The principal German infantry weapons are here described in order to enable U.S. troops to identify and, when the opportunity exists, to operate them.1 No attempt has been made to provide all the details necessary for the maintenance and repair of the weapons described.
Reports from observers, enemy documents, British publications, and other sources of information have been examined and compared in order to present in a compact and simple form all the pertinent information on the main German infantry weapons. Wherever possible, the exposition is based on an actual examination and operation of the weapon concerned.
The equipment of the German Army in 1939, and its present equipment, reflect the settled policy of the German High Command to have the smallest variety of weapons consistent with meeting operational requirements. While emphasis has been maintained on developing weapons with a high degree of fighting efficiency, only selected types have been designed for mass production.
As the battle fronts have widened and the theaters of operations become more varied, the Germans have been forced to increase the variety of their weapons and to improve existing matériel. In addition, they have augmented their supply of weapons by using captured matériel.
No attempt has been made in the sections which follow to describe experimental or new German weapons which have not yet come into wide use. Nor is captured matériel used by the Germans considered. Therefore, on occasion U.S. troops may encounter German infantry equipped with some weapon not included in this study. However, a good knowledge of the standard German weapons will usually form a sound basis for understanding the operation of the newer German weapons.
For the armament and organization of the German infantry regiment, the principal unit which employs the weapons described herein, see figure 1.
Figure 1.—Armament and organization of German infantry regiment. (This chart shows the principal unit which employs the weapons described herein.) [Click to enlarge.]