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I have heard the same thing about the MG42. When our ordnance people were planning to copy the design they tested a few of them and found they jammed frequently carboned up badly and fired entirely to fast to be practical. I have heard from people who have owned them that they also have a habit of going into self destruct mode. A condition caused by wear that changes the headspace and causes a blow-up that damages the gun and maybe the shooter. This happened to a friend of mine that can testify to it. I believe improvements were made after the war not the least of which was a method of slowing down the rate of fire.
 

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The example I was given years ago by a freind (cannot verify the accurracy so please forgive and weigh accordingly) was the firing mechanism of a german field peice was like a swiss watch that required an expert to fix. The American counterpart was about 5 peices that in some situations like broken firing pins suppossedly replaced with nails filed to fit by the front line troops.
 

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Mr Starlings premise is acceptable and accurate that Nazi Germany's constant and overzealous introduction of new weapons throughout the life of the Nazi military and the prosecution of the war created immense and complicated problems for the resources of Germany and the Nazi occupied countries. Clearly this had a crippling effect on the Nazi war machine. Good thing!!
With all due respect for his credentials, however, Mr Starling is confusing the MG34 with the MG42. Having a high rate of fire can be used to advantage at times, certainly, and ammo preservation is dependent on many other factors such as fire discipline, tactical objective and use, local deployment of the gun, tactical support from other weapons, nature of the enemy position, fire power, etc, etc. As for overheating, fire discipline and other factors like a ten second barrel change go a long way to reduce this. Having spare barrels is necessary for any air cooled belt MG, and as a vital accessory, unnecessary accessories were abandoned. MGs are primarily area and support weapons, not sniper weapons, so what kind of accuracy is required? In the hands of someone skilled in its use, the MG42 can be fired quite accurately. It is like any tool in that its limitations determine its effective use just as much as do its virtues.
Massively over engineered? Expensive to manufacture? Simple addition to improve handling? Not! These are certainly not issues with the MG42 but definitely were for the MG34. These complaints as criticisms of the MG42 are easy to refute.
Of course, if the MG42 was such a failure with such intractable problems it is difficult to understand why its progeny, virtually indistinguishable from the WWII version of the gun, are still issue in various armies.
FWIW
 

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Nobody ever said the MG42 was better, (well, not me anyways. :) ) just a cheaper alternative to the MG34. The receiver alone on the MG34 was something like 100 individual machining steps.

I think the allure of this 100,000 rounds a minute gun fielded with every other German Soldaten has definitely grown with age. The one thing the Germans got right with both guns was portability. The 1919 may be a better weapon, but until the A6 came along, the dependence on a tripod made it a fairly static weapon. (And dont you believe for a MINUTE those training videos where the 1919 team moves up, the AG throws down the tripod, gunner sets the weapon down....blah blah......the German gun crew already has 400 rounds downrange)
 

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>I have heard the same thing about the MG42. When our ordnance people were planning to copy the design they tested a few of them and found they jammed frequently carboned up badly and fired entirely to fast to be practical. I have heard from people who have owned them that they also have a habit of going into self destruct mode. A condition caused by wear that changes the headspace and causes a blow-up that damages the gun and maybe the shooter. This happened to a friend of mine that can testify to it. I believe improvements were made after the war not the least of which was a method of slowing down the rate of fire.<

