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D-Day Weapons Part 3; Gewehr 43, MP38 Pistol, MG34 Machine Gun & Other German Guns

Germany’s Mauser G.98 in 7.9x57mm was the weapon of the German military forces. Five round magazine of this masterpiece of bolt action rifle, nearly every bolt action rifle in the world was inspired by G.98, both military or sportsman, by this astounding weapon. A total of 7.5 million were produced during WWII, and this didn’t count all of those from earlier production. Thousands were equipped with 1.5 to 4 power scopes for sniper duty. The K98 could be had in various barrel lengths, but no definitive carbine like the US M1 Carbine was ever attempted.

Gewehr 43

The G.43 was Germany’s answer to the Garand. Ten round box magazine, semi-auto and gas operated. About 402,700 were made. Reputation wise they were not considered as reliable as the Garand, however on the plus side there advantages to be fed by a box magazine vs. the Garand’s en bloc clip.

MP38 Machine Pistol

The MP-38 in 9mm was almost iconic with German forces. Erroneously called the ‘Schmeisser’ by the Allies, this later streamlined for production and became the MP-40. Feeding was via a 32-round magazine, and fire rate of 400-450 rounds per minute made it an ideal weapon the was adaptable to Germany’s blitzkrieg tactics. It was carried by officers, NCOs and vehicle crewmen. It weighed in at 9 lbs and about 908,000 where made.

MG34 Machine Gun

Germany started the war with the MG-34 machine gun. Chambered in 7.92x57mm rifle round it could be fed via a snail drum magazine or 250 round belts. It could be fired semi-auto or full automatic via the trigger and depended upon which half of the trigger was pressed. It pumped out 900 rounds per minute. Designed for peace time conditions the MG-34 was not suited for wartime high volume production.

MG42 Machine Gun

Enter the MG-42, extensive use of steel stampings and keeping machined parts to a minimum the production of the MG-42 was much higher. Firing at 1200 rounds per minute the MG-40 could chew through the ammunition at a prodigious rate. On D-Day one German machine gunner burnt through 12,000 rounds without a malfunction. The gun was so highly favored it was chambered in 7.62 NATO and serves today as the MG-3. The MG-42’s trigger mechanism migrated over to the US M60 machinegun that served in Vietnam.

Luger P.08

Side arms were the Luger P.08 probably one of the most iconic pistols in the world. Strange in that the basic toggle link system was the brainchild of Connecticut inventor, Hugo Borchardt who worked for Georg Luger. This 9mm pistol was accepted by the German Navy in 1904 and the Army followed in 1908. The Luger’s downside is the it had to be kept clean, the mechanism being subject dirt and debris. But in Europe the sidearm is a badge of authority, i.e. officers and the delicate Luger’s ridged cleaning regime was not a serious problem. Some 413,000 Lugers were cranked out between 1938 and 1942 until it’s replacement came on line.

Walther P-38

The Walther P-38 was the first double-action automatic pistol accepted for use by any military. This 9mm set precedence adopted by many firearms to the present. It had a pin as a loaded chamber indicator. About 1.2 million P-38 saw action.

Browning Hi Power 9mm

Germany was armed with various weapons of those that were conquered. When Belgium fell the Browning Hi Power 9mm aka P-35 shifted to Canada to fulfill the UK’s need for sidearms. But with factory in Germany’s hands many a Wehrmacht soldier packed the P-35.

MP 43 & MP 44

The StB 44 is not part of this narrative. The first assault rifle, MP 43 and MP 44, was used heavily on the eastern front, but only few where encountered in the west. Firing a 7.9x33mm intermediate round it was called a machine pistol to hide its use from Hitler who wasn’t very enthusiastic about the weapon and tried to stop it’s manufacture.

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