Monday, 21 March 2016

Soviet Satellite Country Ammunition - Czechoslovakia (Part 1)

Examination of Czechoslovakian Ammunition Production/Inventory


At the conclusion of World War I the newly created Czechoslovak state found itself with a large munitions industry which had been built up prior to and during the war by Austria-Hungary.  As a result, Czechoslovakia became an exporter of all types of arms and ammunition.

During World War II, Czechoslovakia manufactured large amounts of ammunition for the Germans.  At the beginning of the war, eleven German division were completely equipped with Czech ordnance equipment and ammunition.  This meant even further distribution of Czech material than before.  Today, the country is still an exporter of arms and ammunition, and is the most powerful of the Satellites from the standpoint of armaments production.

Despite the ability of the country to perform original design work, it is thought that Czechoslovakia ultimately will standardize primarily on Soviet designs.  Soviet ammunition types manufactured in Czechoslovakia will probably make up a large part of future Czech ammunition stocks, and will probably also be found in many of the other Satellite countries.  In the meanwhile, existing stocks of foreign ammunition held by the Czech Army will be used for peacetime training and as an interim reserve supply.
The Czechs have developed two infantry anti-tank weapons since World War II.  Unfortunately, information on them and their ammunition is rather meager and contradictory.  One, the "Pancerovka," is a recoilless launcher of the "Panzerfaust" type which fires fin-stabilized HEAT projectiles.  The launcher is reported to have a caliber in the area of 45mm.  The second new weapon is called the Tarasnice.  This is a crew-served, smooth-bore recoilless weapon which utilizes a fin-stabilized HEAT round, and possibly also an HE projectile.  Its caliber is believed to be approximately 100mm.

Glossary of Czechoslovak Terms

Czech ------- Translation or equivalent 
Cervene ------- Red
Cvieny ------- Blank (literally, "training")
Dilei naplne ------- Increment Charge
Mina ------- Mortar shell
Munice ------- Ammunition
Naboj ------- Cartridge, round
Nabojnice ------- Cartridge case
OCG ------- Live shell with combination fuze (abbreviation)
OMG ------- Live shell with base detonating fuze (abbreviation)
ONG ------- Live shell with impact fuze (abbreviation)
Ostry ------- Live (round of ammunition)
Pechotni strelivo ------- Infantry small arms ammunition
Pistolovy ------- Pistol
Prachove napln ------- Propellent charge
Prubojny ------- Armor-piercing
Prubojny s tvrzenym jadrem ------- Armor-piercing with special core
Prubojny zapalny ------- Armor-piercing incendiary
Redukovany ------- Reduced (reduced charge)
Signalni naboje ------- Signal cartridge
Skolni ------- Dummy (literally, "school")
Strela ------- Bullet
Svitici ------- Tracer
Tercovy ------- Target
Tezky ------- Heavy
Trhavinu ------- Filler (for projectile)
Vyroba ------- Manufacture
Vz ------- Model (abbreviation)
Zakladni napln ------- Ignition cartridge
Zapalka ------- Primer
Zapalovac ------- Fuze
Zastrelovaci ------- Observation (incendiary ranging)


A. Small Arms Ammunition

 With the conclusion of World War I, the Czechs inherited a great deal of Austro-Hungarian small arms equipment, plus the facilities for its manufacture.  Within a few years after that, however, they chose the German 7.92mm as their standard rifle and machinegun cartridge, rather than the Austrian 8mm M1890 Mannlicher cartridge.  They developed a family of 7.92mm weapons which show German, French, and some U.S. influence, and exported the weapons and ammunition for them in large quantities to countries all over the world.  Therefore, Czech-made small arms ammunition is liable to be encountered in any part of the world, including the Western Hemisphere.

Czechoslovakia supplied the Germans with large amounts of materiel during World War II, and this helped to distribute Czech ammunition even more widely than before.  At the conclusion of the war, large stocks of both German and Czech-made German service ammunition were taken over by the Czech government.  This ammunition is still extensively used by the Czechs and will probably continue to be found for some time to come, as long as it is used only in normal peacetime training.  German cartridges are described in Czech ammunition handbooks, as are Soviet, as standard Czech items of issue.

