MG42

MG42

Overview
The MG 42 is a 7.9mm universal machine gun
Machine gun
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....

 that was developed in Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 and entered service with the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

in 1942. It supplemented, and, in some instances, replaced the MG 34
MG 34
The Maschinengewehr 34, or MG 34, is a German air-cooled machine gun that was first produced and accepted into service in 1934, and first issued to units in 1935. It accepts the 8x57mm IS cartridge....

 general-purpose machine gun in all branches of the German Armed Forces, though both weapons were manufactured and used until the end of the war.

The MG 42 has a proven record of reliability, durability, simplicity, and ease of operation, and is most notable for being able to produce a stunning volume of suppressive fire.
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Encyclopedia
The MG 42 is a 7.9mm universal machine gun
Machine gun
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....

 that was developed in Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 and entered service with the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

in 1942. It supplemented, and, in some instances, replaced the MG 34
MG 34
The Maschinengewehr 34, or MG 34, is a German air-cooled machine gun that was first produced and accepted into service in 1934, and first issued to units in 1935. It accepts the 8x57mm IS cartridge....

 general-purpose machine gun in all branches of the German Armed Forces, though both weapons were manufactured and used until the end of the war.

The MG 42 has a proven record of reliability, durability, simplicity, and ease of operation, and is most notable for being able to produce a stunning volume of suppressive fire. The MG 42 has one of the highest average rates of fire
Rate of fire
Rate of fire is the frequency at which a specific weapon can fire or launch its projectiles. It is usually measured in rounds per minute , or per second .-Overview:...

 of any single-barreled man-portable machine gun: between 1,200 and 1,500 rpm, which results in a distinctive muzzle report. There were other automatic weapon designs with similar firepower, such as the French Darne, the Hungarian-Gebauer
Franz Gebauer
Franz Gebauer was a Hungarian inventor and weapons designer, including an early power-operated machine gun which actually saw service use.-Biography:Gebauer was born in 1888 in Gross-Herlitz, Austria...

 single-barreled tank MGs, the Russian 7.62mm ShKAS aircraft gun and the British Vickers K machine gun
Vickers K machine gun
Not to be confused with the Vickers light machine gunThe Vickers K machine gun, known as the Vickers Gas Operated in British service, was a rapid-firing machine gun developed and manufactured for use in aircraft by Vickers-Armstrongs...

. However, the MG 42's belt-feed and quick-change barrel system allowed for more prolonged firing in comparison to these weapons.

The MG 42's lineage continued past Nazi Germany's defeat, forming the basis for the nearly identical MG1 (MG 42/59), and subsequently evolving into the MG1A3, which was in turn followed by the MG 3. It also spawned the Swiss
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 MG 51, SIG MG 710-3
SIG MG 710-3
The SIG MG 710-3 is a Swiss 7.62 mm general-purpose machine gun designed and manufactured by SIG - Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft...

, Austrian MG 74, and the Spanish 5.56mm
5.56x45mm NATO
5.56×45mm NATO is a rifle cartridge developed in the United States and originally chambered in the M16 rifle. Under STANAG 4172, it is a standard cartridge for NATO forces as well as many non-NATO countries. It is derived from, but not identical to, the .223 Remington cartridge...

 Ameli
CETME Ameli
The Ameli is a 5.56mm light machine gun designed for the Spanish Army by the nationally owned and operated Centro de Estudios Técnicos de Materiales Especiales small arms research institute .Development of the weapon began in 1974...

 light machine gun
Light machine gun
A light machine gun is a machine gun designed to be employed by an individual soldier, with or without an assistant, as an infantry support weapon. Light machine guns are often used as squad automatic weapons.-Characteristics:...

, and lent many design elements to the American M60
M60 machine gun
The M60 is a family of American general-purpose machine guns firing 7.62×51mm NATO cartridges from a disintegrating belt of M13 links...

 and Belgian
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 MAG
FN MAG
The FN MAG is a Belgian 7.62 mm general-purpose machine gun, designed in the early 1950s at Fabrique Nationale by Ernest Vervier. It has been used by more than 80 countries, and it has been made under licence in countries such as Argentina, Egypt, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the...

. The MG 42 was adopted by a number of armed organizations after the war, and was copied or license-built as well.

