Printer Friendly

Austro-Hungarian rifles of World War I: part II: Fur Heimat und Reich: although Steyr turned out millions of rifles, they were still in very short supply, meaning many substitute standard arms were issued and used.

In Part I (7/20 issue) we examined the Three tiered-armed forces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (a.k.a. Dual Monarchy) at the outbreak of the First World War. The K. und K. Armee was made up of draftees from all across the empire and under the control of the Imperial Minister of War; the Austrian K.K. Landwehr, consisting of all citizens, regardless of ethnicity, who resided in the Austrian part of the empire; and the Honvedseg (known in German as the K. Landwehr), composed of Magyars and those minorities residing in the Hungarian part of the Dual Monarchy.

We also discussed how the multi-ethnic makeup of the Empire's population had led to ever increasing tensions between the ruling Austrians and Magyars and the dozens of minorities that made up the majority of the population. In the armed forces, units were normally composed of members of one minority while almost all high-ranking officers were Austrians or Magyars. This led to increasing tensions which, we will see later, led to large-scale mutinies.

SPECIFICATIONS

7mm M. 14 (mexikanisches, kolumbisches oder chilenisches) Repetiergewehr

CALIBER: 7x57mm

OVERALL LENGTH: 49.2 inches

BARREL LENGTH: 29 inches

WEIGHT: 9 pounds

MAGAZINE: Five-round, charger-loaded box

SIGHTS: Front-Inverted V-blade Rear-V-notch adjustable by tangent from 300 to 2000 meter

BAYONET: Knife-style with 12-inch blade

The empire's primary source of military weapons was the Osterreichische Waffenfabriks Gesellschaft ("Steyr"), which was a major player in the international arms trade. By: 1889,. the number of Steyr employees exceeded 10,000 and the firm had outstanding orders, for.800,000 rifles. Steyr was producing more rifles per week than any other manufacturer in the world.

SPECIFICATIONS

7.9mm M. 13 (deutsches M.88) Repetiergewehr

CALIBER: 7.9mm M.1913 scharfe Patrone (7.9mm Patrone 88J)

OVERALL LENGTH: 48.8 inches

BARREL LENGTH: 29 inches

WEIGHT: 8.6 pounds (unloaded)

MAGAZINE: Five-round, Mannlicher-style

SIGHTS: Front-Inverted V-blade Rear-Fixed 250 meter notch, fold-up notch for 350 meters and fold-up leaf adjustable from 450 to 2050 meters.

BAYONET: Knife-style with 11.75-inch blade

SPECIFICATIONS

v6.5mm M.03/14(griechische) Repetiergewehr

CALIBER: 6.5x54mm

OVERALL LENGTH: 48.25 inches

BARREL LENGTH: 28.5 inches

WEIGHT: 8.3 pounds

MAGAZINE: Five-round, charger-loaded rotary design

SIGHTS: Front-Inverted V-blade Rear-V-notch adjustable by tangent from 200 to 2000 meters

BAYONET: Sword-style with a 15: 7-inch blade

SPECIFICATIONS

8mm M-93 (adaptiertes rumanisches) Repetiereewehr

CALIBER: 8mm M.1893 scharfe Patrone

OVERALL LENGTH: 48.4 inches

BARREL LENGTH: 29 inches

WEIGHT: 8.5 pounds

MAGAZINE: Five-round, Mannlicher-style

SIGHTS: Front-Inverted V-blade Rear-V-notch, adjustable by leaf from 200 to 2000 meters

BAYONET: Knife-style with a 10.25-inch'. blade

A second source was the firm of Fe-gyveres Gepgyarto Reszvenytarsasag (FEG) of Budapest, Hungary who produced rifles and other weapons for the Honvedseg and foreign orders.

