Sturmgewehr 44

By Christian Ankerstjerne

Experiences

The document below, entitled Evaluation of Experience Reports on the M.P.43, is a summary of a number of experience reports regarding the MP 43, the predecessor to the Sturmgewehr 44.

1. Advantages

Troop training is effortless. During combat, it is agile and is quickly made ready to fire; good close-combat weapon.

It is accurate at the normal infantry combat distances of up to 400 meters in both semi-automatic and automatic mode. It is also usable as a scope rifle. With careful ammunition tactics (single shots in rapid successio), an initial ammunition allocation of seven to eight magazines of 30 rounds each is sufficient. The introduction of a new ammunition type with the troops has not been met with any difficulties.

2. Disadvantages

The disadvantages listed in the experience reports on the M.P. 43a have been partially fixed with the M.P. 43b. They are no longer mentioned in the reports on the M.P.43 b. Changes to the magazines is required.

  • Too light.
  • Allows dirt to creep in.
  • Leather- or sheet metal magazines is advisable.

3. Summary

Most reports recommends the introduction of the M.P.43 as a replacement for the 98 K rifle and the Maschinenpistole 38/40.

Only a small number of reports consider the M.P.43 as a replacement for light machine guns.

The troops have complete confidence in the new weapon.

4. Percentual Summary

  • Negative reports (all concerning the M.P.43a): 8%
  • Use of the M.P.43 as a new equipment type: 8%
  • Replacement for the M.P.38/40: 27%
  • Replacement for the M.P.38/40 and Kb.98 b: 31%
  • Replacement for the M.P.38/40, Kb 98 and scoped rifle: 18%
  • Replacement for the M.P.38/40 and light machine guns: 8%

The majority of the reports (74%) are in favor of replacing the M.P.38/40 with the M.P.43.

5. Suggestion

Equip the troops with the M.P.43 as a replacement for the M.P.38/40.

Further study is needed regarding the replacement of the Kb.98 b, scoped rifles, semi-automatic rifles, and light machine guns.

Krummerlauf (Curved Barrels)

Two Krummerlauf attachments were designed for the Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle. The Maschinenpistole-Vorsatz "P" (submachine gun attachment P) was designed for armored vehicles, with which tank crews could fire at enemy infantry through the roof from inside the vehicle. The Maschinenpistole-Vorsatz "I" allowed for infantry to shoot around corners.

Maschinenpistole-Vorsatz "P"

During 1944, remote-controlled machine guns were installed on the roof of several German tanks destroyers, such as the Jagdpanzer 38, Jagdpanzer IV, and Panzer IV/70 (V). The Maschinenpistole-Vorsats "P" was designed as an alternative, allowing the crew to use a Maschinenpistole 43 (but not the Maschinenpistole 43/1) or Sturmgewehr 44 from inside the vehicle. The curved barrel was curved 90 degrees, and was mounted in a Kugellafette (ball mount) on the roof. To aim the gun, a periscope, the Winkelzielfernrohr WZF 5811, was used. The periscope had a 1.25 degree magnification, and a field of view of 12 degrees. The total weight of the attachment, mount, periscope, and shoulder rest was 23.5 kg.

Kugellafette (ball mount) of the Vorsatz "P" barrel attachment.
Kugellafette (ball mount) of the Vorsatz "P" barrel attachment.

The curved attachment negatively affected the range of the weapon. While the sight of a normal Sturmgewehr 44 was graded until 800 meters, the maximum range with the Maschinenpistole-Vorsatz "P" was 600 meters for single shots, and 300 meters for bursts. Rheinmetall-Borsig claimed that the barrel life was identical to that of a Sturmgewehr 44, though this is doubtful, considering the significantly lower barrel life of the lesser curved attachments.

On 28 February 1945, it was reported that about 550 pieces had been constructed in Guben, when production was moved to Sömmerda due to the advancing Soviet army. The mount was installed in some Panzer IV/70 (A).

Allied Oppinion of the Vorsatz "P"

The following evaluation was based on 1945 US test of the curved attachment to the Sturmgewehr 44. The experiences with the Vorsatz "P" are mainly negative, both in regards to accuracy and barrel wear.

Although designed for tank use, and fitted with a special interrupted screw thread adapter for quick detachment, the 90 degree barrel has been found fitted to a standard clamp-on adapter. This model had been nick-named the "Around-the-Corner" gun, because it permits of firing around a corner at the right angles to the shooter. The barrel is 18-3/4 ins. long and of heavier construction, having a diameter of 25 mm. A 1-5/8 ins. section at the breech has been turned straight to fit the adapter, and two transverse vertical pins fit grooves in the sides of the barrel to lock it to the adapter. However, these holes are so places that the extension, when in position, diverts the bullets to the right with the gun held horizontally. This barrel appears to show a uniform 90 degree bend throughout its length, with no straight section other than the short length fitting into the adapter.

