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Maker/Manufacturer:SCHMEISSER, HUGO
Date of Manufacture:1944
Eminent Figure:
Catalog Number:SPAR 7906
Measurements:OL: 86.9CM 34 1/4" BL: 40.6CM 16 1/2"

Object Description:

Manufactured by Haenel, Suhl, Germany - German MP43 assault rifle made in 1944. Select-fire, gas-operated, titling bolt action, with cyclic rate of fire of 650 rpm. Complete with sling and 30-round detachable box magazine. Cartridge 7.92 x 33mm. Weapon has been deactivated and generally in poor condition.

Receiver: MP43. FXO code for Haenel. COS code for Merzwerke.

Weapon donated to the Springfield Armory NHS by Tufts University (Victor A. Friend Collection) on 3 August1979.

Notes: In April of 1944 nomenclature of MP43 changed to MP44.

"HISTORY OF GERMAN SPECIAL RIFLE DEVELOPMENT - The German Field Services as early as 1934 had expressed an interest in obtaining a high power, mid-range infantry cartridge and a corresponding short weapon. Although the standard 7.9-mm cartridge with 57-mm cartridge case had been in use for over 40 years, research during World War I proved the cartridge was not ideally suited to the needs of combat. Certain experimental types were designed to suit the requirements. The recommended trend of development was to evolve a reduced cartridge type that was satisfactory for normal combat ranges, but that did not exceed certain factors of size, range, and fabricated requirements. A cartridge with a small projectile, shorter cartridge case, and small powder charge would be less expensive to produce and require less raw materials, while at the same time it could still perform in a satisfactory manner for service use.
The earliest known efforts to produce a mid-range infantry cartridge are identified with Gustav Genschow and the Rheinisch Westphalische Sprengstoff A.G. These firms had previously been undertaking the development of short cased, high power, sporting cartridges that could lend themselves to service needs. The earliest of these round was an 8-mm cartridge with a 46-mm cartridge case developed by RWS in 1934. It is reported that RWS or its sister firm of Genschow (trade name: GECO) were given research and development contracts by the Heereswaffenamt Wa Pruf 1 to continue work on a round of this type, leading to a satisfactory infantry cartridge. Under the GECO development, the case lengths, bullet weights, and powder charges varied between 37-mm to 46-mm lengths and 140 to 150 grain bullets.
By 1938, the firm of Polte, in Magdeburg, was given a contract to develop a cartridge of mid-range type. Polte's line of research centered around a cartridge of even shorter length and with a lighter projectile than RWS or GECO (30-to35-mm cases; 100 to 130 grain bullets). These 'super-short' cartridges gave satisfactory results, and by 1939 or early 1940 a final cartridge form emerged.
During the entire course of development from 1934 to 1940, it is reported that no weapons were designed for any of the experimental cartridges. Mauserwerk was contracted to produce test firing devices and barrels for these cartridges, and it is probable that Mauser 98k rifles and even MG34 or MG13 machine guns were experimentally chambered for these rounds. Such activities, however, were undertaken during the routine design of the cartridges.
By 1940 or 1941, Polte had arrived at the design of a 7.9-mm round with 33-mm cartridge case and 24.6 grains of service type propellant powder. This round was first assigned a nomenclature of: 7.9-mm Infanterie Kurz Patrone. Official German records indicate that this round would replace the normal 7.9-mm 'long' and the 9-mm parabellum cartridge as used in submachine guns. By 1938, the Waffenamt had begun to plan a weapon that would combine the features of both the standard rifle and the submachine gun.
A trend in German ordnance research and development can be observed by investigating each of the major fields of weapon design. Polte appears to have been the major developer of small-arms ammunition. Walther had asserted its leadership in the field of handgun design. Rheinmetall and Krupp jointly shared the field of artillery development. In the same sense, it appears that Hugo Schmeisser at the Haenel plaAt this point, some mention should be made of the organization within the German Armed Forces and Supply Ministry that was responsible for the creation of new weapons.
