Thursday, April 16, 2015

The German MG-34 (Maschinengewehr 34) in Action

The German MG-34 with tripod and MGZ40 scope, probably taken on the drive to Stalingrad, summer 1942. Perhaps the most advanced machine gun design of the 1930’s and early 1940’s, the MG-34 was a new concept of warfare called the general purpose machine gun.  During World War I and the post war era, machine guns came in two general classes.  Heavy machine guns were large mounted weapons used primarily in defensive roles because of their exceptional firepower and lack of mobility.  Light machine guns were made to be man portable, and thus used for offensive actions.  However they often lacked the firepower of the heavy machine guns.  During World War II, the German Wehrmacht revolutionized warfare by introducing the concept of the general purpose machine gun, a man portable machine gun which also sported exceptional firepower, and thus could be utilized in a number of roles. The MG-34 was designed in 1934 by Rheinmetall and based on an earlier design called the MG-30.  It was first introduced to the German Army in 1936 after Adolf Hitler formally denounced the Versailles Treaty and began the large scale rearmament of the Germany Army. It was also supplied to the fascist government in Spain during the Spanish Civil War.  During the 1930’s and throughout World War II, the MG-34 would serve as the primary infantry machine gun of the Wehrmacht.  What made the MG-34 truly unique among other machine guns of its era was its incredible firepower at 800 rounds a minute.  Most other machine guns of the time, whether light or heavy, could only manage around 500-600 rounds per minute.  This combined with its portability gave the common German infantry platoon an incredible amount of firepower.   Such high rate of fire was accomplished using an open short recoil action.  The MG-34 was both semi and fully automatic, utilizing a special double crescent trigger.  The upper trigger fired the weapon in semi auto, the lower trigger fired it in full auto. 


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