History of the Krummlauf Device: Hitler’s Folly (One of Many)

Today we are taking a look at the backstory of the famously recognizable Krummlauf device, the curved barrel attachment for the StG-44. It is really a perfect example of how German late-war desperation weapons took shape. It went from an idea nobody actually wanted to an impossible development program in the chaos of the German defeat.

You can see my previous video on an example of the Krummlauf (from 2014) here:


  1. “(…)went from an idea nobody actually wanted to an impossible development program(…)”
    That being said Allies also developed curved extension for their fire-arms, namely for Grease Gun, see 7th image from top
    Reasons were very similar for 90 degree extensions for StG-44 as
    Without infantry protection, the enemy could climb onto the tanks and drop grenades or spray machine gun fire into the inside of the hull, killing the trapped crews. To avert such situations, the Ordnance Department engineers came up with several curved barrel designs for the M3. The idea was the crew could extend the curved barrel out of the tank and spray enemy soldiers on their vehicle with fire, without exposing themselves. The issue of the curved barrels was limited.

  2. Would modern compressed copper bullets do better? They might fragment worse than lead bullets in the curved barrel. But maybe with the right composition and malleability the bullets could warp enough to better survive the journey and not do as much damage to the barrel.

    • The assault rifle ammunition did not have lead cores but iron cores in a thin layer of lead. Germany had a serious shortage of lead.

      • Ah === so full lead bullets might have worked better. I would hope some crazed fabricator would try to reproduce this to see just how well it did/didn’t work.

  3. Apart from use from inside a tank I reckon a fragmentation grenade would usually be a better option

    • Great idea. I was pondering what a good defensive strategy would be. Put a collection of launchers for fragmentation grenades all around the tank body. Have real short timed fuses on the grenades. The launchers for these would not need to throw the grenade very far. Just far enough for the explosion to not damage the tank.

      • Even simpler; Vehicle-mounted claymores.


        Modern-day versions would seem to be a useful backup to ROWS as anti-drone defenses.

        Interestingly, the use of such proximity-fuzed claymores as a defense against ATGWs was predicted by David Drake in his “Hammer’s Slammers” stories back in the 1970s.

        To neutralize a “buzz bomb” as they were called in the stories, it wasn’t necessary to destroy the missile; detonating its warhead before it hit the tank was good enough.

        clear ether


          • With this drone farce that has been presented to us in Ukraine, unfortunately… What is the “Krummlauf” for drone defense. Pressing issue. I say detonate the local “sky” area and everything in it, but you’d have to detect them prior so on and so forth. Endless indirect fire, creeping barrages from multiple Vickers guns with water cooling on possible locations of attack (Lead shower downwards on them) what? Something. And something cheaper than using them to attack thus in swarms.

          • Fuel air bombs could in theory be revolutionised by swarm drones themselves, an entire swarm releasing the precise mixture and the exact time and detonating it perfectly; huge bangs. But costly – Vapourise enemy drones in the vincinty though.

          • You take those light displays our Queens… Lizzys see you later display, each of those releases ingredients and detonating precisely; talking entire badly run flour mills going up sized explosions. Survival of drones in saud airspace – Zero. But cost, what to do. Stupid drones.

          • Personally thinking more “Vickers launched” ingredient dispensers, how much are small drones; fecking things ruined traditonal warfare, what next Terminators, ha.

          • Niti might be able to be used in regards detonation timings, wee rings tighten up; firing heat, cool down via “Flying” open up; enable fuse to activate something. Who makes all these drone… China, be no batteries left for stupid electric cars.

          • Vapourise the airspace above your guys creeping barrage, be ways… Must be some way, hard to detect; to take them out as individual units, mini Luftwaffe on you… Drones are a bad joke.

          • Fuel-air explosives are tactically useless due to their essential and effective unpredictability in the open air.

            They don’t work for either mine clearance or, really, much of anything else. They make really pretty explosions, though.

