The M.G. 34, machine gun, model 34, is not directly comparable to any U.S. weapon. It can be fired without a mount (fig. 32), or it can be mounted on a bipod (fig. 33) for use as a light machine gun,3 on a tripod (figs. 34 and 35) for use as a heavy machine gun,4 and on a special antiaircraft mount (fig. 36) or on the standard tripod mount with adapter and special sight (fig. 37) for use as an antiaircraft gun, as well as on numerous other types of mounts on tanks and other vehicles (fig. 38). Consequently, this all-purpose gun is the most common German automatic weapon in use by the German armed forces. Every infantry squad,5 and many other types of small German units, can be expected to be armed with the M.G. 34.
Figure 32.—M.G. 34 in action without bipod or tripod.
b. How to Identify
The M.G. 34 may be identified by—
(1) Air-cooled jacket.
(2) Shape of plastic shoulder stock.
(3) Plastic pistol grips and double trigger.
(4) Folding front and rear sights. (An auxiliary antiaircraft ring sight that fits on the barrel jacket may also be found.)
(5) Operating handle on the right side.
Figure 33.—Two views of M.G. 34 on bipod mount.
Figure 34.—M.G. 34 on tripod mount.
(1) General.—The M.G. 34 is a short-recoil weapon, the bolt being locked to the barrel by means of interrupted screw threads at the moment of firing and for three-sixteenths of an inch of recoil, unlocking itself from the barrel in the next nine-sixteenths of an inch in travel. There is no accelerator to assist the backward movement of the recoiling parts, but a recoil assister on the muzzle helps to move the recoiling parts to the rear by gas pressure on the front face of the barrel. The same purpose is served by a similar part on the U.S. Browning caliber .30 M2 aircraft machine gun.
Figure 35.—M.G. 34 on tripod mount, and with antiaircraft adapter.
Although the rate of fire is probably too high for the weight, the gun is a handy air-cooled automatic weapon. A simple mechanism makes it easy to exchange a cool barrel for a heated one. The gun is belt- or magazine-fed, the feed usually coming from the left. However, by substituting a special feed arm in the feed cover, it can be made to feed from the right side.
Figure 36.—M.G. 34 on antiaircraft mount, using drum feed.
(2) Table of Characteristics.—
|Principle of operation||_ _ _ _ _ _ _||Short recoil on the Solothurn7 principle.|
|Caliber||_ _ _ _ _ _ _||7.92 mm (.312 inch).|
|Ammunition||_ _ _ _ _ _ _||All 7.92 ammunition not expressly forbidden for use in the machine gun (for example, the Patr. 318 manufactured for the Pz.B. 39 antitank rifle is unsuitable, because it will not fit in the chamber).|
|Type of feed||_ _ _ _ _ _ _||1. Nondisintegrating metallic-link belts, which hold 50 rounds and may be connected
together to make longer belts.|
2. 75-round double, or saddle-type, drums used in antiaircraft or light ground versions of the gun.
3. 50-round belts contained in a metal drum attached to the feed block of the gun in tank or antiaircraft versions of the gun.
4. Canvas containers holding 100-round belts are also used in tanks.
|As light machine gun (bipod)||_ _ _ _ _ _ _||26 1/2 pounds.|
|As heavy machine gun (tripod)||_ _ _ _ _ _ _||68 1/2 pounds.|
|Standard sights||_ _ _ _ _ _ _||Rear vertical leaf sight with open V notch, graduated from 200 to 2,000 meters (219 to 2,187 yards). There is a folding peep sight on the rear sight that is used with the antiaircraft ring sight.|
|Auxiliary||_ _ _ _ _ _ _||The antiaircraft ring sight, kept in the maintenance kit, fits its base on the barrel jacket. When used on the tripod as a heavy machine gun, a telescopic sight is mounted on the tripod. This telescopic sight is graduated up to an effective range of 3,500 meters (3,827 yards).|
|Muzzle velocity||_ _ _ _ _ _ _||2,500 to 3,000 feet per second, depend in on the type of ammunition used.|
|Maximum||_ _ _ _ _ _ _||5,000 yards (heavy or light).|
|Effective||_ _ _ _ _ _ _||3,827 yards (heavy, with tripod and telescopic sight), 2,000 yards (light).|
Figure 37.—M.G. 34 in action on tripod mount, with antiaircraft and telescopic sights.
