The Alfa Modelo 1944 (Alfa 44) machine gun was designed at Fabrika de Armas de Oviedo arms factory and adopted in 1944 by the Spanish army. After the war, Spain remained neutral but was in international isolation until the mid-1950s.
Starting in about 1955, Spain strengthened its ties with the USA, and at about the same time the Spanish army adopted its own version of the 7.62×51 NATO cartridge. The problems caused by the adoption of the new cartridge were initially solved by conversion of the previous machine guns to the new round, which resulted in the adoption of the modified Alfa 55 medium machine guns. During the mid-1950s some 7.92mm Alfa machine guns were also exported to Egypt. During the late 1970s, Alfa 55 machine guns were replaced with locally produced licensed versions of German MG 42/59 (MG 3) machine guns in 7.62×51 NATO.
The Alfa machine gun is a gas operated, air-cooled, fully automatic belt-fed weapon. The barrel can be replaced rapidly if it overheats, and is finned in its rear part (past the gas port). The gun action relies on a long-stroke gas piston, which is located below the barrel and operates the tilting bolt. The gas system is fitted with a manual gas regulator. To lock the barrel, the rear part of the bolt is cammed down to engage a recess in the receiver floor.
The gun fires from an open bolt, and in automatic mode only. The ammunition feed uses non-disintegrating steel belts, with the feed direction from left to right. Alfa belts have open-pocket links, and the cartridges are fed from the belt directly forwards into the chamber. Belts were carried in drum-shaped steel containers that can be attached to the gun, or from separate belt boxes.
The controls include dual spade grips with a thumb-trigger in between, and a manual safety which locks the trigger.
Normally, Alfa machine guns were used from massive infantry tripods with adjustable legs and traverse and elevation mechanisms.
Alfa 55 machine gun: this is the 7.62 NATO version of the basic Modelo 1944. It has a shorter barrel which has radial fins for its entire length, rather than only rear half.
|Full text name||Alfa 44, Alfa 55 machine gun (Spain)|
|Caliber cartridge||7.62x51mm NATO / .308 Winchester, 8mm Mauser 7.9x57mm / 7.92mm Mauser|
|Overall length, mm||1450|
|Barrel length, mm||750|
|Weight loaded, kg||13 (gun body) + 27 (tripod)|
|Magazine capacity, rounds||200|
|Cyclic rate of fire, rounds/min||780|