MG42 number of barrels?

Discussions on the small arms used by the Axis forces.
Delta Tank
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MG42 number of barrels?

Post by Delta Tank » 04 May 2023 00:12

To All,

I am reading a book by James Holland entitled “The War In The West, A New History, The Allies Fight Back 1941-1943”. On page 188 he states: “However, devastating though such a high rate of fire undoubtedly was, the MG42 had just the same practical issues as its predecessor, only more so. As it was also air- rather than gas- cooled, it overheated even more quickly, used even more ammunition, gave off a huge amount of smoke, and still needed its users to carry around a whole stack of spare barrels, all of which ate into that precious steel allocation. Bren-gun teams carried one spare barrel, whereas those on MG42 would need at least six.”

Air vs gas cooled? Air is a gas, what is he referring to?
Gave off a huge amount of smoke? I thought German smokeless powder was very good or is he confusing smoke with dust kicked up by the muzzle blast?
Six spare barrels?? Really?

Comments!?

Mike

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Re: MG42 number of barrels?

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 04 May 2023 06:55

Sounds like a bunch of nonsense really. Machineguns don't fire long-term at their cyclic rate, rather they are often doctrined to follow a specific sustained rate of fire.

All WW2 handheld machineguns were air cooled, MG42 included. And while a very hot barrel can make smoke (more due to the furniture burning), that applies to any machine gun.

If an MG42 team required six times the barrels, that would only be due to the expenditure of around six times the ammo, which is not only impossible because of how much weight a man can carry around, but is inherently absurd because no army would tolerate such a waste of ammunition for no real gains.

Footage of MG42's and their modern counterparts all show the operators firing in controlled bursts, with the 'actual' rate of fire being no higher than a typical machinegun. As far as most soldiers are concerned, 10 rounds every 2 seconds is no different than 20 rounds every 4 seconds.

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Re: MG42 number of barrels?

Post by Cult Icon » 04 May 2023 07:04

I have never heard of 6 barrels for LMG teams. I believe that primary source information was posted on AHF at some point with exact squad ammo and barrels..and the LMG crews did not carry 6 barrels. In photographs and in memoirs I have never seen evidence of 6 barrels either. Usually you see only 1 spare barrel, sometimes 2.

The HMG was a different story, I usually see 2 or more in photographs, the exact number I don't remember.

The MG-42 fired in short bursts.

The main difference between the German squad/platoon compared to British or American platoons was that the riflemen carried a lot more ammunition for their MGs than the Allies. However, German riflemen carried less rifle ammo than American. The K98 was not as important as Garands/Enfields in the American/British platoon.

Gary Kennedy
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Re: MG42 number of barrels?

Post by Gary Kennedy » 04 May 2023 13:20

Attached should be a page from Germandocsinrussia that gives the equipment issued per MG42.

https://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/de/ ... ect/zoom/8

It's a surprisingly long time since I've tangled with the script these German documents tend to be written in, so at risk of embarrassment I think spare barrels are shown under columns 4a, 4b and 5. Four barrels in the light role and six in the heavy. Various manuals from 1937, 1940 and 1943 show the Rifle Squad as carrying two spare barrels.

Gary
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Art
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Re: MG42 number of barrels?

Post by Art » 04 May 2023 16:43

An earlier instruction for training with M.G. 42 from 1942 shows 6 or 3 barrels with light machine gun and 6 with heavy machine gun:
https://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/de/ ... ect/zoom/8

I wonder what 4a and 4b means, vehicle-installed and hand-carried guns probably? It doesn't seem to be clarified in the text.

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Re: MG42 number of barrels?

Post by Gary Kennedy » 04 May 2023 17:24

Looking at some other things I think 'a' refers to the LMG in the normal Squad role with 2500 rounds of ammunition while 'b' is the 'small set' for use primarily with anti-tank units, and having 1000 rounds. The below is from August 1943, so perhaps they reduced the number of barrels as a result of experience?
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Delta Tank
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Re: MG42 number of barrels?

Post by Delta Tank » 12 May 2023 13:54

I want to thank everyone for their responses. So, an MG-42 in the LMG mode would have one spare barrel maybe two, and in the HMG mode it would have more than two spare barrels maybe up to six.

Long time ago when I was in the US Army we fired the M-60 machinegun in 6 to 9 round bursts. When I was a tanker we counted tracers but I can’t remember how many, about 5 or 6 tracers per burst, can’t remember. And we only carried one spare barrel per machinegun to include the M-2 and M-85 .50 caliber machineguns.

Mike

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Re: MG42 number of barrels?

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 12 May 2023 16:15

Delta Tank wrote:
12 May 2023 13:54
I want to thank everyone for their responses. So, an MG-42 in the LMG mode would have one spare barrel maybe two, and in the HMG mode it would have more than two spare barrels maybe up to six.

Long time ago when I was in the US Army we fired the M-60 machinegun in 6 to 9 round bursts. When I was a tanker we counted tracers but I can’t remember how many, about 5 or 6 tracers per burst, can’t remember. And we only carried one spare barrel per machinegun to include the M-2 and M-85 .50 caliber machineguns.

Mike
Any stories to tell about the M85 .50?

Delta Tank
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Re: MG42 number of barrels?

