, so no hand below front part of receiver, the barrel gets hot quite fast so no hand in there. Basically this leaves two possible contact points for the supporting arm - extreme forward part of sling or bipod. With fully loaded the magazine the weapon is also quite top-heavy and when fired from the hip its centre of balance is not convenient. Needless to say considering the weapon weights over 9-kg firing it from the hip is not for physically weak and the bursts fired this way are not really well-aimed either. According Finnish manuals the barrel also needed to be replaced with cool one only after 200 - 300 shots of constant fire to prevent the weapon overheating. Regardless, Finnish soldiers were very happy about the weapon and nicknamed it as "Emma" after popular Finnish song, when plate-shaped magazine of this light machinegun rotated on top of the weapon during shooting just like record in record-player the connection in visualisations is quite obvious.

    Like all weapons also Degtjarev M/27 light machineguns had their share of issues also. The tendency to overheat quite fast has already been mentioned. Besides heating the whole weapon all the way up to the receiver this could jam the barrel to rest of the weapon, which made replacing barrel difficult or even impossible. Admitted in many ways this worry seems to have been theoretical, since Finnish Army apparently did not often issue spare barrels for this machinegun. In addition getting overheated could ruin the spring locking barrel to its place, which in turn could result whole weapon malfunctioning. Even more serious problem was that the parts were not interchangeable between individual weapons, which required spare parts to be hand fitted for each individual weapon. Due to poor ergonomics of the weapon replacing magazine was also difficult and arming the weapon impossible without lowering it from shoulder. In addition both magazines and bipod attachment were considered somewhat fragile.

    PICTURE: Degtjarev M/27 light machinegun (without magazine) and with Soviet-made magazine container (notice the star in side of container). When magazine is removed the hole that is used to feed ammunition into the weapon can be closed with a sliding hatch. In this case it has been closed. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (237 KB).

    During World War 2 for Finnish troops Degtjarev light machineguns were among the favourite weapons to capture and were typically taken to own use immediately after capture. During World War 2 VKT (Valtion Kivääritehdas = State Rifle Factory) was the main Finnish repair facility for them. Besides doing repairs VKT also manufactured spare parts and copy of standard 47-round plate-shaped magazine for the weapon. The most visible of these Finnish-manufactured spare parts was Finnish-manufactured wooden replacement butt, which lacked the bulge which was characteristic to original Soviet butt. VKT-manufactured parts and 47-round magazines were marked with VKT-logo. In addition the Finns likely manufactured also copy of the magazine box. Like the original it had had been made from sheet metal and contained three magazines.

    Finnish military issued light machinegun M/27 mostly to frontline infantry during World War 2 and during most of the war it was the most numerous light machinegun in its use. After World War 2 Finnish Armed Forces continued using Detgjarev M/27, until more modern belt-fed light machineguns begun replacing them starting from 1960's. Hence this machinegun played very important role in weapons reserved for Finnish infantry during the Cold War era. Removal of M/27 light machinegun from use of Finnish Armed Forces started in late 1990's, but relatively large number have remained warehoused until recently. According latest news the process of removing them from warehouses of Finnish Defence Forces Weapons Depots has now been done if not completely at least mostly. Large number of them were sold to Canada, while smaller number was sold to collectors. The de facto Finnish replacement for M/27 light machinegun is PKM, which is modernised version of PK light machinegun.

    PICTURE: This Finnish wartime photo shows correct shooting stance used with Degtjarev M/27. Photo taken June of 1944 in Vitele.(SA-kuva.fi archive, photo number 154579). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (139 KB).

    Writer's personal (limited) experiences concerning shooting with Degtjarev M/27 light machinegun: The contrast when compared to Lahti-Saloranta is really something. This was my grandfather's favourite weapon during Continuation War and I can easily understand why. Loading magazine and changing it are quite difficult, but once it was time for some trigger action the things went smoothly. When using weapon on bipod the only correct place for the left hand is supporting butt of the weapon - placing it anywhere else is just asking to be hurt. When used on bipod the ergonomic proved otherwise surprisingly good - very much like any normal rifle. Sights are open enough (plenty of space on both sides of front sight post) and the whole sight picture (especially "protective ears" on front sight creating almost a complete circle around front sight) help in fast target acquisition making aiming the weapon very easy and fast. Correct use of safety is instinctive (index finger of right hand presses it down when right hand is in shooting position) and single stage trigger was also ok. While the bipod might look clumsy and the weapon just plain ugly it is remarkably stable - I tried shooting the weapon with only one hand for a while - no problem. This light machinegun is very controllable from its bipod also due to quite slow rate of fire. Shooting with it was a real pleasure - in very rapid pace the falling plate targets each got a short burst of 2 rounds and down they went. The weapon worked reliably for duration of the whole shoot and did not require cleaning during it - total of 500+ rounds fired without a hitch. This is one of the few World War 2 era weapons I would definitely feel confident to use in battle. It is not a surprise that even nowadays some Degtjarev M/27 keep popping up in photos and videos taken in places like Afghanistan.

     

    7,62 mm tank-machinegun DT:

    (Pulemet Degtjareva Tankovyj - DT)

    PICTURE: Detgjarev DT light machinegun installed to armour plate with flexible ball mount. This was the manner as it was often installed to armoured vehicles. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (59 KB).

