The semi-automatic rifle MG 4 (HK 43)
The MG 3 has been the standard machine gun used by the Bundeswehr since the rearmament of the Federal Republic of Germany. The MG 3 is an only slightly modified variant of the MG 42 which was already developed at the beginning of WWII. When a new, smaller NATO ammunition calibre was introduced (5.56 mm x 45), the need for a new machine gun became apparent, too. That is why Heckler & Koch developed a new semi-automatic rifle, a gas-operated weapon, the operating principle of which is based on self-propulsion by indirect gas pressure. At first this weapon was supposed to replace the established MG 3. But during operation it became clear that the weapon could not live up to the expectations because of its insufficient calibre. The rifle turned out to be ineffective over longer distances and in fighting semi-hard targets, such as clay huts. Therefore, the German troops have changed their operations concept so that the MG 4 has been used as an auxiliary weapon in dismounted combat while the MG 3 is still in operation as (heavy) on-board weapon.
The semi-automatic rifle MG 4 (HK 43) - Prototyp of WTS.
Manufactured in: Federal Republic of Germany
Manufacturer: Heckler & Koch, Oberndorf
Operating principle: Self-propulsion by means of indirect gas pressure (gas-operated weapon). Fixed locking by means of 2-lug rotary bolt.
Calibre: 5,56 mm x 45
Vo: approx. 950 m/s
Firing rate: approx. 850 Sch/min
Mode of fire: Sustained fire
Total length: 1030 / 830 mm
Ammunition feeding: Belt feeding, 2-tier pawl set-up controlled via pawl wheel.
Sight equipment: Foldable front sight / diopter sight
Weight: approx. 7,9 kg
The weapon fires from an open bolt, i.e. when the weapon is ready to fire, the bolt is held to the rear and the chamber is open; no cartridge is in the chamber. Only when the breech block goes forward is a cartridge fed to the chamber.
The manufacture of tracked vehicles at M.N.H. in Hannover from 1939 to 1945
MNH's destroyed assembly hangar after Germany had surrendered
The manufacture of track vehicles at M.N.H. in Hanover from 1939 to 1945, post-War tank manufacture and testing by the British Army
The history of the development and manufacture of military tracked vehicles in Germany is closely linked to the major manufacturers of rail and heavy vehicles, weapons and steel. Generally speaking, the company which conducted the final assembly of a tank was usually referred to as its supplier. During war time, spare part suppliers varied according to the respective requirements and capabilities.
As of about 1940, the Hanover-based company MNH was among the important manufacturers of main battle tanks and their components; as opposed to most of the other companies, however, MNH did not have a strong tradition in the civil sector, which is why only few of the circle of interested people have heard of it.
In addition to well-known companies such as MAN, Daimler-Benz and Henschel, the list of manufacturers of the Panther – the production of which started in 1943 and which is widely regarded as the best medium main battle tank fielded in World War II – includes MNH. It is safe to say that MNH accounted for 30 % of the approx. 6,000 Panthers ever produced and more than 30 % of the approx. 400 tank destroyers Jagdpanther ("hunting panther"). It was the only company which, at times, produced Panthers and Jagdpanthers simultaneously. As most of the company's facilities for tank manufacture were deconstructed in 1946/47 by order of the Allies of World War II and the company ceased to exist, it is not possible to learn much about it in the relevant literature.
1. Notes on the company MNH and its formation
The documents of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey state that the company was founded in the spring of 1939. They mention an overall number of 8,000 to 10,000 employees, although 12,000 workers and forced workers are mentioned elsewhere. It may be deemed certain that MNH was comprised of three plants, was derived from the earlier companies Gebrueder Koerting ("Koerting Brothers") and "Eisenwerk Wuelfel" ("Iron Works Wuelfel") and was designed for the production of armaments from the very beginning.
The Reichsbetriebskartei Industrie (Reich industrial company index) as of May 31, 1944 listed the factory under "Maschfab Laatzen", and official company headquarters of "M.N.H. Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen G.m.b.H" was located in Hanover-Wuelfel at Eichelkampstr. 4. The works Linden and Laatzen are mentioned as subsidiaries without separate addresses. According to this document, the company had already served the armaments sector since 1937 and had an overall number of 3,383 employees.