Figure 38.—M.G. 34 in action on boat, showing protective shield and drum feed.
d. How to Operate
(1) Safety.—A manual safety is located on the left side of the receiver, just above the trigger and in front of the sear. To prevent the safety lever from jumping from either the "safe" or the "fire" position; a spring-actuated catch is assembled to the safety lever. This catch engages in notches cut in the receiver at the "S" (sicher—"safe") and "F" (Feuer—"fire") positions and holds the safety in the position where it is set. This gun cannot be cocked with the safety lever in the "safe" position, that is, when the letter "S" is exposed. When the letter "F" is exposed, the gun is ready to fire.
Figure 39.—Sketch showing method of inserting loaded belt in feedway of M.G. 34.
(2) To load and fire.—(a) Using belt from belt box.—Insert the tab of the belt (see fig. 39), with the open ends of the links down, in the feedway on the left side of the receiver (if you have no tab on the belt, take two cartridges from the end of the belt and use the empty links as a tab). This may be done with the feed cover either open or closed. Close the cover plate, and pull the belt through until the first round is stopped by the three cartridge-holding pawls on the underside of the feed block. Now cock the gun by pulling the operating handle, on the right side of the receiver, to the rear as far as it will go. The bolt now catches in its rearward position, and can be released only by squeezing the trigger. The operating handle must be returned to the forward position before firing the gun, since otherwise injury may result from the handle moving forward when the trigger is pulled. Check the safety lever to be sure that it is in the "fire" position, that is, with the letter "F" exposed.
Figure 40.—Close-up of
(b) For semi-automatic fire.—Check the sights to see that both the front and rear sights are in position. Press the top part of the double trigger which is marked "E" (Einzelschussfeuer—"single-shot fire").
(c) For full-automatic fire.—Press the bottom part of the double trigger which is marked "D" (Dauerfeuer—"continuous fire"). The assistant should hold down the bipod legs, as this gun, in full-automatic fire, has a marked tendency to jump.
(d) Using 50-round belt from drum.—Press the catch on the sliding lever of the drum, and move the cover to the open position so that the tab end of the belt can be pulled from the drum. Insert the tab in the feedway, with the open end of the links down. Engage the hook which is on the front (narrow) end of the drum onto the lug on the front end of the feed-plate lower assembly. Turn the rear end of the drum toward the gun until the spring catch on the drum engages the lug on the rear end of the feedway. Now proceed as in belt loading from a belt box (see d(2)(a), p. 61, above).
(e) Using 75-round double drum.—If this type of drum (fig. 40) is found with the gun, more
than likely the gun will be set up to take these drums without any changes, that is, with a special
feed-cover (see fig. 41). This special feed-cover has an opening to take the
Figure 41.—German method of firing M.G. 34 from bipod mount.
(3) Sights.—(a) Rear sight.—The rear sight is divided into meters. (For a conversion of the meters into yards, see fig. 42.8)
(b) Telescopic sight.—The telescopic sight is used with the tripod mount for aiming the machine gun in either direct or indirect fire (see figs. 43 and 44). When direct fire is being employed the shutter is set to direkt ("direct"), thus exposing the meter graduations of the elevation drum. The required range is then set, in meters, on the elevation drum by turning the elevating knob.
Figure 42.—Rear sight of M.G. 34, showing relation between yards and meters.
In indirect fire the shutter is usually turned to indirekt ("indirect"), thus covering the elevation drum and bringing into position an index for reading the elevation micrometer. The required elevation is then set, in mils, on the elevation scale and elevation micrometer.9
A collimator (see fig. 44) is provided for use in establishing the safety point of minimum elevation for firing over the crest or over the heads of friendly troops. The collimator traverses with the telescope, but can be elevated or depressed. As one looks into the collimator, a cross may be seen which remains stationary as though it were at an infinite distance. Aiming is accomplished by lining up this cross with the target.
