Sturmgewehr 44 Rifle
|Country of Origin||Germany|
|Barrel Length||419.000 mm|
|Rate of Fire||500 rounds/min|
|Muzzle Velocity||685 m/s|
Contributor: C. Peter Chenww2dbaseThe Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifles were the resolution of the German need to provide infantrymen heavier firepower from their rifles, which before StG44 were not effective in close range combat. Prior to this design, heavy fire power from infantry units were typically in the form of machine gun crews; StG44 assault rifles were designed to resolve this issue as well, providing individual soldiers with greater fire power without needing to wait for machine gun crews to arrive and set up.
The first assault rifles made to satisfy this need were the 11,833 prototype Mkb 42(H) machine carbines made by the company Haenel (headed by the famed Hugo Schmeisser). They were field tested in Nov 1942 with general satisfaction. However, Adolf Hitler decided that resources must not be dedicated to development of new types of rifles in order to prevent complication of ammunition logistics. Since this decision also prevented the further development of Mkb 42(H) machine carbines, the work was disguised under the new name MP43 machine pistol, which gave the false sense that it was merely a project to upgrade an existing submachine gun. Hitler eventually learned of this fact and stopped the project, but in Mar 1943 allowed the project to continue due to the favorable reviews thus far. In Apr 1944, the MP43 project was renamed MP44 by per Hitler's order. In Jul 1944, the project was renamed to its final Sturmgewehr 44 name. These weapons were mostly referred to as StG44 assault rifles, though at times the prior names of Mkb 42(H), MP43, or MP44 might be used, though because the differences were relatively minor, they could all be regarded as the same weapon design.
The final design produced assault rifles that had a shorter range than contemporary rifles due to German research that most of the combat that took place in the European War took place at distances less than 300 meters. With the sacrifice of range, however, close range firepower that an infantryman could wield was greatly improved. Post-war American and British evaluation criticized them as being too heavy and too unwieldy, but one could also argue that this viewpoint was incorrect, for that the StG44 assault rifles began as a replacement for light machine guns that could also serve as a rifle, as opposed to the western path of development that aimed to enhance the infantry rifle with greater firepower.
The first Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifles were deployed to the Eastern Front, where they were well-liked as weapons that were able to match the greater rate of fire coming from Russian submachine guns, and with greater accuracy. Despite the success, however, the 425,977 assault rifles built through 1945 came too late to make a significant difference in the European War.
After WW2, Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifles remained in use with nations and rebel forces friendly with the Soviet Union, such as East Germany, Yugoslavia, and various forces in the Middle East and Africa.
The StG44 assault rifle design was considered revolutionary. Even though the design did not particularly evolve to any significant advances, the concept of assault rifles certainly lived on and became the standard weapons of modern infantrymen. The AK-47 and the M16 assault rifles, for example, hailed no heritage from StG44 design directly, but the StG44 assault rifles undoubtedly changed the thinking of the standard issue infantry rifles.
Source: Wikipedia. ww2dbase
Last Major Revision: Sep 2008
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George Patton, 31 May 1944