German Machine Gun Trick

The following intelligence report on an unusual German remote-controlled machine-gun position encountered by U.S. troops in Normandy was published in the Intelligence Bulletin, Vol. III, No. 4, December 1944.


A U.S. staff sergeant, who served as an observer for a mortar section in the Normandy campaign, reports an unusual German method of firing a machine gun by remote control. Although this method has not been reported by other U.S. soldiers, and although no concrete evidence as to its effectiveness can be presented, the idea is noted here for what it may be worth as a sample of the German soldier’s ingenuity.

German WW2 Remote-Controlled Machine-Gun Trick

German Machine-gun Trick. A close-up of the machine gun, with, its pulleys. Riflemen-observers whistle signals to the gunner, to indicate Allied approach via point A. The gunner zeroes knot A, which trains the muzzle on point A. The cord arrangement for firing is not shown here.

The sergeant tells of inspecting a captured German machine-gun emplacement, which had been prepared in the highly novel manner illustrated in the figure. A rope had been attached to the butt end of the gun. This rope ran through pulleys set up on each side of the rear of the gun, so that movement of the rope would aim the gun in any lateral direction. The gun then was zeroed at certain positions in the field of fire, and these positions were marked by knots in the rope. Thus the gunner could aim the gun, and, by moving the rope back and forth, spray an area with bullets from a position out of the line of fire when the gun was attacked. The gun was fired by a trigger-and-cord arrangement not shown in the original field sketches.

The German machine-gun crew consisted of a gunner and two or three riflemen who served as observers and who reported to the gunner the particular point on the which the gun should be trained.

This machine-gun position appears impractical at best, and may be an incorrect report. The Germans however did produce a special periscopic aiming and firing apparatus for the MG34 and MG42 machine guns. U.S. ordnance reported on this device as the “Deckungszielgerät für le. 34 u. 42 Dezetgerät: Undercover Aiming and Firing Apparatus.”
Deckungszielgerät für le. 34 u. 42 Dezetgerät: WWII Undercover Aiming and Firing Apparatus for MG34 and MG42

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