Sturmgewehr 45 (StG-45)
Type: automatic rifle.
Towards the end of World War II all armed forces had recognized the great potential of automatic infantry weapons. Automatic weapons declassified the traditional cylinder lock rifles, as they had a much higher rate of fire with relatively high shooting accuracy within the most frequent range of fire during infantry combat. These infantry weapons also had bigger magazines for more cartridges.
The first automatic infantry weapons widely used during World War II were the German MP 40 and the Russian PPSh-41 sub machine guns. However, sub machine guns were only effective and rather inaccurate at very short distances.
For the first time, the Sturmgewehr 44 combines the high firepower of the sub machine gun with the greater range and accuracy of the traditional infantry rifle. Briefly referred to as StG-44, the weapon became the ‘mother of all assault rifles’ and was increasingly frequently seen in the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS during the last two years of the war.
This gun fired a 7.92x33mm short cartridge from a curved 30-round pull-out box magazine. It was operated by a tilting bolt system and by the end of the war around 425,000 assault rifles had been delivered.
As usual with the introduction of a new revolutionary weapon system, the StG-44 was not a perfect infantry weapon. For the German war industry, which was coming under increasing pressure, the weapon was not easy enough to produce and also too heavy to carry for the infantryman in the field.
Therefore, an order was placed to equip the German army with a cheaper and easier to produce variant of the StG-44, which should also have less weight.
Design work began at Mauser in 1944 and the new weapon naturally had a certain similarity to the previous assault rifle series. This was followed by tests with the weapon called ‘Geraet 06’ (Device 06).
The Geraet 06 used a roller lock, short recoil mechanism with a gas-powered piston. After a change, which replaced the gas system by a roller shutter with delayed mass closure, the prototype ‘Geraet 06H’ appeared.
This weapon then received the official designation StG-45 (M) and production was commissioned.
At the end of the war in May 1945, however, just 30 pre-production models of the promising StG-45 were completed before the Mauser factory in Oberndorf at the river Neckar was occupied by Allied troops. These rifles were intended to be used for troop experiments at the front, which was no longer possible. The StG-45 was thus the high point of the development of assault rifles in Nazi Germany.
Externally, the StG-45 was a conventional design with a solid wooden shoulder piece, angled pistol grip and a barrel fixed in the body. The magazine was traditionally placed in front of the trigger with all necessary internal functions on the housing.
A loading handle was installed on the housing with a protruding lever. A fire mode selection has been added for quick access near the thumb. There were three settings for this: ‘S’, ‘E’ and ‘D’ (secured, single and full-automatic fire).
A sight was placed just before the loading mechanism and at the front of the muzzle.
The construction of the weapon was made of stamped steel parts and was welded at certain points. The magazine was curved as usual and there was a smaller 10-round magazine as well as the standard 30-round magazine.
In contrast to the StG-44, the StG-45 costs only half, required only half the raw materials for production and had a shorter production time. The new weapon was also about 2.2lb (1 kg) lighter.
After the war it became customary for German weapon designers to continue their work in other countries. Some employees of Mauser-Werke participated in the development of a similar automatic weapon in France, which was to fire the cartridge of the US carbine cal.30 M1 with a roller-bolt mechanism. However, the project was then terminated due to a lack of financial resources.
Other employees later set off for Spain, where the government supported the CETME group, which constructed a practicable prototype with roll closure mass closure mechanism that fired the 7.29 mm cartridges.
The Spanish military adopted a modified form of the weapon that fired a less powerful 7.62 mm CETME cartridge from 1958.
This weapon was also taken over by the new German Bundeswehr, which was manufactured by the company Heckler&Koch from 1959 as HK G3 assault rifle with the 7.62×51 mm NATO cartridge. In this way, the Wehrmacht’s war design with the delayed mass-blocking system returned to Germany and was subsequently used in a large number with automatic H&K weapons.
Specifications Sturmgewehr 45
|Sturmgewehr 45 (StG-45)||Specification|
|Caliber||7.92 mm (short cartridge 33mm)|
|Weight||8.83lb (4kg); with small magazine 8.17lb (3.7kg)|
|Barrel||16.93in (43.00cm), 4 grooves, right hand twist|
|Feed system||10- or 30-round integral box magazine|
|System of operation||roller lock|
|Muzzle velocity||2,100 ft/sec (640 m/sec)|
|Cyclic rate of fire||450 rpm|
|Effective Range||c.985ft (300m)|
|Manufactures||Mauserwerke AG (Oberndorf)|
|Production delivery||1945 (just pre-series short before war's end)|
|Final delivery||May 1945|
|Price per unit||c. 33 Reichsmark|
The modern successors
The CETME assault rifle has its origins in the years after the Second World War, when many German weapon developers were out of work. Some of them found work at the Spanish Centro de Estudios Tecnicos de Materiales Especiales, or CETME for short.
Based on their extensive war experience with the German automatic assault rifles StG-44 and StG-45, they developed two prototypes using their recoil mechanism and roller shutter.
The new weapon was called CETME Model A and was reliable and popular.
The latest version of the CETME assault rifle is a semi-automatic weapon equipped with a delayed roller breech, which uses a locking roller to delay the recoil movement of the bolt carrier until the pressure in the barrel is reduced to a point where the recoil force is no longer mechanically damaging. This is a relatively unique feature for military rifles, as most semi-automatic weapons are powered by a separate gas cylinder.
