ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

World at War: French Infantry Weapons of World War II

Updated on March 12, 2012

French Infantry Weapons

French Infantry Weapons of World War II

One of the things that should be understood, is the fact that the French were very wary of war by the 1930s. The vast majority of the fighting, civil damage, and death had occurred on French soil in World War I, and the French people were tired of it. Spurred by a burgeoning populist movement, the military wasn't abandoned, but it wasn't given the attention that it deserved, in light of a rapidly mobilizing German Nationalist threat.

As a result, the French lacked a semi-automatic battle rifle before the war. Their updated infantry rifle of 1936 was produced in so low numbers, that many French units were outfitted with older rifles from World War I, which is why two battle rifles are mentioned below.

The Lebel

Reserve Battle Rifle

The Lebel 1886 is an 8mm Bolt-Action rifle that was produced by the Chatellerault arms plant for the French Military. It was designed in 1886, and had production runs up until the 1920s. Although the rifle was replaced by the MAS-36 in many front line units, it was still active equipment for reserve units and units not expected to see combat. As the war dragged on, it became more and more common for units with these rifles to become involved in the fighting.

The weapon weighed just under 10 pounds, and had an effective range of 400m. It was 4.3 feet long, making it hard to use in close-quarters battles. No carbine version was ever made.

MAS 36

Main Battle Rifle

The MAS36 was the standard battle rifle for the French Army as of 1936. It used 7.5mm ammunition, and was bolt-action. The rifle was intended to be general issue for the majority of the French Army, even though working models of a semi-automatic battle rifle were in existence. The French decided to go with the MAS due to budgetary concerns, but even then, could not produce enough of the rifle to adequately supply its front-line units.

The rifle weighed just over 8 pounds, and was 3.3 feet long. This meant that it had some advantage over the Lebel in close quarters fighting. It had a maximum effective range of 350 to 400 meters, so we can assume 375 meters on average.

MAS38

French SMG

Typically, SMGs in World War II were used by a few select groups. They were used, along with carbines, to outfit airborne and marine units. Those brigades specifically outfitted for urban combat made extensive use of them. Squad NCOs typically had them, to help with maneuver actions by providing additional suppression fire.

The MAS-38 was no different. Manufactured for the French Army by the arms plant at Saint Etienne, the rifle was 7 lbs, and about two feet long. This made it excellent for close quarters shifting and maneuvering. It was gas operated and fully automatic, firing a 7.5mm round to an effective range of 100m.

After the fall of France, the Germans captured the factory at Saint Etienne, and continued manufacture of the weapon as an alternate SMG issued to some units and to Vichy France.

Model 1935

French Pistols

Often issued to officers for personal defense, or to military police units, the Pistol was a secondary weapon. Use in combat was limited to special circumstances and possibly a few instances in Urban Warfare. The 1935 model of French pistol was produced in several different arms plants, and was made to fire 7.65mm ammunition.

FM 24 Light Machine Gun

Squad Automatic Weapon

Squad level automatic weapons are designed for two primary purposes, maneuver and attrition. The former is the primary design of the weapon, whereby the enemy puts his head down (taking cover) while the weapon is firing. This allows other mobile elements of the squad to maneuver freely, and enter into an expert position to close and liquidate enemy resistance. The former task, attrition, is the result of the enemy not putting his head down while the weapon is firing.

The FM24/29 LMG fires a 7.5 mm round, to an effective range of 1800m. In addition, it fired 450 rounds per minute at its target area. However, it weighed 10 pounds, excluding ammunition, and would likely have to be fired from the prone position to protect and stabilize the operator.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Visoth 

      12 months ago

      Thanks

    • JPB0756 profile image

      Robert A. Joseph 

      5 years ago

      Voted thumbs up and interesting, Chris! Good coverage of a meager pool. The French spent lots of francs of preventing another war with Germany; remember The Maginot Line? I have seen it, and wow, silly but expensive in oh so many ways.

    • MPChris profile imageAUTHOR

      MPChris 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thanks so much! I wanna know who voted it funny, lol. "What the French actually had weapons?" Great stuff! Thanks for reading guys!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      7 years ago from Dubai

      Great hub with a lot of information, great read. Voted up.

    • MPChris profile imageAUTHOR

      MPChris 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thanks so much! I would love to do a hub comparing all the main battle rifles of the war. I would have to develop some sort of numeric system, but I think it'd be an interesting read!

    • B R Casteel profile image

      B R Casteel 

      7 years ago from Camano Island

      Very good article. Nicely written on a subject not many know about. Voted up for sure!

    • MPChris profile imageAUTHOR

      MPChris 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thanks much! I appreciate it!

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 

      7 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      Informative and well-written on a subject I was unfamiliar with, mpchris. Voted up and interesting.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)