Figure 43.—Telescopic sight on M.G. 34.
Figure 44.—Telescopic sight for M.G. 34 (rear view).
(4) Immediate action.—(a) General.—If the gun fails to fire, cock it by pulling the operating handle to the rear, and then squeeze the trigger. In drawing back the operating handle, the gunner must know by the feel whether the bolt was in the extreme forward position or whether it was halfway forward. If the bolt was already in the extreme forward position and the cartridge was not fired, the gunner may, after he has made sure that the dud cartridge has been ejected, try to fire again. If no cartridge is ejected when the bolt is drawn back, or if a cartridge case falls out of the ejection port, the gunner must in no case try to fire again, but should put the gun on "safe," open the cover with the left hand, and remove the belt from the feed-block lower assembly in order to see whether a cartridge has been left in the front part of the receiver or in the barrel. If necessary, the feed-block lower assembly should be removed. If there is a cartridge in the front part of the receiver, it should be removed. However, if the cartridge is already in the chamber, the gunner should close the feed cover, put the safety on "fire," and squeeze the trigger. If the shot does not go off, the bolt should be left in the extreme forward position in order to prevent a "cooked-off round" (self-ignition of the cartridge in the hot barrel) when the breech mechanism is open. If the cartridge has not been loosened within 5 minutes, the lock and the barrel should be changed. Then the cartridge in the chamber can be removed by the gunner at his leisure. When heated by firing, a barrel which has a live cartridge in the chamber must never be changed immediately. In case another cartridge becomes stuck in the same chamber after a short time, a thorough cleaning of the chamber is recommended.
If the bolt pulls the base off a cartridge case in extracting it, and then jams a new round into that part of the empty case remaining in the chamber, first remove the new round and change the barrel. When time permits, extract the cartridge-case remnant from the barrel, using the extractor for ruptured cartridges which may be found in the M.G. 34 tool kit.
(b) Stoppages.—The following chart may be helpful in curing stoppages:
|1. The cartridge does not center the feedway.
The barrel is free; the bolt is in order and in the proper forward position.
(When belt feed is used)
|a. The cartridge is too far back in the belt (belt improperly filled; belt link bent or too wide).||a. Draw back the lock, open the cover, and push the cartridge into the proper position in the link of the belt.|
|b. The belt-feed (lever) is worn.||b. Load and try to fire again. If the gun does not fire, replace the worn belt-feed lever.|
|c. The spring of the belt-feed lever or spring of the compressing lever is broken.||c. Put in a new spring.|
|d. The feed-plate lower assembly is broken.||d. Put in a new feed-plate lower assembly.|
|1. The cartridge does not center the feedway.
The barrel is free; the bolt is in order and in the proper forward position.
(When drum feed is used, for example, with the
|a. The drum is improperly filled.||a. Take the drum off and try by shaking to bring the cartridge into the right position. If this does not work, put on a new drum. Empty the improperly filled drum later and fill it again.|
|b. The spring in the drum is too weak.||b. Put on another drum and retighten the slack spring in the drum.|
|2. The cartridge is not pushed out of the belt or out of the drum.
The bolt is obstructed in its forward movement. It is caught on the cartridge (in the belt or the drum).
|a. The reaction of the bolt is insufficient because the recoil is too weak; movable parts are dirty or not oiled.||a. Clean and oil the dirty parts.|
|b. The contact surfaces of bolt are too rough.||b. Change the bolt.|
|c. The camming ways on the locking piece are too rough or the lock is jammed in the cartridge chamber.||c. Change the barrel.|
|d. The recoil booster is loose.||d. Screw the recoil booster tighter.|
|e. The cartridge sticks too tightly in the belt (bent belt-link).||e. Remove the cartridge from the belt link.|
|f. The safety grip-spring is too weak.||f. Change the safety grip-spring.|
|g. In drum feeding, the cartridge is pressed too hard against the bolt.||g. Put on another drum; loosen the tension on the spring in the drum.|
|3. The feed pawl does not take hold of the cartridge (in the belt or the drum), in spite of sufficient recoil and forward movement of the lock.||a. The ejector is worn out or broken.||a and b. Change the bolt.|
|b. The ejector spring is weak or broken.|
|c. The feed pawl spring is weak or broken.||c. Replace the feed pawl spring.|
|4. A round is not fired.
