The first production version of the FG42 used a fantastically complex milled receiver and a distinctive sharply swept-back pistol grip. A contract to make 5,000 of them was awarded to Krieghoff in late spring of 1943, but by the fall its replacement was already well into development. The milled receiver used a lot of high-nickel steel which was becoming difficult for Germany to acquire, and it was decided to develop a stamped receiver to ease production obstacles. Ultimately only about 2,000 of the early Type E FG42 rifles were actually made, and only 12 or 15 are registered in the US. They are a remarkably advanced rifle, and extremely interesting.
Sorry, my vote goes to the M1 Garand. What’s impressive about it is that its design allowed two factories to produce 4.5 million of them in only 4 years. The FG-42’s numbers are only rounding error in comparison. And impressed enough people that the bolt action rifle, was like Hitler and Tojo, done for military purposes after 1945 (Yes, I know there were and are bolt action sniper rifles, but their number is minute compared to the general issue rifle)
I missed the contest part of the presentation. One rifle is a clip fed semi auto that hold 8 rounds. The other is a select fire rifle that is fed by 10-20 round detachable magazines.
To resolve that problem I suggest to compare FG-42 against another Garand design, namely T31 https://guns.fandom.com/wiki/T31
US industrial capacity, population, and resources (aided by our 3000mi “moat”) allowed extensive production of the Garand despite, not because of, its complex milled design.
“(…)FG-42’s numbers are only rounding error(…)”
This is not fair comparison.
M1 rifle was supposed to be general infantrymen weapon, FG-42 as it name says is Fallschirmjägergewehr thus they were from start destined for Fallschirmjäger which were less numerous, both in absolute numbers and as percentage of armed forces.
Yes, we are in a semantics debate over what is “impressive.” What I would say is that the FG-42 had the most advanced capabilities in that it kept full-auto fire with full-power rifle ammo somewhat controllable. Which many postwar rifles failed to do. But the value of that capability was itself under question.
Whereas when it comes to fighter jets, there’s no debate that the Me262 had the most advanced capabilities of anything that was in combat. Even though they couldn’t make enough of them and the engines were always breaking. Because with rifles, you need vast numbers to make an impact, whereas with fighters, whoever has a slight advantage in combat tends to sweep the skies of opposition. That happened several times earlier in the War, with air superiority swinging back and forth in months as piston engines had a few more HP squeezed out of them. So the belief exists that hundreds of jet planes could have swung it back again.
I don’t necessarily agree with that.
The engine on an me262 could be changed in half an hour*, even in the field, so it was only a question of spareparts (+ fuel and pilots)!
* According to an American Officer, collecting advanced weapons in Germany after the war. He was told be the proud German crew!
They got a lot of practice because the Jumo 004 jet engine needed a major overhaul after only 5 to 6 hours. Compared to the BMW 003 jet engine that had a twenty-six hour between teardown service life.
Ironically , to put the BMW 003 (which was in far greater supply availability than the Jumo 004) in the Schwalbe would only have required one modification; the forward engine mounting ring in the nacelle just needed to be moved forward 5 cm.
ME 262 always had to come in to land super slow and they were sitting ducks for the 100s more P51 and P42 waiting at their airfields. Too little too late. Quantity always has a quality all its own
A better comparison would be against the M1941 Johnson LMG, itself little more than a forgotten “rounding error” in the US arsenal and yet produced in excess of the FG-42. As with most German wonder weapons, the engineering that went into giving the FG 42 its superlative status came at the price of engineering how to make enough of them. You can’t shoot a gun you don’t have.
I’d have to agree. I wonder whether or not the Germans had seen the Johnson LMG at the point where they were laying out the FG42.
The real situation here is that the German military/political/economic system of the time was, by design, entirely schizophrenic. It wasn’t until Speer was put in charge of a lot of the economy that they even began to make an attempt at strategic rationalization of the economy and the military production systems.
I have to question the entire premise behind the German airborne forces, to be quite honest. They were basically Hermann Goering’s vanity project, and despite the few operational successes they had early in the war, I think their cost/benefit ratio was probably a lot worse than many would like to fantasize. Overall, the Luftwaffe ground forces were a net loss for the German war machine, particularly the hastily raised ground divisions that were never properly equipped or trained. Had that manpower gone from the Luftwaffe into the Heer, instead? They’d have likely been far more effective, and produced far fewer casualties.
The Nazi proclivity for the so-called Fuhrerprinzip methodology led to fractionated and schizophrenic execution of their war aims. It also led to those war aims being entirely unrealistic. They wanted to build an empire that would last a thousand years on the cheap and in a hurry, failing to recognize that you just don’t do that sort of thing in that manner. The track record for “one-generation empires” ain’t all that great; witness what happened after Alexander died.
I think that even if the Nazis had won, the whole thing would have caved in under the weight of all the inherent contradictions and the inability of Germany to produce anywhere near the number of troops they’d have needed to garrison from the Urals to the Pillars of Hercules. Imagine the state of the German forces that would be in existence after a generation or two of that sort of sacrifice. I just don’t see their plans for colonizing the territories in the east working out the way they hoped they would.
I wouldn’t go that far. The fact that they redesigned it for a stamped receiver shows quite the opposite. I would say it was more a matter of them realizing what Kirk and others noted: that paratroops gave less ROI than investments made in other systems and troop classes.
Y’know… I don’t know that the Germans ever realized “realized” much of anything about what they were doing before the doors got kicked in. The Nazis were notably lacking in introspection and self-awareness; had they possessed those qualities, I doubt they’d have done the things they did. Overall, it was very much “reality ensued” for everything they were doing.
I mean… OK: Germans and cost/benefit calculations. Did they do them? I don’t think they ever really did. I mean, for the love of God, look at exhibit “A” for fundamentally delusional thinking, the V-Waffe programs. On a percentage basis, the V-1 and V-2 took up a bigger share of the German wartime economy and economic potential than the Manhattan Project and the B-29 programs combined. And, for what? A expendable system that delivered a ton of high explosives at a time, requiring a massive investment in entirely new technology? I mean, back-of-the-napkin calculations in a bar after a late-night pub crawl should have shown the people the folly of that course of action, yet… Somehow, it got through the system, and they went ahead and did it. To what gain for the German war effort?
Honestly put, I think the FG42 was likely the small arms equivalent of the V-2. Maybe not as resource-absorbtive, but still just as silly as the rest of it. The way the Falschirmjager were being used by the point those things actually got issued, they’d have been rather better off if they’d just issued them the old MG30 that was twice as heavy. It wasn’t like they were going to jump with them…
There were places where the Germans and their weapons exhibit clear genius and clear-eyed consideration of reality. Then, there’s the rest of it that outweighed everything else. I mean, for the love of God, what the hell were they going to do with a goddamn aircraft carrier and the rest of their precious little toy navy that represented the final expression of Kaiser Wilhelm’s fantasy life? If they’d had the sense God gave a rabid squirrel, they’d have said “Oh, hell no…” to surface warships and plumped everything down on the subs, with which they might well have managed to win the Battle of the Atlantic with God alone knows what consequences for the larger war.
It’s a hard thing to admit, but we mostly won WWII because the Germans were exceedingly and extraordinarily stupid and feckless.
And because 80 million people, no oil, and no boats is always going to lose to 400 million people, all the oil, and all the boats.
The Germans couldn’t even beat the British standing alone, because no boats.
Pretty much. By the correlation of forces, it all should have been over before the end of 1940. The problem, however, was the leadership on the Allied side.
The fact that the Germans got as far as they did is an indictment on our leadership; the further fact that they’ve gone on to play up the Germans as these 10-foot tall giants bestriding Europe? That’s a telling thing; the French Army alone should have been able to at least hold them fast as they did in 1914. They did not, because they had lousy leadership that was shot through with Fascist and Communist sympathizers. Same with the UK… Absent Churchill? Put King Edward on the throne? The Germans might not have needed Sealion.
The really crazy thing is just how much damage the Germans did, with the deck stacked against them the way it was. They absolutely should have been contained, and yet they were not.
The V-Waffe strategy, as ineffective as it was, was very much a product of its time. Douhet and others had convinced many (including many Americans) that war had progressed beyond the grind of the battlefield; that air armadas could waltz right over traditional forces and end wars in sudden, dramatic fashion by raining unstoppable terrors on the enemy population where they sleep. Spain, etc. had lent some credence to the theory (and, in fairness, that was basically how WW2 ended).
The “V”s themselves were obviously not ready for prime-time, but let’s not forget that we spent about as much time adopting a completely non-revolutionary pistol FFS as they had to develop missiles from scratch!
