Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Bergmann MP18.1


Edmond
 Share

Recommended Posts

The Bergmann MP 18.1 was the first practical submachine gun ever fielded.

What became known as the "submachine gun" had its genesis 90 years ago during the Great War, developed around the concepts of infiltration, fire and movement, specifically for the desire to clear trenches of enemy soldiers.

Because engagements were unlikely to occur beyond a range of a few feet within this environment, the long range potential of a rifle was unnecessary, not to mention its size and slow, bolt-action loading method. The American solution to this problem came in the form of "trenchbrooms", otherwise known as pump-action shotguns.

The Italian Villar Perosa 1915 was a collective weapon, not an individual shouldered weapon.

A few pistols were modified to fire fully automatic by their manufacturers like the Parabellum “Artillery” model or the Mauser 1896.

Hugo Schmeisser, at the request of the German government, chose a different, much more radical route.

Following the 1917 recommendations of the German Rifle Testing Commission (Spandau) for an individual, light weight weapon capable of fully automatic fire, Hugo Schmeisser was asked to develop a weapon for the close quarters combat of trench warfare. The weapon was designed around the German military pistol cartridge, the 9mm Parabellum. This, along with the use of a shoulder stock, allowed the weapon to be controllable in fully automatic fire, giving the user the ability to engage multiple targets in cramped quarters in a very short amount of time. Yet the weapon was still effective to ranges exceeding 100 meters. Thus, the Maschinenpistole, Model 1918 (MP18/I) was born.

It was manufactured by Theodor Bergmann Waffenbau in Suhl

The Prussian War Ministry ordered 50,000 of the MP18/I and by November 1918, less than 10,000 had made it to the Western Front, 80 %were lost during battles. Nevertheless, the new weapon made such an impact that its manufacture was banned under the Versailles Treaty.

300 pieces were allowed to be kept by the Berlin Police and were used against revolutionary groups known as Spartakists.

The Germans began using the submachine gun, or maschinenpistole, near the end of WWI when they developed and adopted the full automatic 9mm MP18.I. They felt the submachine gun would have great value in the close quarter combat situations encountered when the trenches were overrun. While the defenders of the trenches would be attempting to protect themselves with their limited capacity bolt action rifles and bayonets the Germans would be spraying them with submachine gun fire at 500 rounds per minute! The German MP18.I was the first weapon to use the soon to be common open bolt system.

While several other submachine gun designs had been developed postwar, most were based on the MP18/I, or its improved version, the MP28/II.

World War One ended with the German surrender in November 1918. The Allies drew up an agreement called the Treaty of Versailles; the treaty was extremely harsh and restrictive. The Germans had little choice but to sign it. The treaty would cause much unrest among the German people and plant the seeds for WWII.

The Treaty of Versailles prohibited the Germans from developing or testing any type of military weapons. All existing WWI weapons were ordered destroyed by the Inter Allied Control Commission. Although the Germans were allowed a 100,000 man self defense force, the Reichswehr, they were restricted to the type of weapons they could issue. Submachine guns were prohibited.

Since snail drum magazines used on Parabellum artillery pistols (Lange Pistole) were to be destroyed with the pistols as well, a straight box magazine was designed and the remaining MP18 were fitted with a new stick magazine funnel.

The new magazine was copied for the MP 28 and the British Lanchester, a direct copy of the MP28, very few MP18 survived with the snail drum magazine and most were destroyed during WW2 when the Police Depot in Berlin was bombed in 1943.

It is interesting to note that in order to speed up production, the barrel used is a barrel originally produced for the P 08 Artillery Pistol retaining a bigger overall diameter than the original pistol barrel( not milled after primary machining) in order to not overheat during sustained fire.

Single fire selector does not exist but with its rate of fire 400 to 450 rounds per minute it is fairly easy to shoot single fire, two or three rounds bursts.

The weight helps in accurate aim of long bursts, the bolt design will be used almost unchanged in all models of german made MPs and the british Lanchester and Sten.

Shooting a Bergmann MP 18.1

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to the Forum, :D

Not wanting to cast doubts on your thread, but, what are your opinions with regards the Italian Villar Perosa?

post-18479-1211285368.jpg

It is often technically regarded as the first submachine gun. The Villar Perosa was somewhat odd, and had sort of a heavy double automatic pistol configuration, with two 25-round box magazines feeding each barrel and a rate of fire in excess of 1000 rounds per minute. It was originally intended as an auxiliary aircraft weapon but was removed from airplanes to be replaced by light machine guns using rifle rounds.

It saw wide use with ground forces mainly for defensive use when fitted with a protective armored plate. A large quantity was seized by Austrian troops during the battle of Caporetto. it also aided development of the next Italian submachine guns, the OVP 1918 and the Beretta 1918. It is always claimed that the Beretta beat the Bergman MP18 by a couple of months or a couple of weeks in the field but there is absolutely no trace of its use by the Arditi units who were supposed to have fielded unlike the Bergmann MP 18.1 that appears on many pictures and is cited in both German or Allied reports. The Beretta's rate of fire was estimated to be in the 1000 to 1300 rounds per minute range. The small quantity of Beretta 1918 available after WW1 was converted as semi auto carbine for the Forestry Service. Since the rate of fire of a SMG can be estimated↑ by its bolt mass and the ratio with the weight of the projectile being fired, the examination of semi auto carbine and 1918/30 samples confirms the rate of fire and explains the reputation of unreliability of these first Beretta submachine guns.

