Not later than the end of 1942, Erfurter Maschinenfabrik, also known as ERMA Werke, suggested developing a promising submachine gun capable of complementing the existing serial weapon of the MP 38 / 40 family. Such a product was intended primarily for use in fortifications and on armored vehicles, although exploitation as an infantry weapon was not excluded. The proposed scope of application has specific requirements for the technical appearance and characteristics of the weapon. To solve such problems should use some interesting ideas.
The gunsmiths of the company-developer decided to use a mixed approach in the design. Part of the details of the new submachine gun should have been developed from scratch, while some components and assemblies could be borrowed from serial samples. In addition, experimental samples could be used as the source of some components that could enhance certain characteristics.
The design of a submachine gun for fortifications and armored vehicles appeared at the very beginning of 1943. Despite this, there were other numbers in the name of this development. An interesting sample was named ERMA EMP 44 (Erma Maschinenpistole - “submachine gun from ERMA”). For whatever reason, the official designation reflected the 1944 year - is unknown. However, there is an explanation related to further events around the project.
One of the main ideas of the EMP 44 project was to simplify the design of the weapon as much as possible. For this reason, the submachine gun had a distinctive appearance, formed mainly by large details of simple shapes. At the same time, the weapon was distinguished by extremely unsuccessful ergonomics, which, however, had to a certain extent be compensated by the specifics of the main method of use.
The largest unit of the product was the receiver as simple as possible. It was proposed to make it from a steel tube of sufficient diameter and large length. In front of the box there were attachments for the trunk. In the same place it was necessary to establish a cylindrical perforated barrel casing. Behind the breech there was a store receiving device, a movable shutter and some of the elements of the firing mechanism. The back of the tubular receiver was designed to set the return-combat springs. In addition, she performed the functions of the butt.
From the bottom, it was proposed to weld a small receiver of the magazine, the body of the firing mechanism and a pistol grip to the receiver. The back cover of the receiver was made together with the butt plate. To simplify and reduce the cost of construction, the latter was a tube with a cap at the top. In its place, such a back plate was retained by a simple latch.
The submachine gun received a rifled barrel of medium length, the design of which was based on units of serial samples. The barrel was placed inside a cylindrical protective casing, which had several rows of longitudinal windows for the supply of air. In the front of the casing was placed muzzle brake-compensator simple design. Before the muzzle cut was made a small vertical plate, designed to interact with the powder gases.
Submachine gun EMP 44 with a receiver for two stores. Photo of Wikimedia Commons
The gate group for ERMA EMP 44 was based on units of the serial MP 38 / 40 and had minimal differences from them. The shutter was a massive cylindrical piece with a cup on the front end. Inside it was placed a movable drummer. The operation of automatics on the basis of a free gate was provided by a large return spring. It was placed inside its own telescopic guide-guide casing and was placed behind the slide. A significant part of the spring is located in the tubular butt.
The shutter was controlled using the handle on the right side of the weapon. The handle moved along the longitudinal notch of the receiver, which had a perpendicular groove in the back. The latter was used as a fuse and blocked the bolt in the rearmost position.
A trigger mechanism was also adopted from the serial weapon, which was distinguished by its simplicity of design. He allowed only automatic fire. The relatively low rate of fire, provided by the design of automation, allowed, with proper skill, to fire single shots or short bursts.
He, on the other hand. Photo of Wikimedia Commons
According to reports, prototypes of the submachine gun ERMA EMP 44 equipped with two types of ammunition systems. The first version of this device, in general, repeated already known designs. Directly behind the breech, on the bottom of the receiver, the tubular receiving shaft of the store was welded. On its back wall there was a latch for fixing the store. The cartridges were supposed to be fed into the weapon with the help of the store’s own spring. The cartridge case was thrown through a window on the right side of the receiver.
The second version of the weapon received a more complex and interesting power system, based on the best practices of the experimental project MP 40 / I. In the lower part of the receiver, it was proposed to make a large window, on top of which a new receiver of stores with a pair of bucket-shaped side projections should be installed. At the bottom of the receiver, there were transverse guides for moving the mobile device. On the rails placed dual receiving mine stores. She was a tube with a central partition. On the front wall of such a shaft there was a latch for fixing in one of two positions. Behind it were installed two clips for mounting stores. On the sides of the movable shaft were spring-loaded covers, covering the lower part of the receiver.
Having placed a couple of stores in the mine, the shooter had to transfer the entire assembly to the extreme right or left position, and fix it with the front latch, after which it was possible to fire. Having devastated one magazine, the shooter had to move the receiving shaft and bring the second one to the working position. It was assumed that this would allow to some extent speed up the preparation of weapons for firing, eliminating the need to replace an empty magazine.
