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The Whatziss, revealed.

 John (Not The Armorer) called it - the Gewehr 41.  Raging Tachikoma nailed down in detail - the Walther version, thus most properly tabbed the Gew 41(W).  While I don't know how RT got there, yesterday's picture of the barrel band would be the clue.  The Mauser version used a classic Mauser "H" style barrel band.  

Had no one gotten it yesterday, this would have been today's clue.



Here it is in the context of the previous clues in the Whatziss:



In 1940, the Germans decided they needed a semi-automatic rifle to increase the lethality of the infantry platoon - and pistol caliber subguns weren't the way they wanted to go.  They pretty much had to go through this drill developing this rifle, with it's attendant problems in service, to hit upon the idea of the intermediate cartridge to provide the final piece to create the worlds first "assault rifle" - the Sturmgewehr 44.   But that's another story.  The Waffenamt issued a specification for a semi-auto, but only Mauser and Walther submitted designs.  

The details of the spec, combinbed with German arms-building habits of thought, resulted in two very similiar-appearing rifles.  The rifle was to use standard ammunition and achieve the same ballistic results and use virtually identical sights (reducing marksmanship training requirements).  In addition, there were some details that further pushed the two designs to be very similar:

1. No holes in the barrel for tapping gas to actuate the mechanism.
2. No exposed moving parts.
3. If the auto-loading system failed, the rifle must be usable as a bolt-action rifle.

Mauser met all those requirements.  Walther ignored the last two.  Not surprisingly, the Walther design was more successful (that's a qualified win, mind you).

Being unable to tap gas from the barrel, both designs used the annular piston ring gas-trap design of a Danish designer, Søren Bang.  The imaginatively named "Bang" system traps gas using a muzzle cone like the MG34 and 42, and, coincidentally, the US M1919-series and even the British Vickers.  The difference being in the machine guns they acted directly on the barrel, vice the Bang system, which pushed an annular piston sliding along the barrel inside a jacket back against an operating rod which then acted on the bolt carrier.  A perfect recipe for fouling, pain-in-the-butt to clean, and because they were hard to clean, they were subject to corrosion, which roughed up the action and caused binding.  If you want a detailed treatment of the rifles - check out Guns of the Reich.

They used integral magazines like the M1 rifle, and were clip-loaded via standard stripper clips.  Magazine capacity was 10 rounds (2 strippers). If you've ever used those clips, they can be finicky, which made reloading a bit slow.  The Mauser design bombed. Only 6,673 were built before production was halted.  1,673 of those were returned as unusable.  Remember - this was unit operational testing during a shooting war.  That must have been fun.  Kind of like the operational debut of the M16...

Once accepted as the Gew 41 (when you see the parenthetical manufacturer initials, that indicates a prototype not yet type-classified) they produced about 120,000 of them and sent them mostly to the Eastern Front.  All the problems noted earlier led to the refinement of the design which emerged as the Gew 43 - which essentiially took the SVT-40 gas system and ditched the Bang system.

Here we see the Gew 41 (W) hanging with his bros of the era - the US M1 rifle, the German Gew 41(W) and Gew 43, the Soviet SVT-40, Swedish AG42b, and the Belgian SAFN, which was being developed in Britain during the war (The magazines of the SVT-40 and AG42b have been removed to fit them on the rack).



G41(W) rifles were produced at two factories, the main Walther plant at Zella Mehlis, and Berlin-Luebecker-Maschinenfabrik. Walther guns have the  "AC" code, and WaA359 inspection proofs, while BLM guns have the "DUV" code with WaA214 inspection proofs. These rifles are relatively scarce, and quite valuable in collector grade, which this one is not.  In terms of fit and finish and condition, this *is* a high-grade rifle.  But like many of them, somewhere along the line it lost the magazine extension, spring, and follower, and someone removed the Mauser-style bayonet bar.  The bayonet bar is easy to get.  The magazine parts... not so much.  I'll end up probably buying a repro magazine extension, and then modifying an MG13 magazine spring and follower.  Flip side, this rifle cost more than a *thousand* less than it would have had it been in this condition and complete.  Being willing to approach collecting (and preferring used weapons with a history to ones that were built and stored until they were surplussed out) is part of how you get a collection like that at Castle Argghhh! without going broke or getting fired by your spouse.

Now, if anyone *has* a magazine extension laying around...  I'm all ears.

4 Comments

 Heh.  Not.one.comment.

Interesting.
 
"Not.one.comment."

Some of us do have full time away from home jobs &etc, you know, and have to spend what time we have on the weekend battening down the hatches for winter!!
(Actually splitting wood and hotel internet access was spotty, and for whatever reason, I cannot read your site on my phone. It opens fine, and then 30 seconds later, Explorer shuts down)

A cool whatsis. I have to admit, I looked at that second picture and thought "Remington model 8" but I couldn't think of a single place that was ever used militarily. I had- frankly- no idea that Fritz had gotten there by a similar barrel shroud method, and it is an interesting firearm.
 
Oh, sure, the "I have a life and job" excuse.

Weak sauce, Og.  8^)
 

"Weak sauce, Og.  8^)"

Well, it's that or accept the fact that I have NO life outside of work, and in fact just spend most of my life working.