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German Automatic Rifles, 1941-45: Gew 41, Gew 43, FG 42 and StG 44 (Warrior) Paperback – 20 Mar 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (20 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780963858
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780963853
  • Product Dimensions: 18.4 x 0.6 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 330,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


"Photos, drawings and paintings season Osprey's study ... Alan Guilliland's cut-aways ... proved excellently informative. An index and summary of primary and secondary sources complete contents. And the whole thing is annotated!"- David L. Veres, (May 2013) / "In this book, author Chris McNab covers the development of automatic rifles including those developed by other countries and how they influenced German design. Each of the major types, Gew 41/43, FG 42 and StG 44 are fully covered in their means of operation and their development. The book has many period photos as well as photos of extant guns. This is further enhanced by a few nicely done pieces of artwork showing these guns in use. It is a great addition to the Weapons line of books and is a title that any enthusiast needs to have on their shelf."- --Scott Van Aken, "Modeling Madness "(April 2013)

About the Author

Chris McNab is an author and editor. To date he has published over 25 books, including A History of the World in 100 Weapons, Hitler's Armies and The Uzi Submachine Gun for Osprey. Chris has also written extensively for major encyclopedia series, including African-American Biographies (2006), USA 1950s (2006) and Reformation, Exploration and Empire (2005), and has contributed to The Times on the war in Iraq.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By rooivalk on 19 July 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was the first weapon series i had bought and i was pleasantly surprised although perhaps i should not have been given the overall quality of the Osprey series's and the number i have acquired over the years. I found this volumne informative and well set out, with generally good illustrations. The only thing i did not like was there seemed to be an American bias.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nicle Little book, missing a bit on the Volkssturmgewehr side though.
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By Kindle Customer on 11 Aug. 2014
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Good read. Very informative.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 15 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Very well researched, detailed and well written 6 April 2013
By Yoda - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is very, very well researched and organized. It starts out by discussing German pre-world war two rifle doctrine. This was basically, like most of the world's armies, that the typical infantry man was equipped with a bolt action rifle (in the German case the Kar 98k to be specific). At the time (i.e., immediately preceding the start of the Second World War) only the US army made extensive use of semi-automatic weapons (specifically the M1). The Russian army also had large quantities of semi-automatic rifles but they were not universally distributed. The typical Soviet infantry man, at the time, was still only equipped with a bolt-action rifle.

The author, Mr. McNAb, then provides historical context as to why the Germans decided to develop semi-automatic rifles and what would later become known as "assault rifles" (i.e., rifles that could shoot both in single and rapid fire settings). The main reason was that, as the war progressed, more and more firepower was deemed necessary - firepower that a bolt action weapon could not provide. Unfortunately for the Germans, they came to this decision mid-way through the war (1942-3) and as a result could not develop and mass produce these weapons in large scale quantities. The production of all German semi-automatics and assault rifles, by the end of the war was only in the lower hundred thousands, thus insuring that only a small percentage of German riflemen were equipped with such weapons. It should also be noted, as Mr. McNab so well documents in his book, that many of these weapons left much to be desired in terms of both build quality and reliability. There were two reasons for this. One was that the Germans did not have the necessary time to weed out the many problems inherent in developing such weapons, especially of the more revolutionary STG 44 assault rifle, to produce them en masse before the war ended. In addition, German industry was in very pathetic shape by the time serious consideration and effort was made on the mass production of these weapons. The lack of strategic materials and the disruption caused by strategic bombing lead to many short cuts that greatly reduced the quality of these weapons. For example, stamped steel had to be used in the production process which lead to a less durable and resilient weapon than would have been the case if the appropriate materials and build process was available.

The book is very well researched in that many varieties of each weapon, along with strengths and weaknesses of each, are discussed. This research is based not only on German records but American and British. As well as being a book purely on the physical characteristics of the weapon, the book also examines the doctrine behind the use of these weapons as well as how the weapons were actually used and how they performed in combat. Again, this is based on meticulous research. For example the book includes lengthy quotes from documents from German front line troops on how these weapons were used and performed.

The book concludes with the influence these weapons had on small-arms manufacture after the Second World War. Mr. McNab discussed the influence of these weapons on the development of specific weapons such as the AK-47 and the Belgian FN as well as their implications on the selection of small arms ammunition in NATO. This discussion involves the innards of the weapons (i.e., firing mechanisms) as well as ammunition characteristics and is quite technical but interesting nevertheless.

