Ceska Zbrojovka Vzor 52
Text: Michele Schiavo
Translator: Francesco Cortellini
A bit of history
Even if with a certain delay, the Czechoslovak Army, felt the need to adopt a new ammunition of intermediate power, that could be used in a new semi automatic weapon, abandoning the obsolete Mauser VZ-24 in 7,92×57 mm. From 1952 the study on a new 7,5 x 45 mm ammunition and a weapon that could fire it, started in the early 40s, received new interest and drive, In 1947 two new prototypes were designed: a carbine, that later become the VZ-52, and the ZB-530 assault rifle. The design was finalised only in 1952 and the weapon was finally adopted. The Carbine was manufactured in two arsenals: Povaska Bystrica, factory stamp “SHE” from 1952 to 1956, and Uhersky Brod, factory stamp “AYM”, from 1952 to 1957.
Despite Czechoslovakia joined the Warsaw Pact shortly after the end of the war, Soviet Union tolerated the issue of a new weapon not chambered for a standardized ammunition, by the will of Stalin himself. This happened because Stalin didn’t want ho compromise the capabilities of the very productive Czechoslovak weapon industry in a time, the 50′, when the outbreak of anew world war seemed close. During the 50s, the Brod arsenal increased its production rate by four times and the Soviet Union did not want to risk hindering it, because of delays caused by the conversion of the production lines. In 1957 the need for mass production of individual weapons decreased, and switching to the new standard 7,62×39 mm, already in use with SKS and AK-47, become mandatory.
In Models 52/57 and 57 it is possible to see the barrel retaining pin, that was non present in Model 52
The VZ-52 carbines manufactured before 1957 were re-chambered to fire the new ammunition, and were re-designated VZ-52/57 a 7,62×39 variant of the original VZ-52. The new VZ-52/57 carbine had a very short operational life as in 1958 it was replaced by the more advanced VZ-58 assault rifle, based on the AK-47 design.
Thanks to the conversion the 7,62x39mm ammunition, the VZ-52/57was exported to Egypt, Syria and Cuba.
The VZ-52 is still in use in the Czech Republic by the Castle Guard in Prague. This is a special cerimonial version, deactivated, chrome finished and fitted with a darkened stock without magazine well.
The VZ-52 carbine is a semi-automatic, short stroke gas operated weapon, whose annular piston is very similar to that of the German Mkb.42(W) assault rifle. The bolt locks thanks to a slight downwards motion, and engaging an indent in the receiver. Once the last round has been fired, the bolt is intercepted by a device activated by the follower of the magazine. The removable 10 rounds magazine can be fed with stripper clips without removing it from the weapon, if the bolt is held in the open position. The sliding tangent type rear sight can be adjusted up to 900m, in 100m increments.
The stock is made out of hardwood, while the top of the hand-guard is made out of sheet metal, to ensure better cooling to the area above the gas block. It is interesting to observe that the moving parts are perfectly symmetrical, and that this helps preserving balance.
Inside the stock, closed by a metal cap, a cavity contains the cleaning kit.
© 2016 – 2017, Michele Schiavo. All rights reserved.