In the ’30s the US had over 40% of word’s manufacturing output, while Germany was below 15% (just a tad above UK), and Italy and Japan were below 5%.
In those conditions, the US could lose only if they wanted to.
Yep, and Paul Kennedy showed how WW2 pushed us over 50% in some sectors.
The entire V-weapon program can be laid at the feet of one man. His name was Wernher von Braun.
People really don’t know von Braun as well as they think they do. For starters, he was not a “reluctant” Nazi. He and his father joined the NSDAP in 1922 (before “Mr. Hilter” did, in fact) and then joined the Allegemeine (General) SS less than a month after it was formed (September 1934). Put simply, they were both political opportunists.
Once “inside” the Nazi hierarchy, von Braun showed his true talent. That being, he was a terrific salesman.
It was largely von Braun who convinced Hitler that the ballistic missile (even in its formative stages) could be a war-winning weapon. In fact, von Braun, a member of the VfR (Verein fur Raumschiffart, “Society for Space Travel”, aka “German Rocket Society” to everybody outside of Germany) just wanted an unlimited budget and resources for building and launching rockets. In the middle of the Great Depression.
And he got it, courtesy of Hitler and Goring. (The V1 was Hermann’s pet, but that’s another story.)
Everybody at Peenemunde was “in” on the dream. Even its military commander, Col. (later Gen.) Walter Dornberger. (Read his book V-2; he tells the whole story there.) For them, it was never about “winning the war”, which they concluded was impossible from the start; it was always about “the first step to space travel”. With Hitler footing the bill.
The day the first successful A4 (V2) left the pad (3 Oct 1942), Dornberger said to von Braun, “Wernher, do you realize that today the space ship was born?” That was Peenemunde, the V-2 program, and everything in a nutshell.
It’s not a coincidence that we (the United States) “appropriated” pretty much every senior Peenemunde designer, engineer, and etc. in April 1945. Or that von Braun ended up as director of NASA. (Dornberger retired as a senior VP at Convair.) To them, politics was simply an item in their “tool box”. The job? Space travel.
As for what von Braun thought of dropping 5,000+ V2s on London, Birmingham and Antwerp, when Ranger 4 crashed on the Moon on 25 Aug 1962 (1 through 3 were failures), von Braun commented wryly that “Before this, every rocket I launched landed on the wrong planet”.
Visionary- or sociopath?
I’d say Wernher von Braun was a bit of both.
I’d agree that von Braun was the main guy behind the V-2 fantasy, but… Who, precisely, sat there and listened to him, nodding along with the presentation?
The Nazi staff types. None of whom did the back-of-the-napkin calcs and said “Hey, waitaminute, here…”
If you get cozened by the guys selling the Emperor his new clothes, what, precisely, does that say about you? If you don’t raise your little hand and demand answers, well… You’re part of the problem.
The real issue with the Nazis is that they were very much like the Pied Piper, or those tailors in the Emperor’s New Clothes. Nobody in their audience ever spoke up and demanded them to demonstrate how things would work, or that they live in the real world. Nazism was built on a foundation of purest ether, a cloud-castle of hand-wavium and wishful thinking.
As such, the FG42 is pretty much a wartime weapon that could have been conceived of and issued almost nowhere else. Ever.
The unpredictable variable had been the fall of France. Unpredictable in the sense that even the German generals that prepared the plans didn’t believe they would have worked so well. Fact is that the French had been so burned by WWI (the highest losses as percentage of population among the major powers) they had no will to fight another war. The Maginot Line had been the illusion there would have been no need to really fight it. That they could simply wait in their forts the Germans to starve.
Having shot both versions of the weapon I agree that they were among the best weapons to come out of WW 2.What is really amazing about them is that when you fire them on full auto the muzzle actually goes down not up.Light weight using a real cartridge capable of firing full auto from an open bolt but from a closed bolt on semi the only thing I found odd about them was that to use the selector you had to pull the selector out of the notch or hole in the receiver then flip it not just flip it with your thumb like you do with an AR 15 or simiiar weapon.Clearly superior to the MP 44 on a variety of levels.True the M1 rifle was made in far larger numbers which is impressive (although the M1 carbine was even made in larger numbers) but remember the Germans were being bombed all the time and were subject to a poor political system run by a bunch of thugs which limited their abilities fortunetly for all of us
Great video as usual, thanks.
I have three questions about the FG42.
1. If the FG42 have the same weight and overall dimensions as the Kar98k, why the German paratroopers could not jump with their Kar98k? → Why the Kar98k needed to drop separatelly in a container, and the FG42 not?
2. The frontmost row of holes of the muzzle brake vent the gases forward in the case of the Type E. All holes of the muzzle brake of Type F and Type G vent the gases forward. → I cannot understand, why this is benefical to manage the recoil?
3. Some of my friends could try out an AMP-69 assault rifle converted for civilian shooters to semi-auto only. Because originally it is a kalashnikov specialized to fire rifle grenades, it has spring loaded stock and foreend. It is a nice idea in theory, but in practice, it is not so great. Hard to perform quick follow up shots with it, because the iron sights are swinging back and forth. → Some of you have already tried the FG42: did this problem emerged?
No, former was shorter, according to https://modernfirearms.net/en/military-rifles/self-loading-rifles/germany-self-loading-rifles/fg-42-eng/ and http://modernfirearms.net/en/military-rifles/bolt-action-rifles/germany-bolt-action-rifles/mauser-98-kar98-kar98k-eng/
weapon – overall length
FG-42-1 – 937 mm
FG-42-2 – 1060 mm
K98k – 1101 mm
My understanding was that the problem wasn’t just about having the rifles in canisters, but the MG-34s. So the landed paratroopers lacked immediate automatic fire and had to reach those machine guns. The FG-42 gave them emergency squad automatic capability if they didn’t have their machine guns – but not sustained fire.
Was this the inspiration for the Swiss Sig510/Stgw 57?
In my highly subjective opinion based on the limited information in print that I’ve seen, I would answer a qualified “Yes”.
Excellent rifle. Probably the best one, during its times.
A certain concept conceived and materialised.
However – and this is not irony; I am really curious – how many PPSh-41 or PPS-43 the Soviets could made for a price of one of these?…
Other than “Lots”, I don’t know that we can really provide valid answers, given the highly speculative nature of the Soviet command economy of the time. What does virtual slave labor cost you, under conditions of fighting for national survival?
Every time I see these cost comparisons done, I’ve dug into the numbers and found a whole lot of hand-waving and assumption-making that I didn’t agree with. So, your mileage will undoubtedly vary as to every comparison.
It’s an apples/oranges thing, anyway. These are not equivalent weapons; one was a mass-issue submachinegun issued to all and sundry, meant for close-in volume of fire. The other was a specialist weapon meant to be issued to highly-trained specialist troops fighting under extreme conditions. It’s rather like comparing your daily commuter car, meant to get you thirty miles a day on some freeway to a Dakar Rally-prepped vehicle.
Many thanks Kirk. A lot of what you say makes sense. On the other hand, one can argue that the WW2 German and Soviet economies had in fact quite a lot in common, despite ‘belonging’ to different political systems. Both relied on central planning of production and allocation of resources, both suffered from shortages of raw materials (though often of different ones), both at certain moment faced necessity to evacuate, destroy and rebuild plants, both used slave labour on an unprecedented scale and in both rank-and-file ‘free workforce’ was underpaid and overworked, while the top echelons enjoyed lavish bonuses. Both not only mobilised the population but also triggered genuine deluge of creativity. The only significant difference perhaps was that in the Nazi Germany you were not shot for a suboptimal design.
So rather than comparing apples and oranges we are here probably matching oranges and tangerines …
And as for the ‘highly specialised troops’ – well, they usually did not face their equivalents but chaps armed with the said simple submachine guns; perhaps Stens more often than PPSh/PPS. To summarise, one can argue that putting resources into the design and production of this fancy rifle probably did not pay off.
In the end, you have to do the cost/benefit thing. Do your elite, carefully-selected, expensively-trained Falschirmjager get you enough tactical benefit to pay you back for all that effort and resource expense? If the answer is “Yes”, then going a step further and putting an equally expensive and resource-intensive specialist weapon into their hands might be worth it.
Likewise, would it make sense to take the same human raw material, not bother training it at all, and then handing them something like the Ppsh-41 to carry into mass infantry attacks against highly trained adversaries who don’t have your same demographic numbers…?
It’s kinda like the whole “Do I want my hordes of T-72 tanks that are cheap to build, so I have thousands of them… Or do I want smaller numbers of Leopard 2s, Challengers, or M1 equivalents to try and defeat them with quality?”
