The need for light automatic weapons, which have a long range of fire, was finally confirmed after the launch of the Mercury landing operation on Crete Island (Mediterranean Sea), which began on May 20 in May 1941. 11 Thousands of German paratroopers on gliders and parachutes landed on the island. 28, thousands of English and New Zealanders, and 15, thousands of Greeks, took part in his defense. The German paratroopers suffered significant losses during the operation, which accounted for 2701 people killed, 1888 missing and 2594 injured, representing about 40% of the total number. For Germany, such losses were unacceptable. Although in the end the operation itself ended with the victory of the German troops and the seizure of the island, the losses during its conduct had a decisive influence on the fate of the Parachute Troops of the Third Reich in World War II. The reason for such large losses were regulatory 80 seconds, which are necessary for parachutists to find a box with a weapon and the inability to fire during a descent by parachute. It was during this segment of the battle that the German forces could not oppose anything to rifles, light machine guns and heavy machine guns of the British.
According to requirements put forward by the Ministry aviation to the new rifle for paratroopers, the weapon was supposed to use a standard 7,92 mm caliber rifle and machine gun cartridge. To develop this weapon, they contacted the GL / C-E6 department of the Luftwaffe High Command, which was responsible for the development of aircraft weapons. Representatives of GL / C-E6 included Otto Schulze, who served as senior weapons inspector, and who later became the project manager. Representatives of the landing units, who met with Otto Schulze, put forward the following requirements for the new weapon: length - up to 1000 millimeters; weight not more than 98k carbine; the ability to switch the fire mode from single shots in line; the ability to install an optical sight; rifle grenade shooting; use as edged weapons. Such a rifle would replace several types of weapons at once - a rifle, a submachine gun and a machine gun. From the very beginning, Schulze explained to customers that the Wehrmacht Arms Department is developing the infantry infantry weapons. But after the representatives of the paratroopers submitted their request to the administration, their demands were rejected as impossible. Among the reasons for this decision was the rivalry between the army and aviation. After that, the paratroopers again turned to GL / C-E6. Otto Schulze, together with one of his colleagues, made it possible to develop weapons that meet the advanced requirements.
Early rifle test shooting - FG42 / 1 (Ausführung "E")
Major General of the Luftwaffe Student, who was one of those responsible for developing the new rifle in his report to Hermann Goering, Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force, 10 of October 1942, spoke as follows: “In one weapon a handheld nozzle, having a pistol grip, a manual machine gun , rifle, submachine gun. The weight of the sample does not exceed the weight of the rifle 98k. " In parallel with the development of a new weapon, a parachute was created that could provide landing with a significantly greater weight. The Ministry of Aviation has allowed the following companies to compete in the design of an automatic rifle: Rheinmetall-Borsig, Haenel, Krieghoff, Walther and Mauser. Later, the company Rheinmetall-Borsig, which received additional funding, continued to develop this weapon. Three variants of FG42 were created. This is the official designation used for those design options. The 25 Aviation Ministry, November 1941, informed Louis Stange, the chief designer of the Rheinmetall-Borzig plant in Zemmerda, about her intention to continue design work. Rod started developing the 450 (Gerat 450) 5 product in December 1941, while design requirements were only given to him after 9 days. 15 February 1942 of the year the designer presented the first prototype, which was created on the basis of the drawings submitted by 8 January 1942 of the year. The first sample was made on machine tools using the old technology.
Tests of the first model rifle - FG42 / 1
26 March 1942, the second prototype, which already had parts made by stamping, was shown to the representatives of the Ministry of Aviation Luis Stange personally. An improved version of the second sample was officially presented by 1 in May of 1942. Then, besides the designer, the demonstration was attended by the Reich Minister of Weapons and Ammunition Speer, Admiral Fanger, General Field Marshal Milch and General Leeb. The presented rifle aroused interest, especially among representatives of the Wehrmacht Arms Administration, who restrained themselves with criticism of the design. The Ministry of Aviation, headed by Luftwaffe Commander-in-Chief Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering, was guarded by the GL / C-E6 department in their department and the project being developed by the Arms Administration, which attempted to influence the design on the basis of infantry weapons. The Ministry of Aviation opposed its automatic rifle to the army automatic carbine, despite the fact that the production and use of two different types of automatic weapons, in which different cartridges were used, would be extremely unjustified not only from an economic, but also from a tactical point of view.