The bolt carrier moves on a rail on both sides of the stainless steel check valve and the front tube of the subassemblies of the bolt carrier runs on its own rail above the barrel, where the loading handle and cleaning accessories are also located.
Like most modern assault rifles, CETME uses synthetic material for the surfaces. There are also a number of variants, including the carbine model LC and the model LI for export.
In 1950, the Spanish Army issued a specification for a modern rifle with selective fire mode. The development of this weapon began at the Centro de Estudios Tecnicos de Materiales Especiales, a company of the Spanish government, known as CETME.
CETME assembled a team of Spanish and German weapon designers. This team also included Ludwig Vorgrimmler, commonly known as the inventor of the delayed roller closure system.
The locking mechanism of the StG-45 was used as the basis of the new design. Prototypes of the new rifle were ready for experimental firing in 1952.
Until 1954, the 7.62 mm x 51 cartridge was introduced as standard ammunition within the NATO alliance. Therefore, in 1954 the Spanish government commissioned the German company Heckler&Koch to adapt the CETME rifle for this new caliber.
After another five years of development, the German Bundeswehr took over this new rifle in 1959 and named it G3 (Gewehr 3 = Rifle 3).
All G3 suffer from their relatively high weight and strong recoil from the 7.62×51 cartridges in automatic fire mode. However, the effect of this 7.62 mm cartridge is much better than the 5.56 mm bullet and also has a longer range.
As usual all Heckler&Koch weapons the G3 is very reliable and also very robust. A lot of pressed steel was used for this weapon designed for selective firing. Since its commissioning in 1959, the rifle has undergone numerous modifications.
The Hecker&Koch 33 rifle is essentially a smaller version of the G3 design to shoot the 5.56 mm cartridge. The HK33E was the first rifle of 5.56×45 caliber to use the delayed roller-bolt system, which was first perfected for the G3.
As an exclusively semi-automatic weapon for the civilian American market, the rifle is known as the HK93.
The HK33 uses exactly the same trigger, bolt and fire mechanism as the G3, but is shorter and lighter. It also has the same aiming device and operation.
The most common version of the rifle is equipped with a 25-round steel magazine. Heckler&Koch later added 30-round magazines for the police or the civilian market.
The magazines are extremely durable and can be used even when a vehicle is rolled over them.
The most common variants are the HK33A2 and A3 with fixed and retractable rifle butt. The E version usually has a black surface, although it can also be supplied in camouflage color or desert color – depending on the client’s wishes.
The HK33E is available with fixed butt, with retractable butts and in a sniper version. The SG/1 is the sniper variant and has cheek padding, fixed butt, bipods and rifle scope.
Like all Heckler&Koch weapons, the rifle is very reliable.
The newer G36 or G36E is a truly modular weapon system in caliber 5.56x45mm, which was designed for the German Bundeswehr as a replacement for the G11 assault rifle.
Almost entirely constructed from a tough, fiber-reinforced polymer material and equipped with a simple, self-regulating gas system function, the G36 and G36E gives the shooter a lightweight weapon that offers great performance with extremely low maintenance.
The barrel of the G36 and G36E can be replaced by the troop’s gun technicians to make it either a rifle or a carbine, using the same common trigger.
The G36 can fire fragile practice ammunition without special muzzle devices. Cartridge ammunition – similar to blank cartridges – and safety firing devices with conventional cartridge ammunition are also available as accessories.
The gas system of the G36 is designed very intensively to push the gases back into the interior of the weapon. This ensures reliable operation even after firing 15,000 shots without cleaning. Polymer components can be easily cleaned with water-based cleaning agents or – if necessary – even exclusively with water.
The 30-shot polymer magazine can be mounted without a magazine clamp, is 30 percent lighter than metal magazines and is resistant to corrosion. The two-handed clamping lever doubles the effect on the forward movement and can be used to place a single cartridge silently into the chamber.
|Calibre||7.62 mm||5.56 mm||=||=|
|Cartridge||7.62x51mm NATO||5.56x45mm NATO||=||=|
|Length||40.2in (102.1cm)||36.42in (92.5 cm)||26.57-34in (67.5-86.5cm)||29.84-39.29in (75.8-99.8cm)|
|Length of barrel||17.72in (45cm)||15.75in (40cm)||12.67in (32cm)||18.9in (48cm)|
|Number of grooves||4||6||6||6|
|Weight||9.68lb (4.4kg)||7.48lb (3.4kg)||8.55lb (3.89kg)||7.54lb (3.43kg)|
|Cyclic rate of fire||550rpm||700rpm||650rpm||750rpm|
|Practical rate of fire||150rpm||200rpm||200rpm||200rpm|
|Fire modew||semi- and full-auto||=||= (plus 3-round burst)||semi- and full-auto|
|Muzzle velocity||2,625fps (800mps)||2,870fps (875mps)||2,887fps (880mps)||3,018fps (920mps)|
|Maximum range||4,921ft (1,500m)||4,921ft (1,500m)||4,921ft (1,500m)||3,280ft (1,000m)|
|Effective range||1,804ft (550m)||1,804ft (550m)||1,804ft (550m)||1,312ft (400m)|
References and literature
Twenty-First Century Small Arms – The World’s great Infantry weapons (Steve Crawford)
Illustriertes Lexikon der Waffen im 1. und 2. Weltkrieg (V. Dolinek, V. Francev, J. Sach)
The Encyclopedia of Infantry Weapons of World War II (Ian V.Hogg)
The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II (Chris Bishop)