It’s a philosophical thing, a creature of trade-offs. You have to have a good handle on what you’re coming to the battle with, as well as what your enemy is bringing. It ain’t exactly accidental what Sun Tzu had to say about knowing yourself and your enemy… Some force correlation equations will bring you victory… Others, well… You’re gonna die. It’s all in the math, really.
FG42 in all iterations was emphatically not a replacement for the standard rifle or the SMG.
What it was was an analogue of the American BAR, or even closer the Johnson M1941 LMG;
Even the purely physical resemblance to the M1941 is telling.
FG42 was intended to provide the base of fire for the section until the GPMG team could get the MG34 or MG42 out of the drop canister, set up, and go to work. issued on a basis of one or two per ten-man ‘stick’, it performed that fundction very well.
The selective-fire feature was, I believe, a carryover from the Johnson design. The intent being that with the optical sight it could also fill in as a Designated Marksman rifle, a role’ usually filled at that point by the K43 self-loading rifle with the ZF/4 telescopic sight.
As to its numbers, keep in mind that the Luftwaffe had actual Field Divisions in addition to the Fallschirmjager and anti-aircraft divisions. Goring regarded them as his private army, much as Himmler did the SS. And like “Reichsheinie”the SS, Hermann thought nothing was too good for “his boys”.
If they wanted a special automatic rifle, they got a special automatic rifle, and HWA got the bill.
Pretty much. This was a fire team/squad level weapon, not an individual weapon. At least, conceptually… How it got used had a lot more to do with how many of the things a unit could get their happy little hands on.
The FG42 came in at about half the weight of the pre-WWII MG30, Germany’s only other weapon that was vaguely in this capability space.
The problem we have here is that the “cool gun” people have done another one of those deals where they’re really ignoring a lot of the key issues and purposes of the weapon, much the way they fail to look at the MG34/42 as a unified system including the tripod and all other pieces of the system included in it. The FG42 was not meant to be a replacement for the Kar98k; it was meant to be a supplement between it and the MG34/42. Doctrinally, it’s filling the role of the BREN or the BAR in one-man operation mode. It isn’t a rifle, in other words: It’s an LMG, without the tripod capability. A German Automatic Rifle, if you will.
The reason it came about goes directly to the Battle of Crete, and how the German paratroopers there got virtually massacred because they couldn’t get to their drop containers with their real weapons.
Somewhere out there is a very well-written and erudite study on the German parachute harnesses and parachute systems of WWII. I can’t find it or a link to it, so this will have to do:
“The worst parachutes used by a major power were those of the Germans which were based on the Italian “Salvatore” design. The German RZ (RUCKENPACKUNG ZWANGAUSLOSUNG or, rucksack packed to open) series of chutes (primarily the RZ-16 and the RZ-20)had a single strap between the back of the body harness and the chute. This resulted in a face-down position that required knee and elbow pads and a forward roll upon landing. (Employment of this type of parachute is curious since German aircrew used a chute that had lift webs attached to the shoulders like the British and American models.)This landing position led to many landing injuries. To allow for proper deployment, the paratrooper had to leap forward in a straight body dive when jumping. Control during the descent was almost impossible except for a superbly trained and agile trooper and even then little control was possible. The forward roll landing also kept the parachutist from carrying much equipment on his body. Except for pistols, grenades, and the occasional submachine-gun, German paratroopers had to rely on containers for their main combat equipment. The chute was attached to the harness with four clips which, like the American chute, were difficult to undo when under fire or when the trooper was being wind dragged. The Germans issued each Fallschirmjaeger with a gravity knife to cut the rigging in an emergency. The opening shock of this canopy first parachute was also very harsh but the chute would fully deploy in under 40 meters which meant a lower drop altitude and less time dangling helplessly in the air. By the Crete invasion, the Germans deployed various colored parachute canopies for camouflage and to aid in the identification of commanders and/or containers.”
That’s from this site:
TL;DR is this: German parachutes for the Falschirmjager were designed for low altitude (the parachutes opened within 40m) opening optimization. That necessitated a bunch of design features and jump techniques that basically meant you weren’t carrying anything bigger than a pistol or maybe a submachinegun if you were really feeling like a risk-taker. The FG42 was not, so far as I can tell, really meant to be jumped the way we did in the US. With the US, you jumped with leg bags for your weapons and you weren’t meant to be doing acrobatics the way the Germans had to do on landing. Which is how/why the two nations had such different requirements for their paratroops. And, outcomes…
OK… I can finally highlight one of the key things that the M60 copy/paste idjits failed to properly get crossed over from the FG42.
Ian didn’t highlight it, and it’s only visible for a split second, so halt the video at 13:12. Observe the front of the operating rod cam tower track in the bolt; note that it is in possession of two widening cuts there at the front of the track, widening it. Those additional cuts on either side of the track are what the M60 did not get, and which are the bane of every armorer, in that that is where the majority of the peening in this system exists. The cuts here on this specific variant of the FG42 are less pronounced than on other examples I’ve seen, and they’re smaller than the ones on the late-model Lewis guns I’ve handled. Leaving these cuts out was a huge mistake on the part of the people who built the M60, along with leaving in the firing pin spring that was there in the FG42 to boost the firing pin in semi-auto fire. In the full-time M60, that whole spring assembly thing inside the bolt was pointless. They could have simplified things greatly by going back to the Lewis-style striker, but then that would have meant that they understood WTF they were doing. Which they manifestly did not.
And yet as we discussed earlier, NOBODY CORRECTED THE STUPIDITY IN THE M60’S DESIGN. It was all “it’s 100% American genius and nothing else” type of pride, if I’m not mistaken. Even though the nitwits at Springfield Armory had, uh, STOLEN non-matching design features from the FG 42 and the MG 42, managed to kit bash said features with even worse conceptions of how battles would be fought, and came up with a franken-gun that was neither truly a machine gun nor a rifle. It was an abomination that I could easily smash to pieces with a carpenter’s hammer and then ditch for a MAG-58, horrible weight be damned. I could be wrong.
I’d argue that we didn’t so much steal the ideas as capture them as legitimate spoils of war. And, after all, the Germans borrowed a lot of the FG42 from the Lewis Gun. They just did it better.
I really wish that all the developmental documentation was out there for the M60. I did a really deep dive on it back in the 1990s, and I was surprised how little there was at the time. It may be that all that has changed, and I hope it has. The M60, the M14, the M73/219, the M85 .50 caliber, and the L85? They all ought to be enshrined as case studies in how not to do small arms development, and what can go wrong when you don’t do it right.
It’s really amazing to see so many of the same conceptual and design failures appear again and again from the same people. You would think that someone would have institutionalized “the right way” by this point, and there would be a process checklist with all the pitfalls highlighted.
Yet, here we are with the NGSW program basically recapping the same developmental and conceptual errors of the M14 and its 7.62mm NATO developmental programs. About the only thing I can point at that they’ve improved is that they’re at least doing it as a system of both the individual and the support weapon simultaneously.
I just happen to think that they started from the wrong premises, with NGSW. The question of “overmatch” really doesn’t exist; the real problem was that the idjits were taking a weapon issue that stemmed from the inherent capability of a bipod-mounted MG team going up against prepared positions with tripod-mounted MGs in them. The US Army and Marine Corps simply do not understand the basics of what MG operations are supposed to look like, any more. The fact that I’ve never, ever talked to any actual MG gunner teams that had all their necessary equipment, including tripods and observer binoculars out in the field when they encountered those PKM teams is telling. Our training sucks, and we don’t issue our guys all the tools they need to win going against dug-in MG positions at range. Thus, the entire conceptual framework behind NGSW is based on false premises.
“(…)what can go wrong when you don’t do it right.(…)”
Whilst not pertaining to fire-arms development I think you might find Death March by Edward Yourdon interesting read.
Yeah, I read that when it came out. Fascinating insight into software development, and it probably holds true everywhere.
They also didn’t understand why the faces of the FG42 locking lugs were slightly angled.
Probably thought Germans in WWII had time to waste in cutting angled surfaces.
Judging from all the other things they screwed up during the copy/paste process, I wouldn’t be surprised if they hadn’t even noticed that detail.
Even the initial FG42 test weapons exhibited rather more mechanical aptitude than the M60. The later ones I have handled were works of art, by comparison.
I have looked at the frame at 13:12, and see the widening of the cam track. I guess this part gets slammed every time the gun fires, so does this widening act to somehow spread the force of that slamming, preventing the part from deforming?
If the Lewis gun also has that modification, it is quite ironic, given the hatred which Army Ordnance showed towards Lewis and his gun. If they had bothered to understand the Lewis gun, they would have understood the FG42, and thus the M60 would have been better. But it seems they copied things from the FG42 they did not need to copy, as the M60 is not selective fire, and failed to copy what they should have. A cluster f*ck indeed.