Development



During the 1930s the German Army introduced the MG 34
MG 34
The Maschinengewehr 34, or MG 34, is a German air-cooled machine gun that was first produced and accepted into service in 1934, and first issued to units in 1935. It accepts the 8x57mm IS cartridge....

, considered to be the first modern general-purpose machine gun. Equipped with a quick-change barrel and fed with belts or large magazines, the MG 34 could fire for much longer periods of time than weapons like the Browning Automatic Rifle, Japanese Type 11
Type 11 Light Machine Gun
The was a light machine gun used by the Imperial Japanese Army in the interwar period and during World War II.-History:Combat experience in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 had convinced the Japanese army of the utility of machine guns to provide covering fire for advancing infantry...

, British Bren and French Châtellerault LMG, while being much lighter than crew-served weapons like the Vickers machine gun
Vickers machine gun
Not to be confused with the Vickers light machine gunThe Vickers machine gun or Vickers gun is a name primarily used to refer to the water-cooled .303 inch machine gun produced by Vickers Limited, originally for the British Army...

 and M1917 Browning machine gun. The weapon was also quite versatile. It was able to be fed from belted ammunition and a saddle drum magazine (the feed cover had to be changed for magazine feed) and fired from heavy tripods or various pintle mounts for armored vehicles. It even became a primary defensive gun for the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

, in its MG 81 form, and as secondary armament on tanks as the MG 34 Panzerlauf. However, it did have its drawbacks, such as sensitivity to dust and comparatively expensive production. One attempt at improvement was the MG 34S, an incremental improvement on the basic 34 design.

In order to address these issues, a contest was held for a true MG 34 replacement. Three companies were asked to submit designs: Metall und Lackierwarenfabrik Johannes Großfuß AG of Döbeln
Döbeln
Döbeln is a town in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, part of the Mittelsachsen district, located at both banks of the river Freiberger Mulde.-History:It was founded in the 10th century, the first written proof of its existence dates back to the year 981....

, Rheinmetall-Borsig
Rheinmetall
Rheinmetall AG is a German automotive and defence company with factories in Düsseldorf, Kassel and Unterlüß. The company has a long tradition of making guns and artillery pieces...

 of Sömmerda
Sömmerda
Sömmerda is a town near Erfurt in Thuringia, Germany, on the Unstrut river. It is the capital of the district of Sömmerda.-History:Archeological digs in the area that is now Sömmerda, formerly Leubingen, have uncovered prominently buried human remains dating to around 2000 BCE...

, and Stübgen of Erfurt
Erfurt
Erfurt is the capital city of Thuringia and the main city nearest to the geographical centre of Germany, located 100 km SW of Leipzig, 150 km N of Nuremberg and 180 km SE of Hannover. Erfurt Airport can be reached by plane via Munich. It lies in the southern part of the Thuringian...

. Of the number of proposals submitted, Großfuß AG's proved to be the best design, by far, employing a unique recoil-operated roller locking mechanism whereas the two competing designs used a gas-actuated system. Interestingly, the company had no prior experience in weapons manufacture, specializing in pressed and stamped steel parts (the company's staple product was sheet metal lanterns). Ernst Grunow, one of the leading design engineers with Großfuß, knew nothing about machine guns when he was given the task of being involved with the project, but he specialized in the technology of mass production. Grunow would attend an army machine gunner's course in order to familiarize himself with the utility and characteristics of such a weapon, also seeking input from soldiers. He then recycled an existing Mauser
Mauser
Mauser was a German arms manufacturer of a line of bolt-action rifles and pistols from the 1870s to 1995. Mauser designs were built for the German armed forces...

-developed operating system and incorporated features from his experiences with army machine gunners and lessons learned during the early stages of the war. The new design required considerably less tooling and was much simpler to build—it took 75 man hour
Man hour
A man-hour or person-hour is the amount of work performed by an average worker in one hour. It is used in written "estimates" for estimation of the total amount of uninterrupted labour required to perform a task. For example, researching and writing a college paper might require twenty man-hours...

s to complete the new gun as opposed to 150 man hours for the MG 34 (a 50% reduction), and cost 250 RM
German reichsmark
The Reichsmark was the currency in Germany from 1924 until June 20, 1948. The Reichsmark was subdivided into 100 Reichspfennig.-History:...

 as opposed to 327 RM (a 24% reduction). The MG 42 was made out of stamped metal, making it much easier to produce than other machine guns.

