The Soviet SPP-1 underwater pistol: Essential beachware

tova

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Interesting article about the development of the SPP-1:

So you are a frogman and, while you are froggin it up, you come snorkel-to-snorkel with another wetsuit-clad combat swimmer. You reach for your dive knife but come up short because you realize that you just brought a knife to a gunfight. Well, that dastardly commie has a SPP-1 pistol, and it works underwater.

Why the need
Underwater divers have been used by militaries around the world for centuries. As far back as the 1843, the British Royal Navy and others used divers for salvage. However, these early divers were tethered to the surface by lines that fed oxygen. The first ‘frogmen’ who swam independent of support ships had to do so with just a set of fins, a facemask, and a knife. These early combat swimmers reconned beaches in World War 2 as well as planted explosives when the opportunity arose.

It wasn’t until self-contained breathing apparatus including open and closed circuit varieties came about in the late 1940s that military divers could stay below the surface for longer periods. This new technology led to a greater flexibility of operations that included the laying of limpet mines on enemy ships in harbor. Soon most modern navies had specialized teams of frogmen optimized for underwater recon, sabotage, and other dirty deeds done dirt-cheap.

In 1956, the Soviets and British both caught a dose of diver versus diver combat. The cruiser Ordzhonikidze was visiting the British base of Portsmouth and Lionel Kenneth “Buster” Crabb, a former Royal Navy diver thought to be in the employ of British Intelligence, disappeared in the harbor during the ships visit. Fourteen months later, his body, sans head and hands, washed up. In 2007, a former Russian frogman finally claimed to the press that he had killed Crabb with a knife as the Brit poked around the Ordzhonikidze some fifty years before. It was the only weapon available.

It was this incident and others that may never be known that led the Soviets to develop an underwater pistol.

Rest of the article can be read here:

http://www.guns.com/2013/07/05/spp-1-the-soviet-water-gun/
 

pardus

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This thread has had me reading about, "Buster" Crabb, Ian Fleming (who helped write the blueprint for the Office of the Coordinator of Information (forerunner of the OSS)), "Wild Bill" Donovan (BC of my current unit during WWI) who was head honcho of the OSS.

:thumbsup: 8-)
 

Slider496

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Good find, I feel kind of stupid because I didnt know about their underwater rifle until I saw it in Call of Duty. (You reserve the right to laugh). Question, I wonder if they sell these online? lol
 

AlexSmir

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Wow... Really a plenty of fancy info here. But some really astonishes me:):):) First of all, crabbs don't swim, they walk the bottom. So our ancestors helped the guy to embrace the mother-nature.
And to speak about pistol...Yes, it was designed and issued, but is quite outdated for now. The reason is very simple - every piece of steel, plastic and whatever brought for mission must supports it this or that way. Many decades ago there was a mission to place special devices to the hulls of the ships moored. This kinda task was usually acomplished by a pair of frogmen. One of them was rear security. The OPFOR didn't have any sophisticated equipment that time so they dived several times a day to search a device. If they met each other the rear security was supposed to support his teammate using this gun.
Nowadays the harbour security of most naval bases has sonars, radars, microwaves and many other... The very idea of trying to get the access to any ship seems suicidial. One who doesn't believe me may give it a try - I love free food and beverags at funerals. The mission has been altered and a cool gun became useless.
To speak about APS rifle... Never was it issued to spetsnaz because of its dimensions. It is not suitable for supporting the infiltration-type missions nor handy for UDT rear security members. It was issued to the units which were tasked vice versa, to protect and to serve:) But it is also outdated for now. Replace for service, placed at all fancy pics as a legend of the soviet armory.
 

Gunz

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HK also made an underwater pistol, the 9-11 in 7.62mm that fired electronically detonated darts.

There's also the Russian 5.66mm APS underwater select-fire assault rifle that also fired 120mm-long darts with a range of 30m in 5m of water...obviously less the deeper you go.
 

AlexSmir

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HK also made an underwater pistol, the 9-11 in 7.62mm that fired electronically detonated darts.

There's also the Russian 5.66mm APS underwater select-fire assault rifle that also fired 120mm-long darts with a range of 30m in 5m of water...obviously less the deeper you go.
The depth is really not a point... APS is capable of firing deeper. Look:
9870.jpg

This is the page from the operator's manual. The depths are in the blue circle when the ranges are in the red.

The point is that there is no reason to go that deep. Perhaps I've totally lost my English skills. SO I'll try to add some pics to the explanation.

Two main reasons that will take you underwater are the infiltration or the demolitions. There are some more, but these are the core. OK.