It was anticipated that this weapon would be difficult to control, and test firing verified these estimates. As the bullet hits the curve in the barrel there is a violent reaction in the opposite direction. Thus there is a combination of normal recoil, a tremendous torque as the rotating bullet undergoes the punichment of taking the new rifling without gas pressure relief, and a vicious sidewise recoil. Approcimately 150 rounds were fired in testing the weapon. Single shots and burst fire were tried, and, despite the attempts of several shooters to hold the weapon rigidly at the hip, more than three shots in automatic fire proved dangerous as shooter and weapon were spun almost 90 degrees.

Overall length of the standard Kurzpatrone 43 M.W. 7.9 mm. is 25.7 mm. In a normal barrel the bullets are engraved a distance of 10 mm. In passing through the 90 degree barrel, they are re-engraved for 16 mm. The strain of this violent course diversion is sufficient to twist many of the bullets in half at the waist, the bullet breaking in the normal crimping cannalure. The standard bullet has a swaged soft iron core, diameter 6 mm. and length 19.5 mm. The core has a flat base, similar to all German soft iron cores, but the nose is flat. It is surrounded by a lead sheath and nose filler and is jacketed with Tombaclad steel (Gilding metal-clad).

Firing tests into sawdust produced more fragments than intact bullets. Those which remained intact passed through screens in miscellaneous keyholes, even with screens placed eight inches from the muzzle. Fired at 50 yds., single shot, disintegrated bullets showed two or three impact in a dirt bank, the fragments striking from 6 to 20 feet apart. Firing into wood blocks at 10 ft., many bullets turned over and entered the wood base first.

Examination of the 90 degree barrel after firing about 150 shots failed to show visible distortion to the curved portion, but it is believed that a cross-section will show severe damage to the rifling. In addition, the throat was torn and stretched at 1.30 o'clock, indicating that the pointed bullet was improperly delivered as it left the muzzle of the machine pistol. This is believed due to the excessive weight of the heavy barrel section and attachment, causing a damping effect on normal barrel vibration and resulting in severe momentary bending.

Maschinenpistole-Vorsatz "I"

To allow infantry to shoot around corners, useful in urban combat, the Maschinenpistole-Vorsatz "I" was designed. It was curved 30 degrees, and was aimed using a prism sight. Like the Maschinenpistole-Vorsatz "P", it suffered from poor accuracy, with a single-shot dispersion of 35 by 35 centimeters at 100 meters. In a test by Rheinmetall-Borsig, the mounts for the barrel attachment and prism sight was in operational condition after 5000 rounds. After 2000 rounds, the curvature of the barrel had decreased by one degree. This is a significantly reduction of the normal barrel life of a Sturmgewehr 44 of 10 000 rounds, though much better than the 300 rounds often quoted in literature.

Allied Oppinion of the Vorsatz "I"

From the same US report as above, the Vorsatz "I" is also considered of dubious value, although not quite as much so as the Vorsatz "P".

The 30 degree barrel is 14 ins. long. The bullet travel in the 16¼ inch M.P. 44 barrel is 15 ins., thus with the 30 degree attachment, the bullet travel is 29 ins. A check of this 30 degree barrel shows that the first four inches are straight, and the 4½ inch muzzle section is straight, thus restricting the 30 degrees bend portion to a 5½ inch section in the middle of the attachment. It is rifled throughout with four wide grooves, clockwise, of dimensions similar to the machine pistol barrel. The breech end, clamped against the muzzle of the M.P. barrel, is coned to a depth of 9 mm. and to a rear diameter of 10 mm. to permit the escaping bullet to re-center itself in the new barrel. No attemps is made to align the rifling of the two barrels, the bullet re-engraving itself.

According to the inventor, the "Krummerlauf" has an expected life of 6,000 rounds, but this is greatly doubted. Test firing indicates that the strain on the barrel in diverting the normal straight-line course of the barrel is great, and it is believed that it would enlarge, erode, and pocket, both in the auxiliary throat and in the curved area. All bullets fired were seriously distorted, and this was verified by interrogation of Major Hartmann.

The inventor claims that the velocity is increased about 10%. According to tests conducted at Aberdeen, the average instrumental velocity of the 125 grain bullet in the machine pistol was 2,285 ft/sec. An additional 10% increase would be 228 ft/sec., and this is seriously doubted, due to the serious deformation of bullets and the greatly increased friction. Also, the powder charge of the normal loading is designed to burn properly in a 16 inch barrel. Its main propelling force to accelerate the projectile and overcome barrel friction would be fallin, and, together with increased friction, it is probable that there would be a small velocity loss recorded.

On the 30 degree barrel, the outsite diameter is 20 mm., whereas the diameter of the machine pistol barrel at the muzzle is 14 mm. At a point starting 58 mm. from the breech of the attachment, an in-line series of fire 4-mm. holes are drilled through the top of the barrel, apparently to relieve gas pressure. In this barrel, this would nullify the possible acceleration of the propellant gas, so that the bullet would "coast" around the bend. If these vents appear in all such barrels, a velocity loss would be recorded by a chronograph.

On test firing, the 30 degree barrel, the "jump" or climb was greatly accelerated by the change in direction of the bullet, but it was not too uncomfortable to shoot. The release of the gas through the auxiliary barrel ports relieved much of the apparent strain on the mechanism.

