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"Weapons Most Frequently Used" from Intelligence Bulletin

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   A text report on major Italian infantry weapons used in North Africa during WWII, from the Intelligence Bulletin, November 1942.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on Italian weapons and equipment published for Allied soldiers. In most cases, more accurate data on weapons is available in postwar publications.]




a. Pistols

Standard weapons in the Italian infantry include a revolver and two self-loading pistols. Certain noncommissioned officers, such as members of machine-gun detachments, are armed with the revolver, while officers and warrant officers carry one of the two self-loading pistols.

(1) Revolver.—Bodeo, model 89: caliber, 10.35 mm (.41 in); cylinder capacity, 6 rounds.

(2) Automatic pistol.—Glisenti, model 1910: caliber, 9 mm (.35 in); feed, 7-round magazine in butt.

(3) Automatic pistol.—Beretta, model 34: caliber, 9 mm; feed, removable 7-round magazine in butt.

b. Rifles and Carbines

Shortly before the present war, the Italians decided to increase the caliber of their rifles and light machine guns from 6.5 mm (.256 in) to 7.35 mm (.289 in), and a new rifle and carbine of this caliber actually were introduced. See (2) and (5) below. However, the change-over does not seem to have progressed very far, and may even have been postponed, since rifles of the 1938 pattern fitted with a 6.5-mm barrel have been found.

(1) Rifle.—Mannlicker-Carcano, model 91, with bayonet: caliber, 6.5 mm; feed, vertical box magazine holding one 6-round clip.

(2) Rifle.—model 38: caliber, 7.35 mm. This is similar to the model 91 rifle. The main differences are that the model 38 has a larger caliber, is shorter, weighs less, and has a light folding bayonet which normally is attached to the barrel, but which can be removed and used as a dagger.

(3) Automatic rifle.—Revelli: caliber, 6.5 mm; maximum rate of fire, 120 rpm (rounds per minute); effective rate of fire, 40 rpm.

(4) Carbine.—Moschetto, model 91: caliber, 6.5 mm. This is similar to the model 91 rifle, but has a shorter barrel, a bent-down bolt lever, and a folding bayonet.

(5) Carbine.—Moschetto, model 38: caliber, 7.35. This compares with the model 91 carbine much as the model 38 rifle compares with the model 91 rifle.

c. Light Machine Guns

Three different models of the same light machine gun are in service.

(1) Light machine gun.—Breda, model 30 and Breda, model C. These are basically the same weapon. Caliber, 6.5 mm; feed, permanent box magazine (charger-loaded), holding 20 rounds; weight (with magazine and bipod), 25 1/2 lbs; maximum rate of fire, 450-500 rpm; practical rate of fire, 150 rpm.

(2) Light machine gun.—Breda, model 38. This differs from the others only in its caliber, which is 7.35 mm.

d. Medium Machine Guns

(1) Medium machine gun.—Fiat, model 35: caliber, 8 mm; feed, nondisintegrating metal belt which normally holds 50 rounds but which can be assembled in various lengths; maximum rate of fire, 600 rpm.

(2) Medium machine gun.—Breda, model 37: caliber, 8 mm; feed, 20-round plate charger; maximum rate of fire, 450 rpm. This gun fires the same ammunition as the Fiat model 35.

(3) Medium machine gun.—Breda, model 38: caliber, 8 mm; feed, 24-round vertical box magazine; maximum rate of fire, 600 rpm. The Italians use this gun both as an infantry machine gun and as a tank weapon. It is standard in the following tanks: the 6 1/2 ton Light (1940), the 11-ton Medium (1939), and the 13-ton Medium (1940).

e. Machine Carbine

The principal Italian machine carbine, which operates like the American Thompson submachine gun and fires pistol ammunition, is the Beretta, model 38: caliber, 9 mm; feed, box magazine fitted underneath the body. There are 3 different sizes of magazine, holding 10, 20, and 40 rounds, respectively. Maximum rate of fire, 570 rpm.

f. Antitank Rifle

A widely used Italian antitank rifle is the Swiss Solothurn: caliber, 20 mm (0.79 in); feed, magazine capacity of 10 rounds, but normally loaded with 8 rounds only. The entire magazine is ejected automatically when the last round has been fired.

g. Mortars

(1) Light mortar.—Brixia, model 35: caliber, 45 mm (1.77 in); weight (with mounting), 34 lbs; magazine capacity, 10 cartridges; maximum range (with ports closed), 586 yds; maximum range (with ports open), 352 yds; rate of fire (without re-aiming between rounds), 2530 rpm. (2) Mortar.—Model 35: caliber, 81 mm (3 in); total weight, 129 lbs; weight of light bomb, 7 1/4 lbs; weight of heavy bomb, 15 lbs; number of charges (light bomb), 7; number of charges (heavy bomb), 5; maximum range (light bomb), 4,429 yds; maximum range (heavy bomb), 1,640 yds.

h. Hand Grenades

(1) Hand grenade.—S.R.C.M., model 35: weight, 7 oz; weight of explosive, 1.5 oz.

(2) Hand grenade.—Breda, model 35: weight, 7 oz; weight of explosive, 2.1 oz.

(3) Hand grenade.—O.T.O., model 35: weight, 7.4 oz; weight of explosive, 2.5 oz.


a. Antiaircraft Gun

The 20-mm Scotti is the Italian Army's standard light antiaircraft gun. Muzzle velocity, 2,720 fs (feet per second); maximum horizontal range, 5,900 yds; maximum effective ceiling, 7,000 ft; theoretical rate of fire, 250 rpm; practical rate of fire, 120 rpm.

b. Antiaircraft-Antitank Gun

The 20-mm Breda gun is used as a dual-purpose antiaircraft and antitank weapon. Muzzle velocity, 2,750 fs; maximum range, 6,000 yds; maximum effective ceiling, 8,200 ft; practical rate of fire, 120 rpm.

c. Antitank Gun

The Italian Army has a 47-mm antitank gun which it also uses as an infantry-support gun. Muzzle velocity, 2,050 fs; maximum range, 7,000 yds; rate of fire, 12-14 rpm.

d. Field Gun

The 75-mm field gun—manufactured in models 06, 11, and 12—is the standard light field piece. The British, who have captured and used many of these weapons, report that they stand up very well under constant use.

        Model 06          Models 11 and 12
Muzzle velocity  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 
    1,730 fs.       1,675 fs.
Maximum range  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 
    11,200 yds.       9,075 yds.
Rate of fire (theoretical)  _ _ _ _ 
    8 rpm.       8 rpm.
Rate of fire (practical)  _ _ _ _ _ 
    4 rpm.       4 rpm.

e. Gun-howitzer

In Libya the Italians have been making considerable use of a new 75-mm self-propelled gun-howitzer, which has a muzzle velocity of 1,430 fs and a maximum range of 10,300 yds.

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