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The MG34 Machine Gun

Discussion in 'German Light Weapons' started by Jim, Oct 17, 2010.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    The MG34 machine gun, commonly known in the West as the Spandau, was the section automatic weapon with which the German forces entered World War II. Designed by Louis Stange of Rheinmetall, it was the world's first General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG), a weapon that could be used in the light role firing from its bipod, or in the sustained-fire role on a folding tripod with an optical sight. Its design drew on German experience in World War I, where water-cooled Maxim machine guns were too cumbersome to be used effectively in the trenches.

    German MG34 machine gun crew in wintry terrain, Jan 1941 (German Federal Archive)

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    The tripod of the MG34 gave greater stability and consequently a longer effective range, however, if the crew were attacked from another direction it was difficult to dismount the gun and redeploy it quickly. The MG34 could also be used as a light AA gun with a ring sight on a special mount. Tanks and other AFVs were equipped with the MG34. Infantry crews carried two spare barrels in a metal tubular container, which were changed after they had fired 250 rounds. The air-cooled weapon was 121.9cm (48in) long with a 62.7cm (24.75in) barrel, weighing 11.9kg (26.7Ib) in the light role and 31.07kg (68.5Ibs) on the sustained-fire mount. With a muzzle velocity of 755m (2480ft) per second it had a maximum range of 2000m (2187 yards) and a cyclic rate of 800-900 rounds per minute. It fired from a 75-round saddle drum magazine or 500 round non-disintegrating belts that could be reloaded for subsequent use and carried in two or more ammunition boxes.

    German soldiers training with a MG34 machine gun, 1939

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  2. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    A Wiking Division MG 34 machine-gun team in action on the front outside Warsaw repelling a Soviet human wave infantry attack.

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