Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Maschinengewehr 42, MG-42, or MG42 is a machine gun that was developed for and entered service with Nazi Germany in 1942, during World War II. The 7.92 mm rifle caliber weapon was developed from, and was intended to supplant the MG34 machine gun, though both would be continued to be used and manufactured until the end of that war. The MG42 formed the basis for the nearly identical MG3 and MG42/59, in service with many armies during the Cold War and into the 21st century.
Its development was done by Metall und Lackierwarenfabrik Johannes Grossfuss AG and resulted from further attempts at improving on the MG34, particullary making them easier to make. The internals were still a short recoil system like the MG34, but the bolt locking system was a design orginally patented by Edward Stecke of Poland.
A limited run of about 1500 its immediate predecessor the MG34/41 had been completed in 1941 and tested combat trials. It was officialy accepted, and the main manufacturing of the production design began in 1942; contracts going to Grossfuss , Mauser-Werke , Gustloff-Werke , and others. Production during the war amounted to over 400 thousand; 1942- 17915; 1943- 116725; 1944- 211806; 1945- 61877. It could be made in roughly half the number of man-hours and the MG34, and used less metal.
One of weapon's most noted its feature's, was its comparatively high rate of fire of about 1200 rounds per minute, with some versions allowing several hundred rpm more (around 1500, and in some cases 1800). At this rate the human ear does not discern the sound of individual bullets being fired, and thus when in use the gun makes a sound described both as "ripping cloth" and "Hitler's Buzzsaw". The gun was somtimes called a "Spandau" after the suburb of Berlin where some were produced.
The high rate of fire had resulted from experiments with preceding weapons, that that since a soldier only had a short window of time to shoot an enemy, it was imperative to fire the highest number of bullets possible to increase the likelihood of a hit.
In the late 1930s the MG34 had proved satisfactory, but did have its drawbacks, such as sensitivity to dust and a comparatively expensive production. One attempt at improvment was the MG34 S, a incremental improvement on the basic 34 design. A much bigger improvment would come a design from, Metall-und-Lackierwarenfabrik Johannes Grossfuss AG, experts in pressed and punched steel parts. Their efforts resulted in a dramatic reduction in complexity – it took 75 man-hours to complete the new gun as opposed to 150 for the MG34, and cost 250 RM as opposed to 327 RM.
The resulting MG39 remained largely similar to the earlier MG34, a deliberate decision made in order to maintain familiarity. The only major change from the gunner's perspective was dropping the drum-feed options, leaving it with belts only, and the further increase in the rate of fire. Although made of "cheap" parts, the prototypes also proved to be considerably more rugged and resistant to jamming than the somewhat temperamental MG34.
The MG42 weighed 11.6 kg in the light machine gun role with the bipod, lighter than the MG34 and easily portable. The bipod, the same one used on the MG34, could be mounted to the front or the center of the gun depending on where it was being used. In the role as a heavy machine gun it utilised a newly developed Lafette 42 tripod that weighed 20.5 kg on its own. The barrel was lighter than the MG34s and wore out more quickly, but could be replaced in seconds by an experienced gunner.
In 1944 the acute material shortages of the Third Reich led to a newer version, the MG45 (or MG42V), which used steel of lesser quality, reduced weight to only 9 kg, and yet further improved the maximum rate of fire. First tests were undertaken in June 1944, but development dragged on and eventually only ten were ever built. The MG42V had some influence in the postwar development of roller-delayed blowback, as in Heckler und Koch small arms.
The MG42, with minor modifications resulted in the MG42/59 and Rheinmetall MG3, which is the primary heavy machine gun of the modern German army (Bundeswehr).A number of other armies around the world have adopted versions of the original, and guns looking similar, or identical, to the MG42 remain in widespread service today. The US Army's M60 is based upon the FG42 paratrooper rifle and the belt feed mechanism of the MG42.
Like nearly every other machine gun, but unlike rifles, the MG42 fires from an open bolt. The trigger releases the bolt assembly instead of releasing the firing pin. The shoulder stock is designed to permit the stock to be gripped with the left hand and held in place on the shoulder. The repeated recoil otherwise causes the stock to creep across the infantryman's chest.
- Caliber: 7.92 x 57 mm (The modern MG3 use 7.62 x 51 mm NATO)
- Load: 50 or 250 round belt feed.
- Action: fully-automatic only
- Rate of fire: 1200 rpm (1500 some versions;MG45 version- up to 1800 rpm or without Recoil Booster (Rueckstossverstaerker) )
- Weight: 11.6 kg (25.5 lb)
- Changes parts: barrel in 8-12 seconds, barrel and lock in 25 to 30 seconds.
- Short Recoil operation, Roller Locking
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