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the mg 42...

Discussion in 'Weapons & Technology in WWII' started by denny, Oct 25, 2015.

  1. denny

    denny Member

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    .....any automatic weapon really, but the 42 was So Fast.

    Was it really an advantage to have such a high rate of fire.?

    If a weapon could fire 700 rounds a minute instead of 500, did it "matter".?

    I would think you would burn through a lot more ammo, and even at 200 rounds a minute, can they cool properly.?

    Anyway.....you guys get the gist of my question.

    Thanks
     
  2. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    the Germans were starting to think that the weapons must count for the loss of the troop forces, bigger guns, faster guns,etc. DonĀ“t know if it meant a deal but hearing an MG42 or seeing one 88mm in action was a mental value and gave more to the lesser German man power.
     
  3. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I recall watching a documentary one time with two old German soldiers talking about the MG34 vs the MG42. They both preferred the MG34, mainly because of the logistical issue of humping more ammo to keep a 42 fed. That must have been a real pain in the behind for a squad to carry all that extra ammo or to lose men to run to the rear for ammo as the gunner burned it up at such a high rate of fire.

    I guess you could actually change the rate of fire from 1500 to 1200 to about 900 rounds per minute by changing the bolt, but I don't know how often they did that. Even at 900 rounds per minute, it's still significantly faster than the American M1919 which was 400 to 600 rounds per minute.
     
  4. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    An interesting question, though I don't know if I have an answer. On the one hand, a high ROF can saturate an area quickly; on the other, you may lose in controlability and accuracy. Presumably the high ROF of the MG42 was easier to handle when the gun was mounted on the tripod, but John Weeks commented that when used on the bipod the MG42 "practically walks away from the gunner." From what I understand, modern versions (MG42/59 etc) have heavier bolts and a somewhat lower ROF than WWII examples. As to the sound of the gun affecting morale, I have heard such stories too but I am somewhat doubtful of them. Surely experienced troops would not be intimidated by sound alone, however fearsome it may have seemed when they first heard it. Whatever its noise, reputation, and ability to cover a beaten zone quickly, the MG42 did not by itself deter Allied infantry from closing.
     
  5. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I read that the MG42 was easier for the industry to produce...but about the ammo amount?...
     
  6. SKYLINEDRIVE

    SKYLINEDRIVE Member

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    The MG42 is extremely hard to control when fires from the bipod, it needs quite some training and experience to keep it under control.
     
  7. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    You can listen to the sound of MG42 as much as you want in youtube. It is distinct.
     
  8. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Think about it. An MG 42 firing at a cyclic rate of 1200 rounds per minute would blow through close to 100 lbs of ammo a minute (250rds. boxed and belted 7.92 x 57 Mauser weighs 18lbs 6.5oz). How much ammo do you think a standard German squad could hump, in addition to their personal equipment, weapon, grenades, rations and ammo for their individual weapon? Then you have the barrel heating/wear aspect, barrel changes were mandated at 200-300 rounds for cooling purposes and to prevent ruining the barrel, so if we go with the upper limit of 300rds per minute you'd have four barrel changes in that one minute. This pretty much negates any appreciable cooling of the unused barrel (assuming the team has the standard two replacement barrels, for a total of three including the one in the gun) between changes. A well trained crew could effect a barrel change in 30 seconds. Now do the math for a theoretical cyclic rate without ruining the barrels. 1200rpm/60 seconds=20rds per second. So you have a 15 second burst (300rds), 30 second barrel change, 15 second burst (we're assuming no pause to re-aim or re-adjust body positioning), so you've used up your minute, but only fired 600 rounds. The first 30 seconds of the next minute would be barrel change, then 15 second burst, the 15 seconds of the next barrel change. Third minute, remaining 15 seconds of barrel change, 15 second burst, 30 second barrel change. So for the second and third minutes you've dropped to 300 rounds per minute, across the three minutes you're averaging 400 rounds per minute.
    That's a partial explaination of why cyclic is not a useable rate in air cooled machine guns except during certain situations where the tactical situation is mure important than destroying the gun. Water cooled machine guns are a whole different situation, you can fire them at near cyclic if you have adequate quantities of water available.
     
