Why do I like the German MG 42?
Many will say liking any gun in military history is a pretty sick enterprise. It makes me a real bad person right? How many people died as a result of a trigger pull on that particular weapon? Truth is though, humans are going to kill each other no matter what. Go ahead and pick up a rock and, if you follow the same logic, chances are you are admiring a stone item that is culturally insignificant but responsible for more bashed in skulls in human history than anything delivered from the barrel of a gun.
I've come to accept human nature. Guns are just the latest expression of that 'big rock'.
But it is also worth mentioning, considering the MG 42's origin, that I am not a Nazi or any kind of follower of that particular ideology. I'm just a student of human history who notices that war is pretty much our favourite activity as a species. I just happen to find it entertaining to notice the ways we devise to kill each other. Now, let's move on to the fun stuff.
The MG42 is my favourite 'evil' gun.
First off, it looks like a real bitch, like that ex wife who bailed with Bob from marketing but had a certain femme fatale quality to her nonetheless. Risky, but good looking. A whore (in hindsight), but a good fuck at the time. Standing there laughing at you on her stilted legs, knowing she could blow you away at any time, she's the bitch that could wreck your life when you stare her down. That's an MG 42. That's a serious gun.
And, for some reason I can't explain, I'm referring to the MG 42 as female.
And, for some reason I can't explain, I'm referring to the MG 42 as female.
She was made of stamped steel, mass produced at the time, when the Germans in '38 were anticipating annexing some pretty serious amounts of real estate and were in need of a replacement for the heavier, more sturdy but less reliable MG34. The Wehrmacht needed something they could mass produce fast while still maintaining high quality and lethality. There's something about the way Germans engineer stuff that I can appreciate, like BMWs and Porsches, high quality stuff that's over engineered, looks great, but is a little too pricey.
The MG42 was a lot like that.
The order requirement from the Wehrmacht on a dream gun was a paradoxical checklist. They needed something they could produce cheaply and also something that could spit out terrifying amounts of ammo. The contract, like all seedy government contracts, was hard to fulfill. The Wehrmacht ended up accepting a bid from a guy who had never even built a gun before, Johannes Großfuß, a guy who ran a stamped parts steel factory who had no experience in gun manufacture but saw a niche he could fill when profitable Nazi government contracts started floating around 1930s Germany. One of his engineers came up with the "roller locked mechanism" an innovation in gun manufacture that improved firing rate and heat efficiency and won him the design. The Nazi's liked it so much they had three factories mass producing the design by 1940. Großfuß won the contract not because he owned enough politicians to see it through but because his was the best actual design as voted on by hardcore military people. (This was in a narrow period in military history when the government officials dictating military policy weren't owned by the private corporations producing the guns.)
The Nazis were working off Guderian's as yet unproven 'Blitzkrieg' doctrine, the idea that some future 'lightening strike' would undo the ass rape of Versailles through speed and firepower and blow into France in a way that nobody had seen before. The German Army was gaming a new West Front offensive but this time without any 'hypothetical' rerun of WWI that involved Verdun, trenches or the Maginot Line.
That was pretty much the MG 42's future function in a nutshell. To be the support weapon of every infantry platoon. To spit out 1200 rounds per minute. It's an amount of spray that the human ear can't even properly register, the interval between each report being so slight that it ends up sounding like ripping cloth, a continuous roar those GIs who faced it nicknamed "Hitler's Buzzsaw". The Russians on the Eastern Front had a similar nickname.
The idea, from the German point of view, was that your TOT (time on target) was low when aiming so the interval between bullets mattered. The MG 42 was designed to put ten bullets on a target in a single second. That makes it harder to miss than similar machine guns available at the time like the British Vickers or American Brownings (both 600rpm ish guns). All forces who faced it hated it and agreed on one thing when facing an emplaced German machine gun position...
It was a shit brix weapon.
