Turkish Ammunition factories/production 1887-1914


#1

In 1887 Turkey adopted the 9.5x60R Mauser, then the 7.65x54 Mauser in 1890.
Can anyone give me the names and/or locations of Turkish small arms ammunition factories during this time frame.
Was ammunition for Turkey manufactured in Germany during this period,
in particular by DWM.
From 1832 to 1908 I believe that production/factories came under the umbrella of The Turkish Arsenal of Ordnance and Marshalship, then after 1908 The Turkish ministry of War.
I have vague references to 2 factories near Constantinople.
As I have seen very few specimens of Turkish cartridges from this era, I would like to know if a factory identifying headstamp was used or just the Crescent Moon and Star [being the symbol for Turkey ].
Any information would be most appreciated.
Terry.


#2

You are correct in stating that early cartridge assembly (and some manufacturing) was carried out at the Istanbul Rifle factory prior to 1914. This was a very old manufactory, which , like medieval arsenals, made everything from Horse Pistols to Seige cannon, and Powder and “shot” as well.

In 1908, with German Assistance, a Plant was set up (location unknown) by DM ( Deutsch Metallpatronenfabrik), to manufacture the “Small Mauser” cartridge…the 7,65mm, following the delivery of the latest M1903 and M1905/08 series of firearms. (“Small Mauser” to distinguish it from the 9,5mm M1887)

Initially, cartridges were filled and assembled using German Components, but by 1912, they were making the complete ammunition from raw materials. Powder was still imported, and proper Smokeless Powder production in Turkey did not start till about 1923-25.

Real Turkish production of small arms and Ammunition did not get into full gear until after Ataturk had established the republic, in 1922, and the ASFA was formed…all the former Military factories, workshops etc, were rationalised and united under the “Askeri Fabrikalar” (Military Factories Administration), with head-quarters in Ankara, the new national capital…this eventually transformed itself in the 1950s (1952) to “MKE” (Makina ve Kemia Endustrisi" , or “Machine and Chemical Industries Corp.”, a gov’t owned corporation, handling, through its subsidiaries, all the ordnance needs of Turkey, both internally and by import.

Turkey, in the period up to the end of WW I, used a multiplicity of calibres, for the various rifles it had acquired. Most were imported, but some were assembled and even reloaded in Turkey.
Calibres known (not exhaustive list):
.45 Turkish Peabody
.57 Turkish Snider
.44 Rimfire (WRA)
11mm Mauser M71
.43 Egyptian (Rem)
9,5x60R M1887
7,65x53 Turkish Mauser
7,9x57 S-patrone
7,62x54R (MN)
7,65mm Turkish
8x50R Mannlicher

And in the period 1919-1923, the following war “booty” cartridges were also used: .303 British, 8mm Lebel, 6,5x54MS Greek, 6,5x52 Italian, and others( I call these “booty” as they were either captured during WW I, or left behind by the occupying powers after WW I).
The Greeks, after their crushing defeat in the Greco-Turkish war (1920-21), left behind so much 6,5MS ammo that after WW II, the Turks swapped some of it back to Greece during the 1944-48 Civil War, in return for excess amounts of 7,9mm left over from the German occupation of Greece.

Despite having so many calibres available, the Turks, following the self sustaining principles of Ataturk, by 1928 had standardised on 7,9mm calibre, and all the other calibres were gradually phased out, and stocks used up. After WW II, military aid did bring back some .303 rifles and ammo, but this was used as is, and Turkey didn’t make any .303 ammo of its own.

The entire Turkish Ordnance History is complicated by the fact that up to 1928, all the records were in the complicated Arabic Turkish script (now considered a “Classical” language), and during the Ataturk years and also after WW II, thousands of tons of old archives were Pulped to make new paper. Very little of the day-to day records such as exist in Britain, France or the USA still exist in Turkey. And the Turkish Bureaucracy is still as secretive as it ever was under the Sultans. Even Turkish scholars of Military History find it difficult to research their own history.

regards, Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


#3

Thanks Doc, Just the information I needed, much appreciated as everything I have read in reference books or researched on the net became frustrating as there appears to be a void covering this period.
Many Thanks . Terry.


#4

Great info Doc, is anything else known on the 7,62x54R (Mosin) ammo in Turkish service?


#5

There were a lot of foreign contracts for Turkey also, in rifle and pistol calibers. One little known, it seems, is the 1926 contract for 7.9 x 57mm Mauser ammunition from Raufoss, of Norway, with a Turkish headstamp. There is also an FN contract from 1928 with FN included in the Turkish headstamp.


