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German MG34 Machine Gun

Right side view of a German MG34 machine gun. Metal gun with dark patina, black plastic pistol grip and black plastic buttstock. The front of the gun is elevated by its bipod.

Title: Machine Gun, 7.92mm, MG34, German, S/N 3644
Accession #: NHHC 1997-14-A
Circa: Mid-20th Century
Medium: Metal, Plastic
Location: Headquarters Artifact Collection, Naval History and Heritage Command

Designed in 1929 and introduced in 1934, the German Maschinengewehr 34 is a recoil-operated, air-cooled, general-purpose machine gun. It fires 7.92mm rifle cartridges from an open bolt fed from reusable, non-disintegrating link, metal belts. The weapon is select fire with the upper portion of the trigger enabling semi-automatic fire and the lower portion, fully automatic fire. The MG34 saw wide use throughout the German military during World War II and was in production continuously until 1945. Its high production costs due to its machined steel construction led Germany to introduce the MG42, a similar design of stamped steel, in 1942 to supplement MG34 production. In addition to facing the MG34 during World War II, US forces would again encounter it in Vietnam, where large numbers of the weapons were available from stocks captured by both the French and the Soviet Union during World War II. It was primarily found in use in Southeast Asia by the National Liberation Front, or as it is more commonly known, the Viet Cong.

The MG34 is primarily composed of a rectangular machined steel receiver and a perforated barrel housing. The receiver and the housing are attached together by a pivot point that allows the housing to be shifted to the side so that the barrel can be replaced when needed. A hinged top cover opens to allow feeding an ammunition belt from the left side of the receiver. A drum magazine can also be clipped to the left side which holds a 50-round belt. A tubular charging handle is mounted to the right side of the receiver. The trigger housing has dark brown composition plastic grips, a circular trigger guard and a double crescent trigger. The safety lever is missing from the left side of the trigger housing on this example. A large, triangular buttstock of dark brown composition plastic is attached to the rear of the receiver. The gun has folding front and rear sights, a cone shaped flash suppressor at the muzzle, and a folding steel bipod attached just behind the muzzle.

Left side view of a German MG34 machine gun. Metal gun with dark patina, black plastic pistol grip and black plastic buttstock. 
Published: Mon Apr 29 12:41:47 EDT 2024