An Eventful Life: Willi Daugs and the DUX Submachine Guns
By Michael Heidler

Meppen – May 1960: At the historical army proving ground located in the Emsland area, the comparison trials for a future submachine gun for the new German Bundeswehr are coming to an end. At the forefront is a model of the company DUX.

Willi Reinhold August Daugs was born on 3 September 1893 in the Pomeranian town of Gollnow. Not much is known about his youth, but he was probably very fond of flying. During World War 1, Daugs flew in the Feldfliegerabteilung 55 and on 26 August 1916 he was promoted to lieutenant of the reserves. On 21 February 1917 he went to the Jagdstaffel (Jasta) 36, where he remained until the war ended. On 19 April he scored his first and only aerial victory near Prosnes in the Champagne/France.

After the armistice and the demobilization of his fighter squadron, Daugs had to find his way back to civilian life. Through his former comrades of war, such as Hermann Göring and Josef "Seppl" Veltjens, he gained access to the arms market. There he was in good company: Veltjens, bearer of the Pour le Mérite, joined the NSDAP very early, but was excluded in 1931 because of corruption. From 1936 on he smuggled weapons, ammunition and as many as six aircraft Heinkel He 51 in his own 100-ton sailing ship "Merkur" to the revolting military in Spain. The business was worth the effort, because in the same year he founded together with Henry Aschpuvis the shipping company "Hansagesellschaft Aschpuvis & Veltjens" with three ships. Later, three foreign ships were added as a cover for other illegal acts. Military transports for various government agencies - notably in Spain - remained the main business.

Daugs came into money during that time. In 1930 he took advantage of the global economic crisis and took over the majority of shares of the Finnish weapons factory Tikkakoski Oy. His share eventually rose to one million Swedish crowns. Other shareholders were the Finnish arms designers Aimo Lahti and Yrjö Koskinen, who then developed such famous weapons as the "Suomi KP-31" (Suomi-konepistooli). This submachine gun went into serial production in 1931. Moreover Tikkakoski Oy was producing machine guns and other military equipment for the Finnish army.

Willi Daugs became wealthy – in these uncertain times the order books were well-filled. In 1937 he immigrated to Finland. In the same year he bought there the small island of Lövö, where he spent much time and where his boat anchored. Four years later he bought the manor house Vanajanlinna that was for sale including 500 acres of ground. Actually, it should have been the new summer residence of President Risto Heikki Ryti, but Willi Daugs was faster. His greed for power and money seemed to be limitless: Officially Tikkakoski Oy made weapons for the Finnish army only, but Daugs also supplied other customers, who included even Danish and Norwegian resistance movements. Other supplies found their way to Greece, Bulgaria and Croatia.

For a further increase of the gun production, in 1943 the first captured Russian submachine guns PPS 43 (Pistolet-Pulemet Sudajew) were precisely studied. They were in a simple way manufactured of pressed sheet metal. Instead of a solid wooden stock, there is only a metal folding stock. A copy in calibre 9x19 mm developed by the designers Tuure Salo and Esko Kekki was entirely convincing in November 1943 during a shooting competition against other weapons. However, lack of materials delayed the start of production at Tikkakoski Oy until summer of 1944, when at last 36 prototypes could be completed for further testing. Shortly thereafter, serial production began. A potential second manufacturer, Oy Ammus, exited from the competition because of inflated prices. The Finns placed great value on the 71-round drum magazine of their Suomi KP-31, which is why the new gun had to be constructed for its use. The drums are confusingly similar to the Russian PPSh 41 drums and differ only slightly in thickness. In addition, the hinge for folding down the lower receiver was moved behind the magazine well, so that it stayed in place when the weapon was disassembled. The magazine well is integrated in the housing. The name of the new weapon was KP-44. In August 1944, the Finnish Army ordered 20,000 pieces at a price of 749 Finnish marks (a Suomi KP-31 cost twice as much). Shortly after, however, the war with Russia came to an end - and the order has been halved to 10,000 pieces. Their delivery took place in early 1945. It is therefore questionable whether at all KP-44 were used in combat. They stayed in the inventory of the Finnish army until the 1960s, before they were gradually replaced by the automatic rifle M62 made by Valmet Oy.

At the end of 1940, Daugs WW1 comrade Josef Veltjens returned to the Luftwaffe on the orders of Hermann Göring. In the rank of a colonel he led the negotiations with Finland, concerning the use of Finnish territory for the upcoming German troop movements in preparation of the operation “Barbarossa.” On 8 June 1941 it was done: The first German troops entered Lapland with the consent of the Finnish government. The continuation of the Finnish-Russian Winter War of 1939/40 was imminent.

During the war Daugs and Veltjens together arranged the arms deals between Finland and Germany. The capacity of its own armament industry was by far not sufficient for a military conflict of this dimension. In particular, after Great Britain declared war on 6 December 1941, Finland was cut off from the commercial freight traffic from neutral countries, so that only the German Empire remained as a supplier. Some German weapons and accessories, like the rifle grenade launcher, were modified for use with Finnish weapons and manufactured in the country. Thanks to all these transactions, Willi Daugs made good money – but his luck would not last much longer.