            The root problem is dispersal of the combustible and the movement of air. If you’ve ever tried initiating one of these things in a high wind, you’d instantly grasp why they’re inherently a bad idea, and if you’ve ever had one of these brilliant ideas “go south” because of the wide variety of variables you have to account for… You’d know why they never got into production in the West. The Soviets/Russians never stepped back and gave any real thought to the problems inherent, and just sorta hand-waved the whole “wind” issue. The whole “OHMIGAWD, they’ve got THERMOBARIC weapons!!!” thing is really more of an opportunity to turn a lot of Soviet/Russian troops into flaming tater tots than it is something to be really, really feared. If everything goes absolutely “right”, yeah, something like the TOS-1 is devastating. If it goes wrong, weeeeeelllll… Someone on the side with those massive targets running around is going to have a very, very bad day.

            It’s about like the idiots what came up with the MICLIC and other similar mine-clearance systems. End of the day, most mines are not pressure-sensitive enough for the line charge to do more than fling them out of the way, and you’re still hauling around a tub with a few thousand pounds of high explosives in it behind or on top of your vehicle. In. A. Combat. Zone.

            Bangalore Torpedoes and line charges are basically suicide systems only a step removed from kamikaze planes. You want to deal with mines and other such-like issues? Highly advise investment in lots and lots of expendable mine-proof vehicles, and just forget about trying to instantaneously neutralize said mines. Don’t work, and tends to do a couple of bad things: One, be real noticeable when you detonate that line charge, and two, tell the enemy in gigantic flaming color where you’re going to be attacking, right down to the nearest ten meters.

          • Aye but Kirk, I mean drones are flying… Yes… Thus “BANG!!!” in the Air = Drones flying, wibbley, wobbley; crash – Or vapourised, the wibbley, wobbley is my main aim. Turbulence in effect.

          • Well, I am saying Kirk with the shitty new drone tech being a mini Luftwaffe, we are clearly having issues. So what to do.

            Got to do something, jamming, wee .22 mini guns. Something, wind can be countered; windage, with precise detonation/spread of said coal dust etc.

            Fecking drones; think back – Drones, never heard of them.

          • And Kirk, if one could replicate a “Unfortunate flour mill accident, mid air; it would result in severe turbulance, you just have to repeat it.” Right anyway, lots of wee Luftwaffe, think on all of you. How to deal with it.

          • @PDB,

            Look… Here’s the problem with anything FAE. If you want to use something with tactical effect, that “effect” has to be a bunch of different things, and “Effective” is only one of the more minor ones. You have to have consistency, repeatability, and predictability in there, as well. FAE isn’t any of those, sadly…

            The problems stem from several issues, not the least of which is that you have to reliably and repeatably be able to disperse a fine powder or liquid into juuuuust the right amount of oxygen-laden atmosphere, then detonate it in such a manner that the blast wave propagates in the proper way to get your desired effect.

            People don’t grasp that you’re not just doing “Big bang” crap; what you are really doing with explosives is using the energy wave generated by a massive rapid conversion of otherwise solid material into a gas; that energy wave has to be generated in such a way that the wave does what you need it to do. This is why disrupting a shaped charge warhead works; you’ve effectively caused that energy wave to be dissipated and/or redirected.

            FAE stuff is inherently a problem because you’re never able to control all the variables; you can’t even reliably say where your point of detonation is going to be, because if it’s not where you need it to begin in the explosive cloud mixture, then it’s not going to have the effect you need…

            One of the problems that they ran into with SLUFAE, which was the “Surface-LaUnched Fuel-Air Explosive” mine breaching system was the minor problem of wind causing a differential in distribution of the explosive powder/liquid (they tried both, from what I understand…) and also issues with where the point of detonation was in the cloud. If you’re trying to do overpressure, in order to detonate mines, then the problem that comes in from having the blast wave propagating from an ineffective point for ground contact is obvious; you have to have the blast wave moving down and forward, hopefully. If, for some reason, maybe something sparks it or whatever, and it propagates from the ground up, then the blastwave effect you need to create the overpressure for the mines is going up, not focused down…

            Explosives don’t work the way most people think they do; if you don’t pay attention to the minutiae of where the detonation point is, and how the blastwave is going to propagate, then you’re effectively wasting a shit-ton of potential… And, you may not get the effect you need.

            If, for example, I have two breaching charges up against a concrete wall: One, I prime and detonate from the outside center face of the charge, and the other I prime and detonate from the lower edge of the charge where it’s in direct contact with the wall… Which of those two charges is actually going to breach the wall, do you suppose? I can about guarantee that the second one is just going to make a great, big bang, and your wall will probably be intact when it’s all over with.