Having read much of the ordnance report literature over the years about testing and evaluation of various foreign weapons, including the history of evaluation of the MG42, it is clear that the prevailing political pressure within the military was to make as few changes as possible with the types of small arms, and not to introduce any new weapons unless absolutely necessary. This was a very wise position to take since the weapons that we had were sufficient to do the job. By nature the military is extremely conservative, and this was a virtue in this regard.
The US military was very impressed with the MG42, and rightly so, but its design was a radical departure from accepted practices. The attempt to convert an MG42 to .30-06 is very revealing since the parties involved in the modification and testing of the two guns converted were the very best available: Saginaw Gear Co, and Aberdeen Ordnance Research Center. The guns failed because the firearms technicians who were supposed to design the modifications of the gun, the makers of the special parts necessary to accept the standard M2 .30 cartridge and the priorities of the process were baffling in their incompetence. For many inexplicable reasons, the whole process was hampered by serious errors and major miscalculations on the part of the technicians doing the work, testing, evaluation and reworking. I visited Springfield Arsenal with Folke Myrvang and spent some time with the two .30-06 T24s, the model assigned to the MG42 .30-06 conversions. It was clear that much had been changed from a standard gun except for the several most important specifications to insure the guns functioned with the longer round. So, they did not work. My opinion is that the potential for success threatened too many in the military procurement system and in the small arms industry at the time and the project was "failed' deliberately. But, that's just me. The story can be read in Myrvang's "German Universal Machine Guns", volume I.
The achilles heel of the MG42 in WWII was the problem of out-of-battery ignitions caused by the oscillation of rollers in the bolt head, which would oscillate in and out briefly during lockup before settling down. If the rollers were slightly out of lockup, the firing pin could still ignite the primer, but the breech was not fully locked, and the cartridge not fully supported resulting in a ruptured case by detonation. This problem was solved during the war by providing MG42 ammo that had a slightly slower primer ignition rate, enough to allow the rollers to settle. After the war the bolt catch was engineered to force the wedge that moves the rollers into lock up when the bolt went into battery. This cured the OOB ignition. For many years now, MG42 owner/shooters have learned to use the bolt catch, so detonations are rare.
Mixing of some post-war parts, especially .308 Steyr barrels and some WWII bolts can create headspace problems. Mostly, the problem is the headspace is too short and the bolt head rollers lock up tight in the barrel extension and will not unlock. I have had a number of 42s in the shop with this problem. So far, I have not encountered a problem with too long headspace creating a problem.
Beretta designed a very heavy bolt and special buffer to slow down the rate of fire of the post-war MG42/59s they used since they felt that the high rpm was detrimental to the integrity of the receiver and would result in less wear and tear on the guns. What they found out was that the heavy bolt was actually more destructive to the receiver than the standard bolt, so it was discontinued. Rheinmetall also made heavy bolts and buffers, but as far as I know Italy was the only country to use these parts in their issue guns.
MG42s are "throw away" guns to a certain degree, since by design they are low cost, fairly light sheet metal construction and function close to the limit of their mechanical properties. Every MG suffers from various high frequency vibrations when fired, and with the MG42, after prolonged heavy use, the cumulative effect can progressively crack welds and cause small cracks in various stressed places, loosen rivets, pop rivet heads, etc. Maintainance requirements are not stringent, but routine evaluation of the barrel recuperator is helpful and also the condition of the ramps in the trunnion. The service life of these guns can be very high and I know of some 42s in private hands that have fired over 100,000 rounds and the receivers are still in excellent condition. Others have shorter service lives as well, for reason that are difficult to determine.
The MG42 is a superb, simple design and a robust MG that will continue to be used by military forces for years to come. The only other issue weapon to have lasted as long as an issue MG is the BMG M2 .50.
Hope this clears up some misconceptions…..FWIW
 

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Yeah, I tend not to put much weight in anyone claiming that carrying ammo is an issue. Sounds like the guys in the military who fight to keep bolt guns over semi autos and limit mag capacity to "force" people to shoot accurately. Time and time again concentrated fire keeping heads down while the average soldier flanks.... thats what wins. This is one area I think people who played paintball understand better! When the volume of fire keeps you from maneuvering, you lose! One shot, one kill loses to 5 shots, 1 kill when the enemy fires 100x as often.

I hear all the time about how stupid the Germans were for designing tanks like the Tiger. How they could have made 4 Shermans for each Tiger. Then they say how German still could not have made as many Shermans... well how does that work. They give up superiority for numbers to then clearly lose the number game. Sounds like a winning formal. So they trade their 1 Tiger for 4 Shermans to face our 10 Shermans.... Hmm... I think I will stick with the 1 Tiger. That "might" defeat 10 Shermans!

I do have to agree with Bob that they should have concentrated more on fewer advanced designs. You are also asking a Brit about German WWII arms... hardly an unbiased opinion. Having shot the MG42, Bren and BAR... If I was in a squad, I will take the MG42 gunner backing me up! I would rather haul some more ammo and live!
 