It doesn’t peen because it never makes contact; the op rod doesn’t hit the end of the track, and if it did, the side cuts ensure that there’s no material there to be struck.
Or, so I surmise from handling the things. I think you’d have to do a lot of work with a high-speed camera inside the receiver to really tell for sure.
Thanks Kirk. So should I assume that in the M60 the op rod does slam into the bolt carrier, thus causing “peening” (an excellent word, I might say)?
The op rod itself doesn’t slam into the front end of the bolt cam track; that’s the job of the operating rod tower.
I have never, ever been able to wrap my head around the reasoning for this design; why does there need to be anything hitting with such force that it actually deforms the parts? I’ve not had the time with the Lewis or the FG42 that I have had with the M60, but I never found any similar set of surfaces exhibiting that sort of impact deformation in either weapon.
It’s just sloppy design, so far as I can tell. It makes no mechanical sense; it could have been designed around with ease; all you would have had to do is enlarge the end of the bolt cam track, and Hey! Presto!!, no more peening that requires endless stoning to get rid of. You can’t Dremel it, either, because that will take off way too much material, and raise the heat such that you’ll lose surface hardening. Supposedly; the guys up at Third Shop would lose their minds if they thought you were using a Dremel on those parts.
Frankly, there are so many places in the M60’s design where it’s very obvious that they didn’t pay attention to what they were doing that it’s not even funny. There’s zero need that I can see for those parts to even touch, let alone beat each other to death. Which the gun will do, particularly if you don’t lube with something that’s got enough viscosity to provide some cushion as the parts hit. Break-Free ain’t the lube of choice on these things; LSA is, and that wasn’t available to anyone on a routine basis.
I seem to remember from Peter Kokalis’s pieces in Soldier of Fortune that Break Free should not be used on M60s. It was his writing which first informed me of the weaknesses of the gun.
Given the way the M60 design team seem to have copied the FG42 without understanding it, it seems really odd that they did not copy the machining cuts in the bolt carrier. Did they think the Germans put them there for fun?
Would you know if this fault has been corrected in later improved versions of the M60? I think the Danes have been persuaded to buy some.
Really, given how comparatively simple it is to design a machine gun as opposed to say, a motor engine, it is amazing that the managed to make such a bad job of the M60, given the time and resources at their disposal.
I got a lot out of Peter Kokalis, over the years. I don’t know if he informed my opinion vis-a-vis using LSA on the M60, or if I came to that conclusion on my own… I do know I was running crazy trying to figure out why the hell the M60 was showing such extreme wear vs. the stuff the Vietnam-era guys were telling me to expect. Even the Chief Warrant at 3rd Shop was puzzled by what I was reporting to him about the wear we had on the guns after a qualification range. The only thing we could work out was that the recent decision to go to BreakFree only in the Arms Rooms was behind it all.
Somewhere during that time frame, Kokalis wrote that article about the M60 in El Salvador, and he mentioned the LSA-vs.-BreakFree issue, and I brought that up with Chief. He agreed that was probably it…
BreakFree is a great thing for the M16 series of weapons. It’s decent for the pistols, too, but anything like the M60? Disastrous. I’d love to know a couple of things about that whole deal… Did someone get paid off, and did anyone ever do the accounting to look at how much going to that one lubricant wound up costing us in terms of excessive wear on the guns, and all the replacement parts that required?
I’d still prefer a mix of RBC and LSA, to be honest. I never really cared for BreakFree.
RBC was Rifle Bore Cleaner, and LSA was Lubricant, Small Arms. It was what they colloquially called “whale splooge”, because it was white, thick, and viscous. You put that stuff on a weapon, it stuck. BreakFree just ran off…
As Luftwaffe records in German Bundesarchiv clearly show, the intention of the FG42 was to fullfill the role of individual rifle as well as light machine gun (in the MG34 on bipod sense).
The latter role it could not really fullfill.
As an individual rifle for the full power 7.9 mm ammunition, it is doubtless a most impressing achievement. If I had the money, I would buy one of the German replicas on the spot.
But the “real” machine gun was still needed by the paratroopers in combat. As an individual weapon, the Sturmgwehr 44 turned out to be superior. Therefore, the FG42, as admirably as its design is, was not really what the soldiers needed.
I’ve seen some of those archival records in reproduction, and I think that the people interpreting them did so with preconceived notions and cherry-picked things out of them that weren’t really there. There’s also a lot missing, so we don’t really know for sure what they were thinking in the fullness of it all.
The initial impetus for the FG42 was the Battle of Crete, where the Falschirmjager got absolutely wrecked, going up against some rather poorly organized British rear-echelon and entirely unprepared troops. The Falschirmjager only had the weapons they jumped with, which were pistols, grenades, and a few submachineguns. The Brits brought BREN guns, Vickers, and SMLE rifles to the fight, and almost won. I actually don’t understand quite how the hell they managed to lose that battle, to be quite honest; they shouldn’t have.
With that, the German Luftwaffe set about “fixing” the problem. Why they didn’t fix it by changing their jump techniques and parachutes? No idea; I also don’t understand why the hell they thought the FG42 was much of a fix for that specific problem, because I can’t find anywhere they ever actually rigged the FG42 for jumps with their standard parachutes. I mean, everyone inferred they did, but… Actual evidence? Like drop cases and the like? I’ve never seen them. I can’t find anywhere documenting actual jumps with them; just combat use where the Falschirmjager were used as ground infantry. I am actually coming to believe that they never actually jumped these guns, and probably had them in containers in what few airborne operations there were after Crete. The “jumping” thing was a justification, but I’ve never seen any actual jumping performed with them, or the equipment they’d have needed to support that. I don’t think you would be any better off doing a “landing somersault” with an FG41 instead of a Kar98k, to be quite truthful.
Anyone knowing better, let me know. My reading on this has been fairly in-depth, but I’m also well aware I haven’t seen everything, either.
As far as I am aware, the German paras never jumped into action after Crete. The losses they suffered there were shattering. So ultimately the FG42 was the solution to a problem which had ceased to exist.
I did have the honour of meeting one of our veterans of the Crete campaign some years back, a very interesting man. He spent the rest of the war as a POW. But you are right, Crete is a battle we should have won.
There were two German parachute assaults after Crete. One was at Leros in ’43, and the other was in the Ardennes in ’44. Leros succeeded; the Ardennes drop failed.
If I had to characterize the FG42 as an overall thing, I’d have to say that it was a waste of resources typical of the German war effort. Given the utter lack of actual airborne operations after Crete, the question is “Why?”
Overall, the Germans pretty much deserved to lose. The utter lack of an ability to identify and prioritize on what would have actually contributed to a victory was a hallmark of all their operations, for which we can all thank God. I like the FG42, but… Wow. What a waste. Like much of German weaponry, it can be summed up as “Cool stuff, not enough of it…”
I had not known about those later para drops, thanks for the info. Every day is a school day on Forgotten Weapons.
Operation Rosselsprung, May 1944, 500th SS Paratroop battalion. I don’t know if the SS paratroops were equipped with the FG-42.
Operation Stosser, December 1944, a Kampfgruppe from II Para Corps during the Battle of the Bulge.
I think they may have been other smaller drops especially on the Eastern Front.
It is a head shaker why the Allies lost Crete. MG Freyberg’s actions have been criticized especially with respect to how he used ULTRA intercept intelligence. It is unclear why the air fields especially on the North side of the island were not better disabled. Conversely ABC’s quote “It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition.” and keeping his job after disobeying Churchill is epic.
I have not seen the source material on the tactical employment of the FG-42. In English translation this is something I would like to see. Curiously, the Royal Armory in Leeds has on display an FG-42 which is in excellent condition, but the display documentation is lacking.
Pictorial evidence shows that the 1st Fallschirmjager Division at Cassino were equipped with FG42s (first model) on at least a one per section basis. They were used in roughly the same way Commonwealth forces used the Bren or U.S. forces were supposed to use the BAR. (Which the GIs and Leathernecks rarely did, of course.)
It’s weird that Operation Rosselsprung doesn’t show up in the official US Army appraisal of German airborne operations. I vaguely remembered something besides the Ardennes, and when I went to look, found Leros. What I actually remembered was the Drvar attack from my reading of Yugoslav war memoirs, but I couldn’t call it to the forefront.
So, there were three German airborne ops after Crete, not two. I wonder why they left the Drvar one out?
A German Appraisal
CMH Pub 104-13
I didn’t know the SS had a parachute regiment. It’s lucky for us the Nazi war machine was divided into so many competing empires.
