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Discussion Starter #1
DID THE PLA ISSUE TYPE 56 AKs TO THEIR OWN TROOPS WITH L & D SELECTOR MARKINGS?

I am looking for photos of Chinese military personnel with Type 56s which have visible Pinyin L & D Selector markings. I am trying to determine if Type 56s with L and D Pinyin selector marks were also used internally; or were these made exclusively for export? This question seems unsettled.

PINYIN

I minored in Mandarin having studied it for four years. My classes included both spoken and written Chinese, including traditional Characters, Simplified Chinese Characters and Pinyin. I concur that the L and D are Pinyin for Automatic and Single fire as has been reported everywhere.

Pinyin was developed in the late 1950s to theoretically completely replace Chinese characters in the PRC. The communist government realized that with millions to educate, it made sense to simplify the writing system from full form traditional Chinese characters, to simplified Chinese characters, to Pinyin.

This was dramatic thinking. As with anything cultural and historic, there was backlash to switching to Pinyin amongst the population. Pinyin is still around but it never got the full traction that the PRC wanted.

PINYIN AND CHARACTERS IN THE 1960s


Some PRC arsenals obviously went along with this government Pinyin decree as evidenced on the M22 AK which was reportedly first made in 1960. The M22 has L and D Pinyin selector markings.

Concurrently, during the 1960s, the Chinese Type 56, with and without folding bayonet, was made with Chinese selector marks. Hundreds of thousands of these ended up in the hands of the NVA and VC.


1970s and 1980s MADE-FOR-EXPORT TYPE 56s

In the 1970s and 1980s, when China massively ramped up its Type 56 export program for the Middle East and Africa, they made millions of made-for-export Type 56s. These bore no Chinese characters anywhere. These Type 56s simply bore 56 or 56-1 on the trunnion or receiver instead of the Chinese Characters for 56 Type. These made-for-export weapons also had L and D selector marks.

Keep in mind that many Chinese character marked Type 56s ended up in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Balkans. It is not known if these were direct-from-China-exports of existing stocks of PLA issue AKs or were exported through third parties.

THE QUEST

All that said, my goal is simple: Let's find photographic evidence of Type 56s with L and D selector markings being used by the PLA.

As a secondary goal, it would be nice to know the serial number range on examples you post. We may be able to find a pattern.

THANKS
 

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Chinese PLA Internal Issue Type 56 with L & D Selector Markings

That is absolutely correct about the Pinyin and simplified Chinese. I am glad I was taught in traditional Chinese though. Traditional Chinese characters are beautiful and have thousands of years of history.

Unfortunately only one small country that still uses it officially these days.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Here are some examples of the Pinyin L and D selector markings through the years:

First is an M22 produced in the early 1960s. It has straightforward L and D letters.

1 M22.jpg

Next is a 27 Million (Circa 1983) T56-1 milled UF. Note the D has "tails" that hang over the vertical. The L is normal.

27 million L and D.jpg

Here is a 31 million (Circa 1987), MAK90 third pin hole import. Note the D has short tails and a normal L.

31 Million MAK90 3rd Pin Hole 2.jpg

Last is a Type 56-2 with Pinyin L and D selector markings. This one was a Somali Pirate capture.

Somalimerirosvojen_type_56-2_Maneesi_3.jpg

Serial numbers on the Type 56-2 military version do not follow the normal serial number pattern. Most I can find photos of are in the 4 million range.


As you can see they all have the football shaped milled selectors switch notches found on Chinese Type 56 AKs.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
These third pin MAK 90s, including the one posted above, were actually PLA military issue Chinese Type 56s with 31 and 32 million serial range; meaning circa 1987 and 1988 production.

In order to fill a US export semi-automatic order, the Arsenal milled off the Chinese Arsenal mark and model designation. They also plugged the 3rd pin hole and kept the Pinyin L and D selector marks in place.

We can agree that these were not imported until later.
 

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These third pin MAK 90s, including the one posted above, were actually PLA military issue Chinese Type 56s with 31 and 32 million serial range; meaning circa 1987 and 1988 production.

In order to fill a US export semi-automatic order, the Arsenal milled off the Chinese Arsenal mark and model designation. They also plugged the 3rd pin hole and kept the Pinyin L and D selector marks in place.

We can agree that these were not imported until later.
Do you have a reference on this? The Type 81 was the standard PLA issue during that period and I don't see why the Type 56 would be issued to the PLA at this time.

