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Delacre/Vanophem submachine gun
Delacre submachine gun is a somewhat mysterious design for which little
information is available. The identity of the designer is not fully
known but it was likely the French engineer Henri Delacre. This was a
slightly eccentric 9mm submachine gun feeding from a steel drum
magazine. It operated, unusually, on a short-stroke recoil action with a
reciprocating barrel. Affixed to the breech block was a moving lever
which acted against an internal roller. The roller engaged the sloped
head of the lever, lodging itself between the lever and the breech block,
and creating a separation between the breech block and the barrel and
allowing a new round to be chambered. Although this action was
interesting, there is no reason to believe it was any more efficient
than a blowback-type operation.
Externally the Delacre submachine gun was of a basic but well-ordered
construction. The upper receiver, housing the barrel and breech, came
apart neatly from the lower receiver, which housed the trigger group.
The barrel housing was partially perforated and right side cocking slot
was concealed by a dust cover built around the cocking handle. The gun
had two wooden pistol grips but the buttstock was a basic folding
wireframe. The magazine was interesting in that it was a rotary drum
which a chute that fed into the left side of the receiver.
Design sketches of the Delacre/Vanophem submachine gun, showing the upper
receiver (left) and short recoil, roller-delayed action (right).
The initial patent for this design was filed in Luxembourg in October
1939, but the outbreak of World War II interrupted proceedings and the
subsequent patents, which were filed in France, were not published until
1947. The patents were made out to one William Vanophem of Monaco,
although his relationship to Delacre is unclear. It appears that the gun
was investigated in Britain, as files and photographs of a prototype
exist at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, but no further information is
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