The resulting MG 39 remained similar to the earlier MG 34 overall, a deliberate decision made in order to maintain familiarity. The only major changes from the gunner's perspective were dropping of most of the drum-feed options, leaving the weapon to fire with a loose belt
Belt (firearm)
A belt or ammunition belt is a device used to retain and feed cartridges into a firearm. Belts and the associated feed systems are typically employed to feed machine guns or other automatic weapons...

 of ammunition or from a single 50-round drum shaped belt container fitted to the gun's receiver, and simplifying the weapon's open sights for aiming purposes; all these changes being intended to increase, maintain, or accommodate the gun's high practical rate of fire. Although made of relatively cheap parts, the prototypes also proved to be considerably more rugged and resistant to jamming than the somewhat temperamental MG 34. A limited run of about 1,500 of its immediate predecessor, the MG 39/41, was completed in 1941 and tested in combat trials.

The weapon was officially accepted, and the main manufacturing of the production design began in 1942, as the MG 42. contracts going to Großfuß, Mauser-Werke, Gustloff-Werke
Wilhelm Gustloff
Wilhelm Gustloff was the German leader of the NSDAP party in Switzerland; he founded the Swiss branch of the party at Davos in 1932., which grouped Nazi party members who lived outside the German Reich....

, and others. Production during the war amounted to over 400,000 units (17,915 units in 1942, 116,725 in 1943, 211,806 in 1944, and 61,877 in 1945).

Service history


One of the weapon's most notable features was its comparatively high rate of fire of about 1,200 rounds per minute, twice the rate of the British Vickers machine gun
Vickers machine gun
Not to be confused with the Vickers light machine gunThe Vickers machine gun or Vickers gun is a name primarily used to refer to the water-cooled .303 inch machine gun produced by Vickers Limited, originally for the British Army...

 and American Browning at 600 round/min. So distinct and terrifying was the weapon that the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 created training films to aid its soldiers in dealing with the psychological trauma of facing the weapon in battle. At such a high rate the human ear cannot easily discern the sound of individual bullet
Bullet
A bullet is a projectile propelled by a firearm, sling, or air gun. Bullets do not normally contain explosives, but damage the intended target by impact and penetration...

s being fired, and in use the gun makes a sound described as like "ripping cloth" and giving rise to the nickname "Hitler's buzzsaw", or, more coarsely, "Hitler's zipper" (Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 soldiers called it the "linoleum
Linoleum
Linoleum is a floor covering made from renewable materials such as solidified linseed oil , pine rosin, ground cork dust, wood flour, and mineral fillers such as calcium carbonate, most commonly on a burlap or canvas backing; pigments are often added to the materials.The finest linoleum floors,...

 ripper"). German soldiers called it Hitlersäge ("Hitler's saw") or "Bonesaw". The gun was sometimes called "Spandau
Spandau
Spandau is the fifth of the twelve boroughs of Berlin. It is the fourth largest and westernmost borough, situated at the confluence of the Havel and Spree rivers and along the western bank of the Havel, but the least populated.-Overview:...

" by British troops from the manufacturer's plates noting the district of Berlin where some were produced, much like the Germans' own World War I MG 08
Maschinengewehr 08
The Maschinengewehr 08, or MG08, was the German Army's standard machine gun in World War I and is an adoption of Hiram S. Maxim's original 1884 Maxim Gun. It was produced in a number of variants during the war. The MG 08 remained in service until the outbreak of World War II due to shortages of...

 had been nicknamed. Notwithstanding the MG 42's high rate of fire, the Handbook of the German Army (1940) forbade the firing of more than 250 rounds in a single burst and indicated a sustained rate of no more than 300–350 rounds per minute to minimize barrel wear and overheating.

The high rate of fire resulted from experiments with preceding weapons that concluded that since a soldier only has a short period of time to shoot at an enemy, it was imperative to fire the highest number of bullets possible to increase the likelihood of a hit. This principle was also behind the Vickers GO aircraft gun. The disadvantage of applying this principle was that the weapon consumed exorbitant amounts of ammunition and quickly overheated its barrel, making sustained fire problematic.

