Sturmgewehr 44 (StG44) / Maschinenpistole 44 (MP44)
The German wartime Sturmgewehr 44 system became the predecessor to the modern day assault rifle.
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The Maschinenpistole 44, or MP44, or still further the StG 44, is more commonly associated as being the father of the modern assault rifle design. This was, in truth, a revolutionary weapon developed by a Germany facing defeat in World War Two. As an early design in the form of the Walther MKb42(W), the production process of the weapon relied on speedy stampings, welding and pressing - contrary to the normal turning and machining that was common for the time.
From the outset, the design was to provide Germany with a weapon that could be capably mass-produced as war time resources were becoming all the more scarcer with each passing year. Utilizing the Russian Front as a developmental test bed from July 1943 onwards, the rifle in its current form developed into the MP43 series as the MP43/1. This new form allowed a grenade launcher to be attached to the barrel and featured provisions for optical sights to be mounted.
As the war progressed, development of the MP43 turned into the MP44 system which eventually gave way to the new designation of Sturmgewehr StG44 - which translated into what we identify today as the assault rifle. This effectively changed the idea of the "machine pistol" (along the lines of a submachine gun) designation to a whole new breed of gun in the assault rifle mold. By all counts, the system offered up a smooth fire action and utilized the 7.92x33mm Kurz round firing from a 30-round magazine.
One of the more interesting attempts at "practical" MP44 designs was the Maschinenpistole 44 mit Krummlauf which is sometimes generically termed as "the gun that could shoot around corners". The idea behind this design was to arm soldiers within vehicles with a weapon capable of targeting enemy combatants that had managed to come underneath the fire angles of the operator's position. At any length, the weapon system might also prove to have been some value in the close house-to-house fighting occurring throughout the war, but in particular at war's end. The "practicality" of such a system is still under some debate though, even to this day. Testing into the market of weaponry that can target enemy combatants around corners remains as intriguing as it did over half a century ago.
Manufacturers of the MP44/StG44 system included C.G. Haenel Waffen- und Fahrradfabrik AG, Erfurter Maschinenfabrik B Geipel GmbH, Mauser-Werke AG and Oberndorf-am-Neckar.