I think that overall it is true that after Crete the German para force was never used in any strategically important way. As a student of firearms I love the FG42, but for the Germans it was a waste of resources.
I think there’s a balance point between the two philosophies of “nobody special” and “ten thousand competing little internal empires w/empire builders”. The Germans in WWII were obviously a tad far into that “ten thousand empires” thing, but they did have some useful “special boys with special toys”.
In the grand scheme of things, the idea of having a few elite units around to throw in as additional weights in the balance pans isn’t a terrible one, and there are always going to be high-value targets that need things done to them.
As with all things, though… The basic principle behind the old truism about war consisting of fooling the enemy while not fooling yourself holds true. You need balance, not going too far one way, and not too far the other.
Not well balanced, too light for the 8MM mauser cartridge, so it KICKS HARD.
I’ll take a FAL any day!
See my comments above!!!
The FG42 is NOT a great weapon.
I’ve fired the SMG FG-42 (Model II). It did not have a sling and I found the magazine placement tended to cant the weapon counter clockwise (to the left). However from a standing unsupported stance, I was amazed how accurate it was. We were only shooting at a 50 ft target. I do not recollect it being front heavy and I obviously was firing only semi-automatic. I could see with a bit of practice being able to run, stop and fire 2-3 aimed shots and then run some more.
I think the unique circumstances in Nazi Germany (Goring being allowed to just allow this to get knocked up etc.) was good in the sense of they knocked up an “interesting” gun, to look back on… Now. Personally I think the Garand was most impressive; because the cold, hard calculation was it would be a serious killer if issued to lots… And it was. And the Fg42 was not, widely used etc. Sooo… Impressive gun the Fg42, no doubt interesting. Has anyone tried it in 7.62×39 with Ak mags out of interest; semi bullpub sort of configuration might get Rpk type range performance, with a near 20″ barrel as oppose 23″ over the 16″ Ak. Not “sacrilege” to try it, big fuck off banana sticking out the side. Half bullpup like. Just saying at the time they had not got 7.62x39mm Ak rounds, well it wasn’t tried in .300 blk out was it? But 7.62x39mm is a bit more oooomph like to 7.92… Anyway.
Should try it, be pagan heathens; despoil it with Soviet rounds, the Nazis would have in 48 if they had found a large enough ditched 7.62x39mm store left by the defeated racially inferior commie types he he.
Who doesn’t want that in 7.62x39mm?
Nobody. Crank up production and knock them out. It could be what the m60 never was, an rpd. Or a mg42.
You have to look at this not as a “who’s got the best gun” sort of thing, but “who has the best tactical system and the weapons to support it” affair.
The US with the Garand? Didn’t qualify. The Garand, in the final analysis, was a magnificent technological achievement. But, as they said at the Charge of the Light Brigade, while it was glorious and impressive, it ain’t war.
Decouple the highly flawed US infantry tactical system from its supporting arms in armor, artillery, and airpower? The Garand was a really bad idea, a false path that the siren call of the gravel-bellies lured us down. Raw fact is, firepower wins the infantry fight. FIREPOWER. Concentrated firepower, under the direct control of the leadership.
Did the Garand-armed American infantry squad provide that? Or, did it diffuse the squad’s firepower across a bunch of individual riflemen who were mostly beyond anyone’s control once the shooting started? As well, what role did those riflemen really fulfill, inside that flawed tactical system? They were men equipped as though they were the ultimate answer to a tactical question that reality wasn’t asking.
The Germans were a lot more cynical about it all. And, realistic; they had the same problems the US did, in terms of lacking trained and experienced manpower to utilize those highly individualistic weapons like the Garand. And, they chose to plump down on better machineguns, concentrating the firepower in a crew-served system under the direct control of the leadership down at that level.
Every single action that I’ve been able to research and look at, where the opposing forces didn’t get the full support from those supplementary arms, the US came off way, way worse than the Germans did. As a tactical-strategical choice, the MG34/42 and their mortars inflicted way more casualties on Allied infantry than the diffuse firepower of the Garand did. You can see that reality played out in how the squad structures of both forces converged after the mid-point of the war: The US made great efforts to get the M1919A6 down into the squads, and the Germans tried getting the StG44 issued out as an ideal choice, while effectively maintaining the MG-centric nature of their tactical system.
The Garand was a blind alley; you can see that in the way we’ve all abandoned the so-called “battle rifle” concept, and mostly gravitated around the two-caliber solution with something like the AK and the PKM, or the M16 and the M60 in Vietnam, or today’s M4 and M240 combination. The things that the Garand did were not how you win the firefights that lead to the platoons winning their fights for the company commanders.
The sad thing is, how many of our guys died going down that blind alleyway we were seduced into by this entirely false premise of the individual rifleman. Had we a force manned with men like the First Special Service Force, or a thousand Alvin Yorks? Maybe the Garand would have been the ideal tool for that sort of person. Even 1st SSF needed their “Johnny Guns”, however…
The Garand was the rifle we really should have been issuing back around 1916, but after what we should have taken from the latter part of WWI, the idea that a full-power semi-auto mass-issued to every rifleman would win combat actions all by its lonesome self? Not. Happening.
War is a thing of systems. The Garand is the expression of a flawed and inferior system, as much as it is also a magnificent technological achievement. We have to separate our wonder and pleasure at the mechanical toys that the armorers offer up to us, and pay rather better attention to the manner and means of actually using the damn things under fire.
I think reality set in in Korea. Note that the M2 carbine far outnumbered the M1 Garand in troop use there. Backed up by .30 and .50 Browning MGs, of course.
The Infantry School had already started down the “intermediate cartridge rifle/sustained firescreen” path of apostasy with Project Salvo in 1948-49, much to Ordnance’s fury. As with a certain senator today, they didn’t want anybody looking at the actual AARs from WW2 for fear that they might draw unauthorized and non-pre-approved conclusions from same.
S.L.A. Marshall’s report on TIC actions in Korea in the winter of 1950-51 came to those same sorts of heretical conclusions, in spite of Marshall strenuously denying that he intended to do any such thing.
Reality had gotten tired of politely knocking on the door of Ordnance Heaven and was now swinging the battering ram. Ordnance still gave us the M14 anyway, and the Gravel Belly Chorus sang Hosannas.
Meanwhile this little odd-looking rifle called the Armalite was quietly changing history.
Ironically, when somebody who was into engineering rather than ordnance per se (Thompson Ramo Wooldridge) looked at the whole “infantry rifle” concept in the 1970s, They kept the Armalite’s caliber (5.56 x 45mm) and even its magazines, and built a rifle around same that was intended to be usable by people who were accustomed to the maintenance demands of the Kalashnikov. (i.e., not a lot required.)
The result looked and worked a lot like…the FG42.
The whole postwar era in small arms development in the US is something that really deserves really definitive study, in order to document what went wrong, how it went wrong, and how we can avoid it happening again.
I’ve got to be honest… I’ve gone through all the material I could get my hands on from those years, and talked to a lot of WWII and Korean War-era veterans, trying to figure out what the hell was going on that things like the 7.62 NATO, the M14, the M60, and all the other little piles of excrement could have happened. There were a few bright lights, like Project Niblick, that gave us the 40mm, but those were by-and-large not the product of the mainline small arms types. Like the electric gatling gun, the one that eventually got to fielding was actually the dark horse that someone was doing in the background, while the mainline attempt went so far wrong that they had to abandon it.
I think a lot of it boils down to the sad fact that there just weren’t all that many people working on the issues that I’d allow the term “intelligent” to be used to describe them involved in it all. Few of them were really top-rate intellects; the majority were, from what I can see, mostly time-serving hacks like Studler.
What should have happened in ’45 was that they grabbed a bunch of actual, y’know… Combat veterans who’d fought in all the theaters, taken them aside, and then captured the things that they’d actually done, as opposed to what was in the manuals. That nobody read, and nobody actually followed.
The actual vets of WWII and Korea that I talked to, having prepared for that by reading the then-current manuals of their eras? LOL… All of them basically said that while the manuals were decent starting points, none of them were really being followed at all by the time any of them had significant combat time under their belts. And, very damn little of that information actually got captured or made its way into the institution. Most of those guys got demobilized and went back to civilian life, leaving the career Army types to run things again. And, many of those guys were like Studler–Kept out of combat deliberately, so as not to “expend the feed corn”.
So, they went into the post-WWII era without having captured a lot of what they’d actually been doing. This flowed, as the guys with pre-conceived notions like Studler proceeded to warp the entire procurement process to match their own fantasies.
