German MG 34 Machine Gun

German MG 34 machine gun on an anti-aircraft mount

The German Maschinengewehr 34 was an air-cooled general-purpose machine gun firing the standard 7.92 × 57 mm Mauser rifle ammunition. First issued in 1935, the MG 34 served as a tank machine gun, squad light machine gun, or sustained fire medium machine gun of the Wehrmacht and some Axis allies. The 1:35 scale MG 34 shown here is on an anti-aircraft mount, shortened to match smaller 1:55 scale sci-fi miniatures.

In the LMG role, the MG 34 was fitted with a bipod and a drum magazine containing a 50-round belt, which enabled the gunner to fire the weapon on the move, if need be, and without the help of a loader. In practise, the 4-man machine gun group of an infantry section employed the MG 34 like a medium machine gun, firing 50-round belts of ammunition to support the advancing riflemen of the platoon. German infantry tactics relied on converging suppressive fire from the pooled LMG groups of an infantry platoon, while the rifle groups advanced to close with the enemy.

In the sustained fire role, the MG 34 was mounted on a tripod and fed from linked ammo belts of 200 to 250 rounds each. The first section of every German infantry platoon carried a heavy tripod for this purpose.

After the war, MG 34 machine guns continued to be produced in Czechoslovakia; many were exported to Israel and other countries. Components of the MG 34 machine gun were used to create the Star Wars movie prop of the BlasTech DLT-19 heavy blaster rifle used by Imperial Army Troopers, Stormtroopers, and certain Bounty Hunters.

Available Scale Model Kits

  • MG 34 Gunner "Friedrich Kohler", 1:6 Dragon 70413
    • MG 34 (T) Conversion, 1:6 Armorpax
  • German Infantry Weapons Set, 1:35 Tamiya 35111
    • MG 34 metal barrel, 1:35 Modelpoint MPT35100-1
    • MG 34 brass barrel, 1:35 Schatton Modellbau 3512
    • MG 34 brass barrel, 1:35 armorscale B35-030
    • MG 34 brass barrel, 1:35 Adlers Nest ANM-35006
    • MG 34(T) brass barrel, 1:35 Model Point MPT35100
  • MG 34 Machine Guns (5 ea, Vehicle Accessories), 1:76 Vac-U-Cast VA-103

Technical Specifications

  • Maschinengewehr 34
  • Type: air-cooled recoil operated general purpose machine gun
  • Calibre: 7.92 mm
  • Cartridge: 7.92 × 57 mm Mauser
  • Length: 1225 mm
  • Barrel Length: 627 mm
  • Weight: 12.1 kg with bipod
  • Feed System: 50/200-round belt, or 50-round drum magazine
  • Muzzle Velocity: 755 m/s
  • Muzzle Energy: 3600–5000 J
  • Effective Range:
    • 1200 m on bipod
    • 3000–3500 m on tripod
  • Rate of Fire: 800–900 rounds/min
  • Manufacturer: Rheinmetall, Mauser Werke, and others
  • Service: 1935–1945

The MG 34 machine gun was made to a very high standard of quality, using machined or turned steel components, which resulted in high labour and materials costs. When the German army prepared for war, the demand for machine guns increased, and a cheaper and more easily mass-produced replacement for the MG 34 was sought. Development of the new machine gun started in the late 1930s and a small production batch of 1500 new MG 39/41 entered combat trials in 1941. The new design was officially accepted and production of the MG 42 machine gun began in 1942. The MG 42 proved to be more reliable than the MG 34, it was lighter, more robust, required less metal and only 75 man-hours to produce, compared to nearly 150 man-hours for the MG 34.

Frequently Asked Questions

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