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Discussion: Use of StG '44 and K43.


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#1 harolds

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 09:57 PM

In 1944 the Germans came out with two new infantry weapons: the StG 44 (AKA "Assult Rifle") and the semi-automatic K43 firing the full-power 7.92X57 round. Since obviously they couldn't wait until they had enough for EVERY soldat, they had to prioritize on which units got them first and how they would be distributed within the infantry division. These would be important since how the weapons would be imployed would, to a great extent, determine the effectiveness of these new weapons. Some choices are:

1. East Front vs. West.

2. Elite units such as Waffen SS/Deutchland divisions OR Panzer/Panzer Grenadier divisions vs. infantry units or even Volksgrenadier divisions in order to boost effectiveness.

3. Distribution within the divisional unit. Would you concentrate them in certain battalions or regiments vs. distribute two or three to every squad?

There are other possibilities as well, but how would you have handled the problem had it been given to you?

#2 Gebirgsjaeger

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 10:02 AM

I would give them to Special units like Some of the SS and the Fallschirmjäger and the others to experienced and well trained troops. Unexperienced and badly trained would use them to increase the use of ammo for the decrease of killed enemies.
Regards, Ulrich

Horrido!

"We're surrounded. That simplifies our problem!" LtGen. Chesty Puller.

#3 Carronade

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 02:09 PM

I'd be inclined to give priority to mobile units, since they would seem most likely to be in action at the most critical points. The STG-44 might be particularly appropriate for the offensive/counteroffensive role.

Within the unit I would equip all the designated riflemen with the new weapons. There are a lot of people who carry rifles but whose primary mission is not engaging the enemy with rifle fire; they can retain the Kar98. I've calculated that there were only about half a million literal riflemen in the German army. "Riflemen" in pioneer and reconnaissance units should also get priority.

A STG-44-equipped unit still has to have 7.92x57 for machine guns, even at squad level, so there's no logistic issue with non-riflemen retaining Kar98s. I wonder if it would be worth retaining 1-2 per squad for long-distance fire or sniping? Of course the MG is the main long-range weapon, to the extent that that term applies to squad-level tactics.
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#4 formerjughead

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 03:00 PM

The search button is your friend. There are several threads which cover this subject.

#5 superbee

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 03:44 PM

I am in agreement with Carronade. Put these rifles in the line companies of mobile units first - panzergrenedier battalions of panzer and panzergrenedier divisions, fallschirmjager battalions. These units' need to close with the enemy during offensive operations would seem to be well served by these weapons.

As Carronade stated, artillerymen, support and HQ personnel could retain their Kar98's.

East front before west front - at least until June !

No preference between Waffen SS and Heer units.

#6 harolds

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 04:05 PM

I am in agreement with Carronade. Put these rifles in the line companies of mobile units first - panzergrenedier battalions of panzer and panzergrenedier divisions, fallschirmjager battalions. These units' need to close with the enemy during offensive operations would seem to be well served by these weapons.

As Carronade stated, artillerymen, support and HQ personnel could retain their Kar98's.

East front before west front - at least until June !

No preference between Waffen SS and Heer units.


I can see both yours and Carronade's point that it would make the mobile counter-attack units even more powerful. However, since these units already have quite a bit of firepower, what about the other 90% of the Heer-the infantry divisions? These units were almost always under strength and would be getting the first impact of Soviet shock armies. The Volksgrenadier divisions were usually being formed with only two regiments and these new weapons would certainly be a "force multiplier", as we say today. It would also give these infantry units more confidence in their ability to withstand mass infantry attacks. While German industry couldn't supply every infantryman with a new weapon, I would think perhaps two StG and an K43 per squad would be quite helpful.

Also agree with you that you send them East before West!

Edited by harolds, 09 December 2011 - 04:32 PM.


#7 superbee

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 04:33 PM

I would certainly want to arm all riflemen in the infantry / vg divisions with these weapons. But if they are only being produced on a limited basis and if I had to allocate them on a priority basis, then the mobile units would get them first.

I know this is a very broad simplification, but I think the German tactical defensive strategy on the east front from the winter of 1942 on was to hold the line with infantrymen supported by mg's, mortars, and artillery and then plug the breeches in the line with counterattacks by mobile units. Given the Soviet numerical superiority in manpower, tanks and artillery pieces those breeches were inevitable and those mobile counter assault units had better be up to the task.

