In 1943, the first intermediate cartridge of Elizarov and Semin 7.62x39 millimeters appeared in the arsenal of the Red Army. His appearance was the reason for developing new weapons for this caliber. As a result, several new models of small arms of different classes appeared: the SKS carbine, RPD machine gun, and so on. The Degtyarev light machine gun (RPD) was the first model in its class that worked with the new intermediate cartridge. Let's find out what else caused the popularity of this machine gun.
Prerequisites for creating
Even when the intermediate cartridge of Elizarov and Semin was at the design stage, it became clear that the weapon working with such ammunition would surpass the older models in many ways, but in a number of parameters it will still lag behind them. The cartridge has a small size, which has a positive effect on the amount of ammunition transferred by the fighter. However, it shows a smaller range of aimed shooting. As tests have shown, a 7.62x39 cartridge allows effective fire from a distance of no more than 800 meters. Based on the analysis of the battles, it was found that this range is quite enough for weapons to be used on the battlefield of the future.
In early 1944, a competition was organized for the creation of a machine gun for an intermediate cartridge. According to the order of the military, they wanted to get a light (relatively, of course) weapon, with the maximum power that a projectile of Elizarov and Semen could give. In addition, the new model was supposed to get rid of the shortcomings of its “older brothers” - the DP and PDM machine guns. For the development of the competition project took several leading weapons designers: Simonov, Tokarev, Soudaev and others. Vasily Alekseevich Degtyarev also decided to take part in the competition, the machine guns of which at that time were already in service with the Red Army.
Thanks to many years of experience in creating light machine guns, Degtyarev offered several options for the new model. They were similar in gas automatics, but differed in the structure of the ammunition system and the gate design. At first, Vasily Alekseevich Degtyarev proposed using a disk magazine, similar to that used in a DP machine gun, and considering the prospect of creating a box store. However, a thorough analysis of all the options showed that the use of tape ammunition would be most appropriate.
As a result of tests, which took place in the middle of 1944, the machine gun Degtyarev, received the symbol RP-44, became the winner of the competition. Weapons fired a small batch and sent to the military trials. Tests have shown that the machine gun needs some modifications. The developer presented some comments and new requirements. After making changes, the weapon once again went to the front, and was put into service. Soon the mass production of the model began, which was called the “Manual machine gun of Degtyarev model of 1944”, or simply RPD-44. Thus, he became one of the first types of weapons chambered for 7.62x39. Now we analyze the machine gun RPD-44.
RPD machine gun is based on long-stroke piston gas automatics. The scheme of automation, in general terms, was borrowed from the latest (at that time) versions of the DP machine gun. In particular, a gas regulator was installed as part of the automation, which made it possible to vary the amount of powder gas entering the piston. The regulator has three modes numbered. Under normal conditions, the regulator was set to medium, that is, the second mode. Mode "3" was intended for firing from a dirty machine gun. And the first mode, had the thinnest groove for removal of gases and allowed to reduce the rate of fire.
Despite the fact that between the RPD-44 and DP / PDM machine guns were similar design solutions, the model Degtyarev seriously differed from its predecessors. In particular, it had a receiver box developed from scratch, which consisted of a lower (main) part and an upper hinged lid. The back of the receiver was a so-called trigger frame. On it were fastened parts USM, butt and handle fire control. Inside the box is located bolt group. And on the front there was a mount for the barrel and the gas piston tube.
The Degtyarev light machine gun (RPD) was equipped with a barrel without the possibility of replacement, which was one of its most curious features. This decision was made on the basis of the experience of the combat exploitation of the light machine guns available at that time. It was found that in firing in short bursts of machine gunner without overheating the barrel shoots the entire ammunition. Thus, the need to use a removable barrel no longer exist. Especially since he created a number of inconveniences both in battle and during the march.
The barrel locking system was based on the work of diverging stops and reminded of a similar node in the machine gun DP. Nevertheless, it had a number of significant differences. The gate frame associated with the gas piston was in contact with the metal gate. In the construction of the latter, a channel with a square cross section for the impactor and a pair of deep grooves on the side surfaces for the lugs fixed on the axes were provided. The spring was in the back of the receiver and inside the front (metal) part of the butt.
When the slide frame moved forward, under the action of the spring, the bolt sent the cartridge into the chamber. When the shutter stopped in the extreme forward position, the frame moved the drummer on. As he moved forward, he pushed the stops, which, having entered the grooves of the receiver, blocked the bolt. The subsequent movement of the drummer led to the shot.
Powder gases with their pressure shifted the piston and the frame of the bolt. Due to this, the drummer shifted back, which allowed the stops to move from the spot. Thanks to the figured cutouts on the receiver, the stops came back to the neutral position, allowing the shutter to go back. And the bolt, in turn, picked up the cartridge case and, pulling it out of the chamber, brought it to the window for release. Ejection occurred down through the window in the receiver. Moving forward, the bolt carrier triggered the feeder, which shifted the tape with the cartridge and led out to the supply line a new ammunition. The bolt handle was located in the lower right part of the receiver and moved during firing.
The RPD machine gun had a simple USM design, which allowed only firing in bursts. By clicking on the trigger guard, the shooter shifted the trigger lever and whispered, which led to the unblocking of the bolt carrier and the shot. The fire was fired with the shutter open. The design USMa assumed the use of an automatic fuse. His flag was on the right side of the receiver, above the trigger guard.