Yeah, there were papers and various things that do detail what went on in combat, but the problem is, apparently nobody that was in a decision-making position actually bothered to read them.
The data and experience was there; it just wasn’t properly taken advantage of. The really amazing thing is, you can find all these guys writing articles for the various professional journals and things like the Command and Staff schools, but it was ignored. The lab-coated types who wrote up the whole SCHV ideas? They got listened to, despite the fact that few of them had combat experience; they had Ph.D certificates on their walls, not Combat Infantryman Badges on their chests.
There’s this peculiar reverence in the US system for these credentialed sh*theels. If someone without a degree or high rank says something, then that’s not worth listening to, no matter how much experience he might have or how right he might be. If it’s not coming along with the right credentials? LOL… Not worthy.
I experienced that personally. I wrote up a bunch of issues with the Army’s then-primary mine detector, having done a bunch of research talking to the guy who was probably the then-preeminent authority on that tool, Floyd Rockwell. I sent off what amounted to a white paper detailing what I learned from talking to him, which included the fact that he was finding mines that were then held to be undetectable due to low metallic content. I thought it was important; nobody wanted to hear anything on the issue from a lowly Staff Sergeant. About four years after I sent that up to the schoolhouse, there was a huge Safety-of-Use message disseminated going over the exact same things I’d said about the mine detector, to include things that looked suspiciously like my proposed solutions for training out of the problem. Only difference was, that message came out of a brand-new Ph.D holder who was also a Lieutenant Colonel.
Due to some very odd similarities between what I’d sent up, and what he put out, I have my suspicions. But, there ya go: I was saying things some six years earlier and got ignored. He said them, and it was God’s writ, ‘cos Ph.D and officer…
That’s a lot of the problem with the small arms issues after WWII. Zero credence or attention given to actual parties that might have had real personal knowledge to contribute, ‘cos they weren’t the credentialed geniuses like Studler.
Now, I’ll grant you that Studler had a lot of time doing Ordnance-y things like going around to all the European arsenals and manufacturers during the 1930s. What I don’t understand is how that was supposed to somehow enable him to pronounce on what the combat soldier needed to fight with… It’s like “Yeah, let’s talk to the guy who knows how to assemble cars, and he’ll tell us what the drivers need out on the racetracks…” Totally unrelated areas of expertise, and yet Studler felt himself entitled to pronounce on what the guys needed to fight with. You can look at the M60 and its utter lack of actual user-friendly features and get the idea that they were basically just checking the box: “Oh, it’s a lighter machinegun… That’s good enough…”
I seriously doubt that any of the guys involved with the M60 at any point had ever, y’know… Actually run a gun or a gun crew. If they had, a lot of those “features” would have never made it onto an issued weapon. The sights alone speak volumes about the actual experience of the designers. I mean, OK… You can’t do a damn thing to change the height or the windage on the front sight, right? So, if you have two barrels on the same gun with really different elevation settings (which I think was on like every other gun I ever actually qualified on…), then you have to readjust the rear sight leaf if you want to try and use the sights. There were reasons a lot of us gunners just didn’t bother; we adjusted fire by fall of shot, which is massively wasteful and tactically detrimental, because you can’t really rely on your first burst hitting where you need it to.
I remain convinced that most of those people were just calling it in, or they were likely working for our enemies. There’s a lot of stuff that just isn’t easily explainable as “Oh, a few mistakes were made…”
I mean… Look at the chain of machinegun design failures. Once? Bad luck. Twice? Coincidence. You hit three, and it’s likely enemy action. M60, M73/219, M85… Need I say more?
On cars, when Daimler Benz (briefly) owned Chrysler, they put their racing division on to managing Plymouth’s final NASCAR campaign. Seeing that the cars were called “stock cars”, they basically pulled sedan engines off the assembly line, dropped them in the (specially-designed, custom-built, multi-million dollar) “stock cars”, and told the teams “go race”. No, it did not end well.
Needless to say, they didn’t run F1 or GT that way; nobody in DB management wanted to be laughed off the course at Le Mans.
Ordnance’s problems have been endemic going back to before the American Civil War. The second chapter of Civil War Guns by William B. Edwards (Stackpole, 1962, free for download from archive.org) goes into the stupidity of Bomford, the scandal of Talcott, the illogic of Ripley, and the fact that the only real experts they had from 1850 to 1870, James Craig and Alexander Dyer, were almost never listened to.
We ended up with the standard .58 caliber for rifle-musket, rifle, and etc. in 1855-56 only because the then-Secretary of War actually realized that Craig, a expert on small arms design, knew what he was talking about after nearly three years of actual practical tests. Said SecWar, BTW, being one Jefferson Davis, himself a veteran of infantry combat.
At the start of the Great Disagreement, Ripley’s response to the need for Union cavalry formations was to order 40,000 (no, that is not a misprint) sabers from the Ames Cutlery Co., Chicopee MA.
In 1895, the lot was sold as surplus for a dime apiece to Bannerman’s, without ever having been uncrated.
Ordnance gave Dyer the boot in 1867 because not only had he committed the apostasy of arming infantry with Spencer repeating cavalry carbines (Horrors!), he said that the in-house Ordnance solution to breechloading, the Allin breech (a ripoff of Berdan’s first inadequate design) was definitely not the way to go.
Dyer, once he concluded that a repeating rifle was not going to be, held out for the simpler and stronger Snider breech; he and Snider were both promptly fired. Snider took his breech to Enfield Lock in Britain, and the rest is history. At least British soldiers weren’t getting facefuls of brass and hot gases from breech failures, as American soldiers did up to the Spanish-American War.
Ordnance has always done everything on the bases of empire-building, the rejection of anything “Not Invented Here”, and the primary objective of the rifle being beating those nasty Marines at Camp Perry every year.
If you tell an Ordnance senior officer that the primary purpose of the Army is to kill the armies of foreign enemies, he’ll laugh in your face and tell you that you have no understanding of warfare.
To him, it’s all about “deterrence”. And “deterrence” is measured by trophies on the shelf to be polished, and photos of him shaking hands with VIPs in bespoke suits on his “I Love Me” wall.
I’m sad to say that this leans towards vindicating my outlook on NGSW:
There are some holes in that article, but in the overall cant it takes, you can make out yet another failure-in-waiting.
Swear to God, what they need to do is hand all this off to a random collection of retired SF Weapons Sergeants, and let them run it all. This epic fraud, waste, and abuse of the taxpayer simply needs to stop. The US Army hasn’t run a successful small arms development and procurement program since… Ever? I dunno; maybe I’m jaded, but after witnessing the ACR, the OICW, the idiocy surrounding the end-of-life for the M60, then this travesty? I’m about ready to plow Ordnance under and sow salt. This literally isn’t rocket science; small arms technology is currently on a plateau, and development/procurement should be a relatively simple matter. It’s not like we’re witnessing the advent of magazine-fed breechloading rifles with smokeless powders, here…
And? Strategic materials in the expendable projectiles? WTF? When we get most of those rare earths from our most likely mid-term adversary? Who the hell said that was OK? Milley the Muppet? Did he call the Chinese to OK the idea, I wonder? Same with the sight parts; what idiot does this kind of thing on a major program?
Assuming, of course, that the Army Crimes isn’t talking out its ass yet again…
It was SO written on the walls…
What they got right: the Army “declared a War on Physics from the outset”.
And thought they could win it just using an heavier hammer.
True Velocity’s proposal, thus not ideal (because the tactical concept was flawed from the start) at least brought something new to try circunvent the obvious problems.
SIG’s one: “Let’s go head first into the wall. It will work!”.
What they need to do is ban anybody with any influence over procurement authority from working for any defense contractors, ever.
At this point, the whole thing is indistinguishable from graft. How many billions have gone down the rathole of trying to replace the M16, now? SPIW? OICW? ACR? Interim Rifle? NGSW? And, what, pray tell, do we have to show for any of it? About the only good thing I can remember is that ACR got us the ACOG into the SOPMOD program, because that’s where the guys at Crane supposedly saw it first…
So, they’ve spent X millions of dollars developing a piasto-upper M16A2 firing a ‘reimagined’ 7 x 57 Mauser or maybe .257 Ackley Improved Roberts. Is that about it?
And oh yes, to avoid potential “environmental factors” they’ve down-powered the gas-operation system to the point that it can’t pass a basic “s#!t in system” test.
It needs tungsten-cored slugs to achieve the minimal penetration requirements, and there isn’t enough, even if the PRC wanted to sell it to us. I’d say switch to iridium (the metal, not the satellites), but the small drawback there is that the primary source is Russia.
I agree with you. It’s time to plow Ordnance under, sow it with salt, and hire some civilian designers. I understand that there are a lot in Ohio.