Of course, like every cool thing the Germans produced in WWII, the gun had its drawbacks. The thing was so lethal and spat out so much ammo that you had to be careful how you used it. You could run out of ammo pretty fast if you had a gunner who liked waving his dick around. Wehrmacht regulations warned against holding the trigger down for more than five seconds. 7.92mm ammo is heavy if you've got to carry it around. Belt fed machine gun defensive emplacements proved the gun's home. Also, it could turn red hot in minutes. Barrel changes were critical when laying down suppressive. And after '42, when the best days of Barbarossa were dying at Stalingrad and the whole Lebensraum fantasy started going to shit, defensive MG guns started coming into their own for the Wehrmacht.
It's a brilliant gun. It looks evil. The design has been so successful that modern versions have transpired like the current MG3 in use in the modern German Army and in other Armys worldwide.
You should hate it as a civilian. And you do. Because you don't have to face it.
Still, it's my favourite 'evil' gun!
I also feel a little weird for my admiration for this and similar terrible tools of death. I had not heard of this gun until now. 10 freeking bullets per second?ReplyDelete
1200 rpm cyclic rate at 60 seconds in a minute gives it a rate of fire 20 rounds a second. This firearm lives on as the MG3, as stated in the article, exactly the same but chambered in 7.62 NATO and with a reduced cyclic rate. Many forces outside of the German Bundeswehr still employ this machinegun as their general purpose MG.Delete
i just read that they cant reproduce this gun again is it true bcause i read it somewhere but i can find any more infosDelete
you haven't heard about it till now? IT IS A FLIPPING BAWSSDelete
If by the instrument of governmental power, a people is led towards its destruction, then rebellion is not only the right of every member of such a people . . . it is his duty. - Adolf Hitler, Mein KampfDelete
My girlfriend just had sex with another guy over Christmas. I never thought I would compare her to a World War 2 machine gun. But War Tard is right.ReplyDelete
"She was the support weapon of every infantry platoon."
Man that's hard-core for sure...lol...Delete
The MG 42 fires 8mm rounds the MG3 is 7.62ReplyDelete
MG 42 fires Mauser 7,92 mmDelete
The MG42 is THE classic 7.92mm metal sprayer. The modern version MG3 fires standard NATO 7.62x51mm rounds. The author is right in stating that the MG3 is the German Army modern equivalent. Just because they fire slightly different ammo dosen't mean they are not spiritual successors.ReplyDelete
there are several of these rotting atop T 72's a few hundred meters from me this very moment...ReplyDelete
You dont need to be so heavy with the disclaimers. Every real man laves guns.ReplyDelete
Why would German MG42s be sitting atop Russian T-72 tanks? What kind of rusty hybrid warzone are you living in?
Likely looted during the russian push to berlin and added to the tanks, capturing ammo along the way, reduces supply demand.Delete
if the mg 42 was a person and had a baby, it's name would be m60.ReplyDelete
Yeah kinda a down syndrome bastard child that came out due to rape, making it a disgrace for the MG42 bloodline.Delete
I've been a student of 20th century military history since high school. Knowledge of the killing and maiming power of various weapons makes folks like us less likely to support war.ReplyDelete
Having said that my fave is the Walther WA 2000 woot!
You have expressed my admiration for the MG 42 so well that it disturbs me. I've tended to keep this sort of thing quiet, you know.ReplyDelete
I remember reading an account from the Eastern Front where machine-gunners increased the rate of fire of their MG 42s to 2000rpm. Of course the Russian human wave tactic still won out.
(Cough.) So what's your favourite classic anti-tank gun?ReplyDelete
Has to be either the Panzerfaust (for a cheap man portable weapon), or the 7.5cm PaK43.Delete
German 88 Flak 37! There is a great line about this gun in "About Face" by David Hackworth.Delete
Whoever hasn't heard of the MG42 either A). Dosen't know anything about WW2 or B). Hasn't played Call of Duty.ReplyDelete
I think our friend of the rotting T-72s is in Afghanistan.ReplyDelete
Yeah...awesome weapon for its time and still hot now. BTW to beat the barrel change delay they operated in packs. Alternating changes. You have to hand it to the German infantryman too. Outnumbered almost all thru the war they inflicted more hurt than any force and fought to the end.ReplyDelete
Comparison fail; "Go ahead and pick up a rock and, if you follow the same logic, chances are you are admiring a stone item that is culturally insignificant but responsible for more bashed in skulls in human history than anything delivered from the barrel of a gun."ReplyDelete
Bronze age we started using cold hard metal to settle disputes. (3200 - 600 BCE (Europe))
Human plague 10 to 50 mill.
