Gewehr 43

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(Redirected from Gewehr 41)

The Gewehr 43, Karabiner 43' (G43, K43; Gew 43, Kar 43) was a semi-automatic rifle of Nazi Germany developed during World War II, developed from the G41(W) but using the gas system of the Tokarev SVT40. The a program for a semi-automatic infantry rifle resulted in two designs the G41(M) and G41(W), from Mauser and Walther respectively. They both proved unreliable in combat when introduced in 1941, more so the Mauser, and only several thousand were made of each. In 1943 Walther combined the SVT40 system with aspects of the G41(W), which performed much better. It was accepted and entered service as the G43, and in 1944 renamed K43, with production amounting just over 400,000.


Gewehr 41

By 1940, it became apparent that some form of a semi-automatic rifle with a higher rate of fire the the existing bolt-action rifle's was needed to improve the infantry's combat efficiency. The army issued a specification to various manufacturers, and both Mauser and Walther submitted prototypes that were very similar. Both models used a mechanism known as the "Bang" system (after its Norwegian designer Soren H. Bang), due to a limitation being placed on the design that no holes should be drilled into the barrel. In this system, gases from the bullet were trapped near the muzzle in a ring-shaped cone, which in turn pulled on a long piston that opened the breech and re-loaded the gun. This is as opposed to a other type of gas-actuated system in which the gasses push back on a piston to open the breach to the rear. Both also included 10-round magazines, using two of the "stripper clips" from the Karabiner 98k, firing the same German-standard 7.92 x 57 mm Mauser rounds.

The Mauser design, the G 41(M), failed miserably. Only 6,673 were produced before production was halted, and of these 1,673 were returned as unusable.

The Walther version, the G 41(W), faired somewhat better, but again proved to be too prone to failure. The Bang system was too complicated and broke down frequently under the stress and wear of combat. The gun was also too heavy, notably due to the complex and heavy operating machinery located near the front, which pulled the nose down. Reloading the gun also proved difficult and time-consuming. Since it was the only self-loading rifle available to the German army, it had to be produced in numbers, but this too proved difficult as the gun was hard to mass-produce. Exact numbers are difficult to come by, but 14,334 appears in a number of sources.

Gewehr 43 / Karabiner 43

In 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union as part of Operation Barbarossa. Just prior to the opening of hostilities the Red Army had been re-arming its infantry, replacing a hodge-podge of ancient rifles with the new Tokarev SVT38 and SVT40s. This proved to be something of a shock to the Germans, who soon started capturing as many as they could for their own use.

The Tokarev use a much simpler gas-operated mechanism, which was soon copied by Walther into the G 41(W), producing the Gewehr 43. The simpler mechanism of the G 43 made it lighter, easier to mass produce, and far more reliable. The addition of a 10-round detactable box magazine also solved the slow reloading problem. It was put into production in October 1943, and followed in 1944 by the Karabiner 43 (K 43), identical except that it was shorter by only 50 mm.

Total production by the end of the war was 402,713 of both models, including at least 53,435 sniper rifles: the K 43 was the preferred sniper weapon, fitted with the Zielfernrohr 43 (ZF 4) scope with 4x magnification. The weapon could use the Schiessbecher device for firing rifle grenades (standard on the Kar 98k as well) and could use a Schalldämpfer silencer; however the G 43 could not use a bayonet. The Gewehr 43 performed well in sniper role and stayed in service for the Czech army for several years after the war.


For K 43:

Caliber: 7.92 x 57 mm Mauser
Muzzle velocity: 775 m/s (2,328 ft/s)
Action: Gas operated
Overall length: 1130 mm
Barrel length: 546 mm
versions with barrel lengths of 600, 650 and 700 mm existed as well
Weight: 4.1 kg, (9.7 lb) unloaded and without the scope
Rate of fire: 20 to 30 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 10 rounds
Sights: One of several scopes, typically 4x or 2.5x, backup "iron sights" as well

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