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  • The Berthier After World War One
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Hi guys! Thanks for tuning in to another video on I'm Ian McCollum and today we are getting close to the end of our story on Berthier system So today, we're going to take a look at primarily carbines, but the post-war life of the Berthier system We're going to look at the modifications that were made throughout the 1920s and 30s and basically what happened to this gun and why So, there is a whole list of changes that were made between Lauren's start with 1917 with a couple things that we actually touched on in the last video and then this will go all the way up to 1939 when production of these carbines finally actually ended between the end of the war and the beginning of world war two, somewhere between 160,000 and 250,000 more of these carbines were manufactured and in fact this particular one was accepted into military service in 1939 It's one of the very last Now along the way France had a fairly substantial military rebuilding program Not as effective obviously as the rebuilding program of the Germans But they did actually put, at least tried to put a lot of work into rebuilding the military So there were a number of priorities that they had at the end of world war one Obviously there are a lot of things if you if you take, you know 1919, what do you do to the French military? Well, there's a lot the cartridge that 8mm Lebel cartridge is totally obsolete The Modern Army should not be using a rimmed cartridge should not be using a cartridge with that much taper You really need a cartridge, that's more suitable to repeating actions The Tube magazine, tube magazines are totally obsolete they should definitely get rid of that So they're going to need a new infantry rifle They're going to need a new cartridge for the infantry rifle They're probably going to need a new light machine gun The Chauchat was the most widely or the most numerously produced light machine gun of World War one But it's also a completely obsolete design at this point They need to replace that they wanted to introduce a new semi-automatic pistol of course they've been using a combination of Mostly 1892 revolvers and Spanish made Ruby .32 caliber automatics That weren't all that great. They got the job done, but they're not good, so they wanted a new semi-automatic pistol They wanted a new light mortar Mortars or something that really came into their own during world war one people realized We're going to need more of this sort of thing they wanted to continue developing rifle grenades That's something that the french really took a liking to during world war one And that's just with him basically the small arms realm, so that's not even getting into aircraft, tanks and naval warships So there's a lot going on When people look at this and go well why on Earth were they still building these in 1939? basically the answer is because they had priorities and Replacing this wasn't really high up on that list so the most important thing on that list of priorities and I think I would agree with this in terms of small arms was the light machine gun and As an result they had actually developed a new light machine gun by 1924. It was the Châtellerault 24/29 They had also along with it as required for it, they had developed a new cartridge the 7.5mm French Cartridge It was originally 7.5x58mm and then was redesigned in 1929 to be 7.5x54mm We'll get into that in a separate video, but they got the new cartridge They got a new light machine gun and it was a pretty good light machine gun Then you can start looking at the other small arms so the original plan had been to develop a semi-automatic rifle for the You know fighting infantry and a bolt-action rifle for the support troops and in this way. It's very similar to how Going into world war one they had the Lebel rifle for the infantry and had the Berthier carbine for the support troops You don't need the full size, full complexity, full-power rifle for you know the artillery crews and the engineers and those sorts of guys so In order to save some money the plan was to give those guys a bolt-action rifle now that rifle would end up needing the MAS36 Which we will also touch on in some later videos The semi-automatic rifle never quite developed or rather it developed but not quite in time for WWII, so a lot of these things took a lot longer than people would expect them to and that's a combination of bureaucratic institutional inertia and people's willingness and Interest in pursuing these projects and of course the money that was able to be funded those money that went into these things so The semi-automatic rifle project would ultimately result in MAS 44 which was put into production right at the tail end of WWII But not in time to start the war so That is why you still had a lot of guys running around with these things the plan had been to replace them with a semi-auto semi-auto never happened Well, we still have these and they still work So they stayed in service interestingly a lot of them would be captured by the Germans and a lot of these things would see service on the Atlantic wall in german-occupied France, so the French would go through a rearmament program where they wanted to they had the industry they didn't maybe need to build a lot of new rifles because they had