Modern assault rifles (assault rifles) as an independent type of rifle weapons emerged during the Second World War, when so-called “intermediate” cartridges were developed for them — more powerful than pistol cartridges, but less powerful than rifle cartridges. These cartridges increased the effective range to 500 meters, which is two to three times greater than that of submachine guns. At the same time, cartridges of lesser capacity than rifle cartridges made it possible to create for them light and reliable designs of a new class of small arms — automata (assault rifles). One of the first constructions of this kind was proposed by the talented German gunsmith Hugo Schmeisser.
With the advent of the Nazis, the Wehrmacht began to rearm. The army command, after analyzing the prospects for the development of weapons and equipment with regard to its tactical use, concluded that one of the tasks to create qualitatively new armed forces, ready for large-scale offensive actions, is to equip them with weapons that are more sophisticated than the potential opponents.
TACTICAL TECHNICAL The assignment (TTZ) for the creation of a new weapon, compiled by the Wehrmacht Army Weapons Directorate (HWaA - Heereswaffenamt), began with the requirement to develop a reduced-power cartridge for firing at a distance of up to 1004 meters.
HWaA turned its attention to the Polte cartridge company from Magdeburg, where in the year 1938, on its own initiative, created the 7,92 mm project of a “short” cartridge with a 30 mm liner length and a high initial speed 3,7 g. As a result of the signing of the contract of this company with the army leadership, detailed research and development experiments were conducted on 1938 mm “short infantry” cartridge in 1941-7,92. The hard work with a fairly large number of samples of experienced cartridges ended in 1941, with the fact that the 7,92 mm "intermediate" cartridge with a sleeve length - 33 mm, a bullet mass - 8,2 g and an initial speed - 694 m / s were recommended for use.
The initial tactical and technical requirements that determined the main features of the weapon’s design under the “intermediate” cartridge, after numerous studies conducted in 1935-1937, were reworked, and by the year 1938 the concept of a program of light automatic small arms, designed to replace the submachine gun, magazine rifle and , in part, a light machine gun. This would allow to have in the army only two (instead of the previous three) systems of small arms - an automatic rifle and a single machine gun for all the tasks.
The accumulated experience, which took into account recent advances both in scientific thought and in the production of sophisticated precision engineering products, led to the development of fairly rigid and accurate TTZs established by HWaA for new weapons. The best design forces of Germany were involved in its creation.
The 2 research and development bureau for testing and designing technical equipment HWaA 18 on April 1938 signed a contract with the owner of CG Haenel, a gun manufacturer, the famous gunsmith Hugo Schmeisser, to develop an automatic carbine. The new carbine received the official name Mkb (Maschinenkarabin, German - automatic carbine), which differed from the name MP (Maschinenpistole), which designated the submachine guns.
The design team for the design of Mkb was headed by H. Schmeisser himself. At the beginning of 1940, he handed over to HWaA the first prototype of an automatic carbine under the “short” cartridge of the firm “Polte”. A relatively long study of the “ammunition-weapon” complex allowed us to lay down the basic principles for solving this problem, and the talented designer chose the best way to operate the automation - removal of powder gases from the barrel. This principle will subsequently be successfully implemented in almost all automatic small arms of the post-war years, and the design of the German "intermediate" cartridge will serve as the basis for the creation of similar ammunition in many countries of the world.
The Schmaisser system's Mkb, as envisaged by the TTZ, consisted mainly of stamped parts. Automatic weapons worked on the principle of removal of powder gases from the barrel, acting on the piston associated with the stem stem. The barrel bore was locked by tilting the bolt in a vertical plane. A feature of this system was the long stroke of the piston in the gas chamber located above the barrel. To reduce the area of the rubbing surfaces of the piston, transverse grooves were cut on it. Adjusting the removal of powder gases was carried out by changing the volume of the gas chamber. This was achieved by moving along the screw thread of the regulating rod of the gas coupling with a conical head that entered the chamber, which also significantly improved the functioning of the weapon in difficult conditions.
The firing-type trigger mechanism was located in a stamped box and allowed the possibility of both single and continuous fire, for this there was a button-type translator. The stop of moving parts on the sear occurred in their extreme rear position, as in submachine guns, in which such a device made it possible to avoid an accidental shot while stopping firing, during dashes and when the barrel was heated during firing. The reloading handle connected to the piston rod was on the left side of the receiver. However, it served as a fuse, for which it was necessary to drown the handle to the right, pushing on the head. With this movement, its opposite end entered the fixing hole in the receiver, securing the piston. The same grip held the moving parts of the bolt in the rear position: turning with respect to the bolt carrier, it was driven into a zigzag cut-out in the slot of the receiver. Schmeisser used here a design similar to the fuse in the MP-38 / 40 submachine gun.
For the Mkb, a sector store with a two-row arrangement of thirty cartridges was very well designed. Its filling was made from clips for five rounds with the help of an adapter that is worn on the neck of the store. The extraction window was automatically closed by a dust shield. The sighting devices consisted of a fly with a headset and an open sector sight on 800 meters. The Schmeisser automatic rifle really interested the military, who rated it as a promising weapon. After a rather lengthy rework, which lasted for the entire forty-first year, CG Haenel received an order to produce fifty prototypes for military tests at the end of the same year.
Along with this company, several more weapon companies began to develop a new type of small arms: Carl Walther GmbH, Erma and others. Since the end of the fortieth year, one of the most famous German arms firms, Walter (Walther) under the leadership of Erich Walter, who managed to obtain a contract for his company from HWaA to conduct research on the Mkb program, joined the struggle for a profitable order. He was asked to create a weapon system under the same conditions as the CG Haenel, but using the already fully developed shop from the Mkb Schmeisser system.
Walter has begun to work in firm confidence that it is capable of producing better weapons than its competitors, due to the presence of a strong production base and a higher scientific and design potential that has historically developed over many decades of its work.
Mkb Walther, in many respects, repeated the previous designs of the company, created in the thirties, but had many innovations. In the vapor system, powder gases, which had been discharged from the barrel bore into the casing through two openings, were used to move a ring-shaped piston located around the barrel and bushing. However, the translational movement of the shutter was no longer carried out by a piston, as in previous samples, but by a sleeve. The barrel is also locked by turning the bolt. Combat stops shutter located in its front. Translator of the type of fire - two-sided, flag type. Sights, raised for ease of shooting, consisted of a fly with a headset and a sector sight on 800 meters mounted on a high base. For better stability with continuous fire, the moving units of automation and the butt were located on the same axis with the barrel. Almost the entire carbine was assembled from stamped parts.
In a short time, the first prototype was manufactured, and already at the beginning of 1941, Walter presented it to the officers of the HWaA artillery and technical supply department. Although the carbine showed satisfactory performance when shooting at the Kummersdorf firing range, work to fine-tune this still imperfect construction continued throughout the 1941 year.
At the end of January 1942, in order to conduct extensive competitive testing, HWaA required CG Haenel to increase the initial order for the manufacture of Mkb in 1942 to 200 units, and Walther needed to submit 1942 automatic carbines of its design to July 200. Both HWaA systems were given the name Mkb-42, the CG Haenel product with the “H” index is Mkb-42 (H), and the Walther machine, respectively, “W” - the Mkb-42 (W).
After the demonstration of the Mkb-42 (W) and Mkb-42 (H) prototypes at the official show in July of the same year, the leadership of the German Ministry of Armaments and HWaA remained firmly convinced that both firms would soon finish their products can be run into production. Moreover, it was assumed that by November they would be able to produce 500 Mkb by firms, and by March of next year, the total production could be brought to 15 thousand monthly.
But these plans did not come true. In August, the 1942 of the year after the tests of the Mkb-42 (W) and the Mkb-42 (H) HWaA introduced new requirements to the original specifications. Summarizing the experience of combat operations, both on the Eastern Front and in Africa, showed that the promising model of the main infantry weapon must be multifunctional, that is, hit not only with fire, but also (in melee) with a bayonet and butt. Taking into account the installation on regular Mauser 98 carbines of rifle-propelled grenade launchers, it was decided to have similar devices on the Mkb. Firms were instructed to mount a tide for the bayonet on the trunks of automatic carbines and to provide for the possibility of mounting the gun Xnumx above-caliber grenade launcher. Making changes briefly, but slowed the transfer of the Mkb-1940 to production. At the same time, the problems encountered by CG Haenel with subcontractors, and Walther with the establishment of press-stamping equipment, led to the fact that by October of the ordered each company Hkb, not one was made.
This is interesting: “Maschinenpistole” index (submachine gun) for the machine gun was given by the German Minister of Arms A. Speer. Hitler was categorically against the new type of weapon under the “single cartridge”. Millions of rifle cartridges were stored in the German military depots, and the thought that they would become unnecessary after the adoption of the Schmeis machine gun caused the fuhrer to be furious. Speer's trick worked, Hitler learned the truth only two months later, after adopting the MP 43.
In November, Walther, with a monthly production rate of 500, supplied only 25 Mkb-42 (W), and in December - 91. Thanks to the support of the Ministry of Arms, both companies were able to solve the most serious production problems by the beginning of 1943. So, of the 500 Mkb, scheduled for production in January of that year, only 200 units were undersupplied, and in February Walther and CGHaenel actually exceeded the production level, producing 1217 carbines instead of the planned thousand. The Third Reich Armaments Minister Alfred Speer, in order to more thoroughly study the service and operational characteristics of the Mkb-42 (H) and Mkb-42 (W), orders that a certain number of carbines be sent for military tests to the Eastern Front .
Both automatic carbines, due to the rigidity of the HWaA specifications, as well as due to the wide use of stamping and welding in technology, had a great constructive resemblance to each other. The tests revealed that, although the Mkb-42 (W) was lighter, more compact and better balanced, which greatly affected the effectiveness of the shooting, there was still no doubt that its sophisticated automation was not suitable for use in adverse field conditions. The Mkb-42 (H) was simpler and more reliable than its competitor. According to the results of tests of new weapons, HWaA decided to give preference to the design Schmeisser, but only after making some changes to it.
The main mechanism has undergone a trigger mechanism. The use of the rear sear in the Mkb-42 (H) provided a single and continuous fire, however, the production of single shots, and even with the firing trigger, caused reasonable doubts in terms of the accuracy of the shot due to the impact of the shaft stump. To improve the accuracy of the battlefield, the original design of the firing mechanism was replaced by a more reliable trigger system of Walter, with the shutter moving parts in the forward position stopped.
The design of the sear changed, instead of a safety lever inserted into the reloading handle, a safety lever was installed, the piston stroke was altered from long to short, the gas chamber tube was shortened.
The functioning of the weapon in difficult operating conditions was improved by replacing large-section windows for the release of residual powder gases from the gas chamber tube to holes with a diameter of 7 mm. Technological changes made to the gate and bolt carrier with a gas piston. The return spring sleeve has been removed. Due to the revision of some views on the tactical use of an automatic carbine, the tide for the bayonet was shot, which, by the way, was promoted by the adoption of the Gw.Gr.Ger.42 rifle grenade launcher with a different method of mounting on the barrel. In connection with the use of beech in the production of the butt, its design is also simplified.
Most of the parts were made by cold forging with extensive use of compound parts by spot welding. The outer surfaces of the receiver, forend, magazine and other parts of the machine were machined with a zigzag machine that squeezed grooves of a different profile, which greatly increased the rigidity of these parts made from thin sheet metal. One of the major shortcomings of the new machine gun, still not eliminated by the designers, was a large mass (more than five kilograms), complicating its use in infantry units as the main sample of individual small arms.
CG Haenel, at the same time as these works were carried out, from February to June 1943 continued to produce small quantities of Mkb-42. In total, until the middle of 1943, approximately eight thousand automatic carbines were made, of which approximately - 2800 MkU-42 (W) and 5200 - Mkb-42 (Н).
Thanks to the support of Minister A. Speer, in June of the same year, the upgraded weapon under the designation MP-43 (Maschinenpistole-43, German - the submachine gun of the model 1943 of the year) went into production. The term "submachine gun" was used in the designation of this weapon for camouflage, so as not to annoy Hitler, who could not come to terms with the idea that millions of outdated rifle cartridges would be in the warehouses of Germany. And this happened at a time when even the staff officers in Berlin recognized the effectiveness of the new weapon and its ammunition. The introduction of the MP-43 into mass production was taken by Speer himself.
In September, the first full-scale military tests of the MR-43 took place on the Eastern Front in the elite German unit, the motorized division of the SS Viking. In the report on the combat use of machine guns by more than half of the shooters, it was noted that the MP-43 is an effective substitute for submachine guns and rifles. New weapons significantly influenced the increase in firepower of infantry units and reduced the need for them to use light machine guns for fire support. The fire to a depth of 400 meters was fired by single shots, then during the battles on the near approaches, submachine gunners switched to firing in short bursts.
This combination of firepower and the ability to conduct two types of fire in the MP-43 made such a strong impression on the SS generals that in their first reports they asked Hitler to allow the immediate mass production of the machine gun. According to veterans, the MP-43 is a reliable weapon. It was noted its simplicity with incomplete disassembly and assembly. Bribed and the fact that the weapon provided good accuracy in combat when shooting with a single fire at a distance of up to 600 meters (at a longer distance, specially trained snipers were already shooting), and when firing in short bursts, effective fire was fired up to 300 meters. When conducting continuous fire on 100 meters from HP-43 on a target with a diameter of 11,5 centimeters, more than half of the hits fit in a circle equal to 5,4 centimeters. The new cartridges, being lighter, less bulky and with less recoil energy, also proved to be good. When firing from the MP-43, the recoil force was half as much as the standard Mauser 98k carbine. With a “short” 7,92 mm cartridge, by reducing the weight of the cartridge, it became possible to increase the ammunition load of each infantryman. Ammunition for 150 cartridges for the Mauser 98 carbine weighed 3,9 kilograms, and 150 “short” cartridges for MP-43 weighed 2,6 kilograms, which increased their stock to six 180 cartridges, which were located in six stores that were worn in two pouches. In total, the total mass of the machine with full ammunition did not exceed 10,3 kilogram, which is approximately one kilogram heavier than the Mauser 98 karabiner with a bayonet and ammunition. The excessive gravity of the machine itself, compared with a carbine or submachine gun, was one of the few shortcomings inherent in the MP-43, which largely paid off with its many advantages. The disadvantages of the machine gun, which caused criticism of the front-line soldiers, were the fact that, in addition to the inconvenient sight, located on a high rack, when firing at night, a strong flame escaped from the barrel of the weapon, which unmasked the shooter.
The persistent appeals of the front-line soldiers, supported by HWaA and the Minister of Armaments A. Speer, as well as the results of the tests, ultimately broke Hitler’s stubbornness. After he personally requested the opinion of the troops on the new machine gun and received positive feedback, at the end of September 1943 was ordered to adopt the MR-43 to arm the infantry and deploy its mass production.