The method of barrel change made the MG 42 unsuitable for secondary or co-axial armament on World War II era German tanks with the exception of the Jagdpanzer IV
Jagdpanzer IV
The Jagdpanzer IV, Sd.Kfz. 162, was a tank destroyer based on the Panzer IV chassis built in three main variants. As one of the casemate-style turretless Jagdpanzer designs, it was developed against the wishes of Heinz Guderian, the inspector general of the Panzertruppen, as a replacement for the...

. Early versions of the Jagdpanzer IV carried two standard (no modification made) MG 42's on both sides of the gun mantlet/glacis, firing through a ball slot which was protected by an armored cover (with the MG 42 retracted) when not in use. Later version Jagdpanzer IV's carried only one MG 42 on the left side.

In the German Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) Platoon, each Platoon served four MG 34/MG 42 machine guns, used in the sustained fire mode mounted on tripods. In 1944 this was altered to six machine guns in three sections with two 7 man heavy machine gun squads per section.

Heavy Machine Gun Squad
  • Squad Leader (NCO) MP40
  • Machine Gunner (Private) MG 34/MG 42 and Pistol
  • Assistant Gunner (Private) Pistol
  • Three Riflemen (Privates) Rifles
  • Horse leader for Horse, cart and trailer (Private) Rifle

Operation


The MG 42 weighed 11.6 kg in the light role with the bipod
Bipod
A bipod is a support device that is similar to a tripod or monopod, but with two legs. It provides significant stability along two axes of motion .-Firearms:...

, lighter than the MG 34 and easily portable. The bipod, the same one used on the MG 34, could be mounted to the front or the center of the gun depending on where it was being used. For sustained fire use, it was matched to the newly developed Lafette 42 tripod
Tripod
A tripod is a portable three-legged frame, used as a platform for supporting the weight and maintaining the stability of some other object. The word comes from the Greek tripous, meaning "three feet". A tripod provides stability against downward forces, horizontal forces and moments about the...

, which weighed 20.5 kg on its own. The barrel had polygonal rifling
Polygonal rifling
Polygonal rifling is a type of gun barrel rifling where the traditional lands and grooves are replaced by "hills and valleys" in a rounded polygonal pattern, usually a hexagon or octagon....

 and was lighter than the MG 34's and heated more quickly, but could be replaced in seconds by an experienced gunner.

The optimum operating crew of an MG 42 for sustained fire operation was six men: the gun commander, the No.1 who carried and fired the gun, the No.2 who carried the tripod, and Nos.3, 4, and 5 who carried ammunition, spare barrels, entrenching tools, and other items. For additional protection the commander, No.1 and No.2 were armed with pistols, while the remaining three carried rifles. This large team was often reduced to just three: the gunner, the loader (also barrel carrier), and the spotter. The gunner of the weapon was preferably a junior non-commissioned officer
Non-commissioned officer
A non-commissioned officer , called a sub-officer in some countries, is a military officer who has not been given a commission...

 (or Unteroffizier
Unteroffizier
Unteroffizier is both a specific military rank as well as a collective term for non-commissioned officers of the German military that has existed since the 19th century. The rank existed as a title as early as the 17th century with the first widespread usage occurring in the Bavarian Army of the...

).

U.S. and British doctrine of the era centered around the rifleman, with the machine gun serving a support role. German doctrine was the reverse, with the machine gun placed in a central role and rifleman employed in support. This meant that German forces deployed far more machine guns per equivalent-sized unit than the allies, and that allied troops assaulting a German position almost invariably faced the firepower of the MG42. It was possible for operating crews to lay down a non-stop barrage of fire, ceasing only when the barrel had to be replaced. This allowed the MG 42 to tie up significantly larger numbers of enemy troops. Both the Americans and the British trained their troops to take cover from the fire of an MG 42, and assault the position during the small window of barrel replacement. The high rate of fire of the MG 42 sometimes proved a liability, mainly in that, while the weapon could be used to devastating effect, it could quickly exhaust its ammunition supply. For this reason, it was not uncommon for all soldiers operating near an MG 42 to carry extra ammunition, thus providing the MG 42 with a backup source when its main supply was exhausted.