One would think that’s not so difficult to understand that a plate that’s made to resist to an a AP, steel-core, 165gr bullet fired at 850 m/s at point blank, is not going to be penetrated by a lead, or steel-core, 135gr bullet fired at only 60 m/s more at any reasonable combat distance and, even in the case, to slightly change the specifics of the plates to regain protection is IMMENSELY easier than changing the service rifle.
What is this?
Daweo, I think he miskeyed his home row and tried typing “Piston”. Could be wrong, but that’s my best guess.
Yep. Finger malfunction cause by insufficient coffee.
After some thinking about it all, I have reached an epiphany: The reason this keeps happening is that the people running the show really don’t know a damn thing about tactics or weapons. That’s why they keep doing these things.
Most tactical-level “stuff” goes on in that sub-liminal place these creatures of the staff and upper ranks never venture into, and which they don’t remember very well, having been ticket-punched through their time in those places. Nobody out there with anything above company-grade rank really knows or pays attention to minor tactics or the weapons used to make those tactics happen. They don’t know what the tools are supposed to be doing for those lieutenants and sergeants, so they keep throwing money at these problems in order to be able to say that they’re doing something, no matter that it’s really counterproductive.
Here’s the tell: Go out and ask guys in the military, officer and enlisted, to explain to you how their combat system works. The majority aren’t even going to have an overall picture of the whole thing; they think in terms of battle drills and so forth, the sort of thing that is more an expression of the system rather than the system itself.
Big-picture stuff, like brigade-level operations? Army has a really good handle on that; the minor details of how a squad and platoon are supposed to be working? Not so much; it took me years to build up an idea of it all, and the whole time, I was thinking it was just me. The reality is, nobody articulates this stuff clearly. Little issues like “What are my riflemen supposed to be doing?” “What is my machinegun for?” “What role does the M203 play in this?” “How is my indirect fire support supposed to work…?”.
They talk about it. A lot. But, when push comes to shove, you go down and talk to the LT, he’s going to look at you with utter bewilderment when you start asking him “system” questions. Mostly because it’s never been explained to him in that mode; it also hasn’t been conceptualized that way. Which explains why so much of the small arms development has gone the way it has; they don’t think in terms of tactical systems; they think in terms of “We’ll build better toys, and then figure out how to use them…”
Which is how we got NGSW. Nobody sat down and said “OK, we have issues with the small arms fight in Afghanistan. Why? Our weapons have similar ranges to the Soviet stuff they’re shooting at us; our men are supposedly better-trained marksmen and gunners, so… WTF?”
If they had, they’d have figured out what I see as the real issue, which isn’t the weapons or the cartridges, but how we’re using them. The M240 is at least as capable as the PKM; why are Taliban elements able to dominate us in the firefights up in the hills? Well, for one thing, because they appear to have been mostly firing them from tripods and semi-prepared positions.
Which we were trying to engage with guys firing their M240s off of bipods and their shoulders. There’s a 400-1000m advantage to the tripod-mounted guns, right there, that we ceded to them because of our inadequate and irrelevant training/doctrine mix for the machinegun. We’ve never, ever issued a tripod that you could quickly emplace and adapt to the terrain in order to engage dynamic targets while our guys were moving. Why?
To my mind, the first phase of NGSW should have been a full-bore analysis of the problem, by people who actually understand what the hell is going on at that level of combat. Then, they should have looked at issuing the tools necessary to get our gunners the ability to accurately lay and deliver the full firepower they’re capable of right now with the existing weapons. Supposedly, the M240 is capable of delivering accurate fire out to 1800m. Yet, supposedly, we’re “overmatched” by Taliban firing PKM systems off of God-knows-what. I’ve never actually seen intel reports talking about what they were doing to achieve the results they were; apparently, it was just hand-waved away. If they were delivering the fires they were, from the ranges they were, then it pretty much had to be off the tripods. But, we never bothered to do the work to find out. Which is a clear indicator of the problem we have with the idiot brass running things. The question of “Just how are they able to do this to us…?” should have been the first thing asked by anyone, before committing to a multi-million dollar initiative to buy new cartridges and guns.
If we thought of things in a systemic way, the whole NGSW idea would be blown out of the water. What, pray tell, is an individual weapon supposed to be doing within our tactical framework? What is it intrinsically capable of, given the likely field conditions that an individual rifleman will likely encounter?
I’ll put it to you that the idea that you’re going to get the average soldier up to the point where they’re delivering consistent and reliable individual kills out to 800m is pretty much a non-starter. You can shoot that well on a range; under field conditions? From hasty firing positions? Under stress? I highly doubt it. And, that’s not what you want to be doing, anyway: Between about 450-1000m, you should be engaging your targets with a machinegun and mortar, anyway. Why? Because, that one guy you saw at that range likely represents Abu Hajaar, the dumbass that has exposed his entire squad. You shoot his ass, you’re doing the enemy a favor. You really need to be putting a burst into the area surrounding him, along with some mortar rounds, just on speculation that he’s got his friends with him. That’s the systemic role of the MG team; speculative fires.
You don’t win by engaging individuals at 800m. You win by engaging the squad that he’s a part of, hidden around him. The guys you can’t see; the ones you need to kill and demoralize. Odds are, if you take Abu Hajaar out with a single shot, that’s gonna intimidate a few of them. They’ll likely say to themselves, however, that Abu Hajaar exposed himself, so he got what he had coming. If you absolutely blast the surrounding area, and take out Abu Hajaar and a bunch of his buddies…? Now, they have to take care of the wounded, and you’re going to be far more effective because you did that.
This is what I’m getting at; the systemic role of the individual weapon isn’t to take those 800m shots. Those rightfully belong to weapons with real area effects at that range. The individual weapon exists for local security, and because you need something that’s “wieldly” enough to be able to take those close-in snap-shots that present themselves in the immediate vicinity of your element. And, close-quarters battle.
The idea that you’re going to fight infantry actions with a bunch of guys firing single aimed shots at each other at the 800m range is ludicrous; that’s not how it works.
Each weapon has a role, a purpose in the overall system. If the brass can’t explain it to the lieutenants that they’re training, well… How the hell can they sit in judgment on what weapons we need to design and buy?
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Anybody but a specially-trained sniper with a specially-built sniping rifle who tries to engage a single enemy soldier target beyond about 300 meters is just kidding himself (or herself).
You can bolt all the ACOGs and etc. you want on top of the rifle, but that doesn’t change the fact that when it comes to hitting a man-sized target three football fields away, physics, ballistics and Mother Nature ain’t on your side.
Mother Nature comes into it because of that factor they never talk about in all the “taking back the infantry half kilometer” BS; Terrain. Other than in a hardpan desert, odds are that you won’t be able to see a target that far away. Ask any Midwest deer hunter about that one. Actual war is not an American Sportsman antelope hunt with William Shatner.
Once you get much past 150 to 200 meters, it’s no longer a practical job for the infantry rifle. It’s a job for the area-effect weapons, starting with the tripod-mounted machine gun, and so on through the grenade launcher, the mortar and on up to artillery and CAS.
Regarding the GL, and nobody understanding its role, in the “Black Hawk Down” incident in Mogadishu the section leader actually sent the one guy with a 203 under his rifle off on a scout. WTF? I thought that was just the movie; checked the book. no, the LT really did that. Double WTF?
Apparently, the concept of Do Not Throw Away Your One Relatively Heavy Weapon somehow got missed in the IOBC. I’m guessing whoever was running IOAC that time around thought it had been covered already and didn’t think it was necessary to reiterate something that “basic”.
It’s not that we don’t have effective weapons, it’s that nobody who uses them is taught to use them correctly. Because the ones who decide what proper “doctrine” is know about as much about actual war fighting as the proverbial hog knows about Sunday.
As you stated, Kirk, we did not have effective doctrines in WW2; the belief in the Garand turned out to be based on wrong assumptions. The real “killer app” for U.S. troops, as my uncles confirmed, was radio communications. Screw the “precision rifle fire” beloved of the British Army; call in artillery or an airstrike, or better yet, both.
We should still be doing it that way today, as the next step up from proper use of the support machine gun on a proper tripod.
We need an infantry version of Keith’s Three Laws of Gunfights;
1. Have a rifle.
2. Never bring a rifle to a machine gun fight.
3. Never bring either one to an artillery fight.
4. But always, always bring your AN/PRC-119 to any fight.
I like your rules. Simple aphorisms that you can’t forget and which stick with you.
