Throughout the 1950s, Czechoslovakia evolved their General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) design beginning with the vz. 52. This gas-operated weapon held the unique ability to be fed by way of ammunition belt or magazine and was chambered for the local 7.62x45mm cartridge. The following vz. 52/57 brought about support for the widely-accepted 7.62x39mm Soviet cartridge and, by the end of the decade, the design was refined once more to become the vz. 59 - now chambered for the 7.62x54R (rimmed) Soviet rifle cartridge offering better penetration at range. Design work on the type spanned from 1956 into 1959 (attributed to Zbrojovka Vsetin) with adoption forthcoming in 1959. It remains in use with the modern Czech Army (2013) which was formed after the peaceful split of Czechoslovakia following the collapse of the Soviet Union (the Slovakia forms the other half opposite the Czech Republic).
The vz. 59 dropped support for magazine feeding, instead focused exclusively on a proven (and simpler) belt-fed operation which enhanced both function and construction. By and large, the vz. 59 was nothing more than an improved vz. 52 brought up to a more modern fighting standard. As a GPMG, it was assigned several battlefield roles for Czechoslovakia such as squad light machine gun, stationary heavy machine gun and vehicle coaxial machine gun. A light barrel (591mm long) and bipod produced the squad light machine gun form under the designation of vz. 59L ("L" = "light") while the heavy machine gun form was given a heavier, longer (694mm) barrel for the sustained fire role. These versions were typically mounted atop a conventional, adjustable tripod. The vehicle-mounted (coaxial) version was actuated via a solenoid and adopted as the vz. 59T. The vz. 59 line accepted 50- or 200-round belts and utilized the same gas-operated action with tilting breechblock function. Rate-of-fire was 750 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity of 2,700 feet per second. A barrel changing feature was standard to prevent overheating.
An export-minded variant was developed in later years, chambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO-standard rifle cartridge. These appeared as the vz. 68H and retained all of the form and function of the original Czech design.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Capable of suppressing enemy elements at range through direct or in-direct fire.
1,220 mm 48.03 in
694 mm 27.32 in
19.18 lb 8.70 kg
Flip-up adjustable rear; iron front
Gas-Operated; Full-Automatic Fire; Belt-Fed
Rounds are automatically ejected from the breech, a new cartridge stripped from the feed and set in the chamber, and rounds are continuously fired so long as the trigger is pulled and an ammunition supply exists.
Gas-operated system is featured, typically involving a gas cylinder and rear-driven piston directing energy to the bolt component.
(Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information)
7.62x54R Russian; 7.62x51mm NATO
Rounds / Feed
50- or 200-Round Belt
*May not represent an exhuastive list; calibers are model-specific dependent, always consult official manufacturer sources. **Graphics not to actual size; not all cartridges may be represented visually; graphics intended for general reference only.
6,560 ft (1,999 m | 2,187 yd)
2,700 ft/sec (823 m/sec)
vz. 59 - Base Series Designation; model of 1959; chambered for the 7.62x54R Russian cartridge; General Purpose Machine Gun form with heavy barrel and tripod support.
vz. 59L ("Light") - Squad Light Machine Gun; lighter, changeable barrel assembly; bipod support.
vz.59T ("Tank") - Coaxial-mounted vehicle machine gun; actuated through solenoid.
vz. 68H - Chambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns / operations.
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