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Delacre/Vanophem submachine gun


The 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 presently known.



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