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Fallschirmjagergewehr 42

Discussion in 'German Light Weapons' started by Jim, Jan 2, 2008.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

    Sep 1, 2006
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    via War44
    In the strange world of Nazi Germany internal strife and rivalry flourished (was even fostered), and in no sphere was this internal feuding more rife than between the German army and the Luftwaffe. By 1942 the Luftwaffe were encroaching on the preserves of the army to an alarming extent for no other reason than petty wrangling, and when the army decided to adopt a self-loading rifle the Luftwaffe decided that it too had to have such a weapon. Instead of following the path followed by the army with its adoption of the kurz round, the Luftwaffe decided instead to retain the standard 7.92-mm (0.312-in) rifle cartridge and asked Rheinmetall to design a weapon to arm the Luftwaffe parachute troops, the Fallschirmjager.

    The FG42, an early model of which is seen here, was an attempt to arm the German parachute forces with a rifle capable of providing full-power MG performance.


    Rheinmetall accordingly designed and produced one of the more remarkable small-arms designs of World War II. This was the 7.92-mm (0.312-in) Fallschirmjagergewehr 42 or FG 42, a weapon that somehow managed to compress the action required to produce automatic fire into a volume little larger than that of a conventional bolt action. The FG 42 was certainly an eye-catching weapon, for the first examples had a sloping pistol grip, an oddly-shaped plastic butt and a prominent bipod on the forestock. To cap it all there was a large muzzle attachment and provision for mounting a spike bayonet. The ammunition feed was from a side-mounted box magazine on the left, and the mechanism was gas-operated. All in all the FG 42 was a complex weapon, but was not innovative as it was an amalgam of several existing systems.

    Needless to say the Luftwaffe took to the FG 42 avidly and asked for more. They did not get them, for it soon transpired that the novelties of the FG 42 had to be paid for in a very complex manufacturing process that consumed an inordinate amount of time and production facilities. Thus supply was slow and erratic, and in an attempt to speed production some simplifications were added. A simpler wooden butt was introduced and the pistol grip was replaced by a more orthodox component. The bipod was moved forward to the muzzle and other short-cuts were introduced. It was to no avail, for by the time the war ended only about 7,000 had been made. But it was after the war that the FG 42 made its biggest mark, for many of its design features were incorporated into later designs. Perhaps the most important of these was the gas-operated mechanism which could fire from a closed bolt position for single-shot fire and from an open bolt for automatic fire, all compressed into a relatively small space. One thing that was not copied was the side-mounted magazine. This proved to be less than a success in action for not only did it snag on clothing or other items but it tended to unbalance the weapon when fired.
    The FG 42 was a highly advanced design for its day and it incorporated many of the features now used on many modern assault rifles. Typical of these was the use of a ‘straight line’ layout from butt to muzzle and the gas operated mechanism already mentioned. But for all this the FG 42 was too difficult to produce, and even by 1945 there were still some bugs that remained to be ironed out before the weapon was free of problems. But for all that it was a truly remarkable design achievement.

    Specification: [​IMG]

    Calibre: 7.92 mm (0.312 in)
    Length: 940 mm (37 in)
    Length of barrel: 502 mm (19,76 in)
    Weight: 4.53 kg (9.99 lb)
    Muzzle velocity: 761 m (2,500 ft) per second
    Magazine: 20-round box
    Cyclic rate of fire: 750-800 rpm

    Operation Greif

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