Two basic groups were responsible for the research, development, manufacture, and procurement of weapons. Within the military, the Heereswaffenamt (Army Ordnance Office - HWaA) was responsible for coordinating the needs of field forces, undertaking the development of weapons, maintaining facilities for procurement and inspections of weapons, maintenance of proving grounds, etc. Within the Ministry of Supply, or Ministry for War Production and Equipment (Reichseminister fur Rustung and Kreigsproduction), were two committees of industrial leaders in the field of ordnance. The first was the Weapons Commission (Waffen Kommission - WK) which was divided into several groups: Infantry Weapons, Automatic Weapons, Light Artillery, Aircraft Weapons, etc). Each group was responsible for the theoretical planning of the design of weapons within that specific field. Each could have representation from the Army, Air Force, Navy and SS Police. In principle, all weapons developed under specific requirements should have originated in the group or, at least, should have been evaluated by the group.
The subject of machine carbine development fell into the control of the Infantry Weapons Committee of the Waffen Kommission. Much of the information relating to the origin of purely experimental infantry weapons could be found only within the Infantry. For this reason, the details of those machine carbines (and later assault rifles) designed by manufacturers other than Haenel and Walther are now largely unknown.
The second committee was known as the Hauptausschusswaffen (HAW). This group was organized along the lines of WK, but had as its responsibility, the supervision and placement of production contracts for those weapons that had been selected for service issue.
Dr. Schnitger, head of the special subcommittee for submachine guns and machine carbines (Sonderausschuss MP u MKb) stated that this committee had been formed in 1941. The primary consideration at that time was the coordination of Maschinepistole 38 and 40 manufacture, but the question of machine carbine production had already arisen and was considered by this production group to be an extension of the submachine gun development. The plans were directed toward replacing the submachine gun with the machine carbine. This concept was started early in 1941.
When the development of the 7.9-mm Kurz cartridge had reached an advanced stage of development in April 1938, the Waffenamt considered the design of a suitable weapon. Subject to basic design requirements of the Army Field Forces, the Wa Pruf 2, (Small-Arms R&D section of the Waffenamt) placed a contract with C.G. Haenel (Waffenfabrik Haenel). This contract, dated 18 April 1938, was for the development of a weapon firing the 7.9-mm Kurz cartridge. The basic requirement called for a firing performance satisfactory to 800 meters, full-and semi-automatic fire. Placement of this contract with Haenel would support the hypothesis that Hugo Schmeisser at Haenel was acknowledged as the dean of light, shoulder type, selective-fire weapons of the submachine gun type. To distinguish the overall concept from the idea of submachine guns, the projected new weapon was called Maschinenkarabiner (MKb) or machine carbine. This term represented a technical as well as tactical difference. In the original planes, it was desired that this new machine carbine, or special rifle, would replace the standard rifle and submachine gun, and possibly the light machine gun as well. To meet this proposal, the design requirements called for a weapon with selective fire, or shoulder type, for personal issue and capable of being fabricated on simple metal forming and machining equipment with no greater complexity than was being used for ordinary rifle or submachine gun manufacture.
By 1940, Schmeisser had developed a gas-operated, rigidlyl type of office and business machines. With the overall development of the machine carbine varied from the based design of the operating system, through to the design of all components to suit mass production, the first prototypes began appearing. This took place in 1941.
Haenel's order called for the manufacture of 50 prototype specimens for test by July 1942. The earliest known prototypes of the Haenel design is a weapon dating from late 1941. It is a gas-operated design wherein the extended gas piston acts to lift and lower the bolt into a locked position. Stampings and formed components are used extensively, although many of the small parts are forged, diecast, or fabricated from bar stock. The weapon possesses a recoil spring system identical to that of the Schmeisser-designed MP38. This prototype is believed to be marked MK 42, a marking which does not necessarily reflect the year of manufacture or design, but could represent the target year of development.