The only weakness of the book is its lack of discussion on how allied weapons (in particular the US M1 and the Soviet SVT-38) influenced the development of this selection of German weapons. Did the Germans try to copy these? If not, why not? Did the development of these weapons (or at least those that were not assault rifles) proceed independently of the influence of these allied weapons? Despite this minor weakness the book does an excellent job at covering its topic, especially so given the relative brevity of the book (80 pages).

For those interested, Mr. McNab has also written another very good book in the Osprey series on German MG 34 and MG 42 Machine Guns. Please see my review (Yoda) under this book if you are interested. This is another book by Mr. McNab that this reviewer highly recommends.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
German attempts to replace the Mauser Kar 98k. 7 April 2013
By Stone Dog - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This Osprey Weapon Book #24, "German Automatic and Assault Rifles 1941-45" is the typical Osprey title: a good overview of the subject, excellent photos, drawings and color artwork. After the introduction, the book is divided into sections on development, use in combat, impact on weapons development and the author's conclusion.

Author Chris McNab gives the reader an introduction to the subject of semi-auto weapons development worldwide as well as German evaluation of both intermediate cartridges and semiauto and select fire weapons between the wars. The Germans made careful studies of combat in WWI and knew that a rifle cartridge capable of killing at 1000 meters was irrelevant because soldiers rarely saw targets they could hit, much less fire at, at ranges over 400m. Nonetheless, like other armies (with the exception of the USA), they chose to stay with the same bolt-action rifle they used in WWI. Only during the combat of WWII did they again take up the issue of firepower for the rifleman.

The GEW 41 was an attempt to increase the firepower of the infantryman, but was crippled by unfortunate demands by the military requiring the rifle to be able to be operated like a bolt action rifle in extreme cases of failure of the gas system - a difficult engineering proposition and requiring much greater complexity. In the case of the GEW 43, another semiauto chambered for the 7.92 standard rifle round was often hampered by poor production quality as a result of the USAAF bombing offensive against German industry.

The author relates the development of the FG 42 as a select fire weapon intended for the German airborne which usually landed with only light weapons ready to hand. The FG 42 was intended to give them a light, full-auto weapon they could jump with that would give them more firepower upon landing. The design itself was very interesting with an integral bipod, 20-rd magazine mounted horizontally on the left side of the receiver and a straight-line-stock configuration.

The third weapon the author covers is the MP 43/STG 44 - the grandfather of the modern "assault rifle" which was chambered for an intermediate cartridge (7.92 "Kurz"), was a select-fire weapon, possessed a 30-rd magazine and was made cheaply and quickly of stampings. Although the Soviets denied it, there is little doubt this weapon - at the very least - influenced both the 7.62x39mm cartridge and the Kalashnikov firearms that became the famous "AK-47".

McNab makes it clear that these weapons were not perfect and had flaws from the afore mentioned difficulty of manufacture in Germany at the time to trying to do too much with one weapon such as the FG 42. The author does a fairly good job of evaluating the influence German small weapons development had on the world's future small arms. Not only the creation of the "assault weapon" concept, but also the straight-line-stock configuration and the concept of the all-in-one weapon that combined rifle and squad automatic weapon. This is a very good overview of these weapons and I recommend it with five stars.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
German Automatic Rifles 1941-45 16 Oct. 2013
By camotodd63 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very good book in a concise format with nice photo illustrations. The work gives a straight forward history of the development of the various types of semi and full auto shoulder weapons of Germany during WWII. The book started by speaking of the Vollmer rifle which was developed just prior to the period involved in the book; yet no photo of the Vollmer was shown. I would have liked that since photos are readily available. The book skips around from type to type and back following production histories of each type weapon. I would have enjoyed the book more had it covered one weapon fully then another. Still, not withstanding my minor gripes this work is well worth its cost.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
My thoughts 17 Jun. 2013
By Pete Fleis - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was happy to have the book and enjoy it. Most anything regarding the MKb42, MP43, MP44, STG44 is of interest to me.
I would add though that there are several obvious mistakes regarding the MP43 rifles that should have been caught in proofing the copy.
Pete Fleis St.Louis, MO.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Excellent history of the subject... 18 Jun. 2013
By Bayard B. - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Probably the most comprehensive discussion of German automatic and assault rifles I have read so far. As listed in the Title, it covers both the army and parachute troops (Fallschirmjaeger) weapons.
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