The machine gun was equipped with a wooden butt, forearm and pistol grip. Butt and grip attached to the trigger frame. The forend was installed in front of the receiver and consisted of two wooden parts and metal pads. Handguard had an unusual shape (two notches: the lower and upper), which was caused by the ability to fire in two modes. It was assumed that when shooting from the shoulder, the machine gunner would hold the handguard from below, and when shooting “from the hip” - from above. In the second case, part of the load was redistributed to the shoulder through the use of a belt.
Initially it was assumed that ribbons in metal round (for 100 cartridges) or square (for 200 cartridges) boxes would be used for the ammunition of the RPD machine gun. Later, the 200-cartridge bulky box was refused. Serial models equipped with collapsible cylindrical boxes. On the top of such a box there was a cover and a mount for mounting on a machine gun. It was attached under the receiver of the weapon. Cartridge tape fell into the receiver through the corresponding window on its left side, and the waste section went out through the same window on the right. Metal boxes for tapes were equipped with handles for transportation. To simplify transportation and operation, the boxes were placed in special pouches.
The RPD machine gun had the same sights as a similar weapon of the time. On the front of the receiver, above the receiving unit of the cartridge belt, was an open sight. It was designed for firing from a distance of up to 1 kilometer. And on the muzzle of the trunk was located front sight with protection. To improve the accuracy of fire, set the bipod on the machine gun. They were fastened immediately behind the fly assembly. The design made it possible to fix them both in the folded and unfolded position.
Technical and operational characteristics of RPD
The nominal rate of fire with the regulator in position "2" was 650 rounds per minute. If you set the regulator to the first position, the rate of fire dropped significantly. In practice, given the need to recharge, the machine gunner could carry out from 100 to 150 shots per minute. High firing speed was largely achieved due to the abandonment of the shop supply in favor of the tape.
At distances up to a kilometer, the machine gun showed very good indicators of shooting accuracy. It was advisable to fire on aerial targets from a distance of no more than 500 meters. The bullets retained their lethal effect at more serious distances, but there were problems with aiming and detecting targets. When firing a queue from a distance of 100 meters, 75% of the bullets fell in a circle with a diameter of 200 mm. And the average point of impact deviated from the aiming point by no more than 50 mm. In practice, this indicated that, on average, for hitting a target with a chest figure from 100 meters it was enough to make two shots. To hit the same goal with a maximum sighting distance, it was necessary about 27 shots from the RPD. Shooting from a machine gun showed that it can effectively hit various targets at a distance of up to 800 meters. Thus, it is fully consistent with the requirements of the customer.
Incomplete disassembly of the RPD occurs by analogy with the DP: the fire control stick and the butt are removed, and then the inside is removed.
Since 1946, this type of weapon began to be used along with RP-46 machine guns, which were intended for use at the company level. Due to two new types of weapons, the material part of the infantry was updated and its firepower increased.
Later, a modernized version of the machine gun, which received the name RPDM. It practically did not differ from the base one. The changes affected the shape of the gas piston and its support. The bolt handle ceased to be associated with the slide frame and remained fixed when fired. Due to the absence of major changes at the same level remained shooting characteristics of the RAP.
The 7.62-caliber machine gun was actively exploited until the sixties, when a more advanced Kalashnikov machine gun was created. After the appearance of the new model, the RAP began to be sent to warehouses. The Kalashnikov model had a number of advantages, including those related to the unification of production.
Having provided its army with new weapons, the defense industry of the USSR began to produce RPD weapons for export. Also sold models with decommissioned or stored. Machine guns were delivered to more than three dozen countries in Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa. In the mid-fifties, the USSR handed over a license to issue the DUR to China as a friendly help. Chinese models are called "Type 56". Later, China also began selling them to third countries.
Today, around the world one can count about 40 states that legally used the machine gun of Degtyarev and his Chinese versions. Machine gun involved in various armed conflicts.
Prototypes and the first serial copies of the RPD managed to participate in the Second World War. The first conflict in which these weapons were massively used was the war in Korea. Then the RPD machine guns were used in almost all conflicts taking place in Asia and Africa.
To date, in almost all countries where this machine gun was in service, he went to the reserve. However, there are armies that still use it. Other countries, including Russia, have replaced the RAP with new weapons, but continue to keep a certain number of copies in warehouses. This suggests that the machine gun Degtyarev still appreciated, at least a little outdated.
Over time, this type of weapon began to be used not only in military affairs, but also in the civil sphere. In countries where the law does not prohibit the use of weapons by civilians, the RPD machine gun is sold to amateur shooters. For example, in the American market there are several versions of RAP with a converted USM. He permits shooting only single shells. The weapon corresponds to modern trends in terms of "body kit." It is equipped with numerous Picatinny slats, telescopic butts and sighting devices. Since the production of RPD has long been discontinued, models that left the assembly line several decades ago are subject to tuning.
The most eloquent comment on the machine gun Degtyarev is the fact that it has been used in different countries of the world for several decades. He was the first domestic light machine gun, designed for an intermediate cartridge 7,62h39. Nevertheless, the RPD showed that the first pancake is not always lumpy. Over time, the machine gun is outdated, and this is completely normal. However, there are countries where it is still in service. Probably, the operation of these weapons will continue for several decades.