            Blastwave, blastwave, blastwave… That’s what you’re using: The explosive is almost an afterthought. Put a spacer in between your charge and the target? You’ll need more “bang” than if it is in direct contact…

            All the variables that go into making an FAE happen have to be under your control, in order to be able to make use of the effects you’re creating. This is the central flaw of all FAE concepts: You can’t control all the variables. Hell, even inside a building? You may or may not have the control you need, and if your bursting charge does weird things with the combustible charge before you detonate it, because you failed to control for things like internal doors closing during the dissipation phase, well… You’re gonna have a bunch of unpredictable crap happen.

            Which is precisely why nobody sane tries to use FAE for those times when you absolutely have to have predictable and consistent effect. It’s nice to have it all go right when it’s going to do that, but if you try at plan an operation around it…? You’re massively overconfident in the technology, unjustifiably so.

            I think you’d have to have something like forcefield technology to isolate a particular hunk of atmosphere from the “weather” effect, or be able to do micro-predictive weather prediction, in order to be able to compensate for things like “Oh, look… A breeze just disrupted our shot…”

            This crap is a dark art, not a science. You need “science” or at least something a lot more predictable than what it is, in order to actually use it with effective tactical effect.

          • “(…)Fuel air bombs detonate the airspace per se, thus anything in it.(…)”
            Observe that such approach would also effect armoured vehicle deploying such time. Please unveil your calculations proving beyond reasonable doubt that such proposed device would be able to destroy threat without damaging host vehicle itself.

          • “(…)precise mixture and the exact time and detonating it perfectly; huge bangs(…)”
            Why do you need 2nd if you are able to position your machine precisely?

          • @Daweo,

            OK… Think about it. FAE is a mass of variables; you’ve got your combustibles, your oxygen, and the dispersal just as the major ones. Then, you have to consider “Where, precisely, do I need the point of detonation to be…?”, which is the biggie when it comes to making use of the blast wave propagating from where the conversion line is between “explosive” and “gas from the detonation”. You’re using that change of state wave as your primary tool to gain effect; if you don’t control precisely where it detonates from, no useful effect. If you’ve got a cloud of vapor that you’ve managed to get into just the right position in the right proportions, and then it is detonated from the wrong point in the cloud, the blast wave propagates differently, reducing the effect.

            This is why FAE is so damn unpredictable; too many variables, too many things to go wrong. Gust of wind? Bam; you’ve got your explosive cloud of vapor now moving from where you need it. Oh, the air density wasn’t spot-on to the data; bam; shit doesn’t have enough oxygen to work right. Say, what was the moisture/temperature level, today? Did the explosive dispersal fail to work properly because “clumping”?

            FAE is a really cool idea. You get lots of effect for not all that much material, and you can do all sorts of spectacular “BOOM” things with it… When the technique works right, and you’ve accounted for all your variables. Sometimes, that doesn’t work out so well… I recall one old warehouse we were blowing up, and nobody went through and took all the doors off the hinges. The charge that was supposed to disperse the “fuel”, which was actually a bunch of coffee creamer mix, did a really great job of blowing all those doors closed, which meant that the mixture of air and coffee creamer didn’t penetrate into every room properly, and there were areas of the warehouse that did not have any of the “stuff” necessary dispersed into them. Hit the “bang” button for the detonation charge, and we got a ton of broken windows and a partial collapse of the building, not the picturesque “blow out all four walls and leave the roof sitting on the foundation” we’d been aiming for.

            It’s a dark art; the SF demo sergeant we had evaluating us knew exactly what we’d done wrong, in that his first question was “Did you take the doors off, or tie them back…?”

            The madness gets exponentially worse when you’re out in open air, trying to make this crap work. Try doing it in a headwind; try doing it when it’s raining or snowing, or the conditions are not precisely the ones that the guys designing the warhead designed for…

            FAE weapons have a place; they don’t have a place when you have to put precise effects to use for specific specialized jobs like mine clearance or protecting your vehicles from drone attacks. On top of that, it’s like those nutty “reactive armor” blocks: What do you do when you’re the infantryman standing next to that tank that has those trigger…? Pray real hard?

