From over 550 000 PU scopes, that were produced in 1940-1945 by 5 different factories, those scopes definitely can be called as most interesting (of course, between serial examples, not experimental specimens). At the moment of production, they were not the rarest scopes (by produced quantity factory was at the 3 place from 5 factories, with 80591 produced scopes), but nowadays, undoubtedly, they are the rarest.
In the end of 1942, when Mosin sniper rifle with PU scope and Kochetov mount was accepted to service, quantity of necessary scopes rapidly increase. Plant #296 NKAP (ex FED) in Berdsk already stopped production, so at that moment only factory that produced scopes was factory #357 NKV, Omsk (Progress). Considering this, it was decided to start production of PU scopes at other factories – factories #393 NKV (Krasnogorsk), #297 NKV (Kazan), #267 NKV (Yoskar-Ola).
Considering that only factory that produced scopes at that moment was factory #357, all drawings and instructions that were necessary for production of scopes at new factories, were provided by factory #357.
At that moment at factory #357 was designed new simplified model of scope, that can make production more easier. It was so called PU-4 scope, that did not have elevation turrets. But it had stadiametric rangefinder. Finally, after field tests, it was not accepted to service.
Drawings of PU-4 scope were provided to factory #393 NKV at Autumn, 1942. Factory modified PU-4 scope and created their own model, PU-42, that had only distance calibration mechanism. But test of that model were unsuccessful.
*- picture from article of B.Davydov and S.Savenko “Soviet rifle scopes”
In 1943 factory #393 created new model of PU scope, which in internal documentation was called “scope mod. 1943”, or just PU-43. To make production more easier, steel tube was replaced with casted tube, which was made from Silumin. Silumin is combination of Silicium and Alloy. Such production method required much less efforts at final finishing. But scopes from silumin are not so solid as from steel.
Also, during test was discovered that after active use inside of the tube can appear silumin dust. It was cased by movement of steel parts of elevation turrets, and friction between eyepiece rim and lenses . Partially problem was fixed with paper strip between lenses and eyepiece silumin body. Also, internal part of tube was coated with sticky grease , which should catch the dust.
Internal coating of the tube with grease
Overall, PU-43 scope was at 50 gramms lighter than usual PU scope. Front lense assembly (objective) was produced from brass, silumin, or steel (most common). PU-43 scopes had another construction of turret covers, this was done for better impermeability. Here a will make a mall step aside.
Undoubtley, documents that were neccessary for production beginning were provided by factory #357. But was this connection one side or two side, and did factory #357 used developments of factory #393 in their production ? Currently are known examples of experimental PU scopes (I’m lucky to own one of 2 known examples, pictures are below), that were produced by factory #357 and have casted tubes (from Silumin). Additionaly this model had objective lense assembly of another construction. Production period is currently unclear
Experimental scope from silumin, produced by factory #357 NKV, 1942-1943
Also, PU scopes of factory #357 in A-35xxx- approximately A-45xxx SN’s range had turret caps that were identical to caps that were used at PU-43 scopes. Later factory returned to caps of old construction.
At the left – turret cap of old contruction, at the right – new construction
I should mention, that acceptance of turret caps of new construction at factory #357 happened when was accepted another change in construction – was eliminated SVT-type tube. Narrow area in rear part of the scope, which was used for rear ring of SVT mount, was removed. Also, was started production of eyepiece block from already well known to us Silumin. So first so called “91\30” tube (because of the marking that was placed at the tube later in 1943) scopes had features, that are unknown to many collectors.
Evolution of factory #357 scopes in early 1943
- SVT-tube scope, calibrated for Mosin
- 91\30 tube scope with caps of new contruction
- 91\30 tube scope with cap of old construction
So currently there are two questions without answers :
- Which factory first made casted tube from Silumin – factory #357 NKV or factory #393 NKV?
- Which factory designed new construction of turret caps – factory #357 NKV or factory #393 NKV, and why factory #357 NKV did not continued production of scopes with new construction of turret caps after test issue of almost 10000 scopes?