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It depends on the gun you buy. Our particular MG42 was owned by a GI with time to spare and melted several cars with surplus ammo. He admitted to roughly 30,000 rds through it. After he passed, we bought it and had Landies rebuilt it with new stuff. It was a good gun but gee whiz it consumed parts. Our 34 is still good but we haven't shot it as much as the 42. The Mg42 has a few limitations, the main being.................it was made for war. We want it to last forever but it wont. Period. J
 

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The one I owned was a C&R DFB manufactured in 1944, purchased in 1983. It was never reliable and all but soured me on buying any more machine guns.
 

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Ah, this same crap is "common knowledge" about the SVT40. However, as I wrote in WWII Ordnance Illustrated, there is no real evidence to back it up; in fact, in the case of the SVT40 it was clearly a failure to provide the materials and support as required.

Let us first look at the MG34. Anyone who has ever restored (rebuilt) one knows the outrageous tolerances required to make it work- or even for the bolt to go back-and-forth. Despite the anecdotal Norwegian tale in Folke's book, it is absolutely clear that a grain of sand can kill the MG34.

The 42 is an early study in stamped steel. The idea is right, but forget you not that the technology was in infancy. Anything new is more expensive that its offspring. We now know that stampings are cheap and easy, but at the time it was still experimental. Heck, Germany bought 100,000 Belgian FN FALs because HK couldn't get the CETME/ G3 stampings to work, and that was ten years after WWII.

The author complains about waffenampt inspections, but that's bureaucracy, not technical. So off with that.

As has been pointed out, the 42 is a "throw away" gun. Well, not exactly, but it has components that are easily replaced, which, come to find in modern times, is the best way to do things. If the receiver is bent, toss it and put the tempered and expensive parts in a new shell.

No, the 42 isn't perfect from a production perspective. There are (as expected in an early design) too many "little" add-ons that require high tolerances, including the barrel stop, recuperator alignment, etc. The cams for the stock should have been stamped into the shell, not riveted; etc etc. Had the 42 been perfected, nothing would have been added to the receiver except for the (ahem) trunion, which is external.

The 42 has plenty of empty space for sand and crap to dump, like the 1919. What is the difference between the rails of the 42 and the tolerances of the 1919? Not much.

Rate of fire is crap. 90% of warfare is psychology, and the 42 wins. "It ate a lot of ammo" well, then let's just use Mausers. There were boundaries and regulations and constraints put on bursts and usage, and a well regulated 42 user wouldn't use much more ammo than his counterpart with the 1919. Yes, we are human, and there is realistic consideration given to blasting through "what you got" and certainly that did happen, but don't fault the gun.

In hindsight, I would have made the 42 in the BRP design- two parts, with a beefed up receiver, and a readily replaced barrel shroud. That's hindsight.

The fact that the US-made 42 was a FU is well documented. The fact that the VN-era M60 is a FU is well known. That should not reflect on the MG42 nor the MG3. That the MG42 is STILL made more than 70 years later speaks volumes about the design.

The author of that article is playing myopic. Nothing is perfect, but no need to beat Secretariat because it was too fast. I would ask him: so what is the best universal MG today? Well, what do you think?
 

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so what is the best universal MG today? Well, what do you think?
For me it would be the M240. My experience with them is based on having used them as the coax gun on M60A1s. Super fine weapon that was completely dependable.
 

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For me it would be the M240. My experience with them is based on having used them as the coax gun on M60A1s. Super fine weapon that was completely dependable.

Hands down, the M240 is the best light machine gun ever invented. Easy to control, insanely accurate, the ONLY thing that will mess them up is when the operator starts messing around with parts in the top cover. I dont have any experience on the PKM, but that would take a close second based on friends reviews.
 

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+1 on the paychology of warfare. The intimidation factor of the 42 was enough to have an Army training film to address the issue of the psychological intimidation factor as well as using captured ones in training.

I have had the discussions of the psychology of "pushing" enemy troops in combat with superior firepower and maneuver with LEOs. Its funny when the "LEO experts" with all their training dismiss this. Maybe they should have spent time in combat to see for themselves:rofl:


Oh and back to the articles author......the common mistake of a rifleman not understanding that an MG is an area suppression weapon to be treated more like a firehose than a sniper rifle
 

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I've not had a chance to run a 240 but REALLY LIKE the HK21. For any expert, how do these two weapons compare?