After the fortunes of war had turned against the German army during the Russian campaign, Finland was forced to sign an armistice with the Soviet Union on 19 September 1944 against the will of the German Reich. By the terms of the armistice Finland had to intern all German troops that were still on its territory and to hand them over to the Soviet Union. To avoid capture, the Germans fought their way back home. Embittered about the former brothers in arms the tactic “Verbrannte Erde” (scorched earth) was used, whereby cities such as Rovaniemi were completely burned down. Finnish women who had affairs with German soldiers were committed to internment camps, including their children.

German property in Finland was confiscated by the Soviet Union. The same happened to Willi Daugs' weapons factory, his mansion, his island, and all other possessions. Soon after, Tikkakoski Oy ceased weapons production almost completely. Under Soviet supervision the production was shifted to sewing machines and other civilian goods. Only shotguns were manufactured until 1953. In 1983 the company was taken over by Sako. Today the brand name "Tikka" belongs to the Beretta group.

Willi Daugs managed to escape to neutral Sweden in 1944. There he lived undisturbed as a supposedly stateless person until the end of the war and the following years. But his past caught up with him in 1948: As a codefendant in a trial for illegal arms shipments, his true German nationality was found out at the Stockholm City Court. But despite numerous allegations the trial did not lead to a conviction.

Again Willi Daugs had to move – this time to Spain, to the Asturian capital of Oviedo. He brought with him the blueprints of the former Tikkakoski Oy made submachine gun KP-44. His path led him to the local arms factory Fabrica de Armas de la Vega, where he met among others the former Mauser engineer Ludwig Vorgrimler. Contradictory statements are known about the intensity of their contact, but in any case Willi Daugs decided to re-enter the weapons industry in the early 1950s. The following year he produced an almost unmodified copy of the Finnish KP-44 under the brand name DUX (in Latin “leader”). The 50-round box-magazine came from the Swiss made MP Suomi KP-31 that was manufactured there under license.

In December 1952, one of these weapons was sent to the Bundesgrenzschutz BGS (German border control) for review. It was followed by an order of an unknown quantity, which would be delivered in full by the beginning of 1954. The official name of the weapon was DUX 53. As with the Finnish model, both stick and drum magazines could be used.

Amazingly, Willi Daugs patented this design feature in 1953 (German Federal Patent 1 035 530). Another point in the patent was a protection against an accidental discharge during disassembly of the weapon. There are lateral grooves on both sides of the bolt that engage in hooks attached to the sides of the grip piece. When folding down the lower receiver, the bolt (if in cocked position) is pulled out of the upper receiver. This feature had already been developed by the Finns for their KP-44 in Word War 2. Nothing was really new. The patent tells us that Willi R. Daugs was resident in Munich (Bavaria) at that time. Along with him, a second inventor is named: Edward V.D. Wight, Junior of Vaduz in Liechtenstein. There, the company moved their headquarters to the beginning of the trials with the DUX submachine guns.

After the founding of the Bundeswehr (BW) in the middle of 1956, the troops also received 25 DUX SMGs for testing. At that time the Bundesgrenzschutz (BGS), the customs and the military still used the Italian "Moschetto automatico modello 38/49" made by Beretta. The so-called "MP 1" was well known to many members from the Second World War because the weapons were issued on the German side in large quantities in 1944/1945. But for the new armed forces an entirely new and modern weapon should be officially introduced.

Therefore in the years 1955 to 1959, extensive tests and comparisons of old and new submachine guns were held at the “Erprobungsstelle der Bundeswehr für Waffen und Munition” (proving ground of the armed forces for weapons and ammunition" in Meppen). The competitors were international. Apart from German manufacturers like Walther and Mauser, there were also rivals like the British Sterling, Swedish Carl Gustaf and Italian Franchi. During all the years of testing, the weapons of Willi Daugs were involved. Nothing is known about his finances, but as an astute businessman, he certainly might have abstracted a part of his asset during his time in Finland. Great income could hardly be expected in the testing period – quite the contrary, he constantly had to revise and improve the weapons.

Daugs’ weapons only came initially from Spain. Since he was not a weapons designer himself, he later worked in Germany together with others like Sauer & Sohn, Mauser and Anschütz. Clearly differentiable designations of the different models, which often only differ in minor details, were not used. In the test reports the model designations are mostly called DUX A1182 or simply DUX I and DUX II, without knowing the exact modification. The DUX III mit rundem Mantel (DUX III with tubular barrel jacket) was also listed in the reports as Anschütz-DUX although it was specified and marked by the manufacturer as DUX 59.

