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German Weapons

History of the Sturmgewehr 


This small article will contain some info on the history of the Sturmgewehr 44.

There are many books written about the Sturmgewehr (see the literature section), so here the history in a nutshell. 



To understand the history, we must first take a look at the ammo, and not the rifle itself.

After experiences in World War I, the German Army believed that the standard rifle ammunition (7,92 x 57 IS) was overpowered, 
so the weapon and ammunition designers started working on a new rifle cartridge.

After some experiments, this finally lead in 1941 to the approval of the so called "7,92 Infanterie Kurz Patrone" (infantry short cardridge).

on top: the 7,92 x 57 cartridge
below: the 7,92 x 33 cartridge



In the mean time two major weapon manufacturers (Haenel and Walther) were developing a weapon
that had to meet the following demands:

  • weight similar or less than the standard K98k rifle

  • length shorter than the standard K98k rifle

  • precision similar to K98k rifle up to 600 meters

  • single-shot precision up to 400 meters

  • possibility for automatic fire

  • firing rate between 360 and 450 rounds p. min.

  • possibility to use existing rifle grenade launcher

  • reliability under extreme cold and dust

  • simple construction

  • protection against dust and dirt

The Haenel modell, the MKb. 42 (H) was ready in Januay 1942, 
and the Walther modell, the MKb. 42 (W) was ready a month later.

Below some pictures are shown.

Note: these are 1/6 scale models. 



Below:  The MKb. 42 (H) -  Maschinen Karabiner 42 (Haenel)







The MKb. 42 (W) -  Maschinen Karabiner 42 (Walther)







The Haenel model fired from an open bolt, which had disadvantages, while the Walther model
fired from a closed bolt.

As can be seen, both models also had the bayonet lug. This was dropped in later models.

Both the Maschinen Karabiner were shown to Hitler on April 14, 1942, but he was not
impressed, and disapproved the further development of the weapons.

Despite the disapproval of Hitler, weapons were send to the Infantry School in Döberitz for evaluation.

The Infantry School favoured the Haenel design, and was very enthousiastic, but had some improvement suggestions.
This also meant the end of the Walther design.

Hitler however, continually refused to see the advantages of the Maschinen Karabiner .
His idea was that the infantry needed self-loading rifles which fired the standard 8 x 57 ammo and more submachine guns.

Nevertheless, the development of the new weapon continued  and now fired from a closed bolt.
On February 6, 1943 the improved MKb. 42 (H) was demonstrated to Hitler again. 
The weapon was now called MP 43 (Maschinen Pistole 43) for unknown reasons
To notice the difference, the open-bolt MKb. 42 was now called "MP 43 A" while the
closed-bolt version was called "MP 43 B" and later MP 43/1

Again Hitler declined the weapon in favour of the adaptation of the Gewehr 43.
He ordered that the MKb should not be produced and all work on the project had to be halted.

Once again, this had little effect, and 1500 MKb's (or MP 43 A) were to be sent to the front to Heeresgruppe Nord for trial purposes.
Why the open-bolt MKb. 42 (MP 43 A) was ordered instead of the closed-bolt MP 43 B is unkown.

On April 10, 1943 the Army High Command informed Heeresgruppe Nord that 2000 MKb's had been send.

The front reports were very positive, and based on this, the head of the ministery for weapons and ammunition
tried to persuade the Führer once more on September 30, and October 1st, 1943.

Finaly he was succesfull, and Hitler changed his mind and ordered production of 30,000 MP 43's per month.



Modifications and name changes.

Since the open-bolt version was rejected, the closed-bolt version got the name MP 43/1.

The MP 43/1 had a straight, unstepped barrel, but then it was ordered that it could adapt the standard G. Gr. Ger.
Rifle Grenade Launcher (Gewehr Granat Gerät), so the barrel was stepped down and the front sight was redesigned.

This re-designed weapon got the name MP 43







In April 1944, the MP 43 was renamed to MP 44, but there were no significant changes to the weapon.

Appareantly, for propaganda reasons, the final name change came in December 1944, and the MP 44 was
renamed in Sturmgewehr 44 (StG 44), as one of the secret weapons that should bring Victory to 
the already collapsing German Third Reich.


Created, maintained and Copyright © 2004 / 2005, Tom

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