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Maschinengewehr 34
Digital Museum MG 34 Right.jpg
MG 34
Type General-purpose machine gun
Place of origin  Nazi Germany
Service history
In service 1935–1945 (officially, German military) 1935–present (other armies)
Used by  Nazi Germany
 Republic of China
 People's Republic of China
 North Korea
 North Vietnam
Wars Second Sino-Japanese War
World War II
Chinese Civil War
Korean War
Vietnam War
Production history
Designer Heinrich Vollmer
Designed 1934
Manufacturer Many, but mostly Mauser
Produced 1934–1945
Weight 11.5 kg (25.4 lb) (with bipod)
Length 1,219 mm (48.0 in)
Barrel length 627 mm (24.7 in)

Cartridge 7.92 x 57mm Mauser
Rate of fire 800–900 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity 755 m/s (2,477 ft/s)

The Maschinengewehr 34, or MG 34, was a general-purpose machine gun. It was developed in Nazi Germany. It was first made and accepted in 1934. It was first given to soldiers in 1935. It fires the 7.92 x 57mm Mauser cartridge.

It was designed to be able to be a light machine gun and be able to do other things as well. This was an early example of a general-purpose machine gun. When it is being used as a light machine gun, a bipod can be attached to it. If it is being used for other things, it is put onto a tripod and is belt-fed. In a battle, the bipod version was used mostly. This turned the MG 34 into an infantry support weapon. Later, the MG 34 started to be used less for the MG 42.


Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-721-0386-15, Frankreich, Soldaten mit MG 34
German soldiers with an MG 34 in France, 1944.

The MG 34 was used as Germany's main machine gun in the 1930s. It stayed the main tank and anti-aircraft machine gun. It was supposed to be replaced by the MG 42. However, there were not enough MG 42s. The German Armed Forces still wanted the MG 34 to be made. It kept being made until the end of WWII in 1945. However, the German Armed Forces wanted more MG 34s than could be made.

The MG 34 was designed by Mauser Werke. It was based on the Solothurn 1930 (MG 30). The Solothurn was developed by Rheinmetall. It was starting to be used in Switzerland.

The MG 34 began being made right away. It was used in all parts of the German Armed Forces and even by the police. When it was first brought into service, it was the very first general-purpose machine gun. However, the MG 34 took a long time to make, and it was expensive and difficult to make. The Germans ended up using a weapon they could not afford. However, because so many were needed, it was still made.

Some MG 34s given to Chinese Nationalist forces were used during both World War II and the Chinese Civil War.


Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-028-1632-13, Frankreich, Küstenschutz mit Flak-MG
An anti-aircraft MG 34.

The MG 34 could use 7.9 mm cartridge from both magazines and belts.

The MG 34's barrel is designed to be replaced quickly to keep the gun cool. Changing the barrel took just a few seconds when done by a well trained gunner. However, when the barrel was being replaced, it was very hot. The gunner changing the barrel had to wear an asbestos glove to protect his hands while he was changing the barrel.

The MG 34 had a special trigger. It was split into two parts. It gave select fire. Pressing the upper part of the trigger made semi-automatic fire. Holding the lower part of the trigger made fully automatic fire.

When the MG 34 was being used as a light machine gun it was used with a bipod. It weighed just 11.5 kg (25.4 lb) with its bipod.

The MG 34 broke easily if it was used in dirt or dust.

The MG 34 could be carried around by an infantry squad and be fired from a bipod. It could also be put onto a tripod to fire for a long time. It was kept cool by the air.

Different kinds of MG 34

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-B00456, Übung des Regiments Großdeutschland, am MG 34
Soldiers from the German Großdeutschland regiment use an MG 34 on a tripod.
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-274-0498-15, Russland, Soldat mit MG 34
A German soldier fires an MG 34 in Russia, 1942.

MG 34/41(MG 34S)

The MG 34/41 was the MG 34 used for anti-aircraft. It could only fire fully automatically. The length of the MG 34/41's barrel is 560 mm (22 in).

MG 34 Panzerlauf

The MG 34 Panzerlauf was the standard machine gun for tanks during World War II. To be used in a tank, the barrel of the MG 34 was covered with armour and the butt stock was removed.

MG 81

The MG 81 machine gun was based on the MG 34. The MG 81 was used on aircraft. It got its ammunition from a belt and fired 7.9 mm rounds. There were never enough MG 34s made to make its users happpy. Even though the MG 81 was much better than the MG 15 and MG 17 used before it, they were still used until the end of the war.

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