PPS SMG's. General overview
The PPS SMG (Пистолет-пулемет Судаева, Sudaev submachine gun) is not as famous or widely known as the PPSH-41 SMG, which is considered as one of the iconic weapons of the WWII. But in 1943-1945 it had a very important role in the armament system of the Red Army.
After the beginning of the war the Red Army lost a huge amount of weapons, all efforts of the Soviet military Industry were put into covering these loses. All serial produced weapons were simplified (including PPSH-41 SMG's), requests for the creation of new, easier to produce models were submitted to many potential designers.
Despite the fact that the PPSH-41 SMG's were much simpler to produce than the PPD-40 SMG's, they still were not easy to manufacture. They also had some durability problems. Because of that, the Main Artillery Directorate announced a contest for a new submachine gun. Several stages of the contest occurred in February - June 1942. The winner was an SMG created by Alexey Sudaev, who was a technician officer of the Main Artillery Directorate. During the final stage of the contest in the summer of 1942, the competitor to his SMG was the PPSH-2 SMG, created by the creator of the PPSH-41 SMG, Georgy Shpagin.
Georgy Shpagin created his new model when he was working in a design bureau at Factory No. 357 NKV (Peoples Commissariat of Armament), and had the Peoples Commissariat of Armament lobby on his behalf, this was huge support - this commisariat was responsible for all arms production. The decision of the contest commission, which selected the PPS SMG as the winning design, was marked with a conflict - Shpagin wrote letters to the Main Artillery Directorate where he argued that the commission decision was unfair. This conflict was resolved in 6 months, with the official acceptance of the PPS SMG into service.
However, the final decision was made on a very high level - a month before acceptation, in December 1942, State Committee of Defense issued a resolution (signed by I. Stalin) about the final trial stage for PPS and PPSH-2 SMG's, during which PPS showed better performance once again. But the conflict of interests between the Main Artillery Directorate and the Peoples Commissariat of Armament left a huge mark on the destiny of the PPS and created a unique situation which never happened with any other Soviet firearms. After the serial production of PPS SMG started, it was never produced by "weapon" factories (factories that were within the structure of Peoples Commissariat of Armament). All manufacturers of PPS SMG were from other Commissariats, these were not special weapon factories.
Two versions of PPS SMG exist. The first is the PPS (sometimes called the PPS-42), and the PPS-43. The history of this SMG is very interesting
After the PPS SMG was considered the contest winner during the summer of 1942, the Main Artillery Directorate obliged factory No. 828 NKMV (Peoples Commissariat of Mine Armament) to start serial production. Originally factory No. 828 was a factory of Accounting Machines, since late 1941 it also produced PPSH-41 SMG's. During the summer and early autumn of 1942 the factory created a number of pre-serial guns and drawings. In December 1942 Alexey Sudaev went to Leningrad, the drawings for PPS production were sent to three Leningrad factories which were selected for PPS production. At the that moment Leningrad was under siege, but it still had a powerful weapon manufacturing industry. In 1941-1942 several factories in Leningrad produced simplified version of the PPD-40 SMG's, the new PPS SMG was much simpler to produce. Factory No. 209 NKSP (Peoples Commissariat of Shipbuilding Industry) was selected as the main factory in Leningrad for production setup, Sudaev himself was based there. Later, this factory became the main manufacturer of the first pattern PPS SMG, with over 42,000 guns produced.
Other factories that started work on the PPS SMG in Leningrad were the Sestroretsk instrument factory, which was evacuated to Leningrad (it carries its history from the Sestroretsk Arms factory), and Cooperative association "Primus". The first PPS SMG's were manufactured in Leningrad by factory No. 209 NKSP in January 1943, but they had some production issues which required updates. During the initial production Sudaev discovered that the drawings should be updated. The corrections took a while, and first Leningrad PPS were accepted by military and submitted for combat trials in February 1943. It is interesting that Leningrad build PPS SMG's were produced according to the Autumn 1942 pattern drawings, with some updates made by local factories together with Sudaev. While the Moscow factory No. 828 (which still was the "main" factory in all PPS production), after Sudaev was sent to Leningrad, made much deeper updates to the initial drawings, which greatly changed the look of the original PPS and hugely increased its durability.
The redesigned PPS was submitted for trials in December 1942, after successful additional trials in January 1943 it was accepted as a pre-serial sample for the trial batch production under the name "PPS-43". At this time it got its Main Artillery Directorate code - 56-A-135. Drawings according to which it was made were accepted as the main drawings for production, all previous drawings were just factory drawings which were not adopted.
