Beretta sub-machine guns

Kingdom Italy FlagItalian sub-machine guns Beretta Model 1938A and Model 1942.
History, development, service, specifications, statistics and pictures.

Beretta sub-machine gun Model 1938A

Beretta sub-machine gun Model 1938A

Beretta Model 1938A, 1942.
Type: sub-machine gun.


The Beretta sub-machine gun originated from a semi-automatic carbine from 1935. But this weapon of the designer Tullio Marengoni was revised and went with selective fire selection in 1938 at the company Beretta in Brescia in production. It was a weapon in the form of a carabiner with unlocked lock.
As a highly successful weapon, it underwent many minor changes during its construction period and remained in production until 1950, before being replaced by more modern designs.

The first model had a full wooden shaft, similar to the old 1918 model, but the magazine was below the gun, with a specially designed folding bayonet and a cooling jacket with large, initially oval, holes around the barrel.
The Beretta submachine gun also had a complete new two-trigger firing mechanism. The front trigger was for delivering single shots and the rear trigger for fully automatic firing. The front end of the mantle was shaped into a rudimentary compensator, with two large holes on top.

Although it was a very useful design, this weapon was only built in small numbers in 1938 and quickly replaced with a second version, which did not have a distinctive model number.
This version received a fire selector lever through a locking bolt in the form of a cross bolt behind the last trigger. If this was pressed in, this prevented that the rear trigger could be operated and the weapon worked only in single fire. The barrel jacket had smaller, circular holes, but the compensator and bayonet of the first model were retained.

Italian militiaman of the fascist Legion Tagliamento

Italian militiaman of the fascist Legion Tagliamento in 1944, armed with German stick grenades and a Beretta M38 submachine gun.

A third version was designed in late 1938 and went in 1939 in addition to the second version into mass-production. The difference was in the omission of the bayonet and a change in the design of the compensator with four upturned holes.
Both versions were mass-produced in large numbers for the Italian, German and Romanian forces until 1944. After that, the production stopped for some time to be continued after the war.

The original design required completely machined components, a more expensive and slower manufacturing process. So in 1940 slight changes were made to allow for faster production. The barrel casing was now made of stamped sheet metal, rolled and welded, while the bolt design was simplified by taking over a heritage of the Villar Perosa Model 1918, a solid firing pin instead of a separate component.

The Beretta sub-machine guns were later even in conditions of mass production consuming – comparable to hand manufacturing – built in excellent quality. The weapon was so balanced that it could be used in a special way in combat. It was quite heavy, but mostly reliable and precise. With a 10-round magazine, it could be used just as a single-fire carbine and was very accurate at distances up to 330 yards (300 meters).

While the gun was originally intended for the 9 mm Glisenti ammunition, the German 9 mm Parabellum cartridge could just as well be fired. But to achieve the best possible performance, a special cartridge, called 9mm M38, was originally issued for the weapon. This was marked by a green border at the top and was delivered in 10-shot pallets, which was loaded with a special tool into the magazine. There were magazines in different sizes for 10, 20, 30 or 40 cartridges.

The Beretta sub-machine gun model 1938A was widely used during World War II. The Italian Armed Forces used them mainly in North Africa and Russia and it was also taken over by the Wehrmacht as Maschinenpistole (Beretta) 38 (i). In addition to the copies captured in 1943, another 230,000 pieces were delivered directly from the factory to the Germans. Also, the weapon was used by the Romanian and Croatian army.
Captured Beretta submachine guns were also welcome to the Allied troops, although they were always short of sufficient magazines and cartridges.
The Italian army and police used the Beretta sub-machine guns still after the Second World War.


Beretta Model 38/42

Beretta Model 38/42

Beretta Model 38/42 with clips of cartridges

Beretta Model 38/42 with clips of cartridges.

Beretta Model 38/42: In order to further simplify the production of the Model 1938A, it has been further developed by the designer Marengoni to the Model 38/42. While it was basically the same weapon as the Model 1938A, components and magazine housings were made from stamped metal parts, the cooling jacket was omitted, and the compensator was reset to a two-hole type. The visor was replaced by a more simple, folding visor.
The first version received a barrel with cooling fins and two cuts at the top of the mouth, which served as heave compensator. This device turned out to be superfluous and was quickly omitted and the barrel became smooth. The barrel and wood shaft was also shortened and ended behind the magazine housing.

Beretta Model 38/43: The term was sometimes used for the Model 38/42 with smooth barrel.

Beretta Model 38/44: Largely the same as the Model 38/43 but with a slight change in the design of the bolt and the return spring. As a result, the receiver end cap was plain the Models 38/42 and 38/43 had a raised center on the cap which served as an anchor for the return spring.

Users: Italy, Germany, Romania, Croatia.

