The Beretta Model 38/42 and its variants were the military issue submachine guns of the Italian Army throughout World War II. Often refereed to as MAB (Moschetto Automatico Beretta) 1938A was introduced in 1938.
Variants of the machine gun remained in production until around 1975. The Beretta was also used by the Romain, German, and Argentine armies.
First designed by Tullio Marengoni in 1935, the Model 38 was developed based on the Beretta Model 18, the M38/39 was directly derived from the Villar Perosa light-machine gun made famous during World War I. The Beretta Model 18 submachine gun, in caliber 9 mm Glisenti, was deliverred to Italy's Arditi assault troops throughout the final months of the first World War.
The 1938 series if weapons was extremely popular and robust weapons throughout the time period. The submachine gun used the widely distributed 9 mm Parabellum cartridge. Single shot or fully automatic fire was selectable by the use of two distinct triggers. The weapon and its variations had a wooden stock which were about 800 millimeters in length, and weighed approximatley 3.3 kilograms when fully loaded. The 38/39 had a range of about 200 meters.
The Model 1938A weapon can be recognized by the distinct perforated cooling sleeve over the external barrel. The weapon was produced from 1938 to 1950. the gun had 10, 20, 30 or 40-round magazines and fired at a rate of approximately 600 rounds per minute.
The cooling sleeve of the weapon was eliminated for the 38/42 Model variant, which was produced from late 1942 to 1975. This weapon had 20 or 40-round magazines and fired at a rate of approximately 550 rounds per minute. The MAB 38/42 variant was adopted by the German army as the MP.738.
The 38/44 Model variant, which was produced from 1944 to 1955, was a significantly simplified model for production during the drastic limitations of the end of World War II. The MAB 38/44 was fully adopted by the German army as the MP.739.
These modifications were fully incorporated in the postwar redesign of the established Beretta Model 3, which was the final model of the series of weapons prior to the introduction of the more advanced Beretta Model 12.