†unless using a system that delays rearward move or forward move: locking rollers, Blish lock, buffer or cyclic rate reducer.

The Beretta 1935 was inspired by the French STA studies led by Section Technique de l'Armée from 1918 to 1938. Many technical details are close to the STA 1922 that was adopted as MAS 1924 and used in post WW1 limited colonial conflicts.

Starting with the 1938 A, the Beretta SMG gained a well deserved reputation of accuracy and reliability. They used the Italian 9 mm model 38, a round much more powerful than the German made 9 mm Parabellum.

* Villar Perosa (1915)

* OVP Submachine Gun (1920s, developed from Villar Perosa)

* Beretta Model 1918 (1918).

Connaught Stranger :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I think the key word here is practical. Edmond's post calls the Bergman 'the first practical submachine gun ever fielded.' Looking at the pictures of the Bergman and comparing them to the Villar Perosa one can immediately see the difference - the latter looks like it should be mounted on something, needs both hands on the firing handles and is only practicable for static use. Unlike the Bergman it is clearly not designed to fire in any practical manner whilst on the move on foot. The Bergman has all the classic elements in place - and was the first to do so - which were to be developed in subsequent generations of personal sub-machine guns. Great video link of the Bergman being fired, Edmond!

ciao,

GAC

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Villar Perosa is a machine gun but not a submachine gun. It looks as though it requires a tripod to be fired.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Villar Perosa was not an aircraft weapon adopted by ground troops (as stated in one of the posts above) but a lightweight infantry gun frequently fitted to aircraft (often as an additional weapon) , unofficially by the crew. It was originally intended for mountain troops and the like and had a folding bi-pod. The gun was also fitted to light craft such as the Maas torpedo boats. It has the distinction of the first sub machine gun to be used in the classic mode - fired from the hip by an advancing soldier. To achieve this the Italians devised a sling (in function not unlike that made for the Lewis) so that the gunner could accompany advancing troops and give supporting fire on the move. It was somewhat cumbersome (one description likens the gunners to ice cream salesmen at the cinema). A second blow to the gun used in this manner was its debut at Carporetto where advancing was not the prime maneuver performed by the Italian army. It was removed from infantry service about the same time as the Bergmann was first being used.

I'd agree that the Bergmann was indeed the first practical sub machine gun to see service but it was not the first sub machine gun to see service.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Agree with GAC, great to see it being fired.

The condition of your MP 18 is UNBELIEVABLE. I presume it is an original? Do you know where it has been stored all these years?

I once handled a deac one of these and it seemed very heavy and clumsy to me. It would be interesting to know what their users thought of them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interestingly both I and my mother can remember her farther describe using the "Begermann machine pistole" as he called it, in 1918. I suspect that its subsequent use by the Finnish and the development of the Suomi submachine gun comes from the Jaegers use of the weapon.

I even had a demonstration of him holding the gun and throwing a stick grenade, fortunately he had a modern submachine gun in the house at the time, but also fortunately no stick grenade.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello!

I did not find a subforum to introduce myself, I did it here with some eye candy that sure will be interesting for other forum members.

I have posted more pictures, there http://forums.accuratereloading.com/eve/fo...043/m/589109167

Hi Edmond. With interesting posts like this, you have introduced yourself in a very acceptable manner. Welcome to the forum. I'm sure I am not alone in looking forward to seeing a lot more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Very interesting. The gun is superb.

My father's cell leader in the Schwartze Reichswehr after the war had one; once he dispersed a small leftist riot with a single burst over their heads.

I have seen a great photo of the Kaiser seemingly reviewing a school for training men in the MP 18; the students were ranged in two rows, about 30 are seen in the photo, but the students' rank extended off camera to one side. Each man had a shouldered weapon, the barrel was so short that you could not see the gun barrel, but the strap was visible. Both of each man's blouse pockets bulged, they must have had a snail magazine in each pocket. I believe that it was planned to have one in each Grupp of 8-10 men, just like in WW II each German squad leader had a MP 42 to provide automatic fire at the squad level. Incidentally, already in 1916 my father's storm unit seems to have completely abandoned the rifle and bayonet for the assault, possibly NCOs carried slung carbines in the attack. Each OR / EM had a P 08 Parabellum; each man was either a grenadier or had a crew served weapon.

Bob Lembke

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Edmond,

I refer to the Finns who served in the German Army as the 27th Jaeger Battalion 1915 -1918, and I believe where part of the German evaluation of defensive tactics, which I'm researching. That is when they would have originally been trained and used them, and the anecdotes from my Grandfather are from that period. So you are right on the non use outside Germany before 1920, but it explains the Finns subsequent rapid take up of the weapon having used it in 1918 and their understanding of German Defensive doctrine. I also know that all of his life my grandfather was involved in arms supply and procurement most of his life, ending up running an arms company. His knowledge of small arms weapons was unreal, he even was taught how to blue guns by a Webley descendant.