Design details


The MG 42 is roller-locked and recoil-operated
Recoil operation
Recoil operation is an operating mechanism used in locked-breech, autoloading firearms. As the name implies, these actions use the force of recoil to provide energy to cycle the action...

 (short recoil) with gas assist
Muzzle booster
A muzzle booster or recoil booster is a device affixed to the muzzle of a firearm, intended to harness the energy of the escaping propellant to augment the force of recoil on portions of the firearm. Muzzle boosters are usually used to improve the reliability of a recoil operated firearm...

. It fires belt fed 7.92mm
7.92x57mm Mauser
The 8×57mm IS is a rimless bottlenecked rifle cartridge. The 8×57mm IS was adopted by the German Empire in 1905, and was the German service cartridge in both World Wars...

 ammunition from an open bolt
Open bolt
A semi or full automatic firearm is said to fire from an open bolt if, when ready to fire, the bolt and working parts are held to the rear. When the trigger is pulled the bolt goes forward, feeding a round from the magazine into the chamber and firing it...

.

The roller-locked bolt assembly consists of a bolt head, two rollers, a striker sleeve, bolt body, and a large return spring, which is responsible for pushing the bolt assembly into battery (the locked position) and returning it there when it is unlocked and pushed backwards by the recoil of firing or by the charging handle. As the striker sleeve is movable back and forth within the bolt assembly, the return spring is also responsible for pushing the striker sleeve forward during locking (described below). The bolt assembly locks with the barrel's breech (the end the cartridge is loaded into) via a prong type barrel extension behind the breech. As it is recoil-operated and fired from an open bolt, the weapon must be manually charged with the side-mounted charging handle.

The roller-locked recoil operation functions as follows: two cylindrical rollers, positioned in tracks on the bolt head, are pushed outwards into matching tracks in the barrel extension by the striker sleeve and lock the bolt in place against the breech. Upon firing, rearward force from the recoil of the cartridge ignition pushes the striker assembly back and allows the rollers to move inwards, back to their previous position, unlocking the bolt head and allowing the bolt assembly to recoil, extracting the spent cartridge and ejecting it. The return spring then pushes the bolt assembly forwards again, pushing a new cartridge out of the belt into the breech, and the sequence repeats as long as the trigger is depressed. The MG42 is only capable of fully automatic
Automatic firearm
An automatic firearm is a firearm that loads another round mechanically after the first round has been fired.The term can be used to refer to semi-automatic firearms, which fire one shot per single pull of the trigger , or fully automatic firearms, which will continue to load and fire ammunition...

 fire. Single shots are exceptionally difficult, even for experienced operators, due to the weapon's rate of fire. Usual training aim is to be able to fire a minimum of three rounds. The weapon features a recoil booster at the muzzle to increase rearwards force due to recoil, therefore improving functional reliability and rate of fire.

The MG 42 fires from an open bolt, meaning the bolt (not the firing pin) is held in a rearward position when the trigger is not depressed. Depressing the trigger releases the bolt assembly, of which the firing pin is a component.

The shoulder stock is designed to permit gripping with the left hand to hold it secure against the shoulder. Considerable recoil otherwise causes the stock to creep from its intended position. If the weapon is not properly "seated" on the bipod, a prone gunner may be pushed back along the ground from the high recoil of this weapon.

The MG 42 barrel shroud houses a quick barrel change device similar to the Thompson Light Rifle
Thompson Light Rifle
The Thompson Light Rifle was an attempt by Auto-Ordnance to manufacture a light rifle for the US Armed Forces. The overall weapon was based on their well proven .45 ACP submachine gun...

.

The sighting line consists of a ∧-type post or an inverted "V" height adjustable front sight on a folding post and a leaf rear sight with an open V notch sliding on a ramp, graduated from 200 to 2,000 meters (219 to 2,187 yards). There is an antiaircraft rear peep sight hinged on the open rear sight base.
An auxiliary antiaircraft ring sight is kept in the maintenance kit, and fitting on the barrel jacket to be used in conjunction with the folding antiaircraft rear peep sight attached to the rear sight base.