The bolt is in its extreme forward position. In reloading, a live cartridge is ejected.
|a. The firing-pin spring is broken or too short.||a and b. Change the bolt and replace the firing pin (new spring).|
|b. The firing pin spring is weak or broken.|
|c. The sear is worn or broken.||c. Replace the sear.|
|d. The bolt is broken or the return spring is weak or broken.||d. Replace the bolt or return spring.|
|e. A deformed cartridge is in the barrel.||e. Reload and fire again.|
|f. The return-spring rod is jammed in its rear position.||f. Remove burrs or rough places on the receiver.|
|g. There are dirty or rough locking lugs.||g. Clean and oil the dirty parts.|
|5. Cartridge case is not extracted.
The bullet of the new round has struck the cartridge case still sticking in the chamber.
|a. The extractor is worn or broken.||a. Change the bolt.|
|b. The extractor spring is weak or broken.||b. Repair the extractor spring.|
|c. A cartridge case is jammed in the chamber.||c. Change the belt or drum. Let the bolt spring forward once more, and pull it back again. If this does not help, change the barrel.|
|d. A cartridge case is torn off (ruptured case).||d. Change the barrel; later remove the cartridge case from the barrel.|
|6. A cartridge case is not ejected.
The cartridge is jammed in the ejector opening by the closing bolt.
|a. The ejector is worn.||a. Change the bolt.|
|b. The ejector stud is loose or worn.||b. Insert a new ejector stud.|
|c. The recoil is insufficient.||c. See under 2, above, especially a and d.|
|d. A cartridge has bounced outside of the gun and sprung back into the gun through the ejection port.||d. Change the position of the gun.|
(5) To unload.—To unload (using the belt drum or belt), cock the gun by pulling the operating handle to the rear, and set the safety lever to the "safe" position. Raise the feed cover by pushing forward the feed-cover catch (at the rear end of the feed cover). Remove the belt from the gun. After checking to be sure that the chamber is empty, close the feed cover, move the safety lever to the "fire" position, and ease the bolt forward by holding the operating handle and squeezing the trigger.
To unload when using the 75-round double drum, proceed as in unloading with the belt or belt drum, except that the double drum must be removed before the feed cover is opened.
(6) To change barrels.—(a) General.—The barrels on this gun should be changed after firing 250 rounds in full-automatic fire, or, in cases of emergency, after firing 400 rounds. Spare barrels are regular equipment with the M.G. 34 and are carried in either single- or double-barreled containers by the gun crew.
Figure 45.—Removal of barrel of M.G. 34.
(b) Procedure.—Cock the gun and set the safety lever to the "safe" position. Push in the receiver catch (located just below the rear sight base on the left side of the barrel jacket) and turn the receiver almost a half turn in a counterclockwise direction (see fig. 45). Lower the shoulder stock until the barrel slides out of the barrel jacket. Remove the hot barrel, using an asbestos hand pad which is furnished with the spare-parts kit. Now level the piece and insert a cool barrel into the barrel jacket. Turn the receiver back to the right until the receiver catch again locks together the barrel jacket and the receiver. Set the safety lever to the "fire" position and commence firing.
(7) Tripod mount.—(a) General.—When the M.G. 34 is employed on its tripod mount, it is considered to be a heavy machine gun. On this mount, overhead and indirect fire may be employed. (See figs. 34 and 35.)
(b) Mounting gun on tripod.—After unfolding and erecting the mount,10 first place the rear end of the machine gun on the mount so that the projections on each side of the gun fit into the claws on the cradle (see fig. 34); then lower the muzzle end of the gun onto the cradle. The front part of the gun is secured by means of the hinge clamp.