Judging from the serial number of the weapon (No. 042), a very limited quantity must have been produced, using specialized forming techniques calling for short run tooling and the forming. In this connection, it is known that the Waffenamt was anxious to evolve weapons, in the prototype stage that would reflect the manufacturing procedures that would be undertaken for mass production. This early Haenel prototypes was given limited local testing within the WaPruf2. By July 1942, the 50 test specimens were produced, 35 having been issued for field test.
Up to 1941, C.G. Haenel appears to have been the only firm engaged in the development of a machine carbine. It is known that the original 30-round, sheet metal magazine was developed by Haenel. (A Waffenamt requirement was that the magazine serve as a support.) It is reported that sometime in the early part of 1940, the firm of Walther in Zella-Mehlis unofficially learned of the development program and requirements. Not to be outdone by Haenel, Eric Walther initiated the design of a weapon that complied with the government requirements. At first this development was undertaken without official requirements or approval. Later in the year, Walther submitted prototypes of their own design and won permission to continue work and submit competitive designs along with Haenel. A contract was issued by Wa Pruf2 to Walther in January of 1941. The Walther machine carbine used a turning bolt gas-operated system taken directly from an experimental rifle of an early (1939-41) design. This rifle, along with its earlier variants and prototypes, had been developed by Walther in the conventional 7.9-mm caliber rifle. The last of the series, the Model A 115 No. 3 is identical in design and operation to the Walther machine carbine. The original order of January 1941 called for Walther to produce 200 prototype test specimens for trials in August 1942. By July 1942, only 2 Walther prototypes had been completed. It is interesting to observe the great similarity of overall design and appearance between the Haenel and Walther designs. While not confirmed, it is believed that Wa Pruf 2 placed limitations of caA 10-round capacity had been observed. This feed is a nonstandard experimental type which appears to fit any of the machine carbine, MP43 or Sturmgewehr weapons. This 10-round unit is a magazine that has been made from a normal 30-round type. The elongated curved body of the normal type is reduced in overall length to approximately 5 inches (from inches of the normal type). The upper attachment fittings are identical: the floor plate may be slightly modified to compensate for the change in curvature. The follower is standard; the magazine spring is undoubtedly the normal type, shortened. It is probable that this reduced version of the 30-round magazine was developed after 1943. The only known specimen of it appears with the Mauser StG45(M) which indicate late 1944 use. The specific originator and manufacturer of this 10-round type, as well as the quantity or usage, is not known. In this 10-round form, the item was never adopted or issued for service use to any of the arms that normally used the machine carbine, the MP43, or the Sturmgewehr series.
A second manufacturer who learned of the machine carbine development program was ERMA (Erfurter Maschinen und Werkseugfabrik, Erfurt). It is reported that ERMA undertook 'unofficial' development of such a weapon in 1942. The nature of the ERMA design, or whether any actual weapon was produced, is not known. Certainly by late 1942, when actual field testing began, no designs other than the Haenel and Walther had passed beyond the prototype or highly experimental stage. ERMA continued to produce the MP40 on contract throughout this period and by 1944 was given prime contracts to produce the MP43 which was an outgrowth of the Haenel machine carbine design.
Separate from the Wa Pruf2 order to Walther and Haenel, a plan had been formulated for the mass production of the machine carbine. Haenel was to start mass production of its design by November of 1942, reaching full scale delivery schedules of 10,000 per month by March 1943. Walter was to begin production in October, 1942; deliveries were to commence with 500 per month and built up to 15,000 per month by March 1943. The status of the mass production program, as of July 1942, was that production drawings were completed and that the necessary tools, dies, jigs, and fixtures were under construction.
In review, it would seem that by the summer of 1942, there were two distinct machine carbine prototypes in existence, the Haenel type and the Walther (never recovered). By the fall of 1942, mass production of designs based upon recommended change in the prototypes was to begin. With these plans underway, the Waffenamt appears to have formalized an additional set of requirements for the machine carbines. Both weapons were to be provided with a bayonet lug for mounting the service issue bayonet, S84/98. Both weapons were to have an identical large diameter, large pitch thread on the muzzle and (identical to the MP38 series muzzle thread) to accept a standardized 'MKb42' screw-on grenade launching cup. The 30-round Haenel magazine had been standardized with MKb nomenclature. (The cartridge was designated Maschinenkarabiner Patrone S). The mass production Haenel weapon was designated Maschinekarabiner 42 (H) or MKb42 (H) and the Walther weapon was designated Maschinenkarabiner 42(W) or MKb 42(W).
