The Beretta model 1934 is a blowback design, self-loading, semi-automatic pistol that is chambered in .380 ACP, which is also known as 9 mm Corto or 9x17mm Browning Short. This compact pistol utilizes a 7 round detachable box magazine and weighs in at a hefty 26.4 ounces when unloaded. The barrel length is 3.46 inches and the overall length of the pistol is 5.91 inches. This simple yet reliable pistol design is composed of only 39 parts. The front sight is of the blade type while the rear sight is a V notch. The pistol is fitted with black textured plastic grips that have the "PB" monograms indicating Pietro Beretta on the bottom of each side. The model 1934 in the above pictures is shown with a post WWII magazine floor plate.
The model 1934 was manufactured by Fabbrica d'Armi Pietro Beretta or simply Beretta for short and was first introduced in 1934. Seeing the success of the Walther PP pistol in the 1930's, Beretta set its sights to develop a compact pistol for the Italian Army which accepted the model 1934 in 1937. The model 1934 is mechanically an improved model of that of the 1915, with the addition of an external hammer similar to that of the 1923 and 1931 patterns yet having a cleaner external appearance.
The pistols that were manufactured during the Fascist Era will be marked with the year of manufacture in two forms, the conventional Julian date in Arabic numerals and the date of the Fascist Era in Roman numerals. The Fascist calendar began on October 28, 1922, so a pistol from 1937 may carry either "XV" or "XVI" as its Fascist year. The model 1934 would go on to become the company's most produced firearm prior to WWII with production finally ending in 1991 with over a million pistols being manufactured.
This Beretta model 1934 pistol featured on this page was manufactured for the Romanian military in 1941. In August of 1940, the Romanian military placed a contract with Beretta for 61,000 model 1934 pistols. This contract specified that the pistols were to be delivered within seven months. The first of these pistols was not delivered until February of 1941 due to the shortage of steel and Romania's failure to send Beretta the entire fund amount for the pistols. Beginning in February of 1941, Beretta delivered 10,000 pistols with the promise of 5,000 more per month until the total contract was filled. By August of 1941, Beretta had sent a total of 40,000 pistols, but the remaining 21,000 were never delivered. This means that there are less then 40,000 of these pistols in existence today. The first of these Romanian contract pistols can be identified with a 0(zero) at the beginning of the 5 digit serial number. The Romanian contract pistols are identical to the Italian model 1934 versions except that the slide is marked 9 SCURT instead of 9mm Corto as seen in the pictures below. These Romanian model 1934 pistols were normally issued to the Romanian officers during WW2.
Romania in WWII,
In November 1940, the Germans took over as "Big Brother" of the Romanian Armed Forces. Then in June of 1941, Romania joined Germany in attacking Soviet Russia. One of their goals was to recover Bessarabia and northern Bukovina which Stalin had taken in 1940 due to the Hitler-Stalin pact. In the early stages of the war the Romanians did well, but these troops were never supplied with enough material to wage a proper campaign. As such, these Romanian troops were decimated when the Germans retreated after the loss at Stalingrad. The Romanians kept a strong force in the border areas facing Hungary, their ancient enemy, fearful of an attack by their supposed allies.
As 1944 began, Germany increased its supplies of arms in way of payment for Romanian oil, but Germany couldn't deliver the desperately needed war material to keep Romania in the war and on Germany's side. Nor could Germany halt the advance of the Red Army. At this point, the Romanians switched sides in the war as the German Army Group South continued its retreat before the unstoppable Soviet advance. The Romanians were eager when they attacked Hungary in the hope that they would be allowed to reclaim Transylvania which they had lost in the Arbitration of Vienna in 1940. Now under Soviet control, the Romanians suffered heavy casualties as they fought through Hungary and into Czechoslovakia as they pushed the Germans west. At the end of the war, the Romanian Army was down sized and in 1947 was reorganized along Communist lines.
While one might think that switching sides in the middle of a world war is a rare and unique occurrence, Romania actually switched sides three different times during the first world war. They ended that war on the side of the Allies, and by the terms of the peace treaty, doubled the size of the country at the expense of its neighbors. During WWII, Romania then under King Michael, had the third largest Axis army, and when the country switched sides in 1944, they formed the fourth largest Allied army.