  9. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member Patron  

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    As with many German weapons , I know these are small arms, but technological advances were the Wehrmacht bread and butter. Seems that these advances were effecting the German psyche of superior weaponry over their rivals then what was actually demonstrated by the arms.
     
  10. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    The rate of fire difference from 34 to 42 can certainly be heard here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfJkU4Sah8I

    Was it not partly the concept of the beaten zone that led them into that exceptionally high rate of fire? Something about the power at the pointy end of suddenly receiving such intense little bursts of rounds, and how it eases the path of the troops being supported in a culture of aggressive attack & counter-attack? The effect on keeping heads down?
    I'm always so cautious on commenting on this stuff too specifically, as I suspect only those who've experienced the 'two way range' can really comment with credibility on such morale/human effects, but I'm sure I have something somewhere about a German study of what has the most tactical impact re. Machine Guns, more than 'just' how many are actually getting hit.
     
  11. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    1200/min would be exactly the type of gun you'd want in an aircraft.
     
  12. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Every now and again someone posts a revisionist comment along the lines that the MG42 was not that good an MG.

    There are a lot of advantages to a high rate of fire. 1,000 rounds in a minute means 20-30 rounds in the crucial couple of seconds before an enemy has a chance to react to fire and take cover. In WW2 the distinctive sound of this weapon was feared enough for the US Army to have a special programme to counter the psychological effect of the MG42.

    The MG42 was manufactured post war, chambered for 7.62mm as the MG3 and used by the Bundeswehr infantry until 2012 and by a host of other countries. Customers bought it and came back for more, It is about the only WW2 era small arm that is still in widespread use 50 years after the war, long after the BAR, 0.3 Browning, Bren and Vickers became museum pieces.
     
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  13. Markus Becker

    Markus Becker Member

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    This! In another forum a Marine said:


    The MG42 certainly lived up to its rep, putting c.100 rds on target before they could hear it.


    I trained with the MG3, that's basically a caliber 7.62 NATO version of the MG42. Even today I could still do it on my own in less time and I haven't touched one for the last 20 years. A well trained crew of two will do it in under ten seconds.
     
  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    One has to be careful about phrases like "not that good". So much depends on the proponents initial position. For instance if the proponent says "it was adequate" then "not that good" is very derogatory vs "it was the best ever" or even more extreme "its the best possible". In the latter two cases "not that good" could still mean for instance that it was the best of WWII. Then there's role to consider. Depending on terrain in a defensive positoin I'd rather have a water cooled Browning, an M2 50 cal, or best of all a water cooled Browing .50 cal. I'm not going to want to hump those anywhere though.
     
  15. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    The rate of fire could be adjusted to 1500, 1200 or 900 rounds per minute by changing the bolt. Does anybody know if the crew had that option or were they just issued with a particular bolt depending on the type of unit? I'm thinking 1500 might be just for aircraft. Normally the rate of fire in infantry use is quoted as 1200, but it would seem like if you had the option you'd swap to the 900 r/m bolt. Every squad (and their tactical deployment) was built around the MG42, so you'd think that running out of ammo would be kind of a nightmare and you'd want the slower rate of fire (which is still much faster than allied MG's).
     
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  16. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I never said the MG42 wasn't a good gun, I went back through the comments by other posters that preceeded your reply and don't see anyone claiming it was not a good machinegun. The original posters question was about how useable the rate of fire was.

    Denny wrote:

    Not exactly accurate. The MG42 rechambered for the 7.62x51 NATO was the MG2. The MG3 was a development of the MG1, which itself was a modified version of the MG42, more than just re-chambered, similar but different, further mods and improvements led to the MG1A1, which had further improvements to become the MG1A2, then the MG1A3, then the MG3. The feed system is heavily modified, also modified over time, the bolt, bolt rollers, bolt head/extractor, roller guide grooves, recoil buffer, feed tray, top cover, and many, many more, incremental improvements I can't remember off the top of my head. Externally they are very similar, internally you can see the lineage, but heavily modifed to improve functionality. The MG3 (adopted 1968) is the direct descendant of the MG42, but they're not the same gun.

