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World at War: Soviet Infantry Weapons of WWII
Soviet Infantry Weapons of World War II
The Soviet Union in World War II
The Soviet Union entered World War II when Nazi Germany invaded during Operation Barbarossa the 22nd of June, 1941. This act of aggression shattered the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that had established non-aggression between the two ideologically opposite powers. However, there was always serious consideration between both nations that war was inevitable. Pre-War information reveals that both nations thought war was forth coming, and Stalin even hinted at this a month before the invasion, at the graduation ceremony of new Soviet Officers.
However, the Soviet Infantry was the key element of the Soviet theory of defense in depth and deep war theories. Soviet tactics provided for a tactical, operational, and strategic level of war (and was the first doctrine to add this 'operational' level as doctrine). Part of the Operational level was the use of partisans, and infantry to hold static lines in varying places to prevent the forming of a salient.
As a result, partisans, infantry, artillery/armor crews, and rear echelon troops were all expected to carry and use weapons. These weapons had to be competitive with German Arms for the strategy to even have a chance of winning. However, the Russians, at this point did receive serious material and armament support from the United Stated through the Lend Lease Program.
Soviet Tokarev Pistol
During the Great Patriotic War (the Soviet term for World War II), the Soviet Union utilized two pistols mainly on the battlefield. They utilized the new Tokarev TT Pistol, and the Nagant Revolver. This was a matter of necessity, as arms and armament were in short supply at several points during the war.
The Tokarev was the superior handgun, and utilized a 7.62 round. The Tokarev was designed in 1930 by Fedor Tokarev, and was created to fill the niche of a Semi-Automatic handgun for Officers. The ammunition it carried could be cross-loaded with many of the Sub-Machine Guns that the Soviet Union used.
The Nagant M1895 Revolver was a relic and hold-over from the Imperial era. It was a revolver, and carried six rounds, of 7.62 ammunition. However, this ammunition couldn't be cross-loaded with the Tokarev or the SMGs used by the Soviet Union. This handgun was also issued to police forces throughout the Soviet Union, and was a common weapon for use by Partisans.
Despite their differences, both were remarked for their power and their durability. The Tokarev continues to this day in service, though in a different form.
Soviet Main Rifle
While not as numerous along the front as the Mosin-Nagant, the SVT-40 was a self-loading battle rifle that was issued in 1940. It was designed by Fedor Tokarev and based off of the designs of the SVT-38. Many of the world's nations saw that a Semi-Automatic rifle was the key to volume of fire and reactivity that infantry needed in fast-paced mobile conflicts.
When Germany invaded in 1941, the Officers were stunned to find that the Soviets had developed, and mass-produced a battle-rifle that was superior to their standard issue. However, as the war dragged on, the Soviets lowered and eventually ceased production of the SVT on the grounds that it was more expensive, and harder to train soldiers to maintain it properly. Thus, by the end of the war, the Mosin-Nagant had returned to prominent service, having been about 75% of Soviet Infantry Arms in 1941, and around 80-85% by the end of the war.
The SVT-40 utilized the 7.62mm round that could be cross-loaded with the Mosin-Nagant.
The Mosin-Nagant production model of 1930 was the Main Rifle employed by Soviet Forces during World War II. It was apart of a legacy of rifles that went straight back to the late 1800s, and was known for its reliability.
The Mosin-Nagant was produced as a rifle version, with the afore-mentioned 7.62mm Rifle Cartridge, and was originally slated to make up 75% of an Infantry Division's compliment of rifles. This only increased as the war dragged on.
More importantly though, the Carbine was manufactured and delivered to gun crews, rear-echelon troops, and in all those places that it was required for a Deep War Doctrine of fighting.
DP Machine Gun
Soviet Infantry Machinegun
The Dgetayrov Machine Gun, known as the DP, was the main squad support weapon for the Soviet Army during World War II. It had an impressive rate of fire, and chambered ammunition that the Soviet Battle Rifles used.
While the Soviets did use the machine gun extensively, it was used in attrition and defense support roles, to prevent an enemy from advancing, while rockets and tanks maneuvered past him. While the Soviets did employ rudimentary squad tactics, they utilized artillery support in advance of an attack, with the machine gun providing a secondary role.