I don't believe the export variant with L/D selector markings was ever issued to the PLA from everything I ever read but never say never with the Chinese. I can understand how a 31M series SN could end up on a MAK-90 if it were in storage.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks Bunker9939 and Elliot 308 for adding to this conversation.

Here is a photo of the above MAK90 cut up.

china-23.jpg


As you can see, the serial number is in the 31 million range, circa 1987. Note the steel around the MAK 90 markings where the Arsenal mark and 56-1 would have been. These markings have been milled out with the mill apparently coming from the front of the trunnion, You can also see that the font on the number 9 and 0 in the MAK 90 is not the same as on the other 9 and 0 in the serial number. Last, you can also see that the letter K in MAK is not well aligned. I saw another MAK 90 with a 32 million range done the same way. I also have at least one example of this type of milling in my Chinese parts bin from a former third pin MAK90. I will try to post pics front of the trunnion when I dig it out.

I have found photos of stamped MAK90s with a small oval milling mark where the Chinese selector marks would have been. These bore S and F for export here. Seems to me these were also military Type 56s "pressed into commerce." I will post a pic if I come across it.

My guess is that there was an order to fill and Type 56s sitting around so they milled off the Chinese markings, stamped MAK90, put a pin through the third evil hole, did some touch up bluing and shipped them here to their happy customers.

I keep in mind that the old Communist economic model is to produce goods rather than sitting idle, even when there may not be an apparent need for what is being produced. Also, China's PLA oversaw large militias so it stands to reason they would continue to produce small arms for these militias to replace older weapons and not necessarily issue them Type 81s. If so there would have been a need to make even obsolete weapons for internal use.
 

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some of the guns were crosstrained with used or mixed with a supply of crosstrained guns. ill explain. the 3rd pin mak 90s ive seen were a mixture of the following. milled chicom fixed stock L-D sel markings [most common] stamped L-D underfolder, L-D stamped rec fullstock [uncommon], also ive seen 2, one Russian and a second north Korean where they removed selector markings on milled recs with a round end mill cut leaving only the serial numbers not letters on opposite side. those were all rifles hanging around gunshows over the last 20 odd years. the L-D marked ones are so common I usually joke to other dealers and they to me ''hey I saw another learning disabilities ak over there'' stuff like that with a few guys I see a lot. there must have been endless amounts of them imported for the atf to have tracked them all down afterwards and so many escape into the wild.

also I went thru boxes at an ogca gunshow [and later purchased the inventory] of 3rd pin mak 90 parts kits and parts trays pulled from em and asked the dealer about em he said they were recently released and atf had em fighting compasseco from 1990s until then [say it was around 2005] and when they finally allowed compeseco their goods once demilled the atf or someone had ground out the fucking bolt heads so a portion not all the guns just a portion of em were sabotaged to never work again even if built. I have the bolts ill be posting pics of em asap once I get a camera in my hands working again this evening. cheers!
 

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almost forgot by the way the m22 so called export series probably was actually made for export as they went out of their way to put various countries proofmarks on the early m22 barrels under the handgaurds. youll find a polish s and a Hungarian proof then a Russian proof. then theres the uniquely odd mags they made up originally. take a close look at early m22 aks found in nam or plo kits or these 3rd pin semis youll see what im talking about. they were somewhat confusingly clandestine off the bat which seems to yield to an export use. its not hard to imagine how the pla or training schools would have been using these. they use a lot of crap in china at various places looks like. they had about a million chicks sporting these things dancing in courtyards at some point looks like in videos. if none made it into a system like that it would be crazy I guess.
 

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Thanks for the clarification...I see where you're coming from now. Agree the militias were still outfitted with older weapons but the Type 81 was standard issue for the PLA (proper) during that timeframe. No doubt the Type 56 was still being produced domestically and for export long after the Type 81 was officially adopted by the Chinese military.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
WHY L and D and NOT SOMETHING ELSE?

So far, no one has put forth any photos or evidence of Type 56s with Chinese Characters on the trunnion or receiver with L and D selector marks. Until that happens we have to presume they were not made this way. We have to ask why?

