Search Free eBooks

MG 34 and MG 42 Machine Guns (kindle)

MG 34 and MG 42 Machine Guns (Osprey Weapon 21) by Chris McNab

Although in war all enemy weapons are potential sources of fear, some seem to have a deeper grip on the imagination than others. The AK-47, for example, is actually no more lethal than most other small arms in its class, but popular notoriety and Hollywood representations tend to credit it with superior power and lethality. Similarly, the bayonet actually killed relatively few men in World War I, but the sheer thought of an enraged foe bearing down on you with more than 30cm of sharpened steel was the stuff of nightmares to both sides. In some cases, however, fear has been perfectly justified. During both world wars, for example, artillery caused between 59 and 80 per cent of all casualties (depending on your source), and hence took a justifiable top slot in surveys of most feared tools of violence.

The subjects of this book – the MG 34 and MG 42, plus derivatives – are interesting case studies within the scale of soldiers’ fears. Regarding the latter weapon, a US wartime information movie once declared that the gun’s ‘bark was worse than its bite’, no doubt a well-intentioned comment intended to reduce mounting concern among US troops about the firepower of this astonishing gun. In fact, the exact opposite was probably true. Firing at a cyclical rate of 1,200rpm, the MG 42 had a truly appalling bite. An on-target burst of just half a second could slash through a man with no fewer than ten 7.92×57mm high-velocity rounds, each delivering dreadful injuries, and at ranges of well over a kilometre. The MG 34 fired with less pace – up to 900rpm – but was also a proficient killing engine in trained hands.

The story of the MG 34 and MG 42 is undoubtedly technologically fascinating. The MG 34, like the MG 42, did not simply emerge from a design void, but evolved from a succession of experimental weapons and concepts. Each step of the journey required innovation in thought and industry to accomplish. Yet from the battlefield perspective, it is hard to escape the sheer dreadfulness of the Einheitsmaschinengewehr’s effect on the human form. For both of these machine guns were created with attrition and destruction as their end game, and in those objectives the MG 34 and MG 42 were singularly successful.

In the immediate aftermath of World War I, the German Army’s capability to produce and stockpile machine guns seemed irrevocably stunted by the Versailles Treaty. The Reichswehr (‘Imperial Defence’; the German armed forces from 1919 to 1931) was limited to possessing 792 MMGs and 1,134 HMGs. These restrictions were subsequently raised slightly, and the Reichswehr could also draw on tens of thousands of MG 08s and variants, secreted away among various arsenals around the country. Furthermore, history now knows that Germany was largely able to circumvent prohibitions on all manner of weapons development, by utilizing German- owned or partially controlled foreign-based companies. Hence while only one German company was allowed to manufacture machine guns – Simson & Cie near Erfurt – further design, development and production work continued in Spain, the Netherlands, the Soviet Union, Sweden and Switzerland. The most important organizations in terms of machine guns were Waffenfabrik Solothurn AG in Switzerland, over which Rheinmetall gained control in 1929, and Steyr in Austria, with which Rheinmetall also established a close working partnership (and possibly commercial control). Through such means, Germany embarked on a new phase of machine- gun development during the 1930s.

Read book online on Google Docs MG 34 and MG 42 Machine Guns by Chris McNab

No comments:

Post a Comment