M19 Maschinengranatwerfer effectivness

Discussions on the fortifications, artillery, & rockets used by the Axis forces.
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M19 Maschinengranatwerfer effectivness

Post by CSEverett » 05 Apr 2020 01:24

While the M19 Maschinengranatwerfer certainly sounds like a devastating weapon on paper, I haven't found any information on how effective it actually was in practice. Since there was a R633 bunker containing one on Utah Beach, that would imply that when it actually saw combat it certainly wasn't an overwhelming amount of firepower. That said, IIRC those fortifications were taken from the landward site - perhaps a lack of proper observation/copulas for fire inland? I suppose the same would apply to other places on the Atlantic Wall. (That, and the low quality troops manning most of the Atlantic Wall seemed to place more emphasis on ability to surrender for self-preservation then holding out and inflicting maximum Allied casualties.)

I would guess, with my no practical military experience, that one 5cm mortar at 60 rounds per minute is significantly less effective than 3 mortars at 20 rounds per minute, since all you would achieve would be an extreme bombardment on a very small area rather than a very heavy bombardment of a much (and usefully) larger area. Put another way, it would be complete overkill of a small area with large numbers of shells on a small point, instead of the same (large) number of shells farther spread out for a larger target area more appropriate for the number of shells involved. I admit I don't know how big the shell dispersion of a small mortar is, but I would imagine that most of the shells would be clustered near the center, with a decreasing number of shells the farther out from the center. I'd also imagine a single tube fixed in position would have some of the factors causing dispersion hardly change over the 1-2 seconds or less between rounds, resulting in a small dispersion pattern. In the end a lot of resources for what could have been achieved with less effort by simply mounting a half dozen regular 5cm mortars in a larger bunker (or two) instead.

Still, I would love to be wrong, and I'd like to repeat I don't know enough to make any truly sound opinion, and I don't have any information from it seeing combat that would provide the definitive answer.

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Re: M19 Maschinengranatwerfer effectivness

Post by JKernwerk » 05 Apr 2020 12:21

When I see what I know about the effectiveness of the M19, not much from the German side.
Many fortifications were last ditch defences, so this means you do live on as a POW or you're not alive anymore.
Not much chance of a german document, but i am sure someday we will find (or it is found but not published yet).
Fritz Hahn writes in his book Waffen und Geheimwaffen des Deutsches Reich 1933-1945 that there is no proof for the use of the M19 he is not right at this point (at least not for what we know now).
On pictures of the 633 (bunkertype which housed the M19) at Utah beach (Stp. 100) you can see a lot of empty clips lying in front of the bunker.
So it was active during the attacs, if it worked in the way intended?
The use of the M19 worked best with a good coorporation with the observer and the MG's in use at the complex.
Fire from the MG had to force the enemy to go in cover and the M19 with it's rapid arched fire could destroy the stationary enemy.
I asume the M19 of Breskens was active during the attacks on the fortifications and there must be more M19 that fired on the enemy (Flushing (I believe there was a written account of the use here but I am not shure), Boulogne, Cherbourg, Brest, Royan).
At most complexes also normal mortars were in use, mounted in concrete fortifications or just earten pits, so these could assist the M19 to fend off the enemy on attacks on other parts of the defenses.
M19 were easy to move so you can spray a large part of land in a short time, the observations could be made with the periscope in the turret so the effect of the barrage could be seen and if needed diverted to other places.
The troops manning the M19 were not regulars but the Festungs Stamm Truppen had an extended training on the stationary weapons used in the Atlanticwall (at least the ones in their own Wn. or Stp.).
The work in the turret was hard, observing, aiming, loading and shooting in a small place, I think you can imagine the sweat!

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Re: M19 Maschinengranatwerfer effectivness

Post by AvB » 05 Apr 2020 16:38

Interesting question. The idea behind an infantry weapon like this under 2 meters of concrete is that it keeps firing even under heavy bombardments, because it's hard to pin it down. And although it can fire 60 rounds per minute, that doesn't mean you should. An MG-42 shoots 1200 a minute, but it's not the way you use the weapon. The German manual itself gives a nice example. After a first aiming shot the observer adjusts the distance and side directions, and then orders to fire two full frames 20 mills left and right of the target. That's only 10 bombs and hopefully effective.
But you said it yourself. The situation at Utah was pretty hopeless for the German crews, but still they spent about 20+ frames (times 5 bombs). When they were attacked, flame throwed at, it was time to surrender.

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