Herein you will find reminces of men who used and nicknamed M48s in their service and cleaned them in warehouse. Also are data on ammunition types, thoughts on "sticky bolt" and details about the people who built these rifles and the conditions under which they labored.
Read on. )
Thanks to those who have shared reminences of having actually used these weapons and without whom we would be perpetually "best" guessing.
We've all heard how M48s were taken down from storage, cleaned and some test fired then regooped and returned to storage.
Ever wonder about the people who did it and the conditions it was done under? Well I happen to know one of the guys who had to do it. He consented to give us some recollections of his time in service in Yugoslavia and this duty in particular.
Many of us served in the US Military during the "Cold War" years. Most of us new little or nothing of the guys on the other side of the borders we patrolled. I thought many might find of interest the recollections of one such gentleman.
Yugoslavia wasn't a "belligerent" nation but still was in many ways similar to those on the other side of the "'Curtain."
So here follows the recollections of 25+ years ago from a soldier of the former Yugoslavia. Not wanting notoriety he asked that his name be left out of it. He did stress that these were his memories and that they may not be perfect in detail or just like anothers recollections.
"June 1976 Yugoslavia.
I forget the date , but it was my turn to sit on the train and depart for my service in Yugo arm forces for 15 months, mandatory, and "lucky dogs" in the Navy got 18 months.
It was predetermined for me to be in field artillery, squad leader.
On the way from my hometown Rijeka (Croatian coast) to Serbian town of Leskovac, the train was almost demolished by soon to be new soldiers, some got arrested, most of us got drunk After all it was our last day of freedom.
Got there next day, got in the line for haircuts, showers, receiving military clothes etc., the whole nine yards.
Other soldiers yelling at us "newbies greenhorns lizards "
I spent there 6 months training to become squad leader (desetar).
Because of my size, and mainly my big rebel mouth, I was issued MG 42 that I carried for six months.
Cleaning weapons was daily routine, cause we used them throughout the day. I was always jealous of guys carrying Mausers, how little they had to clean comparing to me.
Weapons inspections were held every morning, at random, and if there were any dirt present, even lint, it was punishment for the soldier (extra guard duty, scrubbing toilets etc.). They were very strict with us, discipline was at highest level.
Weapons from former Yugo, that are being imported into US today, some of them have all sorts of carvings, graffiti, hash marks, names initials etc. I can assure you, in my time, we never even thought about anything like that, totally unthinkable.
Rifle cleaning was individual job, but two soldiers often paired up to pull bore snake through their barrels.* I dont remember what kind of solutions did we use to clean barrels, but I imagine it had to be something to get rid of corrosive salts. We never used water, as it is suggested today, I guess our bore cleaner contained all necessary ingredients for corrosive ammo. The last step was usually oiling the bore by running oily patch through the bore. Since a lot of rifles were pitted (the bores), some soldiers used tricks to conceal the pits by grinding pencil graphite in to dust, applying to oily patch than running it through the bore. It worked all the time.
(*Another reason why cleaning rope is so long 8ft arrrrrgh I should have remembered this in the first place
Each soldier carried a part of the tent ( I dont know exact measurement, but let say 6X6 piece with grommets)
Six soldiers would than get together to assemble a tent, by contributing each, their piece of tent, and than cleaning rope was used to put them together by means of stringing the rope through the grommets of each piece. I spent plenty of time on Yugo/Bulgarian border under a tent .it just came all back to me )
Most of the rifles were "beaters", for training purposes, and were decent shooters, but, newer rifles were kept in large warehouses, stashed away in crates and covered with cosmo. Each rifle was accompanied with its "technical carton" (I think he means log book. 'nug) much like SKSs are being shipped with today. Those new rifles were pulled out of warehouses at random (crates) then brought to barracks for detailed cleaning, some of them test fired. All that was entered in technical carton, together with date, and signature of inspecting officer. The rifles were cleaned in the same manner as every day weapons cleaning procedure. Most of us did not really like to clean cosmo of these rifles. I remember being on this detail twice, but infantry (which was right next door to us), they did it quite few times. Some of the rifles were test fired for function and groups, then put back in cosmo after cleaning. Firing those rifles was the best part. Test firing was done at 100 meters on bullseye type targets, while normal qualifying firing was done at various distances. Most common was 100 meters,than 400 meters for rifles (silhouette type targets), and for MGs 500 meters, 800 meters and 1200 meters. We, the artillery, also had numerous 105 mm cannons that were in grease instead of cosmo, so we use to clean and re-clean and lube those as well periodically. I remember roughly a football field size packed with 105 mm side by side, covered with various covers for breech , tube etc. Our 122 mm cannons (Russian manufacture) were used daily for exercises , and we had live firing very often, most of the times on the Bulgarian border, right in front of "their" noses.
Little more on differences between Ex Yugo and USA military.
In Yugo (in my time) tour was 15 months. No civilian clothes were allowed ever, except when completing the tour of 15 months and going back home for good. We were not allowed to keep civi clothes with us. Pass to town was issued for Sat. and Sun. only on regular basis, with curfew of course, and strict code of conduct, inspection before leaving barracks, etc. Yugo grunts did NOT get paid. Symbolic amount of money was given monthly to every soldier (dont laugh $1.00 roughly monthly) for necessities such as tooth paste, comb, small mirror, or shoe/boot polish. First time going home was "vacation" 15 days plus few days for traveling depending on the distance soldier had to travel to get home and back. While on vacation at home, civilian clothes was allowed.