    Calibre:

    7,62 mm x 54 R

    Length:

    1150 mm

    Barrel length:

    605 mm

    Weight:

    8,5 kg

    Fire-rate:

    650/minute

    Magazine:

    preserve tin shaped drum of two layers: 60

    Official abbreviations:

    "7,62 pk/ven. psv" and "762 PK D PSV"

    Country of origin:

    Soviet Union

    Prototype:

    1927

    Production:

    1929 - late 1940's

    Finnish use: For all practical purposes the standard Finnish machinegun for tanks, armoured cars and assault guns during World War 2. However, also used as light machinegun by Finnish infantry in smaller numbers.

    This tank version of Soviet DP light machinegun entered production in year 1929, after which production continued until late 1940's. Actual parts of mechanism are similar in both of these gas-action weapons, but the butt, barrel, sights and magazines of the two weapons have considerable differences. While DP light machinegun has rather typical butt and no pistol grip DT has folding metal butt and pistol grip. Naturally the sights used in DT were much more suitable for use in armoured vehicles than the ones used in DP. DT light machinegun came with infantry equipment containing removable bipod, which the crew could use to equip the machinegun for infantry use, when necessary. In rather unusual manner both front and rear sight of DT light machinegun equipped for infantry use are adjustable. This was because the front sight came with the bipod and its settings were adjusted for infantry use, while the front sight used in armoured vehicles was fixed, so for vehicle use the rear sight needed to be adjusted. While 47-round magazine used in DP had only one layer of ammunition the 60-round magazine used in DT had two layers of ammunition. Several slightly different versions of this weapon were manufactured. DT machinegun was the most typical machinegun used in Soviet armour vehicles manufactured before and during World War 2.

    PICTURE: Finnish soldier is using captured DT as light machinegun. Photo taken July of 1941 in Ruokolahti.(SA-kuva.fi archive, photo number 40253). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (171 KB).

    Finnish troops captured more than 450 DT light machinegun already during Winter War and took them in their own use in large numbers with captured armoured vehicles and sometimes even without them. More were captured during early Part of Continuation War and the number of DT machine guns issued by Finnish military peaked at over 650 weapons in June of 1944. Typically DT light machineguns were used installed in armoured vehicles, but the weapon type saw also some use with infantry as light machinegun. For all practical purposed DT became the standard Finnish tank machinegun for World War 2, since it clearly outnumbered all other machineguns used in Finnish armoured vehicles. And for this purpose it performed in very satisfactory manner. DT was equally ultra-reliable, more compact, slightly lighter and had larger magazine capacity than more common the infantry-version of Degtjarev light machinegun. These qualities made it also very popular light machinegun among Finnish infantry. Typically Finnish Army issued ten magazines with each of these machineguns, but this obviously varied if used in armoured vehicle. Other equipment normally issued with each weapon included spare barrel and box of tools. In addition of being used in armoured vehicles and by infantry DT-machineguns were also used in Finnish fortifications. Some of the Finnish bunkers build build to Salpa line after Winter War had small tank turrets (taken from captured Soviet tanks), which had been equipped with these machineguns. During Continuation War Finnish Army also started using machinegun cupolas manufactured from steel in various field fortifications. Some of these steel cupolas had been designed to be equipped with DT-machinegun. After World War 2 DT light machineguns remained in training use with armour vehicles to which they belonged, their number decreases slowly but certainly as long as this continued (late 1950's - early 1960's). After their training use ended DT light machineguns remained warehoused until year 1986. After that some were sold (mainly in between 1987 - 1990) and the rest were scrapped.


    SOURCES:

    Markku Palokangas: Sotilaskäsiaseet Suomessa 1918 - 1988 osat 1 - 3 (= Military Small Arms in Finland 1918 - 1988 parts 1 - 3)

    Timo Hyytinen: Arma Fennica 2, sotilasaseet (Arma Fennica 2, military weapons)

    Markku Palokangas and Maire Vaajakallio: Aimo Lahti, asesuunnittelun suuri suomalainen (= Aimo Lahti, the great Finn of weapons designing)

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

    Jan Kronlund: Suomen Puolustuslaitos 1918 - 1939 (= Finnish Defence Department 1918 - 1939)

    Aleksandr Borisovitsh Zhuk: Ase-Atlas, Maailman käsiaseet (= Weapons Atlas, World's Handguns)

    Bruno Bogdnovic and Ivan Valencak: Das Groze Buch der klassischen feuerwaffen

    Article: Lahti-Saloranta pikakivääri 26 by Janne Pohjoispää in Kaliberi magazine vol. 1/2000.

    Article: Degtjarev Suomen sodissa ja maanpuolustuksessa by Markku Palokangas and Timo Martelius in Kaliberi magazine vol. 3/2002.

    Military manual: Pikakivääri 7,62 D (Pk D) by Puolustusvoimien Pääesikunta (1950).

    Military manual: Jalkaväen pikatuliaseiden käyttöopas (1941).

    Military manual: Aseopas I, Venäläisiä aseita by Päämaja (1940).

    Military manual: Upseeri by P. Huhtala (1941).

    Inspection and test firing reports of the committee sent to inspect VKT and its light machinegun production in April of 1929. Finnish Military Archives, archive folder T-17814/47.

    Report concerning common Soviet small arms dated 7th of January 1943. Ordnance Department documents, Finnish Military Archives, archive folder T-19052/32.

    Special thanks to Sotamuseo (Finnish Military Museum), Helsinki

    Special thanks to bas and his Gun Pictures.net website.

    Huge thanks for everybody involved in organising Perinneasekurssi (Course for traditional military weapons) in Helsinki in 2006 - 2007.


    Last updated 23rd of March 2014
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