REVOLVERS & PISTOLS PART 4:

Beretta, CZ and miscellaneous

 

 

7,65 mm Pistols M/15 and M/19 Beretta:

(Pistola Automatica Beretta m/15)

(Pistola Automatica Beretta m/15-19)

PICTURE: Beretta M/15 pistol. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (27 KB).

Calibre:

7,65 mm x 17 Browning (.32 ACP)

Length:

149 mm (M/15) / 152 mm (M/19)

Barrel length:

85 mm

Weight:

570 g (M/15) / 600 g (M/19)

Magazine:

7, removable

Official abbreviations:

"7,65 pist/Ber." and "765 PIST 15 BERETTA"

"7,65 pist/Ber." and "765 PIST 19 BERETTA"

Country of origin:

Italy

Prototype:

1915

Finnish use: Some 1,500 bought from Italy in spring of 1940. Issued to Finnish home front troops and supplies units for Continuation War.

Beretta M/15 was blowback pistol designed to ease pistol shortage of Italian Armed Forced during World War 1 and was manufactured both in 9 mm x 19 Glisenti and 7,65 x 17 calibre. Beretta M/15 was presumably manufactured between 1915 - 1919. Improved version called M/19 (or M/15-19) was developed from it and manufactured between 1922 - 1931 for Italian military, police and also to commercial market. Tullio Marengoni designed the both pistols. While M/15 still has seperate hole in the slide for removing used cartridge cases M/19 already had the slide open from top, which is common to most later Beretta pistols. However, both of these pistol models still had hammer, which had been concealed inside the pistol slide. M/15 had grip panels made from wood, while M/19 used grip panels stamped from metal. Year 1931 new Beretta model 1931 replaced M/19 in manufacturing.

Finnish Armed Forces bought 1,500 pistols of these types in spring of 1940. The pistols were issued to Finnish home front troops and supplies units during Continuation War. Large majority of the old Beretta pistols pistols bought by the Finns bought were M/15. After WW2 large number of these pistols were loaned to Finnish Police. Year 1951 848 Beretta M/15 and only 27 Beretta M/19 remained. These pistols remained warehoused until about 100 were sold to military personnel between 1965 - 1971 and the rest were sold to abroad in 1986.

 

9 mm Pistol M/34 and 7,65 mm Pistol M/35 Beretta:

(Pistola Automatica Beretta m/34 Brevetto)

(Pistola Automatica Beretta m/35)

PICTURE: Beretta M/34 pistol. (Photo taken in Ilmatorjuntamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (88 KB).

PICTURE: Beretta M/35 pistol. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (110 KB).

Calibre:

9 mm x 17 (M/34) / 7,65 mm x 17 (M/35)

Length:

152 mm (M/34) / 150 mm (M/35)

Barrel length:

94 mm (M/34) / 85 mm (M/35)

Weight:

690 g (M/34) / 670 g (M/35)

Magazine:

7, removable (M/34) / 8, removable (M/35)

Official abbreviations:

"9,00 pist/34 Ber." and "900 PIST 34 BERETTA"

"7,65 pist/35 Ber." and "765 PIST 35 BERETTA"

Country of origin:

Italy

Prototype:

1931

Production:

From 1935 to late 1950's.

Finnish use:

- M/34: About 1,400 - 1,500 bought from Italy. Besides 60 pistols acquired during Winter War they arrived in 1943. Finnish home front troops used them between 1943 - 1944.

- M/35: About 4,100 bought from Italy. About 1,000 arrived in 1941 and 3,090 arrived in 1942. Finnish frontline and home front troops used them 1941 - 1944.