From the top to bottom –
- PU-43 scope produced by factory #393
- PU scope with turret caps of new construction produced by factory #357
- Experimental scope with casted from Silumin tube, produced by factory #357
Mass production of PU-43 scopes by factory #393 NKV was started in March, 1943, and ended in April, 1944. Quantity of produced scopes in 1943 is 62661, in 1944- 17930. Later factory switched to production of 6×30 binoculars, and also used many silumin elements in binoculars construction.
According to article of B.Davydov and S.Savenko “Soviet rifle scopes”, numbering of Krasnogorsk scopes was started from 40000. I can’t confirm this, because after years of observations I have strong believe that numbering was started from 45000. Lowest known to me serial number is #45272. highest known serial is #134165. Interesting, that almost at the same period (beginning of 1943) when production of PU scopes was started at the factory #393, factory #357 right at that moment also used range of serial numbers close to 45000 (with A prefix). Coincidence? Who knows…
In June, 1944 GAU (ГАУ, Main Artilery directorate of Red Army) prohibited production of PU scopes with silumin parts. Considering that production of PU-43 was already stopped, this directive impacted only to factory #357, which still produced steel scopes with silumin eyepieces.
PU-43 scopes of different period of production have some differences in construction and finish. Earliest PU-43 scopes have unfinished matte silver tube with anodized to black eyepiece (possible, first examples were completely unfinished)
Later some scopes were anodized to purple color, some still were unfinished
Approximately from SN #62xxx to #75xxx all scopes were anodized to purple color of different saturation, some were additionaly painted
Approximately from SN #75xxx to #95xxx all scopes were anodized to red color, some were additionaly painted
And from approximately SN #95xxx all scopes were painted, some were still anodized under paint to light red color
Also, PU-43 scopes can be divided in 2 big groups – lets call them “early” and “late”. Early scopes don’t have bellying at the tube near turret area. Serial range of early scopes – less than #63xxx
Later scopes can have bellying of different size.
No bellying at the top scope, narrow, middle, wide bellying at the 3 bottom scopes
Reason why PU-43 scopes are so rare today, is very simple. They are almost non repairable. Postwar all such scopes, that were used, were disposed off. Some scopes that were used a little, were repainted, without deep refurb. Some scopes that were never used, were inspected and were left in service. Only few examples of PU-43 scopes with refurb marks are known to me. Strangely, but all have close SN’s and are early scopes. All mentioned scopes had refurb mark “rectangular”.
PU-43 scope with mark of GRAU arsenal #7 in Riga (rectangular)
PU-43 scopes can be easily spotted at wartime pictures
Early PU-43 scope
Late PU-43 scopes. Note that famous Roza Shanina had PU sniper with such scope
If you was very attentive, you can spot that every rifle at wartime photos, which manufacturer can be identified, was manufactured in Tula. After years of researching of PU scopes, I had strong believe that after factory #393 started production of PU scopes in March, 1943, all Tula PU’s (factory #536) were issued only with PU-43 scopes. Or maybe little different – all PU-43scopes were used with Tula PU’s. My judgement is based at
1) All known to me original matching Tula PU’s have PU-43 scopes
2) All known to me ground founded Tula PU’s have PU-43 scopes
3) All known to me matching Tula PU’s in museums had PU-43 scopes
4) All Tula PU’s at wartime photos that can be identified, have PU-43 scopes
5) None of the hundreds observed by me Izhevsk PU’s don’t have unique serials that belongs to PU-43 scopes (45000-134000). Some rifles had serials up to 90000 without letter prefix, but that can be pre 42 scopes of other manufacturers. 90000+ and no letter prefix is unique range of PU-43 scopes
6) Quantity of produced PU-43 scopes in 1943-1944 (number is 80591) is almost equal to quantity of produced Tula PU’s (number is 83474). Difference in near 3000 is pre March production (before Krasnogorsk started production). Actually, difference is little bigger, because some of the PU-43 scopes were nevber used.
Some of the known to me museum and relic rifles with PU-43 scopes + attic founded Tula mount with PU-43 scope
All written above seems logical – Krasnogorsk is only 200 km from Tula. Distance from Tula to other scope manufacturers is :
Omsk -2779 km
Kazan – 969 km
Yoshkar Ola – 922 km
I really tried to find facts that contradicts with my observation, but I was not able to do this. All Tula PU’s that can be identified as original factory matching had PU-43 scopes.
Any comments to this article or own observation are welcomed!