MANUFACTURER(S): Solothurn - Switzerland; Steyr-Daimler-Puch - Austria
OPERATORS: Austria; Bulgaria; El Salvador; Nazi Germany; Hungary
ACTION: Recoil-Operated; Air-Cooled; Select Fire (varying trigger pull)
CALIBER(S)*: 7.92x57mm Mauser; 7x57mm Mauser; 8x56mmR
Detailing the development and operational history of the Solothurn-Steyr S2-200 (MG30) Light Machine Gun (LMG) / Aircraft Machine Gun.
Entry last updated on 5/9/2016.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The Treaty of Versailles arranged after World War 1 (1914-1918) restricted much of the German capacity to produce war-making goods and this included machine guns. Rheinmetall was a key producer of such systems for the German cause in the conflict and came under special scrutiny - specifically forbidden from manufacturing anything but artillery pieces from 1919 on. Of course the company sought workarounds to the restriction and eventually setup up shop in the Netherlands during the early 1920s. When this venture went belly-up, Solothurn was born in Switzerland as a subsidiary and, before long the company was partnered with Steyr-Daimler-Puch of Austria.
From this background came a new machine gun design as the Model 1930 / MG30 ("Maschinengewehr 30") developed by Louis Stange of Rheinmetall in Sommerda, Germany and eventually manufactured at both Austrian and Swiss locations. A recoil-operated action was devised with air cooling for the barrel. Feeding was from a detachable box magazine inserted into the top of the receiver. The prototype form became "Rh.29" - a light machine gun intended for the squad-level support role.
The weapon was given a straight-line approach in which the shoulder stock, action, and barrel were are in line with one another for accuracy and balance. The stock was ergonomically curved to hug the shoulder as a support. The receiver was largely tubular in its general shape while the barrel assembly was perforated for air cooling. Magazines were fed from the top of the gun near the action and iron sights allowed for some accurized firing. A folding bipod became standard due to the design's considerable length and a conical flash hider was fitted to the muzzle. An angled foregrip, fitted just ahead of the trigger unit, was optional. A two-stage trigger provided semi- or full-automatic firing depending on the overall trigger pull used by the operator. Overall weight was 26lb.
The weapon was adopted by its host countries, Switzerland and Austria, as the S2-200 and Maschinengewehr Solothurn 1930 respectively. It arrived chambered for the standard 7.92x57mm Mauser German rifle cartridge but other chamberings were eventually introduced - 7.57mm Mauser and 8.56mmR (the latter being fed from a 25-round box magazine). The machine gun offered sound performance, achieving a rate-of-fire of 600 to 800 rounds per minute and a muzzle velocity of 2,650 feet per second. After heavy testing, the Hungarians followed their regional brothers in adopting the weapon - which became the Solothurn 31.M "Golyoszoro" in the Hungarian inventory.
Rejected by the German Army as an infantry support weapon, the rebuilding Luftwaffe found value in the design as an aircraft weapon and adopted it as the MG15 ("Flugzeugmaschinengewehr 15"). These examples used double-drum magazines of seventy-five rounds and lost their shoulder stocks for compactness aboard space-strapped German bombers. In 1936, the improved MG17 line was introduced which incorporated belt-feeding and an increased rate-of-fire. The lines were in use until superseded by the more effective 13mm MG 131 systems introduced in 1940 and produced until war's end in 1945.
The MG30's design went on to influence the classic wartime MG34 and MG42 designs which became multirole machine guns in their own right.