The air cooled MG34, Maschinengewehr 34 was the first selective fire weapon produced in the 20th Century. Designed by Louis Stange, the chief designer at Rhienmetall, it was accepted into service with the Reichswehr in 1934 but delivery did not actually occur until 1936. It weighs 11.5kg and had a rate of fire of 900 rounds per minute, using the same standard 7.92mm x57 ammunition as the Infantrymans K98. Initially the ammunition was fed through the weapon in 50 round belts, made up of non-disintegrating links. It could also hold a 75 round saddle drum (Patronentrommel 34, not shown). This saddle drum arrangement only being used in the pre-war and early part of the war. Later basket magazines, Gurttrommel 34 were used
The MG34 was an expensive (310 Reichmarks), and time consuming piece of equipment to produce. It soon became apparent that a faster rate of fire MG was needed and the MG34S & MG34/41 were born. Despite the higher rate of fire both of these developments of the MG34 were seen as inferior and so the MG42 was the result.
The firing rate meant that it was advisable for the MG34's barrel to be changed after every 250 rounds of fully automatic fire.
The MG34 however, continued to be produced and issued for the entire duration of the war. Classified as a HMG when mounted on it's tripod, Lafette 34. Sighted with a simple V backsight or the optional AA spide sight it had an effective range of 3,800 yards when used on it's bipod. It saw service in all the major campaigns of the war.
The example shown above was produced by the Germans at Waffenwerke Brünn in occupied Czechoslovakia in 1945 (ordnance code DOT45).
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