Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The MP40 was submachine gun developed for and used extensively by Nazi Germany during World War 2. It was descended from the nearly identical MP38, the differences being cost-saving alterations, especially more stamped rather then machined parts and an improved safety feature. The changes resulted from experiences with the several thousand MP38s (which had actually entered service in 1939) available during the Invasion of Poland. The changes were incorporated in the MP38/40 intermediate version, and finally the intial MP40 production version. Just over 1 million would be made of all versions in the course of the war. Some of the weapons related to it include the MP41, which looks like a MP40 with a wooden stock, MP40/I, and MP40/II. A 64 round clip was tested with it at one point. Also, during the 1930s its precursor weapon was developed which was informally known as MP36, though it was a factory prototype, not an accepted military weapon.
A MP38 can be easily distinguished from a MP40 by a round hole in the magazine feed, and a series of small grooves along the length of the upper cylinder. The intial production MP40 had a smooth side on the magazine receiver, the main production was actually the MP40/I which had small indented grooves on the magazine side to strengthen it. The MP40/II was the experimental 64 round clip. There is some variation in modern sources with naming of the variant numbers.
The design actually used a similar amount of stamped sheet metal parts for its day as some other weapons, but is unique in that had a folding metal stock with plastic furniture rather then wood stock. Among the era's submachineguns, the design was about average and was neither the cheapest, most reliable or most powerful but was regarded as satisfactory overall. Near the end of the war for example, a few thousand sten SMGs were made by Nazi Germany, since they were cheaper to make.
The weapons magazine clip spring were found to wear out very quickly, and cause jams if loaded fully with 32 rounds so they were nearly always loaded with 1-2 rounds left out, giving a capacity of 30. At one point a double clip magazine was also experimented with 64 round capacity, with the double clip being slided horizontally to use one clip and then the next; the weapon was trialed on the eastern front but did not prove a success.
Unlike the impression given by films (particularly 'Where Eagles Dare'), television series and pulp novels, MP40s were typically only issued to platoon and squad leaders, the majority of soldiers carrying Karabiner 98k rifles. The MP40 was often called the Schmeisser, after weapons designer Hugo Schmeisser . Although the name was evocative, Hugo Schmeisser himself did not design the MP40, the weapon instead being produced by engineers at Erma . Schmeisser helped design the MP41, a wooden-stocked version of the MP40 which was issued to police units. The MP41 had technical differences from the MP40 even though it looked similar.
The MP40 had a length of 833 mm, though its retracting stock could allow the weapon to shorten to 630 mm. The odd 'spur' near the end of the barrel was designed to allow the troops to hook the MP40 onto the firing ports of armoured personnel carriers, such as the Sdkfz 251 half-track.
- Operation: Fully automatic
- Caliber: 9 x 19 mm (Parabellum)
- Muzzle velocity: 380 m/s (1247 ft/s)
- Capacity: 32 (30, 64; see text)-round magazine
- Mass: MP40 - 3.97 kg (8.7 lb), with loaded clip - 4.7 kg (10.3 pounds; MP38- 4.3 kg (9.5 lb)
- Overall length
- With stock retracted: 630 mm (25.2 in)
- With stock extended: 832 mm (32.75 in)
- Rate of fire: 500 round/min
- Effective range: roughly 100 m (110 yd)
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