            There ain’t no “magic beans” in this business; it’s all tradeoffs, all the way down. Sometimes, there are so many variables that your tradeoffs don’t even begin to balance out.

      • I was actually thinking of the benefits like portability and expense of a grenade rather than a krummlauf device for house-to-house or street corner combat. But I do see your point about armoured vehicles that can launch grenades.

  4. There was also one that shot to the side for urban warfare around corners. Not sure how they worked that sight. it would be interesting to see that also.

  5. For what it is, dubious utility or otherwise; Volkssturm or such, if they had lead for bullets… Etc. It is a decent idea in principle & device in practice I.e. It works, for what it is.
    Mind you if you got given one, you might well think “Times are a bit desperate” eh.

    • I am assuming, given the lack of cameras I.e. We have cameras on phones etc they didn’t… They came up with this as being cheaper & perhaps more practical; in use, the limited use intended than say mounts for said Sturmgewehr wee tripod/periscope arrangement. Given the lack of cameras. You could surely knock up a wee periscope arrangement tripod lark to try and do this; hiding the shooter a bit from return fire, but they went with this… Which I presume was because it worked in principle and was simpler in the circumstances to achieve its, limited effect – They will be firing artillery at you… Got a artillery version, ha. War eh, what a bad joke.

      • “(…)wee tripod(…)”
        Was is this? Should it be Vee to denote V shape of said device?

        I must inform that this is U.S. (Allied) development of
        not III Reich (Axis) development

        “(…)hiding the shooter a bit from return fire(…)”
        If you desired such effect and has G.41(W) at your disposal then use device shown at 2nd image from top https://shooting-iron.ru/publ/19-1-0-2044

        • I have just bought a kebab, said chilli sauce “I thought” big massive hot green chilli thing I just ate. Recovering, might be 1/2 hour or so.

          • Be with me all night that, must have misread it; usually you get chilli sauce, this was a more “Gourmet” version, shock like, said giant green chilli – Spat out its tail end, 1st I knew of it. Be with me till dawn that. Coming down my nostrils, fire balls. Anyway…

        • Кривоствольное оружие возвращается, I like that in principle; that missile thing you always post me that… Not sure of its meaning, he he.

  6. The real problem with the Krummlauf situation is that it indicates the central flaw of the “great man” leadership concept, what the Nazis and Hitler termed the Fuhrerprinzip. What lost the war for Germany wasn’t the tech-toy things so beloved of the Wehraboo types, but the entire system they were embedded in.

    Consider just the amount of time that went into just putting that display together for Hitler, where he enthused over the Krummlauf concept: How much critical manpower and attention went into that dog-and-pony show? What were the opportunity costs for it?

    The fact that nobody inside the Nazi system was capable of seeing the problems inherent to having a system so easily thrown out of balance because it was led by a childish nutter…? That was the problem, more than the stupidity of trying to build thousand-ton Maus tanks that couldn’t drive or deploy much past the factory gates…

    The Nazis were a personification of that boss you have that gives you seven different things to do, and they all have to be done in the same time you need to do three of them; you ask him to prioritize them, and he just stares at you like you’re stupid and says “All of them are the priority…”

    It wasn’t just Hitler and his ass-kissing sycophants; the entire system they set up was fundamentally flawed and unserious, based on false premises and assumptions. The Krummlauf situation was a symptom, a case study in why they had no business running anything. If Hitler had been a corporate executive, he’d have driven any enterprise he was put in charge of bankrupt within a few short years of being put in charge… Prototypical MBA graduate, really.

    • Think said device was volksstrum via Josef, likely given said… Central fka2 of “Great Man” lark. Crikey, was hot that chilli – Not expecting it, Sauce you dip through like…

    • The basic assumption of Hitler & Co. was “We’re smarter than everybody else on Earth because we’re Aryan”.

      Somebody should have pointed out to them that every insular group in history (Mongol, Persian, Zulu, Spanish Conquistador, whoever) made that same assumption.

      And they were all wrong, too.

