The goal of all modern armies is the maximum production of good and
efficient weapons in a minimum variety of types. The advantages of limiting
weapon types to the smallest number consistent with effective warmaking have
been shown to be numerous. If weapon designs are highly standardized and
relatively few in number, equipment can be produced swiftly and abundantly by
mass-production methods. Further, the training of troops is simplified and
facilitated, and if the weapons themselves can be used in interchangeable roles (the
dual-purpose AA/AT guns are a familiar example), battle efficiency is greatly
Nazi Germany has been most consistently and successfully devoted to
the principle of limiting the variety of weapons to the smallest number which
will give the required combat strength and effectiveness.
Since the original basic designs upon which the equipment of the present
German army was produced, there has been no pause in the intensity of
development which followed. As the German army gained experience, newer and more
efficient designs of equipment were produced, and existing types were modified
as circumstances required. German designers learned their lessons rapidly, and
the result is that even standardization carried on to an extreme, as it
undoubtedly is in German equipment, has little or no effect upon the
development of better and more efficient weapons. Italy has tried hard to
conform with the rapidly changing requirements which the present war has
brought about, but, hampered by a chronic lack of adequate designers, adequate
raw materials, and adequate facilities, she is always just one step - and
sometimes just one hundred steps - behind. There has been much for Italy to
learn since Italy felt the full weight of modern armaments, and, with an
increasing German influence in control, the Italian armament industry is
at least making an effort not to be left too far behind. Evidence from many
sources, obtained during or immediately prior to present operations, makes it
possible to collate what is known about certain new equipment, and makes it
possible to draw some conclusions. The following is a partial list of certain
enemy equipment identified in the course of recent operations.
b. German Kampfpistole
The Kampfpistole itself is the normal, light-metal signal pistol, slightly
bored out and rifled, and has a caliber of 27 mm. The only projectile so far
identified is an HE grenade with a direct-action fuze operating on impact. The
accurate range is very short, and the maximum range is not more than
about 100 to 150 yards. There is little effective fragmentation, and
the effect is only to project an "offensive"-type grenade a little further
than it could be thrown by hand.
c. Rifle Grenades
(1) Grenade Launcher (Schiessbecher)
This is a heavy-metal grenade launcher in two parts, having a caliber of
30 mm. The main body can be clamped to the muzzle of any rifle model 98
(except Models 98a and 98/40) and carbine model 98K. The clamp itself fits just
behind the front sight. Into this component is screwed a cylinder forming the
rifled bore of the cup. The rifled cylinder is the male portion and has a very
rapid right-hand thread. A special tool is supplied with each cup for assembling.
(2) Grenade Launcher Sight (Granatvisier)
The sight is a simple attachment clamped to the left-hand side of the
rifle just to the rear of the rear sight and comprising a "U" notch rear sight
and blade front sight, on a base revolving about an axis and aligned by a small
spirit level. There are two range scales, reading respectively from 0 to 250 meters
for low-angle fire, and 250 to 50 meters for high-angle fire. The graduations
apply to the HE round only; when firing the AP round, 75 meters on the
low-angle scale correspond to a range of 100 meters, and 50 to a range of 65 meters.
(3) HE Grenade (Gewehr Sprenggranate, or G.Sprgr.)
The projectile consists of a blackened steel body with an aluminum nose
fuze and a grooved collar fitting into the rifling of the grenade launcher cup. The
fuze operates on impact, but the shock of discharge also initiates a delay
system in the base which, in the event of the nose fuze failing to function,
detonates the explosive filling after a delay of 5 seconds. The collar
carrying the rifling may be unscrewed from the body and the igniter string
pulled, in which case the projectile can then be thrown as a hand grenade, operating
after 4 1/2 seconds. The effect is equivalent to that of a "defensive" type of
grenade, the radius of fragmentation being given as about 30 yards.
(4) AP Grenade (Gewehr Panzergranate, or G.Pzgr.)
This is a form of armor-piercing rifle grenade. It incorporates the
hollow-charge principle. In appearance the grenade is a long cylinder, partly
steel and partly aluminum, with a black, rounded-metal nose cap and a base plate
slotted to facilitate removal. The forward half of the cylinder is constructed of
steel and contains the bursting charge, a light metal diaphragm shaping the
hollow charge. The rear aluminum half of the cylinder, which carries an interrupted
collar with 8 right-hand grooves to fit the rifling of the launcher cup, contains
a fuze and explosive train. The weight of the bursting charge is exceedingly
small compared with the total weight of the grenade, and the general design
is unnecessarily complicated, with considerable waste of efficiency. There is
no provision for use as a hand grenade.
(5) Practice Grenade (Gewehr Sprenggranate Ub.)
This round is fitted with a smoke generator, 6 holes for smoke emission being
drilled in the side of the body.
(6) Cartridge and Packing
Each grenade is packed with a bulletless, blank rifle cartridge in a
cardboard container, which may be marked with the German nomenclature. The
cartridges are not interchangeable between rounds of different types. The
containers are black with a white spot on the end for AP rounds, and
gray for HE rounds.
HE - Maximum range 250 yards (approx).
AP - Moving targets are to be engaged at ranges of less than 100 yards, the
vulnerable parts of tanks being penetrated, according to an enthusiastic but
probably over-confident handbook, at ranges of under 50 yards. The latter
range probably represents the degree of accuracy of aim, since the actual
effect is not dependent upon range.
d. 200-mm Spigot Mortar
An effective introduction is the 200-mm spigot mortar (see
Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 16, p. 32). Although
intended for the destruction of obstacles, minefields, and gun emplacements, it is not
considered that the effect would be sufficiently great to mark an advance
in minefield clearance methods. The probable appearance of the projectile
is an egg-shaped body containing the bursting charge, with a long tubular
tail having fins at the base. The tail probably breaks off in one piece on
detonation of the round, and there will be considerable blast effect with
comparatively little fragmentation. It is possible that incendiary, smoke, and
other chemical agents may be used.
e. Small Arms
(1) Pistol P.38
Although not a very new design, this pistol, which incorporates good
design points of many previous types of pistol, is gradually replacing
(2) Machine Guns
A new model, the MG 41, is reported to exist. A still newer model, MG 42, exists
and is more satisfactory than the MG 41 (see
Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 20, p. 28).
The newer types differ from the MG 34 in having an increased rate of
fire, and being lighter in weight. An increase in the rate of fire of ground MGs
over the MG 34 (cyclic rate 900 rpm) is likely to prove of doubtful
value, since the increased expenditure of ammunition will present difficulties
without obtaining any real advantage.
(3) 20-mm Flak 38
This weapon is a development from, and an improvement upon, the 20-mm Flak 30 which
has proved quite successful. It does not represent any radical change in design, but
is simpler, more accurate in operation, and incorporates many minor improvements.
(4) 20-mm Flakvierling
This equipment consists of four 20-mm Flak 38s on a single, highly mobile
carriage. Although probably intended for AA use, it can be used against ground
targets and is a very useful marine equipment.
f. Hollow-Charge Ammunition
For reference to the use of German hollow-charge ammunition, see
Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 19, p. 27.
g. Rocket Weapons
See Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 18, p. 26.