Receiver with double receiver close-up. Photo Strangernn.livejournal.com
Regardless of the design of the ammunition systems, the EMP 44 submachine gun was supposed to use the serial box magazine from the MP 38 / 40. These devices had an elongated rectangular shape and contained 32 cartridge 9x19 mm "Parabellum". At the same time, the basic version of the advanced weapon had ready-to-use ammunition in the form of 32 cartridges, while a product with a more sophisticated receiver carried twice as much ammunition.
The EMP 44 project involved the use of a characteristic receiver box, seamlessly mated with a return-combat spring butt-casing. Because of this, the butt was on the same line with the axis of the shutter, which led to the need to use special sights. Above the muzzle of the barrel, a stamped rectangular rack of great height was installed, on top of which there was a front sight of a traditional construction, covered with a pair of side plates.
Directly above the chamber, they placed a similar stand for the sight, which was distinguished by its large size. The open mechanical sight was designed for firing at a range of 100, 200 and 300 m. To ensure the required rigidity of the structure, the stand of the sight was connected to the receiver using a curved vertical scarf.
The submachine gun ERMA EMP 44 was notable for its specific ergonomics. While developing it, the convenience of holding and firing was clearly not a priority. Hold this weapon was proposed for the tubular vertical pistol grip and for the store or for the barrel housing, which served as the forearm. The tubular shoulder rest also did not improve usability. However, this weapon was intended, first of all, for mounting in embrasures and on turret installations of various types, which to some extent simplified its retention. Installation on the pivot was carried out using a hollow tubular handle or shoulder rest of a similar type. However, removing the submachine gun from the installation, the shooter had to fully feel its inconvenience.
The prospective sample was notable for its average size and rather large mass. The total length of the product was 721 mm, weight with one magazine - 4,97 kg. For comparison, the MP 38 / 40 with the butt-unfolded was 11 cm longer, but 170 g lighter. Free shutter based automation provided a rate of fire at 500 per minute. Effective range of fire - no more than 150-200 m.
According to various sources, a prototype product EMP 44 was submitted for testing no later than February 1943. It is curious that in some sources the production of only one prototype is mentioned, but at the moment there are several prototypes in different museums and private collections. Moreover, the museum exhibits differ in the configuration of the ammunition systems. All this allows us to speak with confidence about the erroneousness of information about the existence of only one prototype.
At the beginning of 1943, several experienced ERMA EMP 44s were tested and showed the real potential of the original project. As was established in practice, such a weapon, for all its simplicity, is not of particular interest to the army. The main characteristics of the submachine gun remained at the level of serial samples, and the advantages in the form of simplicity and low cost faced the problem in the form of extreme inconvenience of operation. After weighing all the pros and cons, the command refused to purchase such weapons. The project was closed, however, as it turned out, only for a while.
According to some sources, the EMP 44 submachine gun was remembered again at the end of 1944. Probably, this is what led to the appearance of a modern designation, which does not reflect the real time of weapon development. Now a submachine gun of a simplified design was considered in the context of the simplest to manufacture and cheap armament of Volkssturm and other similar structures. New formations urgently needed a large number of small arms and other weapons, but the available reserves and mass production did not allow to meet the growing demands.
Submachine gun under two stores, view from below. You can consider the design of the receiver and a simplified pistol grip. Photo Zonwar.ru
At the end of 1944, the submachine gun from ERMA received a second chance, but again failed to use it. At this time, the rejection of the original weapon was associated with the workload of production. To launch EMP 44 serial production, German enterprises would have to reduce the production of serial 38 / 40 MPs or other small arms. Thus, the restructuring of production would have hit the release of existing weapons, and the achievement of a comparable rate of manufacture of new products would take time. In the existing conditions, all this was considered impossible.
From the original submachine gun again refused, now for reasons of maintaining the required rate of production of existing serial weapons. Because of this, the release of ERMA EMP 44 products was limited to only the first batch produced at the beginning of 1943 for testing. Some of these products were later destroyed, while several copies managed to live to our years. To the joy of historians and weapons lovers, in museums and collections there are submachine guns with different types of ammunition systems.
Simplification of the design and cheapening of the serial sample is included in the standard circle of tasks when developing a new small arms. As part of the ERMA EMP 44 project, such goals were successfully achieved, but the result was not the most successful. The finished submachine gun had minimal advantages over serial samples, but it was inconvenient to operate, and could also hit the rate of production of weapons. Even the difficulties of the final stage of the war did not help the original design to reach mass production and use in the army.
Popenker MR, Milchev M.N. World War II: Gunsmiths War. - M .: Yauza, Eksmo, 2008.