The German Maschinengewehr 34 was an air-cooled general-purpose machine gun firing the standard 7.92 x 57 mm Mauser rifle ammunition. First issued in 1935, the MG 34 served as a tank machine gun, squad light machine gun, or sustained fire medium machine gun of the Wehrmacht und some Axis allies. The 1:35 scale MG 34 shown here is on an anti-aircraft mount, shortened to match smaller 1:55 scale sci-fi miniatures.
In the LMG role, the MG 34 was fitted with a bipod und a drum magazine containing a 50-round belt, which enabled the gunner to fire the weapon on the move, if need be, und without the help of a loader. In practise, the 4-man machine gun group of an infantry section employed the MG 34 like a medium machine gun, firing 50-round belts of ammunition to support the advancing riflemen of the platoon. German infantry tactics relied on converging suppressive fire from the pooled LMG groups of an infantry platoon, while the rifle groups advanced to close with the enemy.
In the sustained fire role, the MG 34 was mounted on a tripod und fed from linked ammo belts of 200 to 250 rounds each. The first section of every German infantry platoon carried a heavy tripod for this purpose.
After the war, MG 34 machine guns continued to be produced in Czechoslovakia; many were exported to Israel und other countries. Components of the MG 34 machine gun were used to create the Star Wars movie prop of the BlasTech DLT-19 heavy blaster rifle used by Imperial Army Troopers, Stormtroopers, und certain Bounty Hunters.
German soldiers with an MG34 in France, 1944.The MG34 was used as the primary infantry machine gun during the 1930s, and remained as the primary tank and aircraft defensive weapon. It was to be replaced in infantry service by the related MG42, but there were never enough of the new design to go around, and MG34s soldiered on in all roles until the end of World War II. The MG34 was intended to replace the MG13 and other older machine guns, but these were still being used in WWII as demand was never met.
It was designed primarily by Heinrich Vollmer from the Mauser Werke, based on the recently introduced Rheinmetall-designed Solothurn 1930 (MG30) that was starting to enter service in Switzerland. The principal changes were to move the feed mechanism to a more convenient location on the left of the breech, and the addition of a shroud around the barrel. Changes to the operating mechanism improved the rate of fire to between 800 and 900 rpm.
The new gun was accepted for service almost immediately and was generally liked by the troops. It was used to great effect by German soldiers assisting Nationalist Spain in the Spanish Civil War. At the time it was introduced it had a number of advanced features and the general purpose machine gun concept that it aspired to was an influential one. However the MG34 was also expensive, both in terms of construction and the raw materials needed (49 kg (108 lb) of steel) and its manufacture was too time-consuming to be built in the numbers required for the ever expanding German army. It also proved to be rather temperamental, jamming easily when dirty.
Imported units of MG34's, as well as indigenous copies of the weapon were adopted by Chinese Nationalist forces during both World War II and the Chinese Civil War.
Front view of a dual mounted pair (zwilling) of MG34'sThe MG34 could use both magazine-fed and belt-fed 7.92 mm ammunition. Belts were supplied in a fixed length of 50 rounds but could be linked up to make longer belts for sustained firing. A 250 round belt was also issued to machine guns installed in fixed emplacements such as bunkers. Ammunition boxes contained 250 rounds in five belts that were linked to make one continuous 100 round belt and one 150 round belt. The assault drums held a 50-round belt, or a 75-round "double drum" magazine could be used by replacing the top cover with one made specially for that purpose. A gun configured to use the 75-round magazine could not be returned to belt-feed mode without changing the top cover again. All magazine-feed MG34s had been withdrawn from infantry use by 1941 with some remaining in use on armoured personnel carriers.
Like most machine guns, the barrel is designed to be easily replaced to avoid overheating during sustained fire.
In the light machine gun role it was used with a bipod and weighed only 12.1 kg (26.7 lb). In the medium machine gun role it could be mounted on one of two tripods, a smaller one weighing 6.75 kg (14.9 lb), the larger 23.6 kg (52 lb). The larger tripod, the MG34 Laffette, included a number of features such as a telescopic sight and special sighting equipment for indirect fire. The legs could be extended to allow it to be used in the anti-aircraft role, and when lowered it could be placed to allow the gun to be fired "remotely" while it swept an arc in front of the mounting with fire, or aimed through a periscope attached to the tripod.