At the early stage of development, the developed automatic rifle had a large number of shortcomings, which Colonel Kittel pointed out, from the second test of weapons: low weight is not sufficient to ensure survivability, despite the fact that the rifle's resource must be 50 thousand shots; from a standing position, shooting is inconvenient, since there is a high sighting line, and the butt of an inconvenient form; receiver difficult to manufacture; insufficiently strong bipods made of sheet steel; the muzzle brake created a load on the hearing organs not only of the shooter himself, but also of people in the vicinity. Rheinmetall-Borsig, citing the fact that the development is still underway, and at the same time promised to eliminate these shortcomings Kittl. The Ministry of Aviation by May 1942 has already made a choice in favor of the rifle provided by Rheinmetall-Borsig. The company at this time is issued an order for ten copies of the rifle. The boom design was improved on the bolt and during 5 tests on June 1942, the weapon worked flawlessly. Changing the muzzle brake improved the accuracy of firing bursts. All firms involved in the development of this weapon, except Rheinmetall-Borsig, in June 1942 were ordered to stop work in this direction. The Rheinmetall-Borsig protocol on internal testing from 2 June 1942 of the year noted trouble-free operation and low recoil during single and continuous firing, which made it possible to stably hold the rifle.
Falshimjagergewehr 42 or FG42 / 2 manufactured by Krieghoff with an attached Gw.ZF.4 riflescope
In addition, improvements were noted that had to be made to the design of the new automatic rifle: the danger of pinching in the guide groove of the left-hand pinking lever handle was eliminated by inserting a stop on the forearm; risk of pinching the bipod at the time of folding - to eliminate the bending of the longitudinal inner edges of the legs of the bipod; the grip of the handle is difficult because of its large tilt, this is especially critical when holding the weapon from the hip — to eliminate it by increasing the angle of the tilt of the handle; in order to achieve a more stable position of the rifle during firing, place the bipod mount under the front sight; the diopter pillar is visible vaguely because it is located from the eye at a distance of just 50 millimeters, instead of the millimeters put by 260 - to find a solution for carrying the pillar; change the angle of incidence of the ejected sleeves so that they do not interfere with the arrow located in the neighborhood; conduct experiments with rifle grenades; reduce the area of contact with the details of weapons of metal. These proposals for the modernization and improvement of the automatic rifle design Rod have taken into account when creating a modernized version. For the tests ordered two batches of rifles, each for 20 units. However, in these two parties, all the indicated shortcomings were not yet eliminated, and the troops wanted to test a new weapon at the front as soon as possible.
Until January, 1943 was required to submit 120 rifles. Their production was not entrusted to the Rheinmetall-Borsig plants, but to the Krieghoff company. This was probably due to the personal interest of Hermann Göring. As a result, Otto Schulze 15 September 1942 informed Rheinmetall-Borsig about the need to notify Krieghoff about all changes made to the weapon design. Then for the first time instead of Geraet 450, the designation FG42 was used. In the period from February 24 to April 16 1943, military tests were conducted at the Luftwaffe test site. The purpose of these tests was to identify the durability and strength of parts. As a result, some knots of mechanisms were found in which reinforcement was required. The reliability of the automatic rifle under various operating conditions, including high and low temperatures, as well as in case of contamination mechanisms was noted. The final report said that the convenience during the treatment with an automatic rifle and the accuracy of shooting are comparable to Mauser 98k carbines. A fourfold sample from the company Voigtlaender, which became the prototype of the ZF4, was indicated with a perspective optical sight.