Post by Delta Tank » 14 May 2023 21:30

ThatZenoGuy wrote:
12 May 2023 16:15
Delta Tank wrote:
12 May 2023 13:54
I want to thank everyone for their responses. So, an MG-42 in the LMG mode would have one spare barrel maybe two, and in the HMG mode it would have more than two spare barrels maybe up to six.

Long time ago when I was in the US Army we fired the M-60 machinegun in 6 to 9 round bursts. When I was a tanker we counted tracers but I can’t remember how many, about 5 or 6 tracers per burst, can’t remember. And we only carried one spare barrel per machinegun to include the M-2 and M-85 .50 caliber machineguns.

Mike
Any stories to tell about the M85 .50?
Well, definitely not as reliable as the M-2! I guess the receiver is too short to be a reliable machinegun. The receiver was very short so that it could fit in the cupola. No real good stories, we were very careful in making sure the ammunition was placed perfectly in the tray and ensured the receiver was well oiled. Oh, no short bursts!! 10-15 rounds minimum! Long time ago!!

Speaking of short receivers, was it the M73 or M219 machineguns that were known as the finest single shot machineguns in the world!! Why were the receivers so short? So, they would fit in the bow machinegun position which didn’t exist anymore but nobody was smart enough to change the specifications for the manufacture of these guns!! Unbelievable! The M-240 is a very good machinegun.

Mike

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Re: MG42 number of barrels?

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 15 May 2023 00:12

Delta Tank wrote:
14 May 2023 21:30
Well, definitely not as reliable as the M-2! I guess the receiver is too short to be a reliable machinegun. The receiver was very short so that it could fit in the cupola. No real good stories, we were very careful in making sure the ammunition was placed perfectly in the tray and ensured the receiver was well oiled. Oh, no short bursts!! 10-15 rounds minimum! Long time ago!!

Speaking of short receivers, was it the M73 or M219 machineguns that were known as the finest single shot machineguns in the world!! Why were the receivers so short? So, they would fit in the bow machinegun position which didn’t exist anymore but nobody was smart enough to change the specifications for the manufacture of these guns!! Unbelievable! The M-240 is a very good machinegun.

Mike
Hahaha! Those are the stories I was predicting!

Yeah America had this weird fascination with it's second-generation tank machineguns, they demanded them to be absolutely tiny.

Should've just cooled their egos and used the MG3 or an americanized MG34.

Delta Tank
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Re: MG42 number of barrels?

Post by Delta Tank » 15 May 2023 02:43

ThatZenoGuy wrote:
15 May 2023 00:12
Delta Tank wrote:
14 May 2023 21:30
Well, definitely not as reliable as the M-2! I guess the receiver is too short to be a reliable machinegun. The receiver was very short so that it could fit in the cupola. No real good stories, we were very careful in making sure the ammunition was placed perfectly in the tray and ensured the receiver was well oiled. Oh, no short bursts!! 10-15 rounds minimum! Long time ago!!

Speaking of short receivers, was it the M73 or M219 machineguns that were known as the finest single shot machineguns in the world!! Why were the receivers so short? So, they would fit in the bow machinegun position which didn’t exist anymore but nobody was smart enough to change the specifications for the manufacture of these guns!! Unbelievable! The M-240 is a very good machinegun.

Mike
Hahaha! Those are the stories I was predicting!

Yeah America had this weird fascination with it's second-generation tank machineguns, they demanded them to be absolutely tiny.

Should've just cooled their egos and used the MG3 or an americanized MG34.
Egos? I do believe the M60 Machinegun was to a large extent a copy of the MG42.

From Wikipedia

“The M60 machine gun began development in the late 1940s as a program for a new, lighter 7.62 mm machine gun. It was partly derived from German guns of World War II (most notably the FG 42 and the MG 42),[10][11] but it contained American innovations as well. Early prototypes, notably the T52 and T161 bore a close resemblance to both the M1941 Johnson machine gun and the FG 42.[12] The final evaluation version was designated the T161E3. It was intended to replace the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle and M1919A6 Browning machine gun in the squad automatic weapon role, and in the medium machine gun role. One of the weapons tested against it during its procurement process was the FN MAG.
The U.S. Army officially adopted the T161E3 as the M60 in 1957.[13] The decision to adopt the M60 instead of foreign designs, like modified versions of the proven German MG 42 or the still-unproven FN MAG, was largely due to strict Congressional restrictions requiring preference be given to the designs of United States arms manufacturers (even if a superior design was available from foreign sources) primarily out of a desire to avoid paying licensing fees, but also out of a strong bias in favour of domestic products.”

Mike

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Re: MG42 number of barrels?

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 15 May 2023 14:24

Delta Tank wrote:
15 May 2023 02:43
Egos? I do believe the M60 Machinegun was to a large extent a copy of the MG42.


Mike
Kinda-sorta she's an MG42.

The M60 is a bit of a mishmash of the FG-42, MG-42 and various prototypes leading up to the actual M60 design.

Honestly not as good as the MG-42 in my opinion, had some reliability issues, and some genius thought that having the entire sight-post and bipod on the quick change barrel was a smart idea. Because soldiers love carrying around 2-3 bipods for no good reason...

Mechanism is completely different from the 42 as well, gas operated instead of recoil operated, rotating bolt vs roller locked, etc.

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