Karl
 

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Is the author really singing the praises of Imperial Britain for out producing Nazi Germany? Of course they out produced the Germans during the course of the war, we were constantly destroying their production capacity while supplementing that of the British. Many of those Lancaster bombers doing so by night were powered by Packard Merlin's, and dropping bombs made of American iron.

Not all Nazi equipment was over engineered. The Germans built "low-mix" platforms: the PzKpfw III was built right up to the day we destroyed the single source factory. The Hetzer, based on the old Cz38 chasse, was fielded in 1944 and 1945. We found them abandoned by the score, with empty fuel tanks. Yes, some German equipment was over engineered, as was some of ours (P-59 anyone). What defeated the Nazis was arrogance. A nation that never developed a successful strategic bomber failed to realize that we could build them by the thousands. That same arrogance made them so confident in their cryptology that it never occurred to them that we were decrypting their communications as fast as they were. Speaking of over engineering: we had mobile, radar controlled, automatic anti-aircraft guns deployed in theater in 1944. German bombers learned very quickly to stay away from the Anzio beachhead. One NIGHT raid lost 9 of 11 aircraft. Once placed on the English coast, they shot down roughly half of all V-1s launched. Our submarine campaign succeeded in isolating the Japanese home islands, why couldn't the Germans do the same to the Brits? Oh, that's right: airborne radar, and we were reading their fleet communications in real time.

Back in my "Cold Warrior" days, one of the questions we asked was - why were we planning to fight the Soviets the same way the Nazis had fought us: Supposedly using our technical superiority to counter their numerical superiority? MSG
 

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...

What defeated the Nazis was arrogance. A nation that never developed a successful strategic bomber failed to realize that we could build them by the thousands. That same arrogance made them so confident in their cryptology that it never occurred to them that we were decrypting their communications as fast as they were.

...
Nazi Germany defeated itself because of blind hatred of the Jews. I read a paper prepared at the US Army War College that pointed out the depth of this hatred. Throughout the war, Germany kept the death camps running come hell or high water. 30% of all transport, supplies, and manpower was devoted to "The Final Solution". Even in the face of failed military campaigns and retreating armies, the death trains kept rolling non stop. Military commanders could not commandeer any of these resources for military use. This manic hatred finally did them in.
 

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The one I owned was a C&R DFB manufactured in 1944, purchased in 1983. It was never reliable and all but soured me on buying any more machine guns.
You know I hear stories about guns like this all the time. Good guns, not functioning. To be frank, I don't understand how this kind of thing happens. Did you never get professional help? Where knowledgeable people not able to fix the gun? I mean I bought a CMP Garand. First it pre-ejected the clip, jammed..etc. Tried a lot before a friend suggested new springs which solved all the issues except... it was shooting far left, like a foot with sights fully adjusted. Sent it back to CMP. Got it back rebarreled and a cracked bridge on the receiver. Got a whole new gun. I could have sworn off Garands or maybe semi autos as junk but I knew it was just bad luck on my part and got professional help from CMP when I could not fix the issues on my own. Yeah it cost a lot in ammo for me to solve my own issue but now I have a good shooting Garand... I mean I know there are lemons out there but usually when I hear this kind of story, I determine its user error or ignorance in how to deal with the problems.

Nazi Germany defeated itself because of blind hatred of the Jews. I read a paper prepared at the US Army War College that pointed out the depth of this hatred. Throughout the war, Germany kept the death camps running come hell or high water. 30% of all transport, supplies, and manpower was devoted to "The Final Solution". Even in the face of failed military campaigns and retreating armies, the death trains kept rolling non stop. Military commanders could not commandeer any of these resources for military use. This manic hatred finally did them in.
Sounds good but no. Germans were not short on bullets. Certainly had enough for every Jew in Germany. If there were willing to lose the war to kill all the Jews, I am pretty sure every one would have had a bullet in the head and the Soldiers on the Front line would have run out of ammo...
 