The nature of the distribution of these weapons is not known. The following production and delivery figures are quoted, however. (No distinction between Haenel and Walther.)
10/1942 100 none Subcontractor failures
11/1942 500 25 Production difficulties
12/1942 1,000 01/1943 700 500 "
02/1943 1,000 1,217 "
During this period, both weapons must have been given extensive tests in the hands of regular troops. Use of these weapons by line units must have been contemplated because the weapons were included in field publications and material lists by the first months of 1943.
By February 1943, the Haenel design seems to have been approved in favor of the Walther. Manufacture of both appears to have continued through July; but by February 1943, the nomenclature MP43 was applied to the Haenel design, and plans were undertaken to shift production to the Haenel design in modified form.
It is interesting to note that field manuals for the Walther and Haenel were issued in February 1943. At that time, the magazine, cartridge, and accessories were assigned the nomenclature MP43. The grenade launching cup, which had not been mentioned in publications during the test period, seems to have been predestinated 'MP Granatgerat 43.' From February 1943 through the Spring, the Haenel design was reworked by Schmeisser, and full scale production of the weapon as the MP43 was undertaken by July.
In total, some 7,800 machine carbines of both designs had been delivered. Walther ceased all work on weapons of this design, and Haenel took over manufacture of its weapon, and subsequent forms, through 1945.
By 1943, several small arms manufacturers were aware of the machine carbine development program. From unofficial sources the firms of Steyr, Gustloff, Spreewerk, and Mauser had obtained information concerning the Walther and Haenel designs, the cartridge, and the Waffenamt requirements. It is reported that all four of the firms undertook the design of a weapon meeting the requirements, despite the fact that the Haenel design had recently been accepted for service issue.
The early 1943 machine carbines by Steyr and Spreewerk may have been presented, in prototype form, to the WK. Aside from this limited presentation, it is doubtful that either of these weapons were distributed in any way. Of the Gustloff design, little is known except for the possibility of this weapon having been presented to the WK. In Gustloff's instance, however, the chief engineer of that plant, Barnitske, indicted that he had worked on several modifications of the MP43. Of these designs, one is known to be a simplified type developed in 1944. Whether Barnitske or anyone else at Gustloff plant undertook work on an original design is not known. Therefore the so-called Gustloff machine carbine, in 7.9mm-Kurz, is as yet unconfirmed.
One Gustloff design of the 1942 period is confirmed. It is known that the Wa Pruf 2 issued a contract Gustlowerke, Suhl, for a Maschinenkarabiner 42 (G) fur Gewehrpatrone. This contract called fro the delivery of a single prototype specimen, for test, by November 1942. No mass production planning was undertaken. By July 1942, the weapon was under construction and it is presumed that it was delivered and tested. The results of that test must have been unfavorable, because no further development was undertaken. A later Gustloff design, listed as the G43(G) appears in July 1943. The Gustloff machine design was a gas-operated dropping lock system, using the 25-round box magazine of the old MG13. The basic requirements for the weapon was 'firing performance up to 1,200 meters with full-and semi-automatic fire, chambering the rifle cartridge.
Available records of the Wa Pruf 2 show that the contemplated adoption of the Haenel design, the basic requirement for development of a machine carbine type was ended. Mauserwerk, however, had been planning a machine carbine design as early as 1942. With the concept worked out in theory, the Abt. 37 of Mauserwerk was prepared to produce a prototype retarded blowback design utilizing gas impulse and roller delay. The earliest known specimen was fabricated in 1943 as the Great 06 No. 2,When, by 1944, an effort was initiated to simplify the MP43 design, the Mauser weapons was high on the list of prospective replacements.