14th century is when guns became our favorite way to say, I hate you. And still is.
Human plague 500 mill to 7 bill.
Safe to assume we stopped skull bashing with minerals when our world pop was around 10 mill. Let's just over-exaggerate the possible amounts of deaths due to blunt force rock trauma and say 1 million. The Nazi's killed more people than the total pop at the end of the stone age (approx 11 mill). Sure a good majority of those were gassed but some took a pellet to the head. Stalin also contributed greatly to pellet-in-head causes of death. Add all other conflicts that were resolved with guns, U.S. snipers and my little bothers COD head-shot counts and we surely exceed any amount of rock skull bashing for pellet skull bashing.
Some MG42's left over from WWII are actually still in service in some third world armies.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the really great photo!ReplyDelete
Its in my background when i start my pc....
Every time i am remembered of the great difficulties that the german soldier was in, during the 2nd ww, while taking this picture.... i love my life without war...
Remember all the loss of live in this war and all the other wars.. and prey that no war will ever see our generation again. I would fight again when i had to.... but i hope not. Peace is better for all of us.
Peace for all from a former member of the 5th ss pz.div `Viking`
I was thinking of a story that was told to me by an old man i knew who was in the war... He told me at the question `did you kill a lot of russians?` He said fanatically `not enough!`
He was a mg 42 schooter during the war and he told me that he schot all his ammo and still the russians came over the pile of dead bodys that where already schot by him and took the rifles from the dead..... he and his help had to change as soon as possible the hot barrels to go on schooting.... the russians still crawled over the pile of dead commarades.... untill he had no nore ammo and they had to withdraw...
The russians won , but it costed a lot of human life....What a war.
War goes on. We keep on inventig. A devilish grin from Germany.ReplyDelete
One War Tard to many more If we don't study the why and the how of war and leave it to the military and the suits to shape our understanding and have control of the knowledge of how it is done and when it should and shouldn't be done then we will lose a lot of people learning it by trial and error- and the suits will always sleep safely. Having said that yes the MG42 is and for a long time will be the most bad ass and influential automatic weapon of world war 2- with the possible exception of the Sturmgewhere 44, but Evil- it wouldn't be if it were used to mow down tea party republicans and christian fundamentalists for exampleReplyDelete
The Yugoslavian govt. produced a version of the MG42 for many years after the war. Seeing them mounted on T72s is not all that odd. Designated the MG53, it is most easily distinguished by the lack of a "speed-ring" type mount riveted into the top of the barrel jacket to hold the spider type AA sight. With the exception of some split-tab rear sights and flip-dot front sight posts, most other parts are exact copies. Only the presence of eagle/swastika WaffenAmt (Weapons Bureau) stamps or Yugo stamps denotes them as original German or not. The OP is correct about the Grossfuss Co., but the novel roller-locking bolt system that made the gun so fast (supposedly 1500rpm cyclic) was most likely developed by someone in the Waffen Amt rather than one of the Grossfuss engineers. When the West German Bundeswehr joined NATO and rechambered the gun for .308 they made the bolt heavier to slow it down to 1200rpm cyclic. I had the luck to shoot the MG3 when I was stationed in Germany. It's a beast! After some pointers about burts control and shooting posture from a German NCO buddy of mine I mananged to qualify for the Shutzenschnur (Gold shooting cord). It was one of the highlights of my military career. I loved that gun so much that I now own three of them (sadly, all demilled dummy guns). The first one, set up as an MG3, is on display at a local museum. The second is a straight-up MG53 and the one still under construction will be a WWII style 42 with a propane firing machinegun simulator fitted in it for reenacting.ReplyDelete
The first picture is not a wartime photo, by the way.ReplyDelete
I took that photo in 2004!Delete
this weapon can pierce an armored.ReplyDelete
That's pretty cool, I shoot it once when I was in Chinese armyReplyDelete