The Austro-Hungarian armed forces were equipped with a series of rifles designed by Ferdinand von Mannlicher, all of which utilized his straight-pull boltactions and clip-loading magazines: the Osterreichisches Repetier-Gewehr M.95, Osterreichisches-Repetier-Gewehr M.88-90 and various M.90 and M.95 Stutzens and carbines--all firing the 8mm M.1893 scharfe Patrone. (2)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

But Steyr and FEG could not produce rifles fast enough to equip the empire's rapidly expanding armed forces and, even worse, battlefield attrition. The army issued large numbers of obsolete Werndl M.1867 and M.1873 rifles and carbines to support, security arid rear echelon units. Known as Fremdlandischen Gewehre ("substitute rifles"), these single-shot arms were chambered for 11mm black-powder cartridges and were ill-suited for modern combat.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Beginning with Belgium in 1892 and Spain in 1893, many nations, including a number of Steyr's previous customers, began buying Mauser rifles for their armies. The Berlin-based Deutsche Waffen-und Muntionsfabrik-en (DWM) formed a cartel that included Mauser Waffen-fabrik and Fabrique Nationale d'Armes (FN) in Belgium.

As a result of the cartel's dominance--and of Germany's ever-increasing political influence over the Dual Monarchy--Steyr became a member of the DWM arms cartel. They were thus able to obtain licenses to produce Model 1895 and 1898 Mauser rifles, which they proceeded to sell around the world.

Beschlagnahmte Waffe

Thus it was that Steyr's warehouses yielded quantities of rifles that the company had been producing for, but not yet delivered to, foreign customers which were confiscated as Beschlagnahmte Waffe (Expropriated Weapons). These included M.95 Mannlicher rifles and carbines that were being made for Bulgaria. Despite this Balkan kingdom being an ally, the army took these rifles for their own use as the 8mm M.95 (bulgarisches) Repetiergewehr oder Repetierkarabiner.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

SPECIFICATIONS

7.92mm deutscher Karabiner M.88

CALIBER: 7.9mm M.1913 scharte Patrone (7.9mm Patrone 88J)

OVERALL LENGTH: 37,6 inches

BARREL LENGTH: 17.1 inches

WEIGHT: 6.9 pounds

MAGAZINE: Five-round, Mannlicher-style

SIGHTS: Front-V-blade. Rear-V-notch fixed for 250 meters, a fold-up leaf for 50 meters and a fold-up leaf adjustable from 450 to 1200 meters.

BAYONET: None

One of the largest windfalls was approximately 75,000 M1912 (98-type) Mausers Steyr had produced for Mexico, Chile and Colombia. These were designated the 7mm M.14 Repetiergewehr and issued to Landwehr and Lan-desschiitzen units. Apparently many were equipped with telescopic sights for use by snipers.

SPECIFICATIONS

7.9mm Mannlicher-Exportmodell M.1904

CALIBER: 7.9mm M. 1913 scharfe Patrone (7.9mm Patrone 88J)

OVERALL LENGTH: 48.5 inches

BARREL LENGTH: 28.7 inches

WEIGHT: 8.6 pounds (unloaded)

MAGAZINE: Five-round, Mannlicher-style

SIGHTS: Front-V-blade Rear-V-notch-adjustable by fold-up leaf from 250 to 2050 meters

BAYONET: Knife-style with 10.25-inch blade

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The Greek army had recently placed an order with Steyr for Y: 1903/14 Mannlicher-Schonauer rifles that utilized a unique, charger-loaded rotary magazine. Steyr had approximately 6,000 undelivered rifles which were known in Austrian service as the 6.5mm M.03/14 (griechische) Repetiergewehr. The most prominent user of these rifles was Gen. Josef Pilsudski's Polish Volunteer Legion, which fought against the Russians on the eastern front.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Steyr was also manufacturing Mannlicher rifles for Romania. Known as the Pusca Md.1893, they used a bolt based upon the Infanteriegewehr 88 (see below) and a five-round Mannlicher-style magazine. Originally chambered for a 6.5mm cartridge, most of the 7,500 rifles obtained were converted to fire the 8mm M.1893 schharfe Patrone, their magazines modified to use the M.90 clip and issued as 8mm M.93 (adaptiertes rumanisches) Repetiergewehr ("modified Rumanian repeating rifles").