When you begin to consider why the Chinese marked some Type 56s with L and D, instead of some other number, letter or symbol, it is easy to see that these markings served a dual purpose. They were simultaneously:

  1. Made for clandestine export, and;
  2. Ready issue for the untrained Chinese masses.

CHINESE MADE FOR CLANDESTINE EXPORT SMALL ARMS

As Comm Bloc previously pointed out, the Chinese went to great lengths to obscure the fact that China was the maker of the M22, a sterile, made-for-clandestine-export AK. As he wrote, the Chinese even used various European proof marks on the barrel. The M22 was part of the Chinese “M Series” which were made-for-clandestine-export Chinese small arms. They made the M7 (RPG2), M20 (TT33) and M21 (SKS) and sent them all over the world. This was the dawn of their small arms export program.
Later, in the mid-1960s, as the world became aware of their weapons export program, the Chinese abandoned their clandestine export program and sent Hanoi hundreds of thousands of Chi-Com weapons full of Chinese marking.

As China continued to export small arms in the 1970s and 1980s they retained the L and D on their export weapons. These export weapons included either an obvious Chinese arsenal mark, such as /66\ or an oval with three or four numbers inside.

WHY NOT SOME OTHER SELECTOR SWITCH MARKINGS?

If the Chinese wanted to manufacture an export-only AK, they could have chosen S A and SA for safe, automatic and semi-automatic, respectively.

Vietnam chose 0 30 and 1 as their selector markings.


Receiver Selector.JPG
Hungary chose the infinity symbol.
Selector Hungarian 1.jpg

North Korea chose the infinity symbol and a Roman Numeral 1 on its’ made-for-export Type 68 weapons.
Selector North Korean Export.jpg

Romania and Egypt selected S A R on their made-for-export AKs.
Selector Egyptian Export.jpg



AK CRATES AS BUG OUT BOXES

As you know, Communist Countries often crate up 10 AKs, 40 magazines, 10 magazine pouches, 10 slings, 10 sets of various cleaning equipment and sometimes even 10 bayonets in a "bug out box." These are made to be issued off the back end of a truck if the need ever arises, such as if the USSR ever invaded the PRC, something the Chinese dread.

JUmDVIf.jpg


PINYIN - THE NEXT BEST SELECTOR SWITCH CHOICE FOR RESISTING THE BIG INVASION

Because Pinyin was being taught almost universally in the PRC, at least for many years, any made-for-export Type 56 which bore L and D selector switch markings, which had not yet been exported, could easily be pressed into service within the homeland if necessary.

Any soldier, militiaman or citizen, who had been schooled in rudimentary Pinyin could quickly understand the selector switch markings, L for Automatic and D for single shot.
 

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Later, in the mid-1960s, as the world became aware of their weapons export program, the Chinese abandoned their clandestine export program and sent Hanoi hundreds of thousands of Chi-Com weapons full of Chinese marking.
From a macro level it's not that they abandoned their clandestine exports but strategic and ideologic considerations played a vital role.

The CCP leaders had paid close attention to the Vietnamese Communist revolution from the beginning. Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, and other Chinese leaders had developed close relationships with Ho Chi Minh. China's determination to offer material and manpower support for the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) was based on a mixture of strategic and ideological considerations. Chinese leaders comprehended Vietnam's strategic importance to the security of China's southern border. Beijing regarded Vietnam along with Korea and Taiwan as the most likely places where the United States might establish bases and possibly initiate military hostilities.

Under the terms of the 1954 Geneva Agreements, the DRV could not augment its military forces. Nevertheless, Beijing continued to supply significant quantities of arms and ammunition to Hanoi. As Hanoi developed its army (the People's Army of Vietnam, or PAVN) into a modern force in the late 1950s, China stepped up its efforts to equip and train North Vietnamese soldiers.

1955: Chairman Mao Zedong and President Ho Chi Minh of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam at a reception in Peking (Beijing), China celebrating the signing of the Joint Communiqué between their Countries.


Between 1955 and 1963, China provided the DRV with 247 million yuans' worth of military aid, including 240,000 guns, 2,730 pieces of artillery, 15 planes, 28 naval vessels, 175 million rounds of ammunition, and other military equipment and supplies. In 1962 alone, Beijing supplied 90,000 rifles and machine guns to North Vietnam.

In the early 1960s, when Soviet policy toward Indochina was equivocal at best, Ho Chi Minh and the North Vietnamese government regarded China as the only reliable source of military supplies for their revolutionary cause. Even though, under Brezhnev and Kosygin, Moscow adopted a more active policy of support for the DRV, Ho Chi Minh continued to look to China for ways to achieve unification and independence. Ho regarded the Soviet Union and China as Vietnam's big brother and big sister, and he hoped for united Sino-Soviet support for his revolutionary cause in Vietnam.

