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The Fallschirmjägergewehr-42 (FG-42) was a semi-automatic rifle produced by Germany during World War II.

Like its counterpart, the Sturmgewehr 44, The FG-42 was a revolutionary new weapon that might have influenced the outcome of World War II if it had been produced in sufficient numbers. Since it was only produced in low numbers, its effect was inconsequential, but it influenced many firearm designs for years to come.

Table of contents
1 Early Development
2 Field Testing
3 Descendants of the FG-42
4 Statistics
5 External links

Early Development

The Fallschirmjagergewehr-42 was first developed amidst the internal rivalries of the Third Reich. After the inception of the G41 and G43 semi-automatic rifles into use by the German army (Heer) and the Waffen SS, Hermann Göring (then the commander of all Luftwaffe forces) insisted that his paratroopers and base guards would be supplied with an even more advanced self-loading rifle. Requirements were strict - it had to be light enough for the individual paratrooper to carry with him on the drop. It also had to incorporate full automatic fire, and serve the role of a sniper rifle when needed. Engineers and scientists went to work, and soon developed the weapon. Six manufacturers were given contracts to produce the gun. The result was a beautiful, efficient, and unmistakeable weapon that was well-received by the paratroopers for which it was intended. Firing the standard-issue 7.92x57mm Mauser round, it packed a powerful punch. The FG-42 had a 20-round side-mounted magazine that gave it its distinctive appearance. It also incorporated a revolutionary design feature that came as a mixed blessing to field troops. When it was fired in semi-automatic mode, it fired from a traditional closed-bolt position. When fired on full-auto, it fired from an open bolt. All FG-42 rifles were also equipped with high-powered rifle scopes. Altogether, it was a good design for a rifle, and it was ready for issue at the front.

Field Testing

However promising the weapon was, it did have its drawbacks. The side-mounted magazine was common in many weapons of the era, but it was found to significantly unbalance the FG-42. In addition, the recoil produced by the heavy rifle round when set to full-automatic fire was substantial. Furthermore, a large ball of flame was produced on each shot, so it would not serve well as any sort of a sniper rifle.

However, everyone agreed on the chief problem of the weapon. Steps had been made within Germany to cut back on weapon production times. Mass-production of weapons such as Karabiner 98k rifles, MP40 sub-machine guns, and MG42 heavy machine guns was in full swing. The FG-42, with its finely machined parts, was far too costly to produce in quantity.

By the time the FG-42 Mark II was developed, the war had significantly changed for the worse. Frequent allied bombing raids had crippled German industry, and the only weapons that could be produced were made out of second-rate materials and were subject to poor production methods. The FG-42 was perfected too late to alter the course of the war. In all, only about 7000 of them were produced, and very few of them ever found their way into the hands of troops. But the ideas behind the FG-42 were not so quick to die off.

Descendants of the FG-42

Numerous features, including the in-line design, the pistol grip, and the gas-operated bolt selection process were studied extensively by Army engineers after the war. Ultimately, this resulted in weapons such as the American M60 machine gun. Numerous other examples exist, all attesting to the engineering genius of German arms manufacturers.


External links