Original Italian WWII Breda M37 Machine Gun Barrel
Original Item: BREDA M-37 (8mm GERMAN) spare barrel assembly.
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 Royal Italian Army during World War II. The M37 was meant as company/battalion support as compared to the more troublesome M1930 meant for squad/platoon support, and proved far more effective in combat.
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 Royal Italian Army's World War II 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 cases sticking in the chamber, with all the disadvantages this entailed. Another peculiarity of the design is that the spent cases were reinserted in 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 case 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.
In service, the M-37 Breda proved to be a fairly reliable heavy machine gun. 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.
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