Breda M37

The Breda Modello 37 was an Italian heavy machine gun (Mitragliatrice Breda MOD.37) adopted in 1937. It was the standard machine gun for the Royal Italian Army during World War II. The M37 was meant as company/battalion support as compared to the more troublesome M1930 meant for squad/platoon support, and proved far more effective in combat, though possessing some of the same problematic features of Breda 30.

Breda M37
Class Manportable
Type Machine Guns
Manufacturer Breda Meccanica Bresciana
Production Period 1937 - 1943
Origin Italy
Country Name Origin Year
Italy 1936
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Italy 1939 1945 View
Mozambique 1961 1974 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Breda Meccanica Bresciana 1937 1943 View

The Breda M37 was a gas-operated, air-cooled heavy machine gun. The Breda used a larger cartridge than its rivals, the 8 mm x59RB Breda. Unlike other infantry machine guns, the Breda lacked a camming mechanism for initial extraction of the cartridge case after firing, and this meant that each cartridge had to be oiled via an oiling mechanism before being fed into the chamber. This attracted dust and debris, particularly in desert environments such as found in the Royal Italian Army's World War II campaigns in Libya and the Western Desert.

In service, the M37 and M38 Bredas proved to be fairly reliable heavy machine guns. Perhaps because the heavy support weapons received more attention from their crews, field reports were generally positive except for jams caused by desert sand and dust, which in the Western Desert affected all infantry machine guns to some extent.

The weapon remained in first-line service with Italian forces throughout the war, and captured examples were used in combat by British and Commonwealth forces, including units of the SAS.

The M37 was also adopted by the Portuguese armed forces, who placed it into service as the Metralhadora pesada 7,92 mm m/938 Breda heavy machine gun. The Breda saw extensive service in Portugal's African colonies during the early stages of the Portuguese Colonial Wars.

Type Heavy machine gun
Place of origin Kingdom of Italy
Service history
In service 1937 to 1960s
Used by Italy, Portugal

Wars World War II, Portuguese Colonial War, current regional conflicts
Production history
Designed 1936
Manufacturer Breda Meccanica Bresciana
Produced 1937 to 1943
Number built not known
Variants Modello 38 vehicle mounted
Weight 19.4 kg
Length 1270 mm
Cartridge 8×59mm RB Breda, 7.92×57mm Mauser
Action gas-operated
Rate of fire 460 round/min maximum, 250 rounds/min sustained
Muzzle velocity 900 m/s (2,952 ft/s)
Effective firing range 1000 m
Feed system 20 round strip

End notes