The Czechs are capable of manufacturing ammunition with lacquered steel cartridge cases, and did so for the Germans.  However, so far as is known, no Czech-designed and -made cartridges in service today have steel cases.  Czech-made 12.7mm API cartridges of Soviet design have appeared with lacquered steel cases.

A 1949 commercial catalog of Zbrojovka Brno lists as available for purchase 7mm, 7.65mm, and 7.92mm rimless cartridges with a wide variety of bullets, plus the old 8mm Mannlicher (M1890) rimmed cartridge.  Twenty different types of pistol and revolver cartridges are also listed.  This nationalized firm will produce for export any caliber or type of small arms cartridge, if the order is large enough to be worthwhile.  It is known that Czechoslovakia supplied Israel and Ethiopia with small arms ammunition during the early post-World War II period i.e., 1946-1949.  In all probability Czechoslovakia has also supplied most of the Satellites and many other nations with varying amounts of small arms ammunition.  Czech commercial ammunition has long had fairly wide circulation in US trade channels.

Three significant points of interest are noted in Czech small arms ammunition design and manufacture since World War II.  The first is the recent appearance of the new 7.62mm short cartridge, which may possibly be an outgrowth of a 7.5mm short cartridge that was in development immediately after World War II.  The second point is the high muzzle velocities obtained with Czech-made 7.62mm pistol and submachinegun cartridges; up to 1,840 feet per second, when fired from the Czech 7.62mm submachinegun.  Such velocities are in the United States carbine class.  The third point of interest is the extensive use of the 7.92mm bullet with mild steel core.  This bullet seems to be modeled on the German 7.92mm SmE.  The round may be replacing both the 7.92mm light ball M23 and the 7.92mm heavy ball M34 as the standard ball cartridge for Czech 7.92mm weapons.

Current Czech manufacturers' cartridge identification markings are apparently patterned in part on the German World War II system, since 3-letter codes, like "b x n", are commonly used.

The same may be true of color markings.  Therefore, German service cartridges carried as items of issue in the Czech Army are listed below with their identifying color markings.

Caliber ------- Type designation ------- Identification Marking
6.35mm ------- Automatic pistol, ball ------- None
7.92mm ------- SS: heavy ball ------- Green primer annulus
7.92mm ------- SmE: ball with mild steel core ------- Blue primer annulus
7.92mm ------- SmK: armor-piercing ------- Red primer annulus
7.92mm ------- SmK. L'spr: armor-piercing tracer ------- Red primer annulus, black tip
7.92mm ------- Ls: practical ball ------- Green band across base
7.92mm ------- B: incendiary ranging (observation) ------- Black primer annulus and chrome bullet tip or black bullet with uncolored tip  
7.92mm ------- SmK(H): armor-piercing with tungsten carbide core ------- Red primer annulus, black bullet
7.92mm P.M.K.: armor-piercing incendiary ------- Black primer annulus or red band across base
7.92mm ------- Ex. Patr. S: dummy ------- Fluted cartridge case
7.92mm ------- Pl. Patr. 33: blank ------- Wooden bullet
7.92mm ------- MP43 mE: ball with mild steel core ------- Blue primer annulus
9mm ------- PP08: ball ------- None
9mm ------- PP08 mE: ball with mild steel core ------- Black bullet
9mm ------- PP08 SE: ball with sintered iron bullet ------- Black band at case mouth
9mm ------- Mauser: ball ------- None
No information is available on pre-World War II Czech small arms ammunition packaging.  The meager information on post-war packaging indicates it to be adequate, although metal liners or cans apparently are not used inside the outer wooden packing boxes, in contrast to United States and Soviet practice.
Cartridges are packed in cardboard cartons within the wooden box, and may be found in clips or chargers.  Boxes are apparently unpainted, except for identifying markings.  The few boxes examined to date have followed, both in construction and in markings, the pattern illustrated below.  It is possible, of course, that variations exist.

Czechoslovakia has shipped much ammunition overseas to foreign countries, probably often packed to the purchaser's specifications.  The Czechs are therefore probably well acquainted with all types of ammunition packaging, and they are capable of producing any type.

Next Time: Czechoslovakian small arms munitions

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