PPSh-41 ( Pistolet Pulemyot Shpagina obr 1941g)

The Soviets developed the concept of submachine guns far quicker than the other European nations with an early design produced by 1934 and seeing action, like many future weapons of World War Two, in the Spanish Civil war. Although this weapon was based on a German design and was not particularly good, it did have what was going to be a distinctive feature of Soviet submachine gun design - a drum ammunition feed. By 1940 a more reliable design featuring this was been brought into service with the 1940 pattern weapon having a chromed barrel lining, another feature which was common only in Soviet designs. This was for a good reason, the Soviet designers knew their weapons were to be used in harsh conditions of wet and cold and often by troops with very basic training so had to be able to withstand abuse and neglect, a design philosophy which survives in many Russian infantry weapons today and is exemplified by the AK-47 assault rifle. This PPD 40 was not produced in large numbers but in the aftermath of the Winter War the Soviets embraced the idea of large numbers of infantry carrying submachine guns, in fact in 1942 and 1943 whole units ended up being armed with such weapons as well as it being a standard weapon for those fighting behind the German lines.

To produce this mass produced weapon a new design was called for. This was done by Georg Shpagin who kept the drum design and the 7.62mm round of the previous design.  Everything about the PPSh-41 was designed around mass production but it became a more sophisticated weapon that the British Sten gun. The PPSh used steel pressings and wielding for the first time and was only able to fire on automatic, the stock was wooden as wood was a resource the Soviets weren’t sort of and when desperate a 7.62mm rifle barrel could be cut down to make two submachine gun barrels. The ammunition drum was the most complex part of the design but remained the same throughout the war. A staggering five million guns were made between 1941 and 1945 many of which survived the war as there was very little that could go wrong apart from the ammo drum and there were plenty of spares.

The sub machine gun fitted the Soviet tactics of constantly attacking as it was useless for sniping and was a close range assault weapon. Its 71 round magazine made it ideal for street fighting and prolonged fire fights. The Germans tried converting captured weapons to 9mm with little success. The weapon became the icon of the Soviet Communist soldier and was seen in many propaganda posters.

Length 33in
Cyclic rate 900 rpm
Weight 8lbs unloaded.
Ammunition 71x 7.62mm drum or 35x7.62mm in detachable box.

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How to cite this article: Dugdale-Pointon, T. (12 September 2008), PPSh-41 ( Pistolet Pulemyot Shpagina obr 1941g) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_PPSh-41_submachine_gun.html

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