Breda M37

Breda M37

Infobox Weapon|is_ranged=yes

name=Fucile Mitragliatore Breda Modello 1937
type=Heavy machine gun
origin=flagicon|Italy|1861 Kingdom of Italy
era=World War II
manufacturer=Breda Meccanica Bresciana
production_date=1937 to 1943
service=1937 to 1960s
wars=World War II, current regional conflicts
spec_type=machine gun
cartridge=8x59mm RB Breda
feed=20 round strip
rate = 460 round/min maximum, 250 rounds/min sustained
velocity=900 m/s (2,952 ft/s)
range= 1000 m
max range= 5200 m
weight=17.5 kg
length=1270 mm
variants= Modello 38 vehicle mounted
number=not known

The Breda Modello 37 was an Italian heavy machine gun ("Mitragliatrice Breda MOD.37") adopted in 1937. It was the standard machine gun for the Italian Army during World War II. The M37 was meant as a replacement for the more troublesome M1930, and proved far more effective in combat, though possessing some of the same problematic features of its predecessor.

Design and Operation

The Breda M37 was a gas-operated, air-cooled heavy machine gun. The Breda used a larger cartridge than its rivals, the 8 mm x59RB Breda. Unlike other infantry machine guns, the Breda lacked a camming mechanism for initial extraction of the cartridge case after firing, and this meant that each cartridge had to be oiled via an oiling mechanism before being fed into the chamber. This attracted dust and debris, particularly in desert environments such as found in the Italian Army's WWII campaigns in Libya and the Western Desert.

Another drawback was that the gun was fed by 20-round strips of cartridges. This limited continuous fire, as the gun could only be fired rapidly when a second crew member fed in one ammunition strip after another. The rounds still had to be oiled to stop the casings sticking in the chamber, with all the disadvantages this entailed. Another peculiarity of the design is that the spent casings were reinserted into the strip as each round was fired. The mechanical energy required to perform this function substantially reduced the rate of fire, and the weapon tended to jam whenever a casing was reinserted even slightly out of line. It also meant that in the event the metal clips had to be reused, the gunner's assistant had to first remove the empty cases from the strips.

ervice Use

In service, the M37 and M38 Bredas proved to be fairly reliable heavy machine guns. Perhaps because the heavy support weapons received more attention from their crews, field reports were generally positive except for jams caused by desert sand and dust, which in the Western Desert affected all infantry machine guns to some extent. The M37 Breda's slow rate of fire helped prevent overheating during continuous fire, and its powerful, heavy-bullet cartridge had excellent range and penetration. The weapon remained in first-line service with Italian forces throughout the war, and captured examples were used in combat by British and Commonwealth forces, including units of the SAS.

The M37 was also adopted by the Portuguese armed forces, who placed it into service as the m/938 heavy machine gun. The Breda saw extensive service in Portugal's African colonies during the early stages of the Portuguese Colonial Wars. [Abbott, Peter, and Rodrigues, Manuel, "Modern African Wars 2: Angola and Mozambique, 1961-1974", Osprey Publishing (1998), p. 18] The Breda Modello 38 was intended for vehicle use, and was fed from a top-mounted box magazine. The Modello 38 used a pistol style grip, rather than the twin firing handles of the Modello 37. This was the main vehicle-mounted machine gun used in fighting vehicles by the Italian army.

Production ended in 1943. It was still used as a standard machine gun after the war, until it was replaced by more modern machine guns.

Today, it may be encountered in some battle zones. It is still produced, as a paintball machine gun.


External links

* [ Commando Supremo: Italy at War]

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