This decision has accelerated further work of the leading designers of the company CG Haenel. In the fall of 1943, the MP-43 / 1 appears, produced in small quantities by Merz-Werke. It differed from the base model by the presence of a new ZO-mm Mkb rifle grenade launcher. Gewehrgranatengerat-43 (later known as MP.Gw.Gr.Ger.43), which was screwed onto the muzzle of the barrel with a thread, and not fastened with a clamping device, like a grenade launcher Gw.Gr.Ger.42 on the MP-43. In this regard, the configuration of the trunk has changed - its external section has one diameter, in contrast to the cylinder-speed, in the MP-43. To protect the threads from damage, an elongated barrel sleeve was screwed onto the barrel. The configuration of the butt has also changed, and, to decrease the return, the size of the butt plate has increased.
For snipers, a sample MP-43 / 1 was created, on which a milled mount was installed for the four-time ZF-4 optical sights, as well as the ZG.1229 “Vampire” infrared night vision sights. For trial operation, a batch of 300 MP-43 / 1 was made with such a sight. Landing mount "Vampire" was mounted on the right side of the receiver.
1 - sighting block; 2 - reloading handle; 3 - locking pin; 4 is a translator of the kind of fire; 5 - safety switch; 6 - trigger; 7 - store latch button; 8 is the store's receiver.
The Supreme Commander of the German Armed Forces 6 on April 1944 of the year issued an order dedicated to the Wehrmacht small arms system, where the name of the MP-43 submachine gun was replaced with the MP-44. In addition to changing the year of production in the index — from 1943 to 1944 — this replacement can no longer be explained, since no innovations were made to the weapon itself. The complication of the military situation influenced the fact that in October 1944, Hitler had to issue another order, according to which Mr-44 received a new (already the fourth in two years, and this time the last) name - Stg-44 (Sturmgewehr-44, - an assault rifle of the 1944 model of the year). This was due, most likely, to political and propaganda considerations, rather than something else. The change of designation - "submachine gun" to "assault rifle" - has become more accurately reflect the role and main purpose of these weapons in battle. No changes have been made to the design of the machine, with the exception of the Stg.44 stamp, placed directly on the old MP-44 stamp, located on the receiver. In all likelihood, this is typical only for weapons released at the end of 1944 of the year. The MP-43 / MP-44 submachine guns were armed, first of all, by selected troops - motorized units and formations of the Wehrmacht and the SS field forces.
History German machines MP-43 / Stg-44 did not end with the capitulation of Germany. After the war, they from 1948 to 1956 year were in service with the barracks police of the GDR and in 1945-1950 years in the airborne troops of the Yugoslav People's Army.
German designers, gunsmiths, by right, have priority in the development of industrial mass production of a new class of individual automatic firearms under the “intermediate” cartridge. Careful preliminary study of the use of small arms ammunition, as well as the study of the tactical capabilities of automatic weapons of this class contributed to the concept of "assault rifles" (machine guns). The Germans were able to uncover the great opportunities inherent in the new type of weapons earlier than others — namely, the German MP-43 / Stg-44 had a huge impact on the entire post-war development of a new class of small arms: assault rifles (automatic), designed for an “intermediate” cartridge, and not only western, but also Soviet samples. So, all the initial development of similar weapons in the USSR were based on the design principles embodied in the Germanic models, and this, first of all, relates to the Kalashnikov assault rifle of the 1946 model of the year. However, the creation of Soviet small arms under the "intermediate" cartridge - this is a completely different story, which requires a separate conversation.
This is interesting: at the end of 1944, the German designer Ludwig Forgrimler designed the experimental machine Stg. 45M. But the defeat of Germany in the Second World War did not allow to complete the construction of an assault rifle. After the war, Forgrimler moved to Spain, where he settled in the design office of the weapons company CETME. In the middle of 1950-x on the basis of its construction Stg. 45 Ludwig creates a CETME Model A assault rifle. After several upgrades, a “Model B” appeared, and in 1957, the German leadership acquired a license to manufacture this rifle at the Heckler und Koch factory. In Germany, the rifle was given the G-3 index, and it became the ancestor of the famous Heckler-Koch series, including the legendary MP5. G-3 was or is in service with the armies of more than fifty countries.