The Gewehrprufungskommission established the ballistical requirements for a rifle cartridge which would posses the ideal performance characteristics. The original development took place from 1916 to 1919. The cartridge was a 7-mm diameter type, loaded in a 57-mm cartridge case of the basic 7.9x57 design. The 7-mm round was never introduced for service use. It is reported that the 7-mm round showed poor AP characteristics in tests (1925-1928). From 1920 to 1935 the arms limitations imposed on Germany prevented widespread adoption of the newly developed cartridge; and after 1935, the High Command was so anxious to speed rearmament that the existing facilities for the production of 7.92 rifles were used without modification. In 1942, Deutsche Waffen u. Munitionfabrik, Berlin, began the development of a 7-mm cartridge similar in design to the 7.9-mm short round developed by Polte. The DWM 7-mm round is reported to have been based upon the idealized ballistical requirements of the GPK. In the original development, proof firing barrels were the only weapon type used for the 7-mm Kurz cartridge. It is reported that the first weapon which chambered the round was the experimental roller operated, retarded blowback Great 06H special rifle. A few barrels chambering the cartridge were prepared for that weapon, and were directly interchangeable with the 7.9-mm Kurz barrel which became standard. The 7-mm Kurz cartridge was rejected by the Waffenamt mainly because the source of 7.9 Kurz were too well developed and a switch in production was considered unwise at that time (1943, 1944).
The MP43 was a simplified version of the MKb42(H). The internal hammer firing system used on the Walther design was incorporated into the MP43. The gas system of the Haenel MKb was modified as well. The first deliveries of the MP43 were made in July 1943, and thereafter production schedules were planned to meet service needs.
07/1943 2,000 1,423 Changes in use of firing system by Haenel caused delay.
08/1943 2,000 366 "
09/1943 2,500 1,446 190 machine carbines from old contracts were also delivered.
By January 1944, the Army had received more than 14.000 of the MP43. Production had risen to about 5,000 per month in February 1944.
It appears that the first weapon of the MP43 series to have service issue was the MP43/1. This design was identical to the MP43, but accepted the screw-on grenade launching cup previously found on the machine carbines. A weapon with the specific nomenclature MP43 did exist. This design differed from the MP43/1 only in that the MP43 accepted the clamp-on launcher used as standard equipment of the 7.9-mm rifles. The nomenclature of the MP43 was changed to MP44 in April 1944. At that time, it was stated that the basic weapon was not yet adopted for use in the army; despite this statement, some 9,000 MP44's were delivered to the Army in April 1944. The nomenclature of the MP44 was changed to Sturmgewehr 44 late in 1944. The term 'Sturmgewehr' was retained, after this change, for all weapons of the machine carbine series, including the experimental types.
It is reported that the MP43 series was first used by troops on the Russian front, in the winter of 1943. By 1944, the MP43 was in the hands of German Army Forces in Western Europe, although not in great quantity.
The Air Force could not be induced toBoth Haenel and the numerous subcontractors of MP43 would replace the MP40, although this was never actually accomplished. Production of the readily increased through 1944, and by 1945, figures of 40.000 to 80,000 per month were projected. A new problem, however, arose in connection with the MP43 design. The tide of World War II had turned quite clearly by 1944, and the effects were being felt on the German homefront. Most important were the shortages of basic raw materials, disruption of transportation, and heavy damages to manufacturing facilities. As a result, steps were taken to redesign items and reorganize production facilities.
The introduction of the MP43 series placed an additional strain on German manufacturing facilities. Efforts were made to redesign and modify the action to eliminate the more complex parts and possibly reduce the operation to modified, retarded, or simple blowback. In the process of developing such simplified actions, such device as muzzle brakes, pressure locks, gas absorption systems, and delay devices were experimented with. None of these variations reached the production stage. Mauserwerk in Oberndorf had already been identified among the firms in this program. Haenel Gustloff Spreewerk, Grossfuss, and ERMA are also known to have engaged in the design of simplified Sturmgewehr systems.
