The MG42 (shortened from : Maschinengewehr 42, or "machine gun 42") is a universal that was developed in and entered service with the Wehrmacht in 1942. It supplanted and in some instances, replaced the in all branches of the German Armed Forces, though both weapons were manufactured and used until the end of the war. 
The MG42 has a proven record of reliability, durability, simplicity, and ease of operation, but is most notable for being able to produce a stunning volume of suppressive fire. The MG42 has one of the highest average of any single-barreled man-portable machine gun, between 1,200 and 1,500 rpm, resulting in a distinctive muzzle report. There were other automatic weapon designs with similar firepower, such as the Hungarian-Gebauer single-barreled tank MGs and the Russian 7.62 mm GShak aircraft gun. However, the MG42's belt-feed and quick-change barrel system allowed for more prolonged firing in comparison to these weapons.
The MG42's lineage continued past Nazi Germany's defeat, forming the basis for the nearly identical MG1 (MG42/59), and subsequently evolved into the MG1A3, which was in turn followed by the . It also spawned the , , MG74, and the , and lent many design elements to the and . The MG3 served with many armies during the and remains in use to this day.