In 1960, revolutionary prospects in South Vietnam looked good, and Chinese leaders agreed to give Hanoi full support. Beijing had its own reasons for supporting Hanoi's new strategy for the liberation of South Vietnam. The growth of U.S. military involvement in South Vietnam, culminating in the formal establishment of the U.S. Military Assistance Command in Vietnam (MACV) in February 1962, caused Chinese leaders deep concern. They believed that the United States, which in their view had failed in Korea and Taiwan in the 1950s, was now expanding the war against China into Vietnam.

In order to meet Hanoi's urgent needs, Beijing gave highest priority to supplying arms and military equipment to Hanoi. Between 1961 and 1972, China supplied Hanoi with 280 122mm howitzers, 960 57mm antiaircraft guns, and 20,237 mortars, while the People's Liberation Army (PLA) received 200 howitzers, 2,000 antiaircraft guns, and 17,000 mortars. The Chinese Type 56 assault rifle was provided to nearly all the regular PAVN soldiers even before the PLA soldiers had been equipped. Often, when Hanoi's requests exceeded China's production capability, Beijing transferred arms and equipment directly from the PLA to Hanoi's inventory. (REF: Journey of Military History - Vietnam War)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
CIRCA 1967 CHI-COM TYPE 56 WITH CHINESE CHARACTERS AND L & D SELECTOR MARKS?

It appears that the Chinese likely issued Type 56s to the PLA with L and D selector markings.

Here is the possible "evidence" from Martin Brayley's book KALASHNIKOV AK-47 SERIES, first published in the UK in 2013.

Page 32 and 33 show what appears to be the very same Chinese Type 56.
z page.jpg

This photo shows the serial number, 11001943. If you accept that adding the first two digits of a Chinese Type 56 serial number to 1956, you conclude this particular AK was made circa 1967 (1956 plus 11) . Pinyin was being widely taught in China at this time.

Hanzi markings.jpg


This photo shows the L and D Pinyin selector markings.

selector marks.jpg

Is this the same Type 56? Each photograph depicts dark wood; as does the one page 34. The photo on page 34 is the same Type 56 on page 32 in that there is a noticeable vertical scratch in the buttstock in both photos. The magazine appears to be the same one in each photograph. While by not means proof, these photos suggest that it is the same Type 56. There is some marking on the bolt carrier but I can not tell if it is a serial number that corresponds to the receiver serial number or a proof mark. This particular Type 56 bears a non-Chinese proof mark near the /66\ Arsenal mark. If it is a non-Chinese proof mark and the left side of the rifle has a non-Chinese proof mark it is likely the same Type 56. If so, the question has arguably been settled: The Chinese did, indeed, manufacture L and D selector marked AKs with Chinese Characters Type 56, at least in circa 1967.

I have a Vietnam bring back Type 56 with a 10 million serial range. The selector markings are Chinese characters.

If you have an opinion, or alternative photos of a Type 56 with Chinese Characters and L and D selector marks, please post them.

Thanks.
 

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CIRCA 1967 CHI-COM TYPE 56 WITH CHINESE CHARACTERS AND L & D SELECTOR MARKS?

This photo shows the serial number, 11001943. If you accept that adding the first two digits of a Chinese Type 56 serial number to 1956, you conclude this particular AK was made circa 1967 (1956 plus 11) . Pinyin was being widely taught in China at this time.

I have a Vietnam bring back Type 56 with a 10 million serial range. The selector markings are Chinese characters.
Just addressing these two statements. I do not subscribe to the 1956 plus leading serial number equals date manufactured. If you take a real deep dive in the T56 in a Half, T53 and T54, and all the machining and markings, you'll conclude that this is incorrect. It should be model number + leading serial number (millions place) - 1. Now there are other theories about the actual methodology leading to this conclusion but they arrive at the same end game. Sites like Yooper still believe in the old theory but that has really been debunked with definitive evidence. I would think the Type 56 follows the exact same pattern as the above mentioned platforms (why wouldn't it) but unfortunately there are limited numbers of good, intact original Type 56 examples to do detailed analysis like the above mentioned weapons. So in the 11M example you provided it would be as follows:

1956 + 11 - 1 = 1966

Your next point: possibly the same rifle as you suggest but as a data point, I have dozens of good documented examples and all of the 11M series rifles I have in my documentation all have Chinese character selector markings, likewise for 10M series. Not talking about any kits but actual museum of Vietnam papered examples. I do have a bunch of 12M series that have L/D markings though. Not saying your example isn't the same rifle, it may very well be but just stating what I factually know for another data point for you. Not saying that there may not be an 11M series with L/D selector markings, it's just I personally have not seen one. You probably could write the author of that book and inquire where that example is from and if it is the same rifle. Then you would have no doubts.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks Bunker9939 for your input. All conversation is valued here; this is how we all learn.