Before the PPS-43 drawings were accepted, factory No. 828 managed to produced approximately 1,200 of the old-design PPS SMG's, only less than 120 of them in 1942. This is quite a curious situation - new PPS-43 drawings were accepted earlier than was mass production started of the older PPS model. While the Moscow factory was focused on the improvement of the SMG's functionality and durability, and did not force mass production, the Leningrad factories ,because of the siege and a huge necessity for weapons, tried to start production of the new SMG as quickly as possible, even though they knew it was still not perfect. In May 1943, after successful field trials, factory No. 828 patter PPS-43 was officially accepted to service.
Moscow factory No. 828 started mass production of the PPS-43 in August 1943 (production was supposed to start in July, but none were produced), all Leningrad factories - 2 month earlier, in June 1943. During January-July 1943 the Moscow factory produced only a small number of PPS-43 SMG's for field trials not on the front line, and updated drawings according to their results. Leningrad factories produced almost 45,000 PPS SMG's (first pattern) prior to the beginning of PPS-43 production. The vast majority of them were manufactured by factory No. 209, Sestroretsk instrumental factory, the Cooperative association "Primus" manufactured only a few thousand of each. Interestingly, the SMG's from the last two factories are almost exact copies of the Moscow-made PPS from the Autumn 1942 period, while factory No. 209 SMG's had some differences - main difference is the construction of the safety (it goes through the trigger guard, not from the right side as other manufacturers made). They also updated the cartridge feed ramp, which was absent from the very beginning, this caused many of delays.
During the 1943-1944 construction period the PPS-43 was updated a few times, only in the spring of 1944 the final drawings were adopted, which were sent to all manufacturers. This started a standardization process, prior to this date PPS SMG's from different manufacturers had a large amount of differences. In mid 1944 production was started at two new factories in Tbilisi, Georgia - Tbilisi Instrumental factory and Tbilisi locomotive-wagon repair factory, but it lasted for only a few months. All other factories, except the Moscow factory No. 828, stopped production at the end of 1944, factory No. 828 - in June 1945
First-pattern PPS (PPS-42)
The PPS-42 SMG's had many differences from the later PPS-43 (a detailed comparison will be made later). Externally, the PPS-42 can be easily identified - the receiver and barrel casing are separate pieces, while the PPS-43 SMG's had them as a single piece,
PPS-42 SMG's are very rare now, the majority of surviving examples are cutaway guns.* Only a few standard guns are known in private collections and museums. Many relic examples have been found under Leningrad and in Baltic countries.
* There are two types of cutaways guns - factory produced and conversions from defective standard guns. All cutaway PPS-42 SMG's are not factory issued. For example, after some of the serial produced PPS-42's, made by Moscow factory, were tested in the field, it was found that they were not durable, with a special directive they were converted to training guns, later, some of these were converted to cutaway guns. Some of the Leningrad-produced PPS-42 SMG's were converted to cutaway guns in Autumn 1942, when PPS-43 production already started. Comparing with modernized guns, they were not so durable, so they were selected for conversion into training guns.
Factory No. 828 NKMV, Moscow
In 1942 (December) this factory was able to produce only 120 guns, close to 1,000 were produced in January 1943, but as mentioned above, all of them were later converted to training guns because of production defects. After January 1943 the factory produced only small batches of pre-serial PPS-43 guns, until it start mass production in July 1943. This factory used the letter "C" as a factory marking, the serial number had a two letter prefix and three numbers.
Below there are images of one of the two known 1942 guns, another is located in the St. Petersburg Artillery museum. Possibly, this gun was assembled with the participation of the constructor, A.I. Sudaev, who personally participated in the production and made corrections to the production. In December 1942, Sudaev moved to Leningrad, where he participated in the production setup of the Leningrad factories. This gun has a АП130 serial number, which can seem odd considering that there were only 120 guns produced, but this particular factory never used serial numbers below 100.
Factory No. 209 NKSP (A. Kulakov factory), Leningrad
This factory was the main manufacturer in Leningrad and produced over 42,000 guns in 1943. All other factories (two in Leningrad and one in Moscow) produced less than 6,000 guns together. PPS-42's and PPS-43's had unique safety construction - it goes through the trigger guard.
This factory used a "triangle with an arrow inside" marking, serial number had an "A" letter prefix.
Voskov instrumental factory, Leningrad
This factory manufactured a very small number of PPS-42's, the majority of them had durability problems and were never accepted. The external appearance was similar to Moscow made PPS-42's, with the safety on the right of the trigger guard.