Variants and developments



MG45


In 1944, the material shortages of the Third Reich led to the development a newer version, the MG 45
MG 45
The MG 45 was a machine gun based on the MG 42, which was developed but not fielded by the German Army in 1944.-Overview:...

(or MG 42V), which had a different operation mechanism that used delayed blowback as opposed to roller locking. For this reason, the MG 45 is considered a different type of firearm, as the mechanisms of these two guns are different. It used steel of lesser quality, which reduced weight to 9 kg, while retaining the horizontal cocking handle. First tests were undertaken in June 1944, but development dragged on and eventually only ten were built. The tested MG 45/42V fired 120,000 rounds in succession at a rate of fire around 1,350 rounds per minute.
The MG 42V had some influence in the post-war development of roller-delayed blowback system, as employed in modern Heckler & Koch
Heckler & Koch
Heckler & Koch GmbH is a German defense manufacturing company that produces various small arms. Some of their products include the SA80, MP5 submachine gun, G3 automatic rifle, the G36 assault rifle, the HK 416, the MP7 personal defense weapon, the USP series of handguns, and the high-precision...

 small arms.

T24 machine gun


The American military tried to copy the MG42 during the war as a possible replacement for the Browning Automatic Rifle & M1919A4 for infantry squads, the new version being adapted for the .30-06
.30-06 Springfield
The .30-06 Springfield cartridge or 7.62×63mm in metric notation, was introduced to the United States Army in 1906 and standardized, and was in use until the 1960s and early 1970s. It replaced the .30-03, 6 mm Lee Navy, and .30 US Army...

 cartridge. Saginaw Steering Gear constructed a working prototype designated as the T24 machine gun
T24 machine gun
The T24 was a copy of the MG42 during the war as a possible replacement for the Browning Automatic Rifle & M1919A4 for infantry squads, the new version being adapted for the .30-06 cartridge. Saginaw Steering Gear constructed a working prototype designated as the T24 machine gun which could also be...

which could also be used on an M2 Tripod
M2 Tripod
The M2 Tripod is a U.S. machine gun tripod originally used with the Browning M1919 infantry machine gun. Since then, it has seen several redesigns, but remained largely the same. In this fashion, the M2 tripod has seen combat service in every conflict the U.S. Army and Marine Corps has been...

. However, the realization that the .30-06 cartridge might be too powerful for the gun's mechanism to easily cope with, and most notably a design flaw in the prototype, resulted in the discarding of the project.

M53


Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

 license-built the MG 42 at the state-owned Zavodi Crvena Zastava
Zastava Arms
Zastava Arms is a Serbian manufacturer of firearms and artillery. It was founded in 1853 when it cast its first cannons. It is currently the leading producer of firearms in Serbia and is a large contributor to the local defence industry...

 company as the M53, retaining the 8x57mm IS caliber. By doing so, the Yugoslavians retained the original weapon's design features, making the M53 a nearly exact copy of the German MG 42. The only major difference is a slower rate of fire. The aiming range of the M53 is 2000 meters, and the terminal range of the bullet is 5000 meters, the same as the MG 42. MG 42s captured in Yugoslavia at the end of World War II were put into reserve of Yugoslav People's Army
Yugoslav People's Army
The Yugoslav People's Army , also referred to as the Yugoslav National Army , was the military of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.-Origins:The origins of the JNA can...

 as M53/42s. The last military use of M53s in Yugoslavia was in 1999. Some quantities of M53s were exported to Iraq in the 1980s and saw extensive action during both Gulf war
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

s. M53 was known under nickname Šarac.


MG3


The MG 42, with small modifications, resulted in the Beretta
Beretta
Fabbrica d'Armi Pietro Beretta is an Italian firearms manufacturer. Their firearms are used worldwide for a variety of civilian, law enforcement, and military purposes. It is also known for manufacturing shooting clothes and accessories. Beretta is the oldest active firearms manufacturer in the...

 MG 42/59—still used by the Italian Army
Italian Army
The Italian Army is the ground defence force of the Italian Armed Forces. It is all-volunteer force of active-duty personnel, numbering 108,355 in 2010. Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank, and among its aircraft...

