FIAT-Revelli submachine gun


In April 1916, Col. Abiel Revelli demonstrated a weapon of an entirely new type to the Italian Test Commission. This gun, the Fiat-Revelli submachine gun, can lay claim to being the first "proper" SMG. It was basically a Villar Perosa receiver encased in a wooden stock, with a redesigned trigger and a fire selector switch. The Test Commission was sufficiently impressed with this remarkably forward-thinking design and wanted to see it developed further.

The Fiat-Revelli SMG was a joint development between Fiat and their subsidiary RIV, specifically the Officine di Villar Perosa factory, where Revelli worked. He designed this gun after he deduced that the Villar Perosa twin-barreled machine gun, also a design of his, could be adapted into a single-barreled automatic carbine for trench raids. In doing so, he essentially created the first true SMG (Schmeisser had also come up with the idea independently, but had not developed it yet) and kickstarted Italy's wartime SMG programme. The Test Commission, after observing Revelli's gun in action, decided to commission two other firms to produce rival prototypes along the same lines as this gun. The result was the development of the Crocetti SMG by the Ansaldo company and the Beretta SMG. These guns were trialed in 1918 against the Fiat-Revelli and the final decision was to adopt the Beretta gun, which was issued in limited numbers to the Arditi in the last year of the war. (Revelli received a shared credit for this gun, adopted as the Revelli-Beretta, since it was derived from his designs.)

The rejection of the Fiat-Revelli and the subsequent end of the war did not stop Revelli from pushing the idea further. In the early 1920s he designed a new take on the concept at Officine di Villar Perosa. This post-war gun, often known as the OVP, was of a much higher quality and was taken up in limited numbers by the Italian Army in 1921. The Fiat-Revelli gun, on the other hand, has more or less gone entirely forgotten.

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