The Rifles of Egypt 1922 - 1958

by Dan Reynolds
Egypt became nominally independent of British rule in 1922.  It had a king and an Army. The Army was armed with Remington Rolling Block Rifles in .43 Egyptian, Martini-Henry 577/.450 Peabody type rifles and carbines and conversions of these Martinis to .303 British, but the principal rifle was the .303 No.3 Mk1 and Mk1* Enfield. Britain remain in control with Imperial Troops dominating the country.

In 1936 a Treaty was signed requiring all British Empire troops and other officials to retire into the Suez Canal Zone.  At the outbreak of WW2 British forces assumed virtual control of the entire country, which while technically neutral, was at the service of the British Empire.

There was great dissatisfaction within the Egyptian Army at this puppet status imposed on their country.  A revolutionary movement began to fester.  In the postwar period King Farouk, a gun collector and weapons expert sat upon the throne.  He armed his body guards with Colt .45ACP pistols which were specially marked, and sold off as surplus in the late 50's and are very desirable.

In 1948 the State of Israel was founded with the Soviet Union and the USA playing a prominent role in the UN and the real world supporting this move.  This was to have profound effect on later events.  The Arab states, seeing this move as an attack on the concept of the "Arab Nation", began a war with Israel to reclaim the land allocated in Palestine to the State of Israel.

The Soviet Union authorized the sale by Czechoslovakia of most of the armament that made its victory in the 1948 War possible.  This included small arms such as the Kar. 98K Mauser and MG34 GPMG as well as aircraft such as the BF109 Messerschmidt fighters still in production in Czechoslovakia.

Egypt fought the war with .303 Enfield and 98k surplus Mausers bought on the world market, along with 8mm Carcani used for training purposes.

In 1949 after the cease fire FN in Belgian began supplying 7.92x57 Mauser carbines to Egypt and in 1951 SAFN 7.92x57mm Model 49 rifles with the Farouk crest.  Farouk was overthrown in a 1951 coup by the Army after Egypt renounced the 1936 Treaty and conflicts began between rioters and British troops in the Canal Zone.

A junta led by Col. Naguib ruled the country and began purchasing arms from Yugoslavia including M24/47 and M48 Mausers in 7.92mm.  A deal was negotiated with Sweden to buy a factory to produce the 7.92mm version of the M42B rifles at Helwan as the "Hakim". Egypt was still chronically short of small arms.

On Nov.14, 1954 Naguib was deposed by the more militant Col. Abdul Nasser.  He had CIA contacts and sought American arms assistance which was not forth coming as it would conflict with US support for Britain and Israel.  The Soviet Union, having previously reversed policy under Stalin, now agreed to supply arms to Egypt from Czechoslovakia.

The VZ52 was the first rifle type supplied.  It was the same rifle and pattern with Castro in Cuba as the Soviet Union did not want to be directly identified as the supplier of arms to a country about to confront a western power.

Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal and Britain, France and Israel invaded in the fall of 1956 as the Hungarian Revolution was underway and the Russians were involved there.
Israel captured many small arms and some came into the USA via Golden State Arms Corp. in 1958, including some VZ52 and SAFN.

All known Czech production of the VZ52 and VZ52/57 was coded "SHE" for the factory of original production.  The Egyptians made a modification of the Hakim rifle as the Rashid and there have been rumors that they may have made original VZ52 or conversions to the VZ52/57 at Helwan "Maadi" complex using Czech supplied parts and tools.

The Rashid production was set up, supposedly with the help of Swedish technicians, in the plant where the Hakim was being made on Swedish tooling in 7.92mm after Egyptains had received the VZ52, VZ52/57, SKS, and AK's from the East Bloc and had decided to replace the 7.92mm weapons with the short round. About 6500 were made before production was halted according to the info available and many wound up in the USA in the late 80's. Some are marked UAR (United Arab Republic).

Nasser had ambitions to form a united "Arab Nation" and formed a union with Syria in 1958 as a start in that direction.   VZ52's and other arms were sent to Syria.  The union did not endure.

Russia had a grand plan to overthrow Anglo/American hegemony in the Middle East.
It was basically Stalin's conception and his successors carried it forward.  That was the reason the Russians constructed the Aswan High Dam.

In the early 1990's Egypt trained Palestinian arabs on the new PA and VZ52's which were well used.
 
 

Arabic writing in white on stock


 

Copyright 2002-2008