a ton of guns Floating around at the end of WWI unlike Germany where the inter allied military control commission basically Rounded up, and destroyed millions of small arms in France, whatever they had they still got to keep because they won so they put in a program of refurbishing and refitting and rebuilding a lot of Lebel rifles and also Berthier carbines and rifles So in the process they made a few changes to the gun So why don't we it's easier for us to show those up close so that you can see the changes I'm actually discussing so let's go ahead and do that The first update we'll start with is this change in front sights From an narrow blade to this very wide, easy to pick up front post that's something that we actually discussed in the last video and that, that was adopted in 1917 and Basically introduced alongside the M16 pattern upgrade to the five shot magazine Next up, in about December of 1917 The decision was made to replace the lower mounted sling swivel with a side mounted bar like this one so that change went into effect for new guns in December of 1917 by January of 1918 ministerial Decree had come down that damaged 1890 and 1892 Carbines would now be rebuilt to the new M16 specifications with the five round magazine and all of all of the other changes we've been discussing and In February of 1918 they actually started a program to slowly start retrofitting these sling bars onto existing sling swivel carbines so through the course of the war that when guns came in for repair They would be upgraded in that way even if they were already M16 carbines like this one one kind of annoying feature about the original M16 pattern rifles and carbines is that the original serial number was stamped on the barrel Shank right here and Once the M16 pattern was was adopted It was now hidden underneath this handguard So this is annoying to collectors today because to find the date and the serial number on the barrel you have to actually take off The front band up here, and then take off the handguard well it was annoying to the French military as well, and so in July of 1919 When they started to refurbish all the guns in inventory or a lot of them up to M16 specification They came down with a decree that they would start adding the serial numbers back here on the receiver Moving along in June of 1920 they decided that they needed to fix the sights a little bit when they'd added two hand guards The rear sight was awfully close to the handguard so in June 1920 They instituted a new pattern of sight which was it was Calibrated the same as the existing sights but both the front and rear sights were raised up those sights are marked with an a so there's the a on the front and right there, you can see the a on the rear sight and that actually did make a difference on the Left we have the new pattern of taller front sights, and you can see that those really are a little bit more visible They're almost lined up. They're a little bit more visible than what we have on the right with the old pattern at right about the same time in august of 1920 they Realized that this idea to move the serial number onto the receiver was a gigantic pain, and so they came up with a new plan They just cut a slot in the handguard so that you could see the existing serial number through it like this at the same time they also deepened the cutout on the side of The rear sight so that you could better see the the numbers the range numbers on the rear sight Here's a comparison with the new pattern on the bottom and the old Pattern on the top Obviously the new Pattern made it much easier to see what site what your sight gradients were These carbines are all being manufactured by Châtellerault, after the war however Châtellerault doesn't necessarily make all of the receivers During the war there was a private company called *not going to rewrite this* or something like that that Manufactured receivers which were then provided to Châtellerault to be built into carbines And then after the war the Tulle arsenal as you can see here started doing the same thing and in 1923 Saint-Étienne stopped making receivers, altogether they had been making them for rifles and Tulle took over, so The the receivers that were being provided now for manufacture were primarily coming from Tulle Just to put this in context right about the same time in 1924 That French 7.5mm rimless cartridge is standardized so while they're rebuilding these M16 they're Berthiers they're also working on the new the next generation of small-arms Now we're going to skip a couple years and when we get to 1926 we're going to hit one of the major Upgrades one of the things that's very blatantly obvious today so in late 1926 a ministerial decree went out that these were no longer needed and For better or worse for whatever reason this was a substantial enough Decree that it wasn't just applied to guns that happen to come in for other work This was actually a retrofit. That was proactively done to basically every Berthier That was still in the French inventory at that time, so new guns would be manufactured without these clearing rods guns that did have them would be retrofitted to get rid of them and the way that retrofit would happen would be to pull the rod out and Fill the cleaning Rod slot with a long sliver of wood which you can you can see a little better back here Then a new front band was designed Which