SPECIFICATIONS

7.65mm M90 (turkisthes) Retiergewehr

CALIBER: 7.65x53mm

OVERALL LENGTH: 48.6 inches

BARREL LENGTH: 29 inches

WEIGHT: 8.8 pounds

MAGAZINE: Five-round, charger-loaded

SIGHTS: Front-Inverted V-blade Rear-V-notch adjustable by leaf from 250 to 2000 meters

BAYONET: Sword-style with 15.5-inch blade

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

SPECIFICATIONS

7.65mm M.93 (turfcisches) Repetiergewehr

CALIBER: 7.65x53mm

OVERALL LENGTH: 48.6 inches

BARREL LENGTH: 29 inches

WEIGHT: 8.6 pounds

MAGAZINE: Five-round, charger-loaded

SIGHTS: Front-V-blade Rear-V-notch adjustable by leaf from 250 to 2000 meters

BAYONET: Sword-style with 15.5-inch blade

SPECIFICATIONS

7.65mm M.90/03 (turkisches) Repetiergewehr

CALIBER: 7.65x53mm

OVERALL LENGTH: 49 inches

BARREL LENGTH: 29 inches

WEIGHT: 9.25 pounds

MAGAZINE: Five-round, charger-loaded

SIGHTS: Front-Inverted V-blade Rear-V-notch adjustable by tangent from 200 to 2000 meters

For a decade, Steyr had produced the Infanteriegewehr 88 for sale to Germany, China and several other foreign armies. Germany's first smokeless powder, smallbore military rifle, it used a five-round, Mannlicher style magazine and was best known for the tubular metal handguard that encased the entire barrel. Steyr still had large numbers of unsold rifles in warehouses, which the army issued as the 7.9mm M.13 (deutsches. M.88) Repetiergewehr.

Shortly after the turn of the century, Steyr produced the so-called 7.9mm Mannlicher-Exportmodell M,1904 for" sale' to China. The design was intended to use up parts left over from a number of earlier contracts. It combined features of the Romanian Md. 93 and Dutch M.95 Mannlichers with the Infanteriegewehr 88's magazine and was chambered for the 7.9mm Patrone 88J. While some were sold to China and the Ulster Volunteer Force, most remained in Steyr's warehouses until 1914$-When the army gladly took them into service.

Hilfslieferung Waffe

The Austrians received some weapons from their allies, which were known as Hilfslieferung Waffe (auxiliary supplied weapons).

BAYONET: Socket style with 15-inch blade

SPECIFICATIONS

7.62mm M.91 (russiscges) Repetiergewehr

CALIBER: Tri lineinaya patron obr. 1891 g & 1908g(7.62x54R) (3)

OVERALL LENGTH: 59:9 inches

BARREL LENGTH: 32.3 inches

WEIGHT: 8.95 pounds

MAGAZINE: Five-round, charger-loaded

SIGHTS: Front-Inverted V-blade Rear-V-notch adjustable from 400 to 3200arshrni (4)

BAYONET: Socket style with 16-inch cruciform blade

SPECIFICATIONS

10.67mm M.1871 (russisches) Gewehr

CALIBER: 4.2 Lineinaya patron obr 1868g

OVERALL LENGTH: 53.4 inches

BARREL LENGTH: 32.8 inches

WEIGHT: 9,8 lbs

MAGAZINE: Single-shot

SIGHTS: Front-Inverted V-blade Rear-V-notch adjustable from 200'to 1500 arshini

BAYONET: Socket style with 23-inch blade

In 1915 and 1916 Germany supplied their allies with 72,600 Infahterietgewehte-88 and Karabiner 88. They became one of most widely used substitute standard rifles, being especially popular with the Tiroler und Vorarlberg-er Standschutzen.

A unit of the K.K. Landwehr--the Albanische Legion--was created from Bosnian and Albanian Muslim citizens of the empire, - and were used as occupation troops in Serbia and other parts of the Balkans. They were equipped with Turkish Mausers, the Tufekli 1890, 1893 and 1903. Whether these were sup-plied by the Ottomans or were left over from the two Balkan Wars (1912--1913) is not known at this time, but Turkish rifles of all models were common in the Balkans and Greece.

