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Models

Berthold Geipel founder of the Erfurter Maschinenfabrik (ERMA) developed based on German Army funding a new submachine gun, the MP36. Together with Heinrich Vollmer he perfected the design and submitted a prototype to the German Armament Service in 1938. It was adopted as MP38, a simplification of the MP36.

The MP38 was manufactured from mostly machined parts, being time and labor intensive. This also resulted in a very heavy weapon. Its successor the MP40 was made from stamped steel sheet and was therefore a lot lighter in weight, also increased production. The MP38 as well as the MP40 was an open bolt operated blow back fully automatic gun. The MP38 in its early production days had the cocking handle permanently attached to the bolt featuring the telescoping return spring guide. With later MP38s and MP40s , the bolt handle was made as a separate part which allowed safety features that evolved over time with the redesigning and reengineering that created the final MP40.

Besides the forward-folding metal stock, resulting in a overall shorter weapon when folded, MP38s and MP40 feature a resting or support bar underneath the barrel. It was made from either Aluminum, steel or bakelite and supported firing over the side of open top armored halftrack vehicles like the Sdkfz 251. The short barrel had no insulation, often resulting in burns if the weapon was not handled properly.

Although the MP40 was a reliable weapon, a weakness was its 32-round magazine. The double column, single-feed magazine caused increased friction against remaining cartridges moving upwards towards the feed lips, occasionally resulting in feed failures. Misuse of the magazine as a handhold could result in a misalignment of the cartridge feed as well. German soldiers were specifically trained to hold the submachine gun properly to avoid this from occurring.

MP38

Characteristics

Caliber 9x19 mm Para MP38 - click to supersize
Weight 4.14 kg empty
Length (stock closed/open) 630/833 mm
Barrel Length 250 mm
Rate of Fire 500 rounds per minute
Magazine Capacity 32 rounds
Effective Range ca. 100 meters

 

MP40

Characteristics

Caliber 9x19 mm Para MP40 - click to supersize
Weight 4.03 kg empty
Length (stock closed/open) 630/833 mm
Barrel Length 250 mm
Rate of Fire 500 rounds per minute
Magazine Capacity 32 rounds
Effective Range ca. 100 meters

 

MP40/1

The MP40/I experimented with two - side by side 32-round magazines and was tested in 1942. The Magazines were able to slide horizontally to use the additional magazine when the first one became depleted. This design was intended to counter the superior firepower of the Soviet PPSh-41. This design however made the weapon heavy and unbalanced in the field, and did not work well. The 1943 production of the PPSh-41 reverted from a 71 round drum magazine to a 35 round box type magazine.

MP40/1 detail

MP40/1 - click to supersize

detail view of the slider

MP41

The MP41 was developed by Louis Schmeisser's son Hugo in 1941. He basically combined the MP40 receiver, action and magazine with a wooden stock and the selective fire mechanism of the MP28.II (successor of the MP18.I). Hugo Schmeisser was chief engineer at the C.G.Haenel company, the company manufacturing the MP40 in vast quantities. While manufacturing the MP41 at his factory, ERMA filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Haenel, which as result, the Haenel company had to close the production of the MP41. A mere 26,700 guns were produced and most were issued to SS, SD and police troops.

Characteristics

Caliber 9x19 mm Para MP41 - click to supersize
Weight 3.87 kg empty
Length 800 mm
Barrel Length 250 mm
Rate of Fire 500 Rounds per minute
Magazine Capacity 32 Rounds
Effective Range 150-200 meters

 

 

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