Pre-Production FG-42 (Type C)

Thanks to the generosity of a collector in the Association of Maltese Arms Collectors and Shooters, we have a chance today to take a look at a pre-production FG-42, serial number 015. This is one of the guns manufactured by Rheinmetall (the series production would be handed over to Krieghoff) in between the Type A and B prototypes and the Type D troops trials guns. Its provenance is well documented, being previously owned by noted Dutch collector Henk Visser, who received it as a gift form the Rheinmetall factory museum, where it had been since the end of the war.

The gun shows a few minor variations from the standard “first pattern” (aka Type E) FG-42, including a split pin to attach the trigger group and more notably, a completely different type of rear sight. It also, exhibits a modified French MAS-36 bayonet, proving the lineage in that design element (not that there was really any doubt…). In our video, we will discuss the early development of the FG42, and where this rifle is situated in that story!

25 Comments

  1. Again with the grip angle, one wonders if the thing is raked to mimic the wrist angle of the usual bolt-action rifle semi-pistol grip wood stock. Plenty of people can also agree that the cruciform spike bayonet is next to useless unless it has sharp edges to prevent the action movie gun struggle scenario. Where’s the magazine loading kit when you need it?

    • Oh yes, I have same thought on the grip. What they could have done better is to make it round/ elliptical in profile. Anyway, this all was changed in follow-up model. This is indeed inspiring rifle (and I may have said it before) not surpassed as yet.

    • I don’t see any other explanation but its part of the reason
      that makes this rifle so damn cool looking. If one can consider
      “Cool” as a worthwhile attribute for a rifle. Which ultimately one cannot, in practical terms.

      • In WW2 the bayonet was already a very marginal weapon, but it was still the only secondary weapon most enlisted men had, unless they brought their own pistol or managed to keep a captured pistol. Keeping a captured pistol for own use was technically illegal in most armies, but sometimes even enlisted men managed to do it if their officers and NCOs looked the other way. Officers of course did it all the time.

        Back to bayonets; the Soviets and Japanese probably got a little more bayonet kills than other countries, since their doctrine said that attacks should be made with bayonets fixed. In addition the Japanese favored night combat, which was more likely to put the soldiers within bayonet range. Japanese soldiers were also given fairly extensive bayonet training.

      • If things go even vaguely according to plan, there are probably very few people who get threatened with or stuck with a bayonet.

        When things go Snafu, like they did with the british state’s war to re capture the Falkland Islands in 1982

        Supply ships sunk, helicopters, troop transport and ammunition supplies lost, and everything to be carried in back packs for a battle that was to be fought at the end of a long forced march…

        The additional weight of a bayonet and a gun capable of surviving being used as a pike, could be well worth it.

        Then there’s the use of a mounted bayonet for persuading crowds not to get too close.

        It may be that the cleaning Rod bayonet that Theodore Roosevelt personally vetoed for the 1903 Springfield,could serve those purposeseeking with much less weight and complication

        But, either way;

        “They don’t like it up ’em, Captain Mainwering!”

        • Purportedly, Theodore actually bent a rod bayonet in half with his bare hands. The fact that rod bayonets are inherently useless for everything except terrifying angry civilian mobs into submission says much, especially if one of the people in the mob challenges the bayonets with an ax. An oversized knitting needle will NOT withstand the impact of a felling-ax head.

          • The problem with the US M1903 rod bayonet was the round cross section. A triangular or cruciform “blade” is much stronger and stiffer for the same weight and length.

  2. The Luftwaffe were very clear that this was a semi-auto full power rifle with emergency full-auto use.

    In other words, if you replaced, in an 8-man squad, one MP40, six Kar98ks, and one MG34 with eight FGs, you would get a better result. It was not designed as an LMG or SMG. It was an attempt at a full power battle rifle with niche capability.

    The irony is that that these were never used in paratroop roles, and were instead issued piecemeal to Fallschirmjager used as infantry, at the time that the MP43/44/SG44 was already a better weapon.

  3. Kindred placing of the magazine on the left side:
    Germany: Dreyse MG-13 LMG 7,92x57mm
    Knorr Brense M35/36 LMG 7,92x57mm
    Sweden: Kg m/1940 SAV LMG 6.5x55mm select fire.
    Switzerland: Bern prototype StGw50 7.5mm kurz select fire.
    USA: TRW low maintenance rifle 5.56x45mm full-auto only.

    Anything else? Apart from numerous SMG designs?

    • The TRW Light Machine Gun represents an early attempt to make an AR-15 LMG but the FG-1942-style sideways placement of the magazine made it hard to handle in tight quarters.

    • “Anything else? Apart from numerous SMG designs?”
      Haganah: Dror early pattern
      Hungary: Solothurn 31.M Golyószóró
      USA: Johnson 1941 LMG

      • Ah, yes. So LMG use fairly or at least reasonably common… Rifles not so much.
        I seem to recall that Ian’s actual hands-on use of the Johnson 1941 turned up some surprising issues with it that were not noticed at first glance…

  4. Is it known, why the rear sight was changed to aperture sight? As far as I know, there were no other WW2 (and WW1) German small arms with aperture sights.

    By the way: is it known, why seems relatively unpopular the aperture sights in the WW1&2 European armies? According to this article [http://dougkerr.net/Pumpkin/articles/Aperture_Sight.pdf], the use of aperture sight is easier and more accurate due to parallax suppression. I hardly believe that, this phenomenon was really unknown to 2007.

    • I would say that the reason was simply tradition and the fact that a large number of people were already trained in the use of open sights. Most European armies had conscript armies at the time, after all. Nevertheless, aperture sights became much more common during the interwar years already with the introduction of the British No. 4 Mk.1 Lee-Enfield and the French MAS 36. The British had of course adopted the aperture sight already with the Pattern 13, although its production development, the Pattern 14 never became the standard rifle of the British Army.

      You could also ask why the V-notch rear sight with a barleycorn inverted-V front sight remained popular so long in military rifles. Many believed it to be the most accurate of open sights, and that may very well be, but as a combat sight it is probably the worst of all common open sights.

  5. The left side magazine does tend to make it unbalanced. The raked pistol grip only makes sense when firing from the prone. I would like to see the doctrine on full automatic fire since I’ve always wondered if it was similar to the BAR. Firing full auto from the hip while advancing to suppress. I’ve always guessed that the only reason to even equip an FG-42 with a bayonet was that some bureaucrat required it do do everything a K98 could do but better.

    I never heard that the FG-42 was supposed to equip every paratrooper or that it was designed to be fired while descending on a shoot (given the lack of control in German military parachutes since they were uncontrollable with a single attachment point , I am extremely skeptical). Instead I though the FG-42 was specifically developed in response to shortcomings from the assault on Crete. Specifically, heavier weapons were dropped in separate canisters. Only sidearms and SMG’s were carried during the descent.

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