In the early days of the war, the army suffered a series of embarrassing defeats at the hands of small--but hard-fighting--Serbia. So much in fact that Germany had to send units to assist their erstwhile allies in defeating the Serbs. On the Eastern Front, things didn't go any better. The Russians invaded Galicia in September and besieged the fortress of Przemysl. Once again the Germans had to transfer forces to bolster their allies, finally stopping the Russians at the Vistula River.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The Russian and Austrian armies continued to clash in and near the Carpathian Mountains throughout the winter of 1914-1915. The Russian bypassed Przemysl and crossed the Carpathians, but the Germans sent troops, which stopped further Russian advances.

During this fighting, both sides suffered severe casualties. In addition, large numbers of Slavic soldiers--primarily Czechs, Slovaks and Poles--who were disenchanted with the army because of its ethnic policies, deserted to the Russians. By the end of 1916, the Russians held almost 300,000 prisoners of Slavic descent.

The Russians segregated Slavic prisoners from those of Austrian and Magyar ethnicity, and Czech and Slovak nationalists saw this as a means of fomenting disorder within the empire. They organized many of the prisoners into the Czechoslovak Legion (see Arms of the Czech Legion 3/20/04, 4/20/04) who fought against the Central Powers on the Eastern Front and later battled the Bolshe-viks during the Russian Revolution.

SPECIFICATIONS

6.5mm M.97(japanische) Repetiergewehr

CALIBER: 6.5mm Type 30

OVERALL LENGTH: 50.25 inches

BARREL LENGTH: 30.25 inches

WEIGHT: 8.85 pounds

MAGAZINE: Five-round, charger-loaded

SIGHTS: Front-Inverted V-blade Rear-V-notch adjustable from 300 to 2000 meters

BAYONET: Sword-style with 15.5-inch blade

SPECIFICATIONS

6.5mm M.91 (italienisches) Repetiergewehr

CALIBER: Cartuccia a Pallottoia cal. 6.5

OVERALL LENGTH: 50.8 inches

BARREL LENGTH: 30.7 inches

WEIGHT: 8.6 pounds

MAGAZINE: Six-round Mannlicher-style clip

SIGHTS: Front-V-btade Rear-V-notch adjustable from 300 to 2000 meters

BAYONET: Knife-style with 11.75-inch blade

Beutewaffe

As the situation worsened, the army found itself between a rock and the hard place. Austria's allies--Bulgaria, Germany and Turkey--were themselves all experiencing severe shortages of arms and could offer Vienna little in the way of aid. This left but one source of rifles: the enemy!

Along with the casualties came large numbers of captured weapons, or Beutewaffe. As beggars can't be choosers, the army began issuing these to rear echelon, support, transport and security units, while others were provided to the Kiralyi magyar csendorseg. (Royal Hungarian Gendarmerie) and Cisleithanischen Gen-darmerie to replace the blackpowder weapons they were then using.

The most common Beutewaffen to see service was the Russian Tri lineinaya vintovka obr. 1891g, better known as the Mosin-Nagant. A long, odd-looking rifle designed by Captain Sergei Ivanovich Mosin, while crude in appearance and operation, the obr. 1891g was easy to manufacture, rugged and more or less (recruit proof, three characteristics the Russians have always insisted upon in their military weapons. Mosins used by Austria-Hungary usually were stamped "AZF" on the buttstock and were modified to use Austrian-style slings.

In an attempt to achieve some level of standardization, some of the Mosin-Nagants were modified to fire the 8mm M.1893 scharfe Patrone. These were known as the 8mm M.91 (adaptiertes russisches) Repetiergewehr. As the war progressed, the Germans provided their Austrian allies with additional numbers of captured Tri lineinaya vintovka obr 1891g.