#8 harolds

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 05:30 PM

Often, that what you said was true, but what is not understood is that not all breeches were made by just mass attacks. The Soviet were past-masters of infiltration tactics. This was aided by the fact that the Germans couldn't begin to cover the length of the battlefield with soldiers. So many times the German units found that Soviet forces had infiltrated around them and were digging in. This was usually a prelude to an attack. The Germans found that the only solution was IMMEDIATE counter-attack-even if it was with a squad aided by only one Stug. Waiting an hour or two to get reinforcements would almost always doom the counter-attack to failure. In such situations the StG would be of immense help.

#9 superbee

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 05:43 PM

"In such situations the StG would be of immense help. "

It would indeed. Good point!

#10 Carronade

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 06:28 PM

Counterattack is a valid point, one which applies at all levels, whether it's a squad sealing a breach in a company front or a panzer division reacting to a major attack.

Suppose we wanted to make a wider distribution to enable response to small-scale attacks, particularly to front-line infantry divisions, how would that be done? At one extreme, we could issue the first 30,000 or so StGs one per squad to every squad on the Eastern Front (yes I am being a tad facetious), then send them a second or third as they become available. That would be the most complex in terms of distribution, training, and logistics. Or would they be issued to designated "fire brigade" units which hopefully could be the ones making the counterattacks? A squad in each company? The fusilier battalions of infantry divisions? It's not easy to ensure that the right unit is in place at the right time.

#11 harolds

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 08:01 PM

Counterattack is a valid point, one which applies at all levels, whether it's a squad sealing a breach in a company front or a panzer division reacting to a major attack.

Suppose we wanted to make a wider distribution to enable response to small-scale attacks, particularly to front-line infantry divisions, how would that be done? At one extreme, we could issue the first 30,000 or so StGs one per squad to every squad on the Eastern Front (yes I am being a tad facetious), then send them a second or third as they become available. That would be the most complex in terms of distribution, training, and logistics. Or would they be issued to designated "fire brigade" units which hopefully could be the ones making the counterattacks? A squad in each company? The fusilier battalions of infantry divisions? It's not easy to ensure that the right unit is in place at the right time.


Your response points out how complex this question is of where to distribute these new weapons. One possibility is to give them to units in forested areas such as in Armee Gruppe Nord where there was a lot of cover that would hinder the use of MG 42s. This would give the defending units a lot of close-in fire power where most of the fighting in that region took place. The K43, topped with a scope would be an excellent choice for the German sharp shooters. They could target enemy soldiers mostly hidden by logs, trees and bushes to make head shots.

To deal with the situation I mentioned in my last post, they would have to be at a forward level such as a company's reserve platoon. Providing of course, the company had enough men to form a reserve platoon.

If you wanted to give them to a panzer unit, then the PzGrnd Bn that had the half-tracks might be a good one to issue them to.

This might be a cop-out but still another alternative would be to issue "X" number to each division and let them put them where they would do the most good.

#12 Carronade

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 08:16 PM

1. East Front vs. West. - An odd thought that I'm not really advocating for.......in early 1944 the top priority for Germany, the one thing that could do the most good for them, was the hoped-for repulse of the Allied invasion of France. Perhaps they should give the new weapons to the panzer divisions, paratroops, and other mobile reserves that would try to smash the landing.

#13 harolds

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 10:27 PM

1. East Front vs. West. - An odd thought that I'm not really advocating for.......in early 1944 the top priority for Germany, the one thing that could do the most good for them, was the hoped-for repulse of the Allied invasion of France. Perhaps they should give the new weapons to the panzer divisions, paratroops, and other mobile reserves that would try to smash the landing.


You could make a good argument for that. In the bocage and wooded terrain every soldat with an StG would, in theory, be better armed than an Ami or Tommy with a BAR or BREN.

#14 MikeRex

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 07:43 AM

I don't think there was any overlap between the factories making K43s and those making STGs, so in that sense you don't really have to chose between the two. I suppose fundamentally you have to decide who gets steel, but if you're down to worrying about having enough steel to make small arms, let alone tanks or airplanes, it's time to worry about minutae like the page dimensions of your formal surrender documents.

Interestingly, the K43 was one of the few examples of German equipment being manufactured in French factories in WWII. Integration of captured French industry was definitely not one of the Germans' strategic coups.

Edit:

Now that I think of it, the bottleneck will probably be available rail transport to the fronts. In that case, it might be better to deploy new weapon systems in the West. It will be easier to get feedback to the manufacturers and ship updated versions to the front if there needs to be debugging. In addition, Rommel was of the opinion that the landings would have to be stopped on the beach or not at all, so any qualitative advantage the troops could be given over the Anglo-Americans would help prevent them from getting a foothold.