Guns from this factory were marked only with a serial number, where the second letter in the letter prefix was always "B". Since late 1943 the factory started to use its main logo, "B" in two diamonds, on the produced PPS SMG's (PPS-43 at that time)
Voskov factory PPS-42 marking. Serial number ВВ0636
Picture from open sorces
Voskov factory PPS-42 marking. Serial number ГВ0068
Picture from open sorces
Cooperative association "Primus", Leningrad
Another low-quantity manufacturer from Leningrad. Interestingly, before it was a civil cooperative association, it focused on the production of "Primus" stoves. However, because it had some stamping equipment, it was selected for PPS-42 production.
SMG's from this factory were marked near the chamber area, the factory marking was a "Л letter inside П letter", which mean "Примус Ленинград" (Primus Leningrad). Serial number had a Б letter prefix
Cooperative association "Primus" PPS-42 marking. Serial number Б-618
Picture from open sorces
Screenshots from a video, showing PPS-42 production at factory No. 209 in Leningrad
PPS-42 in action, 1944 Leningrad area
Second-pattern PPS (PPS-43)
PPS-43 SMG's had a lot of differences from the earlier PPS guns. They were made from thicker steel (2 mm instead of 1.5 mm), the overall length was shorter, the receiver and barrel casing were one piece. They also had a changed bolt and ejection system as well as a redesigned stock folding mechanism.
The early PPS-43's still had some problems with durability during field use (all Soviet weapons from the same production period also had them, including the PPSH-41 SMG's). After some updates in early 1944 known issues were fixed and it became an almost perfect weapon that functioned without any problems.
PPS-42 (cutaway gun with worn bluing) and PPS-43 SMG's from factory No. 209 in Leningrad
On the top - PPS-42 bolt with recoil spring and guide, on the bottom - PPS-43 bolt with recoil spring and guide.
Ejection of empty shells in the PPS-42 was made by an ejector in the top of the magazine housing, in PPS-43 - by the end of the bolt guide.
Factory No. 828 NKMV, Moscow
This factory was the "chief" factory in PPS-43 production. It was responsible for implementation of the construction changes into the drawings after they were adopted. Later, corrected drawings were resent to other factories.
In 1943-1945 factory produced approximately 530,000 PPS-43 SMG's, this is almost 65% of the total PPS-43 produced (for 6 factories).
During the first production months in the Summer-Autumn 1943, the factory used wooden grips on the pistol grip, later it switched to bakelite grips, being the only factory that used them.
This factory used a "C" letter as the factory marking, serial number had a two letter prefix and three numbers.
Factory No.209 NKSP (A. Kulakov factory), Leningrad
This factory was the main manufacturer in Leningrad, it produced the largest number of SMG's in the city. Production was stopped in June 1944. PPS-43 SMG's from this factory had the same construction of the safety as the PPS-42 - safety goes through the trigger guard.
This factory used a "triangle with an arrow inside" marking, serial number had a two letter prefix and three or four numbers.
Voskov instrumental factory, Leningrad
This factory manufactured the fewest SMG's in Leningrad, it produced only around 35,000 SMG's (PPS-42 and PPS-43). An interesting feature of this manufacturer is that some PPS-43's from the initial period of production had a factory No. 209 pattern bottom, with the safety through the trigger guard. It is likely these parts were supplied from factory No. 209 because the Voskov factory did not have adequate production capability. However, the majority of the SMG's still had the Moscow factory No. 828 pattern bottom with the safety near the trigger guard.
It is interesting to note that most of the 1943 PPS-43's were marked similarly to PPS-42's - the serial number had a two letter prefix where the second letter was "B".
At the end of 1943 the style of numbering was changed, SMG's were marked with a serial number starting with a two letter prefix (second letter was always "O") and three or four numbers, also, the factory marking was added above the serial number ("B" letter with two diamonds). In 1944 the pattern of numbering remained the same, the only change was that the second letter of the serial number prefix was changed to "A".
This factory stopped production in February 1944.
Voskov factory PPS-43 with factory No. 209 pattern bottom (safety through the trigger guard)
Early pattern of the serial number
Voskov factory PPS-43 with factory No.828 pattern bottom (safety near the trigger guard)
Late pattern of the serial number
Cooperative association "Primus", Leningrad
This manufacturer produced PPS-43 SMG's over the longest period compared to the other Leningrad manufacturers, production only stopped in December 1944. In 1944 cooperative association was renamed to Factory No.18.
SMG's from this factory were marked with a factory marking above the rear sight, the factory marking was a "Л letter inside П letter", which mean "Примус Ленинград" (Primus Leningrad). 1943 guns can have serials with two patterns, with a Б letter prefix and without, 1944 guns had serial numbers with a two letter prefix (second letter always was an "A").