Another Russian rifle that was used in some quantity was the single shot Vintovka Berdana obr. 1870g, better known as the Type II Berdan. The Austrians captured numbers of them on the Eastern Front while others Are supplied by their German allies.

As supplies of captured 4.2 Lineinaya ammunition were exhausted, some of the Berdans were converted to fire the Austro-Hungarian standard 8mm M.1893 scharfe Patrone.

The Russians issued large numbers of Japanese Type 30 Arisaka rifles to units on all fronts, and enough were captured that the Austrians issued them to some second-line troops. As the war dragged on and captured ammunition supplies dwindled, some were converted to fire the more readily available 6.5x54 Mannlicher-Schonauer cartridge.

When Italy entered the conflict on the Allied side in 1915, Austria-Hungary was forced to fight a two-front war. The fighting on the so-called Alpine Front was especially difficult and brutal, with both sides suffering heavy losses of men and equipment. The army made good use of the large numbers of Fucile di Fanteria Mo. 1891 (Mannlicher-Carcano) thus obtained.

SPECIFICATIONS

7mm M.14 (Serbisches) Repetiergewehr (M.99)

CALIBER: 7x57mm

OVERALL LENGTH: 48.6

BARREL LENGTH: 29 inches

WEIGHT: 8.6 pounds

MAGAZINE: Five-round, charger-loaded .

SIGHTS: Front-V-blade Rear-V-notch adjustable by leaf from 250 to 2000 meters

BAYONET: Sword-style with 15.5-inch blade

SPECIFICATIONS

7mm M.14 (serbisches) Repetiergewehr (M.1910)

CALIBER: 7x57mm

OVERALL LENGTH: 49.2 inches

BARREL LENGTH: 29 inches

WEIGHT: 9 pounds

MAGAZINE: Five-round, charger-loaded box

SIGHTS: Front-Inverted V-blade Rear-V-notch adjustable by tangent from 300 to 2000 meters

BAYONET: Knife-style with 12-inch blade

SPECIFICATIONS

6.5mm M.93 (rumanisches) Repetiergewehr

CALIBER: 6.5mm Cartus Md. 93

OVERALL LENGTH: 48.4 inches

BARREL LENGTH: 29 inches

WEIGHT: 8.5 pounds

MAGAZINE: Five-round, Mannlicher style

SIGHTS: Front-Inverted V-blade Rear-V-notch, adjustable by leaf from 200 to 2000 meters

BAYONET: Knife-style with a 10.25-inch blade

SPECIFICATIONS

8mm M.86/93 (franxosische) Repetiergewebr (Lebelgewehr)

CALIBER: SmmballeD

OVERALL LENGTH: 513 inches

BARREL LENGTH: 31.5 inches

WEIGHT: 9,75 pounds

MAGAZINE: Eight-round tubular

SIGHTS: Front-Block with groove Rear-50 meter battle sight and U-notch adjustable from 400 to 2400 meters

BAYONET: 16-inch cruciform epee

Smaller numbers of Moschetti Mo. 1891 (carbines) were captured and issued to the gendarmerie. As with the Japanese rifles, when supplies of captured Italian mmunition ran low, some of the Mo. 1891s were converted to fire the 6.5x54 Mannlicher-Sehonauer cartridge.

With the conquest of Serbia, the army came into possession of large numbers of Serbian Mausers, the Puska M99 and Ml910. What is surprising is that despite the poor relations between Vienna and Belgrade, many of the M99 rifles had been made by Steyr. Because of the similarities of caliber and operation to the South American Mausers already in use. (see above), the army designed both of the Serb Mausers as heM.14.

In 1916, the Kingdom of Romania cast its lot with the Allies--in return for promised territorial gains. Unfortunately a combined German/Austrian/Bulgarian force made short work of the Romanian army and captured the capital, Bucharest. Among the booty thus obtained by the victors were numbers of Rumanian Puzca Md. 1893 Mannlicher rifles which were issued to occupation, security and rear echeJon units.