In connection with the requirements of the paratroopers about obtaining new automatic weapons, the production of an incompletely improved rifle was a necessary measure, before the production of an improved version was adjusted. Since there were delays caused by the insufficiently reliable operation of early release samples, Krieghoff began mass production of 2 ths. Ordered rifles only at the end of 1943. Based on the findings of 2 July 1942 and troop tests in Tarniewice in 1943. ., Louis Stange began to develop a new design FG42. In order to save scarce materials and streamline production, the designer assumed the use of stamped parts from steel sheet. It was necessary to reduce production costs, because, for example, the milled receiver box, labor-intensive to manufacture, was made of nickel-alloyed steel having a high cost. As a result of the work, preparation for the release of a new version of the automatic rifle FG42 using stamping was assigned to Krieghoff. Naturally, such a decision of the Ministry of Aviation caused misunderstanding and irritation at Rheinmetall-Borsig, since the Stange department had to prepare 100 rifles FG42 to demonstrate to Hitler 1943 that was planned for the autumn. The delay in the start of serial production at Krieghoff caused Rheinmetall-Borsig to start production, since the aviation ministry needed to make urgent deliveries.
In the process of improvement, the designers were forced to abandon the most advantageous location of the bipods in the middle part of the rifle, which made it possible to quickly carry fire on the flanks, due to moving to the place intended for the bipod, the front of the carrying strap. This was due to the fact that it was difficult to carry the rifle in a horizontal position when placing the bipod in the middle part. A protective cover was added to the extraction window, as well as a special bar that reflected the spent cartridges forward, which made it possible to fire from the left shoulder. The protective cover was installed on the store receiver. The extraction window itself automatically closed, which prevented contamination of the mechanism of the weapon. In addition, sights were improved. In July, 1944, on military trials, in the FG42 design already had a muzzle brake with annular grooves and gas openings tilted forward, which mitigated the effect of powder gases on the arrow. In addition, they introduced a four-position gas regulator, with the help of which the magnitude of the gas flow for firing in difficult or normal conditions was changed.
Automatic rifle FG42 received a new reflector. Fuse and translator fire modes were separated. To improve accuracy, the rate of fire was reduced, as a result the weight of the moving parts increased. The final version of the rifle had a plastic pistol grip, which replaced the wooden handle of the previous version. In some documents this rifle was designated as FG42 / 2. The modernization of the FG42 automatic rifle did not affect its official designation, although these were already different rifles. The first and second variants are related only to the principle of constructing a structure. In some documents, these variants were presented as FG42 I and FG42 II or as FG42 / 1 and FG42 / 2. The winter stamped stock that was not suitable for use in the winter period, which was used in the first version, was replaced by a wooden stock. Another difference was the greater distance between the buttstock fastening screws, which were located slightly above and below the release button. The total weight of the rifle was 4,95 kilogram. All rifles had attachments for attaching an optical sight Gw.ZF.4, and a grenade launcher. In many documents, the latest version is designated FG42 / 3. Of course, all the improvements made the rifle heavier and longer, but improved its service and operational and combat qualities.
However, the greatest problem of the automatic grip rifle was the delay in its production. Problems with the organization of mass production were observed before 1945. The reason for this was a large number of different circumstances. Among them is the workload of the Stange department with work on changing the design of FG42 for short cartridges from Polte. Rheinmetall-Borsig did not expect orders from the Luftwaffe, and was extremely interested in adopting the FG42 automatic rifle for arming the ground forces. A modification for a short cartridge could compete with MP43. In addition, the department worked on the new MG43 machine gun with automatic based on the removal of powder gases. In this regard, the production of 90 pre-series rifles of the second version of the FG42 was tightened. At the same time, Min. Aviation insisted on making a model for a rifle cartridge. Field Marshal Milch at the 20 January meeting, 1944 rejected a proposal to adopt the MP43 submachine gun instead of the FG42 automatic rifle already approved by Hitler. The main argument of the Field Marshal was the superiority of the FG42 in effective fire range. Milch ordered the Luftwaffe to use an automatic rifle in the FG42 / 3 version. But despite this, already on January 21, the Luftwaffe General Staff decided to use MP43 for the formed paratroop divisions. This decision was caused by the lack of mass production of FG42. The competition between GF42 and MP43 continued. 11 February 1944 was issued an order, according to which tougher comparative tests were carried out, won by MP44, then classified as a submachine gun. However, Hermann Goering and problems with the release of the 7,92 × 33 cartridge were on the side of the Stange rifle.
