Forgotten Weapons is a blog that should be read by anyone who is serious about the history of firearms. You’ll find articles and information there that you just can’t find anywhere else.
Take, for example, their recent story on the gun of one Henryk Strapoc. Henryk had the misfortune of being a budding gun designer when both Hitler and Stalin invaded his native Poland. He joined one of the many resistance groups, and their need for weapons prompted him to design an indigenous – and very novel – submachine gun.
Strapoc, having no real education in engineering or gun design but possessing a blacksmith’s practicality, came up with design for a stamped-steel machine gun that fired from a closed bolt – decades before the HK MP-5. Working with little more than hand tools (his lathe and drill press were hand-cranked) he constructed the first gun himself. The underground arranged for the “Beha” (as it would become known) to be made by employees of the Zakady Ostrowieckie metalworks, but apparently only 11 were completed before the Red Army invaded that area. Today only one remains, in the Polish Army Museum in Warsaw.
The gun is remarkable, not just because of the conditions under which it was produced but because of its modernity. Strapoc’s design was truly inspired, and it would be many years before his various innovations would be copied by various firearms companies.
After the war he simply disappeared behind the Iron Curtain, and even the date of his death is unknown. He was obviously and incredibly talented designer, and it’s sad that he apparently never made another gun.
The article at Forgotten Weapons has much, much more and there is some great historical discussion in the comments as well. It is highly recommended reading even if you’re not into submachine guns. (If you think the sun rises and sets on John Browning, it will serve as a reminder that there have been people with that level of genius who didn’t have the fortune to live in a country where it was allowed to be nurtured.)
-=[ Grant ]=-