Specifications Beretta Model 1938A

Beretta Model 1938A specification
Type sub-machine gun
Caliber 9 mm
Length (94.8cm); Model 1942: 31.30in (79.5cm)
Weight 9.71lb (4.4kg); loaded 10.96lb (4.97kg); Model 1942: 7.48lb (3.39kg)
Barrel 12.5in with 6 grooves, right hand twist
Feed system 10-, 20-, 30-, or 40-round integral box magazines
System of operation Blowback, selective fire
Muzzle velocity 1,380ft (420m) per sec
Rate of fire 600 rpm
Effective range targeted single fire up to 330 yards (300 meters)
Service statistics
Beretta sub-machine guns specification
Manufactures P. Beretta, Brescia
Production delivery 1938
Final delivery 1950
Production figure total unknown (230,000 only for Germans in 1943/44)
Price per unit ? (expensive because of fine quality)

Today’s War Diary and Report Feeds

Today 75 and 100 years ago and daily World War Report:

Diary June 24, 1943

Woman searches for family members in Wuppertral-Elberfeld after the night raid

Woman searches for familiy members in Wuppertral-Elberfeld after the night raid. The city, which was covered by a deep river valley, was left without any anti-aircraft protection. Only with new attack methods, lead by Mosquito pathfinders, the RAF was able to raid the unprotected city which results in 5,200 killed civilians.

WW2 War Diary for Thursday, June 24, 1943:

Air War

Germany: Heavy RAF night raid on Elberfeld (Ruhr) by 544 bombers dropping 1,663t of bombs.
Mediterranean: 9th AF B-24 Liberator bombers attacking Sedes airfield (Greece) and drop pamphlets addressed to local population.

Diary June 24, 1918

Recruitment poster for the US Navy Corps.

Recruitment poster for the US Marines Corps.

World War One Diary for Monday, June 24, 1918:

Sea War

USA: US Navy and Marines Corps now 450,093 men strong, larger in manpower than Royal Navy.

Eastern Front

Russia: Left Socialist Revolutionaries (Russian peasant party) resolve on terrorism against Germans in Russia.
Siberia: Czech newspaper says Legion advance guard of Allied Armies on reformed Eastern Front.

Southern Fronts

Piave: Last Austrian troops recross the river. Italian Third Army clears Austrian bridgehead at its Capo Sile mouth. 2,193,659 Allies with 7,081 guns in 57 divisions (36 in line) hold 188 miles of front (British and French divisions 4 miles each).

Middle East

Britain: War Cabinet Eastern committee debates Persian situation, gives India control of South and East Persia, Trans-Caspia and Turkestan operations.
Palestine: 261,990 Allies (ration strength) with 438 guns vs 131,000 Turco-Germans with 523 guns.
Mesopotamia­: 212,131 British with 310 guns vs estimated 29,500 Turks with 112 guns.

Air War

Western Front: 8 squadrons of RAF day and night bombers attack German communications in La Bassee­-Ypres area, 106t of bombs dropped until July 6.

German uniforms World War One

Germany war flagThe uniforms of the Germany Army in World War One 1914-1918.

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German soldiers 1914

Landwehr infantry (Brussels, 1914) * Lieutenant (Fluegeladjutant to the Kaiser, Riga September 1917) * Private (4th Foot Guard Regiment, Berlin, August 1914)

At the outbreak of World War One in August 1914, the German Army was uniformly dressed in field-grey uniforms, which had been introduced in Prussia by the ‘All Highest’ cabinet orders of 23 February and 18 March 1910.
The colour of the first field grey was much lighter, and not as green, as that which became typical during the war. Jaeger (including mounted Jaegers) and Rifles (Schuetzen) received grey-green uniforms. On all uniforms buttons and metal fittings were dull brass or in white (silvered) metal.

In 1915 a simplified version of the M.191O uniform began to be issued. The cut remained basically the same, as did the collar and shoulder straps, but the distinctive cuffs were replaced by plain turn­ back ones, and the piping on the back pocket flaps was discontinued.

The ‘All Highest’ cabinet order of 21 September 1915 introduced a completely new field uniform consisting of a plain blouse (Bluse), field-grey greatcoat without collar patches, and stone-grey (field grey for Bavarian troops) trousers. Distinctions were again restricted to the collar (and sometimes shoulder straps), and the front buttons were replaced by a fly-front. Buttons were made of matt coloured metals, or were painted field grey. The same order also abolished the coloured uniforms (which were still being worn with certain orders of dress and by Landsturm and Landwehr personnel), and introduced a field-grey full-dress for wear after the war. Although the opportunity did not arise, considerable numbers of these uniforms were manufactured and stored to be later worn by some officers and Freikorps personnel.

German light infantry

German Light infantry: Rifleman (Mountain Company 1, Wurttemberg Mountain Rifles, 1915) * Gunner (Mountain Gun Battery 2, 1915) * Jaeger (Jäger Battalion 10, Goslar 1915)

On the M.1910 uniform collar, Litzen, etc. were basically the same as on the peace-time uniform. General officers had their traditional gold­embroidery on red collar patches, while non-regimental (staff) officers wore plain collar patches in the colour of their peace-time tunic collar.

