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    1933 Soviet Sniper Manual and other things

    The entire 1933 Sovieticon Sniper Manual is now available. Of course, there's other material a lot of which will be of interest to collectors, conservators and curators who have WW II sniping equipment.

    https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wor...=9780982481318

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    A Collector's View - The SMLE Short Magazine Lee Enfield 1903-1989. It is 300 8.5x11 inch pages with 1,000+ photo’s, most in color, and each book is serial-numbered.  Covering the SMLE from 1903 to the end of production in India in 1989 it looks at how each model differs and manufacturer differences from a collecting point of view along with the major accessories that could be attached to the rifle. For the record this is not a moneymaker, I hope just to break even, eventually, at $80/book plus shipping.  In the USA shipping is $5.00 for media mail.  I will accept PayPal, Zelle, MO and good old checks (and cash if you want to stop by for a tour!).  CLICK BANNER to send me a PM for International pricing and shipping. Manufacturer of various vintage rifle scopes for the 1903 such as our M73G4 (reproduction of the Weaver 330C) and Malcolm 8X Gen II (Unertl reproduction). Several of our scopes are used in the CMP Vintage Sniper competition on top of 1903 rifles. Brian Dick ... BDL Ltd. - Specializing in British and Commonwealth weapons Chuck in Denver ... Buy-Sell-Trade .. Guns, Cars Motorcycles Your source for the finest in High Power Competition Gear. Here at T-bones Shipwrighting we specialise in vintage service rifle: re-barrelling, bedding, repairs, modifications and accurizing. We also provide importation services for firearms, parts and weapons, for both private or commercial businesses.
     

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    The Reichswehr did a fine job of teaching the Red Army all about sniping in the 1920s, and Zeiss and Busch got them all set up with suitable scopes.

    "Cutting off your nose to spite your face".
    “There are invisible rulers who control the destinies of millions. It is not generally realized to what extent the words and actions of our most influential public men are dictated by shrewd persons operating behind the scenes.”

    Edward Bernays, 1928

    Much changes, much remains the same.

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    @Surpmil - I know the Soviets and the Germans had a secret military pact, but can you please cite your source that sniping instruction was included? You are correct in that Zeiss set up an optics factory allowing the Soviets to grind their own glass and that the Busch 4.5x Visar scope was the basis for the Sovieticon 4x PE and later PEM.

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    IIRC the Reichswehr under Gen. v. Seeckt began their secret military cooperation with the Soviets around 1923 - once the Russian Civil War and I suppose the Russo-Polish war were well and truly over and the Soviets had consolidated control such that the survival of their regime appeared certain. The German goal was to evade the restriction of the Treaty of Versailles around armoured forces, artillery, airforces and gas warfare, among other things. I don't recall seeing any specific reference to sniping, but considering what was shared was much more significant, I see no reason why sniping would have been excluded; does anyone else?

    As you may know, there was always a school within Germanyicon and the Prussian/German Army who favoured cooperation with Russiaicon. It was on-again & off-again back to the Napoleonic era wasn't it?

    Strategically it made a good deal of sense as it secured the eastern frontiers for whatever adventures or insecurities might be considered in the West. Against that school were those who wanted to expand eastward in terms of annexations or at least overt control over puppet states. The Ukraine was the primary target of course for food supplies and resources, and incidentally still is in some quarters. The Nazis took this to the most extreme form of course, but it was widely discussed even in the 19th C and attempts were made in WWI to put this sort of thing into effect; witness the terms of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. This is all exhaustively documented in Griff Nach der Weltmacht by Dr. Fischer.

    No doubt the General Staff were quite sure the Soviet peasants were nothing they couldn't handle no matter what was shown to them, and at the time the greatest resentment was directed at the Allied powers so Weimar Germany and Soviet Russia found themselves allies of convenience. Training the Soviets and no doubt encouraging them to look south towards India would have been just the sort of little "revenge" policy that would appeal at that time.

    Anyway, I see I'm ranging off into context here and to get back to specifics, the Soviet military leadership in the 20s was made up mostly of people from non-professional backgrounds who didn't have a lot of mental baggage in regard to "how things should be done" and so were looking for whatever worked. It would be logical that given the insecurities of their situation they were also looking for "force-multipliers": technology and tactics that would help to overcome their weaknesses. Just as for example Japanicon did in the 20s and 30s with her emphasis on night naval engagement and torpedo warfare.

    Of course the Soviets were also dreaming even then of "liberating" western Europe and were interested in offensive warfare: look at their pioneering work on airborne forces.

    Naturally the Soviets were studying the war on the Western Front and it would have made no sense for the Germans to try and hide something like sniping which was well-known from open sources anyway. To do so would merely have stimulated the Soviet's interest!