On January 22, 1944, it was planned to set up the serial production of the final model of the automatic rifle - FG42 / 3. The Krieghoff company was supposed to start manufacturing 120 thousand rifles, and the Rheinmetall-Borsig company would provide it with all kinds of support. Since there was a shortage of equipment, it was planned to organize the production of rifle parts in Italy under the guidance of specialists from Germany. At Krieghoff, preparation for production was to be carried out according to Stange's drawings dated August 1, 1943. No further changes were envisaged. All obstacles in order to start mass production could be removed only by August 1944. Serial rifles had to correspond to serviceability in the troops and have a resource of at least 5 thousand shots. In addition, the production of Voigtlander optical sights and spare parts kits was to be established. Preparations for production were delayed, and the Italian facilities were soon lost. In November 1944, the first five rifles from the trial series were manufactured; in December, 519 weapons were already manufactured. On March 22, 1945, after testing, mass production began. Two more companies were connected to the release of the FG42 in 1945 - Wagner & Co and Dietrich. Despite this, production was slow. In March 1945, Krieghoff was able to produce only 1,5 thousand FG42 automatic rifles, instead of the planned 4 thousand. Until the end of the war, this manufacturer produced only 4,5 thousand rifles. Due to the technological complexity and relatively high cost, only about 7 thousand rifles of both models were produced by the end of the war.
The Falshimjagergewehr 42 rifle for the 1942 model paratroopers of the year (FG42), works by removing powder gases through a transverse hole made in the wall of the barrel. The barrel bore was locked during the turn of the bolt, which occurred when the curvilinear groove on the bolt was interacting with the beveled planes on the slide of the bolt carrier during the movement of the latter. A pair of lugs located in front of the gate symmetrically. In the butt there is a buffer that reduces the impact on the recoil arrow. Food cartridges during firing is carried out of the box magazine, which is mounted on the left side. The double-row arrangement of cartridges allows 20 ammunition to be placed in the store. The firing mechanism of the firing pin type gave both single and automatic fire. In the later version of the rifle, the trigger mechanism and trigger was combined into a block separating from the weapon. This design USM simplified maintenance. A translator of shooting modes was located on the left side above the handle. In automatic mode, FG42 shot with the shutter open, which is in the rear position before the shot. This method of firing is typical for machine guns and provides excellent stability during firing at a high rate. During a single fire, the shutter was closed, which provided greater accuracy of shooting. To increase stability, a folding bipod was located under the barrel. If the store is empty, and the fire interpreter is in the “automatic fire” position, to resume opening fire, remove the empty magazine, insert the loaded magazine into the rifle, and pull the trigger. In this case, the moving parts will fall forward from the sear, send a cartridge to the chamber, after which the barrel bore is locked and a new shot is fired. If the shooting before the store was empty was conducted in semi-automatic mode, then to start shooting, after replacing the store, it was necessary to turn the shutter.