—and Rheinmetall MG 3, which is the primary general-purpose machine gun of the modern German armed forces (Bundeswehr)
Bundeswehr
The Bundeswehr consists of the unified armed forces of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities...

. A number of other armies around the world have adopted versions of the original, especially the MG3, and it remains in widespread service today. Its belt-feed mechanism was copied and used in the design of the M60 machine gun
M60 machine gun
The M60 is a family of American general-purpose machine guns firing 7.62×51mm NATO cartridges from a disintegrating belt of M13 links...

. The T161 beat the FG 42
FG 42
The FG 42 was a selective fire battle rifle produced in Nazi Germany during World War II...

-derived T52 during tests in the 1950s to become the M60. The T161 used a different gas system and was easier to make than the T52, but they both used a similar belt-feed and basic configuration. The trigger mechanism of the FN MAG
FN MAG
The FN MAG is a Belgian 7.62 mm general-purpose machine gun, designed in the early 1950s at Fabrique Nationale by Ernest Vervier. It has been used by more than 80 countries, and it has been made under licence in countries such as Argentina, Egypt, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the...

 or MAG-58 is a virtual copy of the MG 42's and the MAG-58's belt-feed is also very similar.
  • Rate of fire: Variable, from 900 rounds/min to 1,500 round/min or more depending on installed bolt weight (different weight bolt components introduced to regulate rate of fire, lighter assemblies providing faster rates of fire). Throat erosion and component wear also introduced significant variation. Up to 1,800 round/min on the MG 45 or without "recoil booster" (Rückstoßverstärker).
  • Parts changes:
    • Barrel: 3 to 7 seconds
    • Barrel and lock: 25 to 30 seconds

MG 74


The final variant to date is the MG 74, developed by Austria and since 1974 it is the standard machine gun of the Austrian Armed Forces.

After its founding in 1955, the Austrian army was equipped with old guns temporarily out of U.S. stocks. Starting in 1959 these Browning M1919 were largely replaced by the MG 42 with modified barrel and bolt for the new 7.62mm NATO caliber. But to introduce a modern weapon of its own production the Office of Defence Technology, in cooperation with Steyr Mannlicher
Steyr Mannlicher
Steyr Mannlicher is a firearms manufacturer based in the city of Steyr, Austria. Originally a part of the Steyr-Daimler-Puch manufacturing conglomerate, it became independent when the conglomerate was broken in 1990.-History:...

 and Beretta
Beretta
Fabbrica d'Armi Pietro Beretta is an Italian firearms manufacturer. Their firearms are used worldwide for a variety of civilian, law enforcement, and military purposes. It is also known for manufacturing shooting clothes and accessories. Beretta is the oldest active firearms manufacturer in the...

 developed a gun specifically for the Austrian Army. The German MG 42/59 that was introduced in 1959 with the Bundeswehr
Bundeswehr
The Bundeswehr consists of the unified armed forces of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities...

 in order to replace the U.S. machine-guns, served as the basis, which was similar to the Austrian 7.62 mm MG 42. Targets were to reduce, among other things, the rate of fire and weight and have more versatile sights and mount. The development of the weapon was completed in 1974. It replaced from this year the MG 42 as the MG 74 of the Austrian Federal Army.

The modifications to the basic MG 42 design include an extremely heavy bolt (950 grams vs. the 675 gram MG 3 bolt) which reduces the rate of fire to around 850 rounds per minute. Rate of fire can be varied, if necessary, by changing the shutter. In addition, a select fire trigger group was added to allow semi-automatic fire (single shot) compared to the traditional fully automatic only fire capability of the original MG 42 design. The MG 74 also has a modern polymer stock and handgrips to save weight. Usually colored a dark green, adjustable rear sight (35° horizontal, vertical 15°) and additional anti-aircraft sight can be mounted optional.

See also

  • MG 51
  • CETME Ameli
    CETME Ameli
    The Ameli is a 5.56mm light machine gun designed for the Spanish Army by the nationally owned and operated Centro de Estudios Técnicos de Materiales Especiales small arms research institute .Development of the weapon began in 1974...

    , Spanish GPMG
  • MG 3, modern successor of the MG 42
  • SIG 710-3, Swiss
    Switzerland
    Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

    GPMG derived from the MG 42

External links