Our next door neighbors infantry, were issued SKS (papovka,,pap) and just about by the end of my service, I saw few 7.92 rifles. I believe they were model 70.
In Yugo military, every branch had same basic training , with small arms including Mausers (all models) MG42, MP40, "bazooka" (or as we called them recoilless ordnance). Later when I became squad leader I carried MP40 and PPSH (Russian).
Yugoslavia was always "neutral," but unofficially always leaned more to the West than to the East. It was the only country that did not belong in Communist Russian block, expelled Russian advisors in 1948, and stayed neutral. So we were never as Russians were.
We were allowed to go abroad either for pleasure or for business. There are still over 500 000 Croatian people working in Germany today.
See, Tito was a smart guy....he figured if he lets everyone go and work in foreign country, they will come back with their foreign money, and invest in domestic infrastructure...
Matter of fact, I and my friends use to go to Italy (Trieste), at least twice a week. From my hometown Rijeka, only 75 kilometers to Trieste.
My last two years of high school, 11th and 12th grade, we had so called pre-military education as a subject (male and female), went to the range for live fire (Mausers), so everybody was ready in case of national emergency.
My first six months were with 122mm howitzer (Russian), daily training, every day, rain, snow, wind or sun. A few guys developed hernias from pushing artillery pieces from point A to point B 4-500 meters every day. One guy would sit on top of the barrel, two guys on each side of the rear legs (forget my terminology) (its split trail nug), two guys on wheels, one on each side, the tallest soldier was at the most rear with his arms under both rear legs for steering. We did this every day! The rest of my service , I was also 122mm , but not howitzer, cannon which was a lot larger and heavier, and it was pulled by a track ( something like personal carrier)."
Having been on "our side" of the border, I found this very interesting. He has my thanks for taking the time to record his recollections for us.
I asked him and he said the warehouses he saw were not climate controlled. Personally, I think the above is quite interesting and gives a little more feeling for the past of these rifles we collect.
Addendum I, Here's a little more background, this from Branko...
"...Well, in High school I have practice shooting with M48. After University, I served in Armored regiment No.14 (Slovenia). Personal equipement - SMG 7.62 mm M56 and new AR M70A (yugo Kalashnikov with folder stock). But, for all generation and all soldiers, M48 (nickname ("tangara", old, good rifle) is best rifle in history of yugo army."
From another of our members...
I guess it's all about pronunciation.
In the Yugo language it is TANDZARA, "Z" comes with little apostrophe on the top...the way it is written it is the way that it is pronounced ( in Yugo).
In order to pronounce the sound "DZ" in English, it would sound same as "j" in the word JURY.
So, based on what I just wrote, in order to pronounce it with correct "DZ", I would have to spell it as TANJARA.
But, as long as we know what we're talking about, than all of the above is OK.....lol, I'll stick with TANGARA..
It sounds very similar to TANGERINE
Addendum II,. on Yugo reliability & "sticky bolt syndrome...
Many of us have experienced difficulty with M48s and naturally wonder about the reputation for reliability clearly presented here. Branko offered this...
"All original M24, M48 and M48A in military use dont have "sticky bolt syndrome." I know, Zastava only have problem named ''hammered bolt'' in experimental phase with AMR .50 M93 Black Arrow. My thought is: sticky bolt syndrome are related to export parts guns, assembled from original receivers with crest and pattern designations (M48, M48A) and various parts. Also, I dont know characteristic of Turk, Romanian or other exotic manufacturers. Yugo rifles built around Yugo, Czech and German ammo 7.92x57 mm (''S'' or ''sS'' bullet types)."*
Clearly this problem was not encountered by the Yugo military. Probably, besides the "part gun" issues, any such problems encountered were either corrected at the factory before issue or if problems were encountered at the unit level the weapon was either turned in for repair or exchanged. It is clear the Yugos fired their weapons much more than the U.S. does.
*related ammo note, data provided by Branko
''S'' is ''spitz Geschoss'' (military FMJ pointed bullet):
7.92 mm bullet, German, ''S''....................151.2 grs (grein)
7.92 mm bullet, Yugo ''S'' M47.................158.2 grs
''sS'' is ''schweres Spitz Geschoss'' (military FMJ heavy pointed bullet - Boat Tail, BT) :
7.92 mm bullet ''sS'' FN M24.................................................197.3 to 197.7 grs
7.92 mm bullet, German, ''sS''...............................................197.5 grs
7.92 mm bullet, Yugo, ''sS'' M24, Czech ''sS'' vz24..................197.5 grs
7.92 mm bullet, Yugo ''sS'' M49.............................................198.3 grs
There has been some debate about the conditions under which the workers who built the Yugo weapons labored and lived. Some argue little more than commie drudges others as specialized and skilled tradesmen rewarded for the efforts(my personal view). Well I wrote Branko and asked what he had to say about it. Here is his reply...
"The conditions in Yugoslavia were a bit different from those in the Eastern Block. The workers were rather good paid, having social and health insurance free of charge as well as free education of their children. They all without any exception were allowed to travel to any country they wanted. Specially good social position had the workers in military industry. In fact, they were paid 10 times more than their colleagues in the USSR. Almost all the workers at Kragujevac factory had the flats in their possession as well as their own car.
I would say that pretty well settles the "commie drudge?" question.
I want to add a little.
Ditto what Branko said, also, all those workers worked in defense of the country, by making weapons that their sons and daughters were gonna use. Those people were not in any way sabotaging or cutting corners during production, and morale was high.
To boost the morale in the service, COs were often emphasizing to the troops the fact that weapons were made in Yugo factory, by Yugo workers.