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Hungary’s 39M & 43M

Story & Gun Photography by Jean Huon

Machine Gun Designer Saw His Weapons Used by China, Japan, Columbia, Finland, and the Vatican

Pál Király was a Hungarian automatic small arms designer whose work was very interesting indeed. Born in Budapest in 1880, he acquired professional experience at the Mechanical Science University, where he became an assistant teacher in 1902. He published a book on automatic small arms in 1915. During his military service, he was a second lieutenant in an artillery regiment, and during WWI he was assigned to a small arms research office. After also spending time as an observer-machine gunner, he ended the war as a captain.

After WWI, like Germany, Austria-Hungary was struck with a ban on the development and manufacture of armament. Pál Király therefore went to work at the SIG factory in Neuhausen, Switzerland, where he contributed to several projects. With Gotthard End, he developed the KE-7 light machine gun (KE-7 = Király End 7th model), which featured a short recoil barrel action and a tilting bolt. It was fed by a 25-round vertical curved magazine and can receive a bipod or tripod. It was not adopted by Switzerland, but it was sold to several other countries (China, Colombia, Ethiopia, Japan and the Dutch Indies) and was built from 1929 until 1938.

Király also designed the MKMO submachine gun with two Swiss engineers: Jacob Gaetzi and Gotthard End. It looked like a small carbine, fired the powerful 9mm Mauser cartridge and worked with a delayed blowback bolt. Lighter models that fired less powerful cartridges with a blowback action were designated MKMS and MKPS. These models were built between 1933 and 1941—only 1,228 were produced. They were used in Finland and in Vatican City by the Papal Swiss Guard!

In 1929, Pál Király returned to Hungary, but the Swiss did not allow him to take the plans of the guns he designed with him. He worked at the Danuvia factory in Budapest and designed a 9mm pistol known as the KD, of which 20 examples were made. The German Army expressed their interest in it for a time,...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N2 (February 2018)
and was posted online on December 22, 2017

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