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The RPD, or Ruchnoy Pulemet sistemi Degtyareva, is a Soviet light machine gun that was developed during World War II for the intermediate 7.62x39mm cartridge. The design process was hindered by the ongoing war and the demand for weapons. However, after testing several prototypes, a suitable design was chosen, and the RPD was first issued to Soviet infantry in 1953.

Throughout its service with the Soviet Army, the RPD underwent progressive improvements and changes. It was also manufactured in various countries, such as China (as the Type 56), North Korea (as the Type 62), Poland, and Egypt. This widespread production contributed to its extensive use by the armies of many Soviet-influenced countries.

The RPD went through several updates during its service life, resulting in at least five variants. However, most of the changes were relatively minor. The third model, adopted by the People's Republic of China as the Type 56, featured dust covers on the feed mechanism and a folding, non-reciprocating operating handle. The fifth and final modification, produced in the PRC as the Type 56-1, incorporated a folding magazine bracket/dust cover and a sectional cleaning rod stored in the buttstock, addressing previous issues of lost cleaning rods.

As a gas-operated, locked-breech, fully automatic weapon that fires from an open bolt, The RPD feeds a 100 round belt from a cylindrical drum attached beneath the weapon. it utilizes two non-disintegrating belts of 50 rounds each, linked together by the insertion of a cartridge. It features a three-position adjustable gas regulator to accommodate variations in ammunition or excessive fouling. The RPD is equipped with a fixed wooden stock. Its pistol grip offers a comfortable and ergonomic grip for the operator. It also has very distinct handgrips that look like a squished bar of soap.

The RPD gained significant attention during the Vietnam War when it was effectively employed by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and Viet Cong guerrillas against US and allied forces. With a cyclic rate of 750 to 850 rounds per minute, the RPD proved particularly effective in ambushes. While often attributed to Soviet weaponry, it was mainly supplied by China to the North Vietnamese. 

Origin: Soviet Union
Manufactured: 1953-1961
Manufacturer: Kovrov Machine Gun Factory, Kovrov, USSR

Type: Light Machine Gun

Caliber: 7.62x39mm
Barrel Length: 451mm (17.75")
Action: Gas-Operated, Long Stroke Piston, Open Bolt

Magazine Capacity: 100 Round Belt Stored in Drum Container


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