Vampir Infra-Red Attachment

Allied Oppinion

This is an excerpt from a 1945 British War Office report on German infra-red equipment.

Infra-Red Telescope for M.P.44 (German code name: Vampir)

There are two models of this equipment, the earlier one being apparently identical with the equipment described as an infra-red rifle telescope in Summary 178. In the later model, the telescope and lamp, weighing about 5 lb., are mounted on an M.P.44 machine carbine. The telescope gives unit magnification. The power unit is carried in a pack, weighing about 30 lb. The batteries have a life of 3 to 5 hours for one charge. The transmitter lamp is of 35 watts.

Performance

The image given is of great brilliance and good contrast. Men standing can be discerned up to a distance of 80 yards, especially when moving about.

Issue History

The following document is from a presentation dated 2 December 1944, discussing equipping all infantry divisions with two Sturm-Züge (assault platoons). At the time of the presentation, 56 out of 179 infantry divisions had two assault platoons, 10 had one assault platoon, and the remaining had none.

The issuing of the infantry divisions with the Sturmgewehr 44 (infantry-, Volksgrenadier-, Luftwaffe field-, and static infantry divisions = 179 division)

The issuing of the infantry divisions with the Stu.Gew. is about one third complete. The course of further issuing depends on the ammunition production. Based on the current and expected development of the ammunition stock, it can be expected to have an additional monthly issuing of about 15 000 to 20 000 Stu.Gew., up to a total of 150 000 deployed weapons.

Based on this, the number of infantry divisions with two Sturm-Zügen is expected to be 70 percent by the middle of 1945, and to cover all infantry divisions by the fall of 1945.

Production Statistics

Month Inventory Wa A Fz In Losses
Combat Exports and Other
1943
July - 97 - - -
August - 1 265 - - -
September - 1 446 1 260 - -
October 1 260 4 000 2 810 - -
November 4 070 6 200 1 000 - -
December 5 070 6 493 9 000 84 324
1944
January 13 662 3 400 5 000 271 -
February 18 391 4 050 3 000 883 7
March 20 501 7 000 6 005 1 296 401
April 24 809 9 000 6 017 406 7
May 30 413 9 500 12 008 505 -
June 41 916 13 000 8 355 47 -
July 50 224 20 510 18 434 394 3
August 68 261 29 500 28 220 2 420 -
September 94 061 35 000 24 000 2 986 15
October 110 0001 46 000 46 399 8 449 13 350
November 134 600 55 100 41 500 5 701 9 228
December 161 171 49 800 38 883 7 096 1 550
1945
January 191 408 41 683 57 098 13 995 695
February 233 816 34 300 35 954 25 167 869
March N/A 48 633 N/A
April N/A
May
Total 425 977 344 943 69 700 26 449

Technical Information

Sturmgewehr 44
Weight, less magazine 4.62 kg
Length overall 930 mm
Length of barrel 412 mm
Range
  • Highest sight mark: 800 m
  • Maximum range: 2500 m
Rate of fire 450 rounds per minute
Muzzle velocity 685 m/s
Magazine capacity 10 000 rounds

Notes

  1. Inventory verified. Back.

Sources

  1. Appendix M to War Office Technical Intelligence Summary No. 179 dated 13th June, 1945. 1945. 2 p.
  2. Ausstossübersicht Waffen und Geräte im März 1945. Berlin : Reichministerium für Rüstung und Kriegsproduktion, 1945. 3 p. Nr. 154/45 g.Kdos..
  3. Auswertung der Erfahrungsberichte M.P.43. Berlin, 1943. 2 p. Organisationsabteilung Nr.III/10 663/43 g.Kdos..
  4. Berlin : Organisationsabteilung III, 1944. 8 p.
  5. HAHN, Fritz. Waffen und Geheimwaffen des deutschen Heeres 1933-1943 : Band 1. Koblenz : Bernard & Graefe Verlag, 1987. 239 p. ISBN 3-7637-5831-3.
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  7. Rheinmetall-Borsig. Stand der Entwicklung am 28. 2. 45 : Bericht Nr. 2. Unterlüß : Rheinmetall-Borsig, 1945. 22 p.
  8. Rheinmetall-Borsig. Maschinenpistole-Vorsatz "P". Unterlüß : Rheinmetall-Borsig, 1945. 16 p. H/103.
  9. SHARPE, Capt. P. B., LEWIS, Capt. K. L. & HESS, T/4 Otto. "Krummerlauf" (Bent Barrel) Attachment for German Machine Pistol. Office of the Chief Ordnance Officer, Communications Zone USFET, 1945. 6 p. Report No. 347.
  10. Waffenamt. Stand: Dezember 1943 (Waffen). Berlin : Oberkommando des Heeres, 1943. 225 p.
  11. Waffenamt. Stand: Dezember 1944 (Waffen). Berlin : Oberkommando des Heeres, 1945. 198 p.
  12. Waffenamt. Stand: März (Waffen). Berlin : Oberkommando des Heeres, 1945. 192 p.