The design was excellent, but the execution was terrible

Monday, March 25th, 2019

Dunlap discusses Russian and German submachine guns:

As long as their supply of captured ammunition held out, the Afrika Korps used some Russian submachine guns.


They used the 7.63mm Mauser cartridge, a powerful .30 caliber bottleneck pistol cartridge, employing a light (approximately 86-grain) bullet at 1,400 FPS, in all their models of submachine guns, as well as their pistols.


The M41 used a 71-round drum magazine and no other capacities were provided at that time, although I understand that in 1944 Russia brought out a 25-round straight magazine for this gun.


The sight was adjustable and graduated in “paces,” up to 500 (the Russian pace was 28″, and they had sights for this particular weapon at least, in either pace or metric calibration).


Germany brought out some mass-production automatic weapons in 1943, after I left that theatre, and in 1944 the boys ran into the MP43, or Machine Pistol Model 1943, which was a high-powered automatic carbine.


The arm was truly a machine carbine and out of the submachine gun or machine pistol class, having an effective range of 500 meters as a semi-automatic, 250 meters as a machine gun.


Because of the weak material, the guns were very frail and required careful handling. The least dent would make it tie up. A friend of mine who had several in his possession in Germany states that if the weapon merely fell over from a standing position, such as leaning against a wall, its own weight was sufficient to cause enough damage to put it out of operation in some cases.


The idea of the MP43 and the engineering or design was excellent, but the execution was terrible. With better material and less stamping it would be almost capable of replacing both rifles and automatic rifles, or light machine guns, as the bipod weapons are known in Europe.


Best of all shoulder arms was their Fallschermjaeger Gewehr 42 (Parachutist Rifle 42) a full-grown full-automatic 20-shot bipod rifle weighing 9.8 pounds.

The Russian “M41″ he mentions is the PPSh-41 (“papasha”), which uses the 7.62×25mm Tokarev pistol round, which is almost the same as the earlier Mauser round, but a bit more powerful.

The German “MP43″ he mention is the now famous StG 44, the Sturmgewehr, or assault rifle, that inspired the AK-47.


  1. Kirk says:

    There’s no doubt that the MP43 was susceptible to damage, but from falling over when placed against a wall…? Yeah, not so much; I think Dunlap fell for hearsay, here. The MP43 I handled in Iraq (presumably from Syria…) was not that fragile–Nor were any of the others I’ve handled over the years.

    Which is not to say that there weren’t some out there that were, just that I’ve never seen them. The weapon is admittedly prone to damage from abuse, but the raw fact is, you have to work at it to make it happen. As in, like use a hammer to dent or bend the sheet metal. Yeah, you could do that by going prone on top of it over some rocks, but… Not by having it fall over under its own weight.

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