Beretta M/34 and M/35 had all best characteristics of earlier Beretta model 1931 and 1932 pistols combined. 9 mm x 17 calibre pistol M/34 was manufactured for Italian Army (Regio Esercito), while 7,65 mm x 17 calibre pistol M/35 was made for Italian Navy (Regia Marina) and Air Force (Regio Aironautica). The pistols soon proved to be very successful also in commercial markets. They gained reputation for being quality pistols of good reliability. Maybe the biggest remaining handicap was the safety switch, which needs to be rotated 180 degrees and when engaged locks only the trigger. Second not so good detail was the way in which emptied magazine locks the pistols slide back until being removed (when the magazine is removed it unlocks the pistol slide, which slides forward). Manufacturing of both M/34 and M/35 begun in year 1935. Over half-a-million M/34 were made before Mussoli's government collapsed. The estimated total production of both M/34 and M/35 together by end of WW2 is about million pistols. During WW2 Finland and Romania bought these pistols for their Armed Forces. The Romanians acquired M/34, while the Finns bought both M/34 and M/35. Both pistols were also very popular war souvenirs among allied soldiers. Their manufacture continued after WW2 both for Italian authorities and for commercial sales. The post-war tradenames for the pistols were m 934 and m 935 in most countries, but in United States they were also known as "Cougar" and "Puma".

Beretta M/34:

During Winter War 60 Beretta M/34 arrived to Finland among miscellaneous materials. Finnish HQ of home front troops (ex Suojeluskunta GHQ) ordered 500 Beretta M/34 pistols from Italy in July of 1941. The deal had many problems and pistols were not delivered earlier than April of 1943. HQ of home front troops (pre-war Suojeluskunta GHQ) started issuing them to home front troops already in May of 1943. Finnish Army ordered 4,000 Beretta M/35 in April of 1941, but the Italians had problems delivering enough M/35 pistols, but they had enough M/34 pistols to replace the missing M/35. So the Finns decided to accept (likely) about 900 M/35 pistols as their replacements. Considering this the total number of M/34 pistols in use of Finnish Armed Forces was probably around 1,400 - 1,500. The 500 pistols ordered by HQ of home front troops were marked with Civil Guard number marking containing "Sk.Y" (Sk.Y = Suojeluskuntain Yliesikunta = General HQ of Civil Guard) and number between 0100 - 0597. Finnish Civil Guard was disbanded in 1944 and also its pistols ended up to Finnish Army. Year 1951 Finnish Army inventory included 999 pistols M/34, they remained warehoused until 1986.

Beretta M/35:

Finnish Army made two orders of M/35 pistols to Italy during WW2, both of them in 1941. First one containing 1,000 pistols arrived late 1941. The second one of 4,000 pistols proved problematic and only 3,092 of ordered pistols were delivered by late 1942, the remaining pistols bit over 900 pistols the Italians replaced by delivering M/34 pistols instead. During Continuation War both by Finnish front-line troops and home front troops used Beretta M/35 pistols. Year 1951 some 2,091 pistols M/35 remained, they remained warehoused until mid-1980's. Finally year 1986 most of them were sold and only small amount was still kept for uses that demanded easily conceivable pistol (couriers etc).

 

9 mm Pistol M/23 CZ (vz.24):

(Automatická pistole vz.24)

PICTURE: Pistol M/23 CZ. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (113 KB).

Calibre:

9 mm x 17 (.380 ACP) Browning

Length:

152 mm

Barrel length:

91 mm

Weight:

700 g

Magazine:

8, removable

Official abbreviations:

"9,00 pist/23 tsekk." and "900 PIST/23"

Country of origin:

Czechoslovakia

Prototype:

Based to design made in 1916, first prototype in 1920.

Finnish use: 3,285 bought from Germany, they arrived in September of 1940. Issued mainly to Finnish front-line troops during Continuation War (1941 - 1944).