On the M.1915 uniform collar patches underwent a number of changes. For officers Litzen were embroidered in dull silver or gold (also for generals) on field-grey collar patches. Staff officers now received Litzen of various patterns. The Litzen for other ranks were shortened. Officers in regiments who had previously worn silver Litzen, now received shorter ones, while those in regiments with gold Litzen, had silver Litzen trimmed with gold cord. Officers in regiments which previously had other patterns of collar embroidery, now received an embroidered version of the Litzen.
With the introduction of the M.I915 uniform the principal means of distinguishing a soldier’s unit remained the shoulder straps which underwent certain changes.

The battalion and company (battery or squadron, etc.) were identified by the combination of colours on the side-arm knot, and the company number also appeared on the shoulder strap buttons.

Bavarian soldiers

Bavarian soldiers: Mounted driver (Field Artillery 1915) * Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria (Western Front, June 1918) * Private (Infantry Life Regiment, 1916)

Each German State had its own colours which appeared primarily on the circular cockade worn below the Reich cockade on the front of the peaked and field cap, and on the left side of the helmet.
Those units entitled to wear the Jaeger shako (except Saxony), hussar colback, and lancer czapka, wore an oval cockade on the front of the head-dress.

State colours were also incorporated in the braid used on some officers’ shoulder straps, rank distinction lace on the greatcoat collar patches,
re-enlistment lace, sword knots, trumpet cords, and were painted on some drum hoops. Also the State coat of arms appeared on the helmet and shako plates, buttons, buckles, and on some sword hilts.
On active service the head-dress was covered with a grey cover, on the front of which were sometimes printed or applied, the following badges, letters and numerals.
Line infantry regiments: Arabic numerals.
Reserve infantry regiments: ‘R’ and arabic numerals.
Landwehr infantry regiments: ‘L’ and arabic numerals.
Landsturm: Iron Cross

more about:

German Landsturm soldiers

Landsturm soldiers: Corporal (Battalion 68, Berlin, 1914) * Major (Ulan Regiment 5, Belgium, 1916) * Private (Infantry Battalion 49, Poland, 1915)

These badges which were not worn by Guards units, were at first in red, but in August 1914 they were changed to green, before being abolished completely by ‘All Highest Cabinet’ Order of 27 October 1916.
During the first-half of the war, metal fittings on the helmets began to be manufactured in cheaper metals and painted grey. Then the shell of the helmet began to be made of metal, and more commonly, of blocked felt. At the front the spike of ball fitting was often removed.
In place of the distinctive head-dress officers and senior n.c.o.s. (Portepee-Unteroffiziere) wore a peaked cap, with band and piping in arm or regimental colours, and at first black, and then field-grey leather peak. The peaked cap could also be worn by other ranks when off-duty, otherwise they wore the round peakless field cap. On active service the brightly coloured cap band was covered by a strip of grey tape to make it less conspicuous. Landsturm personnel wore a peaked cap made from black oil cloth with silver or brass Landwehr Cross on the front above the State cockade’.

German soldiers 1918

German soldiers 1918: Tank man (Motor Transport Battalion Berlin) * Stormtrooper (Infantry Regiment Graf Barfuss, Champagne, spring 1918) * Private (Infantry)

Just prior to the Battle of Verdun in the summer of 1916 German troops began to receive the new steel helmet (225) which was designed to be worn with an additional front reinforcing plate by look-outs only. It was often worn with a sacking cover or painted with an angular camouflage pattern. In 1918 a new version of the helmet designed for wear by telephonists began to be issued in limited quantities. After the war it was issued to mounted troops.

Rank buttons were at first copper or white metal, but were then painted field grey. From 1915 onwards lace was manufactured in a dull grey. Later in the war the lace on the collar was often reduced to ‘angles’ on the points of the collar only. On the M.1915 greatcoat collar patches were not worn, but those n.c.o.s entitled to do so continued to wear the rank distinction lace on the collar. In Mecklenburg senior n.c.o.s had gold or silver rank distinction lace. On collar patches bearing guard Litzen, the lace was placed horizontally above and below the Litzen.

German Army staff

German Army Staff: Staff Trumpet-Major (1st Troop Life Gendarmerie, Tarnopol, 24 July 1917) * Kaiser Wilhelm II (Tarnopol, 24 July 1917) * General Field Marshal von Hindenburg (Noyon, June 1918)

Generals and Field marshals were also entitled to wear the uniform of the regiments of which they were colonel-in-chief. On regimental uniform the shoulder straps were the same but on a base in the regimental colour, and with the regimental cypher or number.

back to PART I of Germany Army 1914-1918