The Czechs have a stellar history of small arms production since World War I. They have developed submachineguns (e.g., the Scorpion SA Vz. 61 and the earlier CZ Models 23, 24, 25 and 26), rifles (e.g., the Vz. 24 and 33) and assault rifles (e.g., SA Vz. 58).

So too, Czechoslovakia has been responsible for a series of light and general-purpose machine guns. Take the ZB Vz. 26 designed by Czech brothers Vaclav and Emmanuel Holek and manufactured in Brno from the late 1920s through World War II.

Despite dramatic world events, Czech small arms production could not be derailed despite their invasion by the Nazis and conquest by the Soviet Union.

ZB Vz. 26 was the light machine gun mainstay for Czech infantry before WWII.

After its occupation by German forces at the outset of that war, ZB Vz. 26 was co-opted by the German Army, thanks to Herr Hitler, and dubbed the MG 26.

ZB Vz. 26 is chambered for the 7.92x57mm Mauser. It is gas-operated and fed by a top-mounted, 20- or 30-round box magazine. Vz. 26 has a cyclic rate of about 500 to 600 rounds per minute and a muzzle velocity of some 2,400 feet per second.

It is 45 inches long, sports a 26.5-inch-barrel and weighs 22.5 pounds.

Due to Czechoslovakia's Eastern Bloc affiliation-rather domination by the USSR, ZB Vz. 26 made its way into the hands of Soviet-friendly North Korea and North Vietnam. Yet other countries imported Vz. 26, and it saw use by the Chinese non-communists and the British-the latter with slight modification-as the famous Bren.

ZB Vz. 26 employs a standard bipod and top-mounted carrying handle. It was also fielded with a tripod and it has been mounted on various armored vehicles.

Vz. 26 served alongside contemporary Czech battle rifles Vz. 24, conveniently chambered in 7.92x57mm Mauser and Vz. 33, in 8mm. (The Vz. 24 Czech bolt-action rifle was produced from 1924 to 1942; the Vz. 33 was produced from 1934 to 1945. Both, well designed infantry rifles, feature a five-round, two-row integral magazine.)

Vz. 26 saw action in World War II, Korea and Indochina-and beyond.

That the ZB Vz. 26 was successfully fielded in adverse, subtropical conditions is testimony to its ruggedness and the reliability of Czechoslovakian-made small arms.