had this stacking rod on it early on what they did was take the existing bands you can see that this still has this loop for the clearing Rod and They would actually drill and rivet on the stacking rod, so you can see two little rivets right there on the inside Eventually production would catch up and they would start building these with brand new front bands which were made all as one piece so no riveting required and did not have the contour for the clearing Rod, so unfortunately for us as collectors today the french did a really thorough job of this overhaul and It's pretty difficult to find Bethier carbines that still have their intact clearing rods This was done even to things like the indochina rifles those were refurbished so if you have one like this That still has the Rod it's a pretty darn good sign that the gun was not actually in French government hands by 1927 because that's when the vast majority of this work was done just for reference sake here is one of the M16 pattern of Indochina rifles that has also had that clearing Rod slot filled Now moving forward a bit farther by 1930 there was a second upgrade that they decided to make and that Was something that we can't see from the outside But in 1909 they had decided to add an additional stronger or larger recoil lug to the back end of the receiver To help prevent problems of stop cracking so in 1930 they decided to go back and start retrofitting pre 1909 guns with that additional larger recoil lug in 1932 we're going to come to another upgrade that was very thoroughly done, and that was the upgrade to the 1932 N cartridge commonly called "Balle N". And this was a redesigned version of the 8mm Lebel cartridge That was kind of it was Prioritized for the Hotchkiss machine guns to give them better long range capacity and actually to increase their barrel lengths there are some misunderstandings Misconceptions about this cartridge, and we'll get into those more thoroughly in the follow-up video on the development of the cartridge itself but for the sake of today Updating to that cartridge require reaming the throats out on the chambers of existing guns and so that was done in 1932 and pretty much everything in French inventory had that update made to it with the odd exception of the 1914 Remington Rolling Block rifles, so all the Lebels, all the Berthiers And then even things like the Gras rifles that have been converted to 8mm Lebel, all those got that update and they will be marked With a big N on both the receiver and the barrel underneath the handguard To indicate that change and this is another, another change that is difficult to find a gun that was overlooked So if you have a gun that was not is not an marked it most likely means that gun was not in French military hands in 1932 right about the same time in 1933 and 34 there were some changes made to the finishing procedures of these guns and They would start adopting a phosphating or parkerizing process. Which was shortly followed by a black lacquer paint, so having actually taken a cue from the the railroad industry and Knowing that these rifles were seeing more and more service in colonial hands in you know particularly unpleasant Climates very humid climates for example. They wanted a finish that would be more resilient So they actually ended up using a black locomotive lacquer on The guns so you'll often find that Weren't *didn't understand* heavily worn away now you know some 70 years later, but that black paint was applied starting in about 1933 or 34 and you will occasionally but not always See a "PK" mark here that is an abbreviation for "Parkérisation" the parkerizing process that was used under the lacquer and That pretty much brings us to the end of the upgrade the whole series of refurbs and upgrades to these guns we have here in 1939 production barrel on a rifle that also has a fortunately very nice november of 1939 acceptance date And this would be just about the last of the Berthiers that was manufactured and put in the service There you go by the beginning of WWII you had a pattern of Berthier like this from a distance looks exactly the same as Something made late in WWI but once you know what to look for you can see the various changes that had actually been made Now of course as WWII got closer People started getting a little more serious about some of these arms development programs And you would see in the mid to late 1930s a lot more progress than you did earlier in the interwar period, so in 1935 the French army would adopt a new semi-automatic pistol two of them actually the 1935 A and 1935 S in 1935 to 38 they kind of finalized the design of a new issue submachine gun although it barely got into production time That'd be MAS 1938. The semi-automatic rifle, they had trials versions of the MAS 1940 Didn't quite make it into production they would pick that up in 44 after the liberation All of these programs finally took hold after WWII well if you enjoyed this video if you learned something about the Berthier system after WWII today Perhaps you might consider taking a look at my Patreon page, it's support from viewers Just like you that makes it possible for me to continue doing this and bringing this kind of content to you if not Understand just make sure to subscribe share the channel with your friends and thank you for watching


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