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You know I hear stories about guns like this all the time. Good guns, not functioning. To be frank, I don't understand how this kind of thing happens. Did you never get professional help? Where knowledgeable people not able to fix the gun? I mean I bought a CMP Garand. First it pre-ejected the clip, jammed..etc. Tried a lot before a friend suggested new springs which solved all the issues except... it was shooting far left, like a foot with sights fully adjusted. Sent it back to CMP. Got it back rebarreled and a cracked bridge on the receiver. Got a whole new gun. I could have sworn off Garands or maybe semi autos as junk but I knew it was just bad luck on my part and got professional help from CMP when I could not fix the issues on my own. Yeah it cost a lot in ammo for me to solve my own issue but now I have a good shooting Garand... I mean I know there are lemons out there but usually when I hear this kind of story, I determine its user error or ignorance in how to deal with the problems.
What makes you think myself and others didn't try to find out what was wrong? Several knowledgeable people and myself worked with that MG42 for several years and never could get it to a reliable level. The last I heard the guy that ended up with that MG42 was still having problems with it.

30 plus years ago, when I had problems with the gun, the knowledge base was no where near the level it is today nor was the internet available to put people in touch with the ease it is today. Don't sit back and judge people on how things are in the present, you have to first know the time frame some of us are writing about and the issues we had to deal with. At that time MG42 spare parts were few and far between. You just could not sit down in front of a computer and order all the parts you needed.

So get off that high horse of yours.
 

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What makes you think myself and others didn't try to find out what was wrong? Several knowledgeable people and myself worked with that MG42 for several years and never could get it to a reliable level. The last I heard the guy that ended up with that MG42 was still having problems with it.

30 plus years ago, when I had problems with the gun, the knowledge base was no where near the level it is today nor was the internet available to put people in touch with the ease it is today. Don't sit back and judge people on how things are in the present, you have to first know the time frame some of us are writing about and the issues we had to deal with. At that time MG42 spare parts were few and far between. You just could not sit down in front of a computer and order all the parts you needed.

So get off that high horse of yours.
You know, when I say I don't understand and then ask a question, I am seriously asking a question and seriously don't understand. You are correct, in that I only caught the end of the time when the internet was not there to help out with regards to guns. However for the example given, a Garand from CMP, I picked out the gun in person. I had help with people from the local range and I had dealing with CMP using the phone. No internet. Now I granted Garands are a lot better known...etc. However the internet did not bail me out on that one. Assuming you were not incompetent, no need to go getting offended over me saying I don't understand and asking basic questions... I can buy the idea that you just could not find anyone expert in the field and could not figure it out yourself. FYI, there is no tone in text. I was not trying to say you are F-ing Stupid in asking the questions and saying I don't understand. If I wanted to say you were a Moron, I would not hesitate to say "only a Moron could not get a MG42 working". No guess at tone needed. I did not say that because thats not what I was saying. There is no judging going on other than for the second time having you flip out on a reply. If you would like I will be happy to stop replying if you can't handle questions or don't like my replies.

However I do remember and even back then I seemed to run into people in whatever field I was dealing with that were experts in their field. My take on what you wrote above is that the gun never really was reviewed by professionals or anyone expert in the field? I have no way to know other than the fact it was never fixed but who knows. If it was simply a parts issue that you could not order, you would have told me I could not find a good bolt or something like that.

I have a good friend who is a long time collector who had a MG08 in the 90s. He is very knowledgeable on MGs and guns in general. He could not get the Maxim to run at all. The locals could not help either. He sold is swearing off Maxims and German guns for the most part. This is what I can't understand. Much as you "all but soured me on buying any more machine guns"... Why would one write off all MGs over one bad apple. Much as I don't get how my friend would swear off all German guns. I don't get that logic. I had a crappy Garand buy understood that the Garand was a good gun in general and so it did not taint my view on them all, or even on US guns or in all semi autos... However my buddy was much in the same camp as you and did not have the resources to identify the issue and correct it. Why he never researched more, found someone who really knew these guns and got it to him, its hard for me to understand. However I do forget that back then this was not a super expensive gun. He just sold it and moved on. I also figure that it was really a lack of interest, otherwise he would have continued on his quest until successful. After all, its not like there were no experts to find, even 30 years ago. However it likely would have taken a lot more work to find them.
 
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