Unlike pistols using this ammunition-type typically, vz.24 developed by Josef Nickl (who mostly worked for Mauser during his career) was not a blowback weapon, but had blocking mechanism that used rotating barrel. Nickl had developed the basic structure of his pistol already during WW1, but Mauser factory had not been interested about it. Rotating barrel was originally invented by Karel Krnka and had already been used in pre-WW1 Austrian Roth M/1907 and Steyr M/1912 automatic pistols, so the basic concept wasn't new. In fact it is very likely that at least one of these previous designs had effected to Nickl's design work. State of Czechoslovakia emerged from WW1 peace treaties with typical result - its Armed Forces had very mixed weaponry, which needed to be replaced with new ones. In 1920's German Mauserwerke delivered machinery for Chechoslovakian state-owned weapons factory "Ceskoslovenske Statni Zavody" (later known as "Ceskolovenska Zbrojovka" or more simply "Zbrojovka Brno"). One of Mauserwerke representatives taking part in delivering machinery was Josef Nickl, who used the possibility trying to sell his pistol design. That try proved successful. Year 1920 Czechoslovakian Army organised tests for selecting new service pistol. Nickl's pistol won the tests, but because of its high price didn't enter production for the Army. However year 1921 some 2,700 Nickl pistols were manufactured for Czechoslovakian Militia. Improved vz.22 version was introduced in February of 1922. Factory named "Jiroceska Zbrojovka" ("Ceska Zbrojovka" aka "CZ" starting from 1923) became its main manufacturer in 1923, when "Zbrojovka Brno" didn't have enough capacity for manufacturing rifles and this pistol simultaneously. But, unfortunately Nickl's vz.22 pistol had one not so well thought feature - its calibre. The vz.22 pistol used unique 9 mm x 17 cartridge of its own, which was almost but not quite interchangeable with much more common 9 mm x 17 (.380 ACP) Browning short cartridge. Improved version of the pistol called vz.24 was accepted as service pistol of Czechoslovakian military in 1925. Some visible differences exist between vz.22 and vz.24, but the most notable difference was adopting 9 mm x 17 (.380 ACP) Browning short cartridge (decision which most certainly made acquiring ammunition considerably easier). First batch of vz.24 pistols was delivered in June of 1926. Some 190,000 vz.24 were manufactured in CZ factory by end of year 1937. Vz.24 pistol with its rotating barrel remained unnecessarily complicated pistol for such a cartridge, so simplifying the pistols structure was next logical step. Already before World War 2 Frantishek Myshka designed new pistol based to vz.24. The new pistol known as vz.27 looked quite similar as vz.24, but structurally it was simple blowback in 7.65 mm x 17 (.32 ACP) calibre. The new Vz.27 was much easier and cheaper to manufacture than ealier vz.22 and vz.24, so when Germany occupied Czechoslovakia in 1938 the Germans kept it in production for their own Armed Forces. The Germans managed to acquire some 475,000 "Pistole 27(t)" (as they called vz.27) by end of WW2. The earlier "Pistole 24(t)" (German name for vz.24) didn't see as large scale with German military during WW2 as the "Pistole 27(t)".

For some weird reason Finnish military decided to name vz.24 as 9-mm pistol M/23, even if Finnish military already had 7.65-mm Parabellum pistol with that model-number. Finnish Armed Forces bought 3,285 pistols M/23 from Germany during Interim Peace and they arrived by ship from Germany in 26th of September 1940. During Continuation War Finnish military issued them mostly to front-line troops, even if their ammunition was not exactly among most the commonly used by Finnish military. Because of front-line use the losses of these pistols were high, so in year 1951 only 1,723 remained. After the war surviving pistols M/23 CZ were kept in storage until year 1986, when they were finally declared obsolete and sold.

 

9 mm Pistol M/39:

(Automatická pistole CZ, vz.38)

PICTURE: Pistol M/39 CZ. (Photo taken in Viestimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (148 KB).

Calibre:

9 mm x 17 (.380 ACP)

Length:

200 mm

Barrel length:

120 mm

Weight:

900 g

Magazine:

8, removable

Official abbreviations:

"9,00 pist/39 tsekk." and "900 PIST/39"

Country of origin:

Czechoslovakia

Prototype:

First prototype 1936, pre-production series in 1938.

Finnish use: About 1,700 bought from Germany, they arrived in September of 1940. These pistols were issued to Finnish front-line troops for Continuation War (1941 - 1944).