Barrel and butt were on the same line. Due to this, there was practically no recoil shoulder, which minimized the tossing of weapons during firing. The recoil force was reduced by a massive flame arrester compensator mounted on the muzzle of the barrel. Sights consisted of a fly, mounted on the barrel and adjustable diopter rear sight, placed on the receiver. In order to establish a range correction, it is necessary to turn the sight bar and align the risk on the rack with the range mark. When landing racks flies and sight folded. In addition, the weapon was equipped with a Gw.ZF.42 riflescope, which made a sniper rifle from an automatic rifle. For melee rifle was supplied with an integral four-sided needle bayonet. In the stowed position, the bayonet leans back and is placed parallel to the barrel. Especially for the automatic rifle FG42 developed 30 millimeter rifle grenade launcher "Gewehrgranatengerat-2", which was attached to the muzzle of the barrel with a thread. The grenade launcher fired anti-tank rifle and fragmentation grenades at a distance of up to 250 meters. The rifle ammunition included 8 stores located in breast pouches.
Regardless of the model, the main distinctive feature of the FG42 automatic rifle was the increased dimensions and shape of the chamber, which differed from the Walter G41 rifle chamber, the larger diameter of the first cone and the outlines of the second cone (ramp), which consists of the initial cone, cylinder, and end cone. Due to this, the volume of the chamber was increased by 6,63%, which caused a decrease in the maximum gas pressure in 13,3% and the initial velocity of the bullet by 1,5%. The decrease in pressure facilitated the release of the liner. Together with the muzzle brake, this made it possible to use a standard power cartridge in the FG42 automatic rifle. The disadvantage of increasing the chamber was the presence of a large number of longitudinal cracks in the steel sleeves. This in turn led to contamination of the rifle mechanisms. In addition, there was the possibility of burnout of the surface of the chamber. During the shooting of cartridges with a brass sleeve, these problems did not arise. During the shot, the sleeve was re-stamped, acquiring characteristic outlines. Such sleeves could be easily distinguished by eye on the increased diameter and the presence of two cones.
Hermann Goering personally assured Hitler of the need for German paratroopers of such weapons as the FG42 automatic rifle. But the negative opinions expressed by the command of the Wehrmacht delayed the adoption of this rifle. This situation has changed dramatically after the success in Operation Oak, conducted by 12 in September of 1943, when a special group consisting of 26 paratroopers and rangers from a special squad of specials. the SS and 90 paratroopers from the training paratrooper chasseur battalion of the seventh parachute regiment, under the command of 6-C chief of the division (sabotage and terror) of the RSHA control department (foreign intelligence) of the SS Hauptshturmführer SS SS, maritime forces, getting off the wedge and getting to the wrestle combat position of the United States Army Command and Control Command, Otto Skorzeny, got off the wedge and left the target, for example, SS SSO Otto Skorzeny, got off the wrestle and was carrying out the United Nations command and control unit; freeing Benito Mussolini who was imprisoned at Campo Imperatore. It took less than four minutes to complete the operation, and not a single shot was fired. Then the paratroopers had at their disposal not only pistols and submachine guns, but also the latest automatic rifles FG42. Having data on the use of these weapons, Goering, talking with Hitler, was able to prove the necessity of adopting an FG42 rifle for the Airborne Forces. Finally, in August 44, having passed the difficult path of testing, the automatic rifle FG42 was launched into mass production.
Automatic rifle FG42 could not become a mass weapon. Even the Stg. 44 assault rifle, which also began production at the end of the war, became more widespread. The largest parties of the FG42 were supplied for arming the "Green Devils" of the 1st and 4th parachute jaeger divisions that took part in the hostilities in Italy. The FG42 rifles also used the 2nd and 3rd Jaeger divisions, who fought in northern France during the Allied landings in Normandy. However, the most famous chapter in the history of the combat use of the FG42 automatic rifle was the last offensive operation of the German troops on the Western Front - during the counterattack in the Ardennes. FG42 rifles were armed with a special combat group von Heide, which included 1200 rangers. This group was given the task of occupying and holding passages through the Eifel mountain pass to ensure advancement to Liège 6 tank army. As a result of these battles, the FG42 earned the best ratings of the paratroopers. Basically, these weapons were supplied to the best shooters who used rifles as sniper weapons, or senior paratrooper officers. The FG42 automatic rifle was not officially adopted, but became an integral companion of the "green devils", as the Anglo-American troops of the German paratroopers called it.
