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MG 34 and MG 42 Machine Guns

MG 34 and MG 42 Machine Guns Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review November 2012 Title MG 34 and MG 42 Machine Guns
Author Chris McNabb Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2012 ISBN 9781780960081
Format 80 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $18.95


Nazi Germany's legendary MG 42 machine gun won mention in Chris McNabb's entertaining A History of the World in 100 Weapons from Osprey.

Now it and progenitor MG 34 earn separate treatment the publisher's celebrated "Weapon" series.  And author McNabb deftly distills the astonishing account in just 80 pages.

Coverage begins with notes on machine guns during World War I.  After failing to produce an acceptable light-duty design, Germany sought a "universal" solution, an Einheitsmaschienengewehr for a range of roles – including mobile infantry, fixed emplacement, vehicle defense, anti-aircraft and naval use.  Just modify the sights, mounts and feed.  And while superb, the resulting MG 34 proved expensive and slow to produce.

Enter the MG 42.  Redesign vastly reduced costs, streamlined production and improved performance.  With a quick-change barrel and new feed system, the air-cooled, recoil-operated weapon delivered a blazing 1200rpm at ranges exceeding 1,000m.  And terrified foes soon christened it "Hitler's Buzzsaw", "Linoleum Ripper" and other noms de guerre.

McNabb skillfully summarizes both designs in World War II and postwar service – including licensed production throughout the world.  Czech-manufactured versions, for instance, saw both Israeli and Syrian service.  And Taliban insurgents with Pakistani variants fought NATO forces with postwar models in Afghanistan.

Dozens of excellent photos and informative drawings illustrate this handy handbook.  And heavy reliance on primary sources – coupled with abundant annotations – confirms its value as a reliable reference.  I just wish McNabb included a photo or drawing of that outré MG 34 bicycle mount!

Some consider MG 34s and MG 42s the finest general-purpose machine guns ever made.  And linear descendants certainly remain in service today.  Make this vital volume your springboard to further study of these crucial combatants.

Strongly recommended.

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!