Like name says this double-action pistol designed by Frantishek Myshka went to production in 1938. It had a simple structure, which made maintenance easy task. On the other hand it had grip, which has been reported poorly suited for shooting with one hand. It used relatively weak cartridge considering size of the pistol and had double-action-only (DAO) trigger. The ammunition choice was probably explained by the pistol being a blowback design, which could not have handled more powerful cartridge. Another likely reason was that 9 mm x 17 Browning (.380) cartridge had been used already in earlier vz. 24 pistol. Grip of the pistol worked relatively well with two-hand grip and trigger felt stiff with long pull when compared triggers of other temporary pistols. Manufacturing of this pistol didn't continue long. Production was cut short as Germans stopped 1st production run after invading Czechoslovakia in 1938 and only already partially made pistols of the first production run were finished. Some 10,000 - 12,000 (or some 40,000 depending source) pistols of this production run were allowed to be finished by the Germans who named "Pistole P-39(t)" (as the Germans called it) and issued most of them their to 2nd line troops. That proved to be both the first and last production series of pistol vz.38.

During World War 2 Finland had shortage of pistols, so it bought 1,713 or 1,731 of these pistols from Germany and they arrived in September of 1940. It seems that already the original wartime delivery documents had a typo with the two last digits of the number, since the original documents contain both alternatives. By now it seems to be impossible to figure out for sure if 1,713 or 1,731 was the exact number. These pistols arrived in same the ship (Lütjehorn) 26th of September 1940 as another pistol made in Czechoslovakia - pistol M/23 CZ. When Continuation War begun they were issued to frontline troops of Finnish Army. The hard frontline use resulted into large losses. Summer of 1948 only 978 pistols M/39 remained. They were kept warehoused until they were sold abroad in 1980's.

Some personal experiences of handling this pistol: Structurally this pistol is very interesting design. It is very easy to disassemble and re-assemble for routine maintenance. As mentioned its grip is large, but seems to work well when both hands are used. Also the sights are pretty good. The pistol is well-rounded design with small likelihood of it snagging into anything. All this is however undermined by the DAO-type trigger, while one of the first of its kind in automatic pistols the trigger is very heavy with long trigger travel.

 

SOME OTHER PISTOL TYPES USED BY FINNISH AUTHORITIES DURING WW2 AND COUNTED UNDER "PISTOL MISCELLANEOUS" TITLE:

- 7,65 mm M/1914 Mauser: Some 200 pistols received in various weapon deals and gathered from Finnish civilians.

- 7,65 mm M/SAUER (modell 14): Issued by Finnish State Railways (Valtion Rautatiet) during World War 2.

- 7,65 mm M/Walther 4: Used by Finnish prison administration and Police during World War 2.

- 7,65 mm Browning M/1900: Commonly used by Finnish police from 1918 to 1980's.

- 7,65 mm M/Beholla: Over 100 pistols issued to Finnish home front troops, also used by State Railways during World War 2.

- 7,65 mm M/Astra 300: 100 bought by Suojeluskunta (Finnish Civil Guard) in year 1941, issued to guards of POW camps and home front.

- 7,65 mm Bayard: Arrived with German weapons deliveries 1917 - 1918.

- 7,65 mm M/Ortgies: Several hundred pistols used by Finnish prison administration.

- 11,5 mm Colt (M1911): About 51,000 bought by Russian military between 1915 - 1917. But only relatively small number of these captured pistols ended up to hands of authorities after Finnish Civil War. Small number (about 120) of pistols were issued to Finnish home front troops during World War 2.

 


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)

Ian Hogg and John Wells: Pistols of the World

Article: Beretta m/1915 syntyi sotilasaseeksi by Jussi Peltola in Ase-lehti magazine vol 2/97.

Article: Luja ja luotettava Beretta M 1934 by Mika Vuolle in Kaliberi magazine vol 1/1997.

Article: Mauser m 1914 by Matti Ingman in Ase-lehti magazine vol. 3/90.

Article: Epäonnen soturi, Ceska Zbrojovka VZ 38 by Mika Vuolle in Ase-lehti magazine vol. 2/94.

Article: Modelo 1910 Glisenti by Paul S. Scarlata in Kaliberi magazine vol. 8/2004.

Finnish military archives, archive references T20206/F9, /F10 and /F11

Special thanks to Sotamuseo (Finnish Military Museum), Helsinki

Special thanks to Viestimuseo (Signal Museum), Riihimäki


Last updated 29th of May 2014
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