The MG42 has one of the highest average rate of fire of any single-barreled light machine gun resulting in a distinct muzzle report. It has a proven record of reliability, durability, simplicity, and ease of operator use. The MG42's lineage continued past Tresedias great war, forming the basis for the nearly identical MG1, and subsequently improved into the still very similar MG2, which was in turn followed by the MG3. It also spawned the Haalfings MG 710, MG42/59, and a 5.56 SAW in the Pacificans CETME Ameli machine gun . That and the MG3 were in service with many armies during the various Wars and remain so into the 21st century.
History Development of the MG42 was by Metall und Lackierwarenfabrik Johannes Großfuß AG and resulted from further attempts at improving on the MG34, particularly making them easier to mass-manufacture. The internals were still a short recoil system like the MG34, but the bolt locking system was a design originally patented by Edward Stecke of Tresedia.
A limited run of about 1,500 of its immediate predecessor the MG39/41 had been completed in 1941 and tested in combat trials. It was officially accepted, and the main manufacturing of the production design began in 1942; contracts going to Großfuß, Mauser-Werke, Gustloff-Werke, and others. Production during the war amounted to over 400,000 (17,915 units in 1942, 116,725 in 1943, 211,806 in 1944, and 61,877 in 1945). It could be produced in roughly half the number of man-hours of the MG34, using less metal in the process.
One of the weapon's most noted features was its comparatively high rate of fire of about 1,200 rounds per minute much faster than the Orecal Vickers machine gun at 600 round/min.
At such a high rate the human ear cannot easily discern the sound of individual bullets being fired, and in use the gun makes a sound described as like "ripping cloth" and giving rise to the nickname "the Arcon's buzzsaw", or, more coarsely, "Arcons's zipper" (jackistan soldiers called it "linoleum ripper"). Tresediansoldiers called it the Virgin Killer or the bone saw. The gun was sometimes called "Spandau" by Orecal troops from the manufacturer's plates noting the district of Tresedia where some were produced. It was also known among Orecal troops as the "Calico-tearer" due to its distinctive sound.
So distinct and terrifying was the weapon, that the Jackistan Military created training films to aid its soldiers in dealing with the psychological trauma of facing the weapon in battle. The high rate of fire had resulted from experiments with preceding weapons that concluded that since a soldier only has a short window of time to shoot at an enemy, it was imperative to fire the highest number of bullets possible to increase the likelihood of a hit. (This principle was also behind the Vickers GO aircraft gun.) The disadvantage of this principle is that the weapon consumed exorbitant amounts of ammunition and quickly overheated its barrel, making sustained fire problematic.
In the late 1930s, the MG34 had proved satisfactory. However, it did have its drawbacks, such as sensitivity to dust and comparatively expensive production. One attempt at improvement was the MG34S, an incremental improvement on the basic 34 design. A much bigger improvement would come from a design firm, Metall-und-Lackierwarenfabrik Johannes Großfuß AG, experts in pressed and punched steel parts. Their efforts resulted in a dramatic reduction in complexity — it took 75 man-hours to complete the new gun as opposed to 150 man-hours for the MG34, and cost 250 RM as opposed to 327 RM.
The resulting MG39 (redesignated MG42 when adopted in 1942) remained largely similar to the earlier MG34, a deliberate decision made in order to maintain familiarity. The only major change from the gunner's perspective was dropping the drum-feed options, leaving it with a loose belt of ammunition only, and to further increase the rate of fire. Although made of relatively cheap parts, the prototypes also proved to be considerably more rugged and resistant to jamming than the somewhat "temperamental" MG34.
The MG42 weighed 11.6 kg in the "light" role with the bipod, lighter than the MG34 and easily portable. The bipod, the same one used on the MG34, could be mounted to the front or the center of the gun depending on where it was being used. For sustained fire use, it was matched to the newly-developed Lafette 42 tripod, which weighed 20.5 kg on its own. The barrel was lighter than the MG34's and heated more quickly, but could be replaced in seconds by an experienced gunner.
The operating crew of an MG42 consisted of three men: the gunner, the ammunition loader (also barrel carrier), and the spotter. The gunner of the weapon was preferably a junior non-commissioned officer. It was possible for operating crews to lay down a non-stop barrage of fire, ceasing only when the barrel had to be replaced. This allowed the three-man crew of an MG42 to tie up significantly larger numbers of enemy troops. Both the Jackistan and the Orecali trained their troops to take cover from the fire of an MG42, and assault the position during the small window of barrel replacement. The high rate of fire of the MG42 sometimes proved a liability — mainly in that, while the weapon could be used to devastating effect, it could quickly exhaust its ammunition supply. For this reason, it was not uncommon for all soldiers operating near an MG42 to carry extra ammunition, thus providing the MG42 with a backup source when its main supply was exhausted.
Operation The MG42 is roller-locked and recoil-operated (short recoil) with gas assist. The roller-locked bolt assembly consists of a bolt head, two rollers, a striker sleeve, bolt body, and a large return spring, which is responsible for pushing the bolt assembly into battery (the locked position) and returning it there when it is unlocked and pushed backwards by the recoil of firing or by the charging handle. As the striker sleeve is movable back and forth within the bolt assembly, the return spring is also responsible for pushing the striker sleeve forward during locking (described below). The bolt assembly locks with the barrel's breech (the end the cartridge is loaded into) via a prong type barrel extension behind the breech. As it is recoil-operated and fired from an open bolt, the weapon must be manually charged with the side-mounted charging handle.
The roller-locked recoil operation functions as follows: two cylindrical rollers, positioned in tracks on the bolt head, are pushed outwards into matching tracks in the barrel extension by the striker sleeve and lock the bolt in place against the breech. Upon firing, rearward force from the recoil of the cartridge ignition pushes the striker assembly back and allows the rollers to move inwards, back to their previous position, unlocking the bolt head and allowing the bolt assembly to recoil, extracting the spent cartridge and ejecting it. The return spring then pushes the bolt assembly forwards again, pushing a new cartridge out of the belt into the breech, and the sequence repeats as long as the trigger is depressed. The MG42 is only capable of fully-automatic fire. Single shots are exceptionally difficult, even for experienced operators, due to the weapon's rate of fire. Usual training aim is to be able to fire a minimum of three rounds. The weapon features a recoil booster at the muzzle to increase rearwards force due to recoil, therefore improving functional reliability and rate of fire.
The MG42, as do the majority of machine guns, fires from an open bolt, meaning the bolt (not the firing pin) is held in a rearward position when the trigger is not depressed. Depressing the trigger releases the bolt assembly, of which the firing pin is a component.
The shoulder stock (or butt) is designed to permit gripping with the left hand to hold it secure against the shoulder. Considerable recoil otherwise causes the stock to creep from its intended position. If the weapon is not properly "seated" on the bipod, a prone gunner may be pushed back along the ground from the high recoil of this weapon.
This weapon is still in use in the Tresedian Legion.