OK, maybe they didn’t get it from Bond, even if the Czech Vz. 58P and Vz. 58V (which we believe stand for Pechotni [Infantry] and Vysadkovy [Paratroop] fixed- and folding-stock versions) did show up in a lot of Bond movies (Roger Moore slides down a banister blasting away with one in Octopussy).
But somehow British Intelligence got hold of a couple of Vz.58s and delivered them unto the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield Lock by mid-1966. The Small Arms Branch Testing Section received, first, a folding-stock rifle (they didn’t know its proper nomenclature) and began to prepare a report for it; for reasons they don’t share with us, it “was withdrawn and replaced with one with a fixed butt, before the Weapon Description Form had been completed…” but they continued and produced a descriptive report about the weapon by January of 1967.
Our best guess is that the Vzs were loaners from some third-world country that maintained good relations with the Czech export agency, and with Her Majesty’s Secret Service. But there could be some tale of derring-do to be declassified in 2066 or so.
It is almost as big a mystery, where the report went after that, although bureaucratic headers indicate that it was initiated by the Principal Inspector of Small Arms on behalf of the Director General of Artillery.
In those days, before Xerox was ubiquitous, an original was typed and a very few copies were made using mimeographs of a carbon copy of the original, and photographic prints of the photos. It was an expensive way to put a document together and naturally limited its distribution (the document was not ever classified). Per copy, Xerox was cheaper even in 1966, but RSAF Enfield probably didn’t have the capital budget (much less the foreign currency) for one, even in those days of 95% marginal taxation.
How it got in our hands is a little less mysterious: thinking we were buying a fairly rare period Xerox or offset-printed document, we bought it off eBay. To our surprise, we received this absolutely remarkable original, hand-prepared vintage document in the mail.
Unfortunately, our letter carrier rolled the stiff cardboard document into a tight tube to deliver it to Hog Manor, which did it little good. The lignin in the cheap government paper has turned the pages yellow, and somewhere over the decades the pages might have gotten wet, as they have a wavy appearance. The scanner software strives mightily to correct for that.
We debated what we would do with this, and ultimately decided that the very best thing to do, while we’re waiting to finish Volume I of Czech and Czechoslovak Firearms so we can start Volume II where this fits, is to share it with you. We will do a proper scan later, but an initial, nondestructive (and non-optimized) scan and OCR, accomplished with our Fujitsu SV600, is attached: RSAF SATB Small Arms Trial Report Vz58 1966.pdf
The report was, as we’ve already said, a descriptive analysis of the rifle and its associated equipment, like bayonet, cleaning equipment, and magazine.
This is a crude, preliminary scan, and will have considerable distortion, as you can see in the attached images. The OCR is likely to be dodgy as well. Later, we will carefully remove the brass staples and rescan under a nonreflective glass platen, and make a new version, but for now, here’s a document we bet you haven’t seen before.