Most of the FG42 airborne assault rifles hit the winning countries. After the war ended, these weapons were found in Dresden, Stuttgart, Essen, Wolfsburg, near The Hague and in the Ardennes. This testified to the fact that FG42 rifles were given out to newly formed paratrooper units, which were sent to the northern sections of the Western Front, and to some fighters who had sworn allegiance to Reich Chancellor Karl Doenitz. Krieghoff automatic rifles were delivered to the hottest sections of the front. A number of FG42 rifles were in service with the most experienced fighters of the SS troops who took part in the defense of Berlin in May 1945. After the war, various structural elements, the FG42 concept and developments in this area were used in different countries of the world, for example, in the UK - EM-1 and EM-2, Switzerland - prototype assault rifles, Czech Republic - Cisla, USSR - during the development of small arms. In the United States, the design of the FG42 rifle and the MG-42 tape feed system became the basis for the prototype T44 machine gun. Later, some structural elements, arrangement of mechanisms and parts, as well as individual design elements were used during the design of the first American single machine gun under the cartridge .30-06. After that, based on these works, samples T161 and T161E2 were created under the cartridge 7,62 × 51. As a result, the T161E2 machine gun in 1957, under the designation M60, was adopted by the army and the naval fleet U.S.A. In West Germany, the newly created armed forces needed one basic model of infantry small arms, instead of a motley mass of self-loading and magazine rifles of various systems. In this regard, in September 1958, Rheinmetall in Dusseldorf developed a new set of drawings of the FG42 rifle. Since the company already had no documentation, the sample for the new kit was 0199, which in turn was leased from the Dutch collector. At that time, Otto Schulze, the “godfather” of the Luftwaffe FG42 rifle, was responsible for armaments at the federal border service. From its predecessors, the newly released FG42 differed only in the civilian Rheinmetall logo. But these weapons were not taken into service again, but now the main reasons are the standardization of NATO weapons, as well as the imposition by the Americans of European states on their cartridge 7,62 × 51.
The FG42 automatic rifle was distinguished by a sufficient degree of operational reliability, versatility in combat use, fire effectiveness and firing accuracy. In fact, this rifle does not have a revolutionary design, but Louis Stange, its creator, managed to realize an almost impossible task - to combine the advantages of a submachine gun and a light machine gun in one weapon. Relatively speaking, the FG42 rifle is a light machine gun, having a length and weight not exceeding the corresponding parameters of the Stg.44 assault rifle, providing effective and accurate fire at large and small firing distances. The main advantage of the system used was the high efficiency of fire at various distances with compactness and maneuverability. But at the same time, FG42 was expensive and difficult to manufacture, which, together with the delay in its establishment, was the cause of such a small number of copies. The FG42 automatic parachute rifle began to arrive in the army very late in order to fully demonstrate its advantages and fighting qualities in the conditions and tactics of use for which it was intended. Of course, such an extraordinary weapon, which was created in accordance with contradictory, and, at the beginning, simply incredible requirements, has a number of drawbacks that do not outweigh its advantages. This is an excellent sample of design ideas that is able to develop and establish mass production of weapons, which theoretically it was impossible to create. FG42 - is an interesting and unique automatic rifle, which is one of the best representatives of German weapons, which was designed and manufactured during the Third Reich.
The main characteristics of the automatic rifle FG42:
Caliber - 7,92 × 57;
The length of the weapon - 975 millimeters (without bayonet);
Barrel length - 500 millimeters;
Weight - 4,8 kilogram (without cartridges);
Magazine capacity - 20 cartridges;
The initial speed of the bullet - 760 meters per second;
The rate of fire - 750 shots per minute;
Aim range - 1200 meters.
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