Beretta Modello A

The Northern Italian firm of Beretta had a deservedly high reputation for its sub-machine guns, most of which have been designed by their most talented engineer. Tullio Marengoni. who worked for them for many years. Among the weapons he produced was the Modello 38A which probably hasgood claims to be regarded as his most successful sub-machine gun. It had its origins in a self-loading carbine which was first produced in small numbers for police use in 1935. but which by 1938 had been improved to the point where it could be manufactured as a true submachine gun. It came of course far too early for the mass-production techniques developed a few years later and was made to the high pre-war standards customary among gun makers. It was therefore well machined and finished which made it expensive to produce, but which resulted in a most reliable and accurate arm. It functioned by normal blowback and had a separate firing pin. again a somewhat unusual refinement. Its forward trigger was for single shots, the other for bursts. The first model can be distinguised by the elongated slots in its jacket, by its compensator, which consisted of a single large hole in the top of the muzzle with a bar across it, and by the fact that it was fitted with a folding, knife-type bayonet. Not many of these were produced before the elongated cooling slots were replaced by round holes, which thereafter remained standard. The third version, which is the one illustrated, was mainly distinguished by the absence of a bayonet and by its new compensator consisting of four separate cuts across the muzzle. This version remained as the production model for the remainder of the war. although there are some minor concessions to the principles of mass-production, notably in the use of a pressed and welded jacket This version was used extensively by both the Italian and the German armies, and captured specimens were popular with Allied soldiers. The Beretta Modello 38A was also used by a number of countries, notably Romania and Argentina.

Italian soldiers during World War II. with slung Beretta Modello 38A sub-machine guns. The man on the left has in place on his weapon what appears to be the 20-round box magazine.



After a year or so of war the Italians, like all other combatants, soon realized that they would have to accept modern mass-production methods if their supplies of war matériel were to keep pace with demand. As far as submachine guns were concerned, this realization resulted in the Beretta Modello 38/42, which like most of its predecessors was invented by Marengoni, and which came into full production in 1942. It was for all practical purposes a utility version of the earlier Modello 38. although it also incorporated a number of features from another submachine gun, the Modello 1. which had been designed, needless to say by Marengoni. in 1941 as a weapon for airborne forces on the lines of the German MP 40. but which had never gone into production due to its complicated construction. The whole weapon had also of course been considerably simplified to conform to modern mass-production methods, but in spite of this it was an efficient and popular gun. As far as external appearances were concerned there were a number of differences. The rifle-type stock, athough similar, was cut short at the magazine housing, and the adjustable rearsight disappeared, as did the perforated jacket which had been such a notable feature of many Beretta guns. The barrel had deep parallel fluting along its whole length, this being intended to assist the dissipation of heat in the absence of the jacket, while the compensator was reduced to two cuts only instead of the previous four. The bolt was somewhat simplified with a fixed firing pin integral with it instead of the separate mechanism previously used. The main return spring worked on a rod, the end of which extended appreciably beyond the rear of the receiver, and as before the gun had two triggers, the forward one for single rounds, the rear one for bursts. The cocking handle, which does not move with the bolt, had a dust cover attached to it to keep the internal mechanism as clear as possible. The general appearance of the gun was utilitarian as compared with its predecessors, stampings and welding having been used wherever possible, although the finish was surprisingly good and the whole weapon strong and serviceable. Later productions had plain barrels instead of the distinctive fluted ones and were sometimes referred to as the Modello 38/44. There was a later variation still, in which the weight and dimensions of the bolt were reduced: this led in turn to a somewhat shorter return spring and rod. which did not protrude beyond the rear of the receiver as in the earlier models. The date that this model went into production is not very clear, but most of them seem to have come off the assembly lines after the end of the war so that its designation 38/44 is somewhat in doubt. The Beretta 38/42 was widely used by the Italians and Germans and after the war a number of the 38/44 Model were sold to various countries including Syria and Pakistan.

People's Republic of China

People's Republic of China. TYPE 80

Beretta Receiver

People's Republic of China. TYPE 80

The Chinese received many Soviet PPSh 41 SMGs in 1949 and had begun manufacture of this copy- nicknamed the burp gun", from its rate of fire, in the Korean War-by 1950


People's Republic of China TYPE 84

Chinese copies of the Soviet PPS 43 are distinguishable from the original arms only by the designs (in this case, a diamond) incised in the plastic pistol grips

Exploded View Pps43
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  • ludovica
    What is modello on a sub?
    8 years ago

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