I trust your database since I do not have one. Could you write more about it? I wrote circa 1967 to hedge my bets because I do not really know.

Since I have not done the research you have done, nor read the posts you have, what about the theory that in year 1, 1956, they started at serial number zero and went up to 1 million; then at the beginning of 1957, they added 1 million and another million each year.

It would be nice if the Chinese would open their books like Izhmash and Tula have (not). In any case, I think we are in the ballpark with the dating system whatever you subscribed to. If it is 1966 that is fine with me. That makes my 11 million Type 56 even earlier, 1965. Is there a thread here discussing this serial number dating system? I have not found one. If not, maybe you should start one. I would enjoy reading it as would others new to the Vietnam era Chinese Type 56.

As for this particular rifle, if it is an L and D marked 11M, then it is an anomaly. Perhaps a test run given it is apparently the 1943rd one made in that year. I will see if I can get a message to Brayley to settle this question.

Could you post photos of information about the 12M with L and D markings? That would be great.

We are looking forward to reading more.
 

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The problem with the Type 56 is there are not enough good examples to really draw any reasonable conclusions regarding production dates. That being said, there is a lot of good evidence on the T53, T54 and Type 56 in a Half, with a lot of good examples and thorough analysis. In order to intelligently draw any reasonable conclusions, production numbers are required and we don't have enough documented examples to determine that with any degree of confidence, and frankly there is not enough dedicated interest by any group or community. That is not the case with the weapons mentioned above. One can only assume, which is pure speculation and means absolutely nothing, that the Type 56 would naturally follow the same methodology/pattern as other platforms.

Not going to go in detail as there are other factors but at the macro level, by observing Chinese serialization practices on the T53 and T54, which actually had the year stamped directly onto the firearm, it is very clear the Type 56 in a Half was no different. The millionths place is simply a (year of production) indicator making a 2m a 1957, a 3m a 1958 etc. Adding the 2 or 3 to 1956 as previously done incorrectly displaces the dating by one year. You have to really dig deep into the various weapons and look at such things as machining, QC markings, fonts, various part progression, etc, etc. Here is a couple of pics I put together of the T53 as very basic reference. Unlike the Type 56, the production date was applied to the weapon and you can see how the serial number correlates to the year of production and follows the pattern mentioned. This subject is hotly debated in many circles as might be expected but for me personally, I did a lot of research with many groups and the evidence supports this claim. That's just me, others can draw their own conclusions.

T53:


Here are a few good examples of 12M series Type 56s that you requested.

Serial Number 1210208x Vietnam bring back. This rifle was picked up off a tributary of the Mekong Delta during the summer of 1968 (July or August). This weapon was featured in 2002 in Small Arms Review. Registered it in November 1968 with a Form 4467.




Serial Number 12104422 captured by New Zealand troops and registered as a New Zealand Vietnam bring back.




Serial Number 12134241 - Tokoi example:


 

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Discussion Starter #19
WOW Fantastic. THANKS!

These photos support the idea that L and D selector marked weapons were not exclusively made for export given the non-clandestine Chinese Type 56 characters on these 12M range Type 56s.

It also seems from these photos that 12M was the range where the integral folding bayonet front sight assembly was widely produced. I was wondering what year these were made and that seems settled - 1967. Were there any 11M with integral folding bayonet front sight assemblies?

It would be interesting to find dated photographs of the NVA or VC, or dated photos of captured weapons in the field, showing the folding spike bayonet Type 56 before 1967. Many photos taken in the Tet Offensive, in January 1968, show the spike bayonet Type 56. Since these AKs had to be carried down the Ho Chi Minh Trail it makes sense they were made in 1967 or before.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
I am now wondering about the selector switch markings on Type 56s made after the 12M range. Did they have L and D or Chinese Characters?

Is there a pattern? When did they switch back to Characters?
 
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