Yeah, finally got another one in, and after several weeks of inactivity!*__*
This is a continuation of the submachine guns I wanted to use for my "Weapons of Vietnam" project. Much to my surprise, the drawings of the weapons I've submitted have become really popular since I started this little project almost two years ago.O__O Well then, let's get down to the historical and technical details! 8D
Various submachine guns from around the world saw limited use through out the conflict in Vietnam, so many that I couldn't incorporate them all.
In the United States, submachine guns were used mainly by special forces and vehicle crews as what we know nowadays as "personal defense weapons." The North Vietnamese and Vietcong used whatever kind of weapons they could get their hands on, and so submachine guns were used frequently in their arsenals.American Submachine Guns
STEN Mk.IIS: When weapon enthusiasts think of the Vietnam War, this is definitely one of the last guns they'd think of. For those who don't know, the STEN series of submachine guns originated in the United Kingdom, and was designed at the very beginning of World War II as a cheap submachine gun made for mass-production for the British military. Its name "STEN" comes from the first letters of its designers (R.V. S
hephard and H.J. T
urpin), along with the En
field factory that produced these weapons. At first glance, the STEN appears to be a very rudimentary, crude, ugly little weapon, and that's because it is. At the time, it cost about as much as a postage stamp to produce a single unit, and although it wasn't the most reliable and durable submachine gun on the battle field, it got the job done and saw extensive use in Post-WWII conflicts. In the Vietnam War, the STEN was used by Australia during their involvement in the conflict, and as for the United States, the STEN Mk.IIS was the particular variation that was used by the Green Berets. The STEN Mk.IIS, as the "S" implies, had an integral suppressor for the Green Berets' operations in the jungles of Vietnam. Every version of the STEN was chambered in the standard 9x19mm pistol cartridge, and all held 32-rounds in the magazine. The STEN Mk.IIS had a rotating magazine housing that could be rotated 90 degrees down to close the feeding and ejecting mechanisms in the bolt group, as means for transportation when a soldier was not in combat. However, this feature proved to be more of a problem than a help, in that it caused more reliability issues with feeding and jamming. Since I'm on the topic of reliability issues, the magazine springs were quite weak, and so soldiers would often load them with 28 or 30 rounds, instead of the full 32 rounds to prevent wear on the spring. The STEN series of submachine guns, much to my surprise, were select-fire. The STEN Mk.IIS was intended to be fired mainly on semi-automatic, with fully-automatic to be used only in emergency situations. Full-auto fire through the STEN Mk.IIS apparently wears down the suppressor. In terms of operation, all STENs were blowback-operated and fired from an open bolt, the STEN Mk.IIS cycled at around 450 rounds per minute, a rather slow and controllable rate of fire. Here's an image of a STEN Mk.IIS in use during the Vietnam War: [link]
Carl Gustav M/45: What's really interesting about this particular gun is that it's Swedish. Like the STEN Mk.IIS, this weapon was another foreign-made gun used by American forces in Vietnam; the Carl Gustav M/45 submachine saw extensive use by the US Navy SEALS. It is a very simple submachine gun, it's full-auto only, and fires from an open-bolt with a cyclic rate at around 600 rounds per minute. Despite its simplicity, it's quite durable and reliable, and boasts high magazine capacities, with the choice of either 36 or 50-round magazines. It should be noted that the 50-round magazines were originally designed for the Finnish Suomi M/31 submachine gun; incidentally, these magazines were eventually dropped out of service. In terms of construction, the Carl Gustav M/45 has a receiver made from steel tube, and the barrel jacket, which is constructed separately from the receiver, is also made of a perforated steel tube. Sweden directly supplied the United States military with these weapons, but in the mid-60s when the conflict in Vietnam was starting to escalate, Sweden imposed an embargo on shipment of these guns, because they did not want to get involved in the conflict in Southeast Asia. However, the United States Navy was so impressed with the weapon, they developed an unlicensed copy, which takes us to our next firearm. By the way, I found a fantastic photo of an American soldier with a Carl Gustav M/45
Smith & Wesson M76: Smith & Wesson is definitely one of the most prolific arms makers around the world, but when people think of Smith & Wesson, the first type of guns that come to mind are their outstanding revolvers. Smith & Wesson is not known for military-grade automatic weapons, but after the peaceful country of Sweden ceased shipment of Carl Gustav M/45s to the United States for use in Vietnam, the US Navy turned to domestic arms makers to develop a weapon similar in design and characteristics. Smith & Wesson developed a close copy of the Carl Gustav M/45, but by the time production of the weapon began, the US Navy had dropped their commission for such a weapon. As a result, the Smith & Wesson M76 saw limited use in Vietnam, and was only produced by the thousands. It continued to see limited use by military and police forces after the war, and eventually, a close copy of the M76 was made by the American arms company MK Arms, their version was designated the MK-760. In terms of operation, the S&W M76 is very similar to its Swedish counterpart; fires from an open bolt, 9x19mm-chambering, fed from a 36-round magazine, and has a steel wire side-folding stock. A feature that differs the M76 from the M/45 is that the M76 is select-fire, and cycles at higher rate of fire, approximately 720 rounds per minute. The selector switch was located in plain sight, on both sides of the receiver. Smith & Wesson is generally not well-known for firearms outside their revolvers and handguns, making this particular gun quite an oddity in that regard.
