The first six months after the start of the Great Patriotic War clearly revealed all the advantages and disadvantages of the armament of the Soviet Union. And when it became clear that the main pistol of the Red Army was difficult to use all year round, they undertook to solve this problem by designing new weapons. And, it would seem, promising test results should have given way to a promising project. However, everything happened the other way around, and the new pistol never went into production, and only three of its copies have survived to this day. All this is about the "Baltiyets" - a weapon that was not destined to become the hope of the Soviet army.
The German attack on the USSR exposed all the advantages and disadvantages of the Red Army's armament. In particular, it turned out that the TT pistol, popular among the army men, which proved to be good at the front in the first months of the war, was no longer so reliable, having one serious problem. When the calendar approached winter, it was found that the working capacity of the brainchild of "Tula Tokarev" significantly decreased with a decrease in air temperature. It turned out that in the cold the moving parts of the pistol simply froze to the body, and the TT often jammed during cold weather.
Complaints about the weapons popular until that time from soldiers and officers of the Red Army came more and more often. It was necessary to find a solution to a sudden problem. The command gave the order to military engineers to come up with a qualitatively new pistol, which was supposed to maintain its properties and performance at low temperatures. The answer was found thanks to the current officer of the Red Army, Chief of Staff of the Baltic Fleet, Admiral Yuri Fedorovich Rall, who proposed developing a new weapon based on the German Walther PP.
The reasons for this choice of a high-ranking military man lay in the fact that the Walther PP had already established itself as a good weapon by that time. In addition, this pistol had a simple design, and was also manufactured for the most used weapon caliber in the Soviet Union at that time - 7, 62x25. According to Novate.ru, the same cartridge was used in TT and in submachine guns. Therefore, Rall's proposal was considered quite rational and was taken into development.
It was decided to start the production of a new pistol, which was named "Baltiets", at the Leningrad plant No. 181 (another name - Machine-building and instrument-making plant "Engine"). As directed by the command, the number of serial production was supposed to be 15 units. The assembly of prototypes officially began in December 1941.
About a month later, by the beginning of 1942, the first copy of the pistol was completed, after which tests were carried out in low temperatures - about thirty degrees below zero. The results were quite encouraging: the Baltiets did not jam in the cold, and there were no misfires either. However, some flaws were still revealed during the tests. So, problems were found in the balancing of the weapon, which felt quite weighty in the hand.
The results of the check were taken into account, and the next copy already had a shortened barrel and more accurate processing of parts, and was also equipped with a return spring. These measures have reduced the total weight of the weapon to 960 grams. This modification became a model for subsequent manufactured units.
The production of the new pistol had, in addition to the practical, also a moral effect: the army men and ordinary Leningraders exhausted by the blockade and endless shelling, this activity inspired the hope that the city was fighting and was not going to die, even without outside support. But they tactfully kept silent about the fact that "Baltiets" is, in fact, a revised German "colleague".
However, this did not help the weapon itself: the difficult blockade conditions ultimately put an end to the future of a promising pistol. And it happened like this: the process of releasing a pre-production batch grew into a real scandal. It turned out that the parts in the besieged city were only enough for 14 units, although according to all documents the quantity was 15 pieces.
And, given the future of this entire batch - the pistols were supposed to be gifts for high-ranking Leningrad military men - the incident became almost global. The perpetrators were quickly introduced to the public and punished, but the reputation of the plant and the Baltiyets itself was irrevocably destroyed.
As a result, the addressees, although not all, received pistols, which were supplied with donative engravings. Among those who received the "Baltic" was Admiral Yuri Rall, and several other officers from among the commanders of the Baltic Fleet, as well as the secretary of the city party committee of Leningrad. Only on this the path of a promising pistol to the front was completed.
In Moscow, it was decided that the Baltiets was not superior to the same TT in terms of technical characteristics so that it could be put into production. In addition, it was considered inexpedient to additionally load the production capacity of the Leningrad plant No. 181 with another defense order. The shortage in the besieged city of both qualified specialists and parts for assembly also affected. Therefore, the "Baltiyets" was never accepted into service with the Red Army and Navy.
It was decided to continue to supply soldiers and officers with pistols of the "Nagant" system and the good old TT, and also relied on captured copies. As for the Baltiets, the fate of most of the 14 units produced remains unknown. Reliably, only three copies of the pistol have survived to this day - No. 1, No. 2 and No. 5. All of them are exhibits of the Central Naval Museum of St. Petersburg.
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