The root of the damn problem, as I see it, is that the general rule is that the fighting man doesn’t think, and the thinking man doesn’t fight. And, when I say that, I’m not cutting either one down. The best guys I was around in the Army for getting things done usually were not guys that spent a lot of time thinking about what they did… They just did it. Likewise, the sort of guy who writes good documentation and manages to distill what is going on into some pithy aphorismical format? He’s rarely one of the ones that “gets things done”. Too much of line drawn between Butler’s Scholars and Warriors:
“The nation which draws too broad a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools.”
You’ve also got that incredible internal Army culture that says that the lower enlisted orders aren’t supposed to be literate; not a hell of a lot is asked of them, not a lot comes from them.
Contrast that with the British Army. I encountered a Royal Engineers Warrant Officer, filling the role of Platoon Sergeant. His “light recreational reading” for deployment was Shakespeare’s collected works, heavily dog-eared and footnoted, while he was working on the latest iteration of the British Army pamphlet for route clearance, the equivalent of our Field Manuals. He was the sole guy responsible, since he’d been the one running route clearance ops in Northern Ireland.
The result of all this is that there’s f*ck and all for documentation or real carefully worked out basic principals. When I was coming up the ranks, I was a little taken aback to realize that the whole of our then-current tactical system was basically out there to be picked up through osmosis; you went looking for “Hey, how do I use all this crap?” in what you’d have thought should have been the bible, and there wasn’t much in the way of real “laying out of the system” for anyone to use. It might be my fault, too… I’m one of those people who tends to go out into the weeds and then tries to work out what is going on, looking for the basic operating paradigm rather than relying on what he’s told. And, to be brutal? When I was looking, back in the day, I couldn’t really find squat that told me how to fight. Lots of advice about things that didn’t matter, lots of battle drills, but nothing that laid out the whole lay of the land in terms of what to do with each system, what it was supposed to do.
The Army relied on word-of-mouth and osmosis to pass a lot of these things on. That doesn’t work; if the chain of knowledge is broken, guess what? There’s nobody there to tell you “how to”, and there’s nothing recorded.
It’s weird, too, that we don’t take squads out with platoon leaders, and then tell the PL to demonstrate how to fight the squad, then move him up to a platoon. It’s all “throw the kid to the wolves” and he never really gets the fact that he’s an orchestra conductor using all the instruments that he’s been given to fight the battle. Lots of these guys just don’t get the “how”, where to employ his machineguns and at what targets, what to have his riflemen doing, where he ought to be concentrating his indirect fires…
Which is why they stumble into engagements and then get their asses handed to them by some Taliban dude that’s been at war with the world since the Soviets invaded back in ’79. They just don’t know what they need to, or how to use what they have. If they did, then the fact that they can’t answer tripod-based fires from 1200m with bipod-mounted MG teams would be right there at the forefront of their minds. Instead it’s “OMG, we’re outranged!! Overmatched!!”
I mean, I could articulate a piece of this sort of thing, as you have here, but the problem is that the people who should be doing that… Aren’t. That’s why the whole “overmatch” thing upsets me so, because when I hear them say that stuff, it’s clear they don’t have a good personal vision of how it is all supposed to be working. If you can’t articulate it clearly and succinctly, then you really don’t have a handle on it.
“(…)Finger malfunction cause by insufficient coffee.(…)”
This is reassuring, as I feared you started using marketdroid speech and comply with https://genius.com/Allan-sherman-chim-chim-cheree-lyrics
From all those commercials I see on TV
When I see an ad that can’t be understood
I know that the product has got to be good;
That grip angle & buffer idea could probably could be utilised, for a Manual locking mech; using a type of lever action design… I quite like that Bond arms lever action Ar, but if we think back to that cmmg angled bolt lug Ar “Thing” could we not combine a kind of half lock bolt and a form of lever action to permit semi auto fire; Minus a gas system or a lever action lock… A hybrid. In essence using “ergonomics” I.e. Specifically that grip angle. If the pistol grip was a seperate unit and hinged at the front so it could pivot at the rear maybe only 3-5mm Then inconjuction with a lever (As per a lever action) your hand would pull the lever back against the grip and your arm via your hand would via that angle of pistol grip, er… “ergonomics” would be pushing against the pivot… So down I.e. It would be pivoted 3-5mm down and thus allowing a rise (up) of said measurement.
Why? Well the hand lever could engage “In the action, the top of said lever” the bolt at an angle of / approx now on its own this would not offer enough delay but in conjuction with the angled cmmg bolt AND!! And this is integral, he he…
Inconjunction with the buffer “Bare with me, he he.”
Your hand would via pushing against the pistol grip “You are gripping via the lever” would via a / shaped on both sides extension going up into the action from the top of the pistol grip, terminate in a bar running between both / extensions… Ok…
Upon firing the bolt hits the top of the lever handle “You are gripping” pushing it \ roughly… From /. Now the bar aforesaid from the pistol grip extension, sits above the part of the lever engaging the bolt. And thus is pulling down on it, a downwards force on the /… So in order for said / to go \ approx it must overcome this force…
And this force is backed up by!! The buffer! Well in the sense of, the gun will move back into the stock… And an extention running from the buffer to behind the / and below the bar… Does!! This “Said extension is a flat bar piece of steel that has a upside dowm ^ cut in it… This cut is behind the parts aforesaid, and therfore until the cut sits under via recoil I.e. The gun moving into the stock, The 3-5mm rearward movement of the lever engaging the bolt “The / of the top of the lever is only engaing the bolt by this amount see?” Well then it can’t go \ and therefore your grip on the lever and the ergonomics of your arm pushing the pivoting pistol grip forward & the motion of the gun going into the stock maybe 3-5mm in conjuction with the cmmg angled bolt…
Means!! You “May get” get a type of schwarzlose mechanical disadvantage delay. Allowing you to crank out an fg42 in 5.56mm even. Polymer furniture with no gas system and fibre optic sights for $299.99 ideally he he. Possible generally constructed from steel stampings.
Point being cheaper than a bond arms lever action, or a semi auto and you get a longer barrel in a semi bullpup configuation whats not to like. “If it can be made to work” I think it is plausible. He he!
Doubtless needs a bit of work, but I think in principle that may work; maybe even in 7.62x39mm, On the return the buffer extention should in theory just push everything 3-5mm back into position; the lever in order to go 3-5mm back from / to \ may see the bottom of the lever so your hand be pushed forward I.e. Opening your grip maybe 3-6 cm but the extension should on the return hit the rear of the \ Lever and knock it / Something like that. Anyway “ergonomics” used for mechanics, interesting idea; Action wise is I think kinda Schwarzlose MG but using your hands… Type thing. Reckon the lever engagement with the bolt would be sufficent; a lever being maybe 8mm wide and 5mm or so think, so decent surface area and you have the lugs which doing slow things down albeit while trying to open.
Or the extenstion from the buffer, would pull the lever from \ to / because it would have a cut out for it to sit in, type thing. Anyway, can’t go any further with that without drawing on the back of a fag packet; probably should have done that first. Still reckon might be onto something; that grip angle does suggest you could push forward on it, to do stuff.
Extension from the stock, to which the buffer moves the gun into; still reckon, it may work that… It “Flows” BANG!! Bolt hits lever – Grip starts to open – Hand is pushed back – Gun moves into stock – Bolt opens.
Reason? A sort of “high point” in rifle calibre; allowing peasants to procure more squirrels to eat.
Peasant defence against Alien attack? Not Au-Fait with U.S gun laws… Try manufacture in Alaska.
Mind you I am something of an Iconclast; I always agreed with Cromwell for smashing in the stained glassed windows. Let there be actual light. As oppose made up bullshit about the fucking tooth fairy.
“(…)lever action(…)semi auto(…)”
If you need self-loading rifle derived from lever action then use Madsen M1896 http://modernfirearms.net/en/military-rifles/self-loading-rifles/denmark-self-loading-rifles/madsen-m1896-eng/
I have nothing against the fairy per se, lets feed the fg42 soviet ammo as oppose 8x57mm k98 barrel 23″ fg42 3″ shorter…
Yet in 7.62×39 it would be 3″ longer than an ak. If the Fg42 is not better in 7.62x39mm I would be shocked; from a limited understanding of it. As oppose an expert. But yes, a physical shock. Thus why don’t we crank some out; in 7.62x39mm!
“(…)why don’t we crank some out; in 7.62x39mm(…)”
This would require serious redesign and would probably yield fire-arm which would be unduly heavy and long compared to one designed from start for smaller cartridge.
Meh, crank them out.
Perhaps is this a record, with most comments ?
What is ?
I honestly don’t know what they are off the top of my head, but we’ve run the comments well over a hundred on a couple of these… I may be to blame on a lot of those.