(c) Elevation and traverse.—The elevating handwheel is on the left of the elevating gear (see fig. 46). A wing nut is furnished for clamping the elevating gear, and adjustable elevating stops are provided to enable the gun to be elevated gradually.
Adjustments for direction are made by shifting the traversing slide along the traversing arc by means of a handle on the right in which an oil bottle is fitted. There is a clamping lever for locking the traversing slide. Traversing stops are arranged for the traversing arc, which is graduated to facilitate adjustment of the stops (see fig. 46).
Figure 46.—Rear view of tripod mount for M.G. 34. (See tables 1 and 2, pp.
In front of the elevating gear is an automatic searching-fire device, operated by the recoil of the gun in the cradle, which causes a projection on the cradle slide to strike a roller on the device. Actuated in this manner, the device alternately elevates the cradle step by step and depresses it similarly each time a shot is fired. The limits of the searching fire, and consequently the distance on the ground covered by it, can be increased or reduced by means of two levers at the inner end of the elevating handwheel.
|OVERHEAD FIRING TABLE (IN YARDS)|
|Distance to own troops||Safety|
|TABLE OF MINIMUM CLEARANCE|
(1) Belts.—The belts used in this gun are of the non-disintegrating metallic-link type. Each
length holds 50 rounds. Lengths may be joined together to give a belt of any length, but lengths
of 250 rounds are usually the longest used. When the gun is moved frequently, and when it is used for
antiaircraft purposes, the
Figure 47.—Method of joining metallic-link ammunition belt.
(2) To join belts.—At one end of a belt there is a link with a small semicircular
tongue (fig. 47(1) B) and at the other end of the belt (fig. 47(1) B) there is a
link with a small rectangular hole in the side of the curved body of the link. To join one belt to
another, the tongue on the last link of one belt is slipped through the hole on the first link of
the second belt until the small projection on the tongue is over the small
(3) Types of ammunition.—
|Ball||Patrone schweres Spitzgeschoss (Patr. s.S.), cartridge with heavy, pointed bullet.||Green lacquer coloring around the primer seat.|
|AP||Patrone mit Spitzgeschoss mit Stahlkern (Patr. S.m.K.), cartridge with steel-core pointed bullet.||Red lacquer coloring around the primer seat.|
|AP tracer||Patrone mit Spitzgeschoss mit Stahlkern und Leuchtspur (Patr. S.m. K.L'Spur), cartridges with steel-core pointed bullet with tracer.||Red lacquer coloring around the primer seat, and black tip on the bullet.|
Ammunition is usually packed 1,500 rounds to a case. A case weighs about 113 pounds. Ammunition
(4) Hand-loading belt.—When there is no belt-loading machine available, the belts may be loaded by hand. Insert rounds in the belt from the end with the projection until the cannelure of the cartridge case is stopped by the tit on the end of the projection. This will correctly place the round in the belt. Belts are connected as stated in e(2), p. 79, above.
(5) Lubrication of belt.—The belts should be lubricated with heavy oil if the cartridges are kept in them for any purpose other than immediate use. One application of heavy oil will last for 10 usings of the belt in the gun.
(1) Oiling and cleaning.—The M.G. 34 is sensitive to dirt, dust, and sand. To function well, it must be kept cleaned and oiled at all times. The ejection-port cover should be kept closed whenever the gun is not firing. This ejection-port cover will automatically open whenever either of the double triggers is pulled. The belts should be kept oiled. The same type of care and cleaning given to similar U.S. weapons will suffice.
(2) Stripping.—(a) To remove bipod.—Raise the front sight. Press the leaf spring catch of the bipod (located underneath the barrel jacket behind the bipod guide). Rotate the bipod until it is on top of the barrel, and then remove it from the gun.
(b) Feed cover and feed block.—Release the feed-cover catch (at the back end of the feed cover) by pushing it forward, and raise the feed cover. Press the feed-cover hinge pin (see fig. 48) from right to left and remove the feed cover. Center the belt feed slide in the feed block and pull the feed block off the feed cover.
(c) Shoulder stock.—Press the catch located on the underside of the plastic shoulder stock. Give the shoulder stock a quarter turn (in either direction) and then remove it.
