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Leningrad ‘Baltiets’ – the most unknown and unusual Soviet pistol

This post was published in PM. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.

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MOSCOW, (BM) – Despite the fact that the TT as a whole proved itself well during the Great Patriotic War, some of its shortcomings were revealed in the first winter battles. In severe frosts, it was almost impossible to use the pistol because of the moving parts frozen to each other.

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This deficiency had to be eliminated as soon as possible, and the chief of staff of the Baltic Fleet, Admiral Yu.F. Rall, proposed a very simple solution – to take the German Walther PP pistol and, on its basis, develop a new Soviet pistol “Baltiets”.

The design of the Walther PP was successful and at the same time simple, the pistol was easy to maintain, but had good characteristics. It was developed for a 7.62×25 mm cartridge – the most widespread Soviet wartime cartridge used in TT pistols and submachine guns. It was decided to start the production of “Baltiyets” at the Leningrad plant number 181, the first pre-production batch was to be 15 pieces.

Leningrad 'Baltiets' - the most unknown and unusual Soviet pistol
Photo credit: Popular Mechanics

At the beginning of 1942, the first copy of the pistol was made, which, when tested in thirty-degree frost, never misfired and left the most favorable impressions. True, it turned out to be quite weighty, because of which the balancing was considered unsatisfactory. The second pistol received a shortened barrel and a return spring, more careful processing of parts, due to which its weight was reduced to 960 grams. It was he who was supposed to become a reference model for mass production.

The release of a new pistol, and even in besieged Leningrad, had a positive psychological effect: the residents of the city and the Red Army men and sailors of the Baltic Fleet were shown in every possible way that the besieged city was alive, was not going to surrender, and even independently, without help from the “Big Land”, was developing and releasing new types of weapons.

Well, the fact that the “Baltiets” is actually only re-barreled under the Soviet 7.62 mm “Walter” cartridge was not supposed to be known to the broad masses, although the features of the prototype pistol were visible to the naked eye.

No sooner had the “Baltiyts” been adopted, as a scandal happened to the first pre-production batch. Despite the fact that 15 copies of the pistol passed through all the lists, it turned out that there were only enough parts for 14. In the besieged city, and even at a defense plant, this event was inflated to the scale of an emergency, especially since all 15 pistols were a gift to the highest party and military leaders of Leningrad.

And although it was not a plane or a tank that disappeared in an unknown direction, and not even a pistol in its entirety, but only some details from it, the competent authorities immediately got down to business, which very quickly found the extreme ones. Times were harsh then: war, blockade, mass deaths of Leningraders, and for any offense, and even more so at a military plant, they asked strictly.

Pistols with donative engravings were received by admirals N.G. Kuznetsov, V.F. Tributs, Yu.F. Rall, N.K. Smirnov and secretary of the Leningrad city party committee A.A. Kuznetsov. According to unconfirmed reports, one pistol was delivered to Moscow and also found its high-ranking owner. However, the story of “Baltiyets” ended on this, in fact, did not really begin.

“Upstairs” it was decided that it was not necessary to produce another pistol, the characteristics of which are not much superior to those of the TT. Leningrad plant No. 181 was already loaded with defense orders, and it was considered inexpedient to master the production of a pistol that was not so necessary.

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Especially in Leningrad, where due to the blockade and its consequences there was a shortage of professional personnel, and there were problems with materials. So it was decided not to accept the Baltiets into service, not to organize mass production, and the comrade officers had to use the good old “revolvers” and TT, well, or captured pistols, as they liked, as before.

Only three copies of “Baltiyets” have survived to this day, numbered 1, 2 and 5, all of them are in the Central Naval Museum of St. Petersburg. Unlike TT, the Baltiets pistol did not become a weapon of Victory, and it did not even become a serial weapon. However, there is no doubt that the troops would have accepted him very well, just as they accepted the simple and reliable Walther PP, many of whose positive features were inherited by his Soviet, as they say now, unlicensed brother.

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