      The “FAE” vs “Krummlauf” clash of theories is the classic mistake of “All-Encompassing Solve Everything At One Go” on one side versus “Carefully Targeted Solution With No Collateral Damage” on the other. (In the case of Krummlauf, they wanted to avoid damaging their own tanks.)

      What both philosophies have in common is that they almost never work as intended. Sometimes they don’t work at all. (FAE in open air with a breeze being a case in point.)

      It could be argued that strategic nuclear weapons are the “Solve Everything At One Go” philosophy carried to its ultimate conclusion. AKA “FAE That Actually Works As Advertised In The Real World.” (FAE experiments predate atomic weapons, in fact the French experimented with them in WW1.)

      Similarly, Less Than Lethal devices for police use in “crowd control” (the standard euphemism for breaking up riots) are an example of the “No Collateral Damage” philosophy. I have yet to see an “LTL” that actually did qualify on the “Less Than” bit, even when used exactly as per the instructions.

      What this proves if anything I don’t know. Unless it is that boffins are better at selling their pipe-dreams to politicians than they are at actually delivering on same. And/or that politicians are generally woefully ignorant of actual science as opposed to the Science! they always think will Solve All The Problems.

      Oh, RE “that boss”; A friend of mine was exactly that kind of boss. He never understood why nobody wanted to work for him.



      • There’s a fallacy at the heart of all these things…

        Go talk to the tradesmen on a jobsite, sometime. They’ll all tell you that the engineer and the architect are idiots; pose the same question to the engineers and the architects, and they’ll tell you that it’s the tradesmen and the clients who’re the problem, while the poor bastards paying for it all just want a nice house… While demanding the impossible and delusionally impractical, because they simultaneously don’t know any better, yet are utterly and arrogantly assured that they’re the smartest people in the world.

        Meanwhile, the pragmatic and sanely aware of their own shortcomings are sitting over here shaking their heads at the apparently insurmountable stupidity of it all.

        I keep hearing about these fairy-tale workplaces and political situations wherein all parties involved are mature adults who reasonably communicate and work together towards common goals, but I’ve yet to experience one in person, and I’m pretty damn sure that any I’ve read about in historical studies were likely the result of delusional types with no idea of what was really going on around them…

        There’s a sad reality demonstrated throughout history: It’s not the greatest or the best that wins; it’s rather, the “least worst” and whoever managed to muddle through disasters better than anyone else. There are really no “great men”, when examined in detail; they’re all solidly clay-footed, and not at all the laudable virtuous sorts their PR paints them as.

        I don’t know whether this is a good thing or a bad thing; imagine, if you will, a truly competent Nazi organization, led by an actual world-striding superman that lived up to the crazed imaginings of Hitler’s besotted admirers… That’s a thing of nightmare. Thankfully, the Nazis were sufficiently comic-opera buffoons to ensure their own well-deserved defeat, but what if they weren’t?

        The Allies really weren’t much better; so much folly, so little time to enumerate it. It’s a sad fact, but the true reality of WWII is that the “competency curve” for the Allies was fortuitously rising as the Axis one ran down. Timing is everything; had Hitler waited until ’46, the way he’d briefed his generals? It would have been a much, much different war. Of course, he’d have bankrupted Germany without the looted territories from the early war by about ’42 or ’43, but… It’s a bit of a think-piece, when you consider how those curves might have interacted, should the war have begun on a different date, with different starting conditions.

        There’s one thing, though: The Nazi German effort in WWII will go down in history forevermore as a case study in “How Not to Fight an Industrial-age War”.

        • Pretty much every war is like that. Whoever starts it capitalizes on momentum more than anything else. “Blitzkrieg” was using momentum to make up for bad decision-making on everything from TO&Es (Why no long-range heavy bombers for the Luftwaffe? Why so much transport still relying on horse draft?) to strategy (Why Norway? Why North Africa? Seriously, WTF?).

          Barbarossa was “Momentum on Steroids”. Driven by the (correct) perception that Stalin had kneecapped his own army with his purges and the (incorrect) perception that a “Knights of the Holy Vehm” replay would rally Russians to the Cause, or at least allow themselves to be rounded up and “ethnically cleansed”(wrong both counts).

          The momentum ran out at the gates of Moscow and from then on it was retreats, as the rebuilt Russian military got its s#!t together- and more importantly pretty much stopped paying attention to anything Stalin came up with. (Stalin issued orders; Zhukov “creatively interpreted” them.)