That does mean you won't have any new wunderwaffe to face down the Russians with, but by '44 Germany was probably unable to retake the initiative against the USSR by any means short of the miraculous development of nukes.

Edited by MikeRex, 10 December 2011 - 07:49 AM.


#15 leccy1

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 10:26 AM

I am in agreement with Carronade. Put these rifles in the line companies of mobile units first - panzergrenedier battalions of panzer and panzergrenedier divisions, fallschirmjager battalions. These units' need to close with the enemy during offensive operations would seem to be well served by these weapons.

As Carronade stated, artillerymen, support and HQ personnel could retain their Kar98's.

East front before west front - at least until June !

No preference between Waffen SS and Heer units.


I do find it interesting that many people are considering fallschirmjager battalions as mobile units. By definition they had limited mobility the vast majority of the time, having little organic ground transport or heavy weapons. They were however considered Elite units and used widely in defence.
Their main mobility would have been the aircraft which were old, worn and in short supply. They could not deliver right to where the action would be with Crete putting paid to German Paratroop ops.

Was their still a difference in the supply and procurement of weapons for the Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe with each following their own chains or had they become integrated (I thought they remained separate for the duration). Not considering the Luftwaffe Field Divs as although they started out equipped and manned by the Luftwaffe, their poor performance meant they were handed over to the Wehrmacht and became army troops.

Edited by leccy1, 10 December 2011 - 01:53 PM.
Comprehension


#16 formerjughead

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 02:31 PM

I think the K/G43 would have been the better option as it would have utilized a round that was already in use and the design, of the rifle, was not that dissimilar to the K-98 allowing for an easier transition. The StG(MP) 43/44/45 never reached full production which would have affected the ability to produce the 'kurz' rounds; if they had, rifle ammunition shortages would have been just one more nail in the coffin for the Third Reich.

#17 Gebirgsjaeger

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 03:15 PM

Correct, Brad. The G43 would have been the better decision and it would have been similar to your M1 Garand. The StuGw44 to me were more a gun for special assault troops.
Regards, Ulrich

Horrido!

"We're surrounded. That simplifies our problem!" LtGen. Chesty Puller.

#18 superbee

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 05:53 PM

Would tooling up to mass produce the 7.92 Kurz round used in the Stg really have been that difficult or would have put that much strain on the German economy / industrial complex ?

#19 formerjughead

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 06:27 PM

Would tooling up to mass produce the 7.92 Kurz round used in the Stg really have been that difficult or would have put that much strain on the German economy / industrial complex ?


Early 1944 resources were getting pretty tight. You have to remember that Germany had 40 years to stock pile ammunition, or at least the components. Add to that a lack of training and the ability for inexperienced troops to switch to "full auto" and the need for kurz ammunition rises exponentially. It seemed that Germany made increasingly more complicated equipment as the war progressed, either complicated in production or operation. Even if Germany could have produced enough 'kurz' ammunition, or StG's, their ability to get it where it was needed was in a shambles. Much like most things Germany developed, during the war, it was too little too late to affect a favorable outcome (For Germany).

#20 Gebirgsjaeger

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 06:40 PM

Would tooling up to mass produce the 7.92 Kurz round used in the Stg really have been that difficult or would have put that much strain on the German economy / industrial complex ?


superbee,

i don´t know if you will have access to the english version of the diaries of the high command of the Wehrmacht? If so, there is a chapter to this topic. And if it is possible for you to get things translated in english, i have some documents from the Wehrmacht Rüstungsamt where they wrote that they had problems with the "Kurzpatrone" first to make it and second to get brass for it. The development for the StuGw 44 started in 1942 where it wasn´t a problem to set up new production lines but for several reasons they started in middle of 1944 and we all know that any resources were scarce.
Regards, Ulrich

Horrido!

"We're surrounded. That simplifies our problem!" LtGen. Chesty Puller.

#21 leccy1

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 06:53 PM

Would tooling up to mass produce the 7.92 Kurz round used in the Stg really have been that difficult or would have put that much strain on the German economy / industrial complex ?


By late 1944 weapon shortages were beginning to be felt. The Volksturm were issued weapons from before WW1 upto modern cheap produced Volksturm specific weapons with a whole plethora of captured weapons from many countries of origin in various calibers (many with limited, finite munition supply's such as mortars).
German industry was increasingly incapable of producing enough weapons as it was without the constant diversion and short production runs, they simply had run out of time to have the luxury to keep producing many different weapons and supply them with the different ammunition.
The German military relied very heavily on captured war stocks to provide it with everything it needed throughout the whole war.