It is not known whether any design requirements were specifically established for the 'simplified' machine carbine. All of the weapons designed or produced under this trend were 7.9mm Kurz and used the 30-round MP43 series magazine; apparently used the flat sided, short wood MP43 series butt stock and MP43 series sights; and had pistol grips and selective fire. Sheet metal in simplified forming and stamped shapes predominated. The operating systems tended toward gas or retarded blowback. The firing system followed the general pattern established in the Walther MKb(W), with an internal hammer.
At the C.G. Haenel Waffen und Fahrradfabrik, Suhl, Hugo Schmeisser undertook a design. The Haenel 'simplified' Sturmegewehr received a plant designation Maschinepistole 45. It was basically the same as the earlier Schmeisser design, but relied on great use of sheet metal and simple fabricating techniques and utilized several greatly modified, simplified, and inexpensive components. The gas system was inverted so to be below the barrel, and the earliest, direct release firing system, as used on the MKb42 (H), was used. The development appears to have taken place in 1944. Schmeisser, in postwar interrogations, never indicated what action was taken on the use of his design, although he stated the drawings and components had been produced. One machine carbine type has now been tentatively identified as the Haenel weapon, but the specimen is unmarked and seem to be unfinished.
At the Gustloffwerke, Suhl, Barnitzke, the chief designer, was given the specific problem of converting the existing MP43 design to blowback operation. No specific date had been assigned to the beginning of this project, but it may be assumed that the work started early in 1944, or possibly late 1943. Barnitzke states that an MP43/1 was selected for the experiment, and the blowback modification was achieved as follows.
The gas vent in the barrel was closed over by assembling a sleeve over the barrel aThe Spreewek, G.m.b.H Metallwarenfabrik, Berlin, was an important producer of Pistole 38 rifle components by 1944. Their activities in the field of 'simplified' machine carbines is now considered to have been 'unofficial.' The nature of the Spreewerk weapon is not known, and it is possibly that no specimen was produced, and only drawings existed. The development probably started in late 1944, and did not proceed to the point where the WaPruf 2 entered into a development contract. The firm of Grossfuss in Dobelin produced a unique retarded blowback gas-actuated system, no specimens of which has ever been seen. The Grossfuss weapon was reported exhibited to the Spree Ministry Waffenkommission, but apparently never reached WaPruf 2. Development was dated late 1944 or early 1945.
ERMA, in Erfurt, is reported to have designed a weapon, but not have manufactured a prototype. The nature of the design is unknown. Development was dated 1944 or early 1945.
The last significant phase of the German machine carbine history is the development of the final Mauser Sturmgewehr design and its reported acceptance as a replacement for the MP43 series. This development was a direct outgrowth of the Mauser Great 06. The 06 design was simplified by the elimination of the gas impulse system. In this modified form, the weapon took on the plant nomenclature of Great 06H, and was reportedly slated for official adoption under the nomenclature Sturmgewehr 45 (M). This all took place in the late part of 1944 and early 1945. The intention to adopt the weapon was never realized, of course, because of the ending of the war designs. The most conspicuous roller design is that of the Spanish CETME rifle. It might be pointed out that Mauser had applied the concept to an aircraft machine gun (MG215), but never used it beyond the experimental stage in that weapon.
Mauser records indicate the existence of a Maschinenkarabiner Great 08, the nature of the design being a so-called machine carbine chambering the rifle cartridge. Gustloff and Knorr Bremse have been identified with this undertaking, and the Mauser Great 08 could represent such a project on the part of that plant." - U.S. Army Ordnance School.

Army #5985 - MP43 SN# 3839 - Weapon listed as surplus to the needs of the Museum in a letter to the United States Military Academy dated 12/28/51.
Army #6098 - MP43 SN# 7669 - Weapon listed as surplus to the needs of the Museum in a letter to the United States Military Academy dated 12/28/51.

U.S. Army Ordnance School. SUBMACHINE GUNS VOLUME I. Aberdeen Proving Ground, Aberdeen, Md. 1958.

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