    You might find buried in the archives of the Soviet General staff the details of all this - or just as likely in the archives of the Reichswehr taken to Moscow in 1945. But otherwise, we'll just have to go with logical deduction: when you've laid out a smorgasbord, why keep a few side dishes hidden in the kitchen when your guests are sure to notice their absence from the table?

    I forget the details, but IIRC the Soviets bought a complete optical production facility from Zeiss about 1936. Zeiss already had a presence in St. Petersburg before WWI, but whether that included manufacturing as it apparently did with Zeiss London, I don't know. If it did, those facilities may have been the foundation of one of the Soviet factories in that area. There must have been some native optical manufacturing as well pre-1914, but what would have been left by 1919 is hard to say.

    Besides, helping the Soviets to build up their industry was a popular business in the West in the 20s and 30s, and no doubt German firms felt they might as well get a share of the pie. For example that much discussed dam on the Dnieper was designed and built under American engineers, and we know Mr. Christie's designs were the foundation of Soviet tank production.

    It's to the credit of the Soviet military leadership that they realized the military value of sniping and marksmanship and put so much emphasis on it. Even Germany, despite her preeminence in that field in WWI had rather lost the plot by the late 1930s: hypnotized like the other western powers by "volume of fire" and all that into forgetting that the only bullet that matters is the one that hits the target and nothing is as economical a single bullet. Probably the Soviets realized that their wide-open spaces were ideal for such methods. Isn't there a reference somewhere to a German regiment recording 75 men lost to Soviet snipers in a single day?
    Last edited by Surpmil; 12-10-2022 at 03:56 PM. Reason: More
    “There are invisible rulers who control the destinies of millions. It is not generally realized to what extent the words and actions of our most influential public men are dictated by shrewd persons operating behind the scenes.”

    Edward Bernays, 1928

    Much changes, much remains the same.

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    Naturally the Soviets were studying the war on the Western Front and it would have made no sense for the Germans to try and hide something like sniping which was well-known from open sources anyway. To do so would merely have stimulated the Sovieticon's interest!
    So without citation of sources, it's conjecture then? I know the Soviets got hold of Hesketh Prichard's Sniping In Franceicon and studied that assudiously and had ghillie suits (complete with netting to deter eyeshine) for war against Finlandicon.

    You are right in that the Soviets took sniping seriously and their 1933 manual shows how recruits were identified as marksmen who could receive further training. Even pre-war Soviet citizens could get sniper training (provided they earned the Vorishilov Shooter award) in the para-military Osoaviakhim.

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    From the existing evidence, circumstantial and otherwise I would say it is a certainty.

    Would German firms supply the Soviets with military equipment without clearing that through the proper authorities in Germanyicon, particularly after 1933?

    I expect the Soviets gathered up all the literature on the subject they could find, and some of it might even be material given to Imperial Russian military missions in WWI.

    For whatever reason the Allies apparently never supplied the Russian Imperial Army with scopes, and they may not have thought the idea worthwhile - or suitable for their soldiery - that is a conjecture, but one that somewhat fits the class distinctions of pre-revolutionary Russiaicon I think.
    “There are invisible rulers who control the destinies of millions. It is not generally realized to what extent the words and actions of our most influential public men are dictated by shrewd persons operating behind the scenes.”

    Edward Bernays, 1928

    Much changes, much remains the same.

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    Without any citable sources, I am skeptical that the Soviets were trained in sniping by the Reichswehr. Remember the Soviets were poor and that they didn't acquire scopes until the NKVD decided it wanted some (that was the aforementioned Busch Visar 4.5 X) and Zeiss opened a plant there. You can teach a person the principles of sniping (camouflage, concealment, stalking, observation, range estimation, shooitng with iron sights) but without optical sights, the program can only go so far.

    Sniping would have been low on the priority of military things for both the Germans and the Soviets. I can see the Germans providing instruction in aviation, tank development (lookee at the LK I and LK II) and modernized Germanicon infantry training without sniping. The Germans themselves did little in the way of scope develpment in the inter-war period and the scoped rifles made were supposedly for the police in event of another communist/socialist revolt. Germans themselves did have good marksmanship training and I'm sure this is what was taught to the Soviets. I'll have to find an earlier Soviet infantry manual to confirm their method of "musketry instruction" (Britishicon term).

    I've found no evidence that the Allies provided Tsarist Russiaicon with scoped rifles either and during WW I the best the Tsarist Russians did was to develop a periscope rifle as a counter-sniper weapon. Post-Russian Revolution (not to be confused with the later October Revolution) the British supplied scoped Ross rifles to the White Russians which the Reds captured when the Whites fell/fled. So while the Soviets had a handful of scoped Ross rifles, they had no means to reverse engineer their optics.