When it's infiltration you wanna go far and get a plenty of gear with you. The deeper you go the bigger the pressure, the less the capability of your gear and the harder for you to propell yourself foward and to tow all the gear. This guy doesn't look very happy due to the bag on his back. And I presume he didn't go deeper than 10 meters and his dive wasn't longer than 1 nm.
037661-B-VJN37-173.jpg
The point is noone at all gonna chase or ambush you underwater during infiltration. The countermeasures for this are totally different, so no APS is needed.

The second reason is the UD that usually targets the ships that are moored in the naval bases. Like this one.
org_ktyt188.jpg
And this is the desired endstate for the ship.
ship_sunk_torpedo_sink_attack_explosion_test_exercise-1140684.jpg!d.jpg
This is also considered not bad, but to speak about the UD the mine was chosen and placed totaly wrong. This exact case wasn't UD, it was boat-platform IED.
high.jpg.eee1b4a41a72a1e6a12deaa91001a98c.jpg
To perform that SEAL guys are supposed to come by submarine, lock-out and approach. This is what it usually looks like
Oceaneering_Modernize_US_Navy_Virginia_Class_SSN_Dry_Deck_Shelter_2.jpg
And countering this phase of the operation is again not the subject for the APS. The OPFOR will try to crash wall the submarine, not the frogmen.
If and when the SDV made it to the target it will look like this.
фото-10.jpg
Hope the photographer won't get offended since it seemed to be copyrighted. Note that the depth is limited by the ship's draft. And the visibility is far from perfect even having that powerful light for the photo. So the real range gonna be limited not by the gun capabilities but by the light and visibility conditions.
Nevertheless it is the very moment where and when the APS WAS the main performer. To prevent this sutiation from happening the OPFOR actions looked like this long ago. This is also a special team, but it's not spetsnaz.
morpeh1.jpg
Such a harbour security boat approached all the ships randomly and did a hull-sweep to look for anything unusal. Note the force composition (one more diver is supposed to be at the stern). Of course, if they met there someone... This were the actions...
9351d310b85a864b57e51f0fc98b1222.jpg
Note a small box under the gun. They had sonar sighting devices. So noone really cared about the visibility, all of them had good aids. And this the exact way Crabb died. He was spotted during such a sweep and stabbed.
Nowadays this issue is fixed a bit another way, so APS is much more about history and taking show-off pictures than about practical use.

BTW return to the photos of the SEALs. Their hands are always busy doing something, so I belive they don't want APS as PDW. So are the hands od spetsnaz working
morskaya_20.jpg
Wanted to attach more... But perhaps next time:) Yes, they do need and have PDW but it's not APS for the reason that now is supposed to be transparent.

So APS for now is a thing for fancy pictures and museums. And the very ability to find it's operator's manual opensource ensures that:)

Hope you enjoy the post.
 

Gordus

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And this the exact way Crabb died. He was spotted during such a sweep and stabbed.

Well if any of that was true.

There seem to be heavy discrepancies with the persona of Eduard Koltsov, the guy who claimed he killed Crabb with a knife, and his service record. A Russian journalist confronted him on that story and afterwards conducted some thorough investigation. Allegedly all relevant documents about the op, orders, awards etc were lost in an appartment fire. Which seems rather convenient. Koltsov also dodged questions about his supposed service before and after the event, stating it wasn't yet time to reveal these things. However he claimed being a senior lieutenant by the time of the incident. Khrolenko ( the journalist ) pursued verification on local and state level, including the Russian MOD, and according to official records, Koltsov was born in 1933 but didn't join the Soviet military until 1967. He wasn't officer until he became senior lieutenant in 1977, by then serving in reserve capacity. In-between he worked as civilian driver. Correct me if I'm wrong, my Russian is rusty so I had to translate some bits. Just based on that data, his story wouldn't add up. There is apparently also no record of him ever receiving the Order of the Red Star or training as frogman. The article mentions other issues with the story. The point is, the various theories and "accounts" on Crabb's demise differ wildly, and none of them seem verifiable. So they probably shouldn't be regarded as facts.

Otherwise, very informative posts.
 

NovemberWhiskey

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@Gordus, I'm yet to re-read for details (unfamiliar with the actors, even theoretically) - but from your article sounded to me as Russian rhetoric typical style of talking of ops when the actors' actual job is to hide the op - and that *may* be their concrete involvement, as actually-involved Spetsnaz tend to IME not comment at all and avoid media if possible and when confronted directly decline commentary.

But that said I gotta re-read for factual and years check, went for the rhetorical style.
 
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