The last Beutewaffe we will discuss were used in the smallest numbers and were, well, the strangest from a military viewpoint. According to a manual published by the army late in the war, numbered among the Beutewaffe then in use were the British No. 1 Mk. III and Mk. Ill* Lee-Enfields and the French Fusils d'Infanterie Mle. 1889/93 (Lebel) and Mle. 1907/15 (Berthier).

According to Austrian military firearms experts Heino Hintermeier and Maj. Reinholf Reisinger, there is no photographic evidence to show these rifles were ever issued, and thus there is much conjecture as to the source of these weapons. It has been suggested that they were captured from Allied forces on the Salonika front in northern Greece or from British and French troops who were sent to shore up the Italian army after its disastrous defeat at Caporetto in October 1917. Or were they supplied by Germany from the stockpiles of arms they captured on the Western Front? It would be very interesting to answer these questions.

SPECIFICATIONS

8mmM.86/93 (franzosische) Repetiergewehr (ErzeugungM.15

CALIBER: 8mm balle D

OVERALL LENGTH: 51,4 inches

BARREL LENGTH: 31.6inches

WEIGHT: 8:4 pounds

MAGAZINE: Three-round Mannlicher style

SIGHTS: Front-Blade Rear-250 meter battle sight and U-notch adjustable from 40Q to 2400 meters

BAYONET: 16-inch cruciform epee

By the time the Dual Monarchy signed an armistice with the Allies in November of 1918, Steyr and PEG had produced in excess of 2,890,000 M.95 rifles and 702,000 M.95 Stutzens and carbines. Despite this, the, armed forces experienced continual shortages of small arms and was forced to make every greater use of just about any serviceable rifle that came into its hands.

Supplying ammunition and spare parts for his collection must have been. a nightmare for the quartermaster corps but when all is said and-they did their part Fur Heimat and Reich (For Homeland and Empire).

SPECIFICATIONS

7.7mm M.95 (englisches) Repetiergewehr

CALIBER: .303 Mark VII

OVERALL LENGTH: 44.5 inches

BARREL LENGTH: 25 inches

WEIGHT: 8.6 pounds

MAGAZINE10-round, charger-loaded box

SIGHTS: Front-Blade Rear-U-notch adjustable from 200 to 2000 yards

BAYONET: Sword-style with 17-inch blade

*--the No. 1 MK III* was referred to as the 7.7mm M.03 (englisches) Repetiergewehr

I would like to thank the following for providing materials used to prepare this report: Vince DiNardi, Laszlo Somogyi (www.hungariae.com), Josef Motz, Reinolf Re-isinger, Heino Hintermeier, Alfred Kruk, Keith Doyon, Brett Butterworth, Richard Hoffman, Stuart Mowbray, Tibor Hovarth (http.//militiahungarorum.extra.hu/kez olap_en.php), John Wall, Branko Bogdanovic, Joe Poyer, John Weber and Liviu Stoica.

(1.) Many of the photos in this article are from the author's books Mannlicher Military Rifles and German Gew. 88 "Commission" Rifle (Mowbray Publishing, Woonsocket, RI02895 www.manatarmsbooks.com)

(2.) The Hungarian designations for the M.88-90 and M.95 rifles were Gyalogsagi Ismetlo Puska 88-90M. and Gyalogsagi Ismetlo Puska 95M.

(3.) Russian rifles chambered for both the patron obr. 1891g (210 gr. RN bullet) and the 1908g (15.4 gr. spitzer bullet) were captured and used.

(4.) (Arshin) is the Russian term for "pace" and equals.75 meters.

By Paul Scarlata

Photos by: James Walters & Nathan Reynolds (unless otherwise indicated)
COPYRIGHT 2011 InterMedia Outdoors, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 
Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Scarlata, Paul
Publication:Shotgun News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 20, 2011
Words:3214
Previous Article:A contradiction in terms: "semiautomatic-only machine gun": this pan-fed classic is rare and very expensive in full-auto form, but you can get most...
Next Article:Resurrecting a cold warrior build your own RPD - part 2: in part 1 (7/20 issue), the bolt carrier was modified to semi-auto configuration. Now our...
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters