INTRODUCTIONIn the interwar years, Germany sought a new breed of machine gun to replace the heavy Maxim-based MG 08. The concept was revolutionary: a “universal machine gun’ that could fulfill the tactical roles of light, medium and heavy machine guns simply by changing the mounts and sights. In the new Wehrmacht, every infantry squad was to be based around the firepower of this light, sophisticated machine gun – the MG 34.
But in the midst of war, Germany needed machine guns in quantity, and the MG 42 was the solution. A landmark in machine-gun design with a 1,200rpm rate of fire, it was nicknamed “Hitler’s buzzsaw’ by the Allied troops who faced it. Rechambered in the 1950s for 7.62mm NATO, this brilliant wartime design is still in frontline Bundeswehr service 70 years on.
- Quoted from the back cover of the book.
Osprey Publications Ltd has released MG 34 And MG 42 Machine Guns
, by author Chris McNab and illustrators Ramiro Bujeiro and Alan Gilliland, as Number 21 in their Weapon series with Series Editor Martin Pegler. It is a paperback book with 80 pages. Included with the text are color and black and white photographs, color illustrations and detailed captions. It has a 2012 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-78096-008-1. As the titles states the book examines and discusses the development, use and impact of the MG 34 and MG 42 Machine Guns.
• Development: The ‘Universal’ machine gun
• Use: Flexible firepower
• Impact: ‘Hitler’s buzzsaw’
• Bibliography & Further Reading
The text in the book is well written and extremely detailed. I didn’t notice any spelling or grammar errors as I read through the book. Chris McNab covers the MG 34 and MG 42 machine guns from their development, to their introduction and use during World War II, to their variations and continued use on today’s modern battlefields very well. He goes into practically every aspect of the MG 34 and MG 42 Machine Guns as well as weaponry and machineguns of other countries. I am impressed with McNab’s detailed written history of these two famous German weapons and I am sure that others will be just as easily impressed. Anyone interested in the development of the MG 34 and MG 42 Machine Guns, their use and variations, will find this book very informative and interesting.
There are a total of 44 black and white photographs and 13 color photographs throughout the book. The majority of the photographs are nice clear, centered and focused images. Many of the featured photographs were new to me and I was pleased with this. I definitely consider that a bonus as it is nice to have a reference book that contains several lesser known photographs as opposed to the same old over-used photographs that many books tend to contain. My favorite thing about the photographs, and I am sure others will agree, is that they show the MG 34 and MG 42 being used in a variety of roles other than just as an infantry weapon as is often shown. They are shown mounted and being used on armor, used in a variety of roles including as an anti-aircraft gun, mounted on a German motorcycle/sidecar combination, mounted on German armored trains, and my favorite: mounted and being used by the Kriegsmarine on the conning tower of a U-Boat. One of my main areas of interest is in captured arms and equipment being used against its former owners. This volume does not skip on this area as there are photographs of British RAF pilots entertaining themselves with a German MG 15 with an ammunition snail drum and also of the MG 34 being used by a British commando at Ranville, Normandy in 1944. The military modeler, weapons enthusiast and the military historian will find the wealth of pictures included in this volume a wealth of information and inspiration.
THE COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS
There are 4 color illustrations by illustrators Ramiro Bujeiro and Alan Gilliland and they are very well done. As with the photographs the illustrations come with well-written captions that provide detailed information about each illustration.
The color illustrations are of the following:
• The MG 42 Exposed
• The MG3 in Afghanistan, 2010
• Barrel-changing in combat, Aachen 1944
• MG 34 teams near Moscow, December 1941
There are 6 information charts provided which are well done, nicely detailed and cover:
• English to Metric conversion chart
• MG 34 specifications
• MG 42 specifications
• Role of specific individuals on MG 34/MG 42 teams in World War II
• US War Department information of elevation and traverse of Lafette 34
• US Army report on MG 42 in medium machine-gun role
There is also an editor’s note offering a conversion table for converting US measurements to metric.
VARIATIONS OF THE MG34 AND MG42 AND OTHER WEAPONS SHOWN AND DISCUSSED
• 7.62 MG 42/59 variant
• MG 08/15
• MG 08
• German MG 15
• 7.62 MG3
• Soviet PPSh-41 submachine gun
• Twin MG 34 AA (anti-aircraft) mount
• Zwillingsockel 36 AA system (twin MG 34)
• MG 42/59 (M/62 Danish)
• Heckler & Koch HK 121
The captions are well written and are very detailed and explain the accompanying photographs and illustrations well. As with the text I didn’t notice any major spelling or grammar errors.
All in all I am very impressed with this book. This is a very nice reference book that contains many interesting photographs and well-detailed captions. It details the MG 34 and MG 42 machine guns from their development, their introduction and use during World War II, to their variations and continued use on today’s modern battlefields very well. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey titles to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal military reference library.
REFERENCESGerman Automatic Weapons of World War II: Live Firing Classic Military Weapons in Colour Photographs
Windrow & Greene
The Military Book Club Encyclopedia of Infantry Weapons of WWII
Ian V. Hogg
Saturn Books Ltd.
Guns of the Reich: Firearms of the German Forces, 1939-1945
Arms and Armour Press
Great Weapons Of World War II
Introduction by Bernard E. Trainor
Walker And Company
You can take a look inside of the book on Osprey Publishing’s website
, or at Amazon
is available at the Amazon website.