German small arms of WW2


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Mark Tyson
November 9, 2003, 08:40 PM
I have a historical question. What was the primary German battle rifle of WW2?

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444
November 9, 2003, 08:42 PM
98 Mauser chambered in 8mm Mauser

Mike Irwin
November 9, 2003, 10:36 PM
More specifically, the Kar98k.

It was shorter than the Gewehr 98 of World War I, hence the Kar, for Carbine, with the following k meaning kurz, for short.

It was adopted in 1935, and was an offshoot of the K98 and K98a carbines of World War I.

clint1911a1
November 10, 2003, 12:33 AM
Yea, and it's a bolt action by the way. I find it ironic that the German armed forces' standard issue battle rifle was still a bolt action. They were so far ahead of everyone else in nearly all other types of weaponry. What on Earth were they thinking?

P.S. The Stg44 was a great idea, though to little, to late.

4v50 Gary
November 10, 2003, 12:44 AM
What were they thinking? Rapid expansion of the 100,000 man Reichswehr to a respectable army. Small arms are small issues in an era when the Panzer and close air support (Stuka) were on the forefront of military thought. BTW, those "pocket-battleships" weren't that hot. Commodore Harwood had the right idea of how to take one on.

444
November 10, 2003, 12:44 AM
Well, I wonder what they were thinking with those Mauser 98 sights ?

Keep in mind that they were using a bolt action rifle, but also had plenty of sub-guns in service at the same time.

Abominable No-Man
November 10, 2003, 12:54 AM
The StG was offered earlier in the war, but Hitler turned it down.

The German Army was built opposite of everyone else's. The riflemen in a squad were there to protect the machine gunner. The machine gun was the basis for the German Army tactics of the time, and I guess that the idea was they didn't really need anything else.

ANM

Mike Irwin
November 10, 2003, 02:12 AM
Well, consider that every nation other than the United States went to war in 1939-45 with rifles that had been state of the art in 1900...

Britain had the Lee-Enfield. The basic design had been adopted in 1895 with the adoption of the Enfield rifling.

The Moisin-Nagant dated from right around the same time.

The Mannlicher-Carcano? Ditto, right around 1895.

The Arisaka? About 1905.

The United States was the only nation that committed early to the concept of a self-loading rifle as a military firearm, and was the only nation that allowed development to continue, with governmental funds, through the Depression.

Other nations had occasionally thrown money at the concept, but the money was never extensive, the programs were never backed officially at a government aresenal, and once the Depression hit, funding dried up everywhere in favor of the status quo.

The nations that did field self-loading rifles during the war in any appreciable numbers -- the Soviet Union and Germany -- did so after crash development courses starting late in the 1930s when it was pretty evident that there was going to be another war.

Those designs that did see use, the SVT 38 and 40 in the Soviet Union and the G41 and G43 were servicable weapons, but were, in comparison to the Garand, delicate, fiddly, and not suitable for being general issue weapons.

Badger Arms
November 10, 2003, 03:45 AM
The question of what was the principle battle rifle is a bit deceiving. The principle infantry weapon of the German Army was, in fact, the MG-42. The Mausers were intended to defend and support the MG-42. The effectiveness of this combination was proven time and time again. Had the Germans been able to field an effective assault rifle or semi-automatic battle rifle early in the war, the battles would still have gone the way they did. I don't feel that anything would have changed, myself. The battles were won or lost with logistics, air power, maneuver, artillery, and intelligence. Small arms are way down on the list of war-winning tools.

To purists, yes, the MG-34 was right there being emplyed in the same way.

telewinz
November 10, 2003, 08:06 AM
Those designs that did see use, the SVT 38 and 40 in the Soviet Union and the G41 and G43 were servicable weapons, but were, in comparison to the Garand, delicate, fiddly, and not suitable for being general issue weapons.

The Russians were satisfied enough with the SVT 40 that they had intended to issue it as their MBR. The need to standardize for mass production resulted in the SVT being issued only to NCOs and production was finally terminated in favor of their bolt action MBR. The Germans respected the SVT40 so much that they restamped and proofed captured rifles and issued them to their own troops, something they never did with the M1 Garand:scrutiny:

444
November 10, 2003, 08:50 AM
German military philosophy aside though, the primary battle RIFLE is the K98. The main machine gun, sub-machine gun etc. is another story.

Badger Arms
November 10, 2003, 12:57 PM
The Germans respected the SVT40 so much that they restamped and proofed captured rifles and issued them to their own troops, something they never did with the M1 GarandSurely you don't mean to suggest that the SVT40 was superior to the Garand in any way shape or form! The Germans also stamped dozens of captured types of pistols, rifles, and SMG's and used them as their own. They were never able to capture significant American arms to do so with. I'd bet they had a boatload of French small arms... wait, nevermind.German military philosophy aside though, the primary battle RIFLE is the K98. The main machine gun, sub-machine gun etc. is another story.True. It's another story. However, one cannot presume that because the Germans kept their bolt guns throughout the war that the K98 was considered the equal to the Garand or the Enfield in their organizational structure. It was not. Their concept of a 'battle rifle' was different than that of the Allies, the Russians, the Japanese, or pretty much any other army of their time. Much the same, their philosophy of the pistol differed greatly in various ways. Any discussion of what their main battle rifle was must include a definition from the German organizational structure.

Badger Arms
November 10, 2003, 01:10 PM
I'll go a little further than that. German philosophy on small arms and infantry organization was so completely different, that they had trouble naming some of their weapons. The FG-42, for instance, was intended to duplicate the organizational use of the K98, the MG-42, and the MP-40. How do you classify such a weapon in the American sense? Hmmmm, somewhere between a Garand and a BAR, but compact enough to use as a Submachinegun?

The Germans also had difficulty with their StG-44. It wasn't a proper battle rifle nor was it a proper carbine nor was it a proper submachinegun. In battle, it took the place of all of these weapons and ate into the operational employment of even the MG-42/34's being fielded. So how do you classify the weapon? You don't... you must change the orgnaizational makeup and structure to reflect the unique capabilities and exploit strengths and weaknesses.

By the US definition, the K98 would certainly be labeled the main battle rifle but operationally we used our Garands differently. The US did not have an equal to the MG-42 until the M-60 (Somewhat of a derivative of the MG-42 itself) was adopted. When we had the M-60, we also got a pretty-good representation of the FG-42 concept in the M-14 rifle. Strange how it took the Americans twenty years to figure out what the Germans had figured out quickly. The FG-42 concept doesn't work!

Cosmoline
November 10, 2003, 01:21 PM
I'm not sure where folks get the idea that the Mauser '98 design was "antiquated" by WWII. It's not even antiquated now! You can find the basic platform in every gunshop in the nation, under an array of labels. Also, for fighting beyond 25 yards it's far more effective than a Thompson or MP-40. Perhaps a self-loader would have provided a marginal advantage--but only marginal.

BigG
November 10, 2003, 01:29 PM
Badgerarms: I read with interest your exposition of the various war implements fielded by the Wehrmacht in WWII. It surely seems to me that a lot of the definitions/applications are academic hair-splitting and submit that many times things were pressed into service because they needed arms, not necessarily that it fit some OKW grand strategic niche. BTW, if the German order of battle was so danged advanced, refresh my memory: "Wer hat der Krieg gewonnen?" ;)

Mike Irwin
November 10, 2003, 01:55 PM
Telwinz,

It wasn't a question of the Germans respecting the SVT40, it was a question of their capturing so damned many of them that it would be stupid for them not to employ them.

The Germans also adopted the PPSh submachine gun, rebored to 9mm, along with at least one artillery piece using the interrupted screw breach mechanism, which the Germans never adopted on any other artillery piece (when you capture nearly 3,000 pieces and a million rounds of ammo, why not?), and a variety of other equipment.

The Soviets also ran into another interesting problem with the SVT...

It WAS to delicate and fiddly -- in the hands of the average, untrained Soviet conscript. Early unit tests had shown that the SVT required a level of care that the average Soviet soldier either couldn't, or wouldn't, give, and the tests were nothing short of a disaster. That's why they were largely pulled from general issue and given to specialist troops.

Had the Germans captured Garands in the kind of quantities that they got the SVT in, I'm sure they would have employed them.

In fact, it probably wouldn't have been very difficult at all to convert the Garand to fire 8x57 ammo.

Mike Irwin
November 10, 2003, 02:04 PM
Cosmoline,

Why did you use the term "antiquated" when no one else did?

You seem to misunderstand the very nature of the discussion that's going on.

It's not that the K98k was antiquated, it's that its technology curve was being passed by developments made since the original design was laid down.

I don't think anyone would claim that the revolver is antiquated. After all, revolvers once armed military forces the world over.

But the technology progressed to something that was seen to have distinct advantages.

The same is true with the K98k.



Badger,

The FG42 was designed to fill a VERY narrow niche -- it was truly a specialists weapon. Unlike the M14, it was never intended to be a main battle rifle, squad automatic weapon, etc. etc. etc., for the whole German army.

MuzzleBlast
November 10, 2003, 02:36 PM
In fact, it probably wouldn't have been very difficult at all to convert the Garand to fire 8x57 ammo.I'm sure all that would have been necessary is a new barrel.

Oleg Volk
November 10, 2003, 02:36 PM
Grassis always greener? German paratroopers complained that English riflemen outranged them during the Crete invasion...MP40 wouldn't fight SMLE at a distance. Russians complained that MP40 would make a sieve of a guy armed with a Mosin.

Looking at the options Germany had, it seems that they never were very efficient or had a big industrial base...so they used what they could make, refurbish or capture and coudln't afford to discard older weapons or the training which went with them.

Mike Irwin
November 10, 2003, 02:54 PM
Muzzle,

Actually, I'm thinking more along the lines of reaming the existing barrel and installing a chamber insert a la the .308 Garands.

Bart Noir
November 10, 2003, 03:17 PM
Two thoughts: first, the FG-42 was never a German Army rifle. It was designed for the paratroopers, who were part of the Air Force. So the people who assigned names probably wanted to keep it very distinctive, inter-service rivalry being what it is.

Also, the French had a semi-auto rifle in production, and issued, during WW1. See the link. They used it in North Africa for a while, and then went back to a bolt gun. Tells you something about reliability, don't it?

http://www.cruffler.com/historic-june00.html

Bart Noir

Mike Irwin
November 10, 2003, 03:50 PM
I'd forgotten about the Mle 1917.

What the move back to bolt-action rifles tells me, more than anything, is the changing political and economic climate in the Post WW I years.

Most nations cut their military budgets drastically in the 1920s with the feeling that such a war could never happen again.

The Mle 1917 was available in thousands, whereas the Chauterault-Bethier (sp) variants on the Lebel rifle were available in the millions. With the Estates General stripping the military of its funding, it's not surprising that the decision was made to stay with the most numerous design.

Mike Irwin
November 10, 2003, 03:51 PM
Bart,

Given the wording of the original question "What was the primary German battle rifle of WW2..." for whom the FG42 was made isn't really important.

Bart Noir
November 10, 2003, 08:53 PM
Mike Irwin, none of this is important. It's just fun. If we had a debate master keeping us on topic, no deviation, the board would be much more boring. I rather enjoy the "oh by the way" comments that come up after the initial post. Until they get too weird or repetitive, and then I move on.

Bart Noir

CWL
November 10, 2003, 10:03 PM
The Mauser 98 rifle is the father or at least the inspiration of most modern bolt-action rifles. The Springfield 06 was a direct rip-off of the design.

Nazi Germany, while a great propaganda machine and utilizer of new technologies, never attempted to fully escape from the trappings & methods of 'old Europe'.

Example, the primary means of military transport for the Wehrmacht remained the horse. Mechanized forces were always a small part of their total armed forces.

VG
November 10, 2003, 10:23 PM
Yea, and it's a bolt action by the way. I find it ironic that the German armed forces' standard issue battle rifle was still a bolt action. They were so far ahead of everyone else in nearly all other types of weaponry. What on Earth were they thinking?

They were thinking the same as almost everyone else. The United States Marine Corps conducted a service rifle evaluation in December of 1940. Tested were the M1903 Springfield, Garand, Johnson, and a Winchester semiauto. The winner was - drum roll since it's the USMC's Birthday - the M1903 Springfield.

The Marine Corps and the Germans and just about every military outside the U.S. Army, were concerned about the mechanical reliability of a semiautomatic, and the possibility of prodigal use of ammunition.

If one looks at the status of American aircraft, armor, and other war weapons in 1937, it is even more impressive that the Army (ranked 14th in size in the world) would have taken the step of standardizing on the Garand in that year. Many armies had pursued the concept since WWI, including France and Germany.

Badger Arms
November 11, 2003, 12:55 AM
BTW, if the German order of battle was so danged advanced, refresh my memory: "Wer hat der Krieg gewonnen?" I didn't mean to suggest that they were more advanced, only different and effective. Yes, they were very effective. The fact that they didn't win the war speaks more to the low place infantry weapons and organizational structure played in Germany's strategic success.The FG42 was designed to fill a VERY narrow niche -- it was truly a specialists weapon. Unlike the M14, it was never intended to be a main battle rifle, squad automatic weapon, etc. etc. etc., for the whole German army.Well, that was part of the problem, it was designed for the Air Force. The Air Force saw that they needed immediate firepower on the order of what a Machinegun would provide when they hit the ground. It was, indeed, intended to replace the Machinegun, Battle Rifle, and Submachinegun in many of their employments. The Army didn't ask for, nor did they want or get the gun and it was uncontrollable in full-auto and loud at any rate. The FG-42 was still an excellent weapon given its limitations and introduced many concepts used on future weapons, the M-60 being one.

telewinz
November 11, 2003, 09:40 AM
Surely you don't mean to suggest that the SVT40 was superior to the Garand in any way shape or form! The Germans also stamped dozens of captured types of pistols, rifles, and SMG's and used them as their own. They were never able to capture significant American arms to do so with. I'd bet they had a boatload of French small arms... wait, nevermind.

No but like the M1 carbine, the SVT40 was POPULAR and sought after by German COMBAT troops long before it was issued by the German quartermasters. Thats a pretty high complement by any standard. The SVT40 would fire in a drenching rain without any special lubrication unlike the Garand.:uhoh: Plus the SVT40's rear sight would hold "zero", something that troubled the Garand till late in the war.

Tamara
November 11, 2003, 10:12 AM
The Germans respected the SVT40 so much that they restamped and proofed captured rifles and issued them to their own troops, something they never did with the M1 Garand

Sure they did, as the Selbstladegewehr 251(a). Also, see the Japanese Rifle Type 5. :uhoh:

VG
November 11, 2003, 03:20 PM
Tamara, I believe the Germans assigned this nomenclature to captured Garand rifles. I don't know of any efforts to manufacture them by the Germans?

The M1 Carbine was called the "Selbstladekarabiner 455(a)".

On a related historical trivia note, at: http://www.dsv-clan.de/1024/Waffen.html

"Es hatte auch ein weiteres funktionelles Problem: Wenn die letzte der acht Patronen abgefeuert war, wurde ein relativ deutlich vernehmbares Geräusch aus dem Behälter ausgeworfen, was einem in der Nähe befindlichen Feind ankündigte, dass das Gewehr des Schützen leer geschossen war, was gelegentlich dramatische Folgen hatte."

My German is pretty rusty but I roughly translated this to:

"...It had another functional problem: when the last of the eight rounds was discharged, the clear sound of the clip being ejected announced to nearby enemy that the weapon was shot dry, and occasionally dramatic events followed."

Nathanael_Greene
November 11, 2003, 06:14 PM
"Wer hat der Krieg gewonnen?"

Definite article, masculine, accusative: Wer hat den Krieg gewonnen?

(Talk about splitting hairs.) ;)

Mike Irwin
November 11, 2003, 06:43 PM
Wer die hell you talking about?

Bart Noir
November 12, 2003, 04:15 PM
"...It had another functional problem: when the last of the eight rounds was discharged, the clear sound of the clip being ejected announced to nearby enemy that the weapon was shot dry, and occasionally dramatic events followed."

I call that a myth and a pile of hooey. The persons who believe that "ping" could be detected have no concept of how loud a battle is. And even if Fritz Huninthesun could hear that Private Parts just ran his rifle empty, what about the big guy with the BAR next to him?

Bart Noir

VG
November 12, 2003, 05:38 PM
I posted it as an example of mythology, not a statement of fact. Just work in the pits at the next Garand Match and you'll know the reality.

telewinz
November 12, 2003, 05:46 PM
Both the M-1 Garand and the M-1 carbine were used in some places by German units, particularly garrison troops. The Garand was known as the 7.62 mm Selbstladegewehr 251(a) and the carbine was known as the Selbstladekarabiner 455(a). the fact that the German Army bothered to slap official designations on the guns shows that they were captured in large enough numbers to allow them to be put to some use.

Sure they did, as the Selbstladegewehr 251(a). Also, see the Japanese Rifle Type 5.

I'm sure they used small quantities of American shotguns too but nowhere near the number of SVT's and nowhere is it stated that the Garand was popular with German COMBAT troops. The M1 Carbine is the exception, it was highly regarded by German COMBAT troops and was quite popular.

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