At about the middle of the 1930ís, the German Army organized offensive infantry
corps which had machine guns and machine pistols as the nucleus of their small
arms. The infantry divisions contained three regiments as itís main body. Each
regiment consisted of three battalions, which had four infantry companies each.
The 1st, 2nd and 3rd companies each had 12 light machine guns, 16 machine
pistols, 3 light mortars, and 2 anti-tank guns. The 4th company, which was
called a machine gun company, was equipped with 12 (later 16) heavy machine guns
and 2 medium mortars.
The machine gun that gave birth to and constituted the back ground of such organizatios were the well-known MG-34 and the model MG-42.
In 1934, Mauser completed a new machine gun of 7.92 mm caliber based on the Swiss Solothorn 30 machine gun then used by the Austrian Army. The new machine gun employed the Solothorn mechanism such as the air-cooled recoil operation system and the selective fire lever between continuous fire and single fire. It was linear and slender in appearance. The muzzle brake was fixed to avoid vibration and recoil caused by high cyclic rate of fire (up to 900 rounds per minute) that was one of the advantages of the mechanism. The gun was of the belt-fed type. Belts containing 50 rounds each were carried in a gun belt box with a capacity of 300 rounds.
Immediately after completion, the new machine gun was adopted by the German Army. Officially designated model 34 machine gun, the weapon was mounted on a great number of combat vehicles and military planes as well as used by infantry corps.
The MG-34 later showed activity in all theatres of war. In 1942, the model 42 machine gun first appeared in the battlefield. The MG-42 was a remodeled version of the MG-34 and better suited for mass production. Since pressing process was largely used facilitate manufacture , it is said that even a small factory was able to produce it. The MG-42 had considerable improvements in performance over the MG-34. The rate of fire was much higher and reached 1,500 rounds per minute. In addition, the MG-42 was durable enough to withstand changes in temperature and rough handling in the battlefield. It showed itís excellent performance that was never effected by such conditions. The Germans used the same machine gun as a heavy machine gun or a light machine gun, according to itís tactical use. The former was so called when used on a tripod for support fire and the latter was so called when used on a bipod as an offensive weapon for infantry.
Accessories for the weapon used as a light machine gun consisted of 300 round gun belt boxes, 50 round saddle drum magazines, spare barrels, a tool kit and machine oil. When used as a heavy machine gun, the weapon had additional accessories as follows: telescopic sight, tripod, tripod container, single AA mount, anti-aircraft ring sight, etc. A sun shade was also added in the accessories when the gun was used in the tropics.
Machine guns possessed by the German Army totaled 126,800 in number by the outbreak of WWII. But they increased to 231,000 on January 1945 near the end of the war. This shows what great importance the German Army attached to itís machine guns.
This kit comes in a shrink-wrapped end-opening type box. I am no fan of this
type of box. Parts seem to find their way past the end flaps and become lost.
Give me a tray and lid type box any day.
The color box art is in the usual Tamiya style, which is posed against an all white back ground. The illustrations show 3 machine gun teams on a grassy field. One team of two troops has a MG-34 mounted on the back of one guy and a gunner standing behind him working the trigger. The second 2 man team also has a MG-34 on a bipod and the 2 men are prone firing it. The third two man team is crouched behind a MG-42 on a tripod. Behind them, and illustrated large size is an officer figure peering through binoculars. All are shown in steel helmets with jack boots and assorted field gear on their belts.
The back of the box has color illustrations of the 3 MG teams. The team with the MG-34 mounted on one guyís back is shown as a 2-view. The team with the MG-42 on a tripod is also a 2-view. The prone team is a single view and viewed from above. The standing officer with his binoculars is a 2-view.
These illustrations are the assembly and painting instructions. Colors are called out in Tamiya XF series of paints. However, we are not told what these colors are and modelers will have to look up what they are somewhere. Bad move Tamiya.
Inside the box are 2 dark green styrene trees of parts in a stapled-shut cello bag, along with the small decal sheet.
There are two small sheets in the kit. One is all in Japanese and the other all
in English. Each one contains the history of the German Army machine gun troops.
Also a chart of the organization of their units. The reverse side of these
sheets has black and white illustrations showing how to assemble the 2 different
machine guns on their mounts and illustrations of the single spare barrel
carrier case and the double barrel one.
The first dark green parts tree holds: the standing officer figure (he is divided into a full body with separate arms), the prone gunner figure (also full bodied with separate arms), The gunner for the MG-34 team that has the gun mounted on a trooperís back (divided into separate lower body half, torso and arms), the trooper that bears the gun on his back is divided the same, There are 7 steel helmets on this tree also, 6 shovels in carrying pouches, 2 mess kits, 7 gas mask canisters, 2 peaked field caps, 2 bayonets in scabbards and various equipment and ammo pouches. (47 parts)
The second dark green tree holds: the trooper loading the MG-42 on the tripod (heís divided into separate lower body, torso and arms), the gunner of this same team (divided into separate legs, torso and arms), the trooper loading the MG-34 in the prone team (with full-body and separate arms), There are 3 MG-34ís. One of these has a folded bipod attached to it. There is a separate folded bipod, 6 assorted ammo pouches, a pair of binoculars, a MP-40 machine pistol, the MG-42, an ammo belt, 2 open ammo boxes, 3 Luger holsters, 7 canteens, a ammo drum for the MG-34, an extended bipod, a single spare barrel carrying case and a double barrel one and all the parts to the tripod mount. (48 parts)
The small decal sheet completes the kitís contents. It has steel helmet insignia for SS, Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe. Unfortunately, there are not any decals for uniform shoulder insignia or sleeve insignia which would have been nice. Modelers will have to hand paint these using the illustrations that are on the box side panel. This decal sheet has a copyright date of 2001 on it.
The detail on these figures is very good and I recommend the kit to modelers to use in various dioramas.
The kit is courtesy of my wallet and a 40% off coupon used at the Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby provides these printable coupons on their web site constantly. Sometimes it climbs to 50%. Nice to get a bargain once in a while!
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