During the Second World War, the Breda 37 became the Royal Italian Army’s standard machine gun. It was a reliable and effective weapon, and aside from occasionally jamming in extremely dusty or desert environments, the soldiers who used it were usually happy with the results.
Its rate of fire wasn’t as rapid as other machine guns of the period, but it had excellent range. On top of this, many similar weapons were prone to overheating, whereas the Breda 37’s slower firing rate allowed it to avoid this common defect.
On the other hand, its weight and the complexity of its design offset this gun’s positives. The Italian troops already had issues with their speed and mobility due to the quality of some of their vehicles, and the difficulty in transporting the Breda 37 didn’t help this.
Still, it was a considerable improvement on their previous design – the Breda 30. This older weapon regularly jammed, had a low magazine capacity, poor quality cartridges and an even lower rate of fire than its successor.
Although they stopped producing the Breda 37 in 1943, the weapon continued to see use, in Italy and beyond. British troops made deployed them in a number of countries, having captured many of them during the war, while Portugal deployed the machine gun extensively during their Colonial Wars in Africa.
In this video, you can watch the Breda 37 in action, firing in slow motion from a range of different angles. The YouTube channel behind it, AZ Guns, has posted a wide variety of similar content, examining many different guns from numerous historical periods. For those with an interest in the Second World War – or just in firearms generally – this channel and its videos are worth a look.