Cooperative association "Primus" manufactured PPS-43.
Instrumental factory NKMP of Georgian SSR, Tbilisi
(NKMP - Peoples Commissariat of Local industry)
Locomotive-wagon repair factory NKGS, Tbilisi
(NKPS - Peoples Commissariat of roads and connections)
Both of these factories produced PPSH-41 SMG's, however, starting in early 1944 their production capability was rebuilt for PPS-43 production. The Moscow factory No. 828 drawings were used for production setup, because of this Tbilisi manufactured PPS-43's look very similar to late 1943 Moscow manufactured PPS-43's. Not much is known about production at these factories, except that the production continued for less than 6 months. The total number produced by both factories is 46,102, which makes a PPS-43 from either of these factories the rarest of all manufacturers.
PPS-43, manufactured by the Tbilisi Instrumental factory
PPS-43, manufactured by the Tbilisi locomotive-wagon repair factory
Refurbishment marked PPS-43 SMG's
Sometimes among refurbished PPS-43 SMG's guns can be found with markings that are different from what has been shown above. They are marked (markings are stamped) with a "C" letter, year (1943 or 1944), and a serial number with a two letter prefix and four numbers. This marking is quite similar to factory No. 828 marking, but this factory engraved their markings and the serial number had a different pattern.
These described markings were stamped during refurbishment, when the main markings became unreadable. This happened mainly with factory No. 209 and Voskov factory PPS-43's, their marking were not very deeply engraved.
PPS-43 with new markings added during refurbishment. Originally it was made by factory No.209 in Leningrad (according to construction features)
Bakelite grips with a star are postwar production, they were used as replacement for wooden grips during refurbishment
Non Soviet PPS-based SMG's
There are a number of SMG's with designs based on PPS construction, but only four models were officially accepted into service and produced in large numbers.
Konepistooli KP/44, Finland
In 1943 the Finnish Army captured the first Soviet PPS-42 and PPS-43 SMG's under Leningrad. They are much simpler in production than Suomi SMG's, it was decided to make new SMG's using some features of the captured PPS SMG's.
Trial models were created in 1943 and 1944, production only started in 1945. KP/44 SMG's were manufactured by VKT, approximately 10,000 were made. This SMG was able to use drum and stick magazines
PMwz.1943 and PMwz.1943/1952, Poland
Poland started mass production of its own copy of the Soviet PPS-43 SMG in 1947 (there is some unconfirmed information about 1946 production). Until the early 1950's the only manufacturer was "Zaklady Hipolita Cegielskiego", starting in early 1950's production was started by four other factories:
- Zaklady Metalowe im. generala Waltera (Radom);
- Huta Baildon Katowice;
- Kombinat Maszyn Wlokienniczych “Wifama”;
- unknown manufacturer which used the "54 in an oval" marking.
Starting in 1952 the manufacturer "Zaklady Hipolita Cegielskiego" produced a version with a wooden stock.*
Total number of produced PMwz.1943 and PMwz.1943/1952 SMG's was approximately 285,000.
* Soviets tested a few models of the PPS-43 with a wooden stock in 1943-1945. One of the trial models in 1944 was produced in a relatively high quantity, 2,000 were made for field trials. These SMG's participated in combat, some were lost and at least a few of them were found in Latvia as relics. However, the Polish version of the PPS with a wooden stock was different from the Soviet trial gun.
Polish PMwz.1943 SMG
Polish PMwz.1943/1952 SMG
Polish PPS manufacturers markings.
"HCP in circle" and "6 in oval" - Zaklady Hipolita Cegielskiego (Poznan);
"11 in oval" - Zaklady Metalowe im. generala Waltera (Radom);
"12 in oval" - Huta Baildon (Katowice);
"53 in oval" - Kombinat Maszyn Wlokienniczych “Wifama” (Lodz);
"54 in oval" - unknown manufacturer
Soviet trial PPS-43 with a wooden stock, late 1944 -early 1945
"Pattern 1943" and "Type 54", China
China started production of its own copy of the PPS SMG in 1951. Construction features were identical to the latest pattern of factory No. 828 PPS-43 SMG from 1945.
According to the markings that are observed on the Chinese PPS SMG's, they were called "pattern 1943" and "type 54". "pattern 1943" guns are observed with 1951-1956 dates, "Type 54" guns - with 1954-1956 dates.
Differences between these models is unknown, externally they look identical. Production stopped in 1956
1955 Chinese PPS with "pattern 1943" marking.
Photo courtesy of Oleg K.
Chinese soldier with a Chinese copy of the PPS