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MG 34

MG 34

MG 34

Basic Information
Type General Purpose Machine Gun
Place of Origin Nazi Germany
In service 1935 - 1945 (official German military)
Used by Nazi Germany, Republic of China, North Vietnam
Wars World War II, Second Sino-Japanese War, Chinese Civil War, Korean War, Vietnam War
Designer Heinrich Vollmer
Manufacturer Mauser (mostly), with numerous others
Designed in 1934
Produced 1934-1945
Technical Specifications
Length 1219mm
Weight 12.1kg, 19.2kg with tripod
Barrel Length 627mm
Cartridge 7.92x57mm Mauser
Action Recoil operated
Muzzle Velocity 755 m/s (2477 ft/s)
Feed System 50/200-round belts, 50-round drum, or 75-round drum magazine with modification
Sights iron sights

The Maschinengewehr 34, or MG 34, was a German machine gun that was first produced and accepted into service in 1934. It was first issued to units in 1935. It was an air-cooled machine gun firing the 7.92x57mm Mauser cartridge.


The MG34 was used as the primary infantry machine gun during the 1930s, and remained as the primary tank and aircraft defensive weapon. It was to be replaced in infantry service by the related MG42, but there were never enough quantities of the new design to go around, and MG34s soldiered on in all roles until the end of World War II. The MG34 was intended to replace the MG13 and other older machine guns, but these were still being used in WWII as demand was never met.

It was designed primarily by Heinrich Vollmer from the Mauser Werke, based on the recently introduced Rheinmetall-designed Solothurn 1930 (MG30) that was starting to enter service in Switzerland. The principal changes were to move the feed mechanism to a more convenient location on the left of the breech, and the addition of a shroud around the barrel. Changes to the operating mechanism improved the rate of fire to between 800 and 900 rpm.


The MG 34 could use both magazine-fed and belt-fed 7.92 mm ammunition. Belts were supplied in a fixed length of 50 rounds, but could be linked up to make longer belts for sustained firing. A 250 round belt was also issued to machine guns installed in fixed emplacements such as bunkers. Ammunition boxes contained 250 rounds in five belts that were linked to make one continuous 100 round belt and one 150 round belt. The assault drums held a 50-round belt, or a 75-round "double drum" magazine could be used by replacing the top cover with one made specially for that purpose. A gun configured to use the 75-round magazine could not be returned to belt-feed mode without changing the top cover again. All magazine-feed MG 34s had been withdrawn from infantry use by 1941, with some remaining in use on armoured personnel carriers.

Like most machine guns, the MG 34's barrel is designed to be easily replaced to avoid overheating during sustained fire. During a barrel change, the operator would disengage a latch which held the receiver to the barrel sleeve. The entire receiver then pivoted off to the right, allowing the operator to pull the barrel out the back of the sleeve. A new barrel would then be put in the back of the sleeve, and the receiver rotated back in line with the barrel sleeve and latched. The entire process took just a few seconds when performed by a well-trained operator, causing minimal downtime in battle.

A unique feature of the MG 34 was its double-crescent trigger, which provided select fire capability without the need for a fire mode selector switch. Pressing the upper segment of the trigger produced semi-automatic fire, while holding the lower segment of the trigger produced fully-automatic fire.[2] Though considered innovative at the time, the feature was eliminated due to its complexity on the MG 34's successor, the MG42.

In the light-machine gun role, it was used with a bipod and weighed only 12.1 kg (26.7 lb). In the medium-machine gun role, it could be mounted on one of two tripods, a smaller one weighing 6.75 kg (14.9 lb), the larger 23.6 kg (52 lb). The larger tripod, the MG 34 Laffette, included a number of features, such as a telescopic sight and special sighting equipment for indirect fire. The legs could be extended to allow it to be used in the anti-aircraft role, and when lowered, it could be placed to allow the gun to be fired "remotely" while it swept an arc in front of the mounting with fire, or aimed through a periscope attached to the tripod.

Combat Use

The MG 34 was used by Nazi Germany, Republic of China, and North Vietnam. The MG 34 was officially in service by the German military during 1935 to 1945. It has seen combat usage in World War II, the Second Sino-Japanese War, Chinese Civil War, Korean War, and Vietnam War.

Specifically, the newly designed MG 34 was accepted for service and used to great effect by German soldiers assisting Nationalist Spain in the Spanish Civil War. At the time it was introduced, it had a number of advanced features and the general-purpose machine gun concept that it aspired to was an influential one. However, the MG 34 was also expensive, both in terms of construction and the raw materials needed (49 kg (108 lb) of steel), and its manufacture was too time-consuming to be built in the numbers required for the ever-expanding German armed forces. It was the standard machine gun of the Kriegsmarine (German navy). It also proved to be rather temperamental, jamming easily when dirty.

Imported units of MG34s, as well as indigenous copies of the weapon were adopted by Chinese Nationalist forces during both World War II and the Chinese Civil War. Some models captured from the Germans by the Soviets or French were supplied to the People's Liberation Army/People's Volunteer Army, Korean People's Army, PAVN and the Viet Cong over the Cold War.

Photo gallery (4)

See also

  • MG 34 Series replica products at store

  • References

  • "MG 34." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 06 Aug. 2010. .

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