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Walther 1918 submachine gun

[DE] Maschinenpistole Walther

FritzWaltherSMG

From May to October 1918, Fritz Walther filed a series of patents protecting a submachine gun which was probably designed in response to the Prussian Rifle Testing Commission's request for a light automatic weapon chambered in a pistol caliber. It operated on a short-recoil action in which the barrel and breech block reciprocated together against the force of a recoil spring wrapped around the barrel. The breech block contained a separate firing pin which was actuated by an internal hammer. When the breech block came back, the hammer was pushed into the cocked position and the firing pin retracted. A new cartridge was loaded into the chamber from the magazine as the barrel reciprocated forward. As the breech block closed the chamber, the hammer came back up and struck the firing pin, which in turn struck the cartridge in the chamber.

The Walther submachine gun employed a helical magazine that can best be compared in shape to a tin can. It was fitted into the feeding position by a screw-threaded attachment point on the lower receiver. The internal arrangement of the magazine was an ascending spiral which rotated upon the movement of the bolt and carried fresh cartridges up to the feed position.

FritzWaltherSMG1
Alternate version of the Walther submachine gun, as per the original patent
sketches of DE320168. This employs an unusual buttstock design.


The Walther submachine gun was made in two different prototypes: a model with a wooden rifle stock and a model with a pistol grip. These guns were probably submitted for testing by the German Army in 1918, but the decision to adopt the Bergmann M.P.18,I had already been made and there was no intention of introducing another submachine gun into German service. Photographs also exist of the wooden stock model being tested by what appears to be an Austrian, French, or Swiss soldier - possibly Walther submachine guns were trialed in Austria-Hungary, as was the case with the Schwarzlose submachine gun. In any case, the Walther submachine gun never went into production, and the end of the war in November eliminated any requirement for a weapon of this type.

FritzWalther3
A photograph of the Walther submachine gun undergoing testing, probably
c.1918, by what appears to be a non-German solider - possibly Swiss?

Gallery

WaltherPatent1WaltherPatent2WaltherPatent3WaltherPatent4WaltherPatent5

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