Błyskawica submachine gun

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This article is about a firearm. For the ship, see ORP Błyskawica.
Błyskawica
Błyskawica
Type Submachine gun
Place of origin  Poland
Service history
Used by Poland
Wars World War II
Production history
Designed 1943
Number built ~700
Variants none
Specifications
Weight 3.22 kg
Length 556/730 mm
Barrel length 197 mm

Cartridge 9x19mm Parabellum
Action blowback
Rate of fire 600 round/min
Muzzle velocity 400 m/s
Effective firing range 200 m
Feed system 32 round box magazine
Polish insurgent weapons, including the Błyskawica sub-machine gun.

The Błyskawica was a submachine gun produced by the Armia Krajowa, or Home Army, a Polish resistance movement fighting the Germans in occupied Poland. A successful construction, it was most probably the only weapon designed and mass produced covertly in occupied Europe besides the Sten.

Blyskawica submachine gun shoulder rest.

History[edit]

In 1942 engineer Wacław Zawrotny proposed to the Armia Krajowa command that he and his colleagues prepare a project of a cheap, home-made machine pistol for use by the Polish resistance. Its main feature was its simplicity, so that the weapon could be made even in small workshops, by inexperienced engineers. The idea was accepted, and Zawrotny, together with his colleague Seweryn Wielanier, prepared a project of a sub-machine gun, soon afterward named Błyskawica (Polish for "lightning"). To allow for easier production, all parts of the weapon were joined together with screws and threads rather than bolts and welding, which were commonly used in firearm production ever since the 17th century.

The design was based on two of the most popular machine pistols of the era. The external construction with a retractable butt and magazine mounted below the gun was borrowed from the successful German MP 40. The internal design of the mechanism was modeled after the British Sten. Blowback, with an open bolt, it offered good performance and high reliability. Unlike the Sten, and its Polish clone called the Polski Sten, it employed a free-floating firing pin. The Poles also designed the weapon this way so their insurgents could restock their ammo from dead German soldiers with MP 40s.

The documentation was ready by April 1943, and by September a prototype was ready. After extensive tests in the forests outside of Zielonka near Warsaw, the weapon was presented to the commanding officer of the KeDyw, August Emil Fieldorf, who found the design acceptable. In November the plans were sent to a number of workshops spread throughout occupied Poland and a serial production started. The name was coined after the three lightning bolts carved on the prototype by its designers, pre-war workers of the Elektrit company that used a similar logo.

Polish soldier firing a Błyskawica during the Warsaw Uprising

The production started in a workshop officially producing metal fence nets in Warsaw. After the tests of a prototype series of five pistols, the KeDyw ordered 1000, and later an additional 300. Until July 1944 and the start of Operation Tempest roughly 600 pieces were built in Warsaw. During the Warsaw Uprising an additional 40 were built. It is also possible that the Błyskawica was also produced in small quantities outside of Warsaw.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Kazimierz Satora - "Produkcja Uzbrojenia w Polskim Ruch Oporu 1939-45", Warszawa 1985
  • Kazimierz Satora "Podziemne zbrojownie polskie 1939-1944", Dom Wydawniczy Bellona, Warszawa 2001

See also[edit]

External links[edit]