(d) Buffer housing and return spring.—In removing the buffer housing, the large return spring will be released. Therefore, care should be taken to maintain pressure on the buffer housing while removing it. Press the buffer-housing catch, which is located beneath the rear end of the receiver back of the pistol grip, turn the buffer housing a quarter turn counterclockwise, and allow the tension on the return spring to be gradually relieved.
Figure 48.—Cross section of trigger, recoil, and feed mechanism of M.G. 34.
(e) Bolt.—Strike the operating handle toward the rear with the palm of the hand, bringing the bolt back. Withdraw the bolt from the open rear end of the receiver, pushing with the finger if necessary.
(f) Barrel.—Proceed as stated in d(6), page 73, above.
(3) Assembly.—Assembly is carried out in the reverse order to that used in the stripping procedure. The following steps should be checked. When putting the bolt assembly back into the receiver, insert the bolt head in the receiver so that the bolt rollers fit into the receiver roller grooves. Make sure that the nail-like ejector plunger is in its forward position. When assembling the feed block to the feed cover, first center the belt-feed pawl slide on the feed block. Next, center the feed arm extension on the feed cover. Finally, slide the feed block onto the feed cover so that the belt pawls will be on the left side of the gun. The raised rib on the feed arm should match the grooves on the stud on the top rear end of the bolt carrier.
Several accessories go with the gun itself. These are—
(1) Spare barrels, usually three, in a single- and a double-barreled holder;
(2) Tripod for using the weapon as a heavy machine gun (this may have an antiaircraft mount adapter)
(3) Antiaircraft tripod;
(4) Belts and belt boxes;
(5) Belt drums and belt-drum holders;
(6) Tool kit, containing
1 ruptured-cartridge extractor,
1 antiaircraft auxiliary ring sight,
1 open-end wrench,
1 cartridge-extractor tool,
1 oil container,
1 plastic case containing sulphur (used with oil as a lubricant)
(7) Canvas or leatheroid breech cover;
(8) Spare parts (in the belt box marked with a yellow "E" (Ersatzstücke—"replacements")
1 screw-top metal container,
1 oil container with bristle brush on cap,
1 open-end wrench,
2 complete bolt assemblies,
1 bolt carrier,
1 firing pin,
1 firing-pin retainer,
1 firing-pin lock;
(9) Asbestos hand pad (for handling hot barrels)
(10) Package of rubber muzzle caps;
(11) 1 belt-feed pawl-slide housing;
(12) 1 belt-feed pawl assembly;
(13) 1 feed-plate lower assembly.
2 M.G. is the German abbreviation for Maschinengewehr, which means "machine gun."
3 The German tactical symbol for a light machine gun is .
4 The German tactical symbol for a heavy machine gun is or .
5 See "The German Squad in Combat," MIS Special Series, No. 9 (Jan. 2, 1943), for detailed descriptions of the tactical employment of the machine gun in the German squad.
6 For a more detailed description of the characteristics and operation of M.G. 34, see
7 The barrel-locking ring revolves while sliding in the supporting jacket, so that the bolt and main spring recoil in an absolutely straight line, the whole assembly being made of very simple round parts. Compare the action in the M.G. 42 (par. 13c, p. 85, below).
8 See fig. 5, p. 8, above, for the method of aligning German sights.
9 Elevation in mils is read on the elevation scale (coarse, 100-mil divisions) and elevation micrometer (fine,
10 If the tripod mount is folded, it should be unfolded and erected as follows:
(a) Release the clamping lever on the front leg, extend the front leg to the required position, and then lock the clamping lever.
(b) Loosen the wing nuts on the rear legs and push the rear legs back. Raise the mount to the required height and tighten the wing nuts.
(c) With one hand, grasp the handle; with the other hand, grasp the cradle. Push the press lever forward and raise the cradle, drawing the elevating gear smartly back (fig. 40) until it stands erect and engages the upper part of the mount.
(d) Adjust the legs, so that the cradle is horizontal when the elevating gear is adjusted to its old position. The machine gun can now be mounted on the mount.