Yet another item in the supply chain would not make much difference to the QM who were supplying so many different weapons, parts and munitions, quicker to produce weapons were needed and preferably in existing calibres.
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#22 superbee

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 07:39 PM

All good, valid responses, and many thanks :)

Shortages of materials and a disrupted transportation system would had to have had a negative effect on the production and distribution of all weapons, weapon systems, and munitions.

I suspect a big reason for not wanting to tool up to produce huge quantities of 7.92 Kurz ammo was that the Stg was simply not viewed as a "war winner" by German authorities - and rightly so, in my opinion. As fine as the rifle was, it would not be able to stop, neutralize, nor counter the hordes of tanks, rain of artillery shells, and fleets of bombers that assailed the Reich on all fronts.

#23 harolds

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 10:15 PM

All good, valid responses, and many thanks :)

Shortages of materials and a disrupted transportation system would had to have had a negative effect on the production and distribution of all weapons, weapon systems, and munitions.

I suspect a big reason for not wanting to tool up to produce huge quantities of 7.92 Kurz ammo was that the Stg was simply not viewed as a "war winner" by German authorities - and rightly so, in my opinion. As fine as the rifle was, it would not be able to stop, neutralize, nor counter the hordes of tanks, rain of artillery shells, and fleets of bombers that assailed the Reich on all fronts.


I'm not sure if a shortage of materials was really the case. Certainly the transportation system destruction did a number on weapons getting to the troops. The K43 that I once owned was picked up new out of a boxcar on a railroad siding by a GI shortly after the war. There were many boxcars full of munitions there. Several of these boxcars contained K43s that couldn't get anywhere. I'm sure that destruction of the German economy in early '45 put the ki-bush on any serious war-making capacity. However, these weapons WERE put in production with the hope that they would increase the effectiveness of the troops that were left. They were both designed with the idea of being easily and inexpensively produced. On the other hand, I would believe that the German top brass had absolutely NO CLUE how fast a bunch of poor benighted gravel crunchers could go through ammo when their fannies was in serious trouble!

#24 Gary Kennedy

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 01:11 AM

I've not really seen any indication that the Germans intended the G43 to completely replace the Kar98 at Squad level. The late war KStNs indicate authorised issue was two per Squad, one of which was to be fitted with a telescopic sight in Rifle Coys, and one per Squad in Pioneer Coys. That doesn't differ too much from Red Army scales, where from memory the issue of SVT self-loading rifles was sufficient for three per Squad, on paper at least. The G43 looks more to have been intended as a way of thickening up the firepower of the average Squad, and with just a couple issued could be placed in the hands of more experienced men.

The Stg44, once it emerged from the shadows, did see a number of new subunit organisations introduced. One of the earliest I've seen is for the Sperr Divisions (Barrier), which appeared during mid 1944 as the precursor to the Volks Grenadier formations. In the Sperr Rifle Coy the third Platoon replaced its MP40s and rifles with MP44s, but kept its three LMGs. The later Volks Grenadier organisation moved towards two Pls in the Coy being armed entirely with Stg44s (backed up by one, later two LMGs in their third Squads), and the third Pl using the usual MP40, LMG and Kar98 mix.

I think the G43 and the MP43/MP44/Stg44 represented two different developments, each of which was incorporated in different ways. Neither have the straightforward approach taken with the .30-cal M1 rifle, which simply became the standard rifle for US forces, thanks to a long gestation period pre-war and massive production capability. Even when the G43 appeared I don't think the Germans viewed it as in any way challenging the supremacy of the MG34/42 as providing the primary Squad level firepower, but helping to augment it. The Stg44 was a very different proposition, and I think that's illustrated in the way that it was integrated into revised small unit organisations (Pls and Coys) rather than sprinkled around existing ones like the G43.

Gary

Edited by Gary Kennedy, 11 December 2011 - 01:13 AM.
typos


#25 sf_cwo2

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 07:36 PM

This is where buying, and reading, books comes in handy. The info you seek can then be readily found-- with little effort. There is no boilerplate answer to your basic question. Each weapon was evaluated differently based on intended application. During each evaluation a questionaire is handed out and feedback sought. This feedback covered issuance. So, just look for a book with the developmental history of a particular weapon you are interested in.

Regardless of side, one thing armies tend to do is avoid sending "new" weapons into an area that may soon be lost to the enemy. The BAR saw little use in WW1 for that very reason. Troops arriving with BARs in the summer of '17 had to turn them in for Chauchats! The order to deploy the BAR was finally given in September.




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