    Not exactly an accurate or valid comparison. There are two machineguns that predate the MG42 that are still widely used, the .50 cal M2 Browning (in service 1933) and the DShK 12.7mm (1938). The M-1918 BAR (1918 in service and served until the late '50's) was a WWI era developed weapon. The M-1917 water-cooled and M-1919 air-cooled Brownings were also WWI era developments and served into the late '60's for the 1917 and the late '70's for the 1919. The Vickers was first fielded in 1912! So these weapons are of much earlier technology, predating the design of the MG42 by 20 years or more, and each enjoyed long service careers. So comparing the MG42 to these other weapons because they're all "WW2 Era" is like comparing the Fairey Swordfish to the ME-262, yes, both were WWII era weapons, but the Swordfish was pre-war technology and the 262 the result of wartime development.

    Markus Becker wrote:

    Good for you, don't doubt it. That doesn't change the fact that the MG3 is not just a re-chambered MG42, nor that most sources give 30 seconds as the average time it took a well trained crew to effect a barrel change in combat.

    He's wrong in most cases, probably not a machinegunner. In an ambush setting, at fairly close range, he'd be right. In a defensive position, with a tripod and T&E mechanism, with either range stakes or plentiful identifiable terrain features to aid in range estimation and pre-registered data on your range cards so you could dial your dope in, yes maybe 60% of the time. You say you trained as a machinegunner, how often was your first burst on target at range? The common proceedure is to estimate range, adjust sights and aim, fire and walk your tracers or bullet splashes onto the target. If you can see the tracers and splashes, the target can see them also. You want to engage at the longest effective range possible because geometry favors you, so range estimation and rapid, effective adjustments are critical, more so than first round hits, unless in an ambush situation at close range.

    Lastly, if rate of fire were so critical, why are the most widely used and deployed modern machineguns not firing in the 12-1500 rounds per minute range? The M240G has a variable gas system that allows for fire at 750, 850 or 950 rounds per minute. For combat purposes the 750 rpm setting is most commonly used, the 850 and 950 settings are used when the gun becomes increasingly fouled to allow more gas to keep the gun running at the 750 rpm rate. The Soviet PK, PKM, PKT series machineguns (introduced 1961) have cyclic rates of 650, and 700 rounds per minute, respectively. Probably the most widely used post-war machinegun models, if 1200+ rounds per minute was more effective, why weren't they designed to fire in the 1200+ rpm range? I do think it interesting to note that all these machineguns, including the MG42 have a specified practical rate of fire in the 200-300 rounds per minute range.
     
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  17. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Well stated, and I agree fully.
     
  18. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Exactly, and as the experience and discipline of the gun crews declined, ammo usage by the machineguns became a strategic problem for Germany. Production became inadequate and movement of ammunition to the end user problematic. When veteran troops with good fire discipline, well trained in burst fire, and well versed in the type of fire to use for different applications, were the norm ammo usage was prodigious, but not to the point it couldn't be supported, when "pray and spray" became the norm effectiveness went down, ammo usage went up and the logistics to support the weapon couldn't keep pace.
     
  19. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    As far as ammo consumption goes I read somewhere that for every 2 rounds that left the factory 1 found it's way to the front line. I don't remember if that was a general rule of thumb or was specifically for the US in WWII. Things were lost, damaged, and "repurposed" in transit and that was usually porportionate to the quantity moved. Given the rather severe logistical constraints faced by the German army any excess burden was going to have a definite negative impact.
     
  20. Markus Becker

    Markus Becker Member

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    Here you can see the barrel change. The presenter is working alone, lacks the protective glove to grab the hot barrel and isn't in a hurry. He get's it done in 40 seconds. See 5:46-6:27.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfJkU4Sah8I
     

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