Originally Posted by Joel
Well, I guess the pistol ammo factor was preponderant in the various writers' minds to make it the SMGs forefather...
Of course now it is categorized as an SMG (which I agree) for its pistol-caliber chambering. But it was made as a squad machinegun, and not even that! Actually, the first use of the "Villar Perosa" which came to Beretta and FIAT engineers' mind when they made it was to mount it on airplanes for the air fight. At the time, airplanes were made mainly of paper and light wood, and fought each others at very close distances. So such a weapon, in the hands of an aircraft machinegunner, should have turned out very effective. I say that it SHOULD HAVE, because in the truth the .9mm-Glisenti cartridge was desperately poor in power for that purpose. The "Villar Perosa" was subsequently distributed within Italian ground troops fighting against Germans and Austrian-Hungarian troops during World War 1, again as a squad support weapon. The fact that it fired pistol cartridges and was very lightweight for a machinegun made the commanders thought that it had to be the ideal support weapon for the assaults and close range trench shootings of World War 1 (imagine that they would have wanted it to become the correspective of that time of the nowadays' M249-SAW). But again, the .9mm-Glisenti is an incredibly weak cartridge, good only for general officers' personal defense sidearms. And even if it was light to transport, the "Villar Perosa" required three men to be transported (one for the gun itself, one for the tripod, one for the box of loaded magazines), and was not usable when not mounted, because every one of the two barrels had separate triggers, and because it fired at a very high velocity, making it impossible to control if not placed on a tripod and very VERY inaccurate.
The "Villar Perosa" was a failure for all the intents and purposes it was made for. It is interesting to think, anyway, that the Beretta and FIAT engineers who conceived it were one step ahead from making a great gun. A "single-barrelled Villar Perosa" is in fact the perfect submachinegun. When they made the MAB, all they did was to pick up one single "Villar Perosa" barrel, invert its feeding system into downside feeding and side ejection, replace the trigger system with a standard rifle trigger (two triggers, one for single-auto, another for burst fire) and place it on a standard wooden rifle stock. But I guess the things went mature at the right time. The first Army actually to employ a submachinegun was the German one, distributing the MP-18. But even the Germans distributed it as a squad support weapons for "Sturmtruppen" (special assault troops tasked to lead the way into bloody assaults to enemy trenches), MP-18s were issued in the number of 1 or 2 per platoon, and were used EXACTLY like today most Armies (including the US and Italian ones) use the "MINIMI" M249-SAW. The Germans even assigned to every MP-18 operator a second soldier to carry the ammunitions.
"It is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself, when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks. It is legal and lawful to own a shotgun or a rifle. We believe in obeying the law." -- Malcolm X
"We (atheists) act in good conscience because we believe in moral principles, not because we expect a reward in Heaven." -- Margherita Hack