The FIAT-Revelli Model 1935 (Modello 35) of 1935 was a modernization of the World War 1-era FIAT-Revelli Model 1914, first tested by the Italian Army in 1908. The original Model 1914 certainly held its many detractors for inherent critical failings to her design when compared to contemporaries of the time - namely the German Maxim and the British Vickers machine guns. The Italian offering was centered around the underpowered Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5x52mm service rifle cartridge loaded into the machine gun through the same 5-round rifle stripper clips dropped into fragile sheet metal ammunition "cage". The peculiarity in design also saw the bolt forced out of the rear during the firing action in an exposed fashion which introduced all manner of dangers to the operator while attracting outright stoppages of the gun. Each cartridge was required to be lubricated prior to entering the chamber and this, in turn, required an integrated oil reservoir to be fitted while making the cartridges now susceptible to attracting dust and debris all their own - again, this potentially leading to stoppages. Like other machine guns of the period, the Model 1914 was of a water cooled design, requiring use of a connected water can and a large, cumbersome water cooling jacket fitted over the barrel. As it stood, however, the Italian Army was woefully short of viable small arms entering World War 1 and the FIAT-Revelli Model 1914 made logistical sense.
Prior to World War 2 (1939-1945), many world powers centered on a period of modernization for many inventory stocks were still comprised of World War 1-era arms and equipment. The Italian Army persisted with their Model 1914 until an attempt was made beginning in 1934 to modernized the type for service. The new design - designated as the "FIAT-Revelli Modello 1935" and, as its designation suggests, adopted in 1935 - did away with the cumbersome and weak cage magazine feed box and introduced the more widely-accepted belt-feed approach in its place. This design direction also saw the deletion of the oil reservoir used in the model of 1914 with a fluted chamber being designed in its place. The 6.5mm rifle cartridge was abandoned in favor of the heavier (and dimensionally larger) 8x59mm RB Breda cartridge, the same cartridge to be utilized in the upcoming Breda heavy machine gun of 1937 (M37). Cartridges were now served through a 50-round belt of which several could be linked and held in an optional hardened ammunition box fitted to the left side of the receiver (or hand-fed as normal). The water cooled nature of the Model 1914 was dropped in the Model 1935, the weapon becoming a standard air-cooled design with perforated jacket being fitted. The weapon used a close-bolt design and general operation of the weapon was via a pair of spade grips at the rear of the receiver. A slim loop along the barrel jacket facilitated barrel changing and a small conical flash suppressor was fitted over the muzzle. Sighting was through a rear flip-up type assembly as well as a forward post.
Overall length of the new weapon was 50 inches with a barrel length of 25.75 inches. Overall unloaded weight was 40lb, typically issued with a heavy duty low-profile tripod assembly. The Model 35, like the Model 1914 before it, was a complete weapon system incorporating the machine gun unit itself, the tripod mounting assembly and ammunition supply requiring multiple crew to a machine gun section. Cyclic rate-of-fire was 500 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity of 2,600 feet per second. Effective range was approximately 1,000 meters.
Of note is that the weapon was also reclassified as a "heavy" machine gun. The modifications were handled by Societa Metallurgica Bresciana of Italy.
While all of these changes were intended to vastly improve upon the original 1914 model, the Modello 35 did not benefit greatly from its modernization program. It appears that the Model 35 was essentially still too closely tied to the failings that were the Model 1914 and the new design never found a proper footing as a result. The fluted chamber did not solve stoppages outright and cartridge lubrication was still required - reissue of the oil reservoirs was undertaken for some of the stock while cartridges were also pre-greased prior to their installation into the belt. The closed-bolt nature of the new design did not work well within the scope of the sustained fire role for, when the cycle was ended by the operator, a final cartridge resided in the now-heated chamber. This inevitably led to inadvertent "Cooking off" of live-fire ammunition. Nevertheless, the Modello 35 was of practical use to the modern Italian Army and the larger cartridge offered improved penetration at range as well as valued repeat fire for suppression of enemy forces. At its core, however, it was hardly much of an improvement over the original troublesome design.
With that said, the Modello 35 actually led a shorter and more forgettable service life than the machine gun she attempted to replace. The Model 35 was, however, issued as a standardized medium machine gun to Italian forces during all of World War 2 and saw service into 1945 before being given up for good shortly after the cessation of hostilities. Production of Modello 35 machine guns by Societa Metallurgica Bresciana spanned from 1935 to 1943 when, in September, the Italians formally ended their support of Nazi Germany and entered the side of the Allies proper.
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