Colt XM177E2: This is a unique weapon in that it is not a true submachine gun in the traditional sense. Instead of using pistol ammo, this lightweight, compact weapon used the new, intermediate 5.56x45mm assault rifle ammo. Although it is among the first of a new class of assault rifles, the majority of my sources label it as a submachine gun due to its small size, and so I have chosen to categorize it as such. As a matter of fact, it was advertised in the PS Preventive Maintainence M16A1 training manual as: "Colt's new 5.56mm submachine gun." The Colt XM177E2 was an update on Colt's new carbines that were designed as a smaller, lighter, more manueverable alternative of the staple M16A1 assault rifle. The Colt XM177E2, while not a true submachine gun, and not a full-size assault rifle, was actually the first of a new class of weapons, the compact assault rifle. The XM177E2 was one of many new Colt AR-15 "Commando" carbines that saw experimental use in the Vietnam War, and it was a definite improvement over its predecessor, the Colt CAR-15. The key problems with CAR-15 was that it was extremely loud, and had a really bright muzzle flash. The XM177E2 resolved these problems with a more effective flash hider. The XM177E2 featured a handguard with cooling rings instead of vents on the top. Another feature of the Commando series was the retractable stock that, in this day in age, American assault rifles are recognized for. Of all the Colt Commando assault rifles, I believe the XM177E2 saw the most use during American involvement in Vietnam. The XM177E2 and all the other Colt carbines functioned exactly the same as the M16 assault rifles, and would undergo further development after the war for use in modern military and police operations. The XM177E2 retained all the features of the M16A1, including the same controls, takedown procedure for cleaning and maintainence, and the forward assist used to re-engage the bolt carrier in case of foulings or jams. These weapons also use the same magazines as the M16, and have a cyclic rate which ranges between 700-950 rounds per minute, depending on which version of the Colt Commando we're talking about. As I mentioned before, these weapons are still used by modern military and law enforcement groups, and like any other weapon built on the AR-15 platform, have undergone signifcant modifications and advancements over the past few decades.North Vietnamese and Vietcong Submachine Guns
MAT-49: Like every other weapon used by the NVA and VC, the MAT-49 submachine gun was an exotic weapon of foreign origin. Seeing as France had once colonized this region of Southeast Asia as French Indochina, it should come as no surprise that some French weapons would be left behind. Personally, I find that to be a very interesting trait about this gun in the Vietnam War. MAT-49s were originally chambered in 9x19mm, but the ones seized by the Communist North were modified to chamber the more abundant 7.62x25mm Tokarev pistol cartridge. The 7.62x25mm-modified MATs featured longer barrels, which made them easy to distinguish from the original 9mm versions. The gun itself was made mostly of stamped sheet steel; the charging handle features a sliding dust cover, and the ejector port also has a hinged dust cover which opens after the gun has been cocked (much like the American M16, but that's an entirely-different weapon all together
). The magazine housing also acts as a foregrip for better control over the weapon, and when not in use, can fold 90 degrees, parallel to the barrel to make the gun more stowable. The gun also has a generic, steel wire retractable stock, and features a grip safety. While some versions of the MAT are select-fire with dual triggers, the standard military version was full-auto only and cycled at about 600 rounds per minute. I'm not sure if there was any difference in the cyclic rate between the 9mm versions and the North Vietnamese 7.62mm versions. As a French weapon, the MAT-49 was in active military service up until 1979, when the French military adopted the modern FAMAS bullpup assault rifle.
PPs-43: The PPs-43, a remarkable submachine gun with a backstory of epic proportions. During the middle of World War II, the Soviet Union, who used more submachine guns than any other country in the war, sought to develop a much simpler, more practical, reliable weapon than their widely-used PPsh-41. During the German siege on the city of Leningrad, the inhabitants of the city were suffering; supply lines were cut off, food had to be severely rationed, and so many civilians died. In the middle of this chaos, Soviet weapon designer Alexei Sudaev oversaw production of his new submachine gun design, at the weapons factory in Leningrad. Despite the struggles of the citizens of Leningrad, the PPs-43 was successfully produced in large quantities, and field-tested in combat, where it proved to be just as effective, if not more, than its predecessor, the PPsh-41. The Soviet people eventually triumphed over the jackboot of Nazi Germany, thanks to the efforts of the Red Army and the designers of the fantastic weapons that were used. If there is one weapon that symbolizes a struggling people's determination during a war, it is the PPs-43. Wow, what a fantastic story! I always tear up when I hear it!
Unfortunately, the PPs would be disgraced, and would go on to be used in other violent conflicts around the world. In post-WWII, the Soviet Union supplied large quantities of their outdated weapons to ally countries, and as expected, North Vietnam was no exception, so it saw frequent use by the NVA and Vietcong. In terms of design, the PPs is a very simple weapon, made of stamped parts with no machining, in order to comply with the Red Army's demand for a simpler weapon that could be mass-produced in larger quantities than the PPsh. Like many other communist-bloc smallarms, it uses the 7.62x25mm Tokarev pistol round. The PPs is full-auto only, and works on a simple blowback design, firing from an open-bolt. It cycles at 500-600 rounds per minute, and it features a top-folding stock. The gun was fed from a 35-round box magazine, the same type of magazine that would also outfit Vietnamese-made K50M submachine guns.
Alright, I spent well-over an hour typing up all that exciting and educational text. To all of you that wanna make corrections, hear me out when I say I'm doing the best that I can, and if you can't deal with that, then go suck it and make your own Vietnam War weapons project! >8D I really had alot of fun with this, and it's been so interesting studying more about the war itself in my spare time, and the situations that these weapons were used in. Next on my agenda is some of the common pistols that were used.[link]