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"Italian 8-mm Breda Machine Gun, Model 38" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. intelligence report describes the Italian 8-mm Breda machine gun which was used in Italian tanks and as a tripod-mounted infantry machine gun. The article originally appeared in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 26, June 3, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


This weapon is a tank-pattern machine gun, and is fitted as standard in the following Italian tanks: the 6 1/2-ton Light (1940), the 11-ton Medium (1939), and the 13-ton Medium (1940).

The Italians have also adapted it for use as an infantry machine gun. For this purpose the gun is mounted on a machine-gun tripod (as shown in an accompanying sketch) by means of an adapter, and is fitted with a temporary rear sight on the right of the body and a temporary front sight on the right of the barrel at the muzzle. These temporary open sights take the place of the optical sight used when the gun is tank-mounted.

The gun is also sometimes fitted with a "cartwheel"-type AA sight and arranged either alone or with another "twin" gun on an AA mounting.

The gun is air-cooled, gas-operated, and magazine-fed, and has a quick-change barrel. Its operational features are simple, and it is extremely easy to field-strip or disassemble completely. The barrel is sufficiently heavy (9 7/8 pounds) to enable it to fire a large number of rounds in quick succession without overheating.

[Italian 8-mm Breda Machine Gun, Model 38]

The following are some of the characteristics of this weapon:

Weight of gun     33 7/8 lbs
Weight of barrel 9 7/8 lbs
Length of gun (over all)35 1/2 in
Length of barrel23 in
Feeding device24-round vertical box magazine
Maximum (cyclic) rate of fire**600 rpm
System of operationGas piston
Rifling - uniform, RH twistConcentric
No. of grooves4
Cooling systemAir

[6.5-mm and 8-mm Ammunition Comparison] 
With ball ammunition, the maximum accuracy range is 800 to 1,000 yards, and the muzzle velocity is estimated to be about 2,600 feet per second. In addition to ball, the following types of ammunition are known to exist:

Armor-piercing     Green tipped
Armor-piercing tracerRed tipped
IncendiaryBlue tipped
TracerRed or green tipped

It is believed that this ammunition can be used only in automatic weapons. Of the various standard Italian automatic weapons, in addition to this Breda 38, two other 8-mm medium machine guns, the model 35 Fiat (Revelli) and the model 37 Breda***, are known to use this 8-mm ammunition. The ammunition cannot be used in the standard Italian infantry rifle, carbine, and light machine guns, the caliber of which is 6.5 mm, nor can it be used in the Italian 7.35-mm Breda 38 light machine gun**** or the German 7.92-mm weapons. For a comparison of the external appearance of the 8-mm and 6.5-mm ammunition, see accompanying sketch.

* Extracted from a recent Aberdeen Proving Ground report.
** This information has not been checked by U.S. test.
*** See Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 23, p. 25 for a description of this gun.
**** This weapon has not been encountered in combat.


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