#6

The Turks began receiving 7,62x54R ammo and rifles from germany in late 1916, with the majority of shipments being in 1917.
DWM and Polte did manufacture 7,62x54R during WW I, both for the rifles in German service (usus. with the Naval divisions in Belgium), and also to supply thoses German Allies which had considerable numbers of Mosins (captured or issued) in their own services, such as Bulgaria and Austria, and subsequently, Turkey.
The Turks also captured substantial quantites of Mosins on the Armenian front with Imperial Russia (even though this campaign was essentially a disaster for the Turks).
Whole divisions of Turks in Palestine were armed with MN rifles in 7,62mm, although an undisc;losed number of VenusWerke 7,9mm Mosin conversions were also supplied to Turkey in late 1917.

Soon after the Turkish republic was decalred by Ataturk, a question of Border alignment with Bolschevik Russia was resolved, by Turkey giving up some small parcels of land, and the new Soviet Union unde4r lenin, giving Turkey a large quantity of Mosin Nagants and ammunition, along with raw materials etc.
As Trukey rationalised its armed forces weapons inventory in the mid 1920s, and embarked on a program of conversion to 7,9mm cartridge supply, all those rifle types which could not be easily converted to 7,9mm, or where not of the “Mauser” design, were traded off to “nnedy” buyers, usually Governments, which like Turkey, had arisen out of the Ashes of WWII.

Finland, at the time, was actively buying Mosin-Nagant rifles, actions and parts across all of Europe, to bolster its own armed Forces. The Turks did a “trade barter” scheme with Finland, exchanging Mosins for various of Finland’s Wood and machinery products.
The fate of the 7,9mm Venus-Werke rifles is unclear, whether they were also sold to Finland, who would have bought them for the actions only (rebuilidng them to 7,62), or whether they were sold, through Intermediaries, to China.
( a note from research of the 1920s China Arms trade reveals that a dubious German arms dealer, offered rifles to a Chinese Warlord in Calibre 7,9mm…they were “Russian rifles”(? Mosins --Belgian/Venus Werke?), without bolts… when some of the money had been paid, the Bolts miraculously appeared, along with the ammo (Which was 7,62mm, not 7,9mm!! and so did not fit…)…the matter ended when the German dealer was found floating in the Huangpu river (Shanghai), and the rifles, ammo and money disappeared…)

Occasionally a Turkish-marked and re-sighted MN91 will show up in batches of Turkish Mauser rifles, as happened here in Australia back in the 1980s, even down to having a Turkish Mauser cleaning rod, and Turkish-marked rear sight bases have shown up on Finnish rebuilt Mosins.

I have several friends in Turkey (Retired Army Engineers/ordnance service) and they comment that finding any sort of reliable Historical information on Turkish ammunition and ordnance since the 1860s is very difficult. One has actually gone back further, to the Swedish armaments supplied in the 1600s (“Swedish Muskets” in the Museum collections), and even here, most of his research has been done through Swedish sources, rather than Turkish.

Regards, Doc AV
AV Ballistics


#7

Doc, great info again, thanks a lot. So did Turkey not produce own 7.62x54R cartridges?


#8

To my knowledge, I don’t think Turkey actually made any 7,62x54R ammo, for the following reasons…they only got the rifles (Germany and Soviet Union) as a temporary “stopgap”, and ammo was supplied by both sources;

I have not seen any “Turkish Script” headstamped ammo in 7,62x54R,—since the rifles were only in service in the 1916-late 1920s, when the script was still in use, any ammo made before 1928 would have been in script H/S;

Also, collectors around the world have not noted any “post 1928” 7,62 Russian with Western Turkish H/S either…The one big market for any Milsurp ammo, the USA, has not seen any “Turkish” 7,62x54R at any time, be the quantities big or small. Also, a review of several decades of MKE auction offerings of MILSURP ammo do not show any 7,62x54R…Plenty of 7,9 Mauser, .303, etc, but NO 7,62x54R.

Obviously the Finns took up all the German and Russian ammo when they acquired the rifles (or Chinese buyers did), in the 1920s.

If anyone out there as some definite “Turkish script” headstamped 7,62x54R (NOT latter day Egyptian or Syrian or Iraqi) dating from the 1920s, p0lease let us know with photos.

regards,
Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


#9

Thanks a lot Doc.