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"Comparison of German Machine Guns" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A report on versions of the WWII German MG 34, MG 42 machine guns, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 32, August 26, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The following comparison and photographs of the German machine-gun model 34, 34 (modified), 34S, 34/41 and 42 are based on data received from the Aberdeen Proving Grounds.

The MG 34 is a familiar weapon, and model 42 has already been described in Tactical and Technical Trends no. 20, p. 28 and no. 31, p. 37. This report is of interest because of its comparison of the variations of model 34 and the excellence of the detail of the illustrations.

*          *          *

a. MG 34 Modified

The MG 34 (modified) is used principally in armored vehicle hull mounts and differs from the MG 34 in the following:

(1) Heavier barrel jacket adapted to fit in ball type hull mounts
(2) Absence of antiaircraft sight bracket
(3) Simplified and easily operated firing pin nut lock
(4) Bipod clamps for attaching bipod for emergency use.

This model can be mounted on the antiaircraft and heavy ground mounts.

b. MG 34S and 34/41

The MG 34S and MG 34/41, are identical in appearance except for the perforated operating handle of the MG 34/41 (see figure 2) but are named in this report separately only because a definite effort was made to make them as distinct models. The reason for this is unknown. One description will suffice for both weapons. They differ from the MG 34 in the following:

(1) Provision for full automatic fire only instead of full or semiautomatic fire;
(2) Simplified trigger group with extensive use of stampings;
(3) Barrel 3 1/2 shorter with enlarged muzzle end to accelerate recoil;
(4) Simplified bolt and bolt-locking sleeve eliminating many machining operations;
(5) Elimination of firing pin lock nut and substitution of a simple, easily operated, plunger type, catch recessed in the bolt carrier;
(6) Larger and stronger ejector assembly located in the left receiver wall;
(7) Larger and stronger buffer group;
(8) Heavier recoil spring constructed of two lengths of woven wire;
(9) Addition of a cocking lever catch to secure cocking lever in the forward position;
(10) Modified feed mechanism providing a more secure trip on the cartridge.

Both models can be used on the antiaircraft mount and although they appear to have been designed for mounting on the heavy ground mount, the clamp, fitting over the rear end of the barrel jacket cannot be secured when the gun is in place. A different trigger actuator is also required. The MG 34 and the models described above may be mounted flexibly in tank hulls.

c. MG 42

The MG 42 is a new design but has the same tactical employment. A few of the outstanding characteristics will be listed here. The MG 42 differs from the MG 34 basically in the following:

(1) Extensive use of stampings in receiver, barrel jacket, cover assembly, and trigger group;
(2) Provision for full automatic fire only;
(3) Simplified bolt assembly allowing rollers to lock bolt to locking sleeve and eliminating locking lugs. The bolt carrier is a forging;
(4) Simplified buffer mechanism with a very heavy spring;
(5) A new and simplified quick change barrel is provided;
(6) A more flexible feed mechanism is provided making for smoother operation.

Bipod, antiaircraft and heavy ground mount are provided but these mounts are not interchangeable with those used with the MG 34.

[WWII German Machine Guns, MG-34 and MG-42]

[WWII German Machine Guns, MG-34 and MG-42]

d. Tables of Weights and Measurements:

Characteristic    MG 34    MG 34
    MG 34S
MG 34/41
    MG 42 
Weight w/o bipod (pounds)  24 1/2  26 3/4  24 1/4  23 1/4
Weight of barrel (pounds)   4 3/8   4 3/8   3 3/4   3 7/8
Weight of bolt (pounds)   1 1/16   1 1/16   1 5/16   1 1/16
Overall length (inches)  48  48  44 1/4  48
Length of barrel (inches)  23 1/2  23 1/2  19 3/4  21
Free length of recoil spring (inches)  18  18  22  15 1/2
Year of manufacture   1941   1942   1942   1942


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