          The American response in both World Wars was similar, discarding outdated doctrines (“over the top and the best of luck” and “bombers are for coast defense”) and replacing the people who promulgated them with new personnel who saw things differently (“artillery concentrations” and “bombers are for bombing the enemy’s industrial base flat”).

          In the Pacific, the 1939 “Case Orange” called for a climactic Jutland-style battle between our battleships and the IJN’s off the Philippines around…May 1942. Right guess on timing, wrong on place and type of engagement; very, very wrong.

          The “Case Orange” battle happened on a small scale one night in Surigao Strait two years later. Was it important? Yes. Could we have won the war on that side if it had never happened? Also yes.

          We won the “bomber war” vs. Japan by the skin of our teeth. And lost about half the B-29s we built to fuel exhaustion RTB’ing because the Wright engines never delivered rated HP at any throttle setting, with resulting high fuel consumption. Meanwhile, the actually worked-right P&W Wasp Majors that were ready for the B-29D (aka B-50) were sequestered for Convair’s “any day now” B-36. Because “names” were in Convair’s corner. Management failure? Oh yes, big time.

          If you look back at any war, it almost inevitably comes down to what Ian Hogg said about Tsushima Strait in 1904, Tegethoff vs. Togo; a case of a force that did nothing whatever right (Russia) vs. one that did nothing important wrong (Japan).

          Another example? Gettysburg, 1-3 July 1863. Before that, the CSA could “do no wrong” and the Union Army couldn’t get its ducks in a row. (McClellan, Ripley….) After that, it was just the opposite. (Bragg, Hood and Wheeler at Atlanta…)

          Wars are as much a case of “management” as business. And so far, “management” has been where everybody puts the least productive workers.



          • “(…)Tsushima Strait in 1904, Tegethoff vs. Togo(…)”
            When and who?
            Said battle take place in 1905 (both in Julian and Gregorian calendar).
            Wilhelm von Tegetthoff died in 1871. that is decades before said battle.

          • I’d hazard a guess that eon has conflated Zinovy Petrovich Rozhestvensky with Tegethoff…

            It’s not that hard to confuse names at this remove; few study Tsushima Strait as a battle, any more. I’d expect that Tegethoff was remembered for the battles in the Baltic, which run into what Rozhestvensky is remembered best for, which is shooting up British fishing vessels in the Baltic…

            Either way, the names are somewhat immaterial to the point; the events still happened, and so did the multitudinous acts of mismanagement that led to them… I’d blame Nicholas II and his advisers far more for what happened at Tsushima, because the Russians sent there were pretty much asked to do the impossible, and, well… Russians. Not exactly a nation noted for their naval skills, even down to this day, where they’ve lost most of their Black Sea fleet to an opponent that lacks their own navy. I mean, Rozhestvensky gave it a damn good shot, but he was working with, again, Russians. Poor bastard.

          • “Wars are as much a case of “management” as business. And so far, “management” has been where everybody puts the least productive workers.”

            Truer words have rarely been spoken.

            And, the further implication there is that “the least productive workers” are typically going to be the same sort of politicking conniving get-over types that you really, really do not want in any position of power, but the shortsightedness of their early immediate supervisors and peers often means that they’re shuffled off to do things leading to the management track, just to get them out of the way. While, simultaneously, the Stakhanovite sorts who’re stalwart laborers at the coalface are generally mismanaged into early graves through overwork and refusal to “let them go” on to other things…

            It’s a vicious circle that really begins down at the lower levels of any hierarchical organization. Instead of promoting your problem children away, you ought be working on either reforming them or eliminating them, because the minute you put that sorry arsehole onto the track towards management…? You’re going to see them again, as your boss. Unfortunately, nobody at the lower levels is really perceptive enough to recognize these facts, and hell, even the arseholes in middle-management are blind to the issues. I was forced to allow a total and utter dirtbag go off to OCS after his having committed some truly egregious security violations, all in the name of going along to get along… Morons. You have to be observant and highly critical of people you put into these “leadership tracks”, because if you aren’t…? They will be back to haunt you. Seen it happen sooooo many times…

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