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MG42
MG42.png
Designer Werner Gruner
Designed 1942
Used by German Soldiers
Calibre 7.92×57mm Mauser



"Feuer!"
―German Soldiers ordering their MG42 squad to begin firing at Fury

The MG42 (shortened from German: Maschinengewehr 42, or "machine gun 42") is a 7.92×57mm Mauser general purpose machine gun designed in Nazi Germany and used extensively by the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS during the second half of World War II. It was intended to replace the earlier MG 34, which was more expensive and took much longer to produce, but in the event, both weapons were produced until the end of the war.

It was seen in extensive use in Fury.

Description[]

One of the weapon's most notable features was its exceptionally high rate of fire of about 1,200 rounds per minute, twice the rate of the Vickers and Browning machine guns, which fired at a rate of about 600 rounds per minute. So effective was the weapon in laying suppressive fire that the United States Army created training films to aid its soldiers in dealing with the psychological trauma of facing the weapon in battle. At such a high rate the human ear cannot easily discern the sound of individual shots being fired, instead hearing a sound described as like "ripping cloth" or a buzzsaw, giving rise to the nickname "Hitler's buzzsaw" (and the German soldiers' Hitlersäge ("Hitler's saw") or "bonesaw").

The gun was sometimes called "Spandau" by British troops, as was the MG 34, a traditional generic term for all German machine guns, left over from the famous Allied nickname for the MG 08 Maxim-derivative used by German forces during WWI, which was derived from the manufacturer's plates noting the district of Berlin where some were produced.

The MG 42's high rate of fire resulted from analysis which concluded that since a soldier typically only has a short period of time to shoot at an enemy soldier, and muzzle rise quickly threw initial aim off, it was imperative to fire the highest number of bullets possible in the shortest time possible to increase the likelihood of a hit before the recoil overcame the inertia of the gun and pushed the aiming point upwards. The disadvantage was that the weapon consumed exorbitant amounts of ammunition and quickly overheated its barrel, making sustained fire problematic. Thus, while individual bursts left the weapon as highly concentrated fire at 1,200 rounds per minute, the Handbook of the German Army (1940) forbade the firing of more than 250 rounds in a single burst and indicated a sustained rate of no more than 300–350 rounds per minute to minimize barrel wear and overheating, although the excellent quick-change barrel design helped a great deal. Burst limits are typical on non-water-cooled automatic weapons, and slower-firing Allied guns such as the M1919 also had limits; they fired at a slower rate, but lacked a quick-change barrel, and so the operator had to limit his fire to a few hundred rounds per minute to allow the barrel to cool between bursts. Due to the slower firing rate, this led to a longer period of time spent shooting, but a roughly equivalent total number of rounds fired. Operationally, the MG 42's main drawback was that it could consume ammunition at such a high rate that it was very difficult to keep one firing during offensive actions, because ammunition had to be carried forward on a continuous basis. This was also a problem at the end of the war with inexperienced German troops, good fire discipline was a must and the level of training that the German infantry was receiving was poor.

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