Great pics, thanks for showing them, if you want to see realistic modern footage of sub machine gun use get "Framom främsta linjen"/"In front of the front line", website with trailers Right hand ride for trailers. One of the best war films ever in any language, and when my copy is returned happy to lend out....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...
To achieve this the Italians devised a sling (in function not unlike that made for the Lewis) so that the gunner could accompany advancing troops and give supporting fire on the move.

Fitting a sling to a light machine gun and firing it from the hip doesn't make it a sub machine gun.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fitting a sling to a light machine gun and firing it from the hip doesn't make it a sub machine gun.

I agree there. A Bren or a Lewis could both be used on the move but they were not SMGs.

Centurion, have you ever held a Bren or a Lewis? I certainly would not want to use one on the move (especially the Lewis). It would be interesting to know the weight of the Villar Perosa by comparison.

John

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fitting a sling to a light machine gun and firing it from the hip doesn't make it a sub machine gun.

No but its ammunition does. All authorative texts list the VP as a sub machine gun

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree there. A Bren or a Lewis could both be used on the move but they were not SMGs.

Centurion, have you ever held a Bren or a Lewis? I certainly would not want to use one on the move (especially the Lewis). It would be interesting to know the weight of the Villar Perosa by comparison.

John

Yes both - I'm afraid you've got it badly wrong

The VP was a much lighter weapon firing a pistol round (as SMGs did) not a rifle type round (as LMGs did) The Lewis Mk 1 weighed in at about 25 Kg whilst the twin VP was about 6.5 kg with the single barrel job even lighter. Classed by the Italians at one time as a machine pistol (no one had yet invented the term SMG) Designed in 1914 originally as a single barrel weapon for Alpine and assault troops. The double barrel was adopted when the Italian Army decided to use it as a point defence weapon in the trenches. Large numbers captured at Carporetto. Many converted in the field back into single barrel for assault duties by 1918 they were being officially reconverted by Berreta.

There are plenty of accounts of the Lewis fired from the hip on the move by British, Canadian and American gunners (who presumably 'borrowed' theirs rather than use the Chauchat)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes both - I'm afraid you've got it badly wrong

The VP was a much lighter weapon firing a pistol round (as SMGs did) not a rifle type round (as LMGs did) The Lewis Mk 1 weighed in at about 25 Kg whilst the twin VP was about 6.5 kg with the single barrel job even lighter. Classed by the Italians at one time as a machine pistol (no one had yet invented the term SMG) Designed in 1914 originally as a single barrel weapon for Alpine and assault troops. The double barrel was adopted when the Italian Army decided to use it as a point defence weapon in the trenches. Large numbers captured at Carporetto. Many converted in the field back into single barrel for assault duties by 1918 they were being officially reconverted by Berreta.

There are plenty of accounts of the Lewis fired from the hip on the move by British, Canadian and American gunners (who presumably 'borrowed' theirs rather than use the Chauchat)

If your detail is correct Centurion then I'll cede that one to you. However the VP does not seem to have been properly adapted as an SMG until after WW1. On the basis of weight and round fired it was a SMG. On the basis of its design, during WW1 it was a very light LMG. On that basis I'd go with the Bergmann as being the first real SMG to see action.

John

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If your detail is correct Centurion then I'll cede that one to you. However the VP does not seem to have been properly adapted as an SMG until after WW1. On the basis of weight and round fired it was a SMG. On the basis of its design, during WW1 it was a very light LMG. On that basis I'd go with the Bergmann as being the first real SMG to see action.

John

The VP was designed as a single barrel weapon a classic sub machine gun although as I've said the Italians classed it as a machine pistol - It was first built in this form and troops issued with it in 1915, the twin barreled version was effectively two single barreled ones with the stocks removed and cliped together. As I said single barreled stocked guns were produced by Berreta and in used in 1918 (during the war and not after) but in the field reconversions of twin to single barrel had been taking place before then. The VP was certainly used in SMG mode well before the Bergman. Somewhere there is an account of them being used in an attack on KuK flamethrower positions. The Bergman may well be the first SMG used in large numbers but not the first SMG

Link to comment
Share on other sites

... already in 1916 my father's storm unit seems to have completely abandoned the rifle and bayonet for the assault, possibly NCOs carried slung carbines in the attack. Each OR / EM had a P 08 Parabellum; each man was either a grenadier or had a crew served weapon.
Bob, as you know, your father and his colleagues were well trained in using enemy weapons. If necessary, they could make use of enemy rifles and machine guns, especially given the high likelihood of success in taking enemy positions. During raids, it was rarely necessary but the option was there.

Robert

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did not find any trace of original MP 18 used outside of Germany.

Just dropping in, stunning guns indeed! I think the MP18 was produced as identical version in China for some time. I guess it also lent its design to the Austrian MP34 and the Japanese model 100.

Does anyone know how the MP18 was deployed? Was this more a support weapon limited to dedicated teams or were complete platoons equipped with it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...