Major changes or new revolutionary ideas won’t be found on the DUX models. First of all the safety lever was moved from its position in front of the trigger (on DUX 53) to the left side of the receiver. For reinforcing the housing, the previously open sides of the magazine well were closed. This meant that from now on neither the drum magazine nor the 50-round box type magazine could be used – only the use of a small 32-round magazine was possible. The magazine release lever disappeared after a few changes from its place behind the magazine well in favor of a push button on the left side. The cocking handle was moved to the left side on request of the proving team. The original rectangular and at its bottom open barrel jacket was transformed into a closed tube with cooling holes and improved muzzle brake. In addition, there were continual small modifications such as a repositioning of the rear sight further back or different grip-piece variations.

One notable change is the recoil spring. In the DUX 59 it was housed in a multi-piece telescoping tube – just like the famous MP 40 of the Second World War. Willi Daugs had experience in plagiarizing.

Throughout its development period, the general appearance remained virtually unchanged despite changes in shape. Its origin in the Finnish KP-44 respectively the Russian PPS 43 cannot be denied. It is no coincidence that at the trials a PPS 43 was also acquired for comparison purposes.

Interestingly the weapons of Willi Daugs performed well at the competition. In June 1960, only three companies were still in the race: Walther, Erma and Anschütz-DUX. But despite a simpler technique, a better accuracy and easier handling, the Walther MP finally was ahead by a nose by passing the dirt test without any problems. In contrast, the DUX tended to jam.

Thus DUX was out of the race. The long development time of almost 10 years must have consumed a lot of money. Whether all this was paid by Willi Daugs out of pocket, or if the companies involved took over the costs, is uncertain. Maybe they shared the costs in the hope of a substantial government contract after an official adoption of their weapon. After finishing the trials, Willi Daugs withdrew from the arms business and disappeared from the scene. The rest of his life is obscure. Today, only a few of his weapons are left – appearing from time to time on the collectors market, mostly as an "unknown submachine gun."

The DUX That Steps Out Of Line

While several DUX submachine guns were continuously improved gradually during the Meppen trials, there is also an MP that does not fit into this series. The author knows of six identical guns worldwide, all with serial numbers in the three-digit range. Other markings could not be found. Judging from the design and the workmanship it must be a DUX – but so far it did not appear in any test reports or other documents.

The design of the receiver and the inner parts are corresponding to the DUX-53 (copy of the Finnish KP-44). The weapon can be fed with the usual drum-, box- and stick-magazines. Unlike the other models, this DUX has a stock made of bent wire (similar to the U.S. M3 Grease Gun). When folded, the stock rests on top of the receiver, but with an unhindered view on the sight.

The most important difference to the other models is the fore-grip made of wood and cases the barrel almost on its full length. The usual ventilated barrel jacket was not used and also the gun is lacking a muzzle break. The barrel itself is held in place by a screw cap. An Allen screw, reaching through the fore-grip, makes a solid connection to the receiver. In front of the fore-grip the front sight was pushed onto the barrel and sturdily clamped by a screw.

Considering this configuration it was impossible for the gun to become a success. The question arises how the temperature of the barrel could be reduced without a circulation of cool air. Only a single model is known that got a cooling jacket made of sheet metal. It is more perforated as usual on the DUX MPs, and also the weapon got a simplified rear sight. The serial number is four digits (1049).

Technical Data:

Russian PPS43
Calibre: 7.62x25 mm Tokarev
Weight (unloaded): 3040 gr.
Weight (with full magazine): 3670 gr.
Length (folding stock, folded): 615 mm
Length (folding stock, extended): 831 mm
Barrel length: 250 mm (right-hand twist)
Cyclic rate: 500 – 600 rounds per minute
Firing range (effective): 200 m
Magazine capacity: 35-round stick-magazine

Finnish M-44
Calibre: 9x19 mm
Weight (unloaded): 2900 gr.
Length (folding stock, folded): 620 mm
Length (folding stock, extended): 830 mm
Barrel length: 250 mm (right-hand twist)
Cyclic rate: 650 rounds per minute
Firing range (effective): 150 – 200 m
Magazine capacity: 20-, 36- and 50-round stick-magazine / 71-round drum-magazine

Calibre: 9x19 mm
Weight (unloaded): 2920 gr.
Length (folding stock, folded): 620 mm
Length (folding stock, extended): 835 mm
Barrel length 250 mm (right-hand twist)
Cyclic rate: 600 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 20-, 36- and 50-round stick-magazine / 71-round drum-magazine

DUX 59 (Anschütz-DUX)
Calibre: 9x19 mm
Weight (unloaded): 3150 gr.
Length (folding stock, folded): 585 mm
Length (folding stock, extended): 795 mm
Barrel length: 250 mm (right-hand twist, 6 grooves)
Cyclic rate: 580 rounds per minute
Vo: 375 m/sec.
Magazine capacity: 32- and 40-round stick magazine (double-stack)

(A special thanks to the Finnish National Archives in Helsinki and to Timo Teräsvalli of the Panssarimuseo in Parola www.panssarimuseo.fi)

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review SAW (December 2012)
and was posted online on November 2, 2012


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