    I do agree that the Soviets collected a lot of foreign military literature and Hesketh Prichard's book was among them. The same Soviet General was identified by myself and Maj. Plaster as asserting that Prichard's book was used to develop their program.
    Last edited by Riter; 12-11-2022 at 12:25 PM.

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    It's good to be sceptical. You are probably right that it would be a subject fairly low on the list of Red Army priorities compared to tanks or gas warfare, but anyone studying war on the Western Front as they no doubt did, would know it was a significant part of the methods there. And as there were lots of original and unconventional thinkers in the Red Army, I suspect they would recognize the "economies of scale" immediately - economy was very important as you mentioned.

    When was that Soviet movie "Sniper" produced? It indicates the level of interest; did they make a movie about tank-men or gas warfare specialists? Movies like that were made for specific propaganda reasons and nothing was made without a propaganda component.

    It's a bloody business and they were a bloody regime, killing was high on their list of priorities as any student of Soviet history knows. Hesketh-Pritchard mentions how in the trenches he was called "the professional assassin" in a semi-humorous way - only semi-humorous because then, unlike the fetish made of all things sniping today, picking men off like ground hogs wasn't considered sporting, gentlemanly or even humane - many on the Allied side in fact regarded it as at best unsavoury and "unfair". One comes across such sentiments in memoirs and even regimental histories of WWI - and perhaps WWII for that matter.

    The Bolsheviks made a point of rejecting all such "bourgeois" notions of morality, and so I believe they were instinctively drawn to such direct, deliberate methods of killing, just as they were no doubt attracted by the idea of killing enemy officers in particular who they would consider political as well as military enemies. IIRC this political/class aspect comes across clearly in the movie. Some may think that's a bit thin, but one needs to have a sense of the foundations of their ideology and how such people see the world. They were determined to be different, to reject all that had gone before, if possible.

    As you mentioned the regime clearly realized the importance of marksmanship and instituted a very thorough nation-wide program to encourage it - and that despite the fact that marksmen can be quite dangerous to despotic regimes! That also demosntrates how important they felt the matter was militarily, and how clearly they saw such questions.

    The Reichswehr did field at least one new scope and mount system in the Weimar period, and whatever pretenses might have been necessary before the repudiation of the Versailles Treaty, I think we can be pretty sure they continued to train and maintain schools or cadres. How much was done in Russiaicon at the training grounds there is debatable, since most such work could be done easily in Germanyicon without attracting attention from any Allied inspectors. If large scale exercises or formation training was done in Russia, then one would expect snipers to have been part of that. For example IIRC the German Army had a policy of using snipers and MGs as both cover and protection for each other, so if MGs were part of training in Russia, then snipers probably were also.

    How much was shared with the Red Army probably depended most on their level of interest; it was a trade-off situation and I doubt the Reichswehr would have offered more than the Reds asked for, but I also doubt they would refuse much they did specifically ask for. The use of the bases in Russia was too important to Reichswehr.

    I haven't heard of scoped Ross rifles being supplied to the Whites; is there a source for that?
    Last edited by Surpmil; 12-11-2022 at 03:37 PM. Reason: More
    “There are invisible rulers who control the destinies of millions. It is not generally realized to what extent the words and actions of our most influential public men are dictated by shrewd persons operating behind the scenes.”

    Edward Bernays, 1928

    Much changes, much remains the same.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Surpmil View Post
    It's good to be sceptical. You are probably right that it would be a subject fairly low on the list of Red Army priorities compared to tanks or gas warfare, but anyone studying war on the Western Front as they no doubt did, would know it was a significant part of the methods there. And as there were lots of original and unconventional thinkers in the Red Army, I suspect they would recognize the "economies of scale" immediately - economy was very important as you mentioned.

    When was that Soviet movie "Sniper" produced? It indicates the level of interest; did they make a movie about tank-men or gas warfare specialists? Movies like that were made for specific propaganda reasons and nothing was made without a propaganda component.
    Sniper was produced by Timoshenko in 1931. Gotta love that opening scene where the bagpipeless Scottish Band is marching to the tune of It's Long Way to Tipperary. Yes, it is a propaganda flick showing how WW I pitted proletariat brothers against one another by the reactionary monarchists regimes of Europe and a counter-revolutionary's attack on peace loving proletariat workers with a side of sissy-boy more interested in self-pleasure instead of sacrifice for the glorious socialist state (OK, I grew up around that bovine feces and I'm being facetious).
    It's a bloody business and they were a bloody regime, killing was high on their list of priorities as any student of Soviet history knows. Hesketh-Pritchard mentions how in the trenches he was called "the professional assassin" in a semi-humorous way - only semi-humorous because then, unlike the fetish made of all things sniping today, picking men off like ground hogs wasn't considered sporting, gentlemanly or even humane - many on the Allied side in fact regarded it as at best unsavoury and "unfair". One comes across such sentiments in memoirs and even regimental histories of WWI - and perhaps WWII for that matter.

    The Bolsheviks made a point of rejecting all such "bourgeois" notions of morality, and so I believe they were instinctively drawn to such direct, deliberate methods of killing, just as they were no doubt attracted by the idea of killing enemy officers in particular who they would consider political as well as military enemies. IIRC this political/class aspect comes across clearly in the movie. Some may think that's a bit thin, but one needs to have a sense of the foundations of their ideology and how such people see the world. They were determined to be different, to reject all that had gone before, if possible.

    As you mentioned the regime clearly realized the importance of marksmanship and instituted a very thorough nation-wide program to encourage it - and that despite the fact that marksmen can be quite dangerous to despotic regimes! That also demosntrates how important they felt the matter was militarily, and how clearly they saw such questions.

    The Reichswehr did field at least one new scope and mount system in the Weimar period, and whatever pretenses might have been necessary before the repudiation of the Versailles Treaty, I think we can be pretty sure they continued to train and maintain schools or cadres. How much was done in Russiaicon at the training grounds there is debatable, since most such work could be done easily in Germanyicon without attracting attention from any Allied inspectors. If large scale exercises or formation training was done in Russia, then one would expect snipers to have been part of that. For example IIRC the German Army had a policy of using snipers and MGs as both cover and protection for each other, so if MGs were part of training in Russia, then snipers probably were also.
    Said development was under the cover that it was for the police.
    How much was shared with the Red Army probably depended most on their level of interest; it was a trade-off situation and I doubt the Reichswehr would have offered more than the Reds asked for, but I also doubt they would refuse much they did specifically ask for. The use of the bases in Russia was too important to Reichswehr.
    OK, in 1926 the Soviet Union acquired 150 German Zeiss Dialytan 4x scopes and Geschow mounts.... By 1929 another 350 Zeiss scops and Walter mounts were acquired." Source Yee, World War II Snipers, p 299.
    I haven't heard of scoped Ross rifles being supplied to the Whites; is there a source for that?
    See Timoshenko's 1931 flick, Sniper. Stop it at the scene where they show the rifles. They're scoped Ross Rifles. I shared that with Martin Pegler and he was also amused by that.

    BTW. Soviet Lt. General G. E. Morozoff made the assertion that the Soviets learned from Hesketh Prichard's book. Yee, World War II Snipers, 24.

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    I know the scenes you refer to because I saved screenshots from them a year or two back. As you know there is also a very grainy crop of a photo showing a Mk.III Ross with a severely cut down stock and a Germanicon-made scope mounted.

    Perhaps the Red Army was experimenting at that point and decided to use a non-standard rifle for the same sort of reasons that the Britishicon chose to use Springfields for a comparative test of certain scope mounts: apparently it was felt that choosing a totally unfamiliar rifle would focus the user's attention on the components that were to be compared.

    Or perhaps it was just an economy measure, or possibly they recognized the superior accuracy of the Ross - and perhaps the speed of loading - and decided that since it was a limited run, they might as well use the best they could get?

    Have you seen any reference to rifles being supplied to the Whites with scopes fitted? I never have and what's in the movie is just in a movie. Sort of like the Ross .280 takedown that Clint Eastwood handles in "Joe Kidd" (scope on backwards etc.)

    If there was any intention to supply the Whites with such rifles by spring of 1919 there were about 8000 scoped SMLE's sitting in store at Weedon or Enfield that could have been sent, and since so many SMLE's were sent it would have made sense to send the same rifle, despite its many flaws as a sniping rifle. Particularly since the rifles were going to be broken up for spares anyway, though off-hand I don't recall when that decision was made.

    1926 is pretty early for a scope acquisition by the Soviets; within a few years of their cooperation with the Reichswehr beginning.

    I see Gen. Morozoff/Morozov was speaking to the N.Y. Times in 1942. I suggest he was being both polite and deceptive: implying the Soviets were just learning and new to all this etc. etc.!
    Last edited by Surpmil; 12-12-2022 at 01:35 PM. Reason: More
    “There are invisible rulers who control the destinies of millions. It is not generally realized to what extent the words and actions of our most influential public men